Ah, Star Wars #71. 1983. Yes, this was my first Star Wars comic that I remember having. What happened to it, I have no idea. How I got it—slightly less of a mystery. I received it from a friend who first got me into comics. Mostly GI JOE and X-Men—very popular in the mid-to-late-1980’s in America. But back to this Star Wars issue. Was it for a trade, a purchase or a straight-up gift? Was I supposed to keep it? Give it back after a few weeks? Honestly, I don’t remember. I don’t think I got it when it was new in 1983, I think it was a few years later, after Jedi came out on HBO. Whatever. It was just in my collection, and I got it from a friend who lived down the street.
The online comic book price guide shows the price for this issue as being around $14.00. An EBay listing shows it around $20.00. However, I know for a fact that my copy (if I were to ever find it) is significantly less than that. For in the middle of the comic is a bit of childhood graffiti. In some kind of Magic Marker. It was just one piece of defacement, whether it was “boobs” or “poop” or another juvenile jab that your average 10-or-11-year-old boy would find hilarious and scandalous. Kinda destroys any resale value.
Now to the meat of the issue. The comic takes place pre-Return of the Jedi, still dealing with aftermath of Han’s carbonite prison in Empire Strikes Back. The issue takes advantage of an alien bar with those nasty (and super popular) bounty hunters Bossk and IG-88. The cover shows Luke with his father’s lightsaber (soon to be Rey’s in about 36 years) and Lando in an uncomfortable position with a blaster, preparing to battle bad guys for Han’s carbonite-frozen-body. If I recall, this was a typical Marvel cover misdirect. But more on that later.
I don’t recall very much about the issue, so my distant memories and the Internet will have to do.
Marvel had been doing their Star Wars comics for 71 issues at this point, and will for another 40 or so more issues. They’ve had 6-foot tall green rabbits and tiny-bepantsed “kids” grace their pages, along with our familiar heroes. But back in 1983, this was all the typical Star Wars fans had to their fandom. The term “canon” probably wasn’t even invented yet. No Quinlan Vos, Mara Jade or Doctor Aphra. I remember the “hero” Rik Duel and his purple girlfriend who likes kissing Luke Skywalker. It took me a long time to realize that Rik Dual / Han Solo were meant to be clever wordplay, a Han Solo substitute while the character was frozen in carbonite for about 3 years. There was also Dani, a purple alien sexpot, a character that flummoxed and yet fascinated a younger version of myself. I did recognize her species years later in the Legacy comics in the form of purple alien mechanic Delilah. The guy in carbonite from the cover and plotline of the issue is NOT Han Solo, but a Rodian friend of Rik’s named Chihdo. This guy is literally Greedo’s cousin, a then-limitation of the early Star Wars universe. As a reader, it is cool to see an alien face and body within the frozen carbonite block, instead of the usual Harrison Ford form. I would imagine that threatening/torturing/killing somebody by putting them in carbonite became quite popular after Jabba the Hutt did it. What an innovator. The image on the cover doesn’t take place until the very end of the issue.
So what did happen in the issue? Thanks to a Star Wars Wikipedia online, I was able to find out:
Lando Calrissian, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 land on the planet Stenos in the Millennium Falcon, intent on tracking down IG-88 and Bossk, who they believe one might have been working with Boba Fett during the search for the Millennium Falcon. They hope that one of the hunters will lead them to Fett, who still has Han Solo captive, frozen in carbonite…Lando explains to Luke that he’s found Han. Lando points out a carbonite slab being hauled through the streets of the city, and the two Rebels begin to tail it, hoping to see their friend at last. The two follow the carbonite block into a large building, where it has been set down in a large room. However, as they approach the slab, they find that the person trapped in the carbonite is not Han, but instead, Chihdo. Bossk and IG-88C had used the carbonite block as a lure, to draw the Rebels into their camp. As Luke and Lando turn to leave, they find that they are surrounded by a large group of bounty hunters led by Bossk, who points at the two Rebels and states, “You’re surrounded”
So, that was my first Star Wars comic. A weird one to be sure, but still historical in my own personal history. I continue to collect Star Wars comics (via trade paperbacks) and stay on top of the latest news through sites like Fanthatracks.com…