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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Force in Focus: Star Wars #34

"Thunder in the Stars!"
April 1980

In a Nutshell
Luke races against time to destroy Omega Frost.

Writer/Editor: Archie Goodwin
Artists: Carmine Infantino & Bob Wiacek
Colorist: Petra Goldberg
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Consulting Editor: Jim Shooter

As Han leads the Rebel fleet towards Junction, Silas Tagge oversees the preparation of Omega Frost in the asteroid field leading to the planet. Nearby, Luke abandons the effectively-useless TIE fighter he used to escape from Baron Tagge, trusting in his jet pack, and the Force, to lead him to one of the Omega Frost towers. As the Rebel fleet drops out of hyperspace and enters the asteroid field, Silas gives the order to hold until they're halfway into the field to activate Omega Frost. Luke manages to reach the asteroid carrying one of the towers, but it is protected by a force field, preventing him from damaging it. Spotting Luke, Silas gives the order to activate the weapon, but the Rebel fleet is just outside the freezing effect. However, Silas is confidant they'll be unable to stop or turn around in time, at least not without destroying the fleet in the process. However, Luke is able to cut into the ground beneath the tower, to where the field is no longer protecting the device, and destroys the tower, ending the Omega Frost effect. Unfettered, the Rebel fleet emerges from the asteroid field, attacking the Tagge ship and Imperial cruiser waiting there, while Han prepares to rescue Luke from his asteroid.

Firsts and Other Notables
Both Baron Orman and Silas Tagge seemingly die this issue, when the surviving Rebel fleet attacks their ship, but next issue will reveal that they've survived. However, this issue does mark the end of the Omega Frost storyline, and Baron Tagge's latest efforts to one-up Darth Vader and curry favor over him in the Emperor's eyes.

Nothing terribly notable about it but it did make me laugh: Han assures Leia that seasoned smugglers say if you make halfway through the asteroid field en route to Junction, it gets easier after that. Then adds that smugglers are also fond of hedging.

A Work in Progress
Silas Tagge references the Empire's evil intentions, which stuck out simply because our modern understanding of the Empire would suggest that most of the people willingly involved in it wouldn't see themselves as evil, per se.

Silas notes that unlike his older brother, he has always been driven first and foremost by science, and merely wants to see Omega Frost used as the culmination of his scientific endeavor.

In a dubious use of physics, Luke is somehow able to use his lightsaber to generate reverse-thrust, slowing his approach to an asteroid.

Um, Actually
It's been awhile, but Han once again references "warp" when talking about faster-than-light travel.

While it's correct that TIE fighters don't come equipped with a life support system, and thus its pilots wear their own, the suit Luke wears throughout this issue (after escaping last issue in a TIE fighter) is completely different from the traditional black TIE fighter pilot garb (if nothing else, because the traditional helmet would obscure Luke's face).

Austin's Analysis
Goodwin turns in a nice bit of suspense storytelling in this issue, as Luke races against time (and increasingly-diminishing resources) to disable the Omega Frost before the Rebel fleet gets trapped. Luke's situation ("His ship is disabled! He'll use his jet pack! But now he can't stop! He'll use his lightsaber! But there's a force field! He'll cut beneath it! But his air is running out!"), the setting of an unpredictable asteroid field, the sheer arrogance of Silas Tagge, all combine to ramp up the tension as the fleet draws ever closer to the trigger point. Some of the physics on display are a bit dicey (particularly the way Luke uses his lightsaber to halt his momentum, but also the fact that Luke is able to traverse an asteroid field - even a small part of it - via jetpack and limited life support systems), but the end result is a well-crafted finale to this chapter of the ongoing Tagge family plotline.

Next Issue
Darth Vader enters the fray against the Tagge family.

Collected Editions 


  1. I was a little disappointed that neither Han nor Leia reference their bad luck with asteroids. First they emerge from hyperspace expecting Alderaan, only to land smack in the middle of a debris field left by its destruction. Now Han intends to navigate an asteroid corridor, unaware a trap has been set within it. Granted, Leia might find that any such irony hits a little too close to home.

    The ending felt rather abrupt — not unlike that Wolverine issue you covered a couple months back. I wouldn’t necessarily assume the Tagges are dead after the Rebels fire on their ship, but it’s weird to have no follow-up here; I also totally assume that Han succeeds in rescuing the unconscious, rapidly-losing-oxygen Luke, but it’s really weird to have him just setting out to do so in that final panel and telling Leia this is a happy ending, particularly after you’ve reinforced my sneaking suspicion that we don’t pick up from there in the next issue and I went and peeked at said next issue to confirm.

    Yeah, I didn’t really get how Luke breaks his descent with the lightsaber. At the same time, I kind-of respected Goodwin for being so inventive and will allow it on the grounds that my 8-year-old self would’ve accepted it as cool. Just now, I realize that what would’ve been very cool is Luke slowing his descent by reversing the polarity, so to speak, of how the Force lets one accio one’s lightsaber or toss stuff around or do that vertical rocket-thrust jump Vader and Luke do in Empire. I don’t think we see any of that until Empire, though.

  2. It's no Death Star, but I appreciate Goodwin keeping the tradition of Imperial superweapons alive with the Omega Frost.

    Looking at the cover date of April 1980, it occurs to me that, even if we take into account that the issue was released some months earlier (late 1979/early '80), there are still four issues left until the EMPIRE adaptation begins. Lucas must have realized they didn't need an adaptation out in advance for marketing purposes as they did back in '77, since it seems like this time around, the adaptation will begin after (or right at the same time as) EMPIRE hits theaters.


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