It’s been about 30 years since Marvel’s original Star Wars series ended at issue #107, so what better way to celebrate 80 years of Marvel than a return to one of their most popular licensed series ever? This standalone issue picks up where that series left off with the original numbering and that series’ bonkers out-of-continuity supporting cast intact.
Writer Matthew Rosenberg ably takes the reins on this story, which follows up on several landmark storylines from Archie Goodwin’s run on the series. In particular, this issue builds off of “The Crimson Forever” and the Valance the Hunter arc, which saw a droid-hating mercenary hunting Luke and company across the galaxy before having a change of heart and giving his life to save them from Darth Vader.
In Rosenberg’s hands, the series feels like it hasn’t missed a beat in the intervening three decades. The characters feel just right, starting from the opening scenes with Han Solo bragging about his part in the Battle of Endor, a big goofy grin on his face.
It’s also so fun to see a story that takes place in the old “Legends” continuity, with references to the New Republic, Han and Leia as a happy, well-adjusted galactic power couple, and plenty of characters that no longer exist in the official timeline. It’s clear that Rosenberg is having a blast playing in this sandbox, and it should be a delight to longtime fans to see some of these older concepts in the spotlight once more.
The issue also has a rotating lineup of artists that includes such talents as Andrea Broccardo and Luke Ross, which hits a nostalgic sweet spot and reminds me a bit of Dark Horse’s anthology series, Star Wars Tales. However, it’s also somewhat of a double-edged sword, in that it’s occasionally jarring to see characters drawn so differently from one page to the next. Still, it’s cool to see so many huge talents coming together to celebrate Star Wars and Marvel’s 80th.
Even for fans of the current continuity of a galaxy far, far away, who may be unfamiliar with this original series, this one-shot is a really fun time. There’s enough exposition to get you caught up to speed on what the Crimson Forever is, as well as who all these other yahoos are that are hanging out with our heroes.
If you remember the original Marvel series and have a fondness for it, then it is absolutely essential that you pick this one up. It’s a love letter to the fans and to the original “Expanded Universe.” It’s also a decent argument for bringing this series back as an out-of-continuity ongoing (I know I’d buy it). The back matter in this issue is a nice touch, as well, giving a bit of an overview of the process of bringing Star Wars to comics in the 70s and 80s, as well as how the various creative teams were able to inject some of that Merry Marvel Magic into the series.
Even much-derided characters from the original comic book series, like Jaxxon, get a moment to shine. Sure, he’s literally acknowledged as “awful” by Luke Skywalker himself, but he’s also given a couple of badass moments in the thick of battle, attempting to out-snark and outgun Han Solo.
If nothing else, it’s a chance to see the Legends-era incarnations of Luke, Han, and Leia on one more mission together after the fall of the Empire. For that alone, this is a story that I’m happy to have seen told.