Star Wars #24 (1979): Voyage of Fermentation

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Star Wars #24 (Marvel, 1979)

My husband and I recently made a trek over to a local comic book-and-associated-geekery store with our kids, like most cool parents do (…what?)

Naturally, once I’d finished yelling about all the Star Wars action figures (and threatening to buy a slightly-bigger-than-Barbie-doll-ish-sized Episode 2 Kenobi figure, complete with Wolfman Hair, for my office,) we made our way over to their sizable collection of Star Wars comics. And that’s when I realized just how much this site was missing out on. We walked out with an armload of vintage silliness.

Today’s entry is the result of that shopping spree. The issue in question dates from Marvel’s initial run of Star Wars comics in the late 70s — at the time these comics were produced, the only real piece of officially-official canon material these writers had to go on was The Star Wars Movie That Was Once Called Just Plain Star Wars. The nerd collective at the time didn’t know much: they knew that Ben Kenobi seemed Good (this was accurate), that he seemed truthful (this turned out to be…uh, well, close enough,) we knew that Darth Vader seemed bad (mostly true but with many asterisks,) and that Leia, Luke and Han were gonna be leading the charge to save the day (true. Until maybe now.)

What this meant is that the comics really went all over the place with what they thought should or would happen with these characters, and in addition to this Old EU Wackiness, we also delightfully have Letters to the Editor from the Geeks of Yesteryear to help illustrate how people have been furiously CERTAIN that they know what should or should not happen in Star Wars since FOREVER.

…ready? Grab a spot on the shag carpeting and let’s throw on a little Supertramp and get goin’!

Recurring Theme: The Skywalkers Just Really Like Talking About Obi-Wan

We join the Rebel Kids aboard the Falcon, where they’re once again trying to outrun some Imperial bad guys. Han devises a scheme where they basically play dead, lure in the TIE fighters that have been chasing them a little closer, and then Luke blasts at them. The day is saved!

Luke, possibly because he has some unresolved feelings about Han here, is like GOSH HAN YOU WERE AMAZING, and even Leia smirkily agrees: yes, Han, that was a masterstroke: but it wasn’t, y’know, THAT impressive. Faking people out and then blowing them up is an Ancient Jedi Secret!

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Show of hands — who’s surprised that this got Luke’s attention?

And Leia would know: why, she heard lots of stories from her dad! About how Obi-Wan Kenobi used to be a badass! (Why am I not surprised, Organa. I have read Wild Space, you know.)
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Leia, who looks like an Evil Disney Queen in this comic series, begins to narrate our flashback…back to the Days of the Old Republic, But Not THE Old Republic, Like, The NEW Old Republic But Not The New Old Republic That The First Order Ruined, That’s The New New Old Republic, You Guys Following All This?

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Tired

She sets the stage: back when space travel was Free and Open, before the Dark Times and whatever, Less-Old Ben Kenobi found himself aboard a Space Cruise ship — a lavish, ostentatious thing typically populated by Fancy Rich People and Dignitaries, which Obi-Wan is on only because it’s en route to whatever the hell he’s supposed to be doing.

That’s when we get our first real look at this book’s interpretation of what they thought Old Ben looked like back in his Jedi Days, a look I can best describe it as “Vincent Price’s Cousin Dresses Up As a Superhero For Comic-Con”:
obiwan
Several additional thoughts:

  1. I love that nothing has even happened yet and he looks utterly exhausted. This is absolutely consistent in everything, canon or otherwise. Somehow the writers always knew he was the Tiredest.
  2. WHAT IS HE WEARING? This reminded me of all the sketches I saw of the ideas for Jedi costumes for The Phantom Menace:
    ep1concept
    (In hindsight, I guess it actually could have been worse than Jedi Trainee Hair.)
  3. Obi-Wan is CRAZY buff in this comic.
  4. I love that the comic had full awareness of Old Ben’s Story That He Tells Luke, which makes the Jedi sound like something that existed twelve zillion years ago and that practically no one even remembers, and still drew Obi-Wan as a full-on Superhero Jedi as a grey old man. It makes you wonder exactly how old these writers/illustrators thought Obi-Wan was supposed to be in A New Hope.

Recurring Theme: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Friend of Bail Organa

Obi-Wan, sitting at the bar (big fucking surprise,) gets approached by a droid: a droid named 68-RKO, that’s on its way to go to work for Bail Organa! Will Obi-Wan take the droid in as his owner and let him stay with him until they get to Alderaan? (So Obi-Wan was also going to Alderaan, huh? *winks*)

Obi-Wan agrees to take the droid along as his traveling companion — he doesn’t believe in “owning” living things. (Please note this comic has Obi-Wan repeatedly denouncing slavery AND referring to a droid as a “living thing”. Anakin would have leapt into his arms at this.)

Recurring Theme: Jedi Bar Fight

There’s a Bad Guy at the bar who, in the grand tradition of Weird Star Wars Stuff, has a fit about there being a droid in the bar. This culminates in, a mere 7 pages into this thing and a HALF PAGE after Obi-Wan makes an appearance, with a fight breaking out where Obi-Wan trips the guy WHILE MAKING A DAD JOKE…

5…and then he just straight-up MAULS THE GUY WITHOUT EVEN TURNING AROUND. (And yes, in this context “mauling” is indeed my shorthand for “impaled someone through the stomach and killed them”.)

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He looks BORED OMFG

Another dude in the lounge is all “…impressive, General! Let’s get drunk together!”
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Obi-Wan unconvincingly saying he’s not much for “Deltron Spice Wine” — a drink that the stranger uses a microwave fermentation device on (to turn into booze, I guess?) He sits down with this dude, who introduces himself as “Augustus Tryll”, whose reputation evidently precedes him since Obi-Wan is like ohhhh yeah, I know you.

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Stimulant? Does alcohol work in the opposite direction in this universe?

I love that these two are apparently just having a pleasant chat right next to the spot where Obi-Wan just killed a guy and no one seems to give even half a shit. Star Wars is amazing.

Tryll asks Obi-Wan if he’d be into a partnership. Obi-Wan declines — this guy is a Shifty Character!

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OK but no one’s buying the part about the beverages, Kenobi.

He asks his new droid buddy to walk him back to their room. As they walk, there’s an announcement over the PA that everything but life support will be shut down now, as they are about to start drifting through an asteroid field in Merson-controlled space. The Mersons, the droid explains to Obi-Wan, are hostile to the Republic and also engage in bad things like slavery, and so when you go through their neighborhood, you have to keep a low profile.

Amusingly, Obi-Wan is like yeah yeah OK fine that’s great but TELL ME ABOUT MY FRIEND BAIL!!!
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Recurring Theme: Help Me Obi-Wan Kenobi, You’re The Only Guy I Know Who’ll Willingly Involve Himself In This Nonsense

In the night, or whatever, there’s a knock on Obi-Wan’s door and it’s a crewman: the captain is asking for Obi-Wan!

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*eyebrow waggle*

…anyways. The Captain wants to see Obi-Wan because, well, it appears the Mersons have indeed figured out that their ship is out there! WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO, OBI-WAN????

Obi-Wan is Shocked: they shouldn’t be able to see the ship! But it sure looks like the mersons are preparing to attack! Gasp!That must mean…
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He asks the captain what armaments they have, and the guy scoffs at this about as much as a pacifist duchess: this is a CRUISE SHIP, GENERAL! We don’t have have any armaments!

Obi-Wan presses: there are dignitaries and such on board — surely they have SOMETHING! The captain says all they have is two standard energy cannons. And unsurprisingly, Obi-Wan is like THAT MIGHT JUST WORK!

Leia, continuing to narrate while Luke presumably watches with heart-eyes as he thinks about how omg Ben was such a great man you guys, tells us about how Ben guided them to a victory against the Evil Merson Ships.
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Recurring Theme: Find The Hidden Bad Guy

The crew is like WOW OBI-WAN YOU’RE AMAZING, and really: I just love how often randoms in the Star Wars universe lavish him with the praise he deserves. Bail’s droid, RKO, tells Obi-Wan that that signal he speculated was coming from inside the ship? Yeah, it’s coming from the bar!

When they get there, they find a mob yelling at that Tryll guy, as they all assume he’s the one who alerted the Merson ships to their presence. Naturally, because Obi-Wan is the greatest person ever, he stands in between Tryll and the angry mob, pleading for cool heads and rationality. This comic is not even remotely canon and Obi-Wan doesn’t even really look like himself here and I am still in love with this man.
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The crowd? Well, as with most people Obi-Wan tries to talk down in his life, they do not appreciate being told to calm down. Instead, they conclude that Obi-Wan must be in on it too! They totally saw him drinking with Tryll earlier! It all makes sense now! Also, LOL FOREVER that someone in the crowd REASONABLY brings up the fact that WELL WE DID SEE KENOBI AND THAT DROID MURDER SOMEONE EARLIER IN THIS ISSUE:

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I mean he’s not wrong. Also: Joey Orsel?? LOL OK. 

Recurring Theme: Do It

Obi-Wan thinks to himself that he doesn’t have time for this bullshit: more Merson ships are surely on their way! They have to act swiftly and destroy whatever is giving away their whereabouts before they are found again!

He goes into Superhero Lightsaber Mode while Tryll, Palpatineishly, eggs him on:

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Goooood, gooood…

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Unexpectedly a Member of the Temperance Movement

Obi-Wan, however, isn’t about to kill anyone (…ELSE):
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I’ve gotta admit, I probably would not have guessed that Star Wars would ever show Obi-Wan Kenobi viciously attacking a fermentation device!

Leia explains in the narration that, with the fermentation device destroyed, the Merson ships could no longer find the space cruise ship, allowing them to make the rest of the trip safely. So…the thing Tryll used to make his drink boozier earlier in the comic was strong enough in power to act as a BEACON? Holy shit. How strong was that wine they had, then? Obi-Wan must really have the high tolerance I’ve longed joked about him having.
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The story concludes with Obi-Wan and Bail’s droid going back to their room, and the droid breathlessly telling Bail all about it when he gets back to Alderaan.

Recurring Theme: Luke Loves Obi-Wan

Back in the “present day”, Luke (who looks pretty much exactly like He-Man here,) beams: WOW LEIA. THANKS FOR TELLING ME ABOUT OBI-WAN AGAIN GOD I LOVE HIM. Me too, Luke. Me too.

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LOL @ “HRONK”

Threepio amusingly notes that RKO must have been one helluva storyteller. Awww, I nerdishly love that this little side comment made it in there. Han, of course, is like “yeah OK that was a half-decent story, Leia, too bad it was about the damn crappy Force and weird Old Ben and whatever.” He announces that their ship is ready to roll outta this quadrant, now — time to move on before they get into another mess! (Oh, give it a few more minutes, Solo.)

Recurring Theme: Star Wars Fans Have As Many Recurring Themes As Star Wars Itself

And that’s a wrap for this venture! But wait — we’re not totally done exploring Vintage Star Wars fandom for today just yet, because there’s a couple more gems this comic book has for us before we go. They come to us in the form of the last page, the Letters to the Editor section known as “Star-Words”.

Now, it probably goes without saying that I’ve spent my fair share of time immersed in the Star Wars Fandom. What never fails to amuse me is how, just like in Star Wars, the same themes just keep coming back over and over and over again. Don’t believe me? Let us time-travel to 1979, and see what the fans were griping about:
letter

Aww, poor Reina. I’m just going to leave her Fangirl Shipper Hopes and Dreams out there as a reminder for anyone who is positive they know who’s hooking up with who in the Sequel Trilogy. (I hope she brought tissues to Return of the Jedi.)

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…I’m just gonna go out on a limb and assume that this guy was not super excited about the prequels. He’s probably still out there on the internet somewhere getting into flamewars with people.

OK! With this trip down Nerdy Memory Lane completed for now, we’re done here for this installment of Snark Wars! I hope you’ll join me again for wherever our journey takes us next — Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan’s Ridiculous Adventures? The Real Old Republic? Who can say? See you then — thanks for reading!