One of the very first Star Wars licensed products to hit retailers were the comic books from Marvel. The funny pages became one of the few regular sources of Star Wars fiction during the days of the original trilogy, and the institution has been running strong almost non-stop since 1977. There was a brief break from 1987 to 1991, but hey, that's barely a hiccup in several decades of publishing. Between Dark Horse and Marvel Comics, hundreds of stories have been told. Of them, some are wonderful tie-ins to the films and games which showcase stories like the birth of the Rebellion, the origin of Princess Leia's bounty hunter costume from Return of the Jedi, or the gleefully ridiculous fanboy-friendly tale of Darth Vader dueling a cloned Darth Maul (seriously, you can find it in Star Wars Tales #9).
While these stories basically exist to move paper, sometimes it seems that they just get a little too weird for their own good, and after nearly three decades of Star Wars sequential art, certainly not all of the comics published could be considered the best, or good, or sometimes, even readable. Here are the worst of these stories -- at least the ones featuring the characters you might recognize from the six films.
11) "Chanteuse of the Stars" from Marvel Star Wars #77
Shortly after Return of the Jedi, the scribes at Marvel Comics had to come up with new threats for Luke and his friends. So in 1983 they sent them to a diplomatic mission with little giggling furry things that, upon hitting puberty, turn into the Incredible Hulk. They're called Lahsbees, and they're arguably the most worthless characters in the story-- or so you might think. This issue also brings along a quartet of Zeltrons, a red-skinned species, to help Princess Leia with her duties. To tell you what kind of Star Wars comic this is, a large part of the story has to do with Leia's missing dress and her young attachment's attempts to fix them up, so think of this issue as something of Project Runway meets Care Bears meets Rock of Love: Jedi Bus because all these women are throwing themselves at Luke Skywalker, too, lest we forget to mention that.
Oh, we almost forgot -- there's also an incident where Leia has to stand in for a diva named Shirley who won't go out on stage to sing, and just like in the Star Wars Holiday Special, Princess Leia can't sing here either. It's to stop the rampaging aliens at the party, you see, so you get a hint of American Idol in here too. And all 25 years before these shows made a dent on American popular culture, to boot! Who knew that science fiction and space fantasy could foretell America's entertainment future? Truly, this issue was everything a Star Wars comic typically isn't and shouldn't be.
10) Star Wars through the eyes of R2-D2 and C-3PO from Star Comics Droids #6-8
On paper, it sounds awesome -- C-3PO and R2-D2 retelling the story of the original Star Wars film! What sort of grief did they find while they were off-camera? Everybody clearly wanted to know. And we found out that we didn't miss much, other than apparently penciler Ernie Colon did not see the Star Wars films. In these 1987-made stories, a ton of the characters were off-model to the point of being almost hilariously unrecognizable. TIE Fighter Pilots look like some white robot things. Luke's pilot outfit looked like something out of Star Tours' cast members closets from Disneyland (see below). And the Death Star corridors? Pink. Outside of the Ewoks series of comic books, this three-part story was the final new comic story for a while, and it wasn't even a new story. If you're a collector of Star Wars merchandise, this sort of thing- - remaking the same thing time and again, only slightly different -- is the norm these days. On the bright side, readers of this series didn't need to worry about spoilers too much.
For those keeping track, there are no fewer than four separate comic adaptations of the original film -- this one, a really excellent manga, the original Marvel 1977 comic book, and a completely redrawn Special Edition comic from 1997.
9) Star Wars Annual #1
The cover boasts big adventure with the words "KING-SIZE ANNUAL" which, on a comic book, are alluring in the same way that their appearance on a postcard reminder to visit the proctologist might not be. The story was written in 1979, before the world really had a clue what The Empire Strikes Back was all about, because George Lucas was still making the first sequel. As such, nobody was paying attention to the amazing battles of Luke Skywalker on one of the many planets of cat people he would go on to visit over the years. The obvious lack of continuity in these early books was brought out by the planet's citizens telling Luke about Jedi that visited their planet in the past -- specifically three of them: Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Luke's father.
You can read that last sentence again. That wasn't an error.
Clearly the people at Lucas couldn't have known what was in store for the heroes in The Empire Strikes Back but this one little goof is basically the only reason this otherwise completely forgettable adventure to the planet Tirahnn. Oh, and there's some gargoyle people too, wearing weird sci-fi tunics that are so retro they'd make Flash Gordon crap himself.
8) "Jawas of Doom" from Marvel Star Wars #81
A case of bait-and-switch, "1984's Jawas of Doom" looks like it's going to be awesome. It was rare for Star Wars to have painted covers in the 1980s, so this was pretty stunning-- plus it had both Jawas and Boba Fett on it, which promised good times. Instead, you get a story which is both bizarrely awesome and totally out of whack with everything you know and love about a galaxy far, far away.
The tale opens up with Han Solo arguing over the status of his bank account, which may well be the most delightful thing you will ever see in any printed Star Wars fiction. The story goes on with Han and Leia arguing about money and eventually wandering into the desert to find a Sandcrawler full of Jawas, who pick up Boba Fett from the pit of Carkoon. And apparently now Boba Fett is some sort of cyborg or droid who can't remember who or what he is. There's some fighting, a purple droid, and eventually Boba Fett comes to his senses to get swallowed by the Sarlacc Pit in the first of what would go on to be many stories about the bounty hunter escaping the giant toothed sand vagina.
7) "Small Wars" from Marvel Star Wars #94
Following Return of the Jedi, Ewoks were an increasingly important part of the Star Wars licensing program with TV, toys, a cartoon series, a movie, and stories like this one. Interestingly, rather than being adorable furballs, the Ewoks in this 1985 story were bloodthirsty badasses against the previously mentioned Lahsbees (the things that turn into giant berserkers at puberty) as a quasi-villain. The fight started because Admiral Ackbar's new aide, Hirog (a big bug) decided to set up a conflict by implying that an Ewok princess was having an affair with the delegate from Lahsbane. If that doesn't mean anything to you, don't worry -- it isn't important in context either.
The true villain of the piece, Hirog, is played like Daffy Duck. He would return as a villain in many of the final 13 issues. While he was sort of a bumbler to go against a fully-trained Jedi Knight, at least we still had the Lahsbees giggling and saying "tee-hee" a lot. Seriously, if you pick up the book, pages of the story are devoted to these little Care Bears-knockoffs trying to be adorable. Given the fan disdain for Ewoks in 1985, it's stunning to see that Marvel actually crafted a story with so many unlikable elements that the yub-nubs came off as the absolutely best element of the story.