In Review: Star Wars #108

It's like Christmas has come early to fans of the original run of Marvel's Star Wars.

The covers: Six covers to collect on this return to the original run of Marvel’s Star Wars comics. Valance the Hunter crouches to blast off a shot from one of his pistols at Darth Vader, but the Sith deflects it with his lightsaber. This is a stunning Regular cover by Walter Simonson & Antonio Fabela. I grew up with the original Marvel Star Wars comics so having Simonson contribute a cover is fantastic. I love the pose of both characters and the colors are incredibly dynamic. I also have to salute Simonson for including “For Archie!” underneath his signature, a shout out to Archie Goodwin who wrote the series for a time. The Action Figure Variant by John Tyler Christopher is yet another Variant by him I’ll have to track down because it features Valance as a carded Kenner Action Figure. The figure looks fantastic, but no pistols or rifle? The large image of the character is fantastic. I hope that Christopher is able to create more of these now “Legends” characters as figures. The Blank Sketch Variant features the title and publisher and number at the top and the yellow Legends bar across the bottom. The remainder of the cover is white so that an artist can create a one-of-a-kind frontpiece or get the issue’s contributors to sign it. I love these covers for the opportunities they present, but on their own they’re not much. The Remastered Variant by Carmine Infantino, Dan Green, & Dean White features art by Infantino and manipulated and colored by the others. It features Vader on the right, standing atop a world with his lightsaber lit and his cape splaying out behind him. Light green clouds on the left contain Valance’s smiling face and one of his fists. The sky is a golden rust and dark brown rays. It’s a neat idea, but is filled with a lot of empty space. There was no way to make Vader larger? The Variant by John Tyler Christopher has Luke holding his lightsaber forward. Behind him are Princess Leia, Jaxxon, Chewie, Han Solo, and Artoo. In the foreground is the cape and lightsaber of Darth Vader, showing that he has them all cornered. The coloring on the heroes is a cool blue, Vader is in red, and everything else is in black. Great illustration and great coloring. What isn’t on the Variant cover by Michael Golden? In a gambling house, tables, chips, and cards go flying as Han, Amaiza, Jaxxon, and Chewie blast their way out of their situation. Things are flying everywhere, including bodies. Seriously, Golden has outdone himself on this one! Stellar! Overall grades: Regular A+, Action Figure Variant A+, Blank Sketch Variant C, Remastered Variant B-, Christopher Variant A-, and Golden Variant A+

The story: Matt Rosenberg created this massive forty-three paged epic. “The Legend of Valance the Hunter!” opens this issue by giving the reader a quick summary of this villain turned hero from the original Star Wars series from Marvel. The story then turns to Cenatres where a group of scrap collectors have found enough to sell and among them is a familiar looking skull. Han and Chewie are seen on Stenos getting in over their heads, only to encounter two familiar characters. This pair reveals their name of their employer which calls back to Star Wars #50. If you don’t remember that issue, or weren’t around when it came out, don’t worry — Rosenberg sums it up quickly to keep this story moving. There’s a revival on 21 that’s great and I was pleased to see on Page 24 how this character thinks. There’s a great space battle that ends up with a foursome of heroes going onto a derelict to recover something that another party wants. There’s plenty of action, some solid surprises, and a great helping of humanity within the pathos. There’s also some clever cameos of several characters from earlier issues that had me smile. As someone who read the original run of this series this felt like one of those issues. I can think of no higher compliment for Rosenberg than saying he made me feel like a kid again with this wonderful tale. Overall grade: A

The art: Seven different art teams on this issue! WOW! Chapter 1 is Giuseppe Camuncoli & Cam Smith; Andrea Broccardo. This is a four page summary of Valance’s previous appearances, ending with a page in the present showing the scrap collectors. The first four pages look as if they come from early Star Wars comics. I love them. Pages 1 and 3 are full-paged splashes, the first showing Valance in action and the second showing him battling Vader. I love the point of view of the final panel on 4. The fifth page looks more modern and features a Twi’lek, a species not seen often in the original run. Chapter 2 is a seven paged installment from Kerry Gammill & Ze Carlos. Han looks really young on these pages, but the alien creatures, including Chewie, look wonderful. I especially like the inclusion of the character in upper right corner of the second panel on Page 6. The Wookiee is awesome at the bottom of Page 8. The reveals on 11 made my heart soar, as I saw the visual before I read the dialogue balloons. The attitude on Jaxxon is wonderful. Broccardo returns for the two pages that comprise Chapter 3. There’s a lot of strong ship work on these pages, with the male character looking appropriately sketchy. The panel that ends Page 14 is awesome. Chapter 4 features one of my favorite Star Wars artists of all time — Jan Duursema. Her return to this franchise is long overdue, and I’d like to tell Marvel that they can change anything they want of me if they can get Duursema to do an entire issue. Seeing the Zeltrons and Plif made me happy beyond measure. Luke also appears in this chapter, doing something he sadly never got to do on the big screen. Everyone looks fantastic. Broccardo returns one final time for Chapter 5 for five pages featuring the return of a key character. He looks awesome and his actions are stellar. I also have to say how incredible the female character looks at the start of this tale and how terrified her crew looks. Chapter 6 is a four page segment by Stefano Landini that has some strong work done in space. Three panels feature the characters and they’re not as good as the space scenes, but because they’re so few they don’t mar the sequence. One artist who’s certainly made an impact on the Star Wars line is Luke Ross who does the seven pages for Chapter 7 that are set on the derelict ship. I love the characters, their suits, the action, and the setting. Seriously, Ross is the go-to Star Wars artist for excellent work. His Jaxxon is just flat out awesome. The final eight pages, Chapter 8, are by Leonard Kirk and his work is good, too. These pages really look like a classic Marvel comic, with the surprise character looking killer. I love the characters in suits. The first panel on 38 is so cool, as is the one that ends the page. Page 43, the last page, has a killer final panel with the heroes, while the last two are the perfect visual conclusion. Overall grades: Chapter 1 A, Chapter 2 B, Chapter 3 A-, Chapter 4 A+, Chapter 5 A, Chapter 6 B+, Chapter 7 A+, and Chapter 8 A

The colors: I prefer to have bright colors in my Star Wars comics, because that’s the way they were back in the day. Chris Sotomayor makes this a brightly colored issue. Now I’m just guessing, but I think that Sotomayor is responsible for inserting the Ben-Day dot effects, creating colors that look as though they came from the 80’s. This isn’t done in every panel, but when they appear it does age the artwork in a very cool way. Take a look at the first page, the colors are bright but those dots are in the sky and on the other characters. By not being on Valance they make him really stand out. I like the backgrounds on 5 being so bleak the characters pop against them. Jaxxon’s green fur and red flight suit make him an eye catcher whenever he appears. Notice how the markings on the vehicle on 13 are very vivid, ensuring the reader notices a symbol along with a character. The red skin of the Zeltrons was a sight for sore eyes, as was Plif’s white and pink fur. I like that colors alter the reader to a change in something between the first and second panels that top 21. The main character’s colors on 22 make her stand out. The reds that end the issue are perfect. Overall grade: A

The letters: VC’s Clayton Cowles is the letterer on this issue for creating dialogue and Threepio speech, scene settings and transmissions, Wookiee dialogue, alien speech, yells, sounds, and droid speech. I was surprised to see the Threepio has the same speech font as organics’ dialogue. I’m not willing to check my collection to see if that’s the way in the original series. They’re differed by Goldenrod’s dialogue being colored yellow. The scene settings and the transmissions are both in italics, with the them differed by their coloring as well. The alien speech looks like the Ithorian speech that was identified last week in Galaxy’s Edge #2. Why the alien, who’s not an Ithorian, is speaking in that font is beyond me. The sounds are good, at least. Overall grade: B

The notes: There are three pages that cover the inspiration for this story and comments from writers and artists who worked on the original run of this series. Reading anything about the creators behind my run of Star Wars is something I’ll cherish. I loved it. Overall grade: A+

The final line: It’s like Christmas has come early to fans of the original run of Marvel’s Star Wars. The story and visuals felt like it was from the 1980’s. Star Wars was the first comic book I followed regularly as a child and getting more of it created a surreal amount of nostalgia. If Marvel wants to continue this version of Star Wars, I’m more than willing to pay for it if it’s at this level of quality. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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