Sunday, December 25, 2016

Retro Marvel: Star Wars #11 (12 Days of C-3PO and R2-D2 Covers)

This is the first day of the twelve days of C-3PO and R2-D2 covers!  For the next twelve days, I will be showcasing comics featuring the droids C-3PO and R2-D2 on the cover.

The exotic characters of Star Wars are as important to the original movie's success as the space setting and compelling story.  And not least of these are C-3PO and R2-D2, the first two characters seen on film and the only characters to appear in all 8 live action movies.  C-3PO and R2-D2 are robot companions to our human heroes, providing comic relief onscreen and are a vital ingredient to draw in young viewers.  For kids, Darth Vader and Chewbacca are scary, but C-3PO and R2-D2 are funny and cute.  R2-D2 is the precursor to Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, Wall-E, Star Wars favorites Chopper and BB-8, and many other lovable movie robots.  C-3PO and R2-D2, along with Darth Vader, are immortalized with footprints in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  They have been used to host specials and were spokesmen for important service announcements like childhood immunization and anti-smoking.  Many of the droids of Star Wars are cut from the same mold as C-3PO and R2-D2 injecting humor into the stories.  Even the homicidal droid pair BT-1 and 0-0-0 are comic relief.  In Rogue One the reprogrammed Imperial droid K-2SO provides the funniest moments of the movie.

It might be surprising to learn that, despite their prominence, neither character appears on any of the covers for the movie adaptation.  In fact, the first cover appearance in the Star Wars title is on issue #11 in May 1978!  (A photo cover of the 2 droids on the Tantive IV is used for Pizzazz #1 in October 1977 and the droids do appear with the other principal characters on the cover for the Marvel Special Edition Featuring Star Wars #2 in December 1977, but it took almost a year before they graced the cover of Marvel's ongoing title.)

Star Wars #11, titled Star Search!, is the first part of a five-part story.  Most of the issue is spent following Han Solo and Chewbacca.  After beating Serji-X Arrogantus and his Cloud Riders, the pair are captured by Crimson Jack who also holds Princess Leia captive.  Leia manipulates events so that Han and Jack work together to get to the Drexel system.  On the water planet Drexel, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are on a sinking ship while they are being attacked by a creature.  The issue ends when another creature shows up, this time with a rider.

Star Wars #11a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 1978)
The cover art shows the desperate situation Luke and the two droids are in with the attacking creature.  Interestingly, the creature on the cover looks like a cobra snake unlike the depiction inside which has a longer, dragon-like snout.  True to character, C-3PO is stating the obvious while Luke tries to fight off the attack.

C-3PO and R2-D2 would appear on the next three covers as well as many more Marvel covers.  Why there was a dearth of appearance prior to issue #11 would be speculation.  Issue #11 is the first issue drawn by Carmine Infantino who lent a distinct style to the look of the characters including C-3PO and R2-D2.  While the cover for Star Wars #11 is not drawn by Infantino, the drawings of the two droids looks like they were influenced by him.

2 comments:

  1. Super thanks for doing a series of C-3PO & R2-D2 covers. It's always seemed to me that druids don't get enough emphasis after Droids ended a long time ago. Hopefully Marvel makes a Droids title again.

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  2. I would love a new Droids title from Marvel. I feel C-3PO and R2-D2 are often overlooked as characters and outside of a few issues here or there, they are mostly in the background. But, the original Marvel did have a few droid-centric issues in addition to their Droids title. And Dark Horse also released a few Droids comics that have terrific cover art by Killian Plunkett!

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