Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The Lesser-Known EU: Breaking the Ice, Union and Chewbacca
Next up I'll include a couple of other random comics that are short little stand-alones. One is called Breaking the Ice and it is a short comic about Han and Leia getting stuck on a very cold Falcon on Hoth while searching for a lost Chewbacca. The heaters are broken and at one point Han goes out in the snow to try and find Chewie and there is a fairly amusing panel where Han basically just passes out on his face because it is so brutally cold, and Leia goes out and has to drag him back in.
Then, as one might expect in a comic with a set-up of this nature, they are then forced to utilize body heat to keep warm. This, of course, is Han's suggestion. Although they don't go all the way to that "we have to be naked or we won't be warm enough" thing, they do at least snuggle up under a blanket. Instead of making any sexual comments, Han just tells her, "I don't like it any more than you do." Then once under the blanket, Leia tells him, "Watch your hands." To which Han replies, "Oh, shut up."
Eventually they fall asleep and Leia awakens to hear Han once again trying to get in touch with Chewie, this time by comm. They then talk a lot about some of the great things Chewie has done for Han and it appears Leia is touched by Han's devotion to his friend and seeing this softer side. Leia even asks him where he got the scar on his chin, and he just says it was a knife fight, but, "You should see the other guy."
Leia gets uncharacteristically nice and gentle here, and she tells him, "You play the pirate, the tough... like you don't care about anyone or anything, but...
"Nothing, Captain. You seem like... like someone a person could actually count on."
As Leia is telling him this, they are gradually moving closer and closer to one another and it is apparent they are about to kiss. But, in classic Han and Leia fashion, it is interrupted. Yes, they are found at this exact moment by a search party and of course Chewie had been found and he's all right, too. It ends with Han working on fixing up the Falcon with Chewie back at the base and Leia goes and asks him if he's going to leave and he has offered to go to Ord Mantell instead. They are very civil to each other here and Leia even tells him he's being generous, so this is a nice little turning point for them, it seems.
It is a very cute little story that can probably be found all by itself somewhere but I have it in a collection of a few Leia-based comics that take place mostly before the movies. Only problem: once again the artwork isn't great. It is definitely better than Dark Empire from a quality standpoint, but they just don't really look like Han and Leia with the exception of a few panels here and there. At least in this case the not-Leia is actually a very pretty version instead of the train wreck from Dark Empire. Also, fun bit of trivia: this comic was done by Judd Winick, AKA Judd from the Real World San Francisco. For you old school Real World watchers, from back when they cast people who sometimes did stuff other than just going clubbing every night and sleeping with strangers, that was the one with Puck.
Next up, another sort of fluffy comic is Union. Now, the unfortunate thing is that this comic is based on the events surrounding Luke and Mara's wedding. I know, right? It's bad enough that in the whole EU it is so often implied that their relationship is so much better than Han and Leia's but now they get a fully illustrated wedding when all Han and Leia got was Luke showing up late. (really? I somehow doubt that Luke would've been late to their wedding) It is honestly the closest thing you will get to a fluffy fanfic in the entirety of the EU. There is very little plot. The "girls" all go to a spa and it includes some illustrations of all of them lounging around wrapped in towels around them and on top of their heads.
The men also spend some time giving Luke marriage advice and Luke says he doesn't want to disappoint her and Han says it's impossible not to disappoint her at some point. (In Han's case, we know his disappointments never happened in the bedroom...) and there's some random stuff that happens to make it more interesting including a bar fight at Luke's bachelor party. In the beginning Leia is helping Mara try on wedding dresses, most of which would be much more suited for Halloween. And then, as expected, they get married.
It is pure fluff, but cute as long as you don't let yourself get too angry at the fact that they got a whole comic, they "speak" to each other through the Force so obviously they know each other better, and there are several sections that are just little intimate moments between them that are illustrated, no less. From an artwork standpoint, I have to say I don't think you'll find better in a Star Wars comic. These people are definitely the ones from the movies. And here is my one favorite part that comes at the very end.
In case you can't read it, Han asks Leia, "Do you remember?" And she replies, "Always and often." Aw.... Now that looks like a very happily married couple. Even if they don't totally resemble the characters from the regular books. I don't see how they can occasionally get it so right in some of the EU and yet other times get it so wrong.
Last in this round, is the Chewbacca comic. It came out not long after Chewie died in the EU, which was not a great time for Star Wars fans! Basically, Threepio and Artoo are going around talking to the important people in Chewbacca's life and recording stories about him. It starts with Malla telling some stories to Threepio and Artoo about her and Chewie on Kashyyyk and some of the things he had done. Then we get to see when Han found Chewie and defied his orders, followed by Han and Chewie on some other little missions as told by Wedge and Lando.
Next comes Leia. And this is Leia in one of the more confusing portrayals of her in the EU. She goes a little nuts and a lot of what she says does not make me happy. Before she lets Threepio start "officially" recording her, she lets out what seems like years of frustration. She talks about how he's done so much for them but... "Sometimes I wished he was gone!" Whoa, right? Then she talks about how hard it is to be a princess and she has to always smile and be strong for everyone. That I get, but at this point she's been married to Han for seventeen years. I kind of feel like they might have addressed this at some point earlier, don't you?
It gets worse, though. "Poor Han. He loves me, I know he does. But he'll never be comfortable with his status, not even with his military rank. He'll always be a rogue. A charming, dear rogue." All right, I have no problem with any of that, makes sense to me. This is what I'm not a fan of:
"I watched him sometimes when he played with our children or when he was with Chewie... He's never been that way with me. That's why sometimes I wanted Chewie to disappear, for Han to be only mine!" Wow, really? I can see that at some point along the line having your husband's best friend around all the time might be draining, but again, I don't see them not addressing this. And I certainly don't see Han treating Leia differently than the rest of his family because of her status or something. In fact, it seems obvious from the onset of their relationship, from the moment they first meet, that he certainly does not treat her like a princess. In fact, I'm sure that is one of the reasons she loves him - because she can just be herself, regular Leia, and doesn't have to be all regal and noble.
Then she talks about how she had always wanted to grow old with Han but now she's losing him and the kids have been off doing their Jedi thing and now she's all alone. It's just so depressing. It makes Leia seem like she feels like an outsider in her own family, and that isn't really something I've gotten from any other books or anything. I can't even get into Han's withdrawing from his family during this time, because that is a rant for later when we get into those books. Anyway, this is a very dark look at the family, I think.
Next Luke tells the story of Chewie's last mission when he died saving Anakin, and finally we get to Han. Threepio finds him, where else, the Falcon, working on some stuff and without even thinking about it asks Chewie to hand him something. Then he decides to tell a story about when he and Chewie were out playing with the kids when they were still pretty young and Jaina wandered off and Chewie was the one who found her. Then Han is holding a picture that Jaina had drawn of Chewie to thank him, and she told him she loved him when she gave it to him. Han says that he should've told him that himself. After all Chewie had done for him and his family, he never told him he loved him. We also get the saddest picture of Han you'll ever see.
It's a very sad but touching moment, and this is something that I felt could've happened. I liked seeing the flashback to Han just being regular dad playing with his kids and the fact that he still had the picture Jaina had drawn probably at least ten years earlier.
The art in this comic is done by different artists depending on which story is being told. Some have more of a caricature feel rather than regular comic book art and each has its own unique style though none are great representations of the characters. The best ones are when Han rescues Chewie the first time and then towards the end when Han is on the Falcon thinking about Chewie. The Leia one looks even less like her than it sounds like her. Is it really that difficult to draw a good comic representation of Leia? Apparently, yes.
So there are a few other options for you. I wouldn't call any of them must-haves, but like most of this stuff, if you're a fan and you have the means, it's a nice addition to the collection.