Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #24 Silent Drifting

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Here marks the first Star Wars story set during the Clone Wars. And sadly it is nothing to write home about. While this issue of the Marvel series makes no mention of Separatists or Clone Armies there is little here to contradict the lore either. It’s just quietly and unobtrusively set during that time period. It reveals nothing of interest about the war and focuses instead on a minor incident that occurred in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s career as a Jedi Knight and general of the Republic.

The story opens with the Millennium Falcon taking damage from TIE Fighters it encounters just after leaving hyperspace. Han allows the ship to play possum and drift in space which convinces the Imperial ships they took more damage than they actually did. When the Fighters get close Han and Luke take them out with the Falcon’s turret guns.
Han Solo begins to boast about the skill of his manoeuvre when Princess Leia decides to temper his pride by letting him know that the “Silent Drifting” tactic is an old one that was employed by the Jedi Knights during the Clone Wars. She goes on to tell them a story her father, Bail Organa, told her about Obi-Wan during the Clone Wars.

While aboard a Republic pleasure cruiser on its way to Alderaan Obi-Wan is approached by a “businessman” named Augustus Tryll who wants to have Kenobi work for him. Knowing Tryll’s involvement in contraband dealing, political info leaking, and even slavery Obi-Wan politely declines. During this brief exchange Tryll offers Ben some Deltron Spice Wine that was fermented by a device that uses microwaves. Ben declines this as well citing that he doesn’t “care for addictive stimulants.” An odd thing for Obi-Wan to say since we have seen him accept alcohol from TC-14 on Trade Federation command ships and even purchase drinks at bars on Coruscant. Perhaps he was only refusing Tryll’s hospitality to take away any leverage the man hoped to gain over him.
Shortly afterward the pleasure cruiser enters the Merson Asteroid Belt on the other side of which are the Mersons who are an anti-Republic organisation that enslaves captured Republic citizens. All Republic ships that enter the belt shut down all non-essential systems and drift along the belt disguised as debris. However, for an unknown reason the Mersons do not buy the ploy this time and attack the ship. The Republic cruiser engages the Mersons in combat but it becomes apparent that a pleasure cruiser’s limited defence systems are no match for Merson slaver ships. Obi-Wan deduces that the Mersons were receiving a signal from inside the cruiser which alerted them that they was not just mere space debris. Word of this soon spreads to the passengers who immediately suspect Augustus Tryll of making a deal with the Mersons. When Obi-Wan tries to intervene with the mob they begin to turn on the Jedi Knight too believing him to be in league with Tryll. Instead of attacking the angry passengers, however, Obi-Wan destroys Tryll’s fermentation device when he realises that its microwave signals were what drew the Merson ships. The enemy vessels soon lose the cruiser in the belt after they begin “silent drifting” again. This apparently calms the mob down despite the fact that now their source of booze is gone.
By time Leia’s story is over the Millennium Falcon is fully repaired and jumps back into hyperspace.

There really isn’t much to this issue that reveals anything significant about Obi-Wan or the Clone Wars. It’s a very simple one-story issue that is mildly entertaining, but definitely no milestone in the Star Wars EU.
Fans who are more acquainted with Prequels era content like The Clone Wars TV series will find the story out of tune with the show. While there is no direct contradictions to the lore the overall look and design featured in the issue feels nothing like The Clone Wars we know. Also Obi-Wan’s appearance is out of place. While not as old as we see him in A New Hope he still has a grey beard and looks at least a decade older than he does in the show and the Prequels. A fan of the show will also see that Anakin is not with him or even mentioned at all. I suppose he must have been elsewhere at the time.
And whether or not the Mersons are a part of the Separatists or the Confederacy of Independent Systems is obviously not revealed here. As I have said before in other reviews an imaginative reader may attempt to fill the gaps and explain seeming contradictions within the EU lore if they try hard enough.

Check in next time for my review of Classic Marvel #25-26 and may the Force be with you.

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Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #18-23

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At last a good story arc! Some of the previous one-issue stories were decent, but this is the first extended arc in the comics that actually has a good story to tell. Devoid of green rabbits and speedo-wearing space pirates issues #18-23 is a tale of intrigue and complexity that respects its characters and actually delves into the Force where previous issues avoided the subject. Here marks the beginning the Marvel Star Wars line starting to tell intriguing stories fleshing out the characters and the Rebellion vs. The Empire. Gone is the era of Buck Rogers imitation and campy kitsch. The Star Wars EU is finally improving in quality. Now that isn’t to say that some of the goofiness of the series is wholly absent. But the goofiness is now balanced with the writing instead of sucking out the dignity of the Star Wars expanded universe with ridiculous plotlines and funny characters more at home in Flash Gordon than a Galaxy far, far away.

The story opens with Luke Skywalker aboard the Millennium Falcon falling into a comatose state after engaging in meditation in an attempt to improve his focus. The meditation technique accidentally leads him to touch the mind of Darth Vader causing his consciousness to war with Vader’s in a trance.
Han and Leia decide to find a medical facility but the Falcon accidentally drops out of hyperspace into an Imperial-infested sector after Solo forgets to readjust the navi-computer which was beginning to drift. The Falcon is accosted by an Advanced TIE Fighter which Han promptly destroys just before discovering in the sector a ravaged private merchant vessel with Tagge House markings. The Tagge family have strong ties with the Empire with one member even being a high ranking fleet commander. Aboard the vessel are dead and dying Rebel soldiers who were captured and then planted there by the Empire as a part of a plot to discredit the Rebel Alliance by framing them for piracy. Before they can get the Falcon out of there it is once again attacked by Advanced TIE Fighters led by an Imperial light battle cruiser commanded by a Commander Strom who is involved in the conspiracy to put the Rebellion in ill-repute.
The heroes flee to a nearby resort space station known as The Wheel. The Wheel is a known sanctuary for Imperial citizens containing a massive centre for gambling and gladiatorial entertainment. The Wheel is administrated by a former senator named Simon Greyshade whose facility has turned up major funding for the Empire’s military thanks to a tax on its profits. The tax has been especially lucrative because sanctuary policy against Imperial interference aboard the resort has made The Wheel a popular haven for gamblers. Han and his companions assume to take advantage of this sanctuary, but meet with complications when the Falcon and the two droids Artoo and Threepio are impounded due to illegal docking without a permit. Furthermore to make things more complicated Commander Strom decides to violate the sanctuary agreement by sending a detachment of Stormtroopers aboard the station to find the Rebels and eliminate them. Leia and the two droids are captured by Greyshade while Chewie is arrested and thrown into the gladiator pits. Meanwhile, Han in a bid to pay for the Falcon and the droids agrees to participate in the gladiator games voluntarily.
It is revealed that the Empire’s scheme to frame the Rebellion is a part of a plan to justify an Imperial takeover of the facility. The Tagge merchant vessel was delivering Wheel profits making a Rebel attack a serious economic threat. The Empire hopes convincing the resort visitors of this will make them open to Imperial control without losing a large portion of their patronage. Greyshade is in league with Commander Strom in this venture under the promise that his administration would remain unaltered when the Wheel changed hands.
Elsewhere, Darth Vader who sensed Luke’s meditative contact through the Force is now on the hunt for him. Aboard an Imperial Star Destroyer the Dark Lord orders Captain Wermis to change course toward The Wheel so he can track him down.Meanwhile,  Luke who has been treated at the Wheel’s medical section overcomes his trance and breaks out of his bonds.
Leia escapes Greyshade and teams up with newly awakened Luke and the droids to find a way to rescue Han and Chewie. They witness some of Greyshade’s personal guard stealing back the profits that were used by the Empire to frame the Alliance and Leia realises that her former senate colleague is double-crossing the Empire for some reason of his own. She quickly discovers what that reason is when he recaptures her and tells her what he wants. He has developed a romantic attachment to and has plotted a scheme to convince her to leave with him and start a new life away from the Empire. In return he promises to release Han and Chewie and let her friends go away from Strom’s hands. This, of course, does not sit well with the princess; but she relents when she senses no other options. Things, however, drastically change when Han fakes his own death in the gladiator arena which is once again set in the zero-gravity environment of space. With Han Solo slaying a giant lizard with a lightsaber and twice now enduring space with no suit I am beginning to wonder if the smuggler’s trade is a pathway to many abilities some to consider to be unnatural.
And in other news Commander Strom discovers Greyshade’s treachery and orders his men to hunt him and the Rebels down and kill them. Amid the chaos Greyshade gives up his dreams of having Leia for his own and flees with his droid companion Master-Com (the only true friend he ever had) only to be caught by an enraged and bitter Strom. Greyshade throws a grenade at the Commander killing him, but the close range of the blast fatally injures the former senator and damages Master-Com beyond repair.
Luke, Leia, and the droids escape in Greyshade’s private yacht and Han and Chewie take off in the Falcon. At this point Darth Vader and Captain Wermis arrive and attack the Falcon when Vader recognises it as the ship that shot him during the Death Star battle. Luke saves his friends when he once again meditates and releases strong feelings of rage toward Vader which temporarily incapacitates him buying them enough time to jump to hyperspace.

This story arc has its flaws, but overall it was a well-written piece. I enjoyed seeing the Force given more exploration this time around and it’s great to see Han, Luke, Leia, Chewie, Threepio, and Artoo all have a fair amount of time to shine in the story. The characters are fleshed out and given plenty to do.
Casual readers may not notice, but the Tagge family which owned the merchant ship used in the Imperial ploy has appeared in A New Hope. The Imperial officer aboard the Death Star who expressed his fears that the Rebels may exploit the Death Star plans was a member of the Tagge House. This family’s affairs will be explored further in the Marvel series.
The overall story is pretty good and it doesn’t insult the reader’s intelligence by giving a childishly simple plot. The political intrigue, while not at the level of complexity as War and Peace or even Dune, is still an impressive and unusual thing to see during this era of the EU.
Some minor gripes I have is largely to do with the resolution at the end. I find Greyshade’s true motives a bit stupid for a man who had it all. Throwing all his success away for a woman, even if she is Princess Leia, doesn’t fit the sort of character we are led to believe he is. Also I strongly dislike Luke using what is essentially Dark Side powers to escape Vader. Releasing anger in a fight is what Obi-Wan and the Jedi Order teach to avoid. It is an unsettling way to see Luke deal with a problem. And finally once again in one panel we see Luke turn on his lightsaber and the colour is red instead of blue. I still do not know why the artists were having difficulties representing Luke’s lightsaber colour accurately, but it seems to be a frequent inconsistency.
Otherwise, this arc is an excellent and worthwhile read.

Check in next time for my review of Star Wars Marvel issue #24: Silent Drifting and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews Supplemental: 10 Things I Love about the Star Wars Prequels

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On 21 May 2016, The Star Wars Prequels Appreciation Day, I wrote the following post:

With the Prequels getting so little love as it is I thought I should make a post for the occasion. I am what you could call a Prequels apologist and while I do not think the films are perfect I do like them and am ready to defend them as needed.
And so for The Star Wars Prequels Appreciation day, I offer 10 things that I loved from the Prequels.

1. The Score

Whether you like the Prequels or not the grandeur of John Williams’ music is undeniable with The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith especially turning out some of the finest soundtracks Williams has ever done. Duel of the Fates is easily on my top 10 favourites tracks (another post for another day perhaps) demonstrating that John Williams is an artist who can add dignity and beauty to anything.
I hope recent rumours about him retiring from composing future Star Wars soundtracks are untrue. No one can replace John Williams and the Saga won’t be the same without him.

2. The Expansion of the Star Wars Galaxy

It is a point in the Prequels’ favour that they didn’t try to go too retro with the designs and worlds. George Lucas gave us a plethora of new planets and cultures with the Prequel trilogy; from the Venetian look of Naboo to the unique waterworld of Kamino to the exotic fungal beauty of Felucia. The Star Wars Prequels opened up the universe of Star Wars in new ways for hungry fans wanting more. The EU had already been doing this for about 15 years prior and the Prequels expanded it further. While I may not be a big fan of Jar Jar Binks, Otoh Gunga is still a cool looking city which is another testament to the undeniable quality of the visual design despite flaws within the trilogy’s story.

3. The Jedi Order

In the Original Trilogy the Jedi were an all but extinct society survived only by old men past their prime and asthmatic Dark Lords too decrepit or too physically encumbered to demonstrate the full power of the Force. In the Prequels, however,  we see the Jedi Order at the height of their strength. In The Phantom Menace Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon Jinn fight one of the best lightsaber duels seen in the Saga revealing the extent of what young Jedi and Sith can do. And at the Battle of Geonosis we finally get a look at what the Jedi Order was renowned for when fighting in numbers.

4. The Special Effects

I know, I know; special effects don’t necessarily make a film any good. But, bear in mind that I am not suggesting that the special effects excuse the Prequels’ flaws. They don’t. But they do bear mentioning as a positive element to the trilogy. The visual look of the fight scenes, ships, creatures, and planets are groundbreaking achievements in filmmaking that are influencing current Hollywood blockbusters today. Now while special effects cannot solely carry a movie (see Transformers 2 and The Hobbit Trilogy for further reference) praise should be given where praise is due. These films look cool whatever the critics can say. To say otherwise is unreasonable.

5. Obi-Wan Kenobi

Ewan McGregor’s performance is one of the highlights of the Prequel Trilogy. Many of his mannerisms and voice tones reflect Sir Alec Guinness convincingly and I can easily see him growing older to be the Obi-Wan Kenobi we see in the Originals. There are many scenes in Revenge of the Sith especially where he sounds virtually identical to Guinness. Impressive, most impressive. Sir Alec taught him well.

6. The CG Yoda

When ILM changed Yoda from puppet to CG character in Attack of the Clones a whole new door for the future of alien characters was opened for the Star Was franchise. With ILM’s creative work the new Yoda was now able to move and make facial expressions that his puppet counterpart could not. While I do have nostalgic feelings about the muppet Yoda from the Originals the way the Prequels allowed him to do more and express more left me satisfied. Although to be fair the duel scene between Yoda and Count Dooku was still pretty stupid.

7. Artoo and Threepio

Close examination of the plot of the Original Trilogy reveals that the story is predominently seen from the perspective of these two droids. They are passive observers to the historical events happening around them which is why Star Wars first opens with them on the Tantive IV reacting to the events that set in motion the entire franchise.
I love Artoo and Threepio. C3PO is probably my second favourite character next to Han Solo and the inclusion of them in the Prequels and allowing them to witness Galactic history once again is a good thing in my book.

8. Christopher Lee

Do I need to say more? It’s Christopher Lee! His presence in anything gives it oodles of cool points. Attack of the Clones is by far my least favourite Star Wars movie and yet Christopher Lee still allows the film some dignity and badassery. That’s because he is Christopher Lee. He is Dracula. He is Saruman. He was a Bond villain. And he is Darth Tyrannus. It is only fair that a former Hammer Horror veteran gets a place in the Prequels since Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars was played by none other than Peter Cushing who is none other than Van Helsing and Dr. Frankenstein.

9. New EU Resources

The Star Wars Expanded Universe was alive and well prior to the Prequels being released and now even more stuff was open to being explored. Dark Horse now had the Clone Wars, Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul, Jango Fett, Naboo, Utapau, and a thousand other things now to incorporate in their comics. And the books and video games likewise that had the Prequels to thank for new expansive content. The EU was left with much to thrive on now that the Prequels made the Star Wars galaxy so much bigger.

10. The Story

OK, I can see this one being a bit controversial which is why I left it for last. When I say the story I do not mean a lot of the obvious flaws like Jar Jar Binks, Anakin turning to the Dark Side too quickly, midichlorians, or Padme being about as useful as a damsel in distress in Episodes II and III (died of a broken heart my ass!). Those things bug me as much as any disappointd fan. What I mean by story is the more fundamental themes found in the Prequels. Most of the problems within the Prequels were a matter of their execution rather than just being stupid in and of themselves. A lot of the content was fine in theory. It was just carried out poorly. I criticise the execution of many of Lucas’s ideas like most fans, but I think I understand what he was attempting to accomplish and there are elements in the story telling that is quite brilliant.
Much of the plot echoes and parallels and foreshadows events that happen within itself and in the original trilogy. Lucas employs foreshadowing very well. And many emotional scenes were done well too. The friendship between Obi-Wan and Anakin that we see developed over the trilogy makes Kenobi’s “You were the Chosen One!” speech all the more heartbreaking. And I love much of the dialogue that Yoda and Qui-Gon had to offer in the films.
George Lucas had a story to tell and it was a good one. The fact that he didn’t tell it as well as I should like has not made me hate the finished product. I think the past 15+ years of bandwagon hating on the Prequels has kept fans from honestly seeing the better points of the films. A closer examination is merited. It’s time calm down and let go of the hate.

Thank you for reading and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #17 Crucible

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Crucible (not to be confused with the later EU novel of the same name) is a standalone issue that is not related to the story arc established last issue with Valance and his search for Luke Skywalker. Instead issue #17 is a flashback story about Luke’s early life on Tatooine with his aunt and uncle Beru and Owen Lars.
While struggling to please his uncle who wants him to take seriously his tasks as a moisture farmer Luke is coping with the impending loss of his friend Biggs Darklighter who is soon to be leaving for the  Academy. He and his friends get together for a final farewell to Biggs by racing their T-16 Skyhoppers in Beggars Canyon. While partying after the race a militia scout crashes his landspeeder into there midst and warns them that angry Tusken Raiders are on the rampage after weapons smugglers accidentally polluted one of their sacred wells. Now armed with the smugglers’ blasters and rifles the Sand People are dangerous and heading right for them. After attempting to defend themselves from the Raiders Biggs is stabbed in the shoulder with a gaffi stick (spelled gaderffi in the comics) which was tipped with sand bat venom. Luke understands how quickly his friend needs to be treated by a doctor if he is to save him so he takes a dangerous short cut through Beggars Canyon known as the Diablo Cut. Although no Skyhopper has ever successfully maneuvered the Diablo Cut Luke does so with what I assume is a combination of skill and his now unknown Force-sensitivity. The T-16 is damaged, however, by shots from a Tusken Raider scouting party and the vehicle crashes near the Lars homestead where Biggs is cured and lives to fight another day.

Crucible is a decent standalone issue with a simple story that has little bearing on the rest of the Marvel line; but is a fun, easy read all the same. My only complaint is that there was no tension with Biggs being poisoned since we all know he was going to survive to fight the Death Star in the future anyway.
The story does makes some interesting connections to how we see Luke’s life at the beginning of A New Hope; for instance, he mentions his plans to spend the bounty money he receives for killing womp rats on a pair of macrobinoculars which we see him use in the film. Also the Tusken Raiders’ encounter with the smugglers explains where they got the rifles they use in A New Hope since it is obvious they lack the technological advancements to manufacture their own. It’s also nice to see what a womp rat looks like and the explanation that Luke was bullseyeing them for bounties rather than just sadistically killing small animals for sport. I am guessing that womp rats are a lot like rabbits in Australia which are considered pests and shooting them had a constructive purpose.

There is one interesting scene where Luke asks his aunt Beru about Owen’s relationship with his father and she tells him that Owen was angry with Luke’s father because he had depended on him for help on the moisture farm when he left to join the Jedi. This is an obviously gaping continuity error since we now know that Anakin Skywalker is not Owen’s brother and never worked with him on the moisture farm. However, this can be easily retconned. In the issue itself Beru seems to hesitate when Luke asks her about his father and this could be interpreted (even if it was not written to be this way) as her avoiding the truth which they kept from him for many years. It is not unthinkable that Owen and Beru would have told Luke that his father was Owen’s brother and made up a lie about his backstory. Cliegg Lars was dead by then and there were no family or friends about (as far as I know) who would contradict the story. The only person who could was Obi-Wan Kenobi whom Owen told to stay away.

So with an open mind and an appreciation for the early Marvel comics despite their flaws this issue can easily be another enjoyable episode in the expanded universe.

Check in next time for my review of issues #18-23 of the Star Wars Marvel line and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #16 The Hunter

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This particular issue of the classic Marvel run was apparently written for the fans who wanted more Jaxxon and Jimm the Starkiller Kid and less Han, Leia, and Luke Skywalker in their Star Wars. In other words, this issue was written for nobody.
Thankfully though, this is to my knowledge the only issue in the series that does not feature any recognisable Star Wars characters and is also the last time we see Jaxxon the green rabbit. He won’t be missed by me I can say honestly.

The story focuses on a mercenary named Valance who leads a team of bounty hunters on a crusade to wipe out all droids they come across. Valance is a man who has taken a prejudice against mechanicals to an extreme even going so far as to murder humans and aliens who own or are friendly with droids. His next target is Luke Skywalker after learning of his adventures with Artoo and Threepio from a captured Rebel spy. Seeing Luke’s friendship with the droids as an unnatural perversion he goes on an enraged quest to seek out Luke and the two robots to destroy them.
While raiding a medical facility where medical droids were operating he finds a dying Don-Wan Kihotay rambling about his adventures with Jaxxon, Amaiza, and “the boy and his droid.” Kihotay was, of course, referring to the Starkiller Kid and his treadmill robot, but Valance mistakes this for a lead on Luke Skywalker’s location. After tracking down Jaxxon, Amaiza, and Jimm on Aduba-3 there is a skirmish between them and Valance’s crew until Jimm shoots his blaster in the air causing a bantha stampede (apparently some Tusken Raiders and banthas immigrated to Aduba-3). Valance’s crew are killed and he learns that Jimm is not the boy he is not the droid-lover he is looking for. Valance flees the scene to the confusion of the trio and onboard his starship Valance removes a portion of his face revealing that he himself is a cyborg with cybernetic implants which were given to him after being injured in the service of the Empire. Filled with self-loathing and bitterness he continued his crusade against droids despite the hypocritical stance he has found himself in.

Like most of the early Marvel stories this is an odd one. However, it is not as bad as many of them especially considering we are reading a comic without any of the beloved main characters. Jaxxon, Luke Skywalker ripoffs, and space bimbos make poor substitutes and
anything and everything involving them is stupid, of course, but Valance himself is an interesting character. While we wait for his story arc to continue in later issues we get a very much desired farewell to Jaxxon and Amaiza who are implied to be romantically involved (imagine the babies!) and Jimm the Starkiller Kid and the farmer’s daughter Merri who are now married. Leaving them on Aduba-3 we never see them again. I am grateful that Marvel did not insist on keeping these characters cropping up throughout the series like George Lucas never took a hint about Jar Jar Binks who force-fed him to us throughout the Prequels and The Clone Wars. It is a pleasure to see writers use sense about what they insist on including in what they create. Besides given the prolific nature of rabbit breeding I was not keen on seeing Amaiza become the next octomom anyway.

The Hunter, while not being a great story, was a decent transition from the campy early months of the Star Wars Marvel line to the more respectful tone of the later arcs.

Check in next time for my review of Marvel Star Wars #17: Crucible and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #11-15

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Before Kamino the first water planet in the EU was a little world in the Outer Rim called Drexel. Instead of high-tech cloners we have seafaring brigands who use a sonic transmitter to cause approaching ships to crash and unlike the Kaminoans these pirates don’t care how well your manners are or how big your pocket book is. All they want is to take your ship for scrap and kill you in the process.
Unfortunately, for Luke Skywalker this happens to be the planet that he investigates during his search for a new Rebel base. After losing contact with Luke shortly Princess Leia takes it upon herself to look for him when she is suddenly captured by none other than the speedo-wearing space pirate Crimson Jack himself who is now the captain of a stolen Star Destroyer! Hoping to get a sizeable ransom from the Rebel Alliance for her safe return Captain Jack is frustrated when the Princess refuses to tell him where the secret base is. Hoping to find another way to persuade her he additionally captures Han Solo and Chewbacca using a tracer he installed on the Millennium Falcon after their previous encounter. Not realising that Leia is the same woman who saw an entire planet annihilated to protect the secret of the rebel base he seems to think threatening Han and Chewie would get him results. When this plan goes poorly Han Solo makes a counter-proposal by claiming that the reward that was stolen from them was only a small portion of a Rebel-owned treasure in the Drexel system. Leia and Han, hoping to find Luke and survive the pirate’s plans at the same time, agree to guide him the the Drexel system in exchange for their lives.
Meanwhile, Luke and the two droids Artoo and Threepio crash on planet Drexel thanks to the transmitter used by the local brigands. The band of robbers is led by an obese pirate named Captain Quarg who has an obsession with hanging anyone who happens to displease him. His group has had a longstanding feud with another group of locals called the Dragon Lords who ride the local Drexelian sea monsters across the planet’s ocean. Luke convinces Captain Quarg not to kill him by assuring the pirate that the mechanical skills of himself and the droids would be a greater asset to him in his war with the Dragon Lords than hanging him.
During this time Quarg reveals to Luke that his father was a former governor of an asteroid belt during the days of the Republic. However, the governor was deposed after butting heads with the Jedi Order who were informed that he was sharing profits in a business of wrecking space vessels to cannibalise scrap parts. The embittered governor escaped with his family and associates to Drexel and began the life of a pirate. A few years later a schism broke out among some of the technicians who were banished and later became the Dragon Lords.
Soon after this Crimson Jack’s ship arrives and is immediately assaulted by the transmitter. Han, Leia, and Chewie escape in the Millennium Falcon amid the chaos on the Star Destroyer and land on the planet in the middle of a battle between Quarg’s men and the Dragon Lords. The Millennium Falcon is hit and Han who was on the surface of the ship falls in the water enraging Chewbacca who sees Luke tinkering with the engines of one the vessels that attacked the Falcon. Chewie assumes Luke betrayed them and attacks him and the droids. Artoo, however, successfully knocks the Wookie out by smothering him with a fire extinguisher. Meanwhile Leia is captured by Quarg’s men and Han is rescued by the Dragon Lords who tell him that the Drexelian sea creatures they ride are actually sentient alien life forms who are helping them fight Quarg. With help from the Dragon Lords Han rescues his friends and the war against Quarg is ended in a great sea battle.
This leaves only the unfinished business with Captain Jack whose ship survived the attack from the transmitter thanks to its mass size being too much for the sonic device to bring down. The heroes take the Millennium Falcon for one final showdown against the space pirates eventually leading to a space duel between Han and Jack using only blasters and oxygen helmets in the zero-g environment of space. Apparently Correllian smugglers and speedo-wearing pirates can survive the intense pressure of space without spacesuits. To make a long and tedious story short Han wins the duel, Crimson Jack dies, and the formerly man-hating Jolli has a change of heart toward Han Solo and sacrifices herself by betraying the pirate captain out of love for him. Cue vomiting.

This story was weak. It’s a weird mess with two factions of good guys and two factions of bad guys having it out in a convoluted plot that makes no sense. We see pirates who are smart enough to commandeer an Imperial Star Destroyer act stupid enough to believe an enemy who tells them they know where some treasure is. That’s a classic trick more worthy of the Loony Tunes than Star Wars! We also witness two men fighting in space without suits and an important political figure of the Rebellion and last surviving member of the Alderaan royal family be allowed to take off just to find a friend who is missing in action out in the Outer Rim. Did General Dodonna have his back turned or something? There are so many things in this story that don’t work and are just plain stupid that even without green rabbits and Roy Thomas’s writing I found this arc much less enjoyable than the previous one. The last arc was at least entertaining in its absurdity. This one was a pain and a bore to read. Oh, and apparently Leia can swim now even though in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye she revealed she couldn’t!

Check in for my next review of Issue #16: The Hunter in the Star Wars Marvel line and may the Force be with you.