Friday, March 31, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Classic Star Wars: Devilworlds

When most people hear the phrase the British Invasion they immediately think about the influential musical groups that came from the United Kingdom during the 1960s such as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  A second British Invasion occurred two decades later and had a huge influence on U.S. comic books.  This British Invasion was mostly confined to DC Comics and led to the launch of their Vertigo imprint under editor Karen Berger.  The British writers who led the change showed that comics were not just for kids and their adult-oriented work tackled more sophisticated fare.  At the forefront of this movement was Alan Moore, who achieved critical fame on Swamp Thing and Watchmen but also wrote From Hell, V for Vendetta, and Batman: The Killing Joke.  His Wildstorm imprint, America's Best Comics, would garner Moore even more acclaimed with work on titles like Promethea, Tom Strong, Top 10, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Before Alan Moore wrote for DC Comics, he honed his craft writing for British anthology titles 2000 AD and Warrior.  During this period, he also wrote for Marvel U.K. including five Star Wars stories.  These tales are published in The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #151, 154, 155, and 156 as well as The Empire Strikes Back Monthly #159.  Moore's stories are different in tone than what was being produced for the Star Wars title and this might be why those stories were never published in the U.S. by Marvel.  It would not be until 1996, when Dark Horse Comics published the two issue mini-series Classic Star Wars: Devilworlds, before U.S. readers would see those stories.

Star Wars: Devilworlds #1 includes the Alan Moore stories from The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #155 and The Empire Strikes Back Monthly #159.  It also includes non-Moore original Star Wars stories from The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #153 and 157.

Classic Star Wars: Devilworlds 1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (August 1996)
Star Wars: Devilworlds #2 is an all Alan Moore issue containing his stories from The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #151, 154, and 156.

Classic Star Wars: Devilworlds 2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 1996)
Interestingly, there is one more original Star Wars story, from The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #149, that is not included in Devilworlds.  This story would not see print in the U.S. until Dark Horse publishes Star Wars Omnibus: Wild Space Volume #1 in 2013.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Han Solo #4 Millennium Falcon Variant

It is easy for a cover to get lost in the massive amount of variant covers that is released these days.  To be fair, most of them are forgettable, but occasionally, one stands out from the crowd.  For the Han Solo series, I'm fond of the Millennium Falcon variant cover for Han Solo #4.

Star Wars: Han Solo #4b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2016)
Millennium Falcon variant
Every issue in the Han Solo mini-series has a Millennium Falcon variant cover.  Arguably the best known spaceship from any movie, the Millennium Falcon is an importance component of Han Solo's character, so a variant cover focused on this ship makes sense.  Han Solo is a smuggler and a great pilot, and all great pilots are identified by the craft they fly.  His affection and pride for the Falcon is apparent throughout the original trilogy and one of the key moments in The Force Awakens is when Han is reunited with his ship.

What I love above the artwork by Stephanie Hans is Han Solo standing atop his ship, peering up at the other spacecraft flying overhead.  It is a character defining moment for Han; he wants to be up there, in space, flying his ship, not grounded on some alien world.  Naturally, his loyal companion, Chewbacca, is doing all the work prepping the Falcon for flight.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Retro Foreign: Australian Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back

This is a interesting variant of the Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back.  This was printed for distribution in Australia hence the lack of price on the cover.

Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back a - Marvel Comics, Australia (Spring 1980)
no price; U.K. edition?
It looks identical to the U.S. edition, except for the blank white box where the price goes.  The copy I bought came from Australia and I've seen another copy recently on eBay that was also being sold from Australia.  If you know more about this comic, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Retro Foreign: Brazilian O Incrivel Hulk

O Incrivel Hulk is a digest-sized anthology title from publisher Editora Abril.  Running for 165 issues from 1983 to 1997, the primary focus of the title is the Incredible Hulk and some issues do contain Star Wars.  During a period when Portuguese translations of U.S. superhero material was abundant for Brazilian comic readers, there are surprising very few Star Wars issues available.  Only thirteen issues of O Incrivel Hulk contain translations of Star Wars comics: #25 - 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 36, 38, 39, 43, 47, and 48.

The Empire Strikes Back movie adaptation starts in O Incrivel Hulk #25 and runs for three issues.  Each issue contains two chapters of the adaptation.

O Incrivel Hulk #25a - Editora Abril, Brazil (July 1985)
contains Star Wars #39 and 40
O Incrivel Hulk #26a - Editora Abril, Brazil (August 1985)
contains Star Wars #41 and 42
O Incrivel Hulk #27a - Editora Abril, Brazil (September 1985)
contains Star Wars #43 and 44
Walt Simonson's first artwork on the U.S. Star Wars title is issue #16 which introduced Valance the Hunter.  He starts a fourteen issue run with Star Wars #49 and that is the next issue Editora Abril translates after the movie adaptation, skipping Star Wars #45 - 48.  Probably not coincidentally, Walt Simonson's artwork ends with Star Wars #62 (although he writes #65 and pencils #66) and Editorial Abril stops publishing with issue #63 which more or less concludes the story arc where Luke Skywalker is thought to be a traitor for killing Shira Brie.  (Luke's actual trial is in the opening pages of issue #65 where he is found innocent.)  The only issues they do not published of Simonson's art run are Star Wars #53 and 54.

O Incrivel Hulk #29a - Editora Abril, Brazil (November 1986)
contains Star Wars #49
O Incrivel Hulk #31a - Editora Abril, Brazil (January 1986)
contains Star Wars #50
O Incrivel Hulk #33a - Editora Abril, Brazil (March 1986)
contains Star Wars #51 and 52
O Incrivel Hulk #35a - Editora Abril, Brazil (May 1986)
contains Star Wars #55
O Incrivel Hulk #36a - Editora Abril, Brazil (June 1986)
contains Star Wars #56 and 57
O Incrivel Hulk #38a - Editora Abril, Brazil (August 1986)
contains Star Wars #58
O Incrivel Hulk #39a - Editora Abril, Brazil (September 1986)
contains Star Wars #59
The Star Wars issues prior to O Incrivel Hulk #43 use perfect binding.  Issue #43, 47, and 48 are all saddle stitched, making these issues a little tougher to find in nice condition.

O Incrivel Hulk #43a - Editora Abril, Brazil (January 1987)
contains Star Wars #60
O Incrivel Hulk #47a - Editora Abril, Brazil (May 1987)
contains Star Wars #61
O Incrivel Hulk #48a - Editora Abril, Brazil (June 1987)
contains Star Wars #62 and 63
In 1978, Bloch Editores published the 100 page, magazine-sized Guerra nas Estrelas which translates the Marvel Star Wars movie adaptation for Brazilian readers.  Then Editora April translated the nineteen Marvel Star Wars issues for the O Incrivel Hulk title shown above.  Several Ewoks issues are also translated to Portuguese in the late 1980s, but it is not until the Dark Horse era that Star Wars comics would be published in Brazil in large numbers.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Retro Marvel: Star Wars #7 versus Pizzazz #1

There is a debate about which came first, Star Wars #7 or Pizzazz #1.  One of these two publications has the first original Star Wars material or the first Expanded Universe story.  Star Wars #7 has a cover date of January 1978 and Pizzazz #1 has a cover date of October 1977.  If you simply went by the date on the cover, Pizzazz #1 clearly looks like the winner.

Star Wars #7a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (January 1978)
Unfortunately, because comic publishers post-dated their comics, determining which came first based on a cover date is not straight forward.  Traditionally, comic publishers put a cover date that is two to three months out from the time the comic was published.  This was done to increase the shelf-life of a comic.  Newsstand vendors would use the cover date to determine when to pull unsold issues which they would then return for credit.  (At some point, just returning the cover for the issue was adopted since it was more cost effective than returning the entire comic.)  John Jackson Miller, a writer of several Star Wars comics and novels, has done exhaustive research into comic circulation numbers which he documents on his site The Comic Chronicles.  (This is a site I frequently use, specifically when I do my monthly sales estimates.)  He believes, based on Marvel's Statement of Ownership, that Marvel was post-dating its comics by around five months during this period.  That would put the publication of Star Wars #7 in September, although even Miller cannot be sure.  Pizzazz is a magazine and, even though it contains a Star Wars comic strip and was published by Marvel, it's cover is not post-dated in the same manner as Star Wars #7.  The tradition for magazines has been to put the cover date one month ahead.  This would put the publication of Pizzazz #1 in September.  So, clearly, both were published very close to each other, perhaps even just weeks apart, so how can we determine which was published first?

Pizzazz #1a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 1977)
Roy Thomas wrote Star Wars #1 - 10 as well as The Keeper's World story arc for the Star Wars comic strip in Pizzazz #1 - 9.  (Roy Thomas did much more than this; he is the key reason Marvel even acquired the Star Wars license and I for one am grateful for his efforts.)  Since he worked on the two publications in question, I wrote him asking which was published first and he wrote back:

"Sorry, but I've no idea which went on sale first.  I'd have thought I probably wrote STAR WARS #7 first, that wouldn't mean it would necessarily go on sale first.  They were intended to be happening at more or less the same time."

Not surprisingly, many years and many comics later, Roy Thomas does not remember which was published first.  Even so, I appreciate his response and other details he provided.

The Comic Reader #149a - Street Enterprises, U.S. (October 1977)
The Comic Reader #149 might be the best indicator yet of which came first.  In the Pocket Checklist section of this fanzine it shows Star Wars #7 and Pizzazz #2 both on sale in October 1977.  This corresponds to a column in Pizzazz #1 that states Pizzazz #2 goes on sale on October 20, 1977.  The Comic Reader fanzine publishes the on-sale month and date next to the description for the issue and for Star Wars #7, it shows 10/11 (October 11th) and next to Pizzazz #2 it shows 11/1 (November 1st).  I will need to track down a copy of The Comic Reader #148 to be definitive, but it is very likely it will confirm Pizzazz #1 was published in September.

Based on the information, I believe Pizzazz #1 has the distinction of being the first original comic material published.  This does not diminish the important of Star Wars #7 in the least; while it was not published first, it is the first original Star Wars comic book and was written before the comic strip that appeared in Pizzazz #1.  The first original novel, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, would not be published until February 1978.  Both Star Wars #7 and Pizzazz #1, are both an important part of Star Wars comic history and both are worthy of inclusion into a fan's collection.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Mini-Comics

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed proved to be a hit and was the fastest selling Star Wars video game ever.  It only made sense that a sequel would follow and The Force Unleashed II was released in 2010 along with a novel and graphic novel.

Two 16 page mini-comics were also published which contain an excerpt from the graphic novel.  One mini-comic was packaged with the video game sold at Target and this version has a black background and Darth Vader's visage on the cover.  The video game says Bonus Mini-Comic on the package cover.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Mini-Comic a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 2010)
available with video game sold by Target
Another version has a white background and the cover looks more like the graphic novel cover and was published by Titan Books in the U.K.  I suspect the U.K. version was also sold at a specific retailer.  The video game says Bonus Comic on the package cover.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Mini-Comic a - Titan Books, U.K. (October 2010)
available with video game sold in U.K.
While these mini-comics show up from time to time on eBay, I have found the cheapest way to acquire them is to buy the video game with the comic.  When purchasing the video game used, make sure the comic is included.  Always inquire about the condition as many video game sellers use generic photos rather than take pictures of the actual items.  For sealed packages, look for the Bonus Mini-Comic or Bonus Comic blurb and don't assume the package pictured is the one that will be received.  Look to see if the description includes the comic.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Mini-Comic

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was devised as a multimedia event similar to Shadows of the Empire.  Released in 2008, it has a video game, novel, graphic novel, and toys, but, unlike Shadows of the Empire, The Force Unleashed is remembered more as a video game with tie-in products.  A large reason why is because the game used ground breaking technologies including Euphoria and Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) which provided a level of realism not seen in previous Star Wars video games.  Euphoria provides on-the-fly animation of 3D characters, allowing for different outcomes rather than using predefined animation.  When characters are thrown around in the game by the user-controlled Force wielding Starkiller, they behave in ways that are not repeated like traditional video games.  DMM also increases the realism by allowing inanimate objects in the game to break and bend according to the material they are made of.

While much of the focus was on the game, and deservedly so, The Force Unleashed also provided a compelling story about Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice.  Starkiller is at first tasked by Vader to eliminate the remaining Jedi in the galaxy and finally is used as a pawn to expose the leaders of the fledgling Rebellion.  Along the way, he is befriended by the Imperial pilot Juno Eclipse and the holodroid PROXY.  The story is rich and unpredictable, told in both the Del Rey novel and the Dark Horse graphic novel.

A mini-comic containing an excerpt from the graphic novel was published exclusively for inclusion with copies of the game sold through the online Star Wars Shop.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Mini-Comic a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2008)
available with video game sold by the online Star Wars Shop
The cover for the mini-comic does a good job of capturing the enhanced Force abilities of Starkiller.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Retro Foreign: Philippine Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back

Vintage Philippine Star Wars comics are among the rarest Star Wars comics in the world.  The Philippine edition of Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back is an example.  One copy that has found it's way into my collection is from a posting in Joel Reyes Noche's blog titled Marvel Super Special #16.  If you compare the front cover of his copy to the picture I have taken of the book in my possession, it is clear these are the same exact comic.

Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back a - Alemar's?, Philippines (1980 - 1985?)
contains Marvel Super Special #16
I have a second copy which is even more beat up with a detached front and back cover and has the blank price box colored in with a black marker.

Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back a - Alemar's?, Philippines (1980 - 1985?)
contains Marvel Super Special #16
2nd copy
Like it's U.S. counterpart, it is treasury-sized.  There is a blank white box where the price, issue number, and packager name is on the U.S. edition.  There is a U.K. edition of this comic which is another variation of this; it keeps the issue number and packager name with only the price removed.  The interior pages are reprinted from Marvel Super Special #16, not from Marvel Special Edition #2 which is apparent when looking at the title page.  Like the Alemar's Star Wars #1 - 4, this comic is published in English.

Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back a - Alemar's?, Philippines (1980 - 1985?)
title page
I am speculating this book was published by the Alemar's bookstore chain based on a response found in Noche's posting and a stamp found on the cover of my second copy:

I use to own a copy that was bought in Alemars. This one was of my first comic books.

Marvel Special Edition #2: The Empire Strikes Back a - Alemar's?, Philippines (1980 - 1985?)
Alemar's stamp
An argument against it being an Alemar's exclusive is there is no ad in this comic for Alemar's.  Like all the Philippine Star Wars comics I have in my collection, these comics are extremely worn with one copy structurally sound and the other not.  Despite the wear, I am happy to have these specimen in my collection.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?

There is a standard measurement for most comics published in the U.S., but publishers do vary the format depending on where and how the comic is sold.  For example, the 36-page standard comic format works great in a comic specialty shop and on some newsstands, but a bookstore might prefer a smaller paperback format.  Some retailers do not want to deal with the low cost of a standard comic, instead preferring trade paperbacks, graphic novels, or a larger (and more costly) magazine-sized comic.  Digest-sized comics are ideal for a checkout line at a grocery store where space is a premium, but if a publisher wants to draw attention to their comic elsewhere in a store, perhaps on the end cap display of a toy aisle in the 1970s, they might decide a treasury-sized comic would attract more attention.  IDW has found success with micro-sized comics that allows them to place comics on racks with trading card packs.

Even the standard size of a comic has changed over the years; each subsequent age has seen the size shrink in both page count and physical measurements from the previous age.  Here is a table with the standard comic size for the age, understanding that the alignment of age to size is not exact, but a general guideline:

AgePeriodStandard Comic SizePage Count
Golden Age1938 - 19567 3/4" x 10 1/2"68 pages pre-war; 52 pages post-war
Silver Age1956 - 19707 1/8" x 10 1/2"36 pages
Bronze Age
Modern Age
1970 - 1985
1985 - present
6 5/8" x 10 1/8"36 pages

When one looks at comics from different countries, the formats vary widely as well.  In the U.K., a thin magazine-sized format was used for Star Wars Weekly by Marvel.  An even larger measurement was used for Yugoslavia's Denis and Plitikin Zabavnik comics.  German publisher Willams-Verlag released Star Wars comics that are roughly magazine-sized but even taller.  The next publisher of Star Wars in Germany, Egmont Ehapa, went with a more squat format but the comics are wider.  Brazilian publisher Editora Abril's O Incrivel Hulk issues are digest-sized.  Indonesia's publishers mostly use digest-sized issues as well, but also released standard and even treasury-sized Star Wars comics.  The Star Wars movie adaptation from Editorial Novaro in Mexico was released in the aguila or digest-size, but other Star Wars issues in this series are in the avestruz or standard-size.  France's Titans comic are standard size or slightly larger, but very thick.  And nothing beats a Japanese Weekly Shōnen Magazine for thickness; the six issues that contained the Star Wars movie adaptation are like phone books.

These different formats for comics can be a hassle for collectors wanting to store their collection.  I store standard sized comics or smaller (micros, digests, paperbacks, etc.) in comic boxes using Silver Age backing boards and bags.  For magazine-sized comics, trade paperbacks, and hardcovers, I find magazine boxes using magazine backing boards and bags work best.  I also use magazine boxes for CGC slabbed comics.  And for the even larger formats, like treasury-sized comics, they are placed in treasury backing boards and bags and neatly stacked.  I still haven't found a box size that works for these comics.

I have scanned most of my collection on a flatbed scanner (and store those scans along with a description of those books in a Java application/database that I wrote) but CGC slabbed and treasury-sized comics are too large to scan.  I have resorted to taking pictures of them on my phone and cropping those pictures.  My preference would be to scan those books, but I do not have that capability currently.  In fact, I have about a years worth of foreign treasury-sized acquisitions waiting to be photographed and shared.  Here is a preview of some of those foreign treasuries, to whet your appetite for postings to come:

foreign treasuries including:
Canada, Indonesia, Philippines, U.K.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Special and Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Wizard 1/2

Star Wars and cereal have a long history together going back to the early days of Star Wars mania.  As a kid from the era, sugar cereal was a great way to start the day, but when the cereal came in a box whose back was covered in Star Wars images and included a Star Wars prize inside, that was heaven!  In 1978, General Mills offered stickers in various brands of cereal including Boo Berry, Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Trix, Cocoa Puffs, and Lucky Charms.  Cheerios included double-sided mini-posters.  Later in 1978, Boo Berry, Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Cocoa Puffs, Strawberry Crazy Cow (really!), and Chocolate Crazy Cow (why not?) would offer cards (the cards were paper thin and larger than traditional trading cards which have a cardboard stock) while Trix and Lucky Charms contained paper hang gliders.  And in 1979, you could mail-away for a Star Wars tumbler for $1.25 and proof of purchase cut from Cheerios boxes.  For whatever reason, The Empire Strikes Back was not used to market breakfast cereals, but in 1984, Kellogg's introduced C-3PO's cereal, which tastes like Apha-Bits.  Inside boxes that year were plastic rockets, sticker cards (trading cards with removable stickers), and masks of various characters.  Unfortunately, the C-3PO's cereal did not last very long.  It would be another 11 years before Star Wars returned to breakfast tables in a large way.

In 1995, Kellogg's took advantage of the Star Wars resurgency to sell cereal.  On boxes of Froot Loops was an offer for a mail-away Han Solo in Stormtrooper disguise action figure from Hasbro's nascent line of Power of the Force toys for only 2 proofs of purchase.  Corn Pops offered a mail-away Making of Star Wars VHS tape for 2 proofs of purchase.  The 11 oz. box of Apple Jacks contains a Droids comic strip on the back of the box, but the 15 and 19.1 oz. boxes had a free mail-away offer for the Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Special comic from Dark Horse.  Admittedly, I was most excited about the Han Solo action figure at the time and I ordered 5 of them.  I only ordered 1 Making of Star Wars VHS tape.  And I ordered 3 of the Dark Horse comics.  I recall having to use addresses of friends and family for all this booty, since the offers were limited per household.  Of these items ordered, only the comics remain in my possession.

X-Wing Rogue Squadron Special is a thin comic with a simplified story aimed at children.  In the story, Rogue Squadron, led by Wedge Antilles, manage to free the planet Tandankin from Imperial remnants led by Grand Moff Nivers.  While battling the Imperials, Wedge destroys a monument, drawing the ire of the Tandankians.  Luke Skywalker tells the locals about Wedge's heroics at the Battles of Yavin, Hoth, and Endor, changing the minds of the Tandankians who apologize to Wedge.

Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Special a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (August 1995)
Apple Jacks cereal mail-away
Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Wizard 1/2 was published in 1997 and is sometimes confused with Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Special.  This comic was available to readers of the Wizard magazine who sent away for it and paid for the shipping costs.  The story inside takes place just prior to the Battle of Yavin as Wedge Antilles and other X-Wing pilots escort a cargo ship contain astromech droids needed by the Rebellion from the planet Commenor.  They are attacked by a squadron of TIE Fighters and one X-Wing pilot, Cesi Eirriss, sacrifices herself so the others can escape.  Back at Yavin 4, the droids are delivered and Eirriss' replacement, Luke Skywalker, joins the X-Wing squadron.

Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Wizard 1/2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 1997)
This Wizard 1/2 issue also has a variant edition.

Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Wizard 1/2b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 1997)
platinum variant
A version of this comic was published to give-away for free to first day movie goers for The Empire Strikes Back Special Edition on February 21, 1997.  The only difference between the mail-away comic and the first day presentation comic is the wording on the cover.  Both versions of the comic were printed at the same time.

Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Special Wizard Edition a
- Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 1997)
same content as Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Wizard 1/2
free to first day attendees of The Empire Strikes Back Special Edition

Sunday, March 19, 2017

First Appearance: Agent Terex

Star Wars: Poe Dameron is the only ongoing title from Marvel set in the era of the new trilogy, taking place just prior to the events in The Force Awakens.  In the series Poe Dameron has already been recruited as a pilot for General Leia Organa's Resistance having formerly served in the New Republic.  The Resistance and First Order are not in open conflict, but there have been skirmishes from time to time.  The First Order is preparing for an offense against the New Republic and Poe Dameron leads a squadron of fighter pilots called Black Squadron and their main mission is to find Lor San Tekka who knows the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker.

Introduced in the second issue of the series, Agent Terex is the main antagonist for Poe Dameron.  He works for the First Order's intelligence agency and he is tasked by Captain Phasma to find Poe Dameron who "intercepted key information being passed to us by a New Republic senator".  This assignment has ensured Agent Terex crosses paths with Poe Dameron frequently and he has appeared in every issue of the series since his introduction.  Terex is intelligent, arrogant, and ruthless.  He served as a Stormtrooper in the Galactic Empire and he hopes to see the First Order assume the same dominance over the galaxy that the Empire achieved.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron #2a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2016)
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #2b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (May 2016)
Agent Terex's first cover appearance is on the standard edition of Poe Dameron #2.  He is flanked by First Order Stormtroopers.  He does not appear on the variant cover which shows Poe Dameron in his X-Wing escaping from TIE Fighters.  The variant cover was initially released as a 1:20 ratio incentive for retailers.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Retro Foreign: Swedish Stjärnornas Krig Album #2

Sweden is nestle between the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, and Norway and is one of only 3 Scandinavian countries (Finland is not considered part of Scandinavia despite the close proximity to the other countries.)  Sweden is the most populous Nordic country; in 1977 it had a population of over 8.2 million people.  Semic Press, responsible for publishing the earliest Star Wars comics in the region, is based in Sweden.

Semic Press' second Stjärnornas Krig or Star Wars album for Swedish readers was released in 1978.  This 84-page trade paperback contains Star Wars #11 - 15 and is title Draklorderna or Dragon Lords.

Stjärnornas Krig Album #2a - Semic Press, Sweden (1978)
contains Star Wars #11 - 15 (minus some pages)
S. Bramsen signed the artwork for the painted cover which is based on the Carmine Infantino cover for Star Wars #15.

Interestingly, Semic Press did not translate Star Wars #7 - 10, but instead skipped these issues and others during their time publishing Star Wars comics.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Cover Artist: Adam Hughes

Adam Hughes is an American comic book artist best known for his pinup-style art for female characters like Wonder Woman and Catwoman.  While cheesecake covers are his expertise, Hughes has also contributed interior artwork for a wide range of comics from all major publishers.  Adam Hughes covers are sought after by a loyal fanbase.

Adam Hughes' earliest published Star Wars comic artwork is for the Classic Star Wars adaptations from 1994.  Dark Horse was having success with their Star Wars line of comics and initially relied heavily on reprinting material to expand their offerings.  Hughes provided the cover for Star Wars: A New Hope #2 and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi #1.  The A New Hope cover is a nice piece showing Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia swinging across the Death Star chasm.  The Return of the Jedi cover shows Leia in her infamous slave outfit, with a slobbering Jabba looming over her in the background.  It is a nice cover and representative of the type of work he has become known for.

Classic Star Wars: A New Hope #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 1994)
reprints Marvel Star Wars #4 - 6
Classic Star Wars: Return of the Jedi #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 1994)
reprints Marvel Return of the Jedi #1, 2
10 years later, Hughes would semi-regularly produce covers for several Star Wars titles for a short period, starting with the cover for the one-shot Star Wars: Purge.  This comic, focusing on Darth Vader's involvement in the Jedi purge, was an immediate success and spawned two more one-shots and a 2-part mini-series.  The Purge comic was reprinted for the Star Wars Comic Pack toy line produced by Hasbro.

Star Wars: Purge - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 2005)
Star Wars Comic Pack #13a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2007)
reprints Star Wars: Purge #1
Hughes follows up this work with a cover on one of the Boba Fett one-shots, Overkill.  He depicts a cool Fett, complete with lens flare, in front of Slave I.

Star Wars: Boba Fett - Overkill #1a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (April 2006)
After Boba Fett, he provided artwork for six of the first seven issues of Star Wars: Legacy.  His work on these covers is reminiscent of the Return of the Jedi mini-series covers published by Marvel.  His first five show three characters from the series and Legacy #7 only shows a "Force ghost" Luke.  These pieces do a good job of introducing the many different characters whose lives would intersect in this epic 50-issue series.  A huge hit, the first three issues went back to print several times.  Additionally, three of the issues were reprinted for the Star Wars Comic Pack toy line produced by Hasbro.

Star Wars: Legacy #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2006)
Star Wars: Legacy #1b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2006)
2nd print
Star Wars: Legacy #1c - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2006)
3rd print
Star Wars: Legacy #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2006)
Star Wars: Legacy #2b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2006)
2nd print
Star Wars: Legacy #2c - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2006)
3rd print
Star Wars: Legacy #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2006)
Star Wars: Legacy #3b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2006)
2nd print
Star Wars: Legacy #5a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (November 2006)
Star Wars: Legacy #6a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (November 2006)
Star Wars: Legacy #7a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (January 2007)
Star Wars Comic Pack #22a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2008)
reprints Star Wars: Legacy #2
Star Wars Comic Pack #32a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2008)
reprints Star Wars: Legacy #6
Star Wars Comic Pack #49a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (November 2010)
reprints Star Wars: Legacy #7
Entertainment Earth exclusive
The final Adam Hughes cover during this period was for the massive 832-page hardcover, Star Wars: Luke Skywalker - Last Hope for the Galaxy.  Released in 2008, this hardcover came in a slipcase which uses the same cover art as the book.  This book compiles over 30 years of stories featuring Luke and the cover artwork does a nice job of capturing where Luke's journey began.

Star Wars: Luke Skywalker - Last Hope for the Galaxy a
- Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (September 2008)
Hughes contributes a Star Wars cover for Dark Horse's 2012 Free Comic Book Day offering which is a split comic featuring Star Wars and Serenity.  Han looks very much in his element, carrying his contraband while taking fire.

Star Wars: The Art of the Bad Deal (Free Comic Book Day 2012)
Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (May 2012)
also Serenity
The final Adam Hughes Star Wars covers are for the 4-part Rebel Heist mini-series.  He provides the main covers for this series with each issue telling a story of one of the main Star Wars heroes from the point of view of a Rebel recruit.  The main characters used are Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, and Luke Skywalker and they are depicted on the cover for the story they are in.  Also published were sketch variant covers at a ratio of 1:40.  Dark Horse had used the main characters and variant covers sparingly during their stewardship of the Star Wars comics, but in the waning days of their contract, they had no qualms utilizing both.  A variant cover of the first issue was also used for the Phoenx Comicon exclusive that summer.

Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (May 2014)
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1c - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (May 2014)
sketch variant
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #1d - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2014)
Phoenix Comicon exclusive
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2014)
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #2c - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2014)
sketch variant
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2014)
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #3c - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2014)
sketch variant
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #4a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (August 2014)
Star Wars: Rebel Heist #4c - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (August 2014)
sketch variant
So far, Adam Hughes has not provided any covers for Marvel's new Star Wars line; he has been exclusively providing artwork for DC Comics as well as some small publisher work the past few years.  If he ever decides to do work for Marvel, I would love to see him create more Star Wars covers.