The cosmic civil war is over! The Empire has fallen. The tyrannical Dark Lords of the Sith who ruled the galaxy, Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, are destroyed, and the heroic Rebel Alliance has restored freedom to the star systems with the formation of the New Republic.
But a long-forgotten threat, one more terrible than even the Sith, is still out there in the wilds of deep space, and its return could annihilate all life in the galaxy!
Once again, only the freedom fighters Princess Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo can hope to stand against the forces of evil.
This is their story!
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Pencillers: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Andrea Broccardo, Kerry Gammill, Ze Carlos, Jan Duursema, Stefano Landini, Luke Ross, Leonard Kirk
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Colorist: Chris Sotomayor
Cover artist: Walter Simonson, Antonio Fabela
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publication date: May 29, 2019
So where do you start with reviewing an issue 33 years in the making, picking up where issue 107 left off back in 1986. Well, first off this doesn’t do that – it’s more in the vein of a Star Wars Tales or an annual – but nevertheless, this is picking up threads of not only the later era of the Marvel run with the toffs, hoojibs and the like, but also the earliest days of the Marvel run with Jaxxon and Amaiza.
This 48 page issue is packed with short stories and opens up with ‘The Legend of Valance The Hunter‘, taking us through his life as a stormtrooper and on to becoming a cyborg with era-consistent art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith and Andrea Broccardo. It instantly nails the feel of an 80’s comic – the script and the style are instantly evocative, although the mentions a creature created after 1986, in this case the nexu, pulled me out for a moment. Surely the point of this is to imagine it’s the October 1986 issue of the magazine, not the May 2019 issue.
Chapter II is ‘Near Misses and Narrow Escapes‘, focusing on Han and Chewie on the classic Marvel world of Stenos, as Solo tries to get back into the smuggling game but instead finds a bar fight and the boot of Jaxxon, accompanied by the statuesque Amaiza. There are some very neat nods to the verbiage of the time (Alliance of Free Planets, so much more palatable than the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances), and some lush artwork by Kerry Gammill and Ze Carlos, and we’re re-introduced to the Tofs and Domina Tagge. Old school fans will remember her well.
Chapter III is ‘A Scavengers Mistake‘, with art by Star Wars staple Jan Duursema – a welcome return to this first volume of Star Wars after pencilling Star Wars #92 ‘The Dream’ and providing art on numerous Dark Horse series – where we see a drop being made, including a particularly deadly cargo.
Chapter IV ‘Old Worries In The New Republic‘ drawn by Stefano Landini sees Princess Leia on the world of Noquivzor in the Colonies, first seen way back in the early 90’s in X-Wing: Rogue Squadron where Leia not only displays some very obvious Force powers, but the following pages revel in the slightly cheesy vibe of those classic issues, when we knew so much less about these characters we’ve come to love and admire over the years. There are Marvel era nods aplenty, and this is where we learn that Domina Tagge, first mentioned in issue 33 and first seen in issue 35, is a potential threat.
Chapter V ‘For Fear of What Might Wake‘ sees the explosive return of Valance as his exoskeleton comes back to life like the Terminator, with some gorgeous artwork by Andrea Broccardo. Valance takes the ship and a classic Death Star Droid to help him as Chapter VI ‘On The Way To Forever‘ with art by Stefano Landini finds the big three in the Falcon with Jaxxon and Amaiza as they tackle Domina and her crew right into Chapter VII ‘Snatched Away From The Sun‘ with art by Luke Ross.
This chapter is probably the most interesting, evoking the Marvel UK stories by Alan Moore and John Stokes, which sees the return of Tagge, a Jaxxon heel turn, plenty of peril at the hands of the Crimson Forever and finally Chapter VIII ‘The End Of The Hunt‘ – drawn by Leonard Kirk, best known for drawing Malibu’s Deep Space Nine title – as this very special issue created to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Marvel comes to a close.
To see the return of the original run of Star Wars could be seen as a gimmick, and of course it is as this is a one-off return to the Legends era designed to be evocative of a much-loved run of stories, but in an time where this time period is being rewritten for the third time (the 107 issue Marvel run, the Expanded Universe/Legends and the current canon era) it’s certainly fun to step back to a far simpler era when all we had were these comics every month, and the promise of new adventures coming our way every 4 weeks. I’d certainly be keen to see more, so hats off to colourist Chris Sotomayor and to writer Matthew Rosenberg it’s a big thumbs up for capturing the feel of the 80’s so vividly.