Before May 1999, we heard a lot about how the prequel era was off-limits to Expanded Universe writers since George Lucas was saving it for himself. Nonetheless, a few stories from this era slipped through the cracks. The very first one was Marvel issue 24, “Silent Drifting,” which hit newsstands in March 1979.
“The Wheel” arc, issues 18-23 of the “Star Wars” Marvel comics run marks the first time the series truly feels like “Star Wars.” Writer Archie Goodwin and artist Carmine Infantino invent the Wheel, a gambling paradise that the Empire leaves alone in exchange for the considerable tax revenue.
After an inauspicious beginning under the auspices of Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin, the “Star Wars” Marvel comics run gets a bump up in quality with issues 11-15, written by Archie Goodwin with art by Carmine Infantino. The gang — or the “star hoppers,” in Marvel parlance — gets back together for a story that may or may not have influenced the 1995 movie “Waterworld.”
Interviews with “Firefly” staffers often include the question of “What story ideas were never produced?” As such, we know they were kicking around episodes about Kaylee having to go undercover as a Companion, and the Alliance accidentally producing a herd of mutant zombie cattle (yes, for real), but we’ll probably never see those stories.
For the first time in a decade, two “Buffy” series are simultaneously building toward a seasonal conclusion. Back in 2003, TV’s “Buffy” and “Angel” were in the midst of Seasons 7 and 4, respectively. Now, Dark Horse Comics’ “Angel & Faith” and “Buffy” are working toward their Season 9 conclusions — the final installments of those 25-issue series are slated for August and September, respectively.
“Dark Empire II” and “Empire’s End” (1994-95) are the comics where the Emperor turns into a cartoon. But while “The Clone Wars” is currently doing a great job portraying Palpatine, I mean “cartoon” in a derogatory sense across these eight comic issues.
“Dark Empire” (1991-92) has always been in the shadow of the “Thrawn Trilogy” novels (1991-93). Both came out about the same time, and both are spot-on continuations from “Return of the Jedi” — but in different ways. Re-reading the six-issue “Dark Empire” series recently, though, it’s clear that it has been savaged by redrawn continuity much more than the novels of the same time.
In this “Star Wars” re-reading project, I encounter some stories that are exactly as I remembered them and some that offer pleasant surprises. As I worked through the “Tales of the Jedi” series, I was especially looking forward to the final chapter, “Redemption” (1998), remembering it as being the most emotionally moving “Star Wars” comic book series ever produced.
Like so many “risky” concepts, “Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina” (1995) ultimately proved to be a brilliantly obvious one. Up to this point on the “Star Wars” publishing schedule, every adult book had featured at least one of the main characters from the movies. Comics, “Star Wars Adventure Journal” short stories and young-adult books had branched into side characters or brand-new characters, but this was the first adult book to embrace the concept.