Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Star Wars. A comic not that long ago, in a galaxy not that far away.

Star Wars Weekly #1, Marvel Comics UK

I must confess I wasn't the biggest Star Wars fan in the world.

I liked the look of the thing; the flying car and the robots and spaceships - and I wouldn't have said no to owning my own real-life Millennium Falcon in which to zoom about the universe. But the story and the characters always lacked a certain something for me. Not least Luke Skywalker who was always a bit Waltons for my liking.

The truth is that, at a time when I was big on Killraven and Panther's Rage, Star Wars' characters and plot lines seemed more than a little simplistic in comparison. Not even the sight of Princess Leia chained half-naked to a giant slug while teddy bears acted like Tarzan could convince me otherwise.

That of course didn't stop me from having the famous Hildebrandt poster on my wall, nor from reading Marvel UK's Star Wars mag each week for years on end.

Star Wars poster, Brothers Hildebrandt

Nor did it stop me assembling the cardboard X-Fighter that came free with issue #1.

I have a feeling issue #2 came free with a DIY cardboard Darth Vader plane, which was also dutifully assembled.

Sadly, I don't think they ever did a DIY Millennium Falcon.

As for the comic, I always lumped it in with Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes weekly, in that I was always more interested in the back-up stories than the main strip itself. In all honesty I can't even remember anything about the main strip other than it was drawn by Carmine Infantino at one point, which presumably meant that everyone suddenly started to look very wide.

But the back-up strips? Well, there was a whole other matter. Thanks to Star Wars Weekly, I got to catch up on all the adventures of Jim Starlin's Warlock, John Byrne's Starlord, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Tales of the Watcher. Plus I got another chance to read Man-Gods from Beyond the Stars.

Star Wars Weekly #48, Marvel Comics UK

On the downside, it also ran Deathlok, one of the few 1970s' Marvel strips I could never get on with, and there was a thing called Sword in the Star which made so little impression on me that all I recall is its title and that I didn't like it.

I also can't neglect the oddity that was Micronauts, a strip I never knew quite what to make of. On one hand it was clearly classier than it should've been, bearing in mind it was based on a set of toys. Then again, I could never quite get past the fact it was based on a set of toys. It was also the strip that introduced me to the work of Jim Shooter's favourite writer Bill Mantlo.

Sometime in the early 1980s, Star Wars Weekly moved to a monthly format and I still kept on reading it, though my memories of that stage in its history really are vague. In fact, I can't even remember what the back-up strips were during that era - assuming there were any and it wasn't all wall-to-wall Star Wars.

Taking it all into consideration, as Denny Laine once said, I'm not sure The Force was strong in me and I'd rather have a light snack than a light sabre but, if Star Wars never quite set my soul on fire the way it was meant to, it did at least allow stuff that I preferred to sneak in through the back door, and therefore did me a service even greater than blowing up the Death Star.


joe bloke said...

you didn't like Deathlok, then? I was a big fan of both Killraven and Panther's Rage, but I loved Deathlok,too; it was good, honest, shoot first ask questions later, dumb-arse fun.

I think I was about thirteen, or there abouts, when Star Wars came out, and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, it was everything I wanted from a science fiction movie writ large on the screen.

that said, the first film was the only one I saw at the cinema. it was a great moment, but it passed pretty quickly. the following year, I had punk rock to occupy my time.

Steve W. said...

After a few issues I couldn't even bring myself to read Deathlok any more. Exactly what it was I had against it, I don't know but I really really couldn't get into it at all.

Boston Bill said...

I didn't like the Star Wars comic either, but I disliked it BECAUSE I was a fan of the movies. The book (whether adapting one of the films or filling in the considerable gaps with lots of non-canon stories) failed to capture the simple pleasures of the films. And I subscribed to it! Well, it came as a bonus if I subscribed to enough Marvel comics, but it never really worked. And to me, the Carmine Infantino art made everyone look as if they had corners all over their bodies!

Now Micronauts worked! I actually thought the toys looked really cool, even if I was two or three years beyond that sort of thing. Michael Golden's art was great, and Mantelo's story adapted Star Wars better than the actual Star Wars comic did. But once Golden left the artwork went downhill and Mantelo just kept recycling ideas. But I'd love to have those first 12 issues as a graphic novel!

Aaron said...

I love Jim Starlin's Warlock, though I wouldn't want every space comic to be like that.

R. W. Watkins said...

I think it's been pretty much established by now that the original '77 Star Wars was little more than a blatant ripoff of The Fantastic Four. It's just that no critic or essayist has officially gone into detail regarding such matters. The subject is broached just slightly in Peter Sanderson's 1996 over-sized hardcover tome Marvel Universe.

Steve W. said...

I think we have to hand it to George Lucas. With one film, he somehow managed to rip-off virtually everyone who'd ever lived up to that point, from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to Shakespeare and Kurosawa.

dbutler16 said...

While I loved both Star Wars and comic books really, more than anything in life from 1977-1983, for some reason I never got into Star Wars comics. I did have a handful of issues, though. One thing I know about Star Wars comics is that they were perpetually plagued by bad art, starting with Howard Chaykin and continuing with Carmine Infantino.

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