Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

Star Wars EU Reviews: Marvel #16: The Hunter

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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This particular issue of the classic Marvel run was apparently written for the fans who wanted more Jaxxon and Jimm the Starkiller Kid and less Han, Leia, and Luke Skywalker in their Star Wars. In other words, this issue was written for nobody.
Thankfully though, this is to my knowledge the only issue in the series that does not feature any recognisable Star Wars characters and is also the last time we see Jaxxon the green rabbit. He won’t be missed by me I can say honestly.

The story focuses on a mercenary named Valance who leads a team of bounty hunters on a crusade to wipe out all droids they come across. Valance is a man who has taken a prejudice against mechanicals to an extreme even going so far as to murder humans and aliens who own or are friendly with droids. His next target is Luke Skywalker after learning of his adventures with Artoo and Threepio from a captured Rebel spy. Seeing Luke’s friendship with the droids as an unnatural perversion he goes on an enraged quest to seek out Luke and the two robots to destroy them.
While raiding a medical facility where medical droids were operating he finds a dying Don-Wan Kihotay rambling about his adventures with Jaxxon, Amaiza, and “the boy and his droid.” Kihotay was, of course, referring to the Starkiller Kid and his treadmill robot, but Valance mistakes this for a lead on Luke Skywalker’s location. After tracking down Jaxxon, Amaiza, and Jimm on Aduba-3 there is a skirmish between them and Valance’s crew until Jimm shoots his blaster in the air causing a bantha stampede (apparently some Tusken Raiders and banthas immigrated to Aduba-3). Valance’s crew are killed and he learns that Jimm is not the boy he is not the droid-lover he is looking for. Valance flees the scene to the confusion of the trio and onboard his starship Valance removes a portion of his face revealing that he himself is a cyborg with cybernetic implants which were given to him after being injured in the service of the Empire. Filled with self-loathing and bitterness he continued his crusade against droids despite the hypocritical stance he has found himself in.

Like most of the early Marvel stories this is an odd one. However, it is not as bad as many of them especially considering we are reading a comic without any of the beloved main characters. Jaxxon, Luke Skywalker ripoffs, and space bimbos make poor substitutes and
anything and everything involving them is stupid, of course, but Valance himself is an interesting character. While we wait for his story arc to continue in later issues we get a very much desired farewell to Jaxxon and Amaiza who are implied to be romantically involved (imagine the babies!) and Jimm the Starkiller Kid and the farmer’s daughter Merri who are now married. Leaving them on Aduba-3 we never see them again. I am grateful that Marvel did not insist on keeping these characters cropping up throughout the series like George Lucas never took a hint about Jar Jar Binks who force-fed him to us throughout the Prequels and The Clone Wars. It is a pleasure to see writers use sense about what they insist on including in what they create. Besides given the prolific nature of rabbit breeding I was not keen on seeing Amaiza become the next octomom anyway.

The Hunter, while not being a great story, was a decent transition from the campy early months of the Star Wars Marvel line to the more respectful tone of the later arcs.

Check in next time for my review of Marvel Star Wars #17: Crucible and may the Force be with you.

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Star Wars EU Reviews: Marvel #11-15

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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Before Kamino the first water planet in the EU was a little world in the Outer Rim called Drexel. Instead of high-tech cloners we have seafaring brigands who use a sonic transmitter to cause approaching ships to crash and unlike the Kaminoans these pirates don’t care how well your manners are or how big your pocket book is. All they want is to take your ship for scrap and kill you in the process.
Unfortunately, for Luke Skywalker this happens to be the planet that he investigates during his search for a new Rebel base. After losing contact with Luke shortly Princess Leia takes it upon herself to look for him when she is suddenly captured by none other than the speedo-wearing space pirate Crimson Jack himself who is now the captain of a stolen Star Destroyer! Hoping to get a sizeable ransom from the Rebel Alliance for her safe return Captain Jack is frustrated when the Princess refuses to tell him where the secret base is. Hoping to find another way to persuade her he additionally captures Han Solo and Chewbacca using a tracer he installed on the Millennium Falcon after their previous encounter. Not realising that Leia is the same woman who saw an entire planet annihilated to protect the secret of the rebel base he seems to think threatening Han and Chewie would get him results. When this plan goes poorly Han Solo makes a counter-proposal by claiming that the reward that was stolen from them was only a small portion of a Rebel-owned treasure in the Drexel system. Leia and Han, hoping to find Luke and survive the pirate’s plans at the same time, agree to guide him the the Drexel system in exchange for their lives.
Meanwhile, Luke and the two droids Artoo and Threepio crash on planet Drexel thanks to the transmitter used by the local brigands. The band of robbers is led by an obese pirate named Captain Quarg who has an obsession with hanging anyone who happens to displease him. His group has had a longstanding feud with another group of locals called the Dragon Lords who ride the local Drexelian sea monsters across the planet’s ocean. Luke convinces Captain Quarg not to kill him by assuring the pirate that the mechanical skills of himself and the droids would be a greater asset to him in his war with the Dragon Lords than hanging him.
During this time Quarg reveals to Luke that his father was a former governor of an asteroid belt during the days of the Republic. However, the governor was deposed after butting heads with the Jedi Order who were informed that he was sharing profits in a business of wrecking space vessels to cannibalise scrap parts. The embittered governor escaped with his family and associates to Drexel and began the life of a pirate. A few years later a schism broke out among some of the technicians who were banished and later became the Dragon Lords.
Soon after this Crimson Jack’s ship arrives and is immediately assaulted by the transmitter. Han, Leia, and Chewie escape in the Millennium Falcon amid the chaos on the Star Destroyer and land on the planet in the middle of a battle between Quarg’s men and the Dragon Lords. The Millennium Falcon is hit and Han who was on the surface of the ship falls in the water enraging Chewbacca who sees Luke tinkering with the engines of one the vessels that attacked the Falcon. Chewie assumes Luke betrayed them and attacks him and the droids. Artoo, however, successfully knocks the Wookie out by smothering him with a fire extinguisher. Meanwhile Leia is captured by Quarg’s men and Han is rescued by the Dragon Lords who tell him that the Drexelian sea creatures they ride are actually sentient alien life forms who are helping them fight Quarg. With help from the Dragon Lords Han rescues his friends and the war against Quarg is ended in a great sea battle.
This leaves only the unfinished business with Captain Jack whose ship survived the attack from the transmitter thanks to its mass size being too much for the sonic device to bring down. The heroes take the Millennium Falcon for one final showdown against the space pirates eventually leading to a space duel between Han and Jack using only blasters and oxygen helmets in the zero-g environment of space. Apparently Correllian smugglers and speedo-wearing pirates can survive the intense pressure of space without spacesuits. To make a long and tedious story short Han wins the duel, Crimson Jack dies, and the formerly man-hating Jolli has a change of heart toward Han Solo and sacrifices herself by betraying the pirate captain out of love for him. Cue vomiting.

This story was weak. It’s a weird mess with two factions of good guys and two factions of bad guys having it out in a convoluted plot that makes no sense. We see pirates who are smart enough to commandeer an Imperial Star Destroyer act stupid enough to believe an enemy who tells them they know where some treasure is. That’s a classic trick more worthy of the Loony Tunes than Star Wars! We also witness two men fighting in space without suits and an important political figure of the Rebellion and last surviving member of the Alderaan royal family be allowed to take off just to find a friend who is missing in action out in the Outer Rim. Did General Dodonna have his back turned or something? There are so many things in this story that don’t work and are just plain stupid that even without green rabbits and Roy Thomas’s writing I found this arc much less enjoyable than the previous one. The last arc was at least entertaining in its absurdity. This one was a pain and a bore to read. Oh, and apparently Leia can swim now even though in Splinter of the Mind’s Eye she revealed she couldn’t!

Check in for my next review of Issue #16: The Hunter in the Star Wars Marvel line and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Marvel #7-10

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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When you really sit down and think about it you realise how profoundly disturbing it is that the same Galaxy where Yoda once said “luminous beings are we, not this crude matter” and where Luke Skywalker strove to redeem his father, Darth Vader, from the Dark Side also witnessed an event where a giant, green six-foot bunny rabbit got mad and kicked a man while shouting “I ain’t no rodent!”
Tonal inconsistency permeates the Star Wars universe and this Marvel story arc I am reviewing today is one of the prime examples.
I have seen a good deal of motley crews from Seven Samurai to A Bug’s Life, but I have never seen anything quite so motley as this one before.
A giant rabbit, a space bimbo, a porcupine man, a Luke Skywalker ripoff with his pet droid, and a crazy man who thinks he is a Jedi all walk into a bar. Instead of producing a joke this setup sadly instead gives us the earliest EU story ever put to print. These comic issues predate Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and they have none of its charm or integrity.

The story focuses mostly on Han and Chewie with Luke and Leia only briefly showing up in a side plot here and there. All you need to know about that is Luke is assigned to find the Rebels a new planet to serve as their secret base now that Yavin 4’s location has been compromised. Leia and the Alliance command centre suddenly lose contact with Luke when he approaches planet Drexel. Leia goes off looking for him with the conclusion to this story being given in the following arc.
Meanwhile the rest of the arc is about Han and Chewie’s adventures after getting their reward for rescuing the Princess stolen by space pirates. The pirates, led by a speedo-wearing rogue named Crimson Jack and his crew, decide to leave Han and the Wookie alive after the robbery despite Jack’s man-hating crewmember Jolli’s protests. For some reason she takes an immediate dislike to Han Solo and would like nothing better than to blast him into space dust! Thankfully she does not get her way and the now impoverished smugglers decide to lay low on planet Aduba-3 until they can scrounge up enough cash to pay back Jabba the Hutt.
In town they encounter a mob harassing an insectoid-priest attempting to bury a body in a casket. The body belongs to a cyborg which enraged the bigoted mob who protest the idea of providing a funeral for a sentient with robotic parts. Han and Chewie break up the mob and save the grateful priest. A group of farmers observing their physical prowess approach them asking for help in dealing with a band of raiders led by a villain named Serji-X Arrogantus, the Arrogant One. For years his evil band have been stealing crops, supplies, and even young women when they come of age. Seeing an opportunity for some paying work the Han and Chewbacca agree to help.
At the local cantina the two smugglers recruit any able-bodied person willing to stand up to the raiders. The volunteers Han and Chewie acquire are all types of bizarre. First is an alien named Hedji who needs no blasters or weapons instead opting to shoot sharp deadly quills from his body. Next is Amaiza, a scantily clad gang-leader and former love-interest of Solo’s. The third is a crazed old man in possession of a lightsaber who claims to be the last of the Jedi named Don-Wan Kihotay. The ridiculous name only leaves me picturing a lusty Casanova fighting a windmill while wooing a maiden in distress. While this crazy old man of course, does none of those things anyone with a knowledge of Cervantes and Renaissance poets will see the stupid pun hidden in his name. Next we have the notoriously reviled Jaxxon (or Jax for short, which he isn’t). Jaxxon is a green-skinned six-foot rabbit whose species is called  Lepus Carnivorous. He hates being called a rodent or a bunny and you will run the risk of being kicked in the stomach while hearing a groan-inducing one-liner if you dare try it. And finally we have Jimm, the Starkiller Kid and his treadmill droid FE-9Q. Jimm is a rash, immature boy who reminds Han of Luke. Nostalgia being good enough of a reason to endanger a minor Han recruits him and his droid along with the others.

As they gather at the farms to meet the raiders in combat the band meets a shaman who tells them that their help is unneeded because he has the power to summon a great behemoth to destroy the marauders for them. He is ignored for a fool and while the old guy chants in a corner the battle begins. Not long after the fights wages on the shaman’s claims are proven true when a giant lizard arrives on the scene to kill Serji-X Arrogantus’s band. The shaman himself is crushed underneath the weight of the monster and is killed leaving the lizard no longer in control. After the raiding band is killed Han and his recruits are left to deal with the creature to protect the farm. I assumed Han Solo’s first and only use of a lightsaber was to make a bed out of a tauntaun but here we see him “borrow” Don-Wan Kihotay’s and slay the beast with it. Perhaps Han Solo should have been the one Obi-Wan sent to the Dagobah system?
After all that is said and done Han and Chewie leave the grateful village and Jimm the Starkiller Kid gets in good with one of the farmer’s daughters. Everyone is happy.

This story arc was really a poor way for the Expanded Universe to begin. Roy Thomas who briefly wrote and edited the first few arcs of the Star Wars Marvel run emphasised action and adventure over a lot of the things that made Star Wars great like the Force and the structure of the Empire. Thomas seemed to prefer giving Star Wars a more Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon feel with campy dialogue, flashy colours, and alien babes in skimpy costumes for our heroes to rescue. Later on when Archie Goodwin took Roy Thomas’s place we see some improvement, but for right now we have to contend with absurdity that rivals The Phantom Menace for levels of awkward embarrassment. Jaxxon and Don-Wan Kihotay are seriously, in my opinion, worse than Jar Jar Binks. Binks was annoying, but at least Gungans were still a cool visual design. Jaxxon, however, is not only annoying, but also a GIANT GREEN RABBIT! I will take Jar Jar and his complaints about “icky icky goo” over Bucky O’hare wannabes any day of the week.

One of the most startling moments is a piece of dialogue where Han Solo sees the insect-priest for the first time. Failing to identify the religion with which the priest was affiliated  Han commented that he should have not skipped so much Sunday School as a kid. I have to ask what exactly did “Sunday School” in the Star Wars galaxy involve? Is this why Han disbelieved in the Force calling it a “hokey religion?” What kind of churches are found in the Core Worlds and the Outer Rim? Supposedly, Lor San Tekka from The Force Awakens was a member of The Church of the Force. Perhaps they had Sunday School? I am overthinking this, though. Time to move on.

Issues #7-10 of the original Marvel line is a ridiculous start for the EU, but a good-natured reader may forgive the flaws if they can look at the old Marvel comics with nostalgia or amusement instead of dismay. When you get over the nonsense they are enjoyable as kitschy Star Wars memorabilia that we can laugh at in retrospect green rabbits or not.

Check in next time for my review of issues #11-15 of the Marvel Star Wars line and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Marvel #1-6

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

Comics 1

The original Marvel Star Wars movie adaptation is not so much an adaptation of the film as it is an adaptation of the Alan Dean Foster novelisation. The same differences from the movie that are in the book are present in the comics. The X-Wings are Blue Squadron instead of Red Squadron, the deleted scenes are adapted, the word Sith is used once again, and so on.
Like last time the original opening crawl is missing, but instead of the Prologue we got in the book we have a new opening crawl which is drastically reworded from the crawl in the film.
In addition to the dialogue again being  jarringly different from the film much of the designs and imagery are strangely altered from the movie as well. Both of C3PO’s legs are gold, the interrogation/mindprobe is a humanoid droid instead of a floating sphere, and weirdest of all is the unusual depiction of Jabba the Hutt. If you remember from my review of the novelisation Jabba was described as jumping which indicated a non-canonical physique to Jabba. This is confirmed by the comic adaptation where Jabba is a bipedal humanoid wearing an orange uniform whose head looks like a yellow furry seal. This is a far cry from the slug we see in Return of the Jedi and the A New Hope Special Edition and no amount of imagination can come up with an explanation or jusification for this blatant contradiction of Star Wars lore.
Another thing that is different will please the “Han Shot First” protestors. In this adaptation, not only does Han shoot first, but he also shoots Greedo in mid-sentence with no warning whatsoever. I wonder how George Lucas would have felt about that!

One final comment I wish to make is on the original covers of the issues which are hilariously misleading. Issue #1 has a tagline on the cover saying, “Enter: Luke Skywalker! Will he SAVE the Galaxy – or DESTROY it?” Since when were any of us worried about Luke doing anything of the kind? Issue #2’s cover shows Obi-Wan and Luke having a standoff in the Cantina. I don’t remember that from the movie! Issue #4 depicts Luke attacking Lord Vader despite Obi-Wan’s protests. I am not sure what Luke was so pissed off about since Obi-Wan wasn’t even dead yet. Issue #5 Shows Yavin 4 getting blasted by the Death Star! Holy crap! And Issue #6 has a cover with Luke and Vader dueling each other both using red lightsabers! For some reason that I do not understand the comics had an aversion to showing Luke using a blue lightsaber as we shall see later.
I have no clue why these covers were used, but they give inaccurate expectations for what happens in the issues and I just have to laugh every time I see them.

Overall I think this adaptation is not necessary. It’s no different than the novelisation and the only reason to read it would be preparation for issues #7 onward in the Marvel Star Wars line. If you want to read graphic novelisations of the Star Wars saga there is an updated version of A New Hope using Special Edition imagery that is more tonally consistent with the other adaptations leaving this one skippable. If you wanna good laugh or just want to be a completist in reading Star Wars EU material then this adaptation is a must. Otherwise it is nothing special. Unless of course you are one of those people who gets a kick out of Biggs saying “So long, Piggy.” after Porkins gets shot down. Yes, that actually happens.

Check in next time for my review of issues #7-10 of the Marvel Star Wars line and may the Force be with you.

Top 10 Things You Do Not Say to Marvel Comics Fans

Contributor: Rick McGimpsey

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  1. Marvel is the poor man’s DC.
  2. The MCU is getting too long and convoluted. We have, so far, three phases of a series of films and three TV series. There is just too much going on and no one ain’t got time for that!
  3. Who is my favourite Avenger? Superman, of course!
  4. When you consider that there is Storm, Rogue, and Jean Grey shouldn’t they be called the X-People instead of the X-Men?
  5. No, I am not going to read the Resurrection of Galactus or Prime Elements! The Fantastic Four are lame! I have seen the movies so I know.
  6. Wolverine is a terrible and uninteresting character. A character in a story who lacks the ability to die or be seriously harmed cannot be relatable in a storytelling point of view. There is no real conflict.
  7. If Professor X is so good at reading minds why do so many bad things end up happening to the X-Men anyway? Is he like the Deanna Troi of the Marvel universe?
  8. The best Spiderman stories I have seen so far were the film Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Spiderman 2099.
  9. I hate how lighthearted and fluffy the Marvel films are. That’s why I prefer DC. Comic books should always be serious.
  10. Anyone who gives jack-shit about real mythology should hate Marvel’s Thor on principle.

 

Next Month: Top 10 Things You Do Not Say to Doctor Who Fans