Star Wednesday: Comic Books

I have never been a comic book guy, neither as a kid nor as an adult. I can easily count on one hand all my childhood memories involving comic books. My great Grandma Brown had a small stack of them in her living room that I used to flip through each time we visited. One time, at a garage sale, my mom bought me a stack of horror-themed comic books. My dad had a collection of Star Wars comic books that he kept in his bedroom. That’s pretty much it.

Many years ago, my dad bequeathed his collection of Star Wars comics to me — twenty-two of them in all. The first few comics retell the story of the first movie. From there, they go off in all sorts of crazy directions. Issue #17, Crucible!, promises the “untold tale of Luke Skywalker’s past.” In the opening pages we see Luke zooming across the surface of Tatooine in his landspeeder, shooting womp rats with his blaster to prevent them from chewing on vaporator cables. A few pages later he’s out flying his T-16 Skyhopper through Beggar’s Canyon. The comic books are full of things and locations that were only casually mentioned in the film, brought to life with color artwork.

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They’re also filled with inconsistencies that made them non-canon pretty early on. In that same issue, Luke’s Aunt Beru explains to him that his Uncle Owen was hurt when his Owen’s brother — Luke’s father — abandoned Owen and left him to tend to the farm alone. In 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back we learned that Luke’s father was Darth Vader, invalidating this story. Technically speaking, Owen Lars was Anakin’s step-brother (having married Shmi Skywalker), but I’m going to chalk that up to the writers getting lucky. Besides, I’m pretty sure the Dark Lord of the Sith was too busy slaughtering Tusken Raiders to get much farming done.

So, you know, you can get hung up on inconsistencies or you can just enjoy the yawn about the time Luke battled a big orange space cobra.

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One character that was introduced in the comics was the smuggler Jaxxon, a large, green rabbit who teamed up with Han Solo for a few adventures. Jaxxon appears in three of the comics I own, and may be the first “extended universe” character ever created. According to his creators, Jaxxon was inspired by Bugs Bunny, a fact seemingly verified by the names of his two enemies in issue #16: Dafi and Fud. I don’t know if Bucky O’Hare (another large green anthropomorphic rabbit who wore a red jumpsuit and flew a spaceship) was inspired by Jaxxon, but it seems likely.

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Every Star Wars comic I own is in near-mint condition and virtually worthless. If you have a copy of the first issue with a 30 cent price printed inside a white square, it could be worth $1,000. The same issue with a 35 cent price inside a white square can sell for $10,000. The ones with a 35 cent price inside of a white diamond (instead of a square) and no bar code on the front cover sell for a dollar or two on eBay.

Like many of the Star Wars items I own, their street value means nothing to me. These are the comics my dad purchased when he was ten-to-fifteen years younger than I am today. I’ll never get rid of these, nor will I ever add to them. The pile of comics I own are the only ones I’m interested in owning.

The older I get, the more I find that my vintage Star Wars items are the ones that bring me the most joy. All the other stuff, as fun as it is, or was, is just starting to feel like “stuff.”

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