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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Force in Focus: Star Wars #59

"Bazarre"
May 1982

In a Nutshell
Luke & Lando team-up with space hobos to fight a giant garbage worm.

Writer/Plot: David Michelinie
Pencils/Plot: Walt Simonson
Inks: Tom Palmer
Colors: Don Warfield
Letters: Joe Rosen
Editor: Al Milgrom
High Roller: Jim Shooter

Plot
Aboard the Bazarre, Luke & Lando meet with Ferret, concluding their deal to purchase four TIE fighters from him. However, Ferret has put the fighters on Patch-4, and requires Luke & Lando to take a pre-programmed shuttle to that world to retrieve them. As insurance, Chewbacca stays behind to watch over Ferret. Soon, Luke & Lando arrive on Patch-4, a world covered in garbage, and are promptly attacked by a massive worm-like monster. They're given shelter by a group of hobos who, after being displaced from their homes, have gathered underground on Patch-4. They tell them that Ferret keeps a sonic pacifier that can control the beast, whom they call Ceasar, on the ship which brought Luke & Lando to the planet. Back on Bazarre, Ferret, assuming Luke & Lando have been killed by Ceasar, captures Chewbacca. On Patch-4, Lando manages to distract Ceasar long enough for Luke to reach the pacifier, and on Bazarre, Chewbacca manages to escape and hunt down a fleeing Ferret. When Lando & Luke return to the ship, they tell a captive Ferret they've successfully retrieved the TIE fighters, but leave Ferret be, saying they've dealt with enough garbage for the day.

Firsts and Other Notables
First mentioned last issue, Ferret appears for the first time here, and in a somewhat clever bit, he turns out to be a rather simple looking older man. It's revealed that he's helped the Rebels acquire four TIE fighters. He'll be mentioned in a few subsequent issues, but this represents his only appearance in the series.


Luke and Lando befriend a group of space hobos on Patch-4, comprised of, essentially, refugees from the war with nowhere to go and forced to live underground due to Ferret's watchguard, Ceasar.  They're left with the sonic device used to control Ceasar, so at least they now get to live on the surface of a garbage planet.


Editor and inker (and occasional "penciler") Al Milgrom takes over from Louise Jones as the series' editor as of this issue.

A Work in Progress
Lando's clothes (as drawn on the cover, less so in the issue itself) are vaguely reminiscent of his later look while masquerading as a guard in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi.

This issue features a rare example of Chewbacca using his signature bowcaster weapon; it also suggests that, at least on occasion, he breaks the weapon down and carries the component parts in his satchel.


Just Yesterday, In a Galaxy Surprisingly Close By
Though their dialogue says that Lando pays Ferret for the TIE fighters with credits (the usual form of currency in the Star Wars galaxy), the art makes it look like Lando's giving Ferret a fistful of good ol' American greenbacks.


Coffee grounds are referenced as being amongst the garbage on Patch-4.


Though the idea of refugees from a war who have lost their homes and live in poverty is, unfortunately, fairly universal and timeless, the term "hobo" specifically seems a little anachronistic relative to the Star Wars universe.

It's the Mail
A response to a letter in this issue suggests that the repurposed John Carter of Mars inventory story that comprised issues #53-54 was an homage to that series, which Chris Claremont used to write, instead of what it actually was, a repurposed issue of the Carter series.

Austin's Analysis
Though they've interacted and teamed-up before, this issue is clearly designed to be a showcase for the Luke/Lando relationship, and while Michelinie & Simonson don't quite succeed at making it a whole lot different than the Luke/Han relationship, they do effectively manage to show how Lando is himself more than just a rogueish Han Solo stand-in: he complains about his new boots getting wrecked by the muck of Patch-4, he's delighted by the prospect of potential fame when he thinks he's pulled off an amazing shot (Han would, of course, appreciate the financial prospects of such fame, but never seemed quite as interested in fame as an end unto itself as Lando is), and his relationship with Ferret is shaded more like a "dealings between two shady but equal businessmen" kind of thing than the usual employer/unwillingly-subordinate employee relationship between Han and the various underworld figures he'd encounter, which usually had Han at a power disadvantage. The end result is that Lando continues to feel like a distinct character in his own right, even outside the trappings of Cloud City, and not just a lukewarm substitute for Han.

And while all of that is all well and good, this issue is really notable for featuring space hobos. Space hobos! Nothing wrong with that.

Next Issue
Shira's story!

Collected Editions 


1 comment:


  1. Luke somehow fails to deliver a line about facing off against yet another garbage worm.

    // As insurance, Chewbacca stays behind to watch over Ferret. //

    I’m not sure where he’s hanging out before Lando introduces him, to Ferret’s surprise, particularly given that security holds up Luke & Lando upon arrival — unless humans were the only species considered suspicious on Bazarre; the splash panel would in fact seem to support their rarity — but it’s a nice touch. Especially since Ferret’s planning to eject Luke & Lando into cold space from the shuttle by remote control before they ever get to Patch-4. I even like how while apparently outsmarted by Chewbacca’s presence Ferret has a mechanism in place to detain him, only for Chewbacca to break free of it through sheer brute strength and/or will.

    // the art makes it look like Lando's giving Ferret a fistful of good ol' American greenbacks //

    Yeah. Weird as that is, however, and it is pretty weird, Luke’s remark that they came not to feed Ceasar but to bury him takes the cake — definitely a bridge too far for me, whether or not Michelinie was using the gratingly prevalent misspelling of “Caesar” on purpose. We often get place and character names that are oddly resonant in English, straight up or in pun form, Bazarre’s name being a case in point, but this is cringeworthy on a Don-Wan Kihotay level.

    // A response to a letter in this issue suggests that the repurposed John Carter of Mars inventory story that comprised issues #53-54 was an homage to that series //

    Sean Spicer was apparently interning at Marvel back then.

    // The end result is that Lando continues to feel like a distinct character in his own right, even outside the trappings of Cloud City, and not just a lukewarm substitute for Han. //

    Good point. I could take or leave most of the series right now but we’re definitely in a better place in terms of both plot and characterization than in the early going, even if the letter-writer analyzing Leia’s head space in terms of her survivor’s guilt and Claremont’s sensitivity to it is perhaps overly gracious.

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