Sunday, April 23, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars: Darth Vader #25 Most Good Hobby Exclusives

In the Expanded Universe, General Tagge died when the Death Star was destroyed at the Battle of Yavin.  His siblings, Orman, Silas, Ulric, and Domina, are introduced in Marvel's original series and the House of Tagge are the main antagonist for the heroes in several story arcs prior to The Empire Strikes Back adaptation.

In the new canon under Disney's ownership of Lucasfilm, General Tagge was not aboard the Death Star when it was destroyed.  Instead, after the battlestation's destruction, he was promoted to Grand General and led the Imperial military; Darth Vader also became Tagge's subordinate.  In Darth Vader #25 after a series of blunders including the loss of the Executor to Cylo, Tagge found himself demoted and reporting to Darth Vader who promptly used the force to choke him to death.

Most Good Hobby is an online comic retailer that released a John Tyler Christopher action figure cover featuring General Tagge for Darth Vader #25.  This exclusive is limited to 3,000 copies.

Star Wars: Vader Down #25m - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2016)
Most Good Hobby exclusive
There is also a black & white version which is limited to 1,500 copies.

Star Wars: Vader Down #25n - Marvel Comics, U.S. (October 2016)
Most Good Hobby black & white exclusive

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars Adventures

Star Wars is a brand that appeals to both children and adults, so it is not surprising that Disney wants to see an all-age comic.  When IDW publishes Star Wars Adventures in the Fall, it won't be the first all-age Star Wars comic nor will it be the first comic titled Star Wars Adventures.  Between April 2009 and August 2011, Dark Horse published 6 digest-sized issues in their Star Wars Adventures title.

Each issue of this title focused on one character.  The first issue is Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorva.

Star Wars Adventures: Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorva a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (April 2009)
The second issue is Princess Leia and the Royal Ransom.

Star Wars Adventures: Princess Leia and the Royal Ransom a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2009)
Not surprisingly, the third issue, Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnake, focuses on the 3rd main character from the original trilogy.

Star Wars Adventures: Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnake a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 2010)
The focus shifts to the main villain in the fourth issue, The Will of Darth Vader.

Star Wars Adventures: The Will of Darth Vader a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 2010)
Continuing to focus on the villains, the fifth issue features a story about the popular bounty hunter called Boba Fett and the Ship of Fear.

Star Wars Adventures: Boba Fett and the Ship of Fear a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (May 2011)
The sixth and final issue changes focus back to the heroes of the Rebellion in Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands.

Star Wars Adventures: Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (August 2011)
Dark Horse published two issues every year for three years, which gave them plenty of time to see sales before soliciting the next issue.  The first five issues all had initial sales in a tight range of 4,300 - 5,000 issues which was apparently high enough for Dark Horse to continue publishing the title.  I'm guessing the low initial sales of the sixth issue of only 3,600 copies, is what prompted Dark Horse to discontinue the title.  Note these comics appear on the trade paperback estimated sales list from the Comichron website, hence their high ranking.

TitleMonthly TPB RankEstimated Sales
Star Wars Adventures: Han Solo and the Hollow Moon of Khorva44,975
Star Wars Adventures: Princess Leia and the Royal Ransom84,478
Star Wars Adventures: Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnake54,412
Star Wars Adventures: The Will of Darth Vader164,308
Star Wars Adventures: Boba Fett and the Ship of Fear24,803
Star Wars Adventures: Chewbacca and the Slavers of the Shadowlands23,612


It is not known yet what format the IDW title will take.  Physically, will the issues be published in the pamphlet format or the digest format?  Will the title be an anthology and will each issue focus on one character?  One thing is clear, based on how well Marvel has done with the license, IDW's title will have a higher awareness level than Dark Horse's initiative because of Disney and the continual release of new movies every year, which should garner it decent sales initially.  I believe there is a market for an all-age Star Wars title, but I also believe that market is considerably smaller than the market the Marvel titles appeal to.  I'm hopeful the demand will be high enough to allow it to succeed.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why Is IDW Getting a Slice of the Star Wars Pie?

An interesting article, Does Disney See Marvel as a Brand, Not a Publisher?, was published over on ICv2.  It speculates on why IDW was given a license for the all-age Star Wars comics instead of Marvel.  It is definitely worth a read.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Empire's End

Star Wars: Empire's End is the third arc of the Dark Empire trilogy.  This 2-issue mini-series chronicles Emperor Palpatine's final death.  During the Dark Empire trilogy, Palpatine is resurrected by using clones and his final clone body is defective and aging at a fast rate.  He makes one last attempt to keep himself alive by occupying the body of Han Solo and Princess Leia's third child, Anakin Solo.  Han kills Palpatine's clone body, and Palpatine's spirit attempts to inhabit Anakin's body, but Jedi Knight Brand, a member of Luke Skywalker's fledgling Jedi Order, makes the ultimate sacrifice to prevent this from occurring.

Star Wars: Empire's End 1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 1995)
direct
Star Wars: Empire's End 1b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 1995)
newsstand
The cover to Empire's End #1 shows Leia, Luke, and Han.  The Galaxy Gun is a super-weapon able to fire projectiles that can traverse hyperspace and are shielded and capable of defending themselves.  The projectiles are able to destroy entire planets and one is shown on the cover above the heroes.

Star Wars: Empire's End 2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (November 1995)
direct
Star Wars: Empire's End 2b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (November 1995)
newsstand
Emperor Palpatine is shown flanked by his Royal Guard in the Valley of the Dark Lords on Korriban on the cover of Empire's End #2.  Dave Dorman provides the painted art for both covers.

Empire's End is written by Tom Veitch, the writer for Dark Empire and Dark Empire II.  Unfortunately, Cam Kennedy was not available for the interior art due to resigning, so the interiors are done by Jim Baikie.  Baikie does an okay job of mimicking Kennedy's style for this final arc, although the artwork does at times lack some of the detail of the previous mini-series.  To be fair, this final chapter in the Dark Empire trilogy is rushed, so Baikie cannot be entirely blamed.

Tom Veitch explains in an interview the reason for the rushed final mini-series.[1]  Pertaining to a question about the cancelled Lightsider novel which was to take place between Dark Empire and Dark Empire II:

Tom Veitch: I can tell you the book was written and well-received by LucasArts.  George read it and approved it.  But due to the stodgy side of the business, we never received a contract!  When George found out that he had approved the book without a contract, he killed the project.  There was a tremendous uproar at that point and the axe fell in a number of ways.  One of the major consequences was that a proposed third series of Dark Empire was cancelled, Cam resigned, and I was told to wind up the whole plot-line in the two-issue series that Jim Baikie drew.  It was a sad day, but it shows you how the business side can hurt the creative side, even on a popular project.  The legal beagles were slow to get out the contracts, and "1000’s of Bothans died", so to speak.

References:

  1. Interview with 'Dark Empire' Writer Tom Veitch

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Comic Connection: Star Wars (1977) #86 and Star Wars: Jedi Council - Acts of War #1

The Expanded Universe is rich with planets and species for writers to use.  Longtime readers were rewarded when a planet or species from an older story was referenced in a newer story.  Dark Horse incorporated elements of Marvel's original series in their stories.  This was the case with the Yinchori from the planet Yinchor who were introduced in Marvel's Star Wars #86 and were use again by Dark Horse in Star Wars: Jedi Council - Acts of War #1 over 15 years later.

Star Wars #86 starts with Leia on a mission to Yinchor aboard a Yinchori shuttle.  As they near the planet, she learns from the crew that she is being traded to the Empire in exchange for the captured Yinchori Elder Council.  Needless to say, the Imperials do not hold up their end of the bargain and shoot down the shuttle over the planet and Leia is the only survivor, setting up the main story of her confrontation with an Alderaanian Imperial Stormtrooper.

Star Wars #86a - Marvel Comics, U.S. (August 1984)
In Star Wars: Jedi Council - Acts of War #1, the spelling of Yinchor is changed to Yinchorr, but there is no mistaking the species.  Yinchorri are green skinned reptilians with a turtle-like head and bulky bodies.  The story in the 4-part mini-series takes place prior to the events of The Phantom Menace.  Darth Sidious manipulates the Yinchorri, recently brought into the Republic, into attacking nearby planets and the Jedi become involved in the Yinchorri Uprising.  According to Yoda "... after so many years of relative peace, troubles me does a threat like this".  Sidious himself tells Darth Maul that "Either the very stubborn and warlike Yinchorri-- whose inconvenient resistance to mind control could present a problem in the future-- will be brought low, or... Jedi will die."  Much of this implies this is Sidious' first overt move into manipulating galactic events into the Sith's favor.

Star Wars: Jedi Council - Acts of War #1b - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (June 2000)
Prior to their appearance in Jedi Council - Acts of War, the planet Yinchorr was used in Crimson Empire #1 as the location of the training facility for the Emperor's Royal Guard.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Modern Marvel: Star Wars 40th Anniversary Covers (Part 1)

I'm sure longtime followers of my blog have noticed I am not a fan of the huge number of variant covers Marvel is releasing for their Star Wars line.  Very few of the variants have been worthwhile, with the black and white incentive variants being the most egregious and clearly a ploy on Marvel's part to make additional money without providing any value.  This is not to say all the variants have been bad; some, like the action figure covers, are a nice subset to collect and are readily available.  That is the key to me, availability.  I reserve my ire for the incentive variants which end up costing collectors more money than a freshly printed comic warrant.

A quarter of the Star Wars 40th anniversary covers have been released so far, and the covers are numbered in chronological order according to the movie.  This is a nice touch that was unexpected.  I'll admit, these covers have been very impressive and are my favorite of the variant cover subsets Marvel has produced to date.

Here are the first 12 40th anniversary covers, in their numbered order, not necessarily the order they were published:

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (January 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 1/48
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #10b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (January 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 2/48
Star Wars #27c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (January 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 3/48
Star Wars #28c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (February 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 4/48
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #11b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (February 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 5/48
Star Wars: Darth Maul #1c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (February 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 6/48
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #4b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (February 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 7/48
Star Wars #29c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (March 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 8/48
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #5b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (March 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 9/48
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #12b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (March 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 10/48
Star Wars: Darth Maul #2b - Marvel Comics, U.S. (March 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 11/48
Star Wars #30c - Marvel Comics, U.S. (April 2017)
40th Anniversary variant - 12/48

Friday, April 14, 2017

Captain Phasma to Receive a Mini-Series from Marvel

Announced at Star Wars Celebration Orlando today, Marvel will be publishing a Captain Phasma 4-issue mini-series in Fall 2017.  Marco Checchetto provided the artwork for the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Shattered Empire mini-series, and he will be working on the art for this Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi mini-series.

To read more about this new Star Wars title, please read the official Star Wars website posting SWCO 2017: MARVEL REVEALS CAPTAIN PHASMA MINISERIES BRIDGING THE FORCE AWAKENS AND THE LAST JEDI – EXCLUSIVE.