Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel Annual #1 The Long Hunt


The Classic Marvel comics in total had 107 issues, 3 annuals, and a four-issue miniseries. In their due time I shall get to the other two annuals and the miniseries, but today it is time to review the first of the Star Wars annuals. It’s a fun action-packed story and enjoyed my time reading it.However, it has a few problems. In earlier reviews I mentioned that seeming inconsistencies in the Star Wars lore could easily be retconned and explained by the reader if they have a good enough imagination. Unfortunately with this annual it is possible I may have spoke too soon. This issue has a doozy of a contradiction that will give any “head-canon retconner” a massive headache as you will see.

The story begins on planet Tirahnn where Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, and the two droids have stopped for supplies. Things seem to go smoothly as Luke and Leia get some much needed R&R when a spy spots them who is working for a woman named Kharys who is the Majestrix of Skye. Kharys, a green-skinned alien with wings, has bad blood between herself and Han Solo ever since he and a crew of smugglers attempted an operation on her home planet, Skye. She had killed most of the crew except for Han and a woman named Katya M’Buele who escaped. Kharys has been hunting them ever since. Knowing the connections between Han and Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia the spy reports to Kharys. Meanwhile Katya herself happens to be visiting Han on the Millennium Falcon this very moment.
Kharys who is strong in the Dark Side of the Force conjures up a Smoke Demon that invades the ship, kills Katya and absorbs her soul. Luke Skywalker struggles with the Demon, but eventually wins the combat by slaying the creature with his lightsaber. With the Smoke Demon destroyed all the souls it captured free themselves from its body and escape. Angered over the death of his old partner Han Solo flies the Falcon to planet Marat V, known as Skye to its inhabitants, to deal with the tyrant Kharys. In the planet’s orbit they are bombarded by Imperial TIE Fighters which badly damage the ship causing it to crash on the planet’s surface. Before this happens Han sends Luke, Leia, and the droids in an escape pod to the planet which gets captured by the locals. While Luke and Leia assume Han and Chewbacca to be dead Aragh who is another member of Kharys species (known as S’Kytri, or the Windborn) meets them in their cell. He summons them to a trial for the crime of landing on their planet which is forbidden for all non-S’Kytri.
The Council of the S’Kytri is on the verge of turning Luke and Leia over to the Empire when they discover Luke’s lightsaber and learn that his last name is Skywalker. They had apparently known a Skywalker before and according to a prophecy another Skywalker would free the S’Kytri from the tyranny of Kharys. Aragh reveals to them that the Falcon was captured intact by Kharys in her fortress and that there is a chance to save Han and Chewie.
The Council declares Luke and Leia friends of the S’Kytri and they fly to war against the Majestrix and the Imperials she is in league with. Since our two heroes cannot fly they are given makeshift wings made from anti-grav belt packs and artificial wings strapped to their arms. For those not reading the comic I assure you that the image is as ridiculous as it sounds.
There at Kharys’s palace the S’Kytri defeat the Imperial forces, Han and Chewie are rescued, and Luke kills Kharys in a lightsaber duel. During the brief celebration the S’Kytri are asked why they thought Luke was a fulfiller of prophecy. Aragh explains that years ago during the Clone Wars the Jedi Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi brought two pupils with him and they saved the S’Kytri from destruction. Years later one of the pupils returned and told them that the Jedi were extinct and forced them to swear fealty to the Empire. That man was Darth Vader. The other was Anakin Skywalker! Now that the S’Kytri have aided Luke they feel their debt to the Skywalkers is done and they no longer swear loyalty to the Imperials.

So there you have it. The most inexplicable contradiction in the Marvel Comics. Obviously the writers didn’t know it at the time, but we all know that Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were the same person. So how could they have both been at Skye together as two different students of Obi-Wan? Ben may have lied to Luke about Vader, but surely the S’Kytri would have no motivation to do this?
If the reader really really wants to find a way to fit this contradiction into the EU lore I do have a workable theory, but it is a giant stetch: Suppose the other pupil was some lesser known Padawan whose name was never made clear to the S’Kytri. During the Clone Wars Anakin had not taken on the name of Darth Vader yet and he was not disguised in the suit. He would have been physically unrecognisable to the S’Kytri when he returned and he may have simply chosen to lie to them. He could have easily told them that he was the other student and that his name was Darth Vader. Judging by Luke’s shock during the big reveal at the end of The Empire Strikes Back it is apparent that it is not common knowledge throughout the Empire that Darth Vader was formerly Anakin Skywalker. Luke would have heard something about it if it was. I think the Empire hushed up Vader’s identity making it easy for anyone to assume he was someone else. As I said that is a bit of a stretch, but it is the only theory that makes this issue work with the rest of the EU. Some people would just as soon not care and just accept that the Marvel era was fraught with flaws. That’s fair too.
Overall, though, this first annual was an entertaining read that has plenty of action and has all of our favourite characters together in an adventure. I always like best the stories that have Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and the droids together. It seems Star Wars is more complete that way.

Check in next time for my review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #31-34 and may the Force be with you.


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