Monday, November 30, 2015

Classic Cover Comparison: Star Wars #90 and Titans #90

After the Return of the Jedi, Marvel Comics did not immediately address what happened when Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader died.  In fact, it would not be until Star Wars #81 came out at the end of 1983 before the Star Wars title moved past the movie.  In Star Wars #82, Admiral Ackbar reveals the plan to build a new galactic government by offering representatives from recently freed planets an opportunity to participate in meetings to decide the type of rule they wanted.  For several issues between Star Wars #82 and 89, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Lando Calrissian are sent out on missions to contact representatives from these planets and ask them to participate in the formation of the new government.  In Star Wars #90, a new interim government is formed, the Alliance of Free Planets, which would be the foundation for the New Republic.  We also learn that remnants of the Galactic Empire still exist as not all Imperials capitulated when the Emperor fell.

This status quo started by Marvel would be used when the Expanded Universe starts up in the 1990s.  The conflict is no longer between the Rebellion and the Galactic Empire, but between a fledgling New Republic and the remnants of Imperial forces.  Marvel did place Princess Leia on an interesting path that differs from the Expanded Universe however with Star Wars #90.  In a story titled The Choice!, Leia is torn between pursuing a future as a leader in the new government while she yearns for the action of fighting.  In the final panel, as prophesized by Luke, the choice Leia is asked to make is actually taken from her as the council to form the Alliance of Free Planets ends and Mon Mothma announces "By their absence from the council, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian and Han Solo have lost the right to help us govern."  It is an interesting decision allowing Marvel to sidestep the logical progression Leia will eventually make as a leader.

Star Wars #90a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 1984)
The cover for Star Wars #90 shows the conflict Leia has between choosing the path of a leader or of a warrior.  Leia is cut in half and drawn in garb representative of both choices.  On the side where she wears a diplomatic dress are Mon Mothma and Ackbar.  On the side where she is dressed as a warrior are Luke and Han.  Looming over her, similar to his presence in the story, is her father in the guise of Darth Vader.  Even though it is not a scene from the pages, I feel the cover does a good job of representing the story.

Titans #90a - Editions Lug, France (July 1986)
Star Wars #90
The cover for Titans #90 is a scene taken directly from the pages inside.  Rik Duel, Chihdo, and Dani are assaulted by some Rebel who feel they have been cheated in a card game with Rik.  The Ewoks are about to jump into the fray but Leia tells C-3PO that they will make the matter worse if they do.  It is Leia's participation in this conflict that prevents her from attending the council.  As usual, this is a beautifully painted French cover, even though the scene is minor and just serves to remind the reader that this activity is taking place on Endor which is home to the Ewoks.

The U.S. cover is a better representation of the story, but the French cover is more appealing as art.  The warrior outfit worn by Leia on the U.S. cover is actually the clothes she wore in a flashback story in Star Wars #86.  Leia rarely wore her hair with the side buns after The Empire Strikes Back.  The clothing and hair style Leia wears on the French cover are those she wears inside.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

First Appearance: Durge

The 2003 - 2005 Star Wars: Clone Wars micro-series by Genndy Tartakovsky introduced several characters that would endure beyond the shows 3 seasons including Asajj Ventress introduce in the first season and General Grievous introduced in the second season.  General Grievous was a major villain in the Revenge of the Sith movie and both Asajj Ventress and General Grievous would make several appearances in the 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series.  Another important character introduced in the first season of the micro-series is Durge, a Gen'Dai bounty hunter.  Gen'Dai are long-lived, shape shifting aliens with no discernible form.  Although Durge was considered for the 2008 animated series, ultimately he was passed over for a new creation, Cad Bane.

While Durge did not have the same durability as Ventress and Grievous, he is a memorable character, having been made into several action figures by Hasbro and appearing in Dark Horse comics.  Durge would undergo a radical change in his appearance from the 2003 cartoon to the comic book.  The character in the cartoon is more readily identifiable as alien in appearance even when wearing full body armor.  For the Dark Horse comic, the character appears more human-like in full body armor and the armor undergoes significant changes.  Underneath the armor, the character is still a two millennium old shape shifting alien with immense strength and agility.  He is often compared to the villain Doomsday from the Superman comic by fans familiar with both characters because of his immense invulnerability.

Star Wars: Republic #51a (March 2003)
1st appearance of Durge in comics
Star Wars: Republic #52a (April 2003)
1st cover appearance of Durge
In Star Wars: Obsession #3, Anakin Skywalker guides an escape pod containing Durge into a star, killing him.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Retro Foreign: German Krieg der Sterne (Egmont Ehapa)

German publisher Williams-Verlag first brought Star Wars to German comic readers with the release of 3 magazine-sized comics titled Krieg der Sterne which contain Marvel Star Wars #1 - 10.  Over a year after Williams-Verlag published Krieg der Sterne #3, Egmont Ehapa took over publishing Star Wars in Germany.  Their first series is 22 issues and also titled Krieg der Sterne.  They also published a second series titled Star Wars.  These comics are magazine-sized with a heavier cover stock but slightly shorter than the comics published by Williams-Verlag.  They are in full color and contain 2 or 3 of the U.S. Star Wars stories.  Interestingly, Egmont Ehapa starts their series with Star Wars #7 - 9 which were published by Williams-Verlag.

Krieg der Sterne #1a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (July 1979)
contains Star Wars #7 - 9
Krieg der Sterne #2a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (October 1979)
contains Star Wars #10 - 12
Krieg der Sterne #3a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (January 1980)
contains Star Wars #13 - 15
Krieg der Sterne #4a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (April 1980)
contains Star Wars #16 - 18
Krieg der Sterne #5a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (July 1980)
contains Star Wars #19 - 21
Krieg der Sterne #6a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (October 1980)
contains Star Wars #22 - 24
Krieg der Sterne #7a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (April 1981)
contains Star Wars #25 - 27
Krieg der Sterne #8a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (July 1981)
contains Star Wars #28 - 30
Krieg der Sterne #9a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (October 1981)
contains Star Wars #31 - 33
Krieg der Sterne #10a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (January 1982)
contains Star Wars #34 - 36
Krieg der Sterne #11a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (April 1982)
contains Star Wars #37, 38, 45
Krieg der Sterne #12a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (July 1982)
contains Star Wars #47, 48
Krieg der Sterne #13a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (October 1982)
contains Star Wars #51, 52
Krieg der Sterne #14a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (January 1983)
contains Star Wars #53 - 55
Krieg der Sterne #15a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (April 1983)
contains Star Wars #55 - 57
Krieg der Sterne #16a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (July 1983)
contains Star Wars #58, 59
Krieg der Sterne #17a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (October 1983)
contains Star Wars #60, 61
Krieg der Sterne #18a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (January 1984)
contains Star Wars #62, 63
Krieg der Sterne #19a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (March 1984)
contains Star Wars #64, 65
Krieg der Sterne #20a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (May 1984)
contains Star Wars #66, 67
Krieg der Sterne #21a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (July 1984)
contains Star Wars #68, 69
Krieg der Sterne #22a - Egmont Ehapa, Germany (August 1984)
contains Star Wars #70, 71
The covers use the same art from the U.S. comics.  These German editions are wider than U.S. comics so the cover art is cropped, losing some of the details found at the edges of the U.S. covers.  The color palette is remarkably similar to the U.S. editions in contrast to the many foreign countries which used different colors.  Additionally, the earlier issues lack some of the blurbs and word balloons found on the U.S. covers.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Retro Foreign: Italian Guerre Stellari #1

One of the cooler aspects of collecting foreign editions of U.S. Marvel Star Wars comic books is seeing the different cover art.  Marvel U.K. has many more covers than the U.S. Star Wars series because of the weekly nature of their publication.  The French publisher Edition Lugs commissioned painted covers for their Titans anthology title.  Spain's Ediciones VĂ©rtice has many unique covers for the 9 issues they published.  Not all the foreign publishers have original cover art however.  Both of Germany's series from Ehapa reuse the U.S. covers as does the Dutch publisher Juniorpress.  There are far more publishers that reused the U.S. covers than created their own covers.

The Italian publisher Arnoldo Mondadori Editore also reused the U.S. covers for the Guerre Stellari title, except for the first issue.  The first issue has a unique cover which looks to be inspired by several Star Wars posters.  Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and the Death Star are based on the Tom Jung/Hildebrandt Brothers Star Wars posters.  But, Darth Vader and the X-Wing Fighters are more reminiscent of the U.S. half sheet poster.  What is nice about Darth Vader on this cover is he is drawn competently, something that Marvel itself did not do in its initial issues.

Guerre Stellari #1a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (November 1977)
contains Star Wars #1 and 2
Several of the color choices from the cover are interesting.  The Tatooine landscape, including the artificial structures, is colored mauve.  The Death Star is green.  Leia's dress is red, not white.  The Brazil edition of the Star Wars movie adaptation also has Leia wearing red, not only on the cover, but throughout the entire comic.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Empire #1

September 2002, the same month Dark Horse's Star Wars title was renamed Star Wars: Republic with the 46th issue, the Star Wars: Empire title made it's debut.  Each ongoing title would tell stories in different eras, with Star Wars: Republic telling stories about the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars and Star Wars: Empire telling stories around the period of the original movie when the Galactic Empire ruled.  These two ongoing titles along with a mixture of mini-series would remain the status quo for Dark Horse's Star Wars publishing until 2006 when the Star Wars line would be refreshed once again.  In 2006, both Star Wars: Republic and Star Wars: Empire would end making way for four ongoing titles: Star Wars: Legacy, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Star Wars: Dark Times, and Star Wars: Rebellion.  Star Wars: Rebellion is a continuation of Star Wars: Empire.

Star Wars: Empire #1 is the first part of a 4-part story titled Betrayal.  The story is about a plot to overthrow Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader by a group of dissatisfied Imperial officers.  The tale draws on the same theme as Marvel Star Wars #51 and 52 where a group if Imperial officers attempt to assassinate Darth Vader.  Not surprisingly, these scenarios draw parallels to the various attempts on Adolf Hitler's life during his rule of Nazi Germany.

Star Wars: Empire #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2002)
The cover shows the opening scene from the first issue were Darth Vader is testing a new detachment of Imperial Stormtroopers.  Many of the Dark Horse comics, during and after the prequel movies were released, melded the visual aesthetics of the original and the prequel trilogies.  Here, we have Darth Vader and Imperial Stormtroopers as seen in the original trilogy against the backdrop of Coruscant shown in the prequel trilogy.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Retro Foreign: Italian Guerre Stellari

Italy saw the release of Star Wars in October 1977 and a month later, Italy's largest publisher, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, began publishing a translation of the Marvel Star Wars comics.  Each Italian edition contains 2 U.S. issues in high gloss color.  The paper quality is reminiscent of the baxter paper that Marvel and DC experimented with in the 1980s.  Because of the quality paper and coloring, these Italian fumetti or comics are far superior to the U.S. issues.  The series ran for 14 issues.

To accommodate the 40 pages in each issue, some pages were eliminated from the stories.  There are no ads except on the interior or exterior back cover.  The first 10 issues contain a 2 page poster in the centerfold with the other side of the poster being pages from the comic.  For this reason, collectors of these Italian editions should check to make sure the poster is present.

Guerre Stellari #1a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (November 1977)
contains Star Wars #1 and 2
Guerre Stellari #2a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (December 1977)
contains Star Wars #3 and 4
Guerre Stellari #3a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (January 1978)
contains Star Wars #5 and 6
Guerre Stellari #4a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (February 1978)
contains Star Wars #7 and 8
Guerre Stellari #5a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (March 1978)
contains Star Wars #9 and 10
Guerre Stellari #6a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (April 1978)
contains Star Wars #11 and 12
Guerre Stellari #7a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (August 1978)
contains Star Wars #13 and 14
Guerre Stellari #8a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (October 1978)
contains Star Wars #15 and 16
Guerre Stellari #9a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (December 1978)
contains Star Wars #17 and 18
Guerre Stellari #10a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (February 1979)
contains Star Wars #19 and 20
Guerre Stellari #11a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (April 1979)
contains Star Wars #21 and 22
Guerre Stellari #12a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (June 1979)
contains Star Wars #23 and 24
Guerre Stellari #13a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (August 1979)
contains Star Wars #25 and 26
Guerre Stellari #14a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (October 1979)
contains Star Wars #27 and 28
The back cover to Guerre Stellari #10 has an ad for the comic il Mago or The Wizard.  The ad is the drawing of a nude woman brushing her hair.  Can you imagine the outrage from parents in the U.S. with a drawing of a nude woman on a Star Wars comic?  The culture in Europe is more open to nudity than the U.S. so it is not unheard of for ads like this to appear on a comic that would be purchased by children.

Guerre Stellari #10a - Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Italy (February 1979)
back cover

Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

If you notice, I do not always place a value on a comic that I blog about, mostly because I do not know the value and do not want to put in the time to figure out the value.  A glance at eBay prices shows that valuation can vary wildly on many comics.  I have put a value on several Star Wars comics in my blog postings but that is because I can see what they sell for easily; these comics usually have a low number of sales from month to month so I do not have to spend too much time figuring out an average price or a price range.  In the case of a CGC encapsulated comic, those are also easy to assign a value to even if many of them are sold because prices do not vary as wildly.

Most collectors want to believe the comics they have are highly valued, using prices realized for CGC sales and prices being asked on sites such as eBay.  Our collecting interests are peaked when we see a comic sell for a high price or see a high price being asked for the comic, so it is only natural we want to believe that our comic is also worth that price.  But there are many factors to consider when valuing a comic.  Just because a CGC 9.8 Star Wars #1 sold for $1800 or more does not mean your Star Wars #1 is valued at $1800.  Chances are, the value of your Star Wars #1 is worth much, much less unless you are lucky enough to be sitting on a perfect issue 38 years after they originally were published.  Likewise, just because someone is asking for $1100 for a Marvel Illustrated Books Star Wars (there is an auction going on right now in eBay asking that much money for this paperback) does not mean your copy is worth that much.  The copy listed on eBay will not sell for anywhere close to that price; this paperback usually sells for $10 - 20.

Another thing to consider is timing.  A comic is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it at the time the comic is available.  If a collector willing to spend more for the final issue of a comic for his collection just happens to be looking when your comic is being sold, that is terrific, you will probably realize top dollar.  But, unless your comic has a strong demand, chances are it will sit for a long time requiring a price adjustment down to move.  That Star Wars #1 Alex Ross variant cover sold for $75 in January, but today sellers are hard pressed to realize $40 for the very same issue.  So, while we like to brag about the value of our comic collections to our friends or maybe want to obfuscate the value to make our significant others more appreciative of our smart investments, we should not be kidding ourselves about the true value of our collections.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Retro Marvel: Star Wars #50

Within months of finishing the adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back, Marvel Comics found a way to feature Han Solo in the 50th issue despite him being frozen in carbonite and in the possession of Boba Fett.  Star Wars #50 has a story that is constructed to include Han Solo in a flashback tale that is relevant to a virus that Luke Skywalker contracts.  Marvel would use this same technique, a flashback, to feature Han again in a story 20 issues later in Star Wars #70.  He would appear once more on the cover to Star Wars #79, but does not return as a regular character in the comic again until Star Wars #81, the first story post-Return of the Jedi which is published over 6 months after the movie was released.  Despite only appearing on the cover three times between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi (four times if you count Star Wars #71 which is suppose to make you believe it is Han Solo, but is actually another character), Han Solo's presence is omnipresent during that long absence while the other heroes search for him.

Star Wars #50 lives up to its distinction as a extra-sized 50th anniversary issue with a particularly strong story that not only includes Han Solo, but also includes: 1) Ben Kenobi, Yoda, and Darth Vader in a dream sequence; 2) a panel with Chewbacca attacking Boba Fett; 3) extensive use of Bossk, IG-88, 4-LOM (Zuckuss at the time) and Dengar; 4) art contributions by both Al Williamson and Walt Simonson; and 5) a conclusion to Domina Tagge's arc that was started pre-The Empire Strikes Back.  The cover does a good job of features the principal heroes from the first movie; Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Ben Kenobi are present.  They are joined by newcomers Lando Calrissian and Yoda.  Darth Vader is also depicted, although his portrait is not particular strong on the cover.  Everything about this issue screams special including the cover blurb: A Super-Sized Star Wars Saga! Giant 50th Collectors Issue!

Star Wars #50a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 1981)
Newsstand
Star Wars #50b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 1981)
Direct
The story, titled The Crimson Forever, starts with Lando and Chewbacca aboard the Millennium Falcon being recalled to the new Rebel base on Golrath by Princess Leia.  There, we learn Luke's X-Wing squadron boarded a derelict Star Destroyer whose crew were dead with crimson colored skin.  Luke and his squadron contract a virus from a mysterious red jewel they recover from the ship.  All the pilots except Luke die with crimson colored skin from the virus which is dubbed The Crimson Forever.  Luke is using the force to fight the effects of the virus but even he will succumb to it unless a cure is found.  Leia prompts Chewbacca to recount a tale of his and Han Solo's adventure to the Red Nebula.

In the tale, Han is forced to pilot a ship into the Red Nebula along with other mercenaries to a planet orbiting a red sun with a temple containing a pair of red jewels.  The ship's crew, led by Klysk, are exiles from the planet who wants the red jewels and will reward the mercenaries who retrieve them, but he warns the mercenaries to not separate the pair.  After a struggle with other mercenaries and the temple's guardian, Han is successful in retrieving the jewels.  Klysk, his crew, and some of the mercenaries take the sack Han is carrying and take off in the ship leaving Han and Chewbacca behind.  The temple's priest shows Han that the ship is heading for the red sun and is destroyed.  The priest is expecting a catastrophe that does not occur and Han reveals that he hid the gems and they were not on the doomed ship.  Han and the priest retrieve the jewels which were separated by mercenaries who oversaw Han hiding them.  The mercenaries had separated the jewels and died with crimson colored skin.  The priest reunites the jewels and Han and Chewbacca leave the planet.

Leia, Lando, and Chewbacca, aboard the Millennium Falcon, are heading to the Red Nebula.  On the way, they come across a derelict House of Tagge Mining Explorer.  They board the ship and see this crew is also dead with crimson colored skin like the crew aboard the Star Destroyer.  Also aboard are Domina Tagge and a band of bounty hunters.  She tells about learning about the two jewels and hiring the bounty hunters to retrieve them and the priest.  A Star Destroyer was dispatched to intercept Domina Tagge's ship and was in the process of taking the jewels when a firefight broke out between the Imperial boarding party and the bounty hunters.  The jewels were separated with one aboard the Star Destroyer and another left behind on the Mining Explorer.  The canister containing the jewel on the Star Destroyer was rigged to explode, freeing the jewel.  The priest dies freeing the jewel on the Mining Explorer as Domina and her bounty hunters are able to secure a portion of the ship.  After Domina's story, a fight between our heroes and the bounty hunters ensues and eventually Domina reveals she can save Luke Skywalker.  Later, aboard the Star Destroyer, the two jewels are reunited once again and Luke is cured.  The Star Destroyer is launched into the void at the end of the galaxy with the pair of jewels aboard.  Domina and the bounty hunters are released, but not after Lando tells the bounty hunters the Imperials will offer a reward for her recent duplicity against the Empire.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Speculation Spotlight: Vader Down #1 Chip Zdarsky Jaxxon Spotlight Variant

Bleeding Cool has been tracking sales of the 1 in 4999 Star Wars: Vader Down #1 Chip Zdarsky Jaxxon Spotlight variant.  This variant has Jaxxon in color and the rest of the cover in black and white.  The regular Chip Zdarsky cover, which was ordered by retailers in unlimited numbers, is all in color.  It is rumored that only 12 copies of this 1:4999 cover exists.  Wonderland Comics originally priced a copy at $4999.99 and dropped that price to $3999.99 which then sold on eBay.

Two copies are currently up for sale on eBay from Larry's Comics and Mile High Comics.  Dynamic Forces has 3 of their 4 copies left for sale on their site for $3800 and are making the claim this is possibly THE holy grail of Star Wars comic collectibles!!!

Mile High Comics owner Chuck Rozanski wrote in his latest newsletter:

Just yesterday morning our friend, Dennis Barger, of QuickStop and Wonderworld comic, in Michigan sold his only copy of the incredibly limited Zdarsky Black & White Variant edition of STAR WARS: VADER DOWN #1 on eBay for slightly under $4,000!  Can you believe a brand new comic book sold for FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS?  What is even more remarkable is that $4,000 may actually prove to be low, as the only way that any retailer could receive a copy of this ultra-rare variant was to purchase 4,999 copies! of STAR WARS: VADER DOWN #1 (at a cost of approximately $10,500)  As a result, this one variant will probably turn out to be the single rarest Marvel STAR WARS comic book ever published.  It is rumored by Bleedingcool to only be 12 total copies worldwide!

So, what do you think?  Will a manufactured collectible like this Star Wars variant be considered THE holy grail of Star Wars comics?  Is this comic going to replace a Star Wars #1 $0.35 price variant as top dog domestically?  At least Chuck Rozanski qualifies his statement about this being the rarest Marvel Star Wars comic ever published.  Currently, there are several foreign Star Wars comics that have less copies known worldwide.

You can read the original article titled Chip Zdarsky Star Wars Vader Down #1 Spotlight Variant On Sale For $10,000.  Then you can read more with This Man Just Sold A Copy Of Star Wars: Vader Down #1 For $4000. Well There Are Only 12 Copies In Print. and Dynamic Forces Had 4 Of The 1:4999 Vader Down Variants For $3800. Still 3 Left.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Classic Cover Comparison: Star Wars #78 and Titans #79

French publisher Editions Lug published the Marvel Star Wars stories almost 2 years after they appeared in the U.S. in their anthology Titans title.  Several issues published in the U.S. were never published in the Titans title.  In my opinion, Star Wars #78 should have been one of the issues they skipped.

I imagine Star Wars #78 was written when Marvel learned Wedge Antilles was going to be back in the next Star Wars movie.  To explain his absence in the comics up to this point, they decided to create a story where Wedge Antilles failed to escape the Empire's assault on Hoth.  All of that was well and good except the story contradicts what was known about Wedge Antilles and Biggs Darklighter.  Additionally, Luke Skywalker is out of character during the framing sequences of the story.

Star Wars #78a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 1983)
The cover for Star Wars #78 is a nice cover showing Wedge Antilles taking on a group of Wampas in Echo Base on Hoth.  The cover shows four Wampas, but in the story, Wedge Antilles encounters two Wampas tearing apart a Tauntaun.  The cover does a nice job of obscuring the Wampas very similar to how they were not shown in The Empire Strikes Back.  I like that we only see the red eyes, jaws, horns, and claw of the Wampa behind Wedge.  This technique makes the Wampas more foreboding and it is too bad it was not used in the interior of the comic.  Inside the comic, the Wampas are shown in full and instead of looking like the creatures we eventually see in the special edition of the movie, they look more like traditional images of Yetis, except they also have horns.  Interestingly, the Wampa drawn in the comic are some of the best illustrations in an otherwise lackluster comic.

Titans #79a - Editions Lug, France (August 1985)
Star Wars #78
The cover for Titans #79 does not accurately depict any scene from the actual story.  At the stories end, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and another Rebel pilot Barlon Hightower are aboard a Rebel Transport looking for Wedge when he appears outside the viewport of the vessel.  Wedge was out fixing the engines.  On the cover, both Luke and Wedge are outside the ship with Leia peering out the viewport.  Luke is either sabotaging Wedge's spacesuit or saving him which is the hook used to entice readers to want to buy the comic.  The spacesuits look nothing like the blue suit worn by Wedge in the comic interior, but instead look like suits worn by NASA astronauts.  It is a nice enough cover even though the scene never occurs in the story.  Imagine the original cover painted similar to the other Titans covers for Star Wars issues?  To me, this is a lost opportunity and I much prefer the U.S. cover for this deeply flawed story.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars Comic Packs (Walmart Exclusives)

Star Wars has a long tradition of store exclusives going back to the original Kenner Star Wars toy line.  For example, in the 1978 J.C. Penny's Christmas catalog, an exclusive Sonic Controlled Landspeeder for the 3 3/4" action figure line was sold.  That same year, the Sears Christmas catalog had the exclusive Cantina Adventure Set which contains 4 3 3/4" action figures, including the infamous blue Snaggletooth.  (This action figure was also sold with Greedo as a pair of action figures in the same catalog.)  Back then, these exclusives were used to generate sales through the catalogs, but today these exclusives are used to generate traffic to a brick and mortar or website store.  For the toy manufacturer, exclusives allow them to produce a toy which might not sell in large quantities, but will do reasonably well selling through one outlet.

Hasbro continued the tradition of Star Wars store exclusive toys.  Because the Star Wars Comic Packs were aimed at older collectors, some of the action figure ideas based on the Expanded Universe had limited appeal to a large audience.  (The very first Star Wars Comic Pack featuring Carnor Jax and Kir Kanos was an internet exclusive.)  These action figure 2-packs were sold through Walmart exclusively.  The Walmart exclusive Star Wars Comic Packs were sold in 4 different waves of 3 packs in the 4 years this line of toys were manufactured.

The first wave of Walmart exclusive Star Wars Comic Packs was released in December 2007.  Star Wars Comic Pack #14 is packaged with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa action figures holding babies Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia.

Star Wars Comic Pack #14a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 2007)
reprints Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith #4
Walmart exclusive
Star Wars Comic Pack #15 is packaged with Commander Keller and a Galactic Marine action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #15a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 2007)
reprints Star Wars: Republic #79
Walmart exclusive
Star Wars Comic Pack #16 is packaged with Boba Fett and RA-7 action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #16a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 2007)
reprints Star Wars #81 (1977)
Walmart exclusive
The second wave of Walmart exclusive Star War Comic Packs was released in June 2008.  Star Wars Comic Pack #26 is packaged with Lando Calrissian and a Stormtrooper action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #26a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2008)
reprints Star Wars #44 (1977)
Walmart exclusive
Star Wars Comic Pack #27 is packaged with Count Dooku and Anakin Skywalker action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #27a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2008)
reprints Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith #1
Walmart exclusive
Star Wars Comic Pack #28 is packaged with a Kashyyyk Trooper and a Wookiee Warrior action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #28a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2008)
reprints Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith #3
Walmart exclusive
The third wave of Walmart exclusive Star War Comic Packs was released in March 2009.  Star Wars Comic Pack #36 is packaged with Machook, Keoulkeech, and Kettch action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #36a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2009)
reprints Star Wars #94 (1977)
Walmart exclusive
Star Wars Comic Pack #37 is packaged with Janek Sunber and a Amanin action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #37a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2009)
reprints Star Wars: Empire #16
Walmart exclusive
Star Wars Comic Pack #38 is packaged with Ibtisam and Nrin Vakil action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #38a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2009)
reprints Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron #19
Walmart exclusive
The fourth and final wave of Walmart exclusive Star War Comic Packs was released in March 2010.  Star Wars Comic Pack #51 is packaged with IG-97 and Rom Mohc action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #51a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2010)
reprints Star Wars Tales #4
Walmart exclusive
Star Wars Comic Pack #52 is packaged with a Storm Commando and General Weir action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #52a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2010)
reprints Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Leader #2
Walmart exclusive
Star Wars Comic Pack #53 is packaged with Plourr Ilo and Dllr Nep action figures.

Star Wars Comic Pack #53a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2010)
reprints Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron #13
Walmart exclusive
The Walmart exclusive Star Wars Comic Packs are not usually distinguished from the non-exclusive Star Wars Comic Packs and therefore the issues fetch the same price of $2 - 4.