The consequences of Disney buying up most of my childhood, like Marvel and Star Wars, have really yet to fully reveal themselves. As much as I worry about an oversaturation of Star Wars films or too much intrusion of Marvel material into the theme parks, I also see things like the upcoming Star Wars-themed land at Disneyland and have to admit that it would have made my 9-year-old self’s head explode just to conceive of such a thing.
However, there are small unexpected joys coming out of the new arrangement all the time, such as this new hardcover collection of Marvel’s original 1980 adaptation of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, in stores now.
Written by the late Archie Goodwin and drawn by the legendary Al Williamson, Marvel’s adaptation of EMPIRE appeared both in a collected “Super Special Magazine” and serialized in six issues of the ongoing monthly STAR WARS comics book, and it’s great.
It’s fun to see the story details that Goodwin and Williamson got, working so far ahead, that never quite made it into the movie, like the Wampa attack on the Rebels’ base on Hoth:
(Ironically, the Wampa was one of two creatures Lucas asked Marvel not to show in the comic so as to retain their surprise, so all we see oh them here is a white fuzzy arm.)
I also chuckled at the realization that Al Williamson never got to see Boba Fett’s ship in flight, and therefore had no way to know that it’s supposed to be flying upright…
All in all, this is a great package. There are some really great cover galleries, one comprised of extra covers for Carmine Infantino for the comics’ weekly release in the U.K….
…and one by some of the biggest names in comics at the time, folks like Byrne, Simonson, Miller, and my personal favorite, this one by MICRONAUTS’ Michael Golden.
There’s even an all-new introduction from Billy Dee Williams, which, while exceedingly Lando-focused, in nonetheless a quite enjoyable read. There’s only one problem with this new repackaging, and it’s unfortunately one that you can’t avoid on every single page: the coloring. Marvel had the books recolored by Sotocolor, dispensing with the fine original colors by Glynis Wein, and it’s just not a good fit for the book. It’s as if they’re trying so hard to make the book look modern with fancy shading and digital effects, but it stands out like a sore thumb. Look at Princess Leia here: she looks like she’s overdosing on spray-tan.
And nearly every shot in outer space is dripping with pink swirly nebulae; you know, the kind we never saw once in the film of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. We all saw the movie, guys. That’s not how it looked.
Color grumblings aside, this is still a sweet trip down memory lane for those of us who bought this over the course of six months down at the Quik Stop back in the day. Highly recommended.