From Top to Bottom #16: Marvel's Star Wars Greatest Hits

by Matt

Welcome to the 16th edition of the long running and Emmy winning "From Top to Bottom" column! Every week I will look at something within the comics industry and give you my opinion on what I think is the best and what I think ranks amongst the bottom-feeders.

Last week, I looked at the Top and Bottom of Comic Book Comforts. Comics that acted like they were comfort foods. These were comic books (mini-series in particular) that do the same thing. They make me feel happy every time I read them and I can read them anytime. Which is why I named that column the way I did. This week's column, in celebration of Star Wars week (and to give Brandon a break from all the writing!) I decided to take a peek back to the past when I was a kid and I collected Star Wars comics from Marvel. For this column I am going to do something a little different. I am going to revisit my Top 3 Marvel Star Wars comics that I remember loving and then my Bottom 3 and we'll see how they held up.

I love Star Wars. I grew up with Star Wars, I was lucky enough to see all the films in the theatre and I was hooked. I collected the toys and would play Star Wars with my friends all the time. I remember when my dad came home from work and brought me a slurpee and a Star Wars comic! It was Star Wars #23 and this helped pave the way to my addiction to comic books in general. I collected the Star Wars religiously until Return of the Jedi and quit shortly after. I was so happy when Dark Horse collected the entire Marvel run in a series of trades. Some of the stories hold up, some others do not and some others are always going to be cheesy. Here are my Top 3 Marvel Star Wars stories along with what I consider to be Jar Jar Binks-like. Again, these picks were based on my favorites when I was a kid, we'll see after re-reading them if they still hold up. And those stories I hated as a kid? We'll see if I still hate them.

3) Star Wars #38
Riders in the Void
This issue was supposed to be the first part of the Empire Strikes Back adaptation but it was delayed and we got a dreaded fill-in issue only this became one of my favorites. Luke and Leia were on a mission when they were attacked by an Imperial Star Destroyer. They barely escaped after being attacked and wound up beyond the galaxy and into the starless void. They were snagged by a strange, living ship and subjected to being tested. The ship then decides to help them go home but the Empire has found them. Michael Golden provided some terrific art on this, his rendition of the Star Destroyers blasting the alien ship was awesome. And I still find this story awesome, the art holds up and now I understand what is going on more. Still a great fill-in.

2) Star Wars #33-37
Saber Clash/Dark Lord's Gambit
Baron Tagge wanted to be more favored to the Emperor than Darth Vader and this story showed how cunning and evil Darth Vader is and how heroic Luke was. Tagge and Luke dueled in the first part of this story and Luke showed mercy and how good at dueling he was by destroying his cybervision and rendering him helpless. Like Darth Vader had done before him. The story leads to both the Empire and the Alliance courting the Tagge family for assistance, only this is just a trap to get Luke. Luke and Vader duel in a fantastic fight and in the end, Luke kills Vader but we find that it wasn't Vader, it was a Sith illusion, it was really Baron Tagge. I cannot explain it all, you just have to track down this story. It certainly holds up, in fact I get this story more now that I am older and I can understand it.

1) Star Wars #60-63
Screams in the Void/Pariah
Ah, Shira Brie. I loved this character when she was introduced. She made a perfect rival to Leia for the affections of Luke and she was tough as nails. In this storyline, the Rebels capture a bunch of TIE Fighters and Luke leads a team (including Shira Brie) in the TIE Fighters to destroy special Teezl, which was a communication beacon that allowed the Empire to communicate instantaneously. They attack the Imperial Fleet and during the battle the communication between the Rebels goes dead. Luke finds the Teezl but there is a TIE fighter there, he uses the Force to determine if it is friendly and it is not so he shoots down the TIE Fighter and destroys the Teezl. Luke then discovers that pilot of the TIE that Luke destroyed was Shira Brie. So he goes on a quest to find out who Shira Brie is and the answer shocked me! I loved this run because the art from Walt Simonson and Tom Palmer was absolutely fantastic and the stories were absolutely fun. I remember these Star Wars comics the most!

I liked those Star Wars stories as much as I remembered I enjoyed them. In fact, I enjoyed re-reading my #2 selection a lot more than I thought I would. They were as good as I remember. And now for the Bottom 3, the Star Wars comics that I really disliked when I was a kid. They were not as horrible as I remember but I still don't care for these stories.

3) Star Wars #46
The Dreams of Cody Sunn-Childe
Lando and Chewbacca are searching for Han when they traveled to another dimension that was home to the legendary Rebel warrior Cody Sunn-Childe. Sunn-Childe no longer wants to fight when he finds out that he has this mystical ability to create this dimension. The Empire finds them and Cody unleashes his powers and destroys Star Destroyers, he realizes that this is not the way and decides to be true to his beliefs and lets him and his followers and city be destroyed. Lando and Chewbacca escape and the Imperials are stuck in that dimension. Did I still dislike it? It was better than I remember but I still am not a fan of magic or mystical stuff like the monster that could destroy a Star Destroyer. I can tolerate the Force and some magical, mystic forces in Star Wars but as a kid I thought this was over the top.

2) Star Wars #67
The Darker
On the planet Arbram, R2-D2 gets lost and C3-P0, Plif and Chewbacca follow to see where he is. They find the Darker, an evil being. They fight the creature and Chewbacca lays a smackdown on the Darker and kills him. I still don't like this story. When I was a kid, I would play Star Wars and it was always the Rebellion versus the Empire. I never came up with stories like this and I couldn't tolerate this type of story. Just seemed stupid to me.

1) Star Wars Annual #2
Luke, C3-P0 and Lando are escaping from Stormtroopers when they find a gold statue of Han Solo. I didn't get too far when I read this because I came across a panel that freaked me out and to this day I cannot look at it. Go ahead and call me chicken but I didn't re-read this annual because I was creeped out. Check out the panels below: BRRRRRR!

The Dark Horse series of trade paperbacks was well worth getting this nostalgic gems back in my hands and now I can read the full collection. Surprisingly, they all do hold up pretty well. I enjoy pulling these books off my bookshelf and reliving my childhood. What ones were your favorites?

1 comment:

Brandon said...

The Marvel books were fun, but I think the DH stories are much, much better. I enjoyed the early issues, but as I said in my Panelology article this past week, the later issues just seemed goofy.