Sunday, May 20, 2018

Speculation Spotlight: Comics to Watch When Solo Soars

Solo: A Star Wars Story is set to be released this week and it has already been revealed by director Ron Howard that the comedic duo, Tag and Bink, will make a cameo appearance in the movie.  This has resulted in the Tag & Bing Are Dead mini-series seeing a nice rise in value and Marvel has cashed in on the speculation by releasing the Tag & Bink Were Here reprint collecting the mini-series.  In addition to the mini-series, what other comics might receive a bump due to the new movie?  A word of caution, while I have not seen the film nor do I have any inside information concerning it, much of this can be construed as spoiler material.  If you don't want to be spoiled, please do not proceed with reading this.

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Modern IDW: Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Rey

The second Forces of Destiny one-shot in January stars Rey.  It expands on the scene in The Force Awakens when Rey rescues BB-8 from Teedo as well as the season 1, episode 1 Forces of Destiny short Sands of Jakku.  In the tale, Rey and BB-8 have a few more adventures together before she delivers him to Niima Outpost.  While the story does not reveal more about Rey's character than the movie, it does emphasize Rey's strengths are her optimism and empathy.  One of the more poignant scenes is when her and BB-8 spend the night in the home she made out of the fallen AT-AT and she awakes screaming from a nightmare about being abandoned on Jakku.  One can only imagine this is a nightmare that Rey is very familiar with, yet she remains hopeful that those who left her will eventually return.  Rey is a hero because, despite the adversity in her life, she possess the propensity to do good.

Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Rey a - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Rey b - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
The retailer incentive is a wrap-around animated variant based on the season 1, episode 1 short that is also included in the story.  This variant was initially released in a 1:10 ratio.

Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Rey c - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
retailer incentive variant
The convention exclusive is the same artwork as the Elsa Charretier cover b artwork, except the front cover does not contain any text.

Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Rey d - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
Convention exclusive

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Boba Fett - Twin Engines of Destruction

Star Wars Galaxy Magazine published several Star Wars serials that were turned into one-shots from Dark Horse.  The first one-shot was Tales From Mos Eisley reprinting the comic pages found in Star Wars Galaxy Magazine #2 - 4.  Boba Fett: Twin Engines of Destruction was published in issues #5 - 8 and reprinted in a one-shot in January 1997.

Star Wars: Boba Fett - Twin Engines of Destruction a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (January 1997)
The two characters on the cover are Boba Fett and Jodo Kast.  Jodo Kast was created by West End Games for their Star Wars Roleplaying Game and wears Mandalorian Armor painted to look like Boba Fett's.  Believing Fett to be dead, Kast impersonates Boba Fett to collect higher bounties.  In Twin Engines of Destruction, the bounty hunter Dengar contacts Boba Fett after crossing paths with Kast when they both hunt the same target.  Fett sets a trap for Kast on Nal Hutta where Kast is killed.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Retro Marvel: Star Wars Annual #2

Han Solo is encased in carbonite between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  The stories that take place between these two movies are published in issues #45 through #80.  When you consider the original run was only 107 issues, these 35 issues represent almost a third of that run, which is a lot of issues to not include a major character from the franchise.  Despite his absence during the period, Marvel found ways to include Han Solo by utilizing flashback stories.  Han had a significant role to play in Star Wars #50 in 1981 and in the summer of 1982 he was the featured character of Star Wars Annual #2.  His next major appearance was in another flashback story told in Star Wars #70 which was on newsstands in January 1983.  Interestingly, Marvel did not wrap up their pre-Return of the Jedi stories until issue #80 and Han made his return in Star Wars #81 which was sold in December 1983, six months after fans knew Han had survived the capture by Boba Fett.  (Ironically, Boba Fett would return with Han in issue #81, but, by the end of the story, the status quo was maintained when he fell back into the Sarlacc.)

Despite featuring Han Solo, Shadeshine! told in Star Wars Annual #2 is not an interesting tale.  It is the last Star Wars story drawn by Carmine Infantino, whose artwork was seen on the title the previous year in Star Wars #53 and 54.  By the time Star Wars Annual #2 was published, Walter Simonson had finished up his run as the main artist that began in issue #49 and Tom Palmer was filling in just prior to Ron Frenz taking over the art chores.  After a year of more realistic artwork on the title, a return to the Infantino style should have been nostalgic.  Infantino is the main artist on the title from issue #11 to #48, but a new era began when Simonson took over the title.  Infantino's artwork is not the problem with Annual #2, it is the story.  The Han tale is framed by a sequence where Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, and C-3PO are evading Stormtroopers on Ventooine.  To escape, the trio enter a temple ruin to find a statue of Han Solo.  The caretaker of the shrine tells them a tale about Han's visit to the planet and his role in ending the rule of leaders known as Satabs.  A Satab is exposed to a stone called the shadeshine which gives them superhuman abilities.  The ramifications of using the abilities is a shortened lifespan, so after a year as ruler of the planet, the Satab is placed in suspended animation upon entering the Hall of Satabs.  Luke uses the information relayed in the tale to lure the Stormtroopers into the room and our heroes leave the planet aboard the Millennium Falcon.

Star Wars Annual #2a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 1982)
Newsstand
Star Wars Annual #2b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 1982)
Direct
I love Carmine Infantino's artwork on the title, so it is a shame the story in his final outing is a disappointment.  The cover shows Han and Chrysalla, another character instrumental in the downfall of the Satabs, in the doorway to the Hall of Satabs.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Modern IDW: Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Leia

IDW published five one-shots based on the Forces of Destiny sub-brand in January.  Each one-shot focused on different Star Wars heroines.  The first one-shot stars Princess Leia but also features Han Solo and Hera Syndulla on Hoth.  The inspirational story about not giving up is among the best stories published by IDW and shows the possibilities for both the Star Wars Adventures line as well as the Forces of Destiny sub-brand.

Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Leia a - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Leia b - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
Each one-shot has a retailer incentive that contains a wraparound cover with artwork inspired by a Forces of Destiny animated short.  The Leia animated variant is based on season 1, episode 5 titled Beasts of Echo Base.  These animated variants were initially released in a 1:10 ratio.

Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Leia c - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
retailer incentive A variant
A second retailer incentive for Leia was initially released in a 1:20 ratio.
Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Leia d - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
retailer incentive B variant
A Hall of Comics exclusive was also published for the Leia one-shot.  It is limited to 500 copies.

Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Leia e - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
Hall of Comics exclusive
The Leia convention exclusive is the same artwork as the Elsa Charretier cover b artwork, except the front cover does not contain any text.  There are five of these convention "virgin" exclusives, one for each one-shot.

Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny - Leia f - IDW, U.S. (January 2018)
Convention exclusive

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Retro Foreign: Yugoslavian Mala Stripoteka

Marketplace published seven of the eight Marvel Droids issues for Yugoslavian readers in the title Mala Stripoteka .  Each issues is 36 black and white pages and contains two strips.  The main strip and subject of the cover is Droids and the backup strip is Marina.  The Droids and Ewoks crossover from Droids #4 is not included in this title.

Mala Stripoteka #1a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (December 1989)
contains Droids #1
The back cover for the first issue contains an ad for the Droids sticker album.

Mala Stripoteka #1a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (December 1989)
back cover
Mala Stripoteka #2a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (January 1990)
contains Droids #2
The back covers for issue #2 contains a message to the readers to have a happy new year.

Mala Stripoteka #2a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (January 1990)
back cover
Mala Stripoteka #3a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (February 1990)
contains Droids #3
Issue #3 is the last issue to contain a Droids image on the back cover.  The ad is for the next issue of the title.

Mala Stripoteka #3a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (February 1990)
back cover
The artwork on the covers are the same as the Marvel series except for issue #4.  The artwork on Mala Stripoteka #4 has John Romita's signature, but I cannot find a reference in any of the issues.  The character driving the landspeeder looks like the antagonist Kugg from Droids #1.  Kugg is green in that comic but on this cover he is brown.  This is the only cover art in the series where R2-D2 is drawn with the correct blue highlights instead of the red and yellows shown on the other covers.

Mala Stripoteka #4a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (March 1990)
contains Droids #5
Issue #5 - 7 retells the story from Star Wars from the point of view of the Droids.

Mala Stripoteka #5a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (April 1990)
contains Droids #6
Mala Stripoteka #6a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (May 1990)
contains Droids #7
Mala Stripoteka #7a - Marketplace, Yugoslavia (June 1990)
contains Droids #8

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Modern Marvel: Star Wars 40th Anniversary Covers (part 4)

The final 12 Star Wars 40th anniversary covers were released in the last three months of 2017.  All of them are really nice and do a great job of capturing the lead up and final dogfight above the Death Star.  Standouts for me include Mace Windu - Jedi of the Republic #4 and Poe Dameron #22 because of their unique take on scenes from the movie.

Star Wars #37c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 37/48
Star Wars: Mace Windu - Jedi of the Republic #3b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 38/48
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #13b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 39/48
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #20b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 40/48
Star Wars #38c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 41/48
Star Wars: Mace Windu - Jedi of the Republic #4b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 42/48
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #21b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 43/48
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #14b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 44/48
Star Wars: Mace Windu - Jedi of the Republic #5b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 45/48
Star Wars #40b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 46/48
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #22b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 47/48
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #15b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 48/48
Marvel is currently publishing a 36 cover Galactic Icon variant set.  I encourage Marvel to continue providing accessible covers like these two sets and quit releasing ratioed variants based on initial orders.