krpalmer: (europa)
[personal profile] krpalmer
As it turns out, it wasn't long at all after getting the sixth Dark Horse volume reprinting the old Marvel Star Wars comics that I got the seventh and final volume. I had mentioned before that the previous volume ended on a cliffhanger, but I do have to admit I had got the issue that resolved it years ago; on the other hand, there might have been a motivation beyond "getting it all over with" in that I hadn't got a lot of the other issues back then. Out of the twelve issues in this volume (one the double-length hundredth issue), I had only got five (although I did also pick up the last issue of all from a back issue bin some years later); I suppose by that point there was a different comic I was interested in getting, the Transformers comic, and having been able to start from its second issue I was more motivated to get it every month.

I suppose there was indeed a melancholy sort of feeling to finishing things, an uncertain questioning of the scope and scale of the "invasion from outside the galaxy" even fully under way in this volume that the comics took up to try and continue the story after Return of the Jedi. It does, perhaps, leave me contemplating how in this case, "Imperial remnants" weren't rallied to spin things out, and so the story had to go straight to "a new threat"... and then things came to an end, if before "a further threat yet" had to be whipped up in that much more of a depressing fashion. There was a lot of talking to set things up in the last issue, which leaves me with the suspicion that the end came without much warning to the people working on the comic. Still, there was something interesting in how, just a few issues before the end, the invading chalk-white humanoids with spiky black hair (I kept thinking there was something for me unquantifiably "1980s" about them) all of a sudden have a different enemy from beyond who are just big green "pirates," as in the sense of "pirate movies..." (Their bulk did make me start wondering about "the incredible Hulk," which then made me wonder about resemblances between the previous invaders and Neil Gaiman's Sandman, for all that I haven't read any issues of that comic.) Another thing that struck me was how the "Dark Lady Lumiya," once Luke had figured out how to best her in lightsabre-versus-matter-and-energy whip combat (Luke cobbles together a second lightsabre for that purpose, which seems less freighted with mystic Jedi significance than this later seemed to me to get) and her own secret identity was revealed, just about disappeared until a sort of "we'd better get back to her!" reappearance in the very last issue; it seems somehow a little different from the modern emphasis on Jedi and the Force.

One "fill-in" issue which I might have been awaiting ahead of time was written by Archie Goodwin, who had handled the early issues of the comic, with art by Al Williamson, who had collaborated with him on the adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back. I seem to recall that issue being reprinted as a standalone release by Dark Horse in the 1990s, and also seeing comments about it in the comics summaries I found online around then, the first enthusing about it even if dismissing the regular issues around it, although the second seemed more or less as disinterested in it as in the rest of the comics of that time. Of course, perhaps those particular memories did cast a cloud after all over the issue... but beyond the sense sometimes that there wasn't enough space for art to tell all the story and caption boxes were being pressed into service, it still made for an interesting change of pace. However, as a "fill-in" it may have thrown things off somewhat: an issue where an old comrade and inspiration for Han (who we've never heard of in close to a hundred previous issues) first shows up doesn't appear until after the hundredth issue, where a significant truth about him is revealed...

There's one other individual issue that got my attention in an amused sort of way, wrapping up an occasional storyline involving two stolen statuettes various galactic lowlifes kept squabbling over. It turns out the artifacts are necessary to restore health to a planet of what Han calls "a bunch of aliens who look and act like sick kids"... and it just so happens that the "alien" design looks a decided amount like a 1980s attempt by a North American artist (the same one who collaborated with the writer on the storyline's first issue, where Lando was disguised in a costume like the anime character Captain Harlock, which is a costume that shows up on someone else in this issue) to imitate anime and manga character designs, if with antennae added to the large liquid eyes and shaggy "Rick Hunter" (or "Hikaru Ichijo," should any quibble) hair. The planet is named "Godo" and the particular alien our heroes interact with is "Fumiyo," and the effect is a little bizarre yet amusing... A bit of a shame, then, that one important part of the issue (that one of the summaries got a bit horrified over) is Han threatening to slag the planet from space for Lando to get the same cure as the aliens, with Luke and the Alliance pilots ready to go along with him. Still, I can wonder if this stood out because it was by a different artist than the regular by that point, whose work might be called more "stylized" than what had come before. In another "artwork" point, I had been noticing before how standalone splash pages kept being included in the books, but it wasn't until this volume that I realized all of them amounted to works based on The Empire Strikes Back.

With it all over, I suppose I am pondering the experience a little, especially weighed against how I just don't read the "modern" Star Wars comics or novels. Perhaps it could be said that it's interesting to see interpretations that don't have everything from two decades of the "Expanded Universe" loaded on to them, if without interpretations from the new movies either. Perhaps, as I was thinking, it's all just a subtle rejoinder to the complaints that, having been "first," George Lucas should consider himself beholden to the novels of the 1990s. As well, though, seven paperbacks (if perhaps somewhat expensive) are an easier thing to grasp than long series of novels and comics.

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