Star Wars Early EU Review and Analysis
By: Angel Santiago
Welcome back! Here is when things go full throttle onward! A lot of action, interesting things and weird but fun characters, in these following issues, (from #7 to #15). We start with issues #7 to #10, the first part of the epic, which I personally call, “The Lost Treasure Plot”, starring our favorite scoundrel, Han Solo, alongside his trusted friend and co-pilot, Chewbacca. Let’s begin!
Star Wars #7
Goodbyes and promises made.
After the battle against the Death Star, is time for Han and Chewbacca to leave Yavin 4 and pay up Jabba the Hutt. Unfortunately, by coincidence, Han comes across a familiar face, the pirate named Crimson Jack, someone he would have been happier if he never saw again. Sadly, since Han didn’t recognize the ship the pirate was using, by the time he noticed the trap, it was too late and he ended up captured and losing all the reward the rebels gave him after delivering Princess Leia at Yavin 4.
Crimson Jack captures Han and Chewbacca.
The pirate, knowing well Han’s talent for smuggling, lets him go, in the hopes of one day catching him again and get even greater treasure out of him. This of course puts Han in a very bad position, since they had promised Jabba, he would be paid soon. Now, he must try to recover from the loss, not only of the payment but try to survive long enough to be able to pay it. He arrives at the planet Aduba - 3, a not well-known location but with an interesting story, somewhat similar to Tatooine. While they look for a cantina at the local spaceport, they witness a commotion. After “assessing” the situation, Han notices an alien insectoid with priestlike robes being harassed by a mob of locals and chooses to help him. The insectoid explains the situation to Han and with a little incentive, decides to continue with the priest until his mission is complete.
Han accepts a new job.
When the mob escalate the attack, a shootout breaks out and the Bantha the priest had carrying a casket is killed, Chewbacca being forced to carry it to its destination. Once the deed is done, Han uses the coins he got from the priest to visit a local cantina, where he expects to find more work and some “fun”, until he is approached by some strangers with a proposal. What did the strangers want? We’ll find out next issue! This story is extremely interesting as it describes certain beliefs, not too dissimilar to ours on our own world but with a twist, as it usually happens long ago, in a galaxy far away. This story also reminded me of an edited scene from the original Star Wars, when Han is chatting with a woman, just prior to meeting Ben and Luke at Mos Eisley. Even Chewbacca seems to be enjoying himself, he was based off a dog after all! LOL!
First appearance of a Zeltron?
Some firsts in this issue too, domesticated Banthas on other worlds, a mention of Aquilae, a world from the earlier Star Wars scripts, among a few worldbuilding creations, like weapons, fauna and words. Such as Pera, High Galactic for male parent, priest or preacher, depending on the case and Fi, meaning child. The Star Words section reminds us, on a special note, that the writer was having contact with George and Mark Hamill regarding the direction the story would take moving forward. It also had 3 letters featured. The first asking the reason why in issue #1 the phrase “A long Time Ago…” was not featured like in the film. The answer being that the “rough cut” the writer Roy Thomas, along with Steve Leialoha (inker) and letterer Tom Orzechowsky, saw months before the release did not have it, but Lucas had explained to them “that the story had no relation at all to Earth, in terms of either time or space.” and that is why issue #1 didn’t have the now famous phrase as well as other differences. The second letter giving praise to the film and comics, as well as and I quote, “May Star Wars the comic continue beyond the movie and become a legend, like the movie!”. In the last letter, the fan seems to have confused the cover artist of issue #3 with another. Nothing particularly significant, unless you notice even the details in the artwork were being scrutinized even back then.
Star Wars #8
As Han is about to talk with the strangers regarding their proposal, he is attacked. An altercation apparently provoked by his antics at the end of last issue. The scuffle is resolved after Chewbacca joins the scene. After this, the strangers explain their situation and they want Han’s help, ridding their settlement from a gang of raiders.
Han never seems to be able to catch a breath.
Judging by the stranger’s description of the way the raiders operate, Han knows he cannot do the work alone and he decides to put together a band of misfits to help him, though he doesn’t tell them the purpose of their “assignment” until later.
The despicable leader of the raiders, Serji -X
Knowing of the arrangement by the settlers, thanks to a spy at the cantina, Serji-X approaches Han and makes an offer, which he refuses. The raider departs, threatening Han, should he interfere with his activities. Here we meet Han’s motley crew, a mix of beings looking for a way off world and the credits to do so, even accepting odd jobs they have no idea what’s expected of them, though some don’t seem to even care. We also get a cameo by the rest of the main characters, as we find out more about Luke and Leia as they figure plans for the safe evacuation of Yavin 4.
Luke’s sub plot begins.
On a note in Star Words, we learn of one of the first Star Wars comics criticism. Someone who didn’t enjoy the art nor the way the story was adapted, showing a complete lack of knowledge about the comics medium, especially how film adaptations are produced. In the reply to this letter, the editor explained in some detail the process of adapting the story and how the film evolved from the time they got the script, the development of the adaptation and the eventual release of the finished film. Even stating that not only they had feedback and ideas from Lucasfilm but from Mark Hamill and even Harrison Ford, in regards to their characters. It’s also mentioned a possible Star Wars paperback sequel, (Splinter of the Mind’s Eye?) which says a lot, since it shows Roy Thomas indeed had contact and tons of information, as to where the story could go in future issues. The rest of the letters were praise and a request for an annual issue! It ends with a reminder of the availability of reprints of the earlier issues as well as other collected formats.
Star Wars #9
As Han’s group travel to the settlers’ lands, they pass a crop field being attacked by High Hounds, a type of harpy creatures. The group save the workers and reach the village, quickly preparing to deal with the coming raid. As the preparations are being made, we see at that very moment, Luke contacts Yavin 4 and as he begins his report, contact is lost, hinting to events that will be depicted on issue #11.
Han and gang travel to the settlers’ village.
Back on Aduba-3, a weird conversation takes place between a village elder and Han, about a “mystical solution” to their problem. Why this solution was never used before is unknown but the elder’s words are quickly brushed aside by a young villager but no sooner than the preparations are completed, the raiders arrive in full force.
During the confrontation, one of Han’s team shows his chivalrous character.
The battle is fierce and the group fights valiantly but the raiders sky speeders give them the advantage. Han’s team do their best from land, as he left The Falcon at the spaceport as security in order to get the supplies they needed, when suddenly he notices one of the sky raiders being shot down by an energy discharge and turns to see the origin of the attack, a giant monster, emerging from the nearby mountain!
The battle showcases some cool heroic moments and the writer’s love for literature and fantasy, which both work well in the Star Wars Universe. No Star Words in this issue but it included this awesome pin up by Howard Chaykin.
Star Wars Issue #10
The beast, which is being controlled by the elder shaman, continues attacking the “Cloud Riders”, giving Solo’s team a welcome advantage.
The Behemoth continues its attack.
Beast on the rampage.
When the raider leader notices the shaman is controlling the beast, he approaches the elder to kill him, attracting the beast, which kills them both. Now, without guidance, the beast begins an uncontrolled rampage, forcing Han and his group to defend themselves from its powerful energy attacks.
A preview of things to come.
During the attacks, Han notices the monster’s energy emissions are being affected by the weapon of one of his team, a lightsaber! In an EU first, Han grabs the lightsaber and stabs the beast, killing it, finally liberating the settlers. As the battle on Aduba-3 was taking place, we see Princess Leia leaving the “relative safety” of the rebel base to try and find Luke Skywalker, ignoring General Dodonna’s advice.
On Star Words, writer Roy Thomas announces the new team in charge of the series, Archie Goodwin and Carmine Infantino, who would continue the storyline that began in issue #7. Also features letters of praise for the adaptation and reminders of the different types of reprints available. This would be the last Star Words until issue #16.
With this review, we’ve covered half of this fun plot. Next, we will cover issues #11 to #15, concluding, what I call, the “The Lost Treasure Plot”. Enjoy!