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Into the back issue box #14

by  in Comic News Comment

This week’s selection is not bad, actually.  It’s not great, but it does a good job telling a story and getting us all up to speed.  What more can we ask for?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out what I’m doing in these posts.  So if you’re new, read away!

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point out that you can still enter my contest!  You have until Sunday at midnight!  I’ve gotten some very good entries, but anyone still has a chance to win.  Why couldn’t it be you?

Moving on …

Star Wars #83 (“Sweetheart Contract”) by Linda Grant and Bob McLeod.  Published by Marvel, May 1984.


Someone who had never read a comic book before but loved Star Wars and saw this on the stands and picked it up might be a bit disappointed.  The only character from the movies who shows up in this comic is right there on the cover – Lando Calrissian, or, as I like to call any character played by Billy Dee Williams, the coolest character ever.  So you might be a bit grumpy.  Where the hell is Han, or Vader, or the Ewoks?  Those Ewoks were so awesome.

But, if you had read this, it’s a perfectly competent comic, and although the dialogue is a bit strained at times, it does a good job telling a complete story, explaining what’s going on, and it feels like something that ties into a grander storyline, even though we don’t know what it is.  Perhaps best of all, it actually makes you curious about the rest of the story.  It’s not a great comic by any means, but it doesn’t repel new readers, and it might make them pick up another comic in the series.  And that’s pretty cool.

             


We begin with Lando and a girl – Danu – in a small flying craft getting chased by four other flying crafts, which are firing on them.  We learn very quickly that they’re on the planet Drogheda, what the characters’ names are, and that Danu’s sister called on Lando because she had a job for him.  They are almost killed, but are rescued by the commander of the royal guard, Harlech, who tells them that Danu’s sister – Queen Sarna – suspected the revolutionaries might ambush them.  As they head toward the palace, Danu confides in Lando that she doesn’t trust Harlech.  So three pages in, we already have some good information about the political situation on Drogheda.  Good stuff!

                              


Lando, it turns out, has a history with Sarna (it’s Billy Dee – of course he has a history with the ladies!), as we find out that he almost married Sarna years earlier.  Sarna has asked him to come to the planet because the revolutionaries have ties to the Empire and she doesn’t want to fall into their clutches.  Lando is a Hero of the Rebellion, so he might be better able to handle them than Harlech.  So Lando says okay, especially because Sarna promises him more than just money as a reward!  When he leaves, Danu shows up and tells her sister she’s going after Lando, because he’s so yummy!  Sarna tells her to keep away from him until he crushes the revolution.  If you’re thinking that Sarna might not be the benevolent sovereign she claims to be, well, no gold stars for you, because it’s kind of obvious.  We know what Lando is thinking with that prevents him from seeing it!

            


The next day Lando leads the army to a mine that the revolutionaries control, and he goes around the back and sneaks in.  He is, of course, spotted by the revolutionaries, and when one of them tackles him, he drops the detonator he’s holding, which sets off the bombs he just placed on the water tanks in the mine.  Oh dear.  As the water flushes the revolutionaries out of the mine, the soldiers start shooting them down, even though Lando ordered them to just capture the rebels.  Harlech claims his men were just overzealous, but it’s still suspicious.  Lando returns to the palace with a prisoner and questions him on his own.  To get the rebel to trust him, Lando gives him his blaster, but before the rebel can tell him anything, Harlech shoots him, pointing out that the guy was holding a gun on Lando.  Lando says it was empty, and it was just to get the guy to trust him.  Danu, meanwhile, seems to know the prisoner.  Hmmm …  Lando storms off in anger and does what every good pissed-off commander does – visits a bar!  Unfortunately, it does not appear that he’s drinking Colt .45.  That would have been too awesome.

              


As he sits there, he overhears two soldiers talking about the action, and one of them says that they need to “nip this democracy nonsense in the bud,” which gets Lando good and riled.  He barges in on Sarna and asks her why she’s been lying to him.  She says it shouldn’t matter to him what the people want, because he’ll still make his money.  Lando, however, has become much more noble since joining the rebellion, and he tells her he’s leaving, so she orders her soldiers to arrest him.  Lando thinks that Harlech is working for the rebels, but he’s wrong, and he runs for it.  Danu grabs him and drags him into a munitions room and tells him that she’s working with the revolutionaries.  She has rigged the room to blow up, and they both run for it.  It turns out that’s the signal for the rebels, who attack the palace.  Lando escapes on a flying thing, but he realizes he can’t get far with the soldiers on his tail.  So he circles back around to the palace and leaps off the craft through the glass dome of the throne room.  Why?  Because he’s motherfucking Lando Calrissian!

              


The glass, of course, doesn’t cut him at all, and he grabs Sarna and demands safe passage out of there.  Harlech, the evil bastard, says, “We can make do with a king, Calrissian,” and is about to have them both killed, but the rebels show up and hold them all at gunpoint.  Harlech foolishly pulls his gun and is cut down.  Strangely enough, he’s shot right in the chest with a laser, but in the next panel, Danu says, “Maybe he’ll be smarter when he comes to.”  What kind of wussy revolutionaries are these people, firing non-lethal lasers at their enemies?  Danu also tells Lando that he was the perfect decoy in distracting the guards so the rebels could get in, and Lando, the old dog, says, “I can think of a suitable reward …”  I’ll bet you can, Billy Dee!  Danu is having none of it, and tells him he has ten minutes to leave the planet – and she’ll pay him to take Sarna with him.  Lando doesn’t want to, but he decides that some money from the venture is better than none.  As they fly away, Lando and Sarna start to argue about the money they could make if they teamed up, and they argue about whose plan they’re going to follow.  It sounds like it’s going to be a long voyage, wherever they’re going.

                 


This is a nice, serviceable comic book.  It’s even somewhat charming, in that there’s a feeling of innocence in its simplicity.  It’s not a classic by any means, but Grant’s story gets the job done with minimum fuss, and although she won’t win any awards for her complex political acumen, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad tale.  She even manages to throw some surprises in the mix, like how Danu, despite being grateful to Lando for helping them overthrow her sister, doesn’t want him around.  She knows all too well the power of Billy Dee!  McLeod’s pencils help the story, as well.  The art isn’t flashy, but everything is laid out so it’s easy for the eyes to follow and nothing is too cluttered.  McLeod never was a superstar, and we can see why, but he gives us an attractive package that keeps the story flowing.  It’s also somewhat significant that Lando is the only black man in the book and he’s the hero.  Even on alien worlds “The Man” can’t keep him down!

For the 83rd issue of a series, this is a remarkably accessible book.  It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it presents what comics do well and keeps our interest.  And, like I wrote above, it might actually convince a new reader to find out more about the series.  A repeat customer!  Isn’t that what we want?  So, despite the fact that it’s somewhat forgettable, Star Wars #83 does what it’s supposed to do.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.