I have a passion for collecting vintage Star Wars merchandise from the late 70's. Action figures, comics, trading cards etc - anything related to the first Star Wars movie. But why only until 1980? It's not that I don't love The Empire Strikes Back and beyond (I really do), but there is something about that first wave of Star Wars mania that really grips me, back when it was all fresh and exciting...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

'The Tagge Saga' Marvel #31 - #34

I've jumped ahead 4 issues here as I said that I would focus on the story arcs for now and cover the various one-shot issues at a later date. Since Luke's escape from the gas clouds surrounding Yavin and his destruction of Baron Tagge's space station, he has been sent back to Tatooine to recruit blockade runners as the Alliance is making plans to up sticks and find a new base. But Baron Tagge is hatching a new dastardly scheme on that very same planet.

An interesting note about this issue: it features a vehicle designed by toy company Kenner - the Imperial Troop Transporter! At this stage in the game (late 1979), Kenner had pretty much made all the toys they could think of in relation to the movie and had started coming up with their own designs never featured in the film. There was obviously some kind of deal between Kenner and Marvel here as this is pure product placement!

Getting back to the story, Luke and the droids rediscover the remains of his old home and run into Camie and Fixxer - his childhood chums that, like the Troop Transporter, were never seen in the movie, but unlike the Troop Transporter, were in Lucas' original script and can be seen in deleted scenes on YouTube as well as being in the novelisation and Marvel's adaptation of the movie. They also find a dead bantha in a canyon, frozen stiff. Certainly an odd discovery on a desert planet, but it is soon revealed that the unfortunate creature's demise was due to a fall out effect from an experimental device operated by Tagge's men nearby.

Luke heads on to the Mos Eisley Cantina and runs into Han and Chewie, who, true to their Marvel incarnations, are in the midst of a bar brawl. Fixxer appears on the scene once more and warns Luke that he was forced to notify the Imperial authorities of his whereabouts. Stormtroopers arrive and Luke, Han, Chewie and the Droids flee into the desert...

Issue #32 picks up with our heroes in the desert trying to fix their busted speeder. Hitching a ride with some Jawas, they are soon under attack by an Imperial patrol. I like the written interpretation of the Jawas' language! Almost looks like Arabic.

They discover what appears to be a giant moisture vaporator, but are actually in a trap set by Tagge's men and soon find themselves test subjects in his freezing experiments. Fleeing the sandcrawler at the last minute, the rebels make their way back to Mos Eisley.

Issue #33 sees our heroes depart Tatooine on board the Falcon but they soon spot a House of Tagge mining explorer and decide to follow it. They then witness a meeting between the Tagge ship and an Imperial cruiser and see the transfer of some technology. Luke once again dons the snazzy yellow space suit and heads out to infiltrate the loading crew. Unfortunately he is captured and Han does the smart thing and scarpers back to Yavin IV where a very irate Leia is awaiting news.

On board the mining explorer, Luke tries to escape but runs into Baron Tagge and a lightsaber duel occurs. There's not nearly enough lightsaber action in the Marvel comics so it's refreshing to see a good old fashioned duel underway. Luke busts Tagge's cybernetic vision and makes a dash for it, escaping in a TIE Fighter.

Great opening page for Isssue #34 here with Han, Chewie and Leia in the cockpit of the Falcon, leading the rebel fleet through the Feriae Junction where Baron Tagge's operation is waiting with the deadly Omega Frost weapon. Luke is MIA once again, having fled the Baron's cruiser in a TIE Fighter. Running out of fuel, he ejects the craft before it is smashed to smithereens by an asteroid.

With the knowledge that the rebels are heading into a trap, Luke sets down on an asteroid which contains one of the Omega Frost devices and destroys it with his lightsaber, putting an end to Tagge's plan to freeze the rebel fleet. The rebels, now in range, attack the Tagge cruiser, destroying it completely along with two of the Tagge brothers (Baron Orman and Silas).

On to the ads. I can't get enough of these '70s toys. The comic strip style ad for Star Wars stuff is interesting. I had the MPC 'Darth Vader's Tie Fighter' model as a kid and it was the best model I ever made. Star Trek and The Black Hole action figures look like they conformed to the 3 3/4" standard set by Kenner. I saw just The Black Hole for the first time the other day. Not a bad bit of '70s sci-fi. Don't know how well the toys sold though.

Lego on the back covers again and another ad for the Star Trek movie. Also, an offer from Chiquita Bananas promoting the 1980 Winter Olympics (which were held in Lake Placid, NY that year, if I'm not mistaken). Also note the 'When your mom buys...' line. Wouldn't get away with such sexism these days.


Will Errickson said...

In that ad for STAR WARS models, I don't think C3PO would ever refer to young fans as "kids." "Children of the galaxy," perhaps, but never "kids."

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

Another great post on this great period of Marvel's Star Wars comic. I loved the intrigue with the Tagge family, though I guess your last issue review will be #38. I'm going to re-read these tonight, especially since I'd forgotten about Marvel's use of the troop transporter. I remember the confusion with issue #38 because it was supposed to start the Empire Strikes Back adaptation, but it didn't begin until #39.