Star Wars #51 is an issue of Marvel Comics Star Wars series, published in September of 1981. It was written by David Michelinie and penciled by Walter Simonson, both relatively early in their careers.

In a different book of comic books from the one in which I received Star Wars #108, the 2019 revival of the original series, I found this. And just after writing about that, I opened this one up and read it. That might have altered how I read this issue, which is not a special issue, but just one of the developing saga of Star Wars from the height of its popularity, a few months after The Empire Strikes Back was released.

Luke Skywalker and R2-D2, and Princess Leia and C-3PO are out searching for a base to replace Hoth. Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca are out looking for the missing Han Solo. But meanwhile, the Rebel Alliance has received information that the Empire is building another super weapon! It isn't the Death Star, but it can destroy planets. The team is recalled back from their search to infiltrate this super weapon. Using Luke's Jedi Mind Tricks, they all sneak onboard the new space station, only to be detected by the Force-sensitivity of a waiting Darth Vader. But it turns out that Darth Vader has problems of his own: a group of officers, enraged by Darth Vader sending officers out of airlocks, chant "Darth Vader Must Die!".

There is a lot going on in this issue. There is a lot of expository text, and a lot of dialog, and there are some issues touched upon that broadened the Star Wars universe: at least some of the rebels are still suspicious of Lando Calrissian. And at least some imperial officers don't like being tortured by a Sith Lord. But in general, this story is a picaresque story. Our scrappy rebels are set to infiltrate an Imperial base--- but of course that doesn't make sense, to send the high command on an espionage mission, to send people who know secrets into an enemy base. But that was the charm of Star Wars, before people took it seriously--- a series of risky adventures, and always one more planet with weird aliens, or a planet with a noir spaceport to explore. The world was sprawling and there would always be more. In this issue, the Rebels wonder why the Imperials didn't build another Death Star, and of course, two years later, in Return of the Jedi, they would. And while the writers of this story tried to develop tension and risk, nothing could matter because nothing could change until the movies happened.

When writing a story, or when reading a story, there is a temptation to have everything. To have a sprawling universe where anything and everything can be explored. But in doing so, in always having one more step or expansion, a story can never reach a climax, because there is never really any risk. And so it was with this Star Wars comic, which was evocative, textured and imaginative---but contained no possibility of real growth or change. The adventure is great, but it will always be an adventure, and not a drama.

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