R2-D2 and C3PO are popular Star Wars characters and there is no shortage of adventures featuring them. In 1985 a Saturday morning cartoon series called Star Wars: Droids aired for one season. This was followed by a spinoff comic series and even Dark Horse had a Droids series of comics for awhile. And according to George Lucas himself the Original Trilogy is supposed to be told from their perspective. However fans may feel about them these two Droids are important to the Saga.
About four years before the cartoon series aired on Television issue 47 of the ongoing Marvel Star Wars comics was released making it arguably the very first story to focus entirely on these two characters. But is it any good? Here are my thoughts on it.
The story takes place shortly after Luke Skywalker’s rendezvous with the Rebel Alliance. They tell him they captured an Imperial Warbot and would like to have a schematic on it as soon as possible. As we all know the Rebels enjoy having the plans to Imperial weapons and Artoo and Threepio are soon assigned to study the damaged and inoperable war machine. This goes poorly when Artoo misunderstands an order from Threepio and ends up burning the robot’s insides to an unrecognisable mess. This upsets Luke and the Rebels greatly since the schematics (which are impossible to get now) would have been helpful in the war effort. Threepio, presumably speaking for Artoo as well, apologises and offers to make amends in any way he can. The Rebels see a final chance to retrieve the needed schematics and allow the two droids to redeem themselves by sending them with the damaged Warbot to an artificial satellite called Kligson’s Moon more popularly known as Droid World.
Kligson was a soldier from the Clone Wars who was badly injured and exists with over 90% of his body composed of cyborg parts. His injuries have left him embittered and reclusive and lives on Droid World with hundreds of droids he collected over the years as companions. He has issued a ban on all organic life to land on his moon so only Artoo, Threepio, and the damaged Warbot are allowed to meet him. It is the Rebel Alliance’s hope that Kligson will agree to repair the robot so Threepio and Artoo can download the schematic for the Rebels to use.
On the moon’s surface the two droids are introduced to Z-X3 (called Zee Exthree throughout the comic), an Imperial prototype of a droid that would be able to conduct missions in environments that Stormtroopers could not. Unfortunately for Z-X3 the project was met with unsatisfactory results and he was rejected. On Droid World Kligson took Z-X3 in and allowed him to live in harmony with his fellow mechanicals.
After agreeing to repair the Warbot Kligson suddenly orders Z-X3 to remove Artoo and Threepio’s restraining bolts so they no longer have to serve Luke and instead live with him on Droid World. This is not to Threepio’s liking and he defends his master claiming to prefer his servitude. This intrigues Kligson enough to order Artoo and Threepio to his chambers where he wants to try to talk the droids out of their loyalty to the Rebellion which he views as no better than the Empire.
While being led to Kligson Artoo sneaks off to follow Z-X3 who is taking the Warbot to a large maintenance hall. There Artoo discovers that Droid World already has another Imperial Warbot of their own which is missing only one part. The Weapon Head on the Warbot the Rebels brought is just what is needed to fix the one on Droid World. With the newly functioning Warbot Z-X3 intends to take over Droid World and kill Kligson all in service of the Empire which his programming still compels him to serve despite his previous rejection.
Artoo flees to warn Kligson, but fails to stop Z-X3 from shooting Kligson and destroying him. The traitorous droid, with an army of robots and the Warbot at his command, begin to chase Artoo and Threepio whom they perceive as a threat to the Empire. The two droids are backed into a doorway that leads only to a fire pit. Feeling like his doom is upon him Threepio begins to despair, however Artoo jumps in and Threepio falls after him only to get attached to powerful magnetic grapples which pull them up to safety to another section of the moon. There they meet Kligson alive and well. Apparently what Z-X3 destroyed was a duplicate that Kligson had made in advance when he began to suspect the droid’s treachery. Kligson hoped to use Artoo and Threepio as bait to draw Z-X3 out. Using another Warbot that Kligson happened to have on him (just go with it, OK) he extinguishes all of the rebelling robots and returns the two droids to Luke along with the needed schematics. Kligson’s last act is to operate Droid World’s built-in engines and send himself and the moon away from the Galactic war that he wants desperately to escape.
This story is entertaining enough, but I seriously question the efficacy of Kligson’s plan. So many things could have gone wrong. For one thing Artoo and Threepio were put at great risk and there is no way you can tell me that he was 100% sure they would not have been destroyed by either the angry robot mob or the molten core they almost fell into. Also with the large amount of special duties that Z-X3 was assigned to is it not conceivable that he would gather enough intelligence to reveal that Kligson was suspicious of him, had built a duplicate, and had another Warbot of his own?
Plot holes aside this story is a lot of fun to read and it has that special place as the first Star Wars: Droids story. One last comment I wish to make in light of the fire pit is that perhaps the Galaxy should start investing in hand rails.
Thank you for reading and check next week for my review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #48: The Third Law and may the Force be with you.