Monday, March 29, 2021

Star Wars Comics: Classic Star Wars #9-13, Tales of the Jedi #1

Al Williamson was the artist for the Star Wars newspaper comics for several years in the early 1980s after having done the comic book adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back.  He was born March 21, 1931 in New York City, though he grew up in Bogotá, Colombia until the age of 12.  From the 1950s through the '70s, he found work on the science fiction, fantasy and horror titles of EC Comics and Warren Publishing, including a long run on Flash Gordon.  George Lucas requested him personally for Star Wars, having been impressed by his earlier work.  After Star Wars, worked primarily as an inker for Marvel for the next two decades.

Williamson passed away in 2010.

My Recent Reads

Classic Star Wars #9
Originally Published May 1, 1993
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1982
Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: Al Williamson
In-Story Timeline: 0 ABY
  • The Night Beast continues.
  • Unfortunately, Chewie proves no match for Yavin IV's underground monster.  Nor is anyone else.
  • Apparently, the planet's previous inhabitants fled and left the beast to defend the world for their eventual return.  
  • Using the Force and droid assistance, Luke manages to communicate with the beast a means of reconnecting with its former masters.
  • All is well.

Classic Star Wars #10
June 1, 1993
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1982
  • The Return of Ben Kenobi begins.  The story ran from May 17 - July 25, 1982.
  • A man who looks an awful lot like Obi-Wan Kenobi comes to the aid of rebel-affiliated weapons smugglers on the planet Aridus.  Word gets to Luke so he rushes to meet him.
  • But of course, it's not really Ben.  Darth Vader has hired an actor, had him surgically altered, given him some basic training with the Force and provided a few high tech cheats.  All of this is an effort to draw out Luke, of course.
  • Luke is fooled but the imposter is moved by our young hero's misplaced devotion.

Classic Star Wars #11
July 1, 1993
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1982
  • The Return of Ben Kenobi continues.  
  • The Kenobi imposter has a change of heart at the last moment.  After leading Luke into Vader's trap, he sacrifices himself in order to save young Skywalker.
  • As he dies in Luke's arms, he confesses that he was not the real Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  • The Power Gem begins.  The story ran from July 26 - October 3, 1982
  • In order to have a chance against Vader's new battle cruiser, Leia believes the Rebellion needs to get ahold of a power gem, once used by space pirates to attack larger ships.
  • Han and Chewie, being the closest thing to space pirates in the Rebellion, are sent off on a quest to find a power gem.  Small problem: no one is sure they actually exist any more.
  • The two head to Junkfort Station where they find a lead.  From there they head to a world where seemingly the only power gem in the galaxy is held.  Its owner, Raskar, holds gladiator tournaments for those who wish to take it off his hands.
  • Naturally, Han enters Chewie into the competition.

Classic Star Wars #12
September 1, 1993
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1982
  • The Power Gem continues.
  • Through their usual trickery, Han and Chewie manage to win the gem and defeat the reigning gladiator champ, all without ever setting foot in the arena.
  • They don't get to enjoy their triumph for long.  Upon returning to Rebel Base, they learn that Luke and Threepio never made it back from their last mission...
  • Iceworld begins.  The story ran from October 4 - November 14, 1982.
  • While evading Imperial Tie-Fighters, Luke and C-3PO crash on a snow-covered world.  From a distance, their wreck is observed by a single rider mounted on a tauntaun...
  • I will admit, I got chills when I realized the planet was Hoth.  Remember, this story (0 ABY) is set three years before The Empire Strikes Back (3 ABY).  The Rebellion is still headquartered on Yavin IV but they're scouting for a new locale.  Iceworld was indeed one of the first stories offered with an explanation for how Hoth became the new hideout.  The story is not canon - not much if anything from the newspaper strips is - but it is not contradicted by any canon material either.  So, it could have happened this way.
  • The tauntaun rider, Frija, rescues our two heroes and brings them back to her home.  Her father is none too happy.
  • Dad, a former Imperial Governor, doesn't want anyone knowing where he and his daughter are.  He commands Frija to tear Threepio apart for scrap and to throw Luke out in the snow.  Thankfully, she refuses.
  • Luke regains consciousness.  He and the Governor tussle.  With the help of his lightsaber, Luke quickly gains the upper hand.

Classic Star Wars #13
October 1, 1993
Reproduction of a comic strip from 1982-83
  • Iceworld continues.
  • Frija and Luke return to the ship in order to salvage its communication equipment.  The Governor and Frija's com system is also damaged but Luke is hopeful that there's enough left between the two to combine into a single working unit.
  • The Governor, now recovered, follows the two and attacks Luke.  Frija jumps in the way, sacrificing herself.  Luke defeats the Governor.
  • Luke soon discovers father and daughter were both droids, intended as decoys to distract from their human counterparts.  
  • As Frija dies, she thanks Luke for bringing meaning to her life, however briefly.
  • Luke buries the two droids, then reports to Rebel Command, requesting rescue and recommending Hoth as a new base planet.
  • According to canon, established 25 years later in Earth time, Hoth was among a list of worlds recommended by General Dodonna for the new base.  While it's not mentioned, there's nothing to say a previous visit and recommendation by Luke didn't factor in the ultimate decision.
  • Due to the Hoth connection and the genuinely touching story of Frija, Iceworld is probably my favorite arc so far in the Classic Star Wars series.
  • Revenge of the Jedi begins.  The story ran from November 15, 1982 - January 23, 1983.
  • This particular arc offers two points of broader franchise interest:
    • Revenge of the Jedi was an early working title for the film that would eventually become Return of the Jedi.
    • It is the story which introduces Admiral Ackbar!
  • Once again, the tale is not canon.  However, that doesn't change the fact that the newspaper comic offered fans the first glimpse of an important new character.
  • While the Rebellion is in the midst of preparing for evacuation from Yavin IV, the Emprie attacks Laakteen Depot, a remote outpost.  The Mon Calamari, Ackbar's people and the Rebellion's new allies, come to join in the fight.  Their fleet is shot down, though several escape pods, including Ackbar's, make it to the planet Daluuj.
  • The trouble isn't over.  There's an Imperial training outpost on Daluuj.  When the Millennium Falcon arrives to find the Calamari, an ambitious Imperial Commander pursues.
  • Han lands his ship in a lake near the Calmari.  The ship is soon dragged underwater by huge aquatic serpents.
  • So, they've found Ackbar and his entourage but there's no way to get off the planet.  Meanwhile, the Imperial fleet is closing in.

Tales of the Jedi #1: Ulic Qel-Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon, Part 1
October 1, 1993
Tom Veitch/Chris Gossett
In-Story Timeline: 4,000 BBY
  • Tales of the Jedi was genuinely groundbreaking.  It was not only a departure from the Skywalker Saga but was set millennia before the original movies.  Resisted at first but ultimately pursued with George Lucas's blessing (and story approval), the series established a broader history for the Star Wars galaxy - a mythology within the mythology.  Tales of the Jedi initiated its own epic, now referred to as Tales of the Jedi: Knights of the Old Republic.
  • With a new story comes a new protagonist.  Ulic Qel-Droma is a young, proud and impulsive Jedi.  Ulic, his brother Cay and Tott Deneeta are all sent by their Jedi Master Arca Jeth to protect the Onderon system, new members of the Galactic Republic.
  • Arca tells the history of Onderon, now embroiled in a centuries-long war between the city dwellers of Iziz and the nomadic Beast Riders surrounding them.
  • Almost immediately after the Jedi arrive in Iziz, the Beast Riders attack.  While the Jedi fend most of them off, commandos break through and kidnap Queen Amanoa's daughter and heir, Princess Galia.
  • The Queen is furious with the Jedi and sends them off immediately to rescue Galia.  The Jedi quickly comply, though Tott senses something is amiss.
  • In the issue final frame, Ulic's ship, the Nebulon Ranger, is shot down by Beast Rider torpedoes.


  1. Revenge of the Jedi wasn't just the working title, it -was- the title. The initial trailers and movie posters featured the name. It was weeks before release when Lucas decided "revenge" was inappropriate for Jedi and changed the name.
    This is the reason we have Revenge of the Sith.

  2. Somewhere in my attic I have a couple of dozen of these old comics. I'm talking straight from the 1980s when my nerdiness defined my entire existence.

    Thinking out loud, it's a wonder I ever dated.

    1. Geeky men - at least the straight ones - just need to find and appreciate geeky women. Thank goodness, they do exist. That is one of many reasons I don't get the frequent female protagonist backlash in geekdom. I mean, not only are they assholes but they are also idiots who know nothing about how to live a meaningful life.