Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Retro Marvel: Star Wars #107

Many times I have attempted to re-read the entire original Marvel Star Wars run.  I find it very easy to work my way through the first 88 issues.  There are the occasional bad stories in that run, but for the most part, those 88 issues still hold an almost magical hold on the kid in me.  With issue #89, my enthusiasm begins to falter because this issue reminds me of what is ahead.  While the post-Return of the Jedi issues #81 through 88 do not have a clear direction, the stories are still decent.  It is the quirky, non-Star Wars story in issue #89, where I start to remember how awful these final issues are.  When I read issue #90 and my resolve to finish the run begins anew.  But then I see the first page of #94 and my resolve dissipates almost completely.  Do I put myself through the torture of trying to finish reading the rest of the run?  More often than not, I choose not to read all the remaining issues and skip ahead to those few issues I enjoy.

There are some good, interesting concepts hidden in these final despised issues.  The Nagai, led by Lumiya and working with the remnants of the Empire, are a promising new threat to our heroes and the fledgling Alliance of Free Planets.  I even like that they are invading the galaxy to escape an even greater danger.  Unfortunately, this threat, the Tof species, does not live up to the billing.  Han Solo's childhood friend Bey is also an interesting concept, neatly tied into the Nagai invasion and an earlier encounter Han and Chewbacca had with Knife, a Nagai, on Kasshyyyk.  Unfortunately, these decent ideas are lost in a myriad of bad concepts, unfunny attempts at humor, and poor art by Cynthia Martin.  The Hiromi, a cowardly insect species, are the worst of these offenses and it is hard to believe Jaxxon is the poster child for what is wrong with the original Marvel run.  I think most people cite Jaxxon, because they read those early issues and did not read the final issues of this title.  Unfortunately, the Hiromi are joined by the Zeltrons and Tof.

Star Wars #107 is hands down the worst Star Wars issue in Marvel's original run.  It is clear Marvel did not give the writer, Mary Jo Duffy, much time to wrap up the already poor threads that were started in earlier issues, so this final is a messy conclusion to many story lines that should never have been initiated in the first place.  This rushed ending sees Luke Skywalker dressed as Rambo leading a final assault on the Tof, who are now joined by Lumiya.  Out of the blue, Dani is working with the Nagai Den Siva who tortured her and who she believes killed her lover Kiro.  Bey, a traitor the last time we saw him, is now a spy working for the Alliance and conveniently saves the day.  Han and Princess Leia are relegated to background characters in this ending.

Star Wars #107a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 1986)
Star Wars #107b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 1986)
This final issue is valuable only because of its relative scarcity compared to Marvel's earlier Star Wars issues.  In reality, the comic is not hard to find and this title was not ended because of low sales, but because of Marvel's 25th anniversary launch of The New Universe.  No doubt, this final issue did have low sales compared to the first 80 issues or so.  But those lower sales are completely warranted when you read this comic.  It is clear Lucasfilm was not invested in continuing the Star Wars saga when this comic was conceived and published.

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