Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Getting Hooked Part 3 - A long time ago, in a department store fairly nearby...


The books: Star Wars (Marvel series) #s 16 through 18 (bagged three-pack).
Bought at: Probably King's Department Store (though maybe Zayre), Bangor, ME.

Like most kids born in the 70s, I was a Star Wars fanatic. If it had Star Wars on it, I didn't just want it, I was convinced I needed it. Toys, games, stickers, notebooks, trading cards, erasers, shampoo, Dixie cups... you name it, we had it in my house somewhere.

So my point here is that Star Wars comics were a pretty easy sell for me. I mean, come on... it's Star Wars and it's comics. Two great tastes that go great together. When you're a little kid, the Reese's Theorem is all the math you need.

It mattered little to me at the time that I only knew the original movie from the storybook and the many Topps card sets, and wouldn't see the the actual film until it premiered on HBO in the early 80s (But I did see Empire in the theater, at least.).

Nor that the established characters and settings seemed a little different from what I was used to seeing elsewhere.

Nor that there were characters in here that I knew weren't in the movie at all.

Well, okay, that last one bugged me a little, even as a small child. One character in particular. Those of you who have read early Star Wars comics know exactly who I'm talking about, so say it with me, class:

Jaxxon, the GIANT GREEN STAR WARS RABBIT!


Not that he was even that bad a character, really, but even at the tender age of 4, I knew that ol' Lepus greenspaceicus here just wasn't particularly, you know, Star Wars (though in today's post-Jar Jar world, I'm willing to reconsider this point). And to be fair, a lot of these early Marvel issues were decidely un-Star Wars, sort of like they had a drawer full of old Marvel Premiere spec scripts they needed to use somewhere, and Micronauts hadn't come around yet*, so they shoehorned some popular movie characters in beside the space bunny and bam, there's your Star Wars comic book, kiddies.

But as off-model as they may have been, they were still a lot of fun. Issue #16 finds our friends on the run from a particularly bad-ass pre-Boba Fett bounty hunter (he has a skull right there on his armor... that's how mean he is!), and the art is just terrific. Come to find out years later it was drawn by Walt Simonson, who I later became such a fan of that I'm convinced this issue imprinted on me. #17 is a story of Luke on Tatooine, and it always made me wonder why he thought life there was so boring, since this was a pretty big adventure (unless of course this was the one day in his entire moisture farming youth that anything happened at all). And I have to be honest, I don't remember #18 at all, but look at that cover: The Empire Strikes! They don't strike back just yet, obviously, but still, they strike! That had to be exciting! And you get C3PO and Luke re-enacting the Pietà on the cover, so it's educational, too. What's not to love?

So though these weren't perfect extensions of the story, they certainly fulfilled my need for more Star Wars material in any form in which I could get it. Like pizza, even bad Star Wars was still pretty good Star Wars to me back then. Of course, bear in mind that I didn't see the Holiday Special when it originally aired, so my faith in St. George wouldn't be shaken until the Ewok TV movies of the mid-80s.





* Probably unfair, since I love the Micronauts series myself, but still.
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