Marvel Star Wars Comic
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In June 1983 my dear old Mum bought me my first Star Wars comic, published to coincide with the recent film release of Return of the Jedi. I was 7 years old and it was a revelation. I had been a semi regular reader of The Beano, The Dandy, The Beezer and the old Commando comics but this was something different. I was a massive Star Wars fan having seen The Empire Strikes Back in the cinema in 1980 and almost worn out my ‘recorded off the telly’ copy of Star Wars on VHS tape, so this was a significant comic title in my young life.
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi - Issue No. 1 from Marvel, dated June 22nd 1983, was a full colour, 28 page comic and cost a whopping 25p!! The cover was glossy but inside, on its rough newspaper style pages, the comic serialised the movie, Return of the Jedi, frame by frame, with fabulous artwork and great character likenesses. This strip was backed up by an all new Star Wars tale and also an original Indiana Jones strip. I devoured the comic! Beginning as a fortnightly publication it soon became weekly and I was hooked. A subscription was soon placed with the local newsagent.
The comic was fantastic and went from strength to strength telling new tales in the Star Wars universe but eventually, with no further Star Wars movies forthcoming, I gravitated more to Transformers comics and before I knew it I was a teenager and music, Doctor Who VHS tapes and (whisper it) magazines were more my thing. In the early 90’s, the Star Wars comic licence passed to Dark Horse Comics and, beginning with the classic ‘Dark Empire’ storyline they went on to do some incredible expanding of the Star Wars universe and tying in to the, mostly awful, prequel trilogy and the excellent Clone Wars animated show which started in 2008.
Which brings us to 2015 and the much anticipated December release of the J.J. Abrams helmed, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With the $4 BILLION sale of Lucasfilm to the House of Mouse taking the comic licence back to Marvel (also owned by Disney) it was somewhat inevitable that we would see a new comic line. And lo, announced last year and released in January 2015, we got Marvel’s Star Wars No. 1. Generating huge pre-order numbers and quickly requiring a second printing, it has gone down as one of the biggest selling comics in history.
But is it any good?
Well, firstly, I found it quite difficult to obtain a copy. My local supermarket and newsagent did not have it. My newsagent stocks a good supply of Marvel, 2000 A.D., Judge Dredd and Batman titles but neither she nor her suppliers had heard of the new Star Wars comic! It would seem to be only available through specialist comic shops or subscription, again via the comic shops. However, difficulties in obtaining the comic overcome, I was soon sat with the first two issues from January and February.
First impressions are good! Star Wars No. 1 is a bumper 52 page special issue with a beautiful cover featuring our favourite bunch of rebels striking a suitable action pose. The comic is an all colour, all glossy beauty and retailed for $4.99.(A far cry from 25p!!!!) Ther is no U.K. price and seemingly no U.K. edition so this explains my difficulties in buying the thing locally.
Written by Jason Aaron, with art by John Cassaday, the first storyline is called, rather unimaginatively, ‘Skywalker Strikes’ and is set between episodes IV and V. Appropriately, it begins with the famous words, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”, turn the page for a double page spread, STAR WARS, (I can almost hear the John Williams theme)then a familiar yellow lettered crawl sets the scene, before, just as in the movies, a giant spacecraft hovers over us and we are back in the world of Star Wars! The story itself is a typical derring do affair with our rebels, posing as arms dealers on behalf of Jabba the Hutt, trying to infiltrate and destroy an Imperial weapons facility on the Corellian moon, Cymoon 1. Once through security checks they must await the Imperial negotiator who, of course, turns out to be Darth Vader. As you would expect, the rebel plan does not go smoothly and with C3-PO trapped in the Millenium Falcon, which is being stripped by junkyard creatures, unable to help and the arrival of the Dark Lord of the Sith, the situation doesn’t look good for our heroes. Issue 1 also includes previews for 2 more Star Wars comic titles coming this year, namely, Darth Vader and Princess Leia, which both look great.
Issue 2 is the standard 32 pages of full colour goodness with a cover price of $3.99 and continues the story right off the bat with a confrontation between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Han and Leia meanwhile, having hijacked an Imperial AT-AT walker, are trying to free the slave workers of the factory and C3-PO is still trapped in the Falcon. We get a minor resolution at the end of issue 2 but ultimately, Darth Vader orders the annihilation of the rebels. All except the boy, who he wants to take care of personally.
I think this comic has gotten off to a very strong start with these first couple of issues. For me, they already feel much more like Star Wars than ANY of the prequel films. Sure, the story is a tad rote. A ‘by the numbers’ Star Wars if you like, with ticks in all the fan service boxes but when the tale is told with such style, as it is here, then I can forgive a few cheesy nods to the glory days. As long as it doesn’t become over reliant on the, “These aren’t the droids/weapons/jedi you’re looking for”, hackneyed lines too often, like The Clone Wars sometimes did, then it should be a cracking read going forward. The artwork is sumptuous, with uncanny likenesses to the main cast and the colours are spot on. I suppose if I had to grumble it would have to be the price versus how long it takes to read as, issue 2 barely took me 10 minutes to read and at £2.60 I’m not entirely sure that stacks up value wise. However, I’m in for the next 12 issues so we’ll see where it goes.