Star Wars EU Reviews: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

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Today is the 40th anniversary of the movie I am reviewing. This is a momentous occasion for the millions of fans; many of which who are going to celebrate in their own way. Some will go cosplaying, digging out and dusting off old Star Wars books, comics, and video games; others will talk about Star Wars with friends, and some like myself are going to spend the next few days marathoning the series.

In the 40 years since its inception Star Wars has been unrivaled in the impact it has had on popular culture. Special effects films were never the same again since its release when it shook Hollywood at the core and completely reshaped the trends of filmmaking at the time. With the popularity of Jaws, American Graffiti, and the Planet of the Apes franchise helping pave the way before it, Star Wars had suddenly given birth to the summer blockbuster. It is thanks to Star Wars that cinema has given us Indiana Jones, Alien, Terminator, Back to the Future, The Lord of the Rings films, and the immensely popular multitude of DC and Marvel movies that get released once or twice a year.

And not only was cinema affected. I could go on and on about how Star Wars changed the future of merchandising, created an unparalleled multimedia franchise involving books, games, comics, TV shows, etc.; engendered a fandom so massive that millions of people including celebrities turn up at conventions once a year; and I could even go on about people I have seen who made Star Wars a career. For example, there are Youtubers who work hard daily producing content on nothing but Star Wars. There are even people who make it a hobby and don’t even get paid for it. These are types of people who collect Star Wars toys, dress up as their favourite characters, and even spend a couple hours a day writing blogs and reviews about Star Wars. Get a life, right?

But seriously, as I said, I really could go on forever. But what I am here to do is review the movie that started it at all and changed everything for the next 40 years.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope came out in theatres on 25 May 1977. The film, which at the time was only titled Star Wars, was a smash hit and before the year was over a sequel was being discussed, the main actors became instantaneous household names, and Hollywood producers were scrambling fast to cash in on and imitate its success. In the wake of Star Wars films like Alien and Star Trek: The Motion Picture were made which spawn blockbuster sequels of their own.

There are many people who remember first going to see Star Wars back in 1977 and will wax nostalgic about the entire 40 year ride of fandom since then. Alas, I am not one of them. Having been born in 1992 I was first introduced to Star Wars when the film was just old enough to get a drivers license. I was of the last generation to first see Star Wars prior to the 1997 Special Editions having had them on VHS when I was very young. I am half tempted to delve into anecdotes of my obsession with Star Wars when I was a 5 year old, but, as I write what is already becoming an overlong intro I realise that would address Star Wars as a whole and not this particular film that I am reviewing.
But, to be perfectly honest, do I really need to even bother? I mean it’s Star Wars! If you are the sort of person who needs to read a review of Star Wars then, frankly, you really have no reason following this blog.
And to be perfectly honest I am not even entirely sure what to say. I have went on about how it affected everything and changed the landscape of pop culture and fandom, but to me that is just trivia. That’s not personal. I wasn’t even alive when the original trilogy was released and I certainly wasn’t old enough to appreciate its affect on the future of cinema when I first saw them.

So what should a review of this subject consist of then? We already know the story. It would be insulting to the reader for me to review it the same I review the comics. We all know about the farm boy Luke Skywalker and his meeting with Threepio and Artoo which led him to Obi-Wan Kenobi. We know about Darth Vader and the Death Star. We know Senator Princess Leia of Alderaan is secretly a rebel leader. We know the secret base is on Yavin 4. We know how the Death Star solved Alderaan’s overpopulation problem. And we know how Luke blew up the Death Star after the rebellion ingeniously decided to give the controls of an expensive X-Wing over to an unknown 19 year old hillbilly from Tatooine who likes to turn their ships’ vital targeting systems off because the voices in his head tell him to. We know all that stuff. And we know it’s a great story. It has all the mythological and epic tropes of a classic fairy tale or fantasy. And it has all the fanciful space operatic worldbuilding found in great stories like Asimov’s Foundation or Dune. It has robots, wild western saloons with aliens for riffraff, space ships, princesses, smugglers, giant furry dogmen who hate losing chess, and weird old men waving shiny sticks around raving about invisible powers. In essence, it has everything we love.

Of all the seven currently released Star Wars movies A New Hope is the one that feels the most like a traditional fairy tell. It has all the colourful characters who tag along bit by bit, the evil sorcerers, the good sorcerers, the weird creatures, storming an enemy’s fortress, and it has a clear beginning and ending. It’s very much a classic yarn about a faraway place in a distant time that entertains both young and old. It’s a modern fairy tale in space.

While it is not my personal favourite of the Star Wars films it is arguably still its best. It does everything perfectly: telling a complete easy-to-follow story which loses none of its charm or rewatchability as the decades go by.

The only thing that can mitigate perhaps the film’s greatness is the fact that we may be too familiar with it. Knowing the story, the dialogue, the characters, and even the pacing of A New Hope so well it is hard to approach it any more without it starting to feel like white noise. Approaching it with new and fresh eyes becomes harder and harder and this makes it easier for us to miss any hidden gems the film has to offer that we had never noticed before. When a sight, layout, or image remains constant after awhile we stop really seeing it and it bothers me when I become conscious that this has happened to Star Wars. That is why tonight when I watch Star Wars in celebration of its 40th birthday I am going to cut out all distractions. The computer gets logged off and turned off, no fiddling with phones or tablets, no running back and forth from the kitchen for snacks, pure unadulterated attention, no heavy sluggishness-inducing foods like pizza to make me more docile, and no growth acceleration.
Basically, what I am trying to say is that I am going to watch Star Wars closely and soak it all in. See if I might just catch something new. I think the best birthday gift I can give A New Hope on it’s 40th anniversary is my full and complete attention. Just because we have had it for so long it doesn’t mean it needs to become white noise. All those years ago Star Wars was our first step into a larger world and however you choose to celebrate this special occasion we would be remiss to not pay our respects.

Before I go I would like to address the bantha in the room which are the 1997 Special Editions and the subsequent edits made since. Even though most fans seem to agree that the original theatrical editions were the superior versions the Special Editions have still succeeded in generating controversy. Many fans, myself included, feel that tampering with the movies was unnecessary and nigh to vandalism; and many have taken particular exception to certain changes that were made. Greedo shooting first is a notorious example, and there are also the extra content of Jabba the Hutt, adding obnoxious aliens to Mos Eisley, and other offences.
George Lucas’s reasoning for having Greedo shoot first makes no sense to me. He believes that having Han shoot Greedo in cold blood was too brutal for a future hero and he cites John Wayne as a proper frontier hero who displays unflinching honour and decorum during gunplay. Having seen The Searchers I know that to be utter nonsense. John Wayne has played absolutely despicable characters before and, besides, having Han Solo start off soft utterly lessens his transformation from a self-absorbed criminal to a sympathiser and patriot of the Rebellion. Character transformation is vital to good storytelling and the best stories make heavy use of it. Just watch Breaking Bad and you’ll know what I mean.
The Jabba the Hutt sequence was just unnecessary as most of his dialogue is just repeated from what Greedo was saying to Han in the cantina. The CGI in this scene is horrendous and subsequent attempts to fix it in later releases have only improved it marginally.
The only change that feels like a genuine improvement is the destruction of the Death Star which enhances what originally was nothing more than a glorified handful of sparks.
You know what would have been a good change? The lightsabers. You can’t sit there and tell me the lightsabers could not have been improved with CGI. The scene with Luke training against the remote aboard the Millennium Falcon still looks horrible. The blue blade is so washed out that it looks almost white. The lightsabers in this movie lack the vibrancy of colour that we will see in later films. Instead of fixing that George Lucas got too busy making Ewoks blink, adding aliens where they are not wanted, and reinserting scenes that were deleted for a reason.
I really hope one of these days Lucasfilm and Disney gets the right idea and releases the unaltered versions of the trilogy on Blu-ray. With the VHS, Laserdisc, and Betamax players no longer readily available there are no decent versions of the original trilogy to watch. There were Limited Edition DVD’s that contained them as a bonus discs, however those were direct transfers of the Laserdiscs and they look awful, sound awful, and are virtually unwatchable if you are using a large screen TV.
Oh well, no matter what stains and blemishes that may have been added to A New Hope it doesn’t cease to be a great movie and an immensely entertaining experience.

Check tomorrow for a review of The Empire Strikes Back and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #61-63

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The Empire’s huge armada is heading to the Imperial Capitol to deliver a Teezl. What is a Teezl? It’s a giant bluish, noncorporeal, lifeform made entirely of swirls and luminescence. The Empire found one recently and intend to use it to gain a strategic advantage against the Rebellion. How did they find it? They just found one. No further explanation is given or necessary.
Apparently this Teezl can amplify signals and take in electronic data input and react as a receptor which can then broadcast information to extreme distances anywhere in the galaxy. What makes this special is that is transmits faster than any artificial communications system the Empire has available.

Knowing the threat such an advantage would pose for the Rebellion Luke, his girlfriend Shira, and two other Rebel pilots take the four stolen TIE Fighters and infiltrate the armada in an attempt to sabotage the delivery of the Teezl to Coruscant. At least I assume it is Coruscant since the name of the Imperial Capitol is not named until Heir to the Empire.

Luke and his friends target several Star Destroyers and the attack leaves the Imperial armada in chaos and confusion. One of the attacked Destroyers begins shooting wildly at all TIE Fighters coming near it causing widespread destruction of the Imperial fleet. Admiral Giel, who is in charge of the armada, orders the Teezl to jam all signals except for the Imperial war band which causes Luke and the three other stolen TIE’s to no longer be capable of communicating with and recognising each other. Two of the rebel TIE Fighters are destroyed in the assault and Luke and Shira are the only ones left in the battle and are unable to contact each other.
Luke approaches the Destroyer containing the Teezl but is blocked by a TIE Fighter in his path. Unable to signal it Luke draws upon the Force to instinctively determine whether or not the Fighter pilot is friend or foe. The Force tells Luke that the pilot is an enemy and he fires upon it. After averting that obstacle Luke launches a special weapon called an ultra-power blast (sounds like the name of a power up in a Nintendo game to me) and destroys the Star Destroyer and the Teezl inside. Luke then jumps to hyperspace and returns to the Rebel base on Arbra.

There Luke learns a terrible truth from Princess Leia. The TIE Fighter pilot whom he shot down in the battle was none other than Shira Brie herself!
Confused, angry, and forced to resign his commission: Luke finds himself disillusioned with the precognitive powers of the Force. He also finds himself ostracised and unpopular among his fellow Rebels at the base who see him as an unwelcome pariah since Shira was well-liked among many of the Alliance.

Luke decides to leave Arbra to seek some answers and borrows the Millennium Falcon from Lando. Chewie goes with him and the pair head to planet Shalyvane where Shira had once told him of her past and what led her to join the Rebellion.

While exploring the ruins of Chinshassa Luke and Chewbacca are captured by more of the barbaric natives that they had encountered last time they were there, but they escape and hide in cave. There they find an old hermit who is the same species as the Shalyvanian aliens who attacked them. However, he is unarmed and harmless and Luke decides to ask him about the humans who used to live in Chinshassa before the Empire bombed it.
The alien, whose name is G’Hinji, tells him that the city was never previously occupied by humans at all, but rather the Shalyvanians prior to the bombing. This immensely bothers Luke for if it is true then Shira Brie had lied to him about her origins.

G’Hinji takes Luke to the Circle of Kavaan where days before Shira conducted a ritual in which she poured some of her blood on the altar. Luke does the same after borrowing Chewie’s knife and the result is shocking. A holographic recording of Darth Vader appears and it addresses Luke Skywalker directly. Vader tells him that Shira was an undercover agent who was trained and planted by the Empire to destroy Luke’s credibility within the Alliance.

Luke, before he can accept this as fact, determines to investigate further by sneaking into the Imperial data vault on Krake’s Planet. Krake’s Planet holds a spider-shaped cocoon formed by indigenous slugs which the Empire had annexed as an installation for a high-security data vault.
After sneaking inside Luke and Chewie capture and coerce an Imperial officer to access the data tapes they are looking for on Shira Brie. On the tapes they learn that Shira was born on Coruscant and raised in the Imperial Palace as part of a special project designed to indoctrinate and brainwash youth among the Imperial citizenry. Shira was an exceptional student and she was handpicked by Darth Vader himself to be infiltrated within the Rebel Alliance. The bombings of Chinshassa was deliberately instigated by the Empire to add credibility to the fabricated backstory she would later deliver to Luke when they visited there.

After a brief skirmish Luke and Chewie escape Krake’s Planet with the tapes and return them to Arbra as evidence to exonerate him. It becomes apparent to Luke that the Force had not led him astray after all, but in fact recognised Shira for what she was. And that was why the Force caused him to sense her as an enemy.

Elsewhere, Darth Vader is checking on a patient being kept alive in a bacta tank aboard his Star Destroyer. Her name is Shira Brie and Darth Vader is not done using her yet.

These three issues are one of the many examples that I can cite that disprove the notion that all of the classic Marvel Star Wars comics were just cheesy camp. This is a well-written, complex, intriguing, and intelligent plot that is just as good as any of the stories that were written for the Expanded Universe in the 90’s.

And as the reader can tell from the ending this is not the last we have seen of Shira Brie; and, in fact, her character will have an even further impact within the EU well past the classic Marvel era.

One issue that I used to struggle with, though, is this story arc’s concept of the Force. I couldn’t call it a complaint per se, but I was uneasy with fully accepting its interpretation of how the Force worked. It bugged me that the Force would purposefully operate with a will of its own to the point that it would recognise an enemy independently of the user. I always thought the Force was used when a Jedi or Sith drew upon the energy that binded and connected them to the Force and typically it was their own emotions and feelings that they drew upon and stretched out with. For the Force to recognise Shira as an enemy independent of Luke’s own awareness seemed to grant the Force too much personality which is something the Force shouldn’t have.
However, as I was writing down that criticism I realised that perhaps it wasn’t so much the Force independently recognising an enemy as it was instead just allowing Luke to tune in on the feelings of the pilot in the other Fighter. We have seen the Force allow users to sense the feelings of others before and it is not unlikely that when Luke used the Force he subconsciously picked up Shira’s animosity and determined she was an enemy by that. That makes more sense to me and that leaves any criticism that I intended to lay at this story’s feet happily withdrawn. It was an excellent story and it shows that we are in the midst of the best period of Star Wars comics that Marvel had to offer.

You can find these three issues in Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Volume 2 which you can purchase here.

Stay tuned in the next few days for a special announcement on what Star Wars EU Reviews has in store next week in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Star Wars. May the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #60: Shira’s Story

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Using the four TIE Fighters they got from Ferret in the last issue, Luke Skywalker and his girlfriend, Shira Brie, attack the Imperial outpost on planet Spindrift. The operation is successful and the Imperial officers at the outpost surrender.
Having heard rumours of a secret armada being constructed by the Empire Luke and his gang of Rebels search Spindrift for clues to its location. They eventually find a coded map which they take back to Arbra for decoding.

Knowing that the Rebel Alliance will take some time before deciphering the map Shira asks Princess Leia for permission to leave the Rebel base for a personal matter. Leia at first declines the request, however, because the coordinates to Arbra are given only to key personnel and Shira wouldn’t be allowed to receive them to get back. But, Luke heroically intervenes and offers to escort his girlfriend to her destination and then fly her back. Leia reluctantly agrees.

Shira, Luke, Artoo, and a few other personnel fly to a backwater planet called Shalyvane which happens to be Shira’s homeworld.
They land their X-Wings outside of an ancient city in ruins which was formerly known as Chinshassa. Inside Shira approaches a circle of stones with an altar in the centre which she identifies as the Circle of Kavaan, a place sacred to her family.
She draws a knife and cuts her hand with it and then precedes to let her blood flow upon the altar. Her ritual is interrupted, however, by a raging horde of alien barbarians wielding blasters and explosives.
The Rebels hide behind an outcropping of rock and Shira begins to explain what is going on on her homeworld. The Shalyvanian aliens attacking them are a xenophobic species bent on the destruction of all who are different from them. They fought with Shira’s family for years and eventually wiped all of her loved ones out. The barbarians told the Empire that her family were in league with the Rebel Alliance and the Empire reacted by joining forces with her family’s enemies and killing them all. Shira, who was a young girl at the time, survived by hiding in Chinshassa’s drainage system. She lived on the streets until she grew up and joined the Rebellion. Once a year she comes to Shalyvane and the Circle of Kavaan to spill some of her blood on the altar in honour of her dead family who died there.

Luke asks Artoo to use his scanner to locate any sign of the drainage system Shira had mentioned and by an enormous stroke of luck he finds an entry to it in a hole just a metre away from them. Shira immediately jumps into it and Luke and his companions hold off the horde off aliens until Shira flies back in her X-Wing and kills all of their enemies with a strafing run.

After escaping another close scrape with death Shira and her friends leave Shalyvane and head home.

This is a pretty good story and I found it entertaining and enjoyable overall, but it really begins to become apparent that Luke and his friends cannot escape adventures wherever they go. They didn’t go to Shalyvane on an important mission for the Rebellion as it was just a private matter for Shira. And yet they managed to get attacked and nearly killed by a pack of vicious aliens.
I am started to suspect that Han and Luke and Leia etc. just have the absolute worst luck imaginable. Even the simplest of R&R is potentially fatal for them.
I am not exaggerating either; this happens entirely too often in Star Wars. There is an episode of The Clone Wars where Anakin and Padme send Artoo and Threepio to buy ingredients for a cake (I swear I am not making this up) and the two droids get kidnapped by bounty hunters. And in another instance when Han took Leia to see a special magic show in one of the Jedi Prince YA books she gets abducted by Hutts. And in the Jedi Academy Trilogy Jaina and Jacen Solo get lost in the deadly underworld of Coruscant all because they went to the zoo with Threepio and Chewie. Hell, even in Rebels Zeb and Ezra found themselves being chased in a stolen TIE Fighter all because they were asked to pick up some fruit. It reminds me of the Star Trek planet Risa. It’s supposed to be a resort world, but every time a crew of the Enterprise goes there someone gets killed or something.
It seems if you are a hero fun and relaxation is not your destiny. And this issue of the Classic Marvel comic series is a good example of that. To be fair this is more of an observation and not so much a gripe as you wouldn’t want their lives to get boring as Threepio might say.
All in all I really enjoyed this issue and I feel that it is around this period that Marvel was producing some pretty solid stories for Star Wars.

You can find this issue collected in Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Volume 2 which you can buy here.

Check next week for a review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #61-63 and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #59: Bazarre

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Continuing from the the cliffhangar that ended issue #58 this story begins with Lando and Luke held at blasterpoint. At Bazarre, the giant marketplace housed in a large space station, the three heroes hoped to do business with the shady Mr. Ferret. But now it looks like they are about to be sent to the auction block as slaves. Thankfully Mr. Ferret intervenes and informs the would-be slavers that these customers are his guests.
This begs the question though as to why any market (black market or otherwise) would maintain any success and popularity if potential buyers were getting captured and enslaved right and left with no provocation. You would think Mr. Ferret’s enterprise would end real quick just after a few incidents like that.

Anyway, Ferret takes Luke and Lando to his private room where the Rebels pay for the four TIE Fighters that they ordered. These are for hit-and-fade operations where the Rebels could encroach on Imperial military targets and attack without being shot at first.
However, acquiring these TIE Fighters proves to be a hassle. Mr. Ferret is a very unreliable and untrustworthy man and Lando having had dealings with him before when he used to be the administrator at Cloud City knows this. Calrissian recognises Ferret as a disloyal, backstabbing scoundrel and this occasion proves to be no exception.

After receiving payment for the four TIE Fighters Ferret tells Luke and Lando that their goods are on planet Patch-4, a junkyard world, where they are safely tucked away. They are provided with a shuttle with which they can reach Patch-4 and acquire the TIE Fighters, but the greedy Ferret has installed an ejection mechanism inside that can be operated by remote control from the Bazarre station. Hoping to send the two Rebels hurling into space on their way to the junk planet Ferret figures he can pocket the money and also keep the TIE Fighters as a bonus.
This scheme fails to come to fruition, however, when Lando decides to leave Chewbacca behind to keep an eye on Ferret until they get back. Too scared to piss off a Wookiee the ejection device remains untriggered the entire trip to Patch-4.
I am not entirely sure why Luke and Lando couldn’t have just taken the Millennium Falcon to the planet, but I guess they wanted to save gas by leaving it parked at Bazarre.

Unfortunately, while Ferret is a coward, he is not a stupid one. He has one more trick up his sleeve. Buried underneath the refuse and trash on Patch-4 is a giant carnivorous worm that tries desperately to consume Luke and Lando at the location of the TIE Fighters. Ferret calls it the Watchbeast and the inhabitants of the planet call it Ceasar. It’s like Caesar, but with the ‘a’ and the ‘e’ reversed. Clever, huh?

The inhabitants of the trash world are a bunch of hobos who lost their homes to the Empire. These people rescue our heroes and tell them that the creature outside is controlled by Ferret with a sonic pacifier. There is one of these pacifiers aboard the shuttle that Luke and Lando arrived in and they realise that if they can get to it they may be able to mollify Ceasar and escape with their TIE Fighters as well as their lives.
While Lando and the hobos create a diversion, Luke makes it to the shuttle and activates the pacifier. It causes the beast to pass out and our Rebel friends escape with their goods intact.

Back at Bazarre Lando and Luke have some very choice words to hurl at Ferret for his betrayal and Chewbacca expresses his own displeasure by tossing the little man onto a heap of scrapmetal. While sitting there, bruised and humiliated, Ferret is told by Luke that they gave the Patch-4 hobos the sonic pacifier which means they have direct control of Ceasar ensuring that Ferret will do no more business on their world.

They return home to an overjoyed Leia who plans a grand celebration in honour of all that has been accomplished for the Rebellion recently. As they enter their hidden base on Arbra Leia casually tells Luke that he needs to change his uniform which is still covered in garbage from Patch-4.

Ignoring the obvious weirdness of the existence of space hobos altogether I think what should be mainly addressed here are the manifold plot holes that permeate this story. I already mentioned the illogical choice of leaving the Falcon behind in favour of Ferret’s suspicious shuttle and I already mentioned the problems with running a market where you casually and frequently kidnap and sell your customers at random. But there are some other gaping problems with this story as well.
For one thing, why the devil did the shuttle Ferret provide Luke and Lando have a sonic pacifier installed? He was prepared enough to implement an ejection system, but he couldn’t be bothered to remove the one thing that could ruin his plan B?
Also before leaving Bazarre for Patch-4, Lando tells Chewie to rip Ferret’s head off if they do not report back in an hour. It was for this reason that Ferret chooses not to trigger the ejection system. But, then why did he trigger the Watchbeast? Did he think Chewie would be more forgiving about that than he would about his friends being ejected into space?
And one final mild gripe of mine is Leia’s comment to Luke about changing his uniform. Why hadn’t he changed and cleaned up on the Falcon already? Does the ship have no refresher? Did he pack no extra clothes for his trip to Bazarre? It seems like the Millennium Falcon has a cursed history of garbage related incidents in conjunction with having no extra clothes on board. In A New Hope the only option for cleaning up after being flung into a garbage chute was to take their Stormtrooper disguises off. And they were wearing the same clothes they wore on Tatooine the entire trip to the Death Star. I know I am digressing here but do people in the Star Wars Galaxy just change their clothes once a week? I imagine everyone must smell awful then.

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“I thought I recognised your foul stench when I was brought on board.”
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“Changing day is another two days from now!”

Anyway, this wasn’t a great story. But, it does show the Rebels being provided with the TIE Fighters which will be used in a much better story coming up.

This issue can be found in Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years Volume 2 which can be purchased here.

Check next week for a review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #60: Shira’s Story and may the Force be with you.

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.

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!