Tuesday, January 07, 2014

As reported on Comics Alliance and a bunch of other places, Disney is moving the Star Wars license from Dark Horse Comics to Marvel. Reactions are mixed: it wasn't a surprise announcement or anything, but DHC had about twenty years of Star Wars comics, and it sucks for them. Strange as it may seem, Marvel looks like an unknown quantity here: are they going to go with A-list teams? How many books? Will they only publish straight tie-ins or adaptations, or will they have more variety like Knights of the Old Republic, Legacy, or the Star Wars? The Hurting has a pretty good post on the topic, and how the "Expanded Universe" continuity is probably going to be right out with the changeover. Speaking as someone who loved the old Marvel Star Wars to death, I'm not naive enough to think Marvel's going to go back to that style, nor would I lie to you and say they were the best possible Star Wars comics, either. (Not consistently, anyways!)

Still, it does mean now is as good a time as any to check out another old Marvel issue: I still have my copy from 1981, but found another Star Wars #49 in the fifty-cent bin. "The Last Jedi!" Written by Mike W. Barr, breakdowns by Walt Simonson, finishes by Tom Palmer. This issue, Luke, Leia, and the droids are answering an unusual distress call; from the lost Prince Denid of Velmor. When a mob funded by the Empire stormed his palace and killed his family, the young prince was forced to flee, with his betrothed--who died in the crash--and his advisor and bodyguard, Jedi. Or Jedidiah: although he had been called to become a Jedi Knight, he had stayed behind to defend the Velmorian royal family. When he went back into the crashed ship for supplies, falling debris hit him in the head, and he was never the same, only remembering his lost dream of becoming a Jedi.

Bringing the prince home (in a Y-wing that seems to have as much interior room as a good-sized Winnebago) Luke disguises himself as a smuggler, while Leia passes herself off as Denid's betrothed Loren. The hope is the returned Denid would be able to shake the Empire's hold on his world, but Denid also seems to have eyes for Leia as well. Imperial officer Captain Traal, makes a pass at Luke, but that's merely prelude to blackmailing the "smuggler" into assassinating Denid and "Loren"!

While the droids seek medical help for Jedidiah, at the royal hunt Traal, the royals sympathizing with the Empire, and Luke end up hunting each other. Traal nearly gets the drop on Luke, but sensing his need through the Force, Jedidiah sacrifices himself to save him; shaming Luke. Still, Luke does right by him, with a kickass rocket-powered coffin. I'll admit it, I want one.

Of course, with the relevations of the later movies and books and everything, I don't know that the Jedi actually had a uniform. And prior to the prequels, it always seemed like the Jedi had been gone for much longer than two decades or so. After re-reading this issue, I pictured the Emperor opening insane asylums, telling the inmates they were sane and Jedi Knights, just to ruin their reputations...

Even though most of the issues I've looked at here have been old Marvel ones, I did enjoy more than a few Dark Horse ones: Star Wars: Empire #14 being a shining example.

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