This time I’m covering the conclusion of Marvel’s initial run on Star Wars:
Writers: Mary Jo Duffy, Ann Nocenti, Roy Richardson, Randy Stradley, Archie Goodwin
Art: Ron Frentz, Sal Buscema, Cynthia Martin, All Williamson
Covers: Bill Sienkiewicz.
As with the other Marvel comics reviews, I’m going to be focusing on the broad strokes.
Following the conclusion of Return of the Jedi, the Rebel Alliance is now working to form a more legitimate government. Meanwhile, Imperial splinter groups are carving out chunks of the Empire, and various other groups are seeking to capitalize on the chaos in the wake of the Empire’s death.
This leads to a bunch of micro-arcs early on to the story, along with a few stand alone stories. Of note:
- #86: Leia encounters a TIE Pilot who is an Alderaanian when both are stranded on a planet that Leia is travelling to for a diplomatic mission. The two make their way through the wastelands, with Leia confronting the pilot on continuing to serve the Empire after they destroyed Alderaan, and the Pilot, who had been a servant on Alderaan, confronting Leia on her privilege as part of the aristocracy.
- #96-97: Luke’s first encounter with Lumiya. Considering that Lumiya is actually Shira Brie (which we, as the reader, don’t know until the end of #97), this whole story is incredibly intense, and almost the first half of #97 is without dialog.
- #103: On the way back to the Zeltron homeworld to return the 5 Zeltron bishies Leia’s ship has to set down on a desolate planet for some quick repairs. While there, they come across a wounded Nagai scout who has been brought to the brink of death due to the locals. Leia and her boys nurse him to health, and introduce the Nagai to mercy… Only for the scout to be killed as a weakling once he returns to the Nagai fleet.
Ultimately, this portion of the series is divided into two chunks, “Mopping up the Empire” and “The Nagai Invasion.” Once the Nagai invasion starts, that dominates the series until its conclusion. The fight later becomes a three-way conflict when the Tofs, another race from the Nagai’s galaxy (which had enslaved the Nagai) shows up and joins the conflict.
The series last issue comes a time skip covering most of the Nagai/Tof/Alliance war, skipping to the final battle, which the Alliance wins.
Whether the Empire had kept the fact they had destroyed Alderaan a secret or not from the general public, their troops knew.
Alderaan was a traditional monarchy, instead of the sort of hybridized constitutional monarchies we’d see with Naboo in the Prequel era.
The ability of the spirits of Force Sensitives to live on after death is not a secret technique, and the ability of Force Ghosts to contact the living is not limited to people who were known in life, as the spirit of Yoda is able to speak with Princess Villa and Prince Denin in issue #92.
We have another instance of an ancient race who have built a weapon of tremendous power – the “Shawken Weapon”, which if activated could theoretically destroy the galaxy (it was constructed by a Nihilist you see).
The Zeltron (who were introduced in-between Empire and Jedi) are a race which appear to have an incredibly pronounced sex drive, for both men and women (previously we’d only really seen Zeltron women). There do not appear to be any Force-sensitive Zeltron.
We’re introduced to the Nagai – a race of thin, pale-skinned humanoids, who culturally favor knives as weapons, and apparently are from another galaxy. They are followed to this galaxy by another race of aliens, the Tofs, who are bunch of large yellow skinned humanoids with long hair.
We are also introduced to the Hiromi, a race of cockroach aliens who are initially part of the Rebel Alliance, but later try to go off on their own and take over the Alliance and the galaxy, except they are about as competent as Wile E. Coyote.
New technology – the Light Whip, the weapon of choice of Lumiya, a light whip has a variety of heads, some of metal, some of hide, some of energy, which can lash and entangle the wielder’s opponent or their weapon.
In addition to the Mining Guild that Lando mentioned in Empire, there is also a Metallurgist Guild, that Alliance needs to curry favor with.
Luke Skywalker: Did not tell his friends about being Vader’s son right away. Is reluctant to teach other students for fear of being responsible for causing them to turn to the Dark Side as Anakin did. Eventually decides to teach Kiro the ways of The Force. Develops a two-weapon lightsaber fighting style similar to Miyamoto Musashi’s two-weapon (shoto and daito) fighting style. Over the course of the war grows his hair out and starts wearing a Rambo-esque headband.
Princess Leia Organa: Part of the Republic’s inner circle, and is initially involved in diplomatic efforts to form a new Republic – currently called the “Alliance of Free Planets”. After the events of #103 comes to realize that there are dissatisfied factions with the Nagai and works to form an alliance with those factions to help beat the Nagai and Tofs.
Han Solo: Feels a little dissatisfied with staying in one place after defeating the Empire, but also wants to stay with Leia. Hates the snow, possibly because of Hoth. This is hilarious in hindsight due to The Force Awakens. Han had a foster brother on the streets of Corellia, Bey, who is half Nagai.
Chewbacca: With a visit to Kashyyyk in Issue #91, introducing Chewie’s wife and kid, the A-Plot of the Star Wars Holiday special enters canon.
Lando Calrissian: Manages to somewhat mend fences with Drebble by giving him the statue that everyone was chasing after in the story where Lando dressed up as Harlock. Also, has his own ship called the Cobra.
C-3PO & R2-D2: R2-D2 has a hardpoint for a blaster.
Darth Vader: Kept a secret apprentice – Flint, who was introduced in Star Wars Annual #3, introducing the concept of the Secret Apprentice, but not why Vader would have an apprentice that he would keep secret from Palpatine. Also, Flint looks a lot like Ben Solo/Kylo Ren.
Mon Mothma: Does some field diplomatic missions, including getting captured by Lumiya’s troops, and helping fight back after being freed (though Leia does most of the grunt work). Shuts Han, Leia, Luke, and Lando out of the inner circles of Alliance government after they miss an important meeting. Also grounds Han and Luke after they fail or miss a written flight exam. (WTF?!)
Admiral Ackbar: Shuts Han, Leia, Luke, and Lando out of the inner circles of Alliance government after they miss an important meeting. Also grounds Han and Luke after they fail or miss a written flight exam. (WTF?!)
Boba Fett: Survived his initial fall into the Sarlacc and escaped, only to end up back in the Sarlacc after being “rescued” by Jawas, and ending up on their Sandcrawler when crashed into the Sarlacc.
Lumiya, Dark Lady of the Sith: Introduced in this portion of the series. She had technically appeared between Empire and Jedi, as Lt. Shira Brie, who was revealed to be an Imperial double agent. However, as far as the EU is concerned, it is as Lumiya where she will have the most impact. Has a personal vendetta against Luke for the injuries she suffered when he “killed” her (unintentionally – she turned on Rebel forces and then framed him for murdering her in a friendly-fire incident). Initially joins forces with the Nagai, but when the Tofs show up and dissent starts forming within the Nagi, joins forces with the Tofs instead, as she wants to be on the side that lets her defeat Luke.
Dani: She is the main Zeltron female character we’ve seen, we over the course of the entire series. She was introduced in the last portion of the series as a brief recurring character who we saw fall in love with Luke. Here we saw her get over Luke and fall in love with Kiro (one of the aquatic people of the planet of Iskalon), only to have her heart broken after she is tortured and Kiro is presumed killed at the hands of the Nagai. From there she is utterly consumed by hate for the Nagai until she’s ultimately talked down by Leia at some point over the timeskip.
Kiro: As with Dani, he’s a character who only appeared in one story arc who formed a close bond with Luke. Kiro wants Luke to train him in the ways of the force, and it’s implied that he is force sensitive, in this case represented by the fact that Kiro can think independently of the “school”, which is the center of Iskalon society. He and Dani also fall for each other. However, after making contact with the Nagai, Kiro is presumed killed. Luke and Lando, travelling to Iskalon, find a living Kiro, who had actually escaped and had returned to his homeworld in order to fight off the Nagai threat. Kiro chooses to remain on Iskalon to fight of the Nagai, presumably ending his Jedi training. Though, as it is, considering how consumed by hate of the Nagai that Kiro is, there is a reasonable possibility that he might turn to the Dark Side if he was fully trained.
There appears to be a letter written to the magazine for Japanese seiyuu Sakamoto Maaya in issue #97. Several other Japanese readers and fans are thanked in the last issue – which almost makes me suspect that the series had a significant fan following in Japan, though Wookieepedia doesn’t mention a Japanese edition.
The bureaucratic dumbassery of the New Republic government in the new films makes sense in context of these comics, actually, even those these comics are not part of that canon.
There are some stand out stand-alone stories here, and a few duds.
In particular, #89, written by Ann Nocenti, is, frankly, really bad. It completely ignores the internal continuity on the series (which Nocenti was editing), and Luke feels very out of character here – like Luke from just after A New Hope, not Luke from after Return of the Jedi, but it’s set after Jedi. I know Nocenti can write better, and with Louise Jones-Simonsen (who had also previously edited Star Wars) guest editing, it should be better. I have no idea what happened here. It feels like that the planned issue was delayed for some reason or another, and rather than miss a month, they quickly threw something together and tossed it out into the wild. There’s a plot beat with a character committing suicide that doesn’t have time to have happened on paged, as things are laid out. The joke clip from MST3K that Linkara occasionally uses, where Mike is saying “Time is warped and space is bendable” is absolutely applicable here.
I kind of wonder if Jo Duffy watch the Star Wars Holiday special, or did she get a list of important story notes from the Special, and was able to skip it, dodging that blaster bolt.
Otherwise, the final portion of Marvel Star Wars looks like it’s going to bring a lot of plot threads from the inter-film period and it basically succeeds, and the only reason it doesn’t fully succeed is because of the abbreviated conclusion of the series. The end is so abrupt that it feels like the license ended suddenly for some reason.
It’s interesting to note that while the Nagai-Tof-Alliance war was generally ignored in the Legends canon, except in cases where it wasn’t (like Lumiya/Shira Brie), from a RPG standpoint, because it is basically wrapped up in a time-skip that misses most of the war, this makes this entire span of time incredibly gameable. However, I don’t believe West End Games covered this conflict in the tabletop RPG, so there isn’t much existing game material on the war, and by the time NJO came around and Lumiya was re-introduced to canon, WotC had the Star Wars rights.
From reading on Wookieepedia, WotC did do a web adventure for their Star Wars RPG (I believe it was for Saga edition) which had the players being given a mission by Luke to find Dani and let her know that Kiro was still alive.