Star Wars: The Marvel Comics Years

Posted: March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Welcome back Satellite Subscribers, it has truly been too long. Strap yourself in for this one heroes as this week we push the Satellite to a Galaxy far Far Away. We will be going back to a time great time in our history when men were men and Star Wars was Star Wars. George Lucas was still within his the realm of sanity and the Star wars Prequels did not exist. We had Han Solo, Princess Leia, C3-P0, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and or course Luke Skywalker! Thats all we knew and that was good enough for us. Outside of a few novels, and an ill advised Holiday Special,  Star Wars was what you saw in the three films. The expanded Universe had not taken off however one company dared tackle the untouchable Star Wars Universe…Marvel Comics. Marvel for many years would take us on a authentic journey through the Star Wars Universe and introduce us to hundreds of new and exciting characters. Enough talking about this..I am punching in the coordinates next stop..The Marvel Star Wars Universe.

Transmission Date: March 20 2013:

In 1977 Marvel Comic Group with the irrepressible Stan Lee at the helm acquired the rights to the Star Wars comic book property. This was considered a big coup at the time as Marvel had been struggling for a definitive cash cow and unbeknownst to them at the time Star Wars would become a huge global success the likes of which had not been seen at the time. Marvels sales on the books followed suit and Marvel had a big hit on their hands.

One thing that Marvel accomplished during their run on the book was opening up the world of the existing characters. We were shown that what we saw on the big screen was only a fraction of the possibilities to universes to explore. The original 6 issues of the comic series covered the Star Wars movie and was the official adaptation and truth be told it was horrible. The covers were decent enough with the cover of Star wars number one being iconic to the comics industry.

The interior art was sloppy, cluttered, poorly colored and the characters were almost indistinguishable. Roy Thomas paired with Howard Chaykin (Art) to do the initial Movie Adaptation. However unlike today where we have plenty of material at their disposal Chakin and Thomas had a script and poster and some T-shirts to use as source material for their work. Thus mistakes were made. On the cover alone Luke and Obi Wan both sport Sith red light sabres. Han Solo looks bright as a Orange galactic smuggler, and the Princess looks smashing in her lovely purple? ceremonial alliance dress?

The original six issues captured a full adaption of the original Star Wars film. It did a decent enough job storyline wise and even included scenes that were on the cutting room floor by the time the movie made it to the big screen. The famous Luke and Biggs scene on tatooine was included in the first issue featured above.

Issue 7 marked the first original story by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin. This time it featured a Han Solo story as he attempts to take his reward money for helping the rebels destroy the Death Star to go back and pay off his gambling debts to Jabba The Hut.

Marvel made sure to add their own footprint on the Star wars Universe and while keeping the focus on the main characters they added new characters to the universe. Issue 8 opened up and introduced a whole group of support characters to assist Han Solo and Chewbacca help a moisture farmer protect his farm from space thugs. The situation is dire and Solo himself hires the services of six other space warriors to help him in the cause. Marvel created a mixed bag of Star Wars style characters in the form of a Green Rabbit named Jaxxon, as well as a senior citizen who claims to be a Jedi Knight named Don-Wan Kihotay, and wields a pink light sabre? It was interesting the choices the creators made when adding new characters to the Star wars universe. It was painfully obvious that we did not have much in the way of Star Wars continuity to pull from as I suspect these types of characters would not have made the cut in today’s Star wars universe.

Marvel decidedly cut its own path telling not only current stores that occurred after Star Wars but they also took chances with prequel material long before Phantom Menace stumbled into theaters years later. Issue 17 deal with the back story of Luke Skywalker and his best friend Biggs Darklighter. For the first time we would see Luke in action before the events of Star wars as Luke and Biggs encounter Sand people and have to fight their way home. This is only alluded to in the Star wars movies when Luke mentions shooting wamp rats back home and mentioning Beggars Canyon. This is one of my personal favorite issues.

We would actually flash back to the clone wars era in issue 24 and again learn some valuable prequel information. Marvel really did a great job offering back story to these characters basing their ideas solely off one film at the time. This time in the issue Silent Drifting, Obi Wan relaxes on a Pleasure Cruiser only to run headlong into a space pirate attack. Obi Wan is decidedly older that what we know about his age in the newer prequels.

Marvels characters expanded on the Star Wars universe and there were somany to mention there are a few that I will mention that are worth checking out. One such character was a Bounty Hunter who Hunted our heroes and was later revealed to be a Cyborg with a heart of gold. This character was know as The Hunter and would appear in several issues.

In the wake of Return of The Jedi Marvel would also create such controversial characters like the New Dark Lord HERSELF..Shira Elan Colla Brie, aka Lumiya. A Rebel infiltrator and potential love interest for Luke, Shira’s character was a complex one and evolved very well in the comics. Luke believed he make have caused her death as she was posing as part of a rebel alliance member. Shira would go on to become the awesome new Dark Lord, Lumiya and would battle Luke and Leia on numerous occasions.

Marvel would do two very good looking adaptions of Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. Both books boasted awesome art work by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon and were very faithful to the original source material.

After the original trilogy ended the comic book itself maintained some very strong story lines. Issue 81 featured Boba Fett who was devoured by the mighty Sarlacc Pit in Return of The jedi was revived to great fan fare for one more battle against Han Solo on Tatooine on board a Jawa Sandcrawler. This particular issue is of note as it features the best cover art work on an issue of Star wars ever made.

At this time Star wars was at the height of its popularity and after the final movie fans clamored for more. George Lucas and his crew pushed two made for TV EWOK movies and two Star Wars animated Series, Droids and Ewoks. Marvel jumping on the craze had created a kid friendly line which incorporated a combination of new Harvey Comics style characters like Royal Roy and Planet Terry with established TV cartoon properties such as Star Wars, ThunderCats, Heathcliff and He-Man. The new imprint line was called STAR comics and it boasted two new Star wars titles Droids and Ewoks. Both series were short lived and the STAR imprint itself was in trouble. The regular Star Wars monthly began to slowly show its age. Without a cartoon series or the hope of any new movies the franchise began to loose steam with the comic buying public. Fading story lines and a creative shuffle which saw a very scaled back art style the book looked to be in serious trouble. The series now helmed by Cynthia Martin (Pencils) and Mary Jo Duffy (Writer) took a new almost feminine approach to the book with more love interest stories, horrible characters like Knife who was a wanna be Jedi who looked like he belonged to 80s band The Doctor and The Medics, my Star Wars comic I loved so much was doomed. Creators like Roy Thomas, Al Williamson, Gil Kane and many others worked so had to make the title a success only to see it painfully decline in quality was difficult to watch as a fan.

As it was Star wars ended with issue 107 with a whimper. The cover shown above still irritates me as a fan. I remember being sad seeing it on the shelf of one of our local convenience stores and being the last issue on the shelves. I bought it that day but a part of me and my passion for comic book collecting changed that day. This was a book I had grown up with and loved and now it was gone. This series was one of the best of its kind as it was bigger than it was meant to be. Many books that started as and adaptation of a Licensed property did not grow to become its own entity.  The Marvel Comics Star Wars Universe was a cool experience as a comic book fan which in my opinion has not been duplicated. With Disney buying the rights to the Star wars Franchise and also owning Marvel Comics there suddenly is a possibility that the Marvel Star Wars Universe may live on again..hope this is just the beginning!

Transmission Ended

I urge you to check out the fine folks over at who have archived all of the Marvel Star Wars comic book cover images. It is a real treat to visit their site and I recommend it highly!

If you have enjoyed this post and would like to discuss it further contact me directly on Twitter @charlton_hero and join the discussion using #SuperHeroSatellite.

Now heroes..we are leaving this galaxy..strap yourself in we are going home..

  1. If you’ve got any fondness for Jaxxon, Don-wan Kihotay and the rest, those first Marvel issues have been adapted and spun off into an audio drama…

  2. Son Of Cthulhu says:

    The longest consecutive run of comics that I owned as a child were Star Wars 1-9. They sold them in three packs back then and Mom let me buy the first three three packs. I wish I had the luck collecting them that you did, good sir. Sounds like it was a blast.

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