Thursday, November 16, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Screaming Citadel Mile High Comics Exclusives

Mile High Comics commissioned exclusive covers for all five parts of the Screaming Citadel event.  The connecting covers are all drawn by Mike Mayhew.  Mayhew's first Star Wars artwork appears on the interior pages of Dark Horse's The Star Wars 8-issue mini-series, but he has drawn a couple of issues of Marvel's main Star Wars title as well as provide cover artwork for several issues.

The Screaming Citadel story draws heavily from gothic horror and Mayhew's covers do an excellent job portraying that genre.  The planet Ktath'atn is an ideal location with grey skies, ample fog, and lightning which is the background for Mayhew's artwork.  The cover art for Screaming Citadel #1 shows Luke Skywalker while an image of the Queen's face is in the background.  The Queen feeds on the life energy of others, not unlike a vampire.

Star Wars: Screaming Citadel #1f - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
The artwork on Star Wars #31 shows several of Marvel's original characters that appear in this story: Doctor Aphra, Sana Starros, Triple-Zero, and BT-1.

Star Wars #31d - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
Princess Leia is on the cover of Doctor Aphra #7.  Strangely there is a Star Destroyer in the sky, but no Imperials appear in the story.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #7c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
Star Wars #32 captures the desired gothic horror mood better than any of the covers.  The Wookiee Black Krrsantan is infected by a Abersyn symbiote in the story and turns on our heroes.  On the cover, he is doing a good impersonation of a werewolf.  The red planet in the background and the fog add to the effect and this is my favorite of the covers.  The only flaw is there are more Star Destroyers in the sky.

Star Wars #32d - Marvel Comics, U.S. (June 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
The final cover for Doctor Aphra #8 shows Han Solo fighting off the Abersyn symbiotes.  In the background is the Citadel which looks very much like a futuristic Dracula's castle.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #8c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (June 2017)
Mile High Comics exclusive
Here is what the five covers connected look like:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Modern Marvel: Color Your Own Star Wars: Darth Vader

Late last year, Marvel published the coloring book Color Your Own Star Wars.  Marvel released another Color Your Own Star Wars in September, this time for Darth Vader.  Like the previous book, this book contains 120 pages with 59 pages of artwork to be colored and measures 7 1/4" x 11".  One side of the page is blank and the pages are perforated so they can be removed.

Color Your Own Star Wars: Darth Vader - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2017)
The pages are full sized pin-ups of Darth Vader take from the comics.  The cover is the same artwork from the standard Darth Vader (2015) #1 issue, with half of the art uncolored.

As a comic book collector, these are interesting because of the comic artwork used inside.  I believe these books are overpriced at the $9.99 retail price and they can be found cheaper if you look around.  You are basically paying for 59 black and white pages of artwork that were already published elsewhere.  Two full color comics at $3.99 each costs $7.98 which seems like a more reasonable price for these coloring books.  Regardless, they must sell well enough at $9.99 because Marvel is releasing Color Your Own Star Wars: Han Solo in May 2018.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Fan-Made: Japanese After Order 66: Case of Rex

Mollo's second Star Wars comic, After Order 66: Case of Rex, was released at Comiket C92 in August 2017.  This self-published, unofficial fan-made comic is manga style.  It is slightly larger than a standard comic, measuring 7" x 10", and contains 64 black and white pages.  Like Order 66: Case of Wolffe, the dialogue is in both English and Japanese.

Captain Rex is arguably the best known clone trooper, having appeared in 66 episodes (was this done on purpose?) of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series and over 20 episodes of Star Wars Rebels animated show.  He was introduced in The Clone Wars film that led into the television show.  The story inside the comic chronicles events after Order 66 was executed and includes significant appearances by Ahsoka Tano as well as Darth Vader.  The story ends with Captain Rex, Captain Gregor, and Commander Wolffe all aboard a spacecraft and fits nicely into canon.  These three clone troopers would appear together years later on the planet Seelos in the episode "The Lost Commanders" in the 3rd episode of the 2nd season of the Rebels animated series.

After Order 66: Case of Rex a (August 2017)
The sturdy cover is a profile of Captain Rex.  I'm hoping Mollo's next comic will be about Captain Gregor to complete the series about the trio of clone troopers that survived together for many, many years.

Mollo maintains a blog on Tumlr that you can visit to learn more about his artwork.  After Order 66: Case of Rex can be ordered at Etsy.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

IDW's Star Wars Adventures Debuts In September

In September, IDW shipped their first Star Wars title to retailers.  This is new territory for Star Wars; having two different publishers in the U.S. publishing comic pamphlets for the franchise.  It is also new territory for my analysis; I decided to analyze the Marvel and IDW titles separately for now.  If you have a preference on if I should analyze them together or separate, please let me know.

Comichron released the September 2017 estimated sales last month and again the Star Wars titles held steady.  The top selling Marvel book was Marvel Legacy #1 in 1st place and the top selling DC issue was Dark Nights Metal #2 in 2nd place and no Star Wars comic placed in the top 10 due mostly to the Dark Nights Metal tie-in books.  The top selling Star Wars comic was Journey to Star Wars Last Jedi - Captain Phasma in 11th place and the main Star Wars title, placing 13th, remained Marvel's top selling ongoing title.  For IDW, Star Wars Adventures double shipped and was their best selling title for the month in 33rd and 73rd place.  The next closest IDW comic, TMNT Ongoing #74, was in 156th place.

Marvel


TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Captain Phasma11171,339n/an/a
Star Wars361364,89965,943-1.58%
Darth Vader51559,47758,380+1.88%
Star Wars Annual33448,926n/an/a
Captain Phasma23845,90671,339-35.65%
Jedi Republic - Mace Windu25238,84462,543-37.89%
Doctor Aphra125835,47036,472-2.75%
Poe Dameron197531,88733,443-4.65%
Rogue One611022,02522,372-1.55%

As expected, there was little movement on the main Star Wars title.  Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra, and the final issue of the Rogue One mini-series were also little changed.  Like last month, Rogue One fell just outside the top 100 comics for the month.

Captain Phasma debuted to better sales than last month's Jedi Republic - Mace Windu start with a separation of just under 9,000 estimated units.  Captain Phasma has the advantage of being associated with the upcoming Star Wars movie while Mace Windu has the disadvantage of being attached to the frequently maligned prequel trilogy.  Captain Phasma double shipped and the 2nd issue saw a standard drop.  Mace Windu's 2nd issue also saw a standard drop.  Captain Phasma will have the advantage of wrapping up in October when the final two issues of the 4-part mini-series ship, while Mace Windu's 5-part mini-series is shipping monthly.  Mace Windu has not received positive reactions, mostly due to the artwork.

Star Wars Annual #3 only sold an estimated 48,926 units, well below the main Star Wars title's estimated 64,899 units.  August's Doctor Aphra Annual #1 and June's Poe Dameron Annual #1 had sales inline with their ongoing titles' numbers.  Maybe because the main Star Wars title sells better than both those titles by quite a bit, retailers feel comfortable order those annuals closer in numbers to those ongoing titles.

The only significant movement with an ongoing title was with Poe Dameron which fell 4.65%.  Poe Dameron #19 supplanted Poe Dameron #15 as the lowest selling issue in the title.

Next month, the final Jason Aaron Star Wars issue ships and, in November, Kieron Gillen takes over.  His inaugural arc on the title is The Ashes of Jedha which sees the original trilogy heroes interact with the consequences of events from Rogue One.

Month/YearTotal Estimated Sales# IssuesAverage Sale per Issue
January 2015985,9761985,976
February 2015526,4513175,484
March 2015596,2994149,075
April 2015537,8124134,453
May 2015324,8353108,278
June 2015396,931499,232
July 2015597,0235119,404
August 2015430,241586,048
September 2015551,8805110,376
October 2015953,2891095,329
November 20151,003,9548125,494
December 2015507,545684,591
January 2016465,698593,139
February 2016288,355472,088
March 2016355,554571,110
April 2016533,9765106,795
May 2016299,189474,797
June 2016545,833690,972
July 2016359,166571,833
August 2016322,499564,500
September 2016174,420358,140
October 2016339,778567,956
November 2016269,975553,995
December 2016303,886475,972
January 2017161,014353,671
February 2017262,889465,722
March 2017214,603453,650
April 2017274,262554,852
May 2017285,363647,560
June 2017495,588955,065
July 2017326,062746,580
August 2017425,473947,274
September 2017418,023946,447

The average sale per issue of 46,447, the lowest so far, would rank 38th on the top 300 chart for the month of September.  Marvel's Star Wars trade paperbacks, reprints, and reorders are not accounted for with these numbers.  The Star Wars trade paperbacks are strong sellers.

IDW


TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Star Wars Adventures13349,184n/an/a
Star Wars Adventures27332,13449,184-34.67%

Star Wars Adventures debuted with numbers that would be considered low for a Marvel Star Wars title, but I imagine for IDW these are strong numbers.  IDW is the fourth largest comic publisher in the U.S. behind Marvel, DC, and Image.  Dark Horse, publisher of Star Wars comics for over 20 years, at one time was the third largest publisher but they were clearly impacted by the loss of the Star Wars license.  Could IDW see significant sales movement up now that they have a license to publish Star Wars comics and possibly challenge Image for third place?

Unfortunately for them, unlike Dark Horse, they are not the only publisher of Star Wars comics and in many fans' opinion, they are not the most significant publisher due to them being confined to all-age comics.  In fact, with the initial issue, there are already fans questioning whether or not these comics are considered canon.  When it comes to big franchises like Star Wars, many fans cannot afford all the published material available and prefer stories in canon over stories that are not.  IDW would be better served creating comics with compelling tales that, while not as sophisticated as a Marvel multi-issue story arc, readily fit into canon.  They should be creating single issue stories along the line of Marvel's single issue stories, but with characters that look like they came from a Star Wars cartoon.  With an anthology title, they have an advantage Marvel does not have, they can tell stories from any era using any character.

It isn't clear if Star Wars Adventures will be the only ongoing Star Wars title that IDW will publish.  There has been an announcement of a Rogue One graphic novel akin to The Force Awakens graphic novel they published in August.  Additionally, a series of one-shots based on the Forces of Destiny sub-brand have been announced.

Month/YearTotal Estimated Sales# IssuesAverage Sale per Issue
September 201781,318240,659

The average sale per issue of 40,659 would rank 50th on the top 300 chart for the month of September.


Take a look at the Star Wars Sales Estimates Charts and please read the blog posting Marvel up 14% year-over-year in September as Legacy #1 tops charts; overall market pares losses.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Star Wars Steady in August

Comichron released the August 2017 estimated sales a few months back and the Star Wars titles held steady.  Dark Nights Metal #1 was the top selling book followed by Batman #28 and 29.  Marvel's top selling comic was Secret Empire #10 in 4th place, but the main Star Wars title remained Marvel's best selling ongoing title.

TitleIssueMonthly RankEstimated SalesLast Estimated SalesPercent Change
Star Wars34966,62874,969-11.13%
Star Wars351065,94366,628-1.03%
Jedi Republic - Mace Windu11262,543n/an/a
Darth Vader41458,38059,522-1.92%
Rogue One - Cassian & K2SO Special13043,765n/an/a
Doctor Aphra115036,47237,481-2.69%
Doctor Aphra Annual15234,473n/an/a
Poe Dameron186133,44334,250-2.36%
Rogue One510222,37223,826-6.10%

Last month Star War #33 was the first of a series of five standalone stories by Jason Aaron.  The last standalone story will be Star Wars #37 at which point new writer Kieron Gillen will take over the main Star Wars title with issue #38.  While Star Wars #34 saw a higher than normal drop of 11.13% from the previous issue, I expect the remaining Jason Aaron issues to sell at similar levels.  Star Wars double shipped in August and issue #35 fell less than 700 units.

Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra, and Poe Dameron also had insignificant drops in units sold.  The penultimate issue of the Rogue One mini-series fell another 1,400+ units and is the first Marvel issue to not place in the top 100 comics sold for the month.

Jedi Republic - Mace Windu had the lowest debut of a non-movie adaptation mini-series.  Obi-Wan Kenobi & Anakin Skywalker had the previous lowest debut with an estimated 102,861 initial units sold.  In comparison, Jedi Republic - Mace Windu had an anemic start of 62,543 units.  It is hard to say why Mace Windu #1 had lower numbers; the last non-movie adaptation was Darth Maul which had initial sales of 105,177 estimated initial units.  Based on the initial negative reactions to Mace Windu #1, I expect the title to not hold up very well.

Marvel had nine issues in August and one-shots accounted for the last two comics.  Rogue One - Cassian & K2SO Special had decent sales, coming in as the 30th place comic and Doctor Aphra Annual had sales inline with the ongoing series.

Also shipping in August was the first comic from IDW, the Star Wars: The Force Awakens graphic novel.  This book is the U.S. version of the same comic published overseas.  The first six movie adaptations were published overseas as well and were collected into original and prequel trilogy books published by Disney-Lucasfilm Press.  As this is a graphic novel and not a pamplet, it was not included into the above chart, but next month the first pamphlet from IDW, the all-age Star Wars Adventures begins.

Month/YearTotal Estimated Sales# IssuesAverage Sale per Issue
January 2015985,9761985,976
February 2015526,4513175,484
March 2015596,2994149,075
April 2015537,8124134,453
May 2015324,8353108,278
June 2015396,931499,232
July 2015597,0235119,404
August 2015430,241586,048
September 2015551,8805110,376
October 2015953,2891095,329
November 20151,003,9548125,494
December 2015507,545684,591
January 2016465,698593,139
February 2016288,355472,088
March 2016355,554571,110
April 2016533,9765106,795
May 2016299,189474,797
June 2016545,833690,972
July 2016359,166571,833
August 2016322,499564,500
September 2016174,420358,140
October 2016339,778567,956
November 2016269,975553,995
December 2016303,886475,972
January 2017161,014353,671
February 2017262,889465,722
March 2017214,603453,650
April 2017274,262554,852
May 2017285,363647,560
June 2017495,588955,065
July 2017326,062746,580
August 2017425,473947,274

The average sale per issue of 47,274 would rank 28th on the top 300 chart for the month of August.  Star Wars trade paperbacks, reprint titles, and reorders are not accounted for with these numbers.  The Star Wars trade paperbacks are strong sellers.

Take a look at the Star Wars Sales Estimates Charts and please read the blog posting Dark Nights Metal ships 262k copies, most of 2017, beating Rebirth #1's first month: August comics sales estimates.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Retro Foreign: Indonesian Star Wars/Perang Antariksa

Star Wars/Perang Antariksa was published by CV Pelita Indonesia and is divided into two chapters, one for each story arc.  The two story arcs are from the Star Wars daily newspaper strips.  The strips appear to be printed exactly as they were published in the U.S., complete with English word balloons, and below each strip is the Indonesian translation.  The strips are published two per page and are presented in their original black and white.  The title of the comic is in English and has the Indonesian Translation Perang Antariksa or Space War which is a variation on the typical Perang Bintang or Star War.

Known as Iceworld to U.S. readers, the first chapter is titled Pertarungan di Planet Salju "Hoth" or Battle on the Ice-Planet Hoth.  Iceworld was originally published from October 4, 1982 through November 14, 1982.  The second chapter is known in the U.S. as Revenge of the Jedi but in this comic is titled Ledakan di Danau Lumpur Planet Daluuj or Explosion in the Mudlake of Planet Daluuj.  Revenge of the Jedi was originally published from November 15, 1982 through January 23, 1983.  It does not appear that every daily strip for these story arcs are included in the book; the last chapter ends with the daily from January 22, not the final daily from January 23.  Anyone familiar with newspaper strips understands the content tends to repeat, so the overall intent of the story would not be lost if the occasional daily strip is missed as is the case here.

Star Wars/Perang Antariksa a - CV Pelita Indonesia, Indonesia (1990s)
Star Wars newspaper strips
I am guessing this comic was published sometime in the 1990s.  It is slightly wider than a standard comic and is published sideways to accommodate two strips on top of each other.  The cover artwork consists of several images taken from the colored Sunday strips.

Star Wars/Perang Antariksa a - CV Pelita Indonesia, Indonesia (1990s)
back cover
The back cover appears to be an advertisement for a series of books that answer questions for children about all manner of things pertaining to the world.  "Menjawab lebih dari 70 pertanyaan yang paling sering ditanyakan anak - anak dan remaja" or "Answering more than 70 questions most frequently asked of children and adolescents".

Monday, November 6, 2017

Fan-Made: Japanese After Order 66: Case of Wolffe

The Comic Market or Comiket is a gathering of thousands of self-publishing groups that takes place at the Tokyo International Exhibition Center.  Started in 1975, the event now attracts over half a million attendees and sees sales of over 8 million doujinshis or self-published books.  Mollo, a Japanese artist who uses the pseudonym Trash 1, was invited to attend Comiket C91 and self-published a well received comic titled After Order 66: Case of Wolffe.  Commander Wolffe is a clone trooper introduced in "Rising Malevolence" the second episode of season one of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series.  He appears in several episodes of that series and is also featured in two episodes of the Star Wars: Rebels animated series.

After Order 66: Case of Wolffe a (December 2016)
Commander Wolffe is shown on the front cover of this unofficial fan-made comic.  The book is slightly larger than a standard comic, measuring 7" x 10".  This 44-page manga has black and white interior pages and comes with a thick cover.  The word balloons are in English and Japanese.  This is an extremely well made comic and while the artist is considered an amateur, the artwork looks professional.

A followup comic, After Order 66: Case of Rex, was offered at Comiket C92 in August 2017 and is available for order online at Etsy.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars Reads Free Sampler

Star Wars Reads Day started in October 2012 and has been an annual event ever since.  Begun by Lucasfilm and its publishing partners, the day is used to promote reading using Star Wars published materials.  The 6th annual Star Wars Reads Day took place in October 2017 and Marvel published a 32-page Star Wars Reads Free Sampler with previews of the following comics: Star Wars: Screaming Citadel trade paperback, Star Wars: Darth Vader - Dark Lord of the Sith volume 1: Imperial Machine trade paperback, and Star Wars: Poe Dameron volume 3: Legends Lost trade paperback.  Like all the previous Marvel preview comics, this comic was given away to promote Marvel's Star Wars line rather than provide complete stories to read.

Star Wars Reads Free Sampler - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2017)
The cover has the now familiar layout with three vertical boxes containing partial cover images of the books being previewed inside.  At the top of the cover is an image of BB-8 reading a book which has been the Star Wars Reads Day logo for the past three years.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt - Betrayal

Bib Fortuna is the main focus in the fourth one-shot, Jabba the Hutt - Betrayal.  Jabba and his entourage finally return to Tatooine and while they were away, Bib had asked Nivek to recruit several of Jabba's underlings to help Bib overthrow Jabba.  Bib leaves Jabba in the throne room, certain he and his guards will soon be asleep due to their long journey, to visit Nivek and meet the recruits.  Bib explains his reasons for wanting to overthrow Java when one of the recruits states "I believe you hate him more than we do."

Bib Fortuna: "Hate?  What a tiny insignificant, useless word.  What I feel for Jabba can only be expressed by causing every nerve in his body to experience the greatest possible pain for the longest possible time.  Every moment I spend in his company is an eternity of loathing.  The overpowering stench that pours from his open mouth, the sight of his thick, greasy, pustule-covered flesh, his unspeakable acts of depravity...  He is the most revolting monster in the galaxy!  And this creature, this heap of fat and entrails and low cunning, this thing has made a servant of me.  Worse, a slave.  He degrades me, abuses me, amuses himself by abasing me.  Me!  Whose shadow he is not fit to touch!"

It turns out Bib Fortuna is not happily to be in Jabba's employment!  The plan is to have Bib lead the others to the throne room where they will kill Jabba's guards and capture Jabba so Bib can torture him for information.  Bib returns to the throne room only to find Jabba has taken up a conversation with Gru'un and his large female associate Miramba.  When Jabba sends Bib to fetch drinks, Bib takes the opportunity to also fetch a blaster which he conceals.  Back in Jabba's presence, Bib offers to hang up Gru'un's cape when the blaster falls to the floor.  Jabba suspects Gru'un of betrayal and has him and his associate Miramba locked in a cell and Jabba begins to doze.  Bib goes to get his recruits to put his plan in motion, but one of the recruits wanders off and overhears Gru'un and Miramba plot to kill Jabba.  It turns out Miramba is really a droid and her large frame is hiding freckers, nasty, sentient, ferret-like creatures.  When Bib and his fellow conspirators reach the throne room, Jabba and his guards are already being attacked by the freckers.  Not wanting Jabba dead, Bib and his followers attack the freckers.  Unfortunately, while they win the fight, all of Bib's men are killed.  Jabba, unaware of the real reason why Bib and the others were there, has an epiphany about their relationship:

Jabba the Hutt: "I never knew how loyal you are, Bib.  I thought you might have been... biding your time... didn't trust you."
Bib Fortuna: "I... you... uh."
Jabba the Hutt: "You killed like a champion for me.  Risked your life.  I won't forget this.  You and me, Bib.  You and me."
Bib Fortuna: "You and me.  Your excellency."

Since this story takes place before the events in Return of the Jedi where Bib Fortuna is still serving as Jabba's majordomo, one could surmise that Bib had a change of heart about Jabba.  I tend to believe Bib was biding his time for another opportunity to overthrow Jabba.

Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt - Betrayal a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 1996)
The cover shows Jabba in his throne room fighting off freckers.  The interior art by Art Wetherell improves as each one-shot is released and the artwork inside this issue has detailed backgrounds and less cartoony aliens, making this a more serious take on the characters and situations than previous issues.  It is unfortunate this was the final one-shot, as Wetherell appears to have a much better grasp on the tone to take with these stories.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Tales From Mos Eisley

Bantam Spectra published an anthology novel in August 1995, Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, comprised of many short stories featuring background characters found in the Mos Eisley Cantina.  Interestingly, earlier that year in January, the 2nd issue of Topps' Star Wars Galaxy Magazine published an 8-page story Tales From Mos Eisley: Heggs' Tale.  This 8-page comic along with the 8-page comic Tales From Mos Eisley: Mostly Automatic from Star Wars Galaxy Magazine #3 and another 8-page comic Tales From Mos Eisley: Light Duty from Star Wars Galaxy Magazine #4 are collected in the Dark Horse one-shot Star Wars: Tales From Mos Eisley.

The anthology comic opens with Light Duty, the best of the three short stories reprinted inside.  The tale begins as Garve approaches a table in Mos Eisley with Phlik, a Shistavanen and Corporal in the Rebellion.  Phlik is complaining about needing a reserve force of at least twenty fighters when Garve opens a bag and spills coins on the table offering to buy Phlik a drink as he takes a seat.  Garve then confesses to receiving the pay for two weeks of work for the Empire as a mercenary on a planetoid at a location called Jellyfish Cove.  Garve is hired by the Empire to man a lighthouse on the edge of an ocean on the planetoid and told to stay inside at night and on foggy days.  On the first day, Garve grows tired of watching the water and decides to explore the area around the beacon coming across a ruin with statues of beautiful women.  That night, he is awoken to tapping at the lighthouse's large window and sees a beautiful woman outside, but is unable to let her in as he realizes he himself is locked in.  The next day, he goes back to the ruins and spots an alien wearing an orange jumpsuit who runs away from him.  He follows the alien and sees a group of the same species, also wearing orange jumpsuits, on the beach assembling a raft, but they disperse when the fog starts rolling in.  Garve returns to the lighthouse and is visited that night by two beautiful woman tapping at the glass.  He then sees a spacecraft land on the nearby beach and more orange suited aliens leave the craft as the two women head toward them.  As the women near the aliens, they turn into jelly like creatures that engulf and kill the aliens.  He realizes he is manning the beacon for a penal colony and "Jellyfish Cove" is named after these "women" who turn into creatures.  The aliens wearing the orange jumpsuits are the prisoners being dropped off and the beacon is used to guide the ships to the location at night.  The next day, Garve again visits the ruins, but a fog rolls in and the statues come alive, resembling the same beautiful women that Garve is visited by at night.  He dashes back to the lighthouse and later a person approaches who looks like an Imperial soldier.  Garve lets the soldier in and realizes she is wearing the outfit of a former guard of the beacon and turns into one of the jelly like creatures and attacks.  Garve explains to Phlik he was able to kill the creature and when the next prison vessel arrived, he killed the guards and took their money, blew up the beacon, and used the prison ship to escape the planetoid.  He then points to a group of aliens wearing orange jumpsuits outside the prison craft and tells Phlik these are his new reserve force.

It is a decent horror story, melding a familiar location found in horror stories, a lighthouse, with science fiction elements.

Star Wars: Tales From Mos Eisley a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 1996)
The painted cover artwork is a portrait of the Shistavanen Phlik.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Retro Foreign: Swedish Stjärnornas Krig Album #5

Sista Varningen or Last Warning is the fifth Star Wars album released by Semic Press for Swedish readers.  The stories found inside feature the House of Tagge whose family members are antagonist to our heroes.  They are from Marvel Star Wars #25, 26, and 31 - 34.

Stjärnornas Krig Album #5a - Semic Press, Sweden (1981)
contains Star Wars #25,26,31-34
The cover artwork is different than the artwork found on the U.S. covers and is done by the Swede Bjørn Morisse.  Morisse was already an accomplished musician and cartoonist before he provided the artwork for this cover.  As a musician he was a member of the band The Young Norwegians and he is best known for his comic strip Glåmrik.  Glåmrik was published from 1972 through 1975 and revived in 1979.  This comic strip about Vikings was abruptly ended with a strip that disturbingly suggested the American television mini-series Holocaust about Jews during World War II should be called "Judes on Toast", a mispelling of "Jews on Toast".

The cover artwork looks like art that can be found in amateur indie publications.  Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are in the foreground, near one of the conductor towers used for the Omega Frost weapon.  Overhead are TIE Fighters and in the background is a visage of Baron Orman Tagge, the head of the House of Tagge.  I'm not particularly keen on the artwork, although I do appreciate the detail put into it.  Most importantly however, it is artwork that was not published in the U.S., so it is unfamiliar to U.S. readers.

Interestingly, album #4 contained the Empire Strikes Back adaptation and this album publishes issues that were printed in the U.S. prior to the adaptation.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Han Solo #1 Gamestop and Zing Exclusives

GameStop and it's overseas brand ZING Pop Culture both used the same cover artwork for the Vader Down one-shot.  They repeated this with the first issue of the 4-part Han Solo mini-series.  Han Solo #1 has 17 different covers.

The GameStop PowerUp Rewards exclusive cover is in color and shows the Millennium Falcon participating in the dangerous Dragon Void Run race.  An inset image shows that Han and Chewbacca are the pilots.

Star Wars: Han Solo #1k - Marvel Comics, U.S. (June 2016)
GameStop PowerUp Rewards exclusive
The ZING exclusive uses the same artwork as the GameStop PowerUp Rewards cover, except it is in black and white and the logo has been replaced by the ZING logo.

Star Wars: Han Solo #1q - Marvel Comics, U.S. (June 2016)
ZING Pop Culture exclusive
When you compare the two covers, it is cool to see how the colorist enhanced the explosion to obscure the debris and wing on the space craft behind the Falcon.  There is a skeleton of some creature in the upper right hand corner of the art, but nowhere in the series do we see the skeleton making this a strange detail to be found on this cover.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Classic Cover Comparison: Star Wars #29 and Star Wars Weekly #69

Marvel has published several modern Star Wars issues that have generated considerable enthusiasm in the Star Wars community.  The story concerning Han Solo's "wife", Sana Starros, was an early example and was even picked up by non-comic news organizations.  Marvel's latest endeavor is to have the original trilogy heroes travel to the desert moon of Jedha.  This moon was the location of the holy city of NiJedha which was destroyed in the first test of the Death Star's superlaser.  Upcoming events that are highly anticipated by fans include our heroes traveling to Crait, a planet in the upcoming The Last Jedi film, and Thrawn getting his own comic.

It is easy to imagine, with the continual release of new movies, Marvel will have considerable success garnering devotees' attention because of the high profile the Star Wars brand has today.  They can have the heroes from the three trilogies interact with events and environments from other eras.  For example, I can see fan interest for Jedi from the prequel era having an adventure on Jedha.  They also can introduce titles with fan favorite characters, such as the bounty hunters Boba Fett and Cad Bane.

I also believe it is a matter of time before Marvel revives a character from their original Star Wars title.  There was speculation concerning a return of Jaxxon, but it is clear Marvel sees Jaxxon as a character best relegated to humorous appearances on variant covers.  Regardless, Marvel has a myriad of interesting characters that can be brought back.  One character I think would be interesting to see return is Valance the bounty hunter.

Valance was introduced in Star Wars #16 and appeared in several more issues before being killed by Darth Vader in Star Wars #29.  Valance is a nuanced character; he first appears as an adversary to Luke Skywalker but eventually fights Vader to prevent him from learning the name of the pilot who destroyed the Death Star.  Obviously, the character would need to be retooled slightly and his original story arc would not make sense, since in new continuity Vader already knows the name of the pilot.  The bigotry against droids was rampant in the old Marvel title and Valance's origin as an Imperial soldier who was injured, made into a cyborg, and was therefore shunned by denizens of the galaxy would also need to be modified.  (The irony here is the number two ruler of the galaxy, Darth Vader, is himself a cyborg but Marvel had no way of knowing that back in 1978.)  A good writer could revamp these elements and modernize Valance for today's readers.

Star Wars #29a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 1979)
The cover for Star Wars #29, the final appearance of Valance, is not accurate to the interior pages.  Darth Vader dispatches of Valance with relative ease and the cover implies Valance was a bigger challenge.  The U.S. cover doesn't really place the combatants and it isn't clear from just the cover that there is an acidic lake beneath the structure they are fighting on.

Star Wars Weekly #69a - Marvel Comics, England (June 20, 1979)
last third of Star Wars #29
The cover for Star Wars Weekly #69 is also not how events transpire in the story.  Valance does end up in the acidic Rubyflame Lake on the onetime resort planet Centares, but only after his "cybernetic hand clamps like a vise" to Vader's leg, he rolls off the pier to drag Vader into the lake with him, and Vader severs his cybernetic arm.  Instead, the British cover shows Vader kicking Valance off the pier to his death in the lake.  The decaying structures that once was a resort are shown in the background and all the background colors contrast nicely with the two characters.  Vader is also more nimble on this cover which he demonstrates inside the issue.

Both covers show Valance's uniform as purple, even though his uniform is blue inside and has always been blue in earlier issues.  For the British cover, this can be forgiven because the interior pages are not colored.  While I like the U.S. cover, despite the inaccuracies, the British cover does a better job showing the futility of Valance battling Vader.  I feel the British cover is the better of the two covers.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars Funko Exclusive Covers

Funko is best known today for their Pop! Vinyl line of figures.  These figures are easily recognizable for their large heads which account for half the height of the figures and their cute look.  Most of the figures have other characteristics such as black eyes, small noses, and no mouths, although there are exceptions.  The line was originally called Funko Force 2.0, named after an earlier line of vinyl figures known as Funko Force.  Funko Force figures were larger and more detailed than Pop! Vinyl figures, but didn't have a distinct style that made the Pop! Vinyl line popular.  The Pop! Vinyl figures span a wide range of pop culture icons including real people such as rock and sports stars to fictional characters from television, movies, cartoons, and comic books.

Two of the bigger licenses Funko has are for Marvel and Star Wars.  Funko has partnered with Marvel to offer a subscription box called Marvel Collector Corps that includes a Pop! Vinyl figure.  Marvel has also produced several variant comic covers featuring Pop! Vinyl figures.  In recent months, Marvel published two Star Wars comic cover variants featuring figures from this toy line.

The Darth Maul #5 Funko variant cover shows the Darth Maul Funko figure which was released in 2011.

Star Wars: Darth Maul #5c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 2017)
Funko variant
The Captain Phasma and Stormtrooper figures shown on the variant cover for Captain Phasma #1 are both from 2015, the same year The Force Awakens was released.
Star Wars: Captain Phasma #1e - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2017)
Funko variant

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Vader Down #1 Gamestop and Zing Exclusives

GameStop was created in 2000 when Barnes and Nobles merged newly acquired Babbage's Etc. with their Funco brand and renamed the combination GameStop.  In 2004 GameStop was spun off from Barnes and Nobles and the following year they acquired Electronic Boutique (EB) Games to become the world's largest video game retailer.

ZING Pop Culture is a retail store that caters to pop culture enthusiasts.  ZING is owned by GameStop and it's first store opened in Australia in 2014 and there are now 90 retail locations in Australia.  It has also expanded into Europe.

Vader Down has 45 different covers.  The GameStop retail store exclusive cover is a crashed X-Wing Fighter with Darth Vader's visage in the background.  There are shades of blue used on the cover.

Star Wars: Vader Down #1l - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2015)
GameStop retail exclusive
The GameStop PowerUp Rewards exclusive uses the same cover, except the artwork is in black and white and the smoke coming from the X-Wing has been removed.

Star Wars: Vader Down #1m - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2015)
GameStop PowerUp Rewards exclusive
The ZING exclusive also uses the same cover artwork as the other exclusives and the artwork is in black and white with no smoke.  What distinguishes this cover from the GameStop PowerUp Rewards exclusive is the GameStop logo has been replaced by the ZING logo.

Star Wars: Vader Down #1al - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2015)
ZING Pop Culture exclusive
Interestingly, GameStop owns ThinkGeek which has also released a Star Wars exclusive cover.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Volume 1 - 3

Dark Horse Comics began their Omnibus program in June 2006 with a Star Wars collection.  The Dark Horse Omnibus program is not exclusive to Star Wars comics however, but encompasses a wide variety of titles.  To date Dark Horse has published 183 Omnibuses.  An Omnibus is a logical collection of issues and is an inexpensive way for readers to find harder, out of print material.  Dark Horse intended for every Star Wars comic to eventually be printed in an Omnibus volume, but when they lost the Star Wars license to Marvel, they fell short of this goal, only publishing 35 Star Wars Omnibuses; the last volume published was Dark Times Volume 2 in May 2014.

The first three Star Wars Omnibuses collect the X-Wing Rogue Squadron title along with X-Wing: Rogue Leader, the X-Wing Rogue Squadron Handbook, and the X-Wing Rogue Squadron Special.  These thick, full color volumes measure 6" x 9" and retail for $24.95.

Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Volume 1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2006)
Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Volume 2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 2006)
Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Volume 3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2007)
What is terrific about this collection is Dark Horse maintained the same trade dress and low prices for all 35 volumes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Wizard 1/2

In February 1997 the first Wizard 1/2 issue to contain a Star Wars story was published, Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Wizard 1/2.  In December 1997 the second Star Wars Wizard 1/2 issue was published, Star Wars: Boba Fett Wizard 1/2.  The final Wizard 1/2 issue was published in July 1999 and features four short stories of characters from The Phantom Menace.

The first short story begins with Anakin Skywalker asking a spacer about the Angels on the moons of Iego and contains several pages of some of the Boonta Eve Classic racers.  The second tale takes place just after Anakin Skywalker won the Boonta Eve Classic and Qui-Gon Jinn teaches Anakin a lesson about tolerance and consequences.  In the next story, Obi-Wan Kenobi is reflecting on Anakin's natural Jedi traits exhibited in The Phantom Menace at Qui-Gonn's funeral.  The final story is a conversation aboard Queen Amidala's spacecraft between Amidala, disguised as the handmaiden Padme, and Jar Jar Binks.  It is implied by Jar Jar at the very end that he knows Padme is really Amidala.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Wizard 1/2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 1999)
Like the other Star Wars Wizard 1/2 issues, the Episode I - The Phantom Menace issue also has a variant edition.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace Wizard 1/2b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 1999)
gold variant
The gold edition commands only a slight premium over the regular edition.  The regular edition sells for $1 - 3 on eBay with the gold edition selling for $3 - 5.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - DJ #1 in January

Benecio Del Toro is playing a character named DJ in The Last Jedi and Marvel is publishing a comic based on the character in January.  Please visit CBR.com and read the article Marvel Comics Will Reveal Del Toro's Last Jedi Character's Backstory to learn more.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Speculation Spotlight: Three Comics to Watch When The Last Jedi Appears

The Last Jedi will be released to theaters in December and it is always fun to speculate on which comics might have been used as inspiration for the movie or if characters from the comics will appear in the movie.  A word of caution, while I have not seen the film nor do I have any inside information concerning it, much of this can be construed as spoiler material.  If you don't want to be spoiled, please do not proceed with reading this.

Click to show/hide.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Modern IDW: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Graphic Novel Adaptation

Star Wars is not the first licensed property to have multiple comic publishers at the same time in the United States.  The first time I remember seeing multiple publishers was for the Terminator franchise.  NOW Comics was the first publisher of Terminator comics from 1988 - 1990.  When NOW Comics went bankrupt, Dark Horse held the license from 1990 - 1992 and released several mini-series and a one-shot.  Perhaps due to the first and second film in the franchise being produced by different studios, Marvel was granted the license for the Terminator 2: Judgement Day movie and released a 3-issue mini-series in September and October 1991.

The next time I remember seeing multiple publishers was for the Star Trek franchise.  DC published Star Trek from 1984 to 1996.  In addition to publishing adventures for the original crew, they also published comics for The Next Generation.  Deep Space Nine debuted on television in 1993 and the publishing rights for this spin-off was picked up by Malibu.  DC and Malibu did collaborate on a cross-over story between The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine before the license for all Star Trek series went to Marvel and their Paramount imprint in 1996.

The most recent franchise to have multiple publishers is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Dark Horse began publishing Buffy comics in 1998 and even published a comic based on the spin-off series Angel.  Dark Horse gave up the rights to Angel and in 2005 IDW began publishing Angel mini-series and one-shots while Dark Horse was publishing Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics.  In 2011 Dark Horse again received the license for Angel.

Unlike these other licensing deals, it looks like Marvel, IDW, and Joe Books are not confined to any particular era.  Instead, the separation is based on the type of stories told with the Marvel titles aimed at older audiences while IDW is catering to an all-age reader.  Joe Books so far has just published fumetti style books in their Cinestory format.

IDW published a graphic novel adaptation of The Force Awakens in August 2017 which was originally published internationally.  The IDW version has a different cover than those published overseas.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Graphic Novel Adaptation a - IDW, U.S. (August 2017)
This is the first single adaptation of these international adaptations in the United States.  The first six adaptations which were published individually overseas were collected into the Disney-Lucasfilm Press hardcover books Star Wars: The Original Trilogy - A Graphic Novel and Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy - A Graphic Novel.  It isn't clear if Disney-Lucasfilm Press will publish a hardcover collection of the sequel trilogy adaptation when it completes in 2019 or if IDW is now the sole publisher of the all-age material.  IDW is publishing the all-age Rogue One adaptation which is due to be released in December.

Friday, October 6, 2017

5-Issue Mini-Series Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny In January

At the Lucasfilm Publishing panel at the New York City Comic Con 2017 it was announced that IDW will be publishing a 5-issue mini-series Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny.  The series will be released weekly starting in January 2018.

Forces of Destiny is a series of cartoon shorts that focuses on the female characters in Star Wars.  The first 8 shorts were released on YouTube in July of this year and more shorts are coming in 2018.  Like the Star Wars Adventures title published by IDW, these shorts are aimed at an all-age audience and IDW publishing further stories for this sub-brand makes sense.

To learn more, read the Entertainment Weekly article Star Wars Adventures: Forces of Destiny comic will highlight the saga's heroines.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 Aspen MLT Exclusives

Aspen MLT was founded in 2002 by the former Image artist Michael Turner.  Turner is best known for his artwork on Witchblade and as the creator of Fathom.  Michael Turner died in 2008, but Aspen MLT continues to publish his artwork, mainly by using his unpublished sketches on variant comic covers.

Darth Maul #1 has two variant covers that were drawn my Michael Turner.  One cover is a black and white sketch and limited to 2000 copies.

Star Wars: Darth Maul #1n - Marvel Comics, U.S. (February 2017)
Mark Brooks variant
The other cover is the Turner sketch colored and is limited to 3000 copies.

Star Wars: Darth Maul #1m - Marvel Comics, U.S. (February 2017)
Mark Brooks variant

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Modern Joe Books: Star Wars: A New Hope Cinestory Comic

Joe Books has released their second Star Wars Cinestory comic, an adaptation of A New Hope.  Like their first comic, this softcover graphic novel is massive, with 376 pages of story.  The comic contains images from the current version of the movie, the 2004 DVD release.  This book is priced at $19.99 which is $5 more than the Rebels Cinestory comic.  This comic is in color and the images are slightly sharper than the first Cinestory comic, although the photos are still dark.  There is another hardcover "Collector's Edition" of this book that will be released in November and an adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back is already pre-orderable on Amazon.

Star Wars: A New Hope Cinestory Comic a - Joe Books, U.S. (October 2017)
The front cover is the artwork from the Star Wars Special Edition poster and along the bottom are images from the movie.  The 40th anniversary logo is opposite of the title.

Star Wars: A New Hope Cinestory Comic a - Joe Books, U.S. (October 2017)
back cover
The back cover has a brief description of the story and the 40th anniversary logo is more prominent.  Disney and Lucasfilm logos are shown along with the Joe Books logo.  The background is a photo of some generators near the Lars Homestead.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Retro Foreign: Swedish Stjärnornas Krig Album #4

The fourth album released by Semic Press for Swedish readers contains The Empire Strikes Back adaptation.  Rymdimperiet Slår Tillbaka uses the same cover found on the Marvel Comics Illustrated Version of The Empire Strikes Back paperback and the Marvel Super Special #16 magazine.

Stjärnornas Krig Album #4a - Semic Press, Sweden (1980)
contains Star Wars #39 - 44
The corrected version of Yoda is found on the interior pages.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars (1998) #1 - 6 AnotherUniverse.com Exclusives

Online retailer AnotherUniverse.com released exclusive chromium covers for the first six issues of Dark Horse's 1998 Star Wars title.  The six issues are part of the Prelude to Rebellion story arc.  Jedi Knight Ki-Adi-Mundi is on his homeworld of Cerea.  An off-worlder, Bron, is inciting a rebellion in the young Cereans who want to embrace technology while the elders who lead the society have shunned technology.  One of Ki-Adi-Mundi's estranged daughters, Sylvn, supports the pro-tech movement and Ki gets caught up in a serious of events that will see him pursue his daughter all the way to Tatooine.

The cover artwork on the AnotherUniverse.com exclusives is the same as the standard covers.  The difference is the exclusive covers have a chromium coating that is both glossy and thick.  Ken Kelly provides the cover artwork for issues #1 - 3, 5, and 6, while the cover for issue #4 is by Dan Brereton.

The first cover shows Ephant Mon and Ki-Adi-Mundi.  Ephant Mon, a background character in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi, is the main antagonist in the story and is illegally smuggling a rare mineral, Malium, off the planet.  He is also illegally smuggling and selling technology to the Cerean youth to finance his operations.

Star Wars #1b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 1998)
AnotherUniverse.com exclusive
Sylvn's boyfriend, Maj-Odo-Momor, accidentally kills another Cerean at a pro-tech rally in the first issue using Ki's lightsaber and Ki is framed by Bron.  He is quickly found innocent and is asked by the Cerean elders to bring Maj to justice.  He travels to one of the Republic citadel on the planet looking for clues and the second cover shows Ki-Adi-Mundi fighting off-worlders in the citadel.

Star Wars #2b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (January 1999)
AnotherUniverse.com exclusive
In the citadel, Ki-Adi-Mundi finds Ephant Mon's deserted hideout.  Ephant Mon has already been told Ki is pursuing him and he evacuates the planet with Sylvn, Maj, and another of Sylvn's friends, Twin.  He leaves behind a droid that attacks Ki as shown on the cover.

Star Wars #3b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 1999)
AnotherUniverse.com exclusive
Ephant Mon is delivering a Hutt delicacy, Divvik pupae, to Jabba, but the pupae hatch, trapping Ephant Mon, Sylvn, Maj, and Twin aboard a freighter in orbit over Tatooine.  Ki travels to Tatooine to rescue his daughter.  As the cover shows, he boards the freighter and must fight off the hatched creatures.

Star Wars #4b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 1999)
AnotherUniverse.com exclusive
A 3-part tale begins in issue #4 that chronicles the events around Ki-Adi-Mundi becoming a Jedi.  His parents are at first reluctant to allow the Jedi to take the young Ki, but when their farm is raided by Bin-Garda-Zon's raiders, they acquiesce to the Jedi's wishes since they feel a Cerean Jedi could defeat Bin-Garda-Zon.  Years later, a trained Ki returns to Cerea to seek justice, but learns that Bin-Garda-Zon has been replaced by a woman.  The cover shows the battle between a young Ki and the woman who leads the raiders.

Star Wars #5b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (April 1999)
AnotherUniverse.com exclusive
The final cover shows Ki-Adi-Mundi and the droid he fought in the citadel.  The droid, FLTCH R-1, was reprogrammed to help Ki on his mission.  The pair are on the surface of Tatooine in the middle of a storm.

Star Wars #6b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (May 1999)
AnotherUniverse.com exclusive
Dan Brereton has a unique style that is easily identifiable.  The cover on issue #4 is not one of his better pieces.  It is worth checking out some of his other work, specifically his creator-owned title Nocturnals, to get a better appreciate for his style.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Empire #23

In every Star Wars movie, there is a plethora of characters to be found in the background.  In the first movie, the Mos Eisley cantina that Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi enter to hire a pilot is our first glimpse at the abundance of alien species.  Many of these aliens were first named and given a backstory in the West End Games' Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game which was published from 1987 to 1998.  As an example, West End Games gave Hammerhead his official name, Momaw Nadon, as well as a backstory.  This roleplaying game proved to be a huge influence on the Expanded Universe.  A card game from Decipher, the Star Wars Customizable Card Game, started publication in 1995 and continued the tradition of naming characters and providing them a backstory.  Decipher was responsible for first giving BoShek his name, for example.

Bantam Spectra published an anthology novel in August 1995, Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina, comprised of many short stories featuring background characters found in the cantina.  Of course the cantina denizens that are better known because of their Kenner action figures, like Momaw Nadon (Hammerhead), Ponda Baba (Walrusman), and Greedo receive a story in the novel, but the book also has tales for characters only briefly seen onscreen.  One of these lesser known characters, BoShek, stars in the story At the Crossroads: The Spacer's Tale.  BoShek would not star in a story again until Empire #23 is published nine years later in August 2004.

The Bravery of Being Out of Range takes place on a backwater planet named Stoga.  The story starts with BoShek and Rasha Bex on a swoop bike being chased by Rebels led by Karn.  BoShek is taking Rasha to her friends who are going to provide her transportation off the planet.  Rasha tells BoShek she is being pursued by her former associates, the Rebels, because she decided to leave the group and they thought she knew too much about their operation on the planet to let her live.  They escape and BoShek decided to hide out at his friend Tam's place.  BoShek and Rasha talk before they slumber off and we learn that BoShek is a smuggler who ran afoul of the Empire and was hiding out on Stoga while Rasha is committed to the fight between the Empire and the Rebellion.  BoShek is woken when he hears Tam talking to Karn and the other Rebels that were chasing them.  BoShek and Rasha, riding another swoop bike, are again pursued by the Rebels and they again escape, meeting up with Rasha's friends.  We learn that Rasha is the Imperial spy Captain Bex and her friends are Imperials who begin a ground assault against the Rebels.  Rasha tries to convince BoShek to join the Empire, but he is not interested.  Instead he is taken prisoner and loaded on an Imperial Shuttle.

Star Wars: Empire #23a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (August 2004)
The cover shows BoShek and Rasha riding a swoop bike.  BoShek is wearing the outfit he wears in the cantina on Mos Eisley.  The cover blurb reads Featuring the Galaxy's Second-Coolest Smuggler!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1 Yesteryear Comics Exclusive

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the brand name for the publishing strategy at the end of 2015 that included books and comics that tied into the film.  None of the books or comics are required reading to understand the movie, but they do provide backstory and augment the experience for fans.  Marvel originally had two titles that were part of this program, but only the 4-issue mini-series Shattered Empire, was released; the other title, Star Wars Special: C-3PO, was delayed until the following year.

Eight retailers commissioned an exclusive cover for the first issue of the Shattered Empire title.  Altogether there are sixteen variant and exclusive covers for Shattered Empire #1.  One retailer that released an exclusive cover is Yesteryear Comics located in San Diego.

Star Wars: Shattered Empire #1l - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2015)
Yesteryear Comics exclusive
The artist for this cover is Mike Mayhew who has provided interior pencils for several modern Star Wars issues in addition to covers.  The artwork is a montage showing our heroes surrounded by soldiers and tools of the Empire.  Both the artwork and the title are angled which helps this cover stand out from the others.  Overall, I really like the cover except for two changes I would have made: Lando Calrissian should be included instead of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker should be dressed in his Return of the Jedi garb.

A similar publishing strategy is being used for the latest movie with the Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi branding.  Marvel's Captain Phasma mini-series is being published as part of this program.