Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel Star Wars #58: Sundown!

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While Luke, Lando, and Chewie leave to acquire goods from a business dealer named Ferret, Leia formulates a plan to keep the Rebel fleet invisible from Imperial scouts passing by Arbra, the rebel home base.

A pyramidal satellite called the Kerts BHRG Generator creates a temperature absorbing field that can envelop the entire fleet which can then be safely stowed away in the chromosphere of the Arbran sun without any danger. While that sounds scientifically unfeasible I remember in the last issue Lando Calrissian landed on the surface of a gas giant so I am content to believe anything at this point.

After bringing the Generator along with the Rebel fleet inside the sun Leia, General Rieekan, and a few other Imperial officers, jettison a small shuttle from the pyramid and head back for Arbra. However, they receive a transmission from Artoo and Threepio who failed to enter the shuttle with them and were still aboard the Generator. Sensing a malfunction in the Kert BHRG Generator’s temperature absorption systems (say that five times fast) Artoo took off to investigate. On the verge of panic Threepio is dragged along by Artoo who straps a rocket pack to the protocol droid’s back and flies toward one of the Rebel cruisers with an energy cable in tow. Intending to connect the cable to the cruiser’s reactor Artoo hopes to glean enough emergency power to keep the heat absorption field operational until full repairs are completed.

However, as the field begins to weaken Threepio’s pack begins to melt rendering it useless. Thankfully, Artoo decides to use his built-in fire extinguisher as a propulsion unit to complete the job and the connection is successfully made.

Following the typical Artoo tradition of saving the day with his technical prowess Leia, like Queen Amidala decades before her, commends the droids by having them cleaned up and pampered for a few hours as a reward.

Meanwhile, Luke, Lando, and Chewbacca arrive at a giant space station called Bazarre, a huge market place in space, where they hope to meet the squirrelly Ferret who proves unreliabe when they are captured and held at blasterpoint. They have been double-crossed!
Elsewhere, in another system, Leia receives a report that they have lost contact with Luke and Lando. Cliffhangar ending.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this issue and from the way my review is written it may come across that the story is shorter than most issues I have reviewed. However, that is simply not the case. While the comic is standard-sized, the story is simply so straight-forward and requires such little explanation or comment that not a lot of padding or detail is conjurable. This may have been one of the easiest and most clear-cut issues I have ever had to review.
There isn’t a lot of introspection, new characters, new ideas, or whatnot. It’s just Threepio and Artoo fighting the clock to save the day from a technological disaster of dubious scientific accuracy while Princess Leia plays the calm, but apprehensive military leader and steadfast friend. It’s standard Star Wars fare. And I really liked it.

I am extremely partial to C-3PO as he is my second favourite character after Han Solo which may have substantially contributed to my enjoyment of Sundown. A lot of the Artoo and Threepio-centric stories, no matter how absurd they can often be, I have always enjoyed immensely and Threepio is just a character that never gets boring. So while this story has all the straight-forwardness of a kids’ cartoon the characters really shine in it.

It also has the distinction of revealing that there are more games on board the Millennium Falcon than just Holographic Chess. On their trip to Bazarre we see Lando and Luke engaged in a tense game of Novacrown which looks more like traditional chess in that is utilises a multi-squared board and physical pieces moved by hand. That being said I have no idea what the rules are and I swear one of those pieces looks identical to the dead alien pilot from the first Alien movie.

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Is it just me who sees it?

But it is nice to see that entertainment in the Star Wars galaxy is as varied as it is in our world. Even if it doesn’t have video games and Mountain Dew.

For those wishing to read this issue it can be found in Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Volume 2 which you can purchase here.

Check next week for a review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #59: Bazarre and may the Force be with you.

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Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel Star Wars #56-57

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Even though scientific accuracy was never one of Star Wars’s stronger points, there are times when you really need to remind yourself that Star Wars is a fantasy where the impossible is commonplace. After seeing Lando and Lobot land on the “surface” of a gas giant I realised that this is one of those times.

In the last issue we saw Lando arrive on Cloud City only to find it deserted. After checking with the city’s computers he discovers that the city was evacuated due to some unknown crisis. Before he can figure what that crisis is Lando is suddenly attacked by Lobot whose implants are malfunctioning and making him act berserk.

Lando escapes and hides just as an imperial ship lands on one of the platforms. Out comes a bomb squad of several stormtroopers and Bespin’s new governor, Treece. Evidently, several disgruntled Ugnaughts planted a series of explosives all about the city.
While the troopers begin working on disarming the first bomb, the explosive suddenly speaks up and greets the bomb squad. It claims to have developed an AI personality thanks to being manufactured from cannibalised droid parts and not wishing to be blown up the bomb offers to guide the stormtroopers in disarming it. Seeing no reason to distrust the bomb’s intentions (I mean, has a bomb ever lied to you?) they go along with its instructions. All this accomplishes, however, is hastening the bomb’s detonation which kills all of the stormtroopers nearby who were working on it. Just before exploding the bomb calls the soon-to-be-dead imperials “suckers!”
Lando surveys the wrecked section of Cloud City where he encounters Governor Treece who survived the explosion. Both being armed they find themselves at an impasse in which they have to aid each other if they are to survive the other bombs. They agree to find and apprehend Lobot whom they reprogram to normal functions and instruct to disarm the remaining eleven explosives.

They do so, but Treece betrays Lando by pushing him over the edge of Cloud City. Lobot, now functioning normally, grabs some emergency life jets and jets after Lando. After grabbing the plummeting Calrissian Lobot and he land on the surface of Bespin where they encounter a group of Ugnaughts who are a filming a newsreel on Ugnaught conditions on Bespin. The film crew captures the two and sends them to their king to be sentenced to death.

Meanwhile on Arbra Luke and his new girlfriend, an ace pilot named Shira Brie, become apprehensive about Lando who has not reported back in some time. Taking his X-Wing they fly to Cloud City where they are attacked by Governor Treece and his stormtroopers. Luke and Shira get pinned down in a corner where they cannot escape and Treece figures on capturing Luke and gaining favour with Darth Vader which could grant him a seat on the Imperial Senate. A rather strange thing to hope for since the Imperial Senate was dissolved a few years ago. But, hey, ambition knows no bounds; including reality apparently.

Down below Lando pleads his case to King Ozz of the Ugnaughts. In exchange for freeing the Ugnaughts from slave labour up in Cloud City his death sentence is commuted. Taking the Ugnaught camera crew’s vessel up to Cloud City they engage in an epic battle with the Imperials and rescue Luke and Shira. Why is it whenever Luke tries to rescue anyone he ends up being the one in distress?

Luke threatens Treece by claiming he will use the Force to rearm and explode the bombs planted by the Ugnaughts if they don’t leave. Treece tries to call Luke’s bluff, but the young Jedi suddenly does indeed use the Force causing them to explode. The Imperial governor and his soldiers flee and Lando himself is about to evacuate when Luke explains that all he did was blow the primers causing minor damage that could be fixed within hours.

With the Empire finally gone, Lando back in charge, and the Ugnaughts being treated fairly again everyone is happy. And as a last token of revenge against Treece Lando uses Cloud City’s financial computer to transfer illegal transactions made by the governor to Darth Vader’s own account at the bank in Aargau.
Everyone has a good laugh knowing that somewhere Treece is getting Force-choked by one pissed off Dark Lord.

Despite the absurdity of the story, issues #56-57 have some of the finest artwork in the entire classic Marvel run. There are a lot of full-page panels using vibrant blues and reds in the colouring that look really nice especially in some of the Cloud City scenes. 57 is actually one of my favourite issues to just look at because of this.

I do think it is a little ridiculous for Bespin to have a land-able surface and I absolutely despise the talking bomb. I get that Ugnaughts, along with Ewoks and Gungans, aren’t meant to be taken all that seriously.

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This character is totally not funny at all

But having them operate TV cameras and plant talking bombs is a bit much.

But where it lacks in story these issues more than make up for in artwork. They also introduce Shira Brie, a character who will carry significant weight to the Star Wars Expanded Universe for a long time to come.

These issues can be found in Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Volume 2 which you can purchase here.

Check next week for a review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #58: Sundown!

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel Star Wars #55: Plif!

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While Luke Skywalker is busy writing debriefings on previous adventures Leia, Chewie, Threepio, and a group of Rebels scout a new planet as a potential base. Planet Arbra is densely populated by trees and caves which makes it an ideal spot to hide from an angry Galactic Empire. The planet’s only indigenous lifeforms appear to be these cute little rodents called hoojibs who look a lot like a cross between a rabbit and those moogles from Final Fantasy. The hoojibs are energy eaters that can consume electricity and power like food directly from technology such as ships, vehicles, and even weapons.

While the Rebels are asleep in their encampment the little hoojibs sweep in and suck up all of the energy from their blasters, speeders, and lights. This, of course, makes the suddenly awakened rebels very angry and just as Chewbacca is about to rip some hoojib arms out of their sockets one of the little rodents, whose name is Plif, speaks up telepathically and apologises for the theft. It suddenly becomes apparent that the hoojibs are a sentient species capable of communication via telepathy and it is revealed that their consuming the rebels energy supply was an unhappy necessity due to the fact that their prime source of energy has been annexed by a horrible flying manta-ray like creature called a slivilith. It so happens that the hoojibs’ home is a large cave full of powerful crystals that contains massive amounts of electrical energy which the hoojibs have fed on for years. But with the arrival of the slivilith on their planet they lost their cave and had to resort to theft or else face inevitable starvation.

Princess Leia offers to help the furry little beings, and soon the rebels and the hoojibs battle the slivilith until Chewie eventually grabs a hold of the monstrosity and throws it hard into a structure of crystals and kills it out right.

Getting a good look at the crystals the rebels realise this is a perfect place to make a base since they can use the crystals as an indefinite power source. This does not bode well with the hoojibs who initially object to invaders making a home in their cave against their will. Instead of forcing them out of their home Princess Leia nobly decides to leave Arbra and find another base. She feels that for she and the rebels to forcibly exile the hoojibs would only make them no better than the Empire and she did not wish to take any mercenary actions against anyone. Cassian Andor, she most certainly is not!

But, thankfully, her noble gesture impresses the hoojibs who decide to share their cave with the rebels. After months of searching a new base is found!

Elsewhere, Lando Calrissian has been feeling anxious about the future of Cloud City after departing there months back and he feels the need to stop by and see how things are going. Taking the Millennium Falcon and Artoo with him, Lando heads to Bespin and finds his beloved city in the clouds vacant and empty. As he looks around a shadow looms up behind him. Who could it be?

The answer to that is in the next issue which I will review next week.
As for Plif!, I thought it was a simple, enjoyable story. The rebels finally find a new rebel base after their retreat from Hoth and we are introduced to the hoojibs who make further appearances throughout the rest of the classic Marvel run.
Some readers may object to the cutesy-ness of the hoojibs, but in all honesty they are no worse than Ewoks or Gungans.

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They may be goofy looking and difficult to take seriously, but they are yet to swing on vines making Tarzan yells or stepping in poop and making “icky-icky goo” comments which earns them points in my book.

 

You can read this comic in Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Volume 2 which you can purchase here.

Check next week for a review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #56-57 and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel Star Wars #53-54

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What happens when you cross John Carter of Mars with Star Wars? A really odd Princess Leia story with a lacklustre plot that bears little visual resemblance to the Star Wars we know and love. Issues 53 and 54 of Marvel’s classic Star Wars run are not the worst Star Wars story of all time, but it is one of the weirdest ones.
After Marvel cancelled a John Carter of Mars series the unused artwork was left dormant and potentially wasted until Marvel decided to task the writers with the Star Wars comics with using the art in one of their stories. The result is the two-issue arc I am about to review.

Leia and a crew of rebels are scouting around a planet called Shiva IV when their ship hits a disguised mine which explodes crippling the vessel and plummeting Leia to the surface of the planet. There, on a hostile alien world, she befriends a loincloth-wearing warlord named Aron Peacebringer who earned his epithet when he successfully arranged a concordat between his people the Calian Confederacy and another local species known as the 12 Tribes.
During the next few weeks Princess Leia is a welcome guest at Aron’s palace where they celebrate the first anniversary of the Concordat. As time goes by Aron begins to fall in love with Leia and tries to hide his feelings from his wife, Alys. Alys, however, can tell exactly what he is thinking and feeling and she takes the news surprisingly well. Apparently she trusts her husband’s honour and character enough to know that in the end when the choice arrives he will remain loyal to her. More than likely the fact that Alys is donning a metal bikini long before Princess Leia herself made the garment popular helps her ensure that the muscle-headed warrior would prefer her in the end.

Soon after the anniversary party Aron tries to speak to the princess in private on a balcony (the always preferred location for romantic encounters) right before Leia breaks down and confides in him all her latent and unexpressed feelings about Alderaan and the family and friends she lost there. The Princess had apparently kept her pain over that loss inside her for the past 3 or 4 years and it is just now beginning to come to the surface.

However, before their conversation can get any deeper a pair of Imperial stormtroopers swoop down and snatch them and take them to an ancient fortress on the planet. There they are introduced to a towering blue-grey lizardlike alien named Sk’ar who is working for the Empire. Striking a deal with the Empire Sk’ar had incited civil unrest on Shiva IV to weaken it in preparation for an invasion from the Empire. In exchange Sk’ar would be allowed to rule the planet. In typical supervillain fashion Sk’ar tells Leia and Aron all the details of his evil plan including a plot to drop a nuclear bomb onto Aron’s home city.
Realising that they need to stop this device from exploding the two heroes decide to escape and steal a ship. Since their only obstacle is the combined might and competence of the Empire’s elite stormtroopers the escape is thankfully easily accomplished.
Aboard their stolen shuttle they eventually catch up to the vessel harbouring the explosive nuke and jump onto its surface. After fighting off a few bad guys with the aid of Luke, Lando, and Chewie who show up just in time a la Deus ex Machina Leia is given enough time to disarm the bomb and save the city!

At the celebration party Aron returns to his dutiful and, in my opinion, much too understanding wife, Luke and Leia bond over their unwittingly incestuous attraction to each other, and Lando charms a bunch of local ladies with his cape. I’m assuming it’s the cape. It’s gotta be the cape.
But the celebration is short lived when they discover that an Imperial Star Destroyer has come out of hyperspace heading toward the city. Luke and the gang get back aboard the Millennium Falcon and are immediately pursued by their enemies. Luke decides to lead the Star Destroyer into a black hole and escapes just in time thanks to the speed and maneuverability of the Falcon. Because logic.
At the end we are treated to a brief dialogue between Leia and Luke in which she admits she feels grief over the necessary deaths of their enemies. Why? Because all life is sacred and if our heroes get too callous and used to death then they will be no different than Darth Vader. Caring about the deaths of everyone, including enemies, is what makes our heroes different. Cue eye-rolling.

This story is really quite dumb. The tacked on moral about the sacredness of life, while not untrue, is sappy, pedantic, and unoriginal. It felt like something someone would say at the end of a G. I. Joe cartoon. Leia’s emotional crisis about Alderaan also feels tacked on and bears really no relevance to the rest of the story or how it is resolved. It seems to me the writers were attempting to add depth to their story about men and women in loincloths and bikinis brandishing swords and spears when they lacked the skill to do so.
I also think the unused John Carter artwork’s only positive contribution to the Star Wars saga was saving Marvel money. The aesthetic is too unlike Star Wars and has little signature pieces to make it stand out as a Star Wars story. If someone sent me pages of these issues without letting me know where they came from I would at first glance assume I was just looking at another old sword & sorcery comic based on Conan, Moorcock, or Edgar Rice Burroughs.
All in all issues 53 and 54 of the classic Marvel series offers little for Star Wars fans and doesn’t offer much more for John Carter fans either.

Check next week for a review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #55: Plif! and may the Force be with you.

You can find both of these issues in Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years: Volume 2. You can order it here.