After a couple of issues that serve mainly as filler after the Shira Brie arc, the guest for the gang to rescue Han Solo begins in Earnest. First stop for Leia is Mandalore, where the bounty hunter Dengar is located, who might have a clue to Boba’s location; likewise, Mandalore is pretty much where Boba’s armor comes from (although his origins would of course be fully revealed in Attack of the Clones several years later, and contradict some of this issue).
Despite their similarity to the dreaded Bounty Hunter, Leia makes an ally of some of the local warriors, who are fighting against the Empire-most notably Fenn Shysha, who would show up in later issues.
Meanwhile, Luke, Lando and Chewbacca meet the Rik Duel gang, a group of smugglers that Luke had previously met on an adventure with Han. Like Fenn, these characters-which included the first example of a Zeltron, an alien with enticing pheremones that would appear in later Star Wars “Expanded Universe” publications-would reappear in several future arcs. They also feature the recurring villain Drebble, whose identity Lando actually adopts later on.
Finally, in an arc involving a water world, we’re introduced to Kiro, a an idealistic-if naive-native of that planet who befriends Luke, and is a Jedi hopeful of sorts.
One of the slightly more problematic issues of Marvel’s Star Wars comics was #78 “Hoth Stuff”, in which it’s revealed Wedge Antilles-the supporting pilot character who appeared in the major battles of all three “orignal trilogy” films-was left behind on Hoth with his gunner, Wes Janson, and survived there for months. There’s a few oddities with this issue, such as Wedge being Luke’s old friend from Tatooine, when that was Biggs in the original film-and Janson dying, which posed a problem for continuity nitpickers since Janson would later appear in several Star Wars novels.
An annual released around the same time also introduced Flint, a Stormtrooper recruit who would later be trained in the dark side by Vader and Lumiya. (The concept of Vader having an apprentice or successor of some kind apart from Luke was used most recently in The Clone Wars series, with Ashoka, and the Force Unleashed video game series, with Starkiller).
The next few issues pretty much wrap things up in time for Return of the Jedi, which instead of part of the main run with the Empire adaptation, would be a four issue limited series. In the first, in finding Han’s location, Lando adopts a disguise, that of “Captain Drebble”-which is an obvious visual reference to the anime character Captain Harlock.
The next issue deals with the Death Star Plans, with 3PO growing smitten with another protocol droid involved with the theft of the plans. Unfortunately, she self-destructs with her rebel pilot friend, leaving Threepio sort of sad.
As ROTJ got it’s own limited series, the comic series would then pick up after ROTJ, naturally, with Han back in the cast, the Empire mostly defeated and Vader and the Emperor gone. More on that next article.