Written By Jake Garner
With the imminent release of Marvel’s Darth Maul this week, not that I am excited or anything, I thought it might be worth looking back to the very beginning. Star Wars is primarily built around its ‘Skywalker’ saga of films, alongside the recent introduction of the standalone films, two of which we have yet to see. For a lot of people, Star Wars starts and ends with the films, but for those who want to explore Lucas’ galaxy a little more, they turn to the endless choice of comic books and novels available. Over the years, many of the comic books based on the franchise have fallen into the ‘legends’ category rather than being classed as official canon.
For the majority of fans out there, this isn’t really a problem. Both lines of space based histories are rich with good story telling, in the novels available, and most importantly here, the comics! As of recent, Marvel Star Wars publications, since the commencement of the 2015-present run, have been deemed by the overlords as official canon, in other words, this stuff actually happened!
So, Star Wars comics, where did it all start? It is probably fair to say it officially started with the name Charles Lippincott, who during the pre-birth of the film in 1977 was Lucasfilm’s publicity supervisor. Lippincott approached the man himself, Stan Lee, a few years prior to the film’s release in 1975. Suggested was a Star Wars comic book in preparation for the film, principally to boost the hype before its release. At first, Lee rejected the offer, preferring instead to wait until the film’s completion. But even Stan Lee couldn’t resist the charm of Star Wars and, even before it hit the big screen, decided to publish a six part series by the same name that would work from the storyline and script for the film.
Being the business man he was, Lee made the arrangement final when it was agreed that no royalties would be paid to Lucasfilm until sales exceeded 100,000. Star Wars #1 was consequentially published in early April of 1977. Due to its popularity, the series ran for 107 issues, from 1977 until 1986. Fans couldn’t get enough. Oh, and there are three annuals as well. Lee took the gamble, I’m sure he doesn’t regret it now. It’s almost as if he plotted it all like a true Palpatine.
The first six issues are loosely based around the script from Episode IV. Due to the comics release over a month prior to the film, it is true but fair to say that there are some noticeable changes. The storyline is essentially the same as the film. Dark Lord wants to torture a gorgeous Princess. Princess is rescued by a bearded dude, his protégé, a big ape like creature and his waist coated mate, all alongside two droids. They wage war, joining a rebellious movement, on a huge battle station. Result, they blow the holy hell out of it. Oops sorry, spoiler alert by the way. Get out of here! The changes from comic to film are minor, but in some ways disturbing.
For me, one change sticks out like a sore thumb. Maybe, just maybe Jabba should have been shut down from the beginning. His story in regards to the first film is somewhat fragile. Originally he was a large human that was cut from the film entirely. In 1997, for some unknown reason, maybe Lucas was high, Lucasfilm introduced a strange CGI version of the space slug based on the one seen in Return of the Jedi. This was the stuff of nightmares. In the 2004 rerelease, Lucasfilm improved on this, probably due to the fan hate for the 97 version. Anyway, back to the comic. In the 1977 Star Wars series, Jabba appears much the same as bad LSD trip, a tall, thin yellow guy with huge white sideburns. Yes, I could have chosen to talk about anything in the Star Wars comics, but this really sticks in my mind. I mean, just look.
Marvel’s interpretation of the script isn’t perfect and by no means is it as thrilling as the films themselves, but despite this, I thoroughly enjoyed them. The series ran beyond the films scope at the time, allowing for fans of the first film to carry on the adventure with their favourite galactic team. If you are a fan of Star Wars, I would almost certainly, at least, take a glance at the first six issues.