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This one confused me when I first saw it. Looking at the cover, it said it was #108 of the Marvel Comics Star Wars series. But from what I knew, Marvel hadn't had the license for Star Wars since the 1980s, in the meantime, Dark Horse and IDW had been publishing Star Wars comics. How could have Marvel gotten to issue #108, because that is 9 years of monthly issues, and modern comics don't even have issue numbers like that, mostly being released in limited series, before being packaged into Trade Paperbacks.

When I picked up this issue and begin to read, I found out what was going on: this was a continuation of Marvel's original Star Wars series, which ended with Star Wars #107, in 1986. After thirty years, and after Marvel Comics and Star Wars are both now owned by Disney, Marvel decided to publish an issue tying up the events of their comic book series. The story has our familiar characters: Luke and Leia, Han and Chewbacca, but centers around a character created for the comic book series: a cyborg named Valance the Hunter who was a strong enough warrior to challenge Darth Vader. It also has Jaxxon and Amaiza, friends/rivals of Han Solo, with the added amusement of Jaxxon looking like a green version of Bugs Bunny. And a beautiful villainess named "Mistress Domina". And some jewels that can create or cure plague. To be honest, while I liked the lavishly illustrated issue, with its requisite amount of space and land battles, I don't know if I was paying attention to the plot. Apparently though, since George Lucas had specific plans for his characters between the movies, the Marvel writers ended up creating their own cast of characters that became a type of parallel Star Wars. I liked the story, it showed the amount of imagination that went into Star Wars, and managed to capture its aesthetic--- run down ships with idealistic heroes, a mix of noir and chivalry.

And the story ended with a little written history that both showed the appeal, and also why it could only go so far. It talks about how creators like Archie Goodwin, Walter Simonson, Jo Duffy and David Michelinie made Star Wars their own story. It is hard to believe now, when Star Wars has become a cottage industry of novels, comics and spin-off television shows, but in the 1980s, the Star Wars comic was the only Star Wars material being produced, and the writers were given flexibility in creating their own world. But to me, there was a certain aspect of "You Can't Go Home Again" while reading this. On the top of the cover was enscribed "Legends", part of an official designation in a complicated system of canonicity meaning that this was not a "mainstream" Star Wars story. The type of playful nature that could be taken with Star Wars in the 1980s, adding and expanding around a trilogy of movies that didn't really stand up to much scrutiny, couldn't be done 30 years later, when Star Wars had become quite serious business for Disney studios. This issue gave me a hint of what Star Wars would be like if it could just stay as an inconsistent, fanciful space opera, but of course, Star Wars is far beyond that now.

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