Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Retro Marvel: Star Wars #83

Flash Gordon had a huge influence on Star Wars' origin.  George Lucas had first planned to make a Flash Gordon film, before he settle on writing and directing his own science fantasy story.  Flash Gordon is about a hero that duels with a sword and wields a laser gun while leading a rebellion against an evil Emperor, Ming the Merciless.  Flash's universe is inhabited by princes and princesses and all manners of sentient aliens and ferocious creatures.  There are space ships, floating cities, and futuristic palaces.

The story in Star Wars #83 pays homage to Flash Gordon.  This solo Lando Calrissian tale, titled Sweetheart Contract, takes place on the planet Drogheda which is ruled by Queen Sarna and Harlech, commander of the royal guard.  Lando's former girlfriend, Sarna, hires Lando to help her quell a revolution.  Unknown to Sarna, her younger sister Danu is helping the insurgents, working class miners who want a democracy instead of a monarchy.  As the story progresses, Harlech proves to be the stereotypical treacherous military leader and eventually, Lando concludes the insurgents are right and helps Danu and the revolution.  In the end, Harlech is killed and Sarna is exiled by Danu.

It is appropriate this Flash Gordon inspired story stars Lando Calrissian.  Lando Calrissian has some of Prince Barin's personality and his blue cape could easily be worn by a character from the Flash Gordon strip.  Additionally, his Cloud City looks like King Vultan's futuristic floating city.

Star Wars #83a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 1984)
Star Wars #83b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 1984)
Many of the elements on the cover to Star Wars #83 can be traced back to the Flash Gordon comic strip.  The obvious are the laser guns and the futuristic city.  Additionally, Flash Gordon uses a sky-sled in the strip, although the vehicle Lando is jumping from looks more like the rocket cycle used in the 1980's Flash Gordon movie.  The jet packs worn by the attacking royal guard are more of a Buck Roger's trope; Flash Gordon itself was heavily inspired by the Buck Rogers comic strip.

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