Unlike Han Solo, who we'll soon find out has a hard time coming through on assignments, I'm back and ready to once again serve as your tour guide through Marvel's "Star Wars" comics! Please keep your hands inside the Comic Book.com Cruiser for the duration of this spaceflight.
STAR WARS #2
Publication Date: August 1977
Story: "Six Against the Galaxy" (18 Pages)
Credits: George Lucas (story); Roy Thomas (writer, editor); Howard Chaykin (penciler); Steve Leialoha (inker, colorist); Tom Orzechowski (letterer)
There are a few name changes up there in the credits, as Steve Leialoha and Tom Orzechowski join the creative team. Leialoha takes over coloring duties from Marie Severin and, more noticeably, inking duties from Chaykin. With Leialoha working over his pencils, Chaykin's artwork becomes much more finished looking; the angular linework from the first issue has been replaced with lush, full brush strokes. Leialoha's debut in the coloring department will be felt a little later on in this issue.
The cover for "Six Against the Galaxy" is delightfully over the top. First, I love that the caption reads "Luke Skywalker strikes back!" What's he striking back against? In addition to being an unknowing homage to a future installment in the "Star Wars" film series, it also alludes to an untold story wherein Luke goes back to the Mos Eisley Cantina with his old wizard buddy to show all those bar bullies who's boss. Also at this point in time, lightsaber is spelled "lightsabre," because it's fancier.
"Star Wars" #2 picks up where the previous issue left off—and immediately dissolves all the built-up tension. Readers that anxiously waited a whole month to see a big Sand Person vs. Wormie showdown instead got… the presumably ferocious warrior running away from a mysterious "whoooooo" noise. This moment in the movie at least has a few well-timed action-packed rolls on the ground as Luke dodges Gaffi stick strikes. Everyone loves a good roll on the ground! This issue robs us of vital rolls on the ground!
The noise, it turns out, came from Ben Kenobi. Of all the characters we've met so far, Chaykin takes the most time with Kenobi's face, ensuring that this dude really looks like Alec Guinness. As the film's only notable star, that makes sense. Although, I bet there were diehard "General Hospital" fans that took great issue with Hamill (who played Kent Murray on "Gen Hos"—thanks Wikipedia!) being turned into a generic, square-jawed hero figure.
The quartet of humans and droids regroup at Ben's "homely hovel" where they end up watching Princess Leia's message and avoid making awkward small talk.
At this point in time, Leia's last name is apparently Antilles—a name commonly referred to as the "Smith" of the Star Wars Universe. Writer Roy Thomas continues to dance around the iconic "you're my only hope" line. Last issue, he cut off the last two letters in "hope," and in this issue he changes it to "you are our last hope." Thomas had to adapt an incredibly dense screenplay into six comics, and he had no way of knowing which lines would become big deals. Thankfully, C-3PO's iconic "I must have taken a bad step" remains unaltered.
The only time we see Princess Leia in non-hologram form in this issue is for her implied torture scene, although, it plays out a little less menacingly here.
Maybe it's because I've been watching a lot of "Golden Girls" lately, but does the comic book's torture droid remind anyone else of Sophia? Big glasses, small mouth, and tiny frame—will this droid torment Leia with passive aggressiveness and tall tales set in Space Sicily?
Luke and Ben stumble upon the dead bodies of the Jawas that sold the droids to the Lars homestead, which leads Wormie to rush back home. The comic spares readers a close-up shot of the charred remains of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru (George Lucas would not be so kind in the film). This leads to Luke's heartfelt plea to Obi-Wan to travel with him to Alderaan—a plea that comes across as a little sarcastic thanks to some quotation marks.
Last issue, Darth Vader referred to the Force as the Cosmic Force (everyone else immediately thinks of the Silver Surfer brandishing a lightsaber—I mean lightsabre—when they hear that, right?). In this issue, the Force keeps getting placed in quotation marks, which makes it sound like no one genuinely believes in the "energy field" created by all "living" things that surrounds and "binds" the "galaxy" "together." I'm now kinda taken with the idea of Luke being a proto-hipster tagging along with Obi-Wan ironically.
The gang heads to Mos Eisley spaceport to find a pilot and ship to transport them to Alderaan. Unlike the film, which presents the cantina as a show-stopping, jaw-dropping parade comprised of the most masks, monsters, puppets, and creatures probably ever assembled on screen in one sequence, the comic just sorta…goes there. The entire build-up to meeting Chewbacca, which takes three minutes on film, takes up pretty much just one six-panel page. The entire altercation between Luke, Ponda Baba, and Dr. Evazan—no, I did not have to look up those two names—speeds by here. We don't even get the "You'll be dead!" line!
We do get Ponda Baba insisting in his alien tongue that Luke's a "wool-dugger," so that almost makes up for it.
Finally, after a full issue and eight pages, we meet Chewbacca and Han Solo.
And yeah, Chewbacca's sporting a gray-ish brown mustache on top of his coat of fur. Thank you, new colorist Steve Leialoha, for giving me the mustachioed Chewie that I did not know I needed. The bargaining scene between Han and the old wizard and his blonde boo plays out almost identical to the film; Chaykin and Leialoha even capture the scene's dramatic lighting accurately.
Now might be a good time to mention that Han Solo is my favorite fictional character ever. He has been since I first saw "Star Wars" when I was in first grade, and he's held onto that top spot even after I discovered the X-Men, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and the rest of Marvel Comics. That being said, fellow Han Solo fans will get why this next page is just so darn great.
As someone who has indeed been gifted a "Han Shot first" t-shirt, I really appreciate the unambiguity of this page. Han just blasts him away, above the table, full-on bright pink laser blast physically shoving Greedo back like he's just been hit with a battering ram. "Sorry for the mess" indeed; Greedo's smoking body is probably embedded in a cantina wall. I also have to note Tom Orzechowski's lettering here. As this is a comic, Greedo doesn't get subtitles. He does, however, get a slightly different font. It's a little stretched out and a tad bit more ornate than the font used for everyone else. It's a subtle touch, unlike Han's handling of the Greedo situation.
Han arrives at Docking Bay 94 only to find a familiar face. Well, familiar to Han, at least.
Whereas the first issue had a few deleted scenes in it, this one has just this Han and Jabba confrontation. Yeah, that's Jabba, making an appearance here a good six years before he'd debut in "Return of the Jedi" as a perverse slug creature. As gross as Jabba becomes, I'm kinda glad they ditched this design; he looks like a jaundiced anthropomorphic pug that's been stretched out and stuffed into a super villain's uniform. This version of Jabba has since been retconned into being a character called Mosep Binneed, because of course he has, because Star Wars.
Luke, the droids, and Obi-Wan all make it to Docking Bay 94 and board the Millennium Falcon just as Imperial Stormtroopers get wise to what's shaking. The Falcon blasts out of Tatooine's atmosphere only to run right into a fleet of Star Destroyers—who happen to be in the middle of dumping out their cotton candy supply?
Hey, showing motion in the vacuum of space is tough. If it takes hot pink streaks, then so be it. The issue ends with Han prepping the Falcon to jump to light speed as the "next issue" caption teases the debut of the Death Star. "But how will the book depict something as motion-dependent as light speed," you ask? The answer: rainbows!
NEXT: "Death Star!"
(Editors note: For Part One of "Touring Marvel's Star Wars" - CLICK HERE)