Parts of Chewie's past told by some of the people who knew him. A Trandoshan slaver tells how Chewbacca ruined his career; a bounty hunter tells how she was rescued by Chewie; and the father of a rival Wookie Chewie killed tells how Chewbacca became an Imperial slave.
reviewed 2/17/00; updated 2/18/00
The first story, Chapter 3: Ssoh, or "A Slaver's Lot", is by far the best of the three, on par with the first issue. It is really worthy of Chewbacca, showing his intelligence and his sense of honor. Chewie brings the other Wookiees to their senses and makes them work together to escape instead of fighting against each other. He shows the qualities of a real leader. I also like the ironic ending. The Trandoshan slaver survived to tell the tale, and has the scars to prove it. In a way, it's like a message to others of his kind. And it also impaired the slaver so he could not perform his duties anymore, having no choice but to find another way of life. It gives the sinner time to reflect on his actions.
Chapter 4: Mala Mala offers that the similarity of the narrator's name with Chewie's wife's name is not a coincidence. But it is an origin tale for the Mala Mala character, which was created by Macan and Gibbons in their Vader's Quest series, and does not have much to do with Chewie's exploits. It would be a very good story for Star Wars Tales anthology, but I don't think it belongs in this series.
Chapter 5: Tvrrdko, or "Breaking a Custom": While I like that some of those individual stories tie together, this one here being told by Tojjevvuk's father, at first I was outraged that the account of Chewie's first meeting with Han Solo was different than the way it was described in Ann C. Crispin's novel The Hutt Gambit. Until someone made me realize that maybe this is the account on how Chewie was first captured by Imperials, and in the book was the account on how Chewie was rescued by Han.
In this story, Chewbacca is rescuing Wookiees from slavers who are delivering them to an Imperial buyer, Commander Nyklas. Nyklas orders a squadron of TIEs to kill the Wookiees, but one of the pilots, Han Solo, says no and stays with Chewbacca. This brings up some intersting points. Although Han did not bring back Chewie's hide to the commander like ordered, he did bring him Chewie. He did not technically disobey orders. This probably made Han feel a lot of guilt over this, being responsible for Chewie's capture, leading him to rescue Chewie later on Coruscant.
When seen this way, the story is very interesting, and adds a lot to the events from Han's period in the Empire that was not covered in Crispin's novels.
While the droids are kind of blocky and awkward, Jan Duursema's strength is in the depiction of Wookiees. We see real savagery in their features, and determination in their eyes and postures. Truly one of the best Wookiee art. Check out the panel on page 7 where an angry Chewbacca is leaping at the "camera". A classic.
Dave Gibbon's style has a kind of Ditko-esque simplicity to it. It reminds me of the old Star Wars strips by Russ Manning or Al Williamson. The kind of fast drawing required to do daily comic strips. The ships look like they came right out of an old Flash Gordon strip. Very nostalgic.
The art in the third story is certainly my favorite of the three. I simply love Abell's Mignola-inspired style. Plus, he's the only one in this issue who can draw Threepio and Artoo like they are supposed to be drawn. Without repeating what I said about his work in Star Wars Tales #2, I will say that he can draw ships as good as anyone who worked on the X-Wing series (except for Allen Nunis of course), and Han Solo looks like Harrison Ford for once (only Robert Teranishi has done him well.)
The three stories are kind of condensed, and leaving the Mala Mala story out would have benefited the last story by giving it more pages. But still, two of the three stories are worthy of the title, and for that alone this issue is worth buying.