Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Retro Marvel: Star Wars #78

For fans of the Expanded Universe, the first Star Wars anthology movie's title, Rogue One, immediately brings to mind the Rebel starfighter squadron, Rogue Squadron.  Introduced in The Empire Strikes Back and further expanded on in Dark Horse's Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron title and Bantam's Star Wars: X-Wing books, Rogue Squadron is led by Wedge Antilles.  Wedge is the only other X-Wing pilot beside Luke Skywalker to survive the attack on the Death Star and appear in all 3 original movies.  As information about the new movie is leaked, it is becoming unlikely the movie will be about the Rogue Squadron that Star Wars fans are familiar with.

A Marvel Comic Star Wars issue that never fit with the later canon of Rogue Squadron occurred in issue #78.  Titled Hoth Stuff!, this story tells how Wedge Antilles and Wes Janson were stranded on Hoth following the Empire's assault on the Rebel base.  Wes is Wedge's rear gunner in a Snowspeeder and together the two bring down the first AT-AT Walker during the battle on Hoth using a harpoon and tow cable.

Star Wars #78a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 1983)
Star Wars #78b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 1983)
The biggest contradiction this story has with established lore is Wedge Antilles relationship with Luke Skywalker.  In the issue, Biggs Darklighter's importance as Luke Skywalker's best friend from Tatooine is grafted onto Wedge.  Having Wedge Antilles be Luke's friend from Tatooine is never mentioned in any Star Wars story before this issue or since.  In fact, the deleted Bigg's scenes are included in the Star Wars movie adaptation, so for readers of the title, this new information contradicts what they already know.  It is easy enough to see why future authors dismiss this entire story as non-canon.

Canon aside, the story is not a particularly strong one.  Luke's eagerness to find Wedge regresses Luke's character to his A New Hope persona and not the mature person that emerged from his ordeal in The Empire Strikes Back.  Highlights in the story are the inclusion of Tauntauns and Wampas, as well as an appearance by Kenner Toys' MLC-3 mini-rig.  Disappointingly, at one point in the story Wedge and Wes enter the cockpit of a fallen AT-AT, but instead of the cool AT-AT drivers shown in the movie, normal Stormtroopers are shown at the controls.  There is promise in a return to Hoth tale, unfortunately this issue does not live up to expectations.

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