Sunday, October 2, 2016

Retro Foreign: British Star Wars Weekly #104 - 106

Princess Leia received a solo story, The Weapons Master!, in Star Wars Weekly #104 - 106 following a story, Way of the Wookiee, for Han Solo and Chewbacca in Star Wars Weekly #94 - 96[1] and another solo story, The Day After the Death Star!, for Luke Skywalker in Star Wars Weekly #97 - 99.[2]  These stories were all original for British readers because the Star Wars Weekly comic had run out of U.S. content to publish.  Almost two years later, in November 1981, they would be collected for U.S. readers in the Marvel Illustrated Books Star Wars paperback.  Imagine being a Star Wars fan in the U.S. in the early 1980s, eager to consume every piece of Star Wars literature and then finding out British readers were getting original content!  These stories were a virtual gold mine for the furtive imagination of young Star Wars fans!  And here is a tale that tells us how a Senator from a peaceful planet Alderaan with no weapons learns how to use a blaster!

This very question was brought up by Luke Skywalker in a framing sequence to the story, so Princess Leia recounts her sad tale.  On the planet Challon, the Weapons Master, Giles Durane and his companion Gimlet, save Leia from a would be assassin.  Giles, a mercenary, is hired by Bail Organa, an old friend from the Clone Wars, to teach Leia how to use weapons since she has been the target of several assassination attempts since becoming a Senator.  Giles trains Leia in his spacecraft above Challon while the local Imperial, General Emir, frets about the unsuccessful attempt on Leia's life with Torgas, the head of the assassins guild he hired to kill her.  Torgas sends more assassins after Leia but both Giles and Leia dispatch them.  General Emir frets some more so Torgas decides to take matters into his own hands.  Satisfied that Leia handles a blaster well enough to defend herself, Giles allows Leia to resume her Senatorial duties on Challon.  On Challon, Leia is attacked by Torgas who kills Gimlet when he appears to warn Leia.  Just as Torgas is about to finish Leia off, Giles intercedes and dispatches Torgas.  He explains Gimlet was there to warn Leia of Giles, who was hired by General Emir to kill Torgas and assassinate Leia.  Leia uses the skills she learned from Giles to defend herself and shoots him.  Giles exclaims:

Giles Durane: Speed ... accuracy ...!  Always knew ... someday ... in right circumstances ... you'd g-get it ... perfect ...!
Princess Leia: I had a good teacher, Giles.

With tears streaming down her face, Leia falls to her knees weeping as Giles dies.

The cover for issue #104 depicts a scene from the framing sequence with Leia covering Luke as he rescues R2-D2.  When Leia, Luke, and the two droids are safely aboard their spacecraft, Luke asks Leia about her proficiency with a blaster and she launches into her story.  After Leia finishes, C-3PO tells R2-D2:

C-3PO: Yes, Artoo, that story was sad as her highness said it would be.  But I recommend that you don't dwell on it--- ---you know what excess moisture does to your gearbox!  Besides, I believe we can take comfort from the fact that as a result of Gile Durane's teaching-- --and the Princess's application of it back at the spaceport, our own particular adventure is ending quite happily!

Star Wars Weekly #104a - Marvel Comics, England (February 20, 1980)
original content
Star Wars Weekly #105's cover shows a scene that never happens in the story.  Princess Leia is using a blaster while Giles Durane prepares to throw a knife and Gimlet stands ready to assist.  Giles Durane's spacecraft is shown in the sky above Challon.

Star Wars Weekly #105a - Marvel Comics, England (February 27, 1980)
original content
On the final cover, Gimlet lies dead with Princess Leia reaching for his gun.  Both Torgas and Giles look ready to attack Leia, another situation that never occurs in the actual story.

Star Wars Weekly #106a - Marvel Comics, England (March 6, 1980)
original content

References:

  1. Retro Foreign: British Star Wars Weekly #94 - 96
  2. Retro Foreign: British Star Wars Weekly #97 - 99

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