With the first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars on the shelves and a second- and third-printing soon to follow, readers like you are gearing up for next month’s debut of the publisher’s Darth Vader series, too.
For many readers, this is the first time they’ve experienced Marvel publishing Star Wars titles. For other, older readers for whom the late 1970s is not just passages in a history book, it’s a return of sorts.
The original Marvel run began in 1977 and lasted through 1986, encompassing 107 issues that, for the longest time, was the only entree to the Saga amid the Original Trilogy years until the Expanded Universe took root and proliferated. The tales in the series were wild, amazing and, in some cases, so shockingly weird that they’ve become absurdist masterpieces.
One arc, in particular, has achieved cult-like status, given its mix of high adventure, philosophy and notions of duty, sacrifice and honor. It also features a 1.9-meter tall green Lepi smuggler from Coachelle Prime who was a Galactic version of Harvey the Rabbit.
And it became a bit of a joke that he was in the book, but remember, this came out in the eighth issue, was just eight months into the run and there was next to nothing know about the sequel to Star Wars the film. Which is why reading about Han Solo and Chewbacca being hired by a moisture farmer on Aduba-3 to fight off local thugs made perfect sense, at least then. And it’s also why the homage to Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai was not lost upon older readers and film buffs, too.
With characters such as Don-Wan Kihotay, Amaiza Foxtrain, Jimm Doshun, Hedji and FE-9Q, the so-called Star Hoppers of Aduba-3 provided a bit of levity, and adventure, for a Saga that was just getting its footing as it started down the path to becoming a pop culture behemoth.
Of course the characters themselves are not Canon and their adventures don’t count, but the stories — found in Volume 1, issues 7-10 and, to an extent, No. 16 of the first Marvel Star Wars series — remain enjoyable to read and have some emotional heft.
The adventures can be experienced through back issues, in the collected editions by Dark Horse Comics and in Marvel’s just-released Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years omnibus, which collects issues 1-44, along with the first annual.
A more enjoyable way, though, is to listen to the stories through a six-episode podcast series that is hidden among the Star Wars items in iTunes. Dubbed Star Wars: Marvels — The Audio Series, it was created by No Line Radio’s Andrew Gilbertson. It’s a solidly executed audio drama and captures an essence of the story written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Howard Chaykin with a verve not seen in some professional productions.
While it’s not been updated in awhile, mostly due to “… a revolving-door of sound mixers who can’t commit to the project, some behind-the-scenes backstabbing & betrayal …” according to its website, there is a pledge that “… despite our rough shape, Marvels WILL be continuing; it just may take a little while.”
Given the first six episodes, it’s worth the wait.
Matt Moore has been perpetrating journalism since 1985, reveling in Star Wars since 1977 and reading comics since 1974.
Coffee with Kenobi: This IS the podcast you’re looking for!