The Marvel Comics adaptation of "Star Wars" hits the halfway mark with this issue, as Wormie and his pals sneak aboard the most brightly colored space station of doom you've ever seen!
STAR WARS #3
Publication Date: September 1977
Story: "Death Star!" (18 Pages)
Credits: George Lucas (story); Roy Thomas (writer, editor); Howard Chaykin (penciler); Steve Leialoha (inker, colorist); Tom Orzechowski (letterer)
"Star Wars" #3 picks up right where #2 left off, and none of the creative team got lost during the trip through hyperspace! Roy, Howard, Steve, and Tom all arrived at "Star Wars" #3 safe and sound, avoiding the creative turnover that happened in between issues #1 and #2. This issue opens with Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader interrogating Princess Leia about the location of the Rebel base. Sure, it's a tense scene where the bad guys oh-so-obviously have the upper hand, but Princess Leia finally gets a name after appearing in the two previous issues!
People that have seen "Star Wars" (at this point, couldn't I just simplify that statement to just "people"?) know how this scene plays out. Flip the page and, boom, there it is.
Bye-bye Alderaan! The Empire has dealt you a mercilessly destructive blow from the comfort of their hot magenta control room! The Death Star's candy store coloring isn't the only curious choice made by Leialoha on this page. The Imperial uniform, a dull grayish brown on the big screen, appears here as an army green number with brown and red accents. Maybe it's because I'm a child of the '80s, but I'm getting a serious G.I. Joe vibe from Tarkin in this image. Even if Tarkin does come across as a second-rate General Hawk in this issue, comic book Tarkin doesn't suffer the indignity of being called stinky by Leia. The "foul stench" line, possibly the most shade Leia threw in three movies, is curiously omitted here.
Back on the Millennium Falcon, the six soon-to-be heroes hang out and catch newcomers—specifically people that hadn't seen the newly-released "Star Wars" yet—up to speed. This includes Ben Kenobi mentioning "the Force," and Luke all but looking directly at the reader and saying, "'The Force'? You mean that thing you talked about—the energy that's given out by all living things?" Yeah, Luke, you really are "subtle." After that, we get the classic "let the Wookiee win" line and then dive right into Luke's battle against the remote droid.
So, Steve Leialoha just loves pink in all its forms, doesn't he? I'm curious to find out when Luke's lightsaber—I mean lightsabre—turns its shade of movie-blue. This training sequence—which I just realized is the only thing that Obi-Wan teaches Luke before peacing out and leaving the farmboy to take on the Empire—plays out like it does in the film, except the helmet used in the comic bears a striking resemblance to Cobra Commander.
I guess when I start looking for connections to G.I. Joe I can't stop seeing connections to G.I. Joe. I particularly love that second panel; that "SWISSSH" image, with its trippy Wonka-esque background, seems like it would be a perfect entry in the FAIL meme.
The Falcon approaches the Death Star after encountering the asteroid-y remains of Alderaan. Somehow Threepio gets to utter the very first "I've got a bad feeling about this," a line he took away from Luke who says it in the film. The comic actually does a great job of conveying the not-a-moon's size. When you turn the page, you're treated to a huge splash page filled with ominous Death Star inaction.
I will say that this issue, unlike the previous two, does not feel rushed. Whereas the first two covered roughly a half hour of screen time, issue #3 only deals with 20 minutes of footage. That allowed Chaykin to really let this moment land. He sells the Death Star as an intimidating force to be reckoned with—one with a rainbow-colored candy center!
The Falcon gets pulled into the Death Star, but the gang avoids capture by hiding in smuggling compartments. They steal a couple of Stormtrooper uniforms—in the comic you actually get to see Han right before the plan gets put into action—and they quickly make their way into a Death Star control room.
As a fan of the Star Wars Minute podcast, I have to point out that the above image contains snazzy Imperial officer Pol Treidum's Marvel Comics debut! He's the best there is at shouting questions into bright orange communication devices.
The good guys take over the control room—which is also purple, which has me wondering if Prince time-traveled back to 1977 and sneakily replaced all of Leialoha's gray markers with his favorite color. The time comes for Obi-Wan to give his iconic goodbye to Luke, and man oh man, those quotation marks just muck it up.
Those quotation marks just add a dose of unintended sarcasm and insincerity to the whole phrase. Ben might as well be saying, "'The Force' is with you, and by 'the Force' I mean 'my butt'! Got you, bro!"
Artoo discovers that Princess Leia is being held captive on the Death Star, so Luke concocts twelve percent of a rescue mission and convinces Han and Chewie to come along. The droids get left behind as the trio makes their way to the detention level, traveling through the colorful wonderland that is the Death Star.
Purple, pink, blue, orange, yellow—this looks more like a set from a B-52's music video than the most devastating weapon ever created. The guys get to their destination and enact a hostile takeover of the detention center control room. In the movie this involves a lot of smoke and actors throwing their bodies against consoles. In the comic, however…
…Imperial officers get blasted from behind with heavy-duty laser bolts that cause their backs to erupt into flames! Han cheers Luke on, saying, "Way to go, kid!" I know they're also killing the bad guys during this scene in the movie, but the glee and intensity that it's done with in the comics borders on disturbing. Good thing those colorful metal walls are there to brighten the mood!
Luke rushes to Leia's cell and rescues her. Thomas includes Leia's comment about Luke's height in a rare instance of keeping one of the movie's iconic lines intact. Han and Chewie catch up with Luke and Leia on the last page, as Stormtroopers arrive and block off their escape. The issue closes out with our heroes trapped in corridor of death! Well, a hot pink corridor of death.
NEXT: "In Battle With Darth Vader"
(Editors Note: For Touring Marvel's Star Wars part one & two - click here & here)