Sunday, September 27, 2020

The Sunday Funnies - Star Wars Volume Three!

The third volume collects up all the remaining Star Wars comic strips produced before the strip ended in 1984. Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson are on hand throughout the process and generate stories of a singular mature character that fill-in the several years between the end of the debut Star Wars movie and the first sequel The Empire Strikes Back. The strip  never deals with the tumultuous revelation by Darth Vader that he is Luke Skywalker's father. The romance between Leia and Han Solo is left on a low simmer. Many of the stories are cannily written with the knowledge of the movie The Empire Strikes Back and toward the end the final film Return of the Jedi, but at no point are the storytellers allowed to drift into the core themes of the epic. 

As with any saga in which the ending is known to some degree, a suspense and tension is difficult to manage. I'm thinking the long years of Conan the Barbarian comics written by Roy Thomas filling in gaps in the published Robert E. Howard adventures. The trail can be a winding one, filled with danger and doubt, but always we know that eventually we will end up in a recognizable spot. Star Wars the comic strip is never allowed to reach that recognizable spot, though they do a pretty good job of it in the end with the use of the planet Hoth as a setting. 

Williamson didn't work on the artwork alone on this strip this time, getting help from his friend and studio mate Carlos Garzon. In later storylines artists such Tom Yeates and Brent Anderson, both working over Williamson layouts. The artwork in the series is the thing that makes it sing, it's absolutely divine, an ideal matching of talent and subject. The strip ended in early 1984 having told the story it was allowed to tell, and telling that story in a beautiful way.  

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