While Princess Leia had her mission on Metalorn Luke Skywalker had one of his own on his home planet of Tatooine. His mission is to recruit pilots to serve as blockade runners for the Rebellion. While he is no more successful than Leia was he does manage to uncover a sinister plot from Baron Tagge that could spell doom for the Alliance.
After landing his ship in the Jundland Wastes Luke takes the two droids, Artoo and Threepio, in his landspeeder and heads toward Mos Eisley. On the way there he stops the speeder to visit his old home: the moisture farm where his aunt and uncle were killed. On the farm he runs into his old friends from Tosche Station, Camie and Fixer, who are now married and cleaning up the old farm for the new owners. Turns out the evil Baron Tagge still bent on revenge against Darth Vader for blinding him and against Luke for interfering with his schemes has been purchasing moisture farms all around Tatooine for reasons unknown.
Back in his landspeeder Luke is pondering all of this when they run into a dead bantha that had frozen to death mysteriously. While wondering how any creature could freeze to death on Tatooine Imperial stormtroopers suddenly show up and start blasting the bantha into oblivion to hide all trace evidence of its ever being there.
As the plot thickens Luke finally makes it to Mos Eisley he meets Han Solo and Chewbacca at the cantina where he tells them what he and the droids had seen. Before any definite plans could be made they are suddenly attacked by stormtroopers who were given a tip about Rebel activity in the area. Who is the snitch? Why, none other than Camie and Fixer themselves. Fear of reprisals for protecting Rebels and rewards to solve financial difficulties prompted Fixer to betray Luke to the Empire when he became suspicious that Luke was with the Rebellion.
Thankfully they all escape in the landspeeder, but a blaster shot from one of the stormtroopers causes a coolant leak which leads to the vehicle stalling hours later out in the desert. R2 and C-3PO nobly offer to shut themselves down so their own internal coolant can be used to temporarily fuel the landspeeder. This plan works, but when they get back to Luke’s ship they find it being scavenged by Jawas. They strike a bargain with the Jawas in which transportation back to Mos Eisley and getting the ship back is given in exchange for some of the bonus money Jabba had reluctantly given Han Solo a few issues ago. Befoere taking them back to Mos Eisley the Jawas make a few stops to scavenge more items including at a seemingly abandoned moisture vaporator. Unfortunately, they discover it is not a moisture vaporator after all, but a prototype for a device that freezes all matter containing moisture. Which explains the bantha Luke encountered earlier. The heroes and the Jawas escape from the area just in time to see the device suddenly freeze a large portion of the desert. While back in the Jawa sandcrawler Baron Tagge, his brother Silas who invented the device which they call the Omega Frost, and an Imperial troop carrier attack them with blaster fire hoping to capture Luke Skywalker for the Baron’s revenge and kill the others. The sandcrawler escapes by dumping drums of Skyhopper propellant and setting them alight. The explosion incapacitates the troop carrier giving the Rebels and Jawas time to get away. They soon discover that the droids were revived with stored coolant aboard the sandcrawler which the Jawas in gratitude for having their lives saved by the heroes donate to Luke for his landspeeder. They also return Luke’s ship and let Han keep his money.
Soon Luke, Han, Chewie, and the droids leave Tatooine only to discover Baron Tagge’s ship in orbit transferring cargo to a Star Destroyer. Luke attempts to spy on the operation using a space suit, but is caught and captured. Onboard Tagge’s ship Luke is challenged to a lightsaber duel by the Baron who wants to settle his score with the young rebel. He also informs Luke that the Omega Frost is going to be used in a trap set on the Rebel Fleet on route to planet Junction. Despite Tagge’s skill with the blade Luke draws upon the Force and destroys his enemy’s cybervision with his lightsaber. Luke flees the ship in a stolen TIE Fighter leaving Tagge alive, blind, and humiliated. Tagge’s defeat and humiliation leaves him in an incapacitated state of shock which means his brother Silas has to take command of the operation. Unfortunately for Luke the TIE Fighter he stole was rigged and he crashes on an airless moon with only his spacesuit to protect him for a limited time. He is desperate to save his friends from the Omega Frost, but luckily the moon he happened to land on was the location of the giant device that emits the frost. Luke tries to destroy it with his lightsaber but it has a protective shield that prevents him from doing so. He almost despairs before theorising that perhaps the shield does not extend below the surface of the moon so he digs to the roots of the Omega Frost device and slashes at them with his weapon. That section was unshielded just like he figured and the device is effectively destroyed and the Rebels are saved. The Tagges’ evil plan is thwarted, Silas and the Baron are destroyed by the Rebel fleet, and Luke is rescued just before his suit runs out of oxygen. The vengeful Baron Tagge and his brother are finished once and for all. But as the reader will see in my next review that this is not quite the end of the Tagge family saga.
Here we have another example of a good story arc in the Star Wars classic Marvel run. While the villains may be a bit cheesy they are not horribly written and the respectable and more dignified tone of the stories, while still a far cry from Timothy Zahn or Knights of the Old Republic, are becoming more consistent with their respect for the Star Wars Saga and its characters.
Check in next time for my review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #35-37