With the hindsight of a few decades, it's hard for us here in the 21st century to imagine a time before Star Wars. It's even harder for us to imagine a time when Star Wars was just one movie, without a galaxy of sequels, spinoff TV shows, book series, video games, on-line encyclopedias, and marching legions of storm-trooper-armor-clad fans goose-stepping up and down our main thoroughfares, delighting us all with the spectre of fascist dictatorship. Seriously that's kind of disturbing. Anyway, there was a time after the first movie when we didn't know if we were ever going to get any more Star Wars films, and all we had were the Marvel comics, which ALSO didn't know if we were ever going to get any more Star Wars films, so they had to sort of wing it. And that's how Star Wars-hungry kids such as ourselves got comics like these.
A long-haired, muscular Luke Skywalker looks down on Han Solo and a legion of crazy space people - including a big green bunny - as they blast away at people on space-scooters. Not exactly what we had in mind when we were thinking about what our heroes would be up to subsequent to destroying the Death Star, but who cares? We'll take it! It's Star Wars!
Stan Lee presents "Star Wars". I suppose he does, in a way. Sure, why not take credit for this too, Stan. Also, make sure there are some little stars in the Star Wars logo, give it that leftover Bicentennial touch. Meanwhile, let's zoom off to the greatest space fantasy of all, which at this point involves riding around on... give me a minute, it will come to me... banthas, that's what those ugly, hairy muppets are. Banthas. I guess they exist on planets besides Tatooine. Which we are definitely not on. There's no way the galaxy-spanning saga of Star Wars would waste any more time on the most boring planet ever, right? Right?
Remember when James Woods screen-tested for the role of Han Solo? I think it would have worked, myself. I also remember how much of the script of Star Wars was lifted wholesale from the Kurosawa film "The Hidden Fortress", a fact the writers of this comic were probably working off of when they decided to pattern this particular comic after Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai". Or maybe they were working from "The Magnificent Seven" or maybe "Battle Beyond The Stars." Who knows? As long as there's a farming village needing protection from outlaws, our pals will be there!
Here's our motley cast of unlikely space heroes - an old knight, a giant animal, another giant animal, a bitchy riot girl, a farm boy who yearns for a life of adventure away from the boring moisture evaporators of what you might as well call California's Central Valley, and of course, a fussy droid. So yeah, we're right in the Star Wars groove here, let's get our blasting on!
Pew! Pew! Take that, flying Wizard Of Oz monkeys! Pew! Holler a lot, Han Solo! Describe it all in useless captions, narrator! Pew!
The great part about Star Wars becoming a gigantic worldwide media phenomenon is that even the most minor characters get elaborate backstories. For instance, Amaiza's full name is Amaiza Foxtrain, she once had an acrobatic cabaret act with her twin sister, and yes, she does eventually wind up roaming the universe with Jaxxon the giant bunny-man. Sorry, that's a spoiler.
I don't know what happens to the porcupine guy, but I sure hope he shows up in the new movies.
Meanwhile, in outer space, Princess Leia hasn't changed her clothes or her hairstyle and is totally crushing on Luke Skywalker, because this was written at a time when George Lucas hadn't decided they were brother and sister yet.
Not much to make fun of in these panels, I just wanted to give everyone a look at cutesy pre-accident Mark Hamill.
What's that? Luke Skywalker's vanished while in orbit around a planet in the Drexel system? Princess Leia's going to blast off and travel thousands of light years in a desperate search to find the man who turns out to be... her brother. You're killing us, George.
Meanwhile back on planet Seven Samurai, the village shaman has abandoned his Kurosawa plot and is now well into the script for one of Daiei's supernatural Giant Majin movies, most likely "Majin - Monster Of Terror". Fans of swimwear will be pleased to note that the bikini aesthetic extends throughout all time and space. And Han Solo curls his lips and does his best Elvis impression.
You know what they say about rabbits here a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, that they have good eyesight and little cotton tails. But enough about the eerie parallels between our world and the Star Wars Universe - here come the Cloud Riders, zipping along in their little sky motor scooters!
One of the things I love about 70s comics is the sheer brute force writers use in cramming as much text as possible into the panels. Think about it for a minute - here, space porn star Serji-X Arrogantus - yes, that's his name, Serji-X Arrogantus - is flying at high speed and shooting a blaster, while also hollering five paragraphs and a HARRRR!!! at his opponents on the ground. Time is compressed AND lengthened simultaneously as the comics medium is expanded to comment not only on our perceptions of movement, time, and space, but also the cosmic implications of a big handlebar moustache. All for thirty-five cents!
It's at this point that Han Solo begins to realize his battle plan of 'standing around shooting at the guys on the space scooters' might actually have been total crap. Remember, he'll later become a general, best known for the inspiring command "I don't know, fly casual."
If we didn't have those captions to explain things, we'd never know that the robot - sorry, DROID - was grabbing one of the flyers and yanking it out of the sky so that Chewbacca the Wookiee could crush the pilot's skull, and we wouldn't be able to compare it to the mystical "Force" that binds the galaxy together and is determined by mysterious things in people's blood. Thank goodness for captions to explain things.
Oh no, the droid has been bzz-zak'd. Truly this is the best time for captions to remark upon the relationship shared between the droid and the farm boy, and compare and contrast it to the bond of Han Solo and his Wookiee compatriot. Paid by the word, I guess.
Geez, the old guy got kazz-assh'd. He wasn't even able to finish his paragraph of dialog! An outrage.
And what has the village shaman been up to this whole time? Why, he's awakening the slumbering one! Even Han Solo must take notice!
Hey, we're borrowing from "Hidden Fortress", we're borrowing from "Seven Samurai", why not borrow from that greatest triumph of Japanese cinema, "Godzilla"? One may ask why the village shaman didn't just awaken the slumbering one months ago and save Han Solo the trouble of assembling a rag-tag crew of justice fighters, but then again, if we wanted giant dinosaur action we'd be reading 'Devil Dinosaur', wouldn't we? I think we would.
As a Star Wars loving pre-teen, I read every single one of these comics right up until the film "Empire Strikes Back" was released, and then promptly dropped the title because actual Star Wars movies are better than comic books. Or so we thought, until "Phantom Menace" came out and suddenly there we were, wishing for Starkiller Kids and giant green rabbit-men. Will the upcoming series of new films recapture this era of Star Wars glory? With maybe fewer moustaches? I don't know, but I'll be seeing you at the theater regardless!
Meanwhile, be sure to buy lots of Star Wars merchandise, including your "Darth Vadar Communicator" pendant!
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