Sunday, 25 October 2015

Duel a Dark Lord!

Starcat reviews Star Wars comics: The Empire Strikes Back (part six)

This picture of Darth Vader and Luke fighting appears several times. Not only on the cover of The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #134, here it is again as the cover of Star Wars Omnibus: A Long Time Ago.... Volume Two.

... and again inside as the reprinted cover of the American Star Wars #44.

You can see why this picture would be used so much as it anticipates the fight we have been waiting for between the baddy and the hero. The entire plot of The Empire Strikes Back has been moving relentlessly towards this event, and this picture iconifies their struggle as one between evil and good by isolating them from the setting and placing them in an explosion of lines and lines and lines.

We can contrast that first picture with this one that accompanies the story so far. As the fight has not begun yet, it is also acting as a trailer for that scene, but here the background is more defined and we may recognise it as the carbon freezing room we saw in Betrayal at Bespin! The picture foreshadows, but the text gives nothing away - we have to read on to find out what happens.

With all the excitement about the upcoming laser blade fight, it could be easy to forget that there was a cliffhanger ending last time, which is resolved by Lando revealing that Han Solo is alive and has decided to have sleeps inside a box.

When Darth Vader decides to leave some of his mannys to guard Princess Leia and Chewbacca, Lando briefly stands up to him.
That wasn't our bargain! You said the Empire wouldn't interfere in--
I'm altering the bargain. Pray I don't alter it any further.

Darth Vader also uses the Force on Lando, but only for a moment. Perhaps it is this that finally pushes Lando over the edge into rebelling against Darth Vader, because while he goes off to fight Luke, the next we see of Lando...

...his mannys spring a trap on Darth Vader's mannys, capturing them and rescuing Chewbacca, Princess Leia and C3PO. They are too slow to rescue Han from the box, which Boba Fett has taken away in his spaceship, but more importantly Lando has teamed up with the goodys. There has been a second "duel" with "a dark lord" in this issue; Lando's duel of wits with Darth Vader.

The laser blade fight between Luke and Darth Vader is heavy with shadows, echoing the dark situation that Luke is in as he is losing.

Darth Vader cuts off Luke's paw.

SPOILER WARNING: Don't read the next bit if you don't already know that Darth Vader is Luke's father.

What a twist. Probably the most famous twist in any film ever made evar, and the same twist happens in the comic version. The precise wording of the dialogue is very slightly different:
Ben told me enough. He told me you killed my father!
No, Luke, I am your father.

As a cat made from socks, it is very difficult for me to empathise with Luke upon hearing this revelation. It think it would be roughly equivalent to Hoover telling me that it was really the Maker of Cats that made me.

Luke is surprised, and Darth Vader is hoping to capture him while he is surprised, but Luke still has the cleverness to foil Darth Vader's plan by jumping off while shouting

Luke falls out the bottom of Bespin and is heroically caught by Lando in the Millennium Falcon. They are chased by baddy spaceships, which appears to have been Darth Vader's backup plan.

The chase lasts until R2D2 turns the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive button back on and they escape from Darth Vader again.

The story is then wrapped up quickly in the last three panels, which shows Lando is now part of their team and is going to look for Han with Chewbacca. How much time they will actually spend looking for Han between now and Return of the Jedi is another matter, and may be somewhat similar to the amount of time Avon spent looking for Blake in season 3 of Blakes 7.

Next time I will begin looking at Star Wars comics that don't have film versions to compare them to, not many of which will come close to being as good as The Empire Strikes Back.

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