10 Weird Cliches from Marvel's Star Wars Comics

By Ethan Kaye in Comics, Daily Lists, Movies
Friday, September 28, 2012 at 8:05 am
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I, for one, love that Dark Horse got the rights to re-publish Marvel's old Star Wars comic book from the '80s. Partially because it brings those old, seminal issues from our childhoods back to life, and partially because there was a whole bunch of nuttiness hidden in those licensed books. But after having a look through the 100 or so covers from the series I realized something. Some things, actually. Some things that just didn't sit right with me -- but were repeated pretty frequently on the covers. Here are 10 of the more noticeable, sometimes unsettling, aspects of the '80s Star Wars covers.

10) No One Can Draw Darth Vader Right   
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This one I totally understand. When the first few Marvel issues came out, exposure to Star Wars, the film, was actually quite limited. Nowadays all you need is to pull up 30,000 different photos of Darth Vader on your computer, but in those first tentative years I'm sure artists could only go off of promotional materials, character designs, movie stills, and memory from the times they saw the film in theaters. So Darth Vader is sometimes green and his head isn't even and his face is tiny and he sometimes looks like a frog. It happens. Get over it, haters.

9) There's a Great Deal of Death and Doom    
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Look, I understand how comic books work. If you put something awesome on the cover, it will attract buyers. And death always draws a crowd. But after checking the covers for the whole series, Star Wars promised death and doom a LOT. And considering how the main characters couldn't die in the comics, only in the movies, nearly every instance was an empty promise. For instance, eleven of the first 20 covers include the words "death", "dead," "die," or "doom." In fact, from issue 6 to issue 13 there's a near unbroken string of doom saying, with the only exception being issue 11 that advertises the slightly different "The Fate of Luke Skywalker."

8) No One Wants to Draw the Droids
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I don't want to sound like I'm picking on these comics, because there really is nothing behind this other than nostalgia and love for Star Wars. I'm just looking at these books with a more critical eye. And I've noticed that droids gotta be hard to draw. The wiring intricacies of C3-PO have to be maddening for an inker, and trying to get the pattern right for R2-D2 every time had to strain an artist's nerve. It's something that can be glossed over fairly easily, because machinery is a bitch to render. But I can't forgive issue 107, the final issue of the book. What the fuck is that thing Luke's holding? 

7) Darth Vader Is Everywhere
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For all the issues where Darth Vader is fighting with a lightsaber on the cover of a comic, there are three where he's just hanging around in the background. Sometimes it's all of him. Sometimes just his head gets in there. Wherever it is, one thing is made clear: either you're thinking about Darth Vader, or he's thinking about you. Always

6) Alien Creatures Are Sneaky
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It's a common comics trope; hell, it's common in all sorts of media. The unknown creature, crawling behind you, waiting to pounce? That's a primal fear right there. But keep in mind, all these covers appeared in roughly the same two-year stretch. It seems like a cliché for it to happen this many times in such short a time period. Am I wrong? 

5) Chewbacca Is Basically a Big Dog Sasquatch    
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Like the droids and Darth Vader, Chewbacca is not consistently drawn on the cover of the comics. Now, some of them are near photographic levels of skill and I'll happily call out issues like 13, 67, and 100 as being good Chewies. In other cases, the hair's off or the nose is off or something's just off and it just strikes you wrong. I don't know why the character sheet was so variable with Chewbacca, but again, I call you back to the final capstone issue, #107. If you didn't think he looked like a puppy in earlier issues, you can't make the same excuse here. Also, they forgot to draw his legs in issue 14. 

4) Proportion Don't Mean Shit   
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In A New Hope, we witness the Death Star blowing up a planet. In Return of the Jedi, Lando loses his shit when it becomes operational, because he knows one shot from the Death Star can mean instant annihilation. In issue 5 it... blows up a wall? That's not right. And I'm going to have to call foul on the size of that stormtrooper too, unless, there was some sort of magic that made Princess Leia really tiny for some reason. 

3) People in the Star Wars Galaxy Have Extra Joints or Something
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Star Wars #37 depicts the weirdest pose I have ever seen on a comic, and this is after seeing Catwoman bend at about nine different wrong angles in the New 52. Vader is coming to attack and Luke Skywalker hunches his shoulders, powers up his lightsaber, and... does a split? #65 has an Imperial in a pose that should render him completely immobile, and #17 has Luke Skywalker in a pose you could only achieve by melting the action figure's legs over a candle. 

2) No One Can Get Luke's Hair Right, Either
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Luke Skywalker, let's be honest, was a little shaggy in the first movie. Not "long-haired", really, but pretty shaggy. By Empire, he cleaned up and kept that up for one more film (it was much shorter in the Holiday Special too). Most of the time it was long in back but covered the ears; sensible for the time being. But artists for those early issues really wanted to push the envelope. The low hanging ends and down-the-middle part made Luke look more like Prince Adam or Bonnie Franklin in One Day at a Time. Did you know that show lasted 209 episodes? I didn't. 

1) Everyone Hates Cameras 
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What are we shooting? Who cares! Just fire! Lookin' good! It's ok though, almost every team comic book has at least one cover like this, and probably more in the case of promotional posters. It's just a standard, cliché comic book cover pose. And what better way to get a lot of characters on the cover? Thumbs up for utilitarianism!

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