With Disney’s “Solo: A Star Wars Story” about to hit theaters, fans might be interested in digging into the Legends source material. It dates back quite a ways: Six of the first seven “Star Wars” spinoff novels chronicled these rogues during their early days with the Millennium Falcon, in “The Han Solo Adventures” (1979-80) and “The Lando Calrissian Adventures” (1983).
Earlier this year, I ranked my top 40 “Star Wars” books. But the 40th anniversary year isn’t over yet, so over the next four days, I’ll count down my top 40 “Star Wars” comic book stories, from the Expanded Universe (a.k.a. Legends) that started with the first issue of Marvel’s movie adaptation on April 12, 1977, and concluded with Dark Horse’s “Legacy Volume II” Issue 18 on Aug. 27, 2014. The EU is gone, but not forgotten, as these stories will always stay ripe for a re-read.
There are broad “Star Wars” parodies, and then there are insider-y “Star Wars” parodies, and then there’s a near-perfect mix of the two: The “Family Guy” episode “Blue Harvest,” which aired 10 years ago today. According to the DVD’s bonus features, the project came about when Lucasfilm approved all of “Family Guy’s” “Star Wars” parodies and Seth MacFarlane and company figured why not ask if they could do a whole episode?
My look back at the “Star Wars” saga comic adaptations concludes with the best and the most disappointing entries, both from the legendary duo of Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson (“Classic Star Wars”), along with background artist Carlos Garzon: “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”(1980) and “Episode VI: Return of the Jedi” (1983). “Empire” is exactly what we want from an adaptation – the spirit of film, without being a mere copy – while “Jedi” fails mostly because it’s too short.
“Star Wars’ ” comic book history naturally started with “Episode IV: A New Hope” (1977), and the adaptation by writer Roy Thomas and artist Howard Chaykin is still a fun read today for its vibrant energy. Plus, it gains serious kitsch value for its odd departures from what we now understand to be the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Thomas and Chaykin were getting to know “Star Wars” at the same time as everyone else. While they were bumped from the Marvel comics after Issue 10 in part because George Lucas didn’t like their work, their six-issue “A New Hope” adaptation is still widely loved for both quality and nostalgia.