Hello, Everywookiee! As you may know, we launched our sister site, WookyWiki.com, the Star Wars comics first appearance and key issue database last year! We have been steadily updating the entries while chasing the ever elusive goal of a comprehensive database for Star Wars comics! We’re updating one year at a time in chronological publishing order! This week, we’re finished with 1981 and continuing to update new weekly releases!
As always, you can check out all these entries and more from the entire history of Star Wars comics publishing over at WookyWiki.com!
Frank Miller Star Wars
These two issues are the first Star Wars comic covers by Frank Miller. Frank Miller, of course of Sin City, 300, and Dark Knight Returns notoriety, did contribute a pinup to issue 43, however, these two would be Frank’s first (possible only) Star Wars comic covers.
Discount John Carpenter Warlord of Mars
If you read through these two issues (Empire Strikes Back Monthly 143 and Star Wars 53) you start to realize that the storyline feels a bit like a watered down Star Wars. Almost as if it was supposed to something else entirely when it began. In fact, it was!
This issue and the following one were based on unused art for the canceled Marvel Comics series John Carter, Warlord of Mars. Chris Claremont wrote a new story based on the existing art and Walter Simonson adapted Infantino’s art as needed to fit the Star Wars series. Pretty crazy, huh?
Of course, there’s a warlord in this tale: Aron Peacebringer, Warlord of the Calian Confederacy on Shiva IV.
The First Last Jedi
Before Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, there was Mike Barr and Walt Simonson’s The Last Jedi. This tale follows an insectoid almost-Jedi, Jedidiah. Jedidiah was male Velmoc who hailed from the planet Velmor. He was offered Jedi training as a child, but refused in order to serve the Velmor royal family.
Although Dengar, IG-88, Bossk, 4-LOM, and Boba Fett each made cameos in the background of the official Marvel Comics adaptation of the Empire Strikes Back, many collectors consider later issues to be the first full appearances of these characters. This is because the characters actually have some action, dialogue, or story involvement elevating the appearance worthy of being sough out.
That’s the case here with Star Wars 50. In it Dengar makes his first full appearance. You’d also think IG-88 makes his first full appearance, but it turns out the IG-88 models here are IG-88C, and IG-88D. This was all filled in through a retcon in the novel collection of short stories Tales of the Bounty Hunters. IG-88B, the droid we knew from ESB, had three fellow droids who escaped their assembly line together. He’s is apparently off doing other things during issue 50 here. Bossk and 4-LOM also show up again here, but not a big enough role to really elevate the appearance more than something like a “2nd cameo.”
The First Second Death Star
Star Wars issue 51 is the first appearance of a super-weapon called “The Tarkin.” In principle, it’s modeled after the Death Star. Now, remember, this issue came out before Return of the Jedi was released. So Walt Simonson and David Michelinie stumbled on some ROTJ plot points:
“We began finding out what would be in the third movie, accidentally. We didn’t do it deliberately. David’s first story after the second movie: the Empire’s building a new Death Star. Lucasfilm said: ‘Sorry, you can’t do that.’ Why not? ‘We can’t tell you.’ So, we said okay, how about if we do a giant cannon floating in space, with no circular shell? ‘Okay, fine, no problem.’ So we called it the Tarkin, wrote exactly the same story with the same gizmo, and nobody cared.” -Walt Simonson
The Tarkin is a prototype weapon mounted on a prototype Eclipse Class star destroyer. So, this is kind of a double-whammy first appearance. Eclipse Class star destroyers may sound familiar to fans of Dark Empire as they were in clear view during that story:
The older I get, the more I love the zanier and campier parts of the Galaxy, Far, Far Awy. It’s a big galaxy, right? Weird stuff’s got to be out there. Not all of it scary. Some just silly. Like platypusses or Mooses. Star Wars 55 is the first appearance of Hoojibs. Hoojibs are rabbit-like, sentient, telepathic, energy-feeding rodents native to the planet Arbra.
Alan Moore Star Wars
Alan Moore is known for his tragic stories of existential dread, the nature of consciousness, and deconstructing the way we think we know how to read a narrative in comics. Well, Empire Strikes Back Monthly 151 was Alan Moore’s first Star Wars comic work! There’s your trivia for the day! The guy who wrote Watchmen also wrote some Chewbacca!
In this story, the Pandora Effect, the crew of the Falcon end up captured by an evil-worshipping religious cult called “The Five.”
Alan Moore would go on to write a handful more Star Wars stories including The Dark Lord’s Conscience, Blind Fury!, Rust Never Sleeps, and Tilotny Throws a Shape. These would later be collected in Star Wars Devilworlds, a two issue mini series from Dark Horse.
Dark Lady of the Sith
Lando Calrissian returns to Cloud City in this Star Wars issue 56. We get the first appearance of the curious Bomb squad stormtroopers (“bombtroopers”), an elite class of Imperial stormtroopers trained in the activation and deactivation of explosive charges.
We also get the first appearance of one Shira Brie in the ranks of the Rebel Alliance. She would later be revealed as an imperial agent and eventually the Dark Lady of the Sith, Luminaya! Seems like a sweetheart here, though!
Finally, we get the first appearance of the Ugnaughts here in Star Wars 57! The little pig-like humanoids from Cloud City were left out of the illustrations from the official Marvel comics adaptation of Empire Strikes Back, but they make their triumphant appearance here! Not just Ugnaughts either! We get to see their floating capital city, Ugnorgrad, and their favorite conveyance, the Floatboat!