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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Force in Focus: Star Wars #13

"Day of the Dragon Lords!"
July 1978

In a Nutshell
The Star Warriors get caught in the middle of a war on Drexel. 

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Terry Austin
Colorist: Janice Cohen
Letterer: Rick Parker
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

On Drexel, Artoo repairs a hydra-skimmer to prove his value to Governor Quarg, after which Luke is required to take the skimmer for a test flight to check his work. During the flight, he's attacked by the Master Machinesmith whose job Artoo is taking, but Luke manages to fight him off and complete the test, earning Luke and the droids a place with Quarg's men. Later, Quarg tells Luke of how he and his men came to be on Drexel, then shows him the sonic jammers he used to crash Luke's ship, just as another vessel appears in orbit around the planet: Crimson Jack's Star Destroyer. Quarg turns the jammers on the ship, but its massive size helps it resist. The attack, however, creates an opportunity for Han, Leia and Chewbacca to reach the Millennium Falcon and escape from Jack.

On Drexel, Quarg is informed that the Dragon Lords are mounting an attack, and he orders Luke to command a gunship, telling him if he doesn't fight well, the droids will be destroyed. Luke flies out with the rest of Quarg's forces just as the Falcon lands nearby. Luke spots a skimmer attacking the ship, and destroys it in turn, but when Luke reaches the Falcon, an enraged Chewbacca, seeing only the pilot of a craft just like the one that tried to destroy them, attacks Luke. Just then, the Falcon takes another hit, and Luke is knocked out. When he wakes up, he finds himself in a cell along with Chewbacca, Artoo and Threepio, waiting for a death sentence to be carried out.

Firsts and Other Notables
This issue lays out the background for the situation on Drexel: Governor Quarg's father was once the governor of the system, and used sonic jammers to destroy ships and sell off the parts for scrap, but eventually the Old Republic sent Jedi to put a stop to him, and his ships ended up crashing onto the planet. Later, the technicians that were part of his crew defected to become the Dragon Lords, using their sonic technology to control the creatures, creating the war that the Star Warriors now find themselves in the midst of.

There are a ton of references to Star Wars in this issue: Luke mentions Beggars Canyon, Artoo and Threepio get an oil bath (albeit one made of fish oil), Leia takes charge of her own rescue from Han, and the deaths of both Ben Kenobi and Luke's aunt and uncle are mentioned.

X-Men artist John Byrne provides the cover to this issue.  

A Work in Progress
Quarg's tale of his father's past includes a run-in with a Jedi Knight in the days of the Old Republic.

It's also revealed why Luke's ship crashed on the planet, as it was brought down by the sonic wrecking equipment Quarg has adapted from his father's technology.

It's established that the Falcon can float.

Um, Actually
Luke is colored with brown hair on the cover.

Threepio refers to Artoo and himself as both robots and droids.

In an effort to create cheap tension, Chewbacca attacks Luke, with the narration stating that Wookiees aren't sophisticated as an explanation, though later stories will establish that Wookiees are in fact quite sophisticated.  

Young Love
Leia's suggests to Jolli that old chestnut about how hating someone might just be cover for loving them, though in hindsight, this advice could apply to Leia as well when it comes to Han.

Teebore's Take
Another issue split between Luke and the droids on Drexel and Han, Leia & Chewie aboard Crimson Jack's ship, this issue does inch everyone closer to a reunion (and, thankfully, gets half the group free of Jack's clutches, for now), but for the most part, this is the exposition issue, the one which provides the context of the mysterious world on which the heroes find themselves and the conflict in which they've become embroiled. Thankfully, Goodwin & Infantino are old pros at this stuff, and manage to weave in enough action to keep the exposition from dragging things down. Luke remains the standout character, striking the right balance between effectiveness and aw-shucks naivete, but Leia also gets a chance to do something other than practice dubious gender politics, blasting her, Han and Chewie's way off Jack's ship in a scene reminiscent of her taking charge of her own rescue in A New Hope. The issue-ending cliffhanger involving a mad Chewbacca attacking Luke fails to rise above the fact that it's a flimsy story beat put in due to the genre conventions of the time, but otherwise, this issue does an effective job of raising the stakes and moving the plot along, even if it pushes off a proper reunion between the main characters for another issue.

Next Issue
Reunion on Drexel! 

Collected Editions 


  1. Probably a story arc that could've been wrapped in two parts, but still better than the dreck at the end of the original Marvel Star Wars' run.

    Valance the Hunter is only a couple issues away, and then…The Wheel!


  2. // There are a ton of references to Star Wars in this issue //

    3PO’s cover dialogue, too — in a scene reflecting the events of the issue’s final panel, which kind-of puts those tendencies of Liefeld’s to splash plot reveals on his covers to shame…

  3. I'm really enjoying this story arc. I feel like too many of the Rebellion-era stories focus on the Rebels against the Empire. I like seeing them in other locations, against other enemies. LucasFilm's directive that Vader not be utilized in this series really looks to have inspired Goodwin into going other directions with it. And I continue to love Infantino's artwork.

  4. @Erik: Valance the Hunter is only a couple issues away, and then…The Wheel!

    I am looking forward to both - the former for Walt Simonson, the latter for featuring one this series' rare contributions to old the Expanded Universe continuity.

    @Blam: 3PO’s cover dialogue, too

    One has to wonder how many times we're going to see a cover featuring Chewbacca and some combination of "let the Wookiee win!" moving forward.

  5. @Matt: I feel like too many of the Rebellion-era stories focus on the Rebels against the Empire. I like seeing them in other locations, against other enemies.

    Interestingly enough, while I do enjoy this story, there's a part of me that wishes we were seeing more Rebel/Imperial interaction. I definitely agree that Vader should be used sparingly, if at all, but I wouldn't mind SOME Rebel/Imperial action in this series. Ideally, some kind of recurring sub-Vader level nemesis (which, I gather, is what we get in Lumiya, later during Jo Duffy's run).

    You're right that a lot of Rebellion-era stories focus a bit too much on Empire-related stuff, but I wouldn't want to go too far in the other direction, either.


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