Sunday, December 31, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars #20 (12 Days of Bounty Hunter Covers)

In Star Wars #5, Luke Skywalker returns to Tatooine with the hope that Obi-Wan Kenobi left something behind that will teach Luke more about his destiny as a Jedi.  At Obi-Wan's home, Luke is attacked by Boba Fett who he fights in Star Wars #6.  By the end of Star Wars #6, Luke has defeated Fett by subconsciously using the Force and has recovered the Journals of Ben Kenobi.  The writer, Jason Aaron, has used the Journals to tell several standalone stories about Obi-Wan's time on Tatooine.  These standalone stories have appeared in Star Wars #7, 15, and 20.  Additionally, a longer tale about Yoda found in the Journals was told in Star Wars #26 - 30.

In Star Wars #20, Jabba the Hutt hires bounty hunter Black Krrsantan to find out who defeated some of Jabba's men during The Great Drought, an event that happened almost a year earlier and was chronicled in Star Wars #7.  Black Krrsantan heads to the Lars homestead, which is the nearest inhabited location to the incident, and kidnaps Owen Lars.  Luke Skywalker, who has run away from home, senses a problem and returns home to find his battered aunt Beru Lars who tells him what happened.  Beru asks Luke to hide while she goes to get help.  Meanwhile, Krrsantan has drags Owen out to the desert and begins hurting him, which draws the attention of Ben Kenobi.  Ben confronts Krrsantan and they fight.  Krrsantan is successful in ensnaring Ben in a net and Owen attacks him, but Krrsantan throws Owen off a cliff.  Ben uses the Force to blind Krrsantan with sand, uses his lightsaber to free himself from the net, Force pushes Krssantan away, and spies Owen hanging onto an outcrop on the cliff.  By keeping Krrsantan blind during the conflict, Ben Kenobi is able to keep his Jedi background a secret.  Before Ben can help Owen, a blind Krssantan attacks with a giant boulder which Ben slices in half, leaving a gash over Krssantan left eye.  The fragments of the boulder tumbles over the cliff, knocking Owen off the outcrop.  Ben uses the Force to levitate Owen, but the blind Krssantan continues to lash out at Ben.  Just as Ben loses his concentration and Owen begins to fall, Luke Skywalker, piloting his Skyhopper, rescues Owen.  Ben turns his attention back to the blind Krssantan who tumbles off the cliff.  Away from danger, Luke exists his Skyhopper and races to a grateful Owen who gives Luke a hug.  Black Krrsantan, disgraced, leaves Tatooine without completing the job.

Star Wars #20a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (June 2016)
The action packed cover artwork is by Mike Mayhew, who also pencils the interior.  The interior artwork is very detailed while the cover is less so, perhaps due to a different inker.  The bounty hunter Black Krrsantan has several cover appearances in Marvel's line, having been introduced in Darth Vader (2015) #1 and appearing semi-regularly in the Doctor Aphra title.  This story explains the large scar over his left eye.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Zam Wesell (12 Days of Bounty Hunter Covers)

Zam Wesell is a bounty hunter introduced in Attack of the Clones.  She is hired by Jango Fett to assassinate Senator Padme Amidala, but when her last attempt fails, she is pursued and captured by Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker on Coruscant.  As the two Jedi interrogate her, she is shot and killed by Fett.  During the pursuit, it was revealed that Wesell was a changeling, able to impersonate other humanoids.

Dark Horse published two one-shot comics in 2002 prior to the release of Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Jango Fett and Star Wars: Zam Wesell.  Wesell's first comic book appearance is in the Jango Fett one-shot and the tale continues in the Zam Wesell one-shot.  The story starts with the Jedi Council discussing General Ashaar Khorda and a weapon he has obtained.  General Khorda led a coup on the planet Annoo which the Republic stopped and now Khorda has decided to fight what he feels is a corrupt and oppressive Republic.  The council believes one of three planets will be attacked by Khorda and they want a council member overseeing each planet's safety.  Master Yarael Poof volunteers to be responsible for Coruscant.  Zam Wesell pays a visit to Jango Fett on Kamino and shows him a hologram of the idol he retrieved from the planet Seylott.  (This story is told in the Jango Fett one-shot.)  Wesell explains the artifact is a weapon capable of destroying an entire planet and asks Fett to help her stop Khorda from using it on Coruscant.  At first, Fett is reluctant, but Wesell convinces him to help by making Fett think about his son Boba.  Back on Coruscant, Khorda has gathered his associates to carry out his plan and Master Poof is in the underworld of Coruscant looking for Khorda.  Fett and Wesell are also in the underworld looking for Khorda.  Master Poof, Fett, and Wesell appear as Khorda and his followers about to detonate the idol and a firefight ensues.  Master Poof is able to grab the artifact with the Force, but is stabbed by Khorda.  As the idol is about to fall into a chasm, Wesell shape-shifts her arm and grabs it.  She hands the idol to Master Poof who stops the artifact from detonating by using the Force to bind the energy, but dies in the process.  Fett and Wesell return the idol to Seylott and travel to Kamino where they depart.  The final pages show the Jedi Council around Master Poof's funeral pyre giving a eulogy about his sacrifice.  Some of Khorda's men have blaster wounds and the Jedi know some other hero besides Master Poof assisted with saving the planet.

Star Wars: Zam Wesell b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2002)
The cover for the Zam Wesell one-shot is a publicity photo of Wesell in the human disguise she uses in Attack of the Clones.  In the background is a picture of Coruscant from the movie.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Jango Fett (12 Days of Bounty Hunter Covers)

Jango Fett, the father of Boba Fett, makes his debut in Attack of the Clones.  Fett is the genetic template for the clones used as the Grand Army of the Republic.  Additionally, Fett is an accomplished bounty hunter and wears Mandalorian armor, not unlike his son years later.  Fett is hired by Count Dooku to assassinate Senator Padme Admidala and Fett in turn hires Zam Wesell to do the work.  Fett is forced to kill Wesell after her attempts to kill Amidala faisl and she is captured by the Jedi, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.  Fett flees to Kamino and is pursued by Obi-Wan Kenobi who he briefly fights.  Fett and his son escape Kamino for Geonosis where he is killed in the Petranaki arena by Mace Windu.

Many of Boba Fett stories have been told in the Expanded Universe by Dark Horse and the introduction of Jango Fett greatly obfuscated what was known about Fett's past.  In the Expanded Universe, Jango Fett was made a Mandalorian to try to fit with the established background for Boba Fett, but in the new continuity, since none of those Boba Fett stories are canon, Jango is not a Mandalorian.  Jango Fett's appeal to fans is largely based on his bounty hunting suit looking similar to Boba Fett's suit.

Dark Horse published two one-shot comics in 2002 prior to the release of Attack of the Clones; Star Wars: Jango Fett and Star Wars: Zam Wesell.  Fett's first comic book appearance is in the Jango Fett one-shot and the story continues in the Zam Wesell one-shot.  In the one-shot, Fett crosses paths with Wesell twice; the first time they end up killing each other's employer, resulting in both losing out on the pay for the jobs.  They cross paths again when Fett and Wesell are hired by the same employer to retrieve an idol from the planet Seylott.  Fett ends up saving Zam Wesell, so he is the one who ends up delivering the artifact to their employer and collecting the reward.  During some of the story, Fett interacts with his son and is shown to be a loving and caring father.

Star Wars: Jango Fett b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2002)
The cover for the Jango Fett one-shot is a publicity photo of Fett in full armor wielding his pistol.  In the background is a picture of the asteroid belt where the dogfight between Fett in Slave I and Obi-Wan Kenobi in his Jedi starfighter occurred.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Modern Marvel: Darth Maul #3 (12 Days of Bounty Hunter Covers)

The recent Darth Maul 5-issue mini-series from Marvel was well received by fans.  In the series, Maul is sent by Darth Sidious to assist the Trade Federation in dealing with pirates.  While carrying out Sidious' orders, Maul learn about a Jedi Padawan, Eldra Kaitis, who has been captured by the Xrexus Cartel and is going to be auctioned off.  Darth Maul hires bounty hunters to help him infiltrate the auction and take the Padawan.  Maul hires Cad Bane and his group that include Aurra Sing, Vorhdeilo, and Troo-tril-tek.

Star Wars: Darth Maul #3a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (April 2017)
The standard cover for Darth Maul #3 shows Maul surrounded by the four bounty hunters.  Aurra Sing was used by Dark Horse in their Star Wars (1998) title as an antagonist to the Jedi.  In that series, Aurra Sing was a former Jedi Padawan with an intense hatred for Jedi.  In new continuity, she has not been revealed as a former Padawan but instead most of her character has been formulated from her appearances in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series.  Unlike Sing, Cad Bane did not appear in comics prior to the Maul mini-series and, like Sing, most of his appearances have been in The Clone Wars animated series.  Both Vorhdeilo and Troo-tril-tek are new creations making their first appearances in Darth Maul #2.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Classic Star Wars #20 (12 Days of Bounty Hunter Covers)

On February 9, 1981, almost 2 years after the Star Wars comic strips began, Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson would team up to produce a classic comic strip run.  Marvel had the disadvantage of producing their stories between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back without having seen The Empire Strikes Back, so some of the stories they told did not fit into the continuity very well.  As examples, Jabba the Hutt in the comic was completely different than the character that appeared in the final movie and Marvel had to re-introduce the bounty on Han Solo because they resolved that situation earlier in the series.  Additionally, bias against droids was not apparent in either sequel, despite it being a strong subtext of Marvel's stories prior to The Empire Strikes Back.  The comic strip creators however had the advantage of seeing The Empire Strikes Back and, because the strip ran into 1984, the creators even know how the final movie in the trilogy turned out.  This resulted in continuity heavy stories that impeccably bridged the first two movies, even using situations, characters, and vehicles seen in these later movies.

The first story in the Goodwin and Williamson's run titled The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell introduced Skorr, who is the bounty hunter Han Solo is referring to when he says "Well the bounty hunter we ran into on Ord Mantell changed my mind."  In the story, Han Solo is forced to set down on Ord Mantell, where Skorr is currently operating, to make repairs to the Millennium Falcon.  Skorr recognizes Han Solo and captures Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia to lure him out.  Han rescues Luke and Leia and they all escape aboard the Millennium Falcon, but are tracked by Skorr.  Again, Skorr is outwitted, this time resulting in his capture by Imperials who believe he was complicit in the Falcon's escape.  Skorr is sent to the Spice Mines of Kessel.  This story is enhanced and reprinted in Classic Star Wars #1 and 2.

Skorr returns in Showdown to get revenge on Han Solo for his part in sending him to the Spice Mines of Kessel.  In the story, Boba Fett has sent Dengar (misnamed Zuckass in the story), Bossk, Skorr, and other bounty hunters to capture Han Solo.  Both Han and Luke are captured and taken to Ord Mantell where Boba Fett is negotiating a reward for Luke with Darth Vader.  Ultimately Han and Luke escape but not before Skorr is killed in a scuffle with Han.  Showdown is enhanced and reprinted in Classic Star Wars #20.

Classic Star Wars #20a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 1994)
The cover for Star Wars #20 shows the showdown between Skorr and Han Solo on Ord Mantell.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Modern Marvel: Bounty Hunter Action Figure Variants (12 Days of Bounty Hunter Covers)

John Tyler Christopher has been creating the action figure variant covers sort of following the original Kenner release order for the original Star Wars action figures.  The original action figure covers are based on the original 12 Star Wars action figures produced by Kenner which were released on 12-back cards.  A 12-back card is the cardboard back of the packaging for the action figures that shows twelve action figures in the Star Wars line.  Eight new action figures joined the line and were released on a 20-back card.  In that batch is Greedo, the bounty hunter that confronts Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina in the original movie.

Star Wars #12b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2015)
action figure variant
The first mail-away Kenner action figure was Boba Fett, who then was sold on 21-back cards.  Boba Fett, being the most popular bounty hunter, was the first bounty hunter used by John Tyler Christopher for an action figure cover, with a color version followed by a black and white version.  The color version was the first John Tyler Christopher (JTC) exclusive and was limited to 5,000 copies.  This cover was printed for Star Wars #4 and was a huge success despite the relatively larger number of copies printed versus other exclusive covers.  (Most of these exclusive covers are limited to 3,000 copies.)  It sold for well above the asking price of $20 almost immediately after being released and still fetches a premium.  On the other hand, the black and white version is the second JTC exclusive and was limited to 3,000 copies.  Despite the lower number of copies, this cover for Star Wars #7 never sold for a premium.

Star Wars #4i - Marvel Comics, U.S. (April 2015)
John Tyler Christopher exclusive
Star Wars #7h - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 2015)
John Tyler Christopher exclusive
Empire Strikes Back action figures began showing up in the Kenner line on the 31-back cards.  The first two bounty hunters from that movie made into action figures are Bossk and IG-88.  Bossk was actually the second mail-away Kenner action figure, with ads appearing on 20 and 21-back cards.  So far, Bossk has not been used on an action figure variant cover, but IG-88 was used for Star Wars #25.

Star Wars #25b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2016)
action figure variant
Dengar was first released on a 41-back card by Kenner and was turned into an action figure variant cover before IG-88 for Star Wars #22.

Star Wars #22b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 2016)
action figure variant
The other 2 bounty hunters, Zuckass and 4-LOM, also have not been made into action figure variant covers.  Interestingly, these characters had each others name in the Kenner toy line; 4-LOM, the other Droid bounty hunter being addressed by Darth Vader on the bridge of the Executor, is called Zuckass and Zuckass is called 4-LOM.  Zuckass (misnamed 4-LOM) was the third Kenner mail-away action figure, with the offer appearing on 47-back cards.  47-back cards are the first card backs to show 4-LOM (misnamed Zuckass).  Zuckass (misnamed 4-LOM) showed up on 48-back cards.

Since there does not seem to be an end to these action figure variant covers, it is just a matter of time before we see Bossk, Zuckass, and 4-LOM make their appearance.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Lando #3 Mike Mayhew Variant (12 Days Of Bounty Hunter Covers)

"Bounty hunters.  We don't need their scum." - Admiral Piett

Admiral Piett could not be more wrong about bounty hunters as they are some of the most popular Star Wars characters.  Since the first movie when the bounty hunter Greedo confronts Han Solo in the Mos Eisley cantina, bounty hunters have been employed to capture and kill.  Darth Vader hires bounty hunters to "find the Millennium Falcon", introducing six of the most intriguing bounty hunters to the saga: Boba Fett, Bossk, Dengar, IG-88, 4-LOM, and Zuckass.  Boba Fett is easily the most popular bounty hunter of the group, but the other five have not been ignored since their introduction.

The third issue in the Lando 5-issue mini-series has a variant cover by Mike Mayhew that uses the other five bounty hunters.  The five are looking at an Imperial wanted poster.

Star Wars: Lando #3b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 2015)
Mike Mayhew variant
Of course, Lando Calrissian is the subject of the poster which attracts the attention of the five bounty hunters.  While the artwork has nothing to do with the interior of the comic, it is a nice piece and a story about these five hunting Lando would be a fun story to read about.

This is the first day of the 12 days of bounty hunter covers!  For the next 12 days, I will be showing the covers for 12 comics that feature bounty hunters from across the Star Wars universe.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Classic Cover Comparison: Ewoks #3 and Ewoks #1 (Brazil)

The Ewoks animated series had 35 episodes across two seasons in 1985 and 1986.  It was produced by Nelvana who were responsible for the animated short The Story of the Faithful Wookiee shown in the 1978 television show The Star Wars Holiday Special.  While the Ewoks series did not last long, it did spawn a slew of merchandise, including a comic title from Marvel's all-age Star Comics imprint.

The Ewoks series only lasted 14 issues.  None of the stories are remember-able including Flight to Danger in Ewoks #3.  Wicket, Princess Kneesaa, and Teebo are chosen to be the guests of honor during the Ewok's Harvest Ceremony.  This recognition means they have to fly to the forest to harvest magic wood that is used to construct their hang gliders.  When they get to the forest, they discover the wood has already been cut down by the savage Quorks.  They escape the Quorks with their hang gliders, only to be attacked by a Devil Beast.  The Devil Beast captures Wicket and forces the other two Ewoks to land, but the Devil Beast and Wicket are captured by the Quorks.  The Quorks take Wicket and the magic wood to their king, Marlox, who orders Wicket to make him a hang glider with the wood.  Wicket refuses and Kneesaa and Teebo are captured trying to free Wicket.  Wicket and Teebo are forced to make a hang glider for the king after the Quorks threaten Kneesaa with the Devil Beast.  Upon completion of the glider, the Quorks begin fighting among themselves, prompting Wicket and Teebo sneak away, stealing the magic wood and escaping on their gliders.  Wicket and Teebo return to free Kneesaa, evade the Devil Beast, and return home with the magic wood.

Ewoks #3a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 1985)
The cover for Ewoks #3 shows the Devil Beast capturing Wicket while the Quorks have Princess Kneesaa tied up below.  In the background, Teebo is flying his hang glider.  This is actually a combination of two scenes in the story, the one where Wicket is captured by the Devil Beast and later when the Quorks use the Devil Beast to threaten Kneesaa.

Ewoks #1a - Editora Abril, Brazil (1989)
contains Ewoks #3
Ewoks #1 published by Editora Abril for Brazilian readers contains the same story as the U.S. Ewoks #3.  The cover is different however, showing the Devil Beast attacking a tied up Kneesa while Wicket prepares to throw a spear.  In the background, Teebo is flying his hang glider.

The Brazil cover does not show the dual threat of the Quorks and the Devil Beast.  In addition, on the U.S. cover, the Devil Beast is drawn larger and is therefore more menacing, which makes the U.S. cover a better representation of the events in the book.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars #24 and 25 Mile High Comics Exclusives

Terry Dodson provided the cover artwork for the Mile High Comics exclusives for Star Wars #20 - 25.  The first four covers are drawings of soldiers of the Empire, but Star Wars #24 and 25, while similar in theme, instead feature our heroes.  Han Solo and Luke Skywalker donning Stormtrooper gear to rescue Princess Leia is one of many iconic moments of the original movie.  Dodson provides two gorgeous covers depicting the duo wearing the disguises.

Dodson draws Han with a cocky smile holding the handcuffs they used on Chewbacca to sneak into the Detention Block on the cover of Star Wars #24.  Behind Han is Chewbacca, no doubt roaring with happiness to finally have his hands free.

Star Wars #24d - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2016)
Mile High Comics exclusive
Dodson's cover for Star Wars #25 shows a serious Luke conferring with C-3PO on his mic.  Behind Luke is Leia holding a blaster and ready for action.

Star Wars #25d - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2016)
Mile High Comics exclusive
Terry Dodson has a clean art style that I'm really fond of.  He drew the Princess Leia mini-series in 2015 and has provided several variant covers for the Star Wars line of books.  He has proven to be adept at drawing the characters, with his depiction of Leia being one of my favorites, and I would love for Marvel to assign him more Star Wars interior work.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Empire #28

The character Boba Fett was used to promotion the sequel to Star Wars.  He appears in the Star Wars Holiday Special in 1978 and more importantly, in early 1979, a free Boba Fett action figure is offered on the cardbacks of the original 20 action figures.  With descriptions like "A fearsome interplanetary bounty hunter." and "A threat to the Rebel Alliance, especially Han Solo!", Boba Fett is promoted as another evil villain in the same mold as Darth Vader and he did not disappoint when he showed up on screen!  Fett had a past with Vader that was only hinted at when Vader warned "No disintegrations!" and Fett responds "As you wish."  In a galaxy where Darth Vader kills his own subordinates for mistakes, Fett has no problem challenging Vader twice with his "He's no good to me dead." and "What if he doesn't survive?  He's worth a lot to me." lines.  He only utters one other line in the movie "Put Captain Solo in the cargo hold." and this minimal dialogue just adds to his mystique.

The mysterious, silent Boba Fett is exactly what is delivered in the story Wreckage from Star Wars: Empire #28.  The story starts when two TIE Fighters guarding a wrecked Star Destroyer, the Anya Karu, are destroyed by Slave I.  Fett has 30 minutes to recover an item from the wreckage before another Star Destroyer, the Adjudicator, returns to destroy the downed vessel.  He fights his way through flying creatures and deadly droids to recover the item aboard the destroyer and returns to Slave I just in time.  Later, he is in the office of the captain of the Anya Karu who explains to him the circumstances behind the destoyer's destruction.  The captain asks if Fett retrieved the item which Fett places on the captain's desk.  Eagerly the captain opens the holo-projector which is a recording to him from his deceased wife.  During the captain's soliloquy, Fett utters his only words in the story "Half up front, half upon completion.  That was the deal."  The captain explains he does not have the money, but he knows this does not matter to Fett.  His final words before Fett executes him are "I just wanted to see her once more.  Hear her say my name again.  I loved her so very much."

At the beginning of the story there is chatter between the two TIE pilots and the captain does a lot of talking at the end, but in the middle of the story, the only words are captions used to denote the time Fett has left to complete his mission.  In many comics that feature him, Fett is much more talkative, so this was a nice return to the way he was original portrayed in the movies.

Star Wars: Empire #28a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 2004)
The cover shows Boba Fett cautiously entering the wreckage with several of the flying creatures in the background.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Retro Foreign: Greek Κλασικά Κόμικς Ο Πόλεμος των Άστρων #1

Like the Greek Super Marvel Comics, Κλασικά Κόμικς #1 is a collection of Kabanas Hellas individual issues repackaged with a new outer cover.  Unlike the Super Marvel Comics collections, this collection only consists of copies of the Kabanas Hellas Star Wars title.  There are five Ο Πόλεμος των Άστρων issues inside without their original covers.  In order they are: #2, 6, 1, 3, and 8.  It is likely these issues are returns that did not sell as individual issues.

Classic Comics Star Wars #1a - Kabanas Hellas, Greece (1980s)
contains Ο Πόλεμος των Άστρων #2, 6, 1, 3, 8
The cover artwork is from Star Wars #10 which was not used in the Kabanas Hellas Star Wars title.

This copy is the only one I have ever seen and I am very fortunate to own it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Classic Cover Comparison: Star Wars #30 and Star Wars Weekly #71

A Princess Alone! from Star Wars #30 shows just how evil the Empire really is and why there is a Rebellion.  The entire population on the planet Metalorn are literally slaves working in Imperial factories.  The society is very George Orwellian where the Empire controls every aspect of a workers life including when they work, eat, and sleep.  It is the first of several issues in the Star Wars title that has Leia performing a mission alone.

Star Wars #30a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (December 1979)
The cover for Star Wars #30 shows Princess Leia running from Imperial Stormtroopers with a soldier hiding behind the doorway that Leia is about to pass thru.

Star Wars Weekly #71a - Marvel Comics, England (July 4, 1979)
second third of Star Wars #30
The cover for the British Star Wars Weekly #71 is a very similar situation, except the roles are reversed.  On this cover, a squad of Imperial Stormtroopers are passing by a doorway which Princess Leia is hiding behind.  It looks like one of the troopers is about to pass thru the doorway.  Leia is dressed in a similar jumpsuit, except this one is mauve instead of white.  Inside Star Wars #30, the jumpsuit is white.  British readers had no way of knowing this because the story inside is in black and white.

Considering the dates on these two comics and the similarity between them, it is probable that both covers were created around the same time.  It was not uncommon for editors to have artists make changes to the cover artwork, thereby creating several pieces.  I like that the doorway on both are trapezoid in shape, another detail that makes me believe they were created around the same time.

Both covers do a good job of showing Leia's plight.  Neither depict a scene from the story but it is easy to see either situation occurring as Leia spends several pages in the story evading Stormtroopers.  I have a hard time determining which I like better.  I like that Leia is obviously fearful of being discovered on the cover of Star Wars Weekly #71, but I also like that she is taking action on the cover of Star Wars #30.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Cover Artist: Mark Schultz

Mark Schultz is an American comic book creator who is best know for his creator-owned series Xenozoic Tales.  Schultz's style matches those of classic artists like Burne Hogarth, Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, and Al Williamson.  It is unfortunate that his work on Star Wars has been limited to a few interior pages and a handful of covers.

Xenozoic Tales is a series set in a post-apocalyptic world where dinosaurs rule.  It was first introduced in Kitchen Sink Press' Death Rattle #8 and quickly received its own ongoing title.  Schultz is known to be a slow artist and only 14 issues of Xenozoic Tales were published in ten years.

Xenozoic Tales #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 1987)
Mark Schultz provided two covers for Dark Horse's Classic Star Wars title.  Both covers show our heroes fighting creatures, which is a great fit for Schultz because he is use to drawing prehistoric animals.  The cover for Classic Star Wars #8 shows an unconscious Luke Skywalker in the tentacle of a Demonsquid while Han Solo comes to Luke's rescue.  The Demonsquid looks more like an octopus than a squid, but the depiction on the cover matches the creature inside the book.

Classic Star Wars #8a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (April 1993)
The cover for Star Wars #17 shows Luke Skywalker trying to free who he believes is Tanith Shire against another tentacled menace.  The acknowledgement page inside says the cover is by Mark Schultx.

Classic Star Wars #17a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 1994)
Star Wars (1998) #13 - 18 contain the story arc, Emissaries to Malastare.  Star Wars #17 contains the first appearance of Quinlan Vos who would go on to be the main character for many of the future story arcs.  Mark Schultz only provides covers for the first 5 issues in this 6-part story.  These covers were done after Mark Schultz's last issue on Xenozoic Tales and show much of the dynamic anatomy that Schultz was known for in that series.

Star Wars #13a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 1999)
Star Wars #14a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (January 2000)
Star Wars #15a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 2000)
Star Wars #16a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 2000)
Star Wars #17a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (April 2000)
Mark Schultz is working on a new Xenozoic Tales comic.  Having collected the entire 14 issues of the first series, I am looking forward to seeing more of his work on his signature series.

We all go a little mad sometimes.

I'm sure some of you noticed there have been several large gaps in my postings over the last few months.  My mom died in October and that took away some of my enthusiasm and I found myself on more than one occasion just staring at the computer screen, unable to gather my thoughts.  Just this week, I took a business trip to San Jose and did not prepare anything for me to post about.  Rest assured, I am getting back on track and plan to get back to five or so postings a week.

With that said, on 12/21, I will be starting my 4th year of postings.  I also am quickly approaching my 700th posting.  My original intent was to have the anniversary and the 700th posting coincide, but that is not looking possible anymore.

Over this weekend, I plan on getting caught up on the monthly analysis I've been doing concerning the sales of Star Wars comics.

Finally, I just got back from watching The Last Jedi this evening with my family and we really loved it.  I know I shouldn't based on some of the feedback I'm seeing from longtime fans, apparently their love of Star Wars has been destroyed twice now, first by the prequels and now by this movie.  Rotten Tomatoes is showing an audience score of 56%, presumably from hardcore fans who saw the movie already.  I don't get it since I enjoyed the prequels and feel The Last Jedi is a terrific addition to the series.  I encourage everyone to see the movie and judge for themselves.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Marvel Liquidates More Star Wars Variant Covers in December

Recently, Marvel liquidated several hardcover and omnibus collections.  The sale included the 3 Original Marvel Years Omnibuses as well as the Droids and Ewoks Omnibus.  It is fairly easy to find these Omnibuses for about 1/3rd the price they originally retailed for.  Marvel has been doing this several times a year for a while now and these sales are not just for collections.  Marvel has also dumped unsold incentive variants onto the market for a fraction of the original cost to retailers.

Bleeding Cool posted an article yesterday saying Marvel is at it again.  Hundreds of variant covers are being liquidated including several Star Wars variant covers going back to Star Wars #1 from January 2015.  There are a few incentive variants with the black and white covers being the most notable of the bunch.  I also think it is interesting some of the GameStop exclusives are being offered here.  Please read the blog Marvel Comics Liquidates Almost 750 Different Variant Covers to see the list of variants being sold.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Retro Foreign: Greek Super Marvel Comics #10

Here is another Greek Super Marvel Comics collection that contains a Star Wars issue inside.

Super Marvel Comics #10a - Kabanas Hellas, Greece (1980s)
contains Ο Πόλεμος των Άστρων #2
Super Marvel Comics #10 uses the cover artwork from Captain America #300.  One of the four Kabanas Hellas issues is Ο Πόλεμος των Άστρων #2 which contains the Greek translation of Star Wars #3 and 4.

Super Marvel Comics #10a - Kabanas Hellas, Greece (1980s)
I had bought several of these Greek Super Marvel Comics specifically for issue #7 which contains a Star Wars cover and was pleasantly surprised to see a Kabanas Hellas Star Wars issue bound inside this collection.  The randomness of the issues found in these collections makes me wonder if the same issues are bound inside these collections.  If I am able, I will try to acquire more of the Super Marvel Comics #7 issues so I can provide information about this.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Modern Marvel: Doctor Aphra #9 and 10 40th Anniversary Covers

I know I am not the only one who noticed, but both Doctor Aphra #9 and 10 40th anniversary covers show they are #26 out of 48.  Clearly Doctor Aphra #9 has the wrong number on the cover and is meant to be #25 out of 48.  These covers are ordered based on the scene they are depicting from the movie.  The 24th anniversary cover on Star Wars #33 shows Luke Skywalker training with the remote aboard the Millennium Falcon en route to Alderaan.  The variant cover for Doctor Aphra #9 shows the Millennium Falcon exiting the debris field left by the destruction of Alderaan; the Falcon is chasing the TIE Fighter heading toward the Death Star.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 25/48
Doctor Aphra #10's variant cover shows Darth Vader and Stormtroopers flanking the Millennium Falcon in the Death Star landing bay.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #10b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 26/48
Also in July, the Darth Maul #5 David Lopez variant was erroneously released using the same cover as the David Lopez variant for Darth Maul #3.  Marvel did ship the correct cover months later.  If Marvel is having problems keeping the variant covers straight, maybe it is a sign they are releasing too many of them?  I know my wallet can use a break.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation

Star Wars truly is a multi-generational phenomenon.  The original trilogy captivated audiences starting with Star Wars in May 1977 and many children became life-long fans due to the merchandise, including comic books, that came with those films.  The prequel trilogy began in May 1999 with The Phantom Menace and for the generation that grew up watching those movies and consuming the avalanche of merchandise that came with them, that became their Star Wars.  Another generation of fans is being cultivated right now, starting with the first movie in the new trilogy which debuted in December 2015, The Force Awakens.  Make no mistake, many of these new fans will see these movies as their Star Wars.

Unfortunately, those new fans who also happen to read comics are not experiencing this trilogy like many of us did who were around for the first two trilogies.  Prior to The Force Awakens, it was customary to release the movie adaptation in comic form along with the movie.  It makes sense that Disney does not need to entice audiences to go see these new movies, unlike when the original movie was released and the comics were a major part of the marketing for that film.  Movie adaptations are also not strong sellers and Marvel seems content to focus on telling new stories in one-shots that tie into the movies.  For The Force Awakens, the story about how C-3PO received his red arm was told in a one-shot.  (Unfortunately, the one-shot was delayed and it actually came out a week after the ongoing Poe Dameron title began.)  The Last Jedi - Storms of Crait one-shot is planned for a late December 2017 release; the story will see Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia establish a Rebel base on the planet Crait, a major location in the newest film.  A second one-shot will be published in January 2018 which centers on DJ, a character played by Benicio del Toro in The Last Jedi.  To date, no announcement has been made on when the movie adaptation will see print.

Despite not having a comic adaptation available alongside the theatrical release of the movie, The Force Awakens was adapted to comics by Marvel six months later.  (Interestingly, Marvel began publishing their adaptation of the Rogue One movie four months after the movie debuted, probably to coincide with the release of the movie on DVD and Blu-ray.  One can hope they have the same publishing plans for The Last Jedi and subsequent movies.)  Unlike previous adaptations which are the first appearance of the main movie characters in comics, The Force Awakens is not the first appearance of Poe Dameron, BB-8, or Snap Wexley who all appear in Poe Dameron #1.  Additionally, Captain Phasma first appears in Poe Dameron #2, which was published one month before The Force Awakens #1.

The Force Awakens #1 is the first appearance of Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, and General Hux.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens #1a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (June 2016)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens #2a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 2016)
The Force Awakens #3 is the first appearance of Maz Kanata and Supreme Leader Snoke.  It is also the first time we see Starkiller Base.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens #3a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 2016)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens #4a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2016)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens #5a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2016)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens #6a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (November 2016)

3rd Annual 12 Days of Christmas Theme Wanted

The 12 Days of Christmas start on December 25th and runs through January 5th.  It has become a tradition for me to post blogs centered on a theme for the 12 days of Christmas.  For the 1st year, we had 12 days of Boba Fett covers and the 2nd year saw 12 days of C-3PO and R2-D2 covers.

Every year I solicit ideas from the readers of this site on what theme they would like to see me cover.  Please send me your ideas on a theme for this year and I will definitely consider it.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Retro Foreign: British The Empire Strikes Back Annual 1980

1980 saw the release of The Empire Strikes Back and the first country to get a wide release of the movie was the U.K.  Grandreams was one publisher of Marvel's The Empire Strikes Back adaptation for British audiences.  The Yoda depicted in this hardcover is the original, early version that appears in The Marvel Comics Illustrated Version of The Empire Strikes Back paperback.  Arrow Books published the U.K. version of this paperback.  Since Marvel modified the Yoda depiction to more closely resemble how he looks in the movie for subsequent printings of the adaptation in the U.S., it is likely both this British hardcover and the paperback were released in May 1980 to coincide with the film's release in the U.K.

The Empire Strikes Back Annual 1980 a - Grandreams, England (1980)
contains The Empire Strikes Back adaptation
The artwork used on the cover is the same used for the paperback adaptation.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars 40th Anniversary Covers (Part 3)

In earlier postings, I showed the first 24 Star Wars 40th anniversary covers.  Here are the next 12 covers, in their numbered order, not necessarily the order they were published:

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 25/48
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #10b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 26/48
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #17b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (July 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 27/48
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #11b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 28/48
Star Wars #34c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 29/48
Star Wars: Mace Windu - Jedi of the Republic #1c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 30/48
Star Wars #35c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 31/48
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #18b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 32/48
Star Wars #36c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 33/48
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #12b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 34/48
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #19b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 35/48
Star Wars: Mace Windu - Jedi of the Republic #2b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (September 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 36/48
The 3rd set of 12 covers relive the moments our heroes are pulled into the Death Star aboard the Millennium Falcon to the first onscreen lightsaber battle!  These covers do a terrific job of capturing iconic moments from the movie.