My first comic book was the 1977 Marvel oversized Star Wars Special Edition with art by Howard Chaykin. It was the movie adaption of the original Star Wars ( before it was known as “A New Hope”) and I read it until it fell apart. This issue was responsible for getting me further into not only Star Wars but comic books as well. I wanted more Star Wars but the movie was only in theatres and the sequel too far off. The comic book was my only option to return to that galaxy far far away at any time I wanted. It helped to inspire my imagination as I played with my action figures and put them in situations beyond what had played out on the big screen. It also inspired me to look for more comic book adventures of other heroes like Superman, Batman and Spider-Man. To celebrate Star Wars day I’m reviewing one of my favorite issues of the Star Comic book from 1978.
Star Wars #13
Written by Archie Goodwin
Art by Carmine Infantino and Terry Austin
Published by Marvel Comics
Release date: July 1978
It’s the thought that counts. When a property is remade or continued most times it will be most successful if it is done in the spirit of the original. In the original Star Wars comic books run the writing and artwork are both done in the spirit of the first movie. It didn’t matter that some details are missing or ships drawn differently than the movie; Goodwin, Infantino, and Austin gave the readers their favorite characters in continuing adventures in the “greatest space fantasy of all!”
Goodwin has written an exceptional space fantasy story that looks like Star Wars. Of course in those days there was no solid canon and all the fans knew was that it was like a pirate movie in space. This story takes the space pirates and puts them into a world made of water with more pirates. You’ll find no lightsaber action or force wielders here but lots of space ships and blasters. Goodwin does an excellent job, however, of keeping the characters true to themselves from A New Hope. Han is quip making scoundrel, Leia a headstrong princess, and Luke the young true-hearted hero. Where the writing does shine through, though, is the story elements that don’t have to do with the movie. The backstory for the Space Wreckers and Dragon Lords is nicely thought out and probably the most interesting part of this issue. Their story would make an interesting comic book by itself. As for the continuing adventures of Luke and company: it works! Going by what fans had seen in Star Wars there is no reason to believe our heroes wouldn’t be having this adventure. The story works by giving our heroes another great adventure to battle through and entertain the reader.
Infantino and Austin’s artwork on Star Wars is classic even though it is not very accurate. Most of the ships are in the general shape they should be but missing the correct details. Not to say that they aren’t detailed, they just have the wrong ones. The same goes for the main characters. We only know that the characters are Han, Luke, and Leia because they are wearing the same outfits from the movie. Chewbacca looks something like a cross between a gorilla and a shaggy dog and is a rage monster. Only C3PO and R2 are drawn accurately. That being said the artwork is outstanding. Just like Goodwin the artist shine through on the elements from the story that aren’t from the movie. The Space Wreckers ships are covered with houses that are beautifully drawn and give the reader the feeling that these are a people with a long history. Explosions are drawn with a feeling of intensity with hundreds of particles flying in every direction. The costumes on all the characters are also extremely well done and in fact look better than they did in the movie. We get a lot of action in this issue and the artists layouts of each panel give the story a quick pace. Although it may seem unimportant all the character’s hair is nicely rendered. This is important because the movement of the hair helps the reader to feel the movement in the scene and in this issue there hair is all over the place. The main characters faces all look sleek and have chiseled heroic square jaws. Infantino and Austin use of this style for the characters fits together nicely with the sharp detailed look of the ships and weapons around them. It gives the men a hard boiled adventurer feel to them and a sensuality to the women. Again this is all in the spirit of A New Hope as a space opera/adventure and not the Skywalker saga we have grown to love. It is expert artwork that has taken the essence of the characters and ships and given the reader what they really want.
A younger Star Wars fan that has a knowledge of Lucasfilm canon and not their own head canon may not appreciate these first Star Wars comic books. The stories were fun, full of adventure, and awesome looking space ships and aliens. Overall, if you are a Star Wars fan then you owe it to yourself to check out some of the early comics. They are fun stories and have great art that carried on the spirit of that adventure from a long time ago.