Saturday, April 28, 2012

On the Coffee Table: Marvel Star Wars, Vol. 2

Title: Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago...., Volume 2

Image via Dark Horse

This second volume includes issues #28-49 of Marvel's Star Wars series plus the first annual.  While Marvel was producing Star Wars comic books in the late '70s, they didn't have a whole lot to go on in terms of writing new stories for the characters of the original film.  The Lucas people weren't much help in terms of where they were going next with sequels.  And so, the comic books ended up taking directions which were eventually contradicted by The Empire Strikes Back, thus the low canon value of those early comics today.

Image via Amazon

As a result, one of the most interesting stories in this collection is also one of the most problematic.  The first Star Wars Annual was originally published in December 1979, just a few months before the film release of Empire.  The story, entitled The Long Hunt, is guest-written by Chris Claremont, the long time writer for The Uncanny X-Men and for the outstanding original Wolverine solo series, among many other projects.  An alternate version of the story of Luke's father is offered here, one in which Obi Wan's original tale of Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker as two separate people is followed.  It would seem that Lucas & Co. managed to keep the secret of their big plot twist pretty well.

Image via Telkur Station

Volume 2 also contains the comic adaptation of Empire.  Most interesting to me are a couple of details from the movie that were left out of the comic book version: Han Solo slicing open a tauntaun in order to stuff Luke inside and, later, the remaining stump from Luke's severed hand.  The comic writers may simply not have known about the first in time for the publication schedule but leaving out the second was clearly a deliberate choice.  In both instances, I wonder if it may have been a case of what would pass in 1980 for a PG-rated film but not with the Comics Code Authority.

Other highlights from this volume:
  • Jabba the Hut (note: still just one t) returns in issue #28 and Han actually manages to have his debt cancelled.  Thank goodness, Solo falls out of favor once again in issue #37, just in time for the plot developments in Empire.
  • Omega Frost, a weapon featured in issues #31-34 which essentially freezes everything between two conductor towers, was surely inspired at least in part by ice-nine from Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.
  • More Wookiees!  In issue #46, Lando and Chewbacca visit the world of Cody Sunn-Childe.  Among Sunn-Childe's entourage is another Wookiee, the first Chewie has seen in a long time.  Their bond is genuinely touching, a sign of a more sensitive take on the Wookiee persona, post-Empire.  Lando also gets some much needed character development in the same issue.
For my review of the first volume, please use the link here.  For more, check out J. Caleb Mozzocco's excellent review at Every Day Is Like Wednesday (thanks for the link, Mock).  I'm looking forward to Volume 3!

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