These days it seems like everything is coming up Star Wars, and today’s blog is no different. Join me as I take a look at the classic, over-sized issues of Marvel Special Edition: Star Wars #1-2. Before we start, let me just say that these comics bring back some wonderful, touching memories for me. My late father bought them for me when they first came out, and I love them just as much now as I did then. Enough of the sad stuff…let’s get moving!
Complete Arc: Marvel Special Edition: Star Wars #1, Marvel Special Edition: Star Wars #2
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Year Released: 1977
Creative Team: Roy Thomas/George Lucas – writers, Howard Chaykin – artist
Heroes: See Threepio (C-3PO), Artoo Deetoo (R2-D2), Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan (Ben) Kenobi, Han Solo, Chewbacca
Villains: Darth Vader, Grand Moff Tarkin, a shitload of stormtroopers.
Notable Quotable: I’m not going to wait for the empire to draft me into service. This rebellion is spreading, and I want to be on the side I believe in. – Biggs Darklighter.
Publishing Note: These two giant-sized treasury editions contain the first six issues of the original Marvel Star Wars run, collected and re-released during the films initial run. Yes, during it’s initial run, as it ran continuously, in some theaters, for over a year! Ah the good ole days.
It is a period of civil war…naw. I’m not going to do that to you. You all know the story. If you haven’t seen the original Star Wars (I refuse to call it A New Hope) then go watch it and come back here. Are you back? Fantastic movie, huh? There are a few changes from movie to comic of note. In the comic, the entire Biggs/Luke backstory is intact, as Biggs meets Luke on Tatooine (before Luke’s run-in with Laurel and Hardy of the Droid set) and they discuss Luke’s academy status as well as Biggs’ plans to jump to the rebellion. The two meet again near the end of the arc before they take their fateful run on the Deathstar. This was cut from the original release of the film but inexplicably replaced in the Lucas update from the 90’s. Placing the later and not the former scene into the film gave the watcher no real point of reference (other than a fleeting mention of Biggs during an argument with Uncle Owen) and made no sense, but I’m not a screenwriter. Also in place, in full four-color glory, is the original scene where Jabba confronts Han in the ship bay at Mos Eisley. I am so glad they removed this scene from the original film, because the bipedal, green-skinned, humanoid Jabba in the comic just doesn’t hold a candle to the slug he became in Return of the Jedi.
How was Marvel lucky enough to score the first licensed comic based on Star Wars? It wasn’t easy. Stan Lee had turned down Lucasfilm when they initially approached Marvel to do a pre-movie-release comic book tie-in to Star Wars. It was 1975 and movie comic tie-in’s had never sold well. Roy Thomas, already a comic book legend and then acting editor-in-chief, urged Lee to take another look at it. Lee agreed to publish the tie-in’s with no royalties to Lucasfilm until ticket sales met $100,000 (Jenkins, Garry (1997). Empire Building: The Remarkable Real-Life Story of Star Wars).
With the hard sell out of the way, Thomas set out to do the best job he could transferring the story from script to comic, and boy did he succeed. Thomas keeps the pacing quick and the story tight to the script, bringing this timeless space opera to life between the tabloid-sized, card stock covers of these wonderful “Special Editions”. As noted before, Thomas included scenes that were cut from the film, making for a more complete telling of the saga.
Howard Chaykin, an artistic wizard, is credited by most sources as the artist on this book. The fact is, Chaykin did the layouts while several other artists did the actual pages. These artists include Steve Leialoha, Rick Hoberg, Bill Wray, and Dave Stevens, with the covers being done by Rick Hoberg & Dave Cockrum (issue 1) and Chaykin & Tony deZuniga (issue 2). That being said, the art is wonderful! It flows wonderfully between artists and conveys a fluid action that builds page after page to its final, fiery conclusion!
These books are THE comics to read for any Star Wars fan. They blew me away when I was nine and I still love them very much. I re-read them shortly before going to see The Force Awakens. It took me back to 1977, and I could feel my father smiling nearby as I again thrilled at an adventure I will never tire of. He passed not to long after giving me these books, and I can’t stop thinking of how much he would have loved to see Episode 7 with me. Maybe he did.
I will see you soon! Be sure to go over to trippingoverreality.com to check out my sci-fi novel, Tripping Over Reality: The Death and Origin of a Hero. Oh, if you have a request for a classic comic arc review, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m outta here!