Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Classic Cover Comparison: Star Wars #86 and Titans #87

For the first 11 years, the Star Wars line of comics had several editors before Randy Stradley became the senior Star Wars editor at Dark Horse Comics in 2002.  For the next 13 years, Stradley would oversee what would prove to be Dark Horse's most successful license.  Interestingly, Stradley got his start in comics writing the story for Marvel's Star Wars #86, his first and only story for the original Star Wars title.

Titled The Alderaan Factor!, Star Wars #86 contains the final solo Princess Leia story in the original Marvel title.  Leia is aboard a Yinchori shuttle to negotiate with the Yinchori elder council when it comes under attack by a pair of TIE Fighters.  It turns out the Yinchori on the shuttle have betrayed Leia to the Empire in exchange for their now captive council.  Leia downs one of the TIEs, but the remaining enemy craft succeeds in damaging each other and both the shuttle and TIE Fighter crash on Yinchor.  The Imperials that have the captive elder council learn of the dogfight.  Led by Governor Wessel, they head toward the crash site to confirm Leia's death.  Meanwhile, the Stormtrooper survived the TIE Fighter crash and makes his way to the down shuttle.  There, he helps free Leia and we learn the Stormtrooper is an Alderaanian and he wears a fragment of Alderaan as a pennant around his neck.  Alderaan is not immune to class warfare as the Stormtrooper, who was a servant on Alderaan, and Leia begin arguing.  They are attacked by creatures called Rolk-Mangir who wound the Stormtrooper and Leia retrieves his blaster and defends both herself and the Stormtrooper.  They are driven to a cliff where Leia falls and the Stormtrooper saves Leia and recovers his weapon in the process.  More arguing ensues when the Stormtrooper makes the decision to bring Leia in as his captive.  Governor Wessel, upon confirming Leia's capture, orders the Yinchori council killed.  Just then, the Millennium Falcon appears to rescue Princess Leia.  Wessel is about to kill Leia when the Stormtrooper from Alderaan has a change of heart and stops Wessel.  As both Leia and the Stormtrooper race to the Falcon, Wessel shoots the Stormtrooper.  Leia grabs his hand as the Falcon takes off but his body is too heavy and he falls to his death as Leia is left holding the pennant.  Now safely aboard the Millennium Falcon, Leia, clutching the pennant, sobs over the loss of her home world and this unnamed Imperial soldier.

Star Wars #86a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 1984)
The cover for Star Wars #86 shows the Stormtrooper saving Leia from falling to her death.  I think this cover does a good job of showing the conflict between Leia and the Stormtrooper and helps sell the issue by making the reader curious to know how Leia gets out of this predicament.  Notice Leia is wearing different clothes than she wears in any of the movies.  The angle of the shot just above the Imperial soldier looking down into the chasm lends excitement to the dangerous situation Leia is in.

Titans #87a - Editions Lug, France (April 1986)
Star Wars #86
The cover for Titans #87 shows Leia and the Stormtrooper racing towards the Millennium Falcon.  Leia is glancing behind her with concern, making us believe it is the Stormtrooper who she is concerned about when readers of the story know it is Governor Wessel and the other Stormtroopers with him.  This cover is fairly static and unexciting compared to the original Marvel cover.  The sense of danger we feel for Leia captured on that original cover is lost here.

There has always been one thing about the story that never made sense, why is the pilot of a TIE Fighter wearing standard Stormtrooper gear?  Also, the stormtrooper rifle depicted is based on the Kenner stormtrooper gun and not the rifles used by Stormtroopers in the movies.  It is humorous to think the artists for the original Star Wars title used Kenner toys, as inaccurate as they were, as models for their drawings.

No comments:

Post a Comment