Star Wars is of course a phenomenon that has captivated audiences for nearly forty years, with not only the seven core ‘episode’ films (and the upcoming spin-off series right around the corner with this December’s Rogue One) but also an almost never-ending series of novels, TV animation,comics, video games and toys, to mention but a small fraction of Lucasfilm’s multimedia “Empire”.
This series of posts will focus on one aspect of that-the comics.
I’ve always felt that the comics, more so than the novels, have somewhat captured the feeling of Star Wars better than almost any other non-film medium. Star Wars of course has pulp roots, in addition to it’s many other influences. Also, the films are very visual l as well, and comics are of course, dependent heavily on visuals to tell their story.
Marvel was the first (and now once again current) company to publish the comics, which initially began as a 6-issue adaptation of the first film. Despite the somewhat off-model Darth Vader on the cover, the comics were a huge success, and after the adaptation was finished, they started telling original stories. However, in order to avoid conflict with the eventual sequel, they largely stayed away from the battles between the Rebels and the Empire, until the “Wheel” storyline, which oddly predicted the title of the second film.
The comic of course had several new characters introduced. Among them, the House of Tagge, relatives of the Death Star council member who operated a large commerce company-particuarly their leader Orman, who wore a cape and was blind, in addition to being a rival of Darth Vader and occasionally using a lightsaber.
As well as Valance, a bounty hunter who was also a cyborg, and had a serious hate for droids. He’s eventually killed off by Vader, who of course was a cyborg himself.
Perhaps most infamously, there was Jaxxon, an alien green rabbit who made his debut in a story modeled after the Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven (apt, given Lucas’s love for Kurosawa films).It’s stated that George Lucas personally requested that he never be used again. Of course, Lucas would introduce a character some would describe as a “cartoon rabbit” years later-Jar Jar Binks.
The initial series of comics were written by Archie Goodwin, who would also later work on a Star Wars newspaper strip alongside artist Al Williamson. Williamson would also illustrate the Empire Strikes Back adaptation, which would also be part of the monthly series.