Welcome to the three hundredth and ninety-first in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, in honor of Lucasfilm being purchased by Disney, every legend this week will be about the Star Wars comic books that Marvel Comics (also purchased by Disney) made during the 1970s and 1980s. Did George Lucas really have a problem with a specific character introduced in the Marvel Star Wars comic? Did Walter Simonson and David Michelinie really independently come up with a major plot point of Return of the Jedi during their run on Star Wars? Plus, are there really six unpublished issues of the Marvel Star Wars series?
Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and ninety.
COMIC LEGEND: George Lucas personally took issue with the character Jaxxon.
STATUS: I'm Going With True
Awhile back, JK Parkin (of our awesome sister blog, Robot 6) asked me about the short-lived Star Wars character Jaxxon and whether the rumors were true that George Lucas personally had a problem with the character.
Jaxxon appeared in the first new storyline in the Marvel Star Wars series after Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin finished adapting the first Star Wars film. Since writer Roy Thomas was told that he should not really use Luke and Leia too much, he decided to focus the next storyline on Han Solo and Chewbacca. Thomas decided to do a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven riff using Han and Chewy.
Thomas was clearly having some fun with these new characters, including a wacky old Jedi Knight with a punderful name...
And, of course, a riff on Bugs Bunny with Jaxxon, a tall green rabbit-looking alien. Here's his introduction...
Thomas' run on Star Wars ended with issue #10, and while there were a number of different reasons why Thomas left the title (including slight irritation over the fact that the comic creators were not making very much from the massive financial success of the Marvel adaptation of Star Wars), one thing he noted in his article about the Marvel adaptation of Star Wars in Alter Ego #68 was that Lucas had some issues with the story (although it had been pre-approved before Thomas started on it) and he particularly disliked Jaxxon.
George particularly disliked one of the Seven being a six-foot alien who resembled a green Bugs Bunny in space gear. In the latter instance, I had been “inspired” in part by seeing a Porky Piglooking alien in the Cantina sequence, either in the rough cut or on some production sketches at some early point. (I don’t remember if that alien appears in the finished movie, since that part of the film contained several 11th-hour inserts of other, more colorful aliens sitting in dark corners, and something may have been cut to make room for them.) I had figured my “green rabbit” Jaxxon wasn’t really much weirder than a Wookiee, but obviously George, as the creator of the Star Wars mythos, felt differently.
As you might imagine, the whole endeavor just wasn't worth Thomas' time anymore, so he left the book and returned to Conan (as Thomas amusingly noted, Robert Howard was not around to complain about the stories). Archie Goodwin took over the book.
Thomas also amusingly noted that he felt some measure of relief when Lucas later introduced the much more maligned Jar Jar Binks...
Thanks to JK Parkin for the question (there was a second part to JK's question that I'll get to in the future) and thanks to Roy Thomas for the info! His piece about Marvel's Star Wars comic is a wonderful read. You can buy an online copy of Alter Ego #68 right now for just three bucks! Check it out here.