Monday, June 2, 2014

1980 - Star Wars #38

Star Wars #38 – “Riders in the Void!”
Marvel Comics, 1980
Writers – Archie Goodwin/Michael Golden
Artists – Michael Golden/Terry Austin

A few months ago, Disney announced that Marvel Comics would take over the Star Wars licensing rights in 2015. I thought I’d look back at Marvel Comics’ first go at the series in the late 1970s. Star Wars #38 is seen by fans as one of the best stand-alone comic stories of that series. This fill-in issue was published just before Star Wars #39-44 adapted Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Editor Archie Goodwin does double-duty as writer in this issue with a plot assist from artist Michael Golden. In an interview withTheForce.Net, Golden recalled:

“I told Archie this story that I wanted to do and he loved it, so I sat down and drew it and Terry Austin inked it. After I had sat down to the drawing it, Archie actually called me and said they were actually going to use the story right away, so I finished up the pencils and it went off to Terry Austin to ink. I was originally supposed to write it as well, but because they needed it right away, Archie sat down and wrote it based on my notes.”

“Riders in the Void” kicks off with one hell of a splash page:

A desperate hyperspace jump strands Luke and Leia somewhere far beyond their galaxy. In the darkness of the void, they encounter a strange organic ship that rescues them, but then suddenly attacks them, trying to assess who and what they are. While they prove up to the challenges, the consciousness within the ship seems mad, and as they make their way deeper into the ship, they find the pilot. He turns out to be the last survivor of two long dead races that mutually destroyed themselves and has merged his consciousness with the ship’s controls.

It returns them to their galaxy where it engages an Imperial Star Destroyer, believing it to be part of a constructed reality the computer is creating for its amusement. When the Star Destroyer fights back and hurts it, the organic ship makes quick work of it and realizes that it isn’t much fun anymore. Dropping off Luke and Leia, the mad ship retreats into the void where it belongs and resumes playing its computer-generated games.

As a stand alone issue, it does what it’s meant to do. For a comic book series that’s constantly struggling with making any kind of changes to their cast, this issue turns the point of view around and giving this living ship some character moments. Unfortunately, it doesn’t change despite the climax of the story, the ship realizes it wants nothing to do with this reality and fades back into the void and the comfort of its artificial reality.

However, Michael Golden’s art is simply lovely and stands out as a high watermark in the world of licensed comic books. The detailed inks by Terry Austin add another layer of beauty, providing very clean, very crisp lines. Golden’s art never looked so good.

1 comment:

  1. I first saw this story as a black & white re-print in the British 'Star Wars Weekly' comic, & was immediately blown away by the artwork. I was already familiar with Michael Golden's name, since they had been publishing his Micronauts work as a back up feature in the same comic, but that work paled in comparison to this SW strip. This was the first time I'd seen an artist who (seemingly) had real respect for the source material, previous artists (much as I loved their work) appeared to be treating SW as 'just another job' & would have much rather been drawing Batman/Superman/Spiderman (delete as applicable). The homage to Ralph McQuarrie, the accurate representations of the blasters & spaceships only confirmed (in my 15 year old mind) that Golden was as much a SW nut as I was. I became an instant fan of his work from this point on, & went back to re-read those Micronauts stories with fresh perspective. I was (& still am) a massive fan of ALIEN too, so the theme of the space traveller who is part of his 'bio-mechanic' spaceship, much as the 'space jockey' was in that film resonated with me also, & I have often wondered if that was where the idea came from. Thanks for posting the 'original art' images, they look beautiful. Seems an original art version (of the type IDW has been producing) of this comic is well overdue, if all the originals are accessible.



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