Star Wars #3: "Death Star!"

Star Wars #3
"Death Star!"
September, 1977

Roy Thomas: Writer/Editor
Howard Chaykin & Steve Leialoha: Artists/Illustrators
Steve Leialoha: Colorist
Tom Orzechowski: Letterer

The tale thus far: the Rebel Alliance continues to defy the corrupt Galactic Empire -- because the location of their hidden base is currently unknown to them. Now, the powerful battle-station known as the Death Star is about to destroy Princess Leia's home planet of Alderaan unless she reveals the location of the rebel base! She insists to Governor Tarkin that Alderaan is a peaceful and weaponless world -- Tarkin would prefer a military target and for the Princess to name the system of the rebel base!

With Admiral Motti awaiting the order to destroy Alderaan, Princess Leia tells them the rebel base is on Dantooine, and Tarkin thanks her for being reasonable. He is now ready to proceed with the operation; and they may fire when ready! Since Dantooine is too remote to be an effective demonstration of the battle-station's capabilites, they must make do with the planet at hand. The laser weaponry of the Death Star are focused on the emerald planet of Alderaan... which soon ceases to exist. Tarkin promises the Princess that soon the rebellion that she and her late father had championed shall vanish in a similar manner!

At that moment in hyperspace, Ben Kenobi feels a sudden ebbing in the force, as if billions of beings cried out at once! Han tells his passengers he has lost the Imperial starships that were pursuing the Millenium Falcon -- and is a bit disappointed when they don't all thank him at once for the news! As he calculates their arrival on Alderaan at 0200, Threepio informs Han that Artoo is beating Chewbacca at their 3-dimensional chess game, and that R-2 units excel at games of mathematical skill -- a fact that the Wookie does not appreciate in the least!

When Threepio chastizes Chewbacca for his growling over Artoo's legal move, Han reminds him that it's never wise to upset a Wookie! Threepio is reminded by the space-pilot that unlike droids, Wookies have been known to rip their opponent's arms out of their sockets when they lose. Seeing Han's point, Threepio urges Artoo to employ a new strategy by letting the Wookie win! Elsewhere on the ship, Luke Skywalker continuing his exercises with the light-sabre and the remote! Its sensors are capable of zapping him when he least expects it!

ZRAPP! "YEEEOW!" Ben suggests to Luke that he try again... this time while wearing a helmet that prevents him from seeing the remote! Ben tells the young farmer that his eyes are deceiving him and not to trust them! A true Jedi Knight such as Luke's father and Ben can feel the force flowing from him. The force controls one's actions -- but it also obeys your commands. SWISSSH The remote avoids Luke's lightsabre strike, and Ben tells him to stretch out his feelings -- in the dark! This time, he successfully deflects the remote with his lightsabre! FORP!

Luke did it and confesses to Ben that he could almost see the remote! Han is both skeptical and practical in his preference for having a good blaster by his side instead of relying on hocus-pocus religions and ancient weaponry. The space-pilot may not believe in the force, but he does believe they are slowing down to sub-light speed and their next stop -- Alderaan... The Millennium Falcon has come out of hyper-space and into a meteor storm -- or some type of asteroid collision! The position is correct -- only there is no Alderaan! The entire planet has been totally blown away! Han spots an Imperial TIE Fighter -- but there are no Imperial bases in the immediate area! It could not have followed them through hyper-space because it is a short-range fighter. If it should identify them -- Ben suggests that they let it go because it is out of range and Han decides to have Chewie jam its transmission!

The TIE Fighter is heading for a small moon, with the Millennium Falcon gaining on it! Ben sees that this is no moon, but some sort of space station. The space-pilot insists that it's too big to be a -- and suddenly has a bad feeling about this. Han orders Chewie to go full reverse and lock in the auxiliary power! They are still moving toward it because the ship is caught in a tractor beam, and they are being dragged in! Even at full power, there is nothing they can do, but shut down!

Han Solo is not about to be sucked up like so much space dust -- not without putting up a fight! If it is a fight, it's one he cannot hope to win... and Ben offers him an alternative to fighting.

At that moment, within the Death Star, the scout ships sent to Dantooine report they have found the remains of a rebel base -- long deserted. Lord Vader reminds Governor Tarkin that the Princess would not knowingly betray the rebellion -- unless she thought she could destroy the battle-station in the process! Tarkin wants her to be immediately terminated, but Vader believes she can still be of value to them. Grand Moff Tarkin will find the hidden fortress -- if he has to erradicate every star system in the sector. Vader informs Tarkin that they have just captured the same Corellian freighter which left the quarantine on Mos Eisley. They may have been trying to return the stolen data tapes to Princess Leia. In one of the hangars aboard the battle-station, no one is found aboard the freighter, and the ship's log states that the entire crew abandoned ship soon after takeoff. There are no droids aboard, either. Vader insists they keep checking because he senses a presence he hasn't felt since -- Within the captured freighter, Han Solo admits he never thought he would be using these special compartments to smuggle himself! Even so, they won't be getting past the tractor beam! Ben will work on that particular problem. When the space-pilot calls the former Jedi Knight a fool, Obi-Wan asks, "Who is the greater fool -- the fool, or the one who follows him?"

The Imperial stormtroopers arrive with the necessary scanning equipment to properly search the freighter. When two of the troopers carry the sensitive apparatus onto the Corellian freighter, they are in for a surprise! With his visi-screen revealing a sudden lack of guards, a worried gantry officer uses his radio to ask TX-421 why he is not at his post! A lone trooper appears and gives the hand signal that they've got another bad radio transmitter. When the gantry officer decides to see for himself what the trouble is, the door opens, and Chewbacca the Wookie gives the startled officer the back of his hairy hand! THLAP! "NRRLK!"

"GAROOO!" Even as the large Wookie connects with the startled gantry officer, another stormtrooper appears at the doorway... to blast the other trooper before he can use his blaster! Between Chewbacca's howling and Han's blasting, it's a miracle the entire battle-station doesn't know they are here! The space-pilot doesn't like this sneaking around. Threepio plugs in Artoo to read the entire Imperial computer network. WHOOP BOOOP-R-BEEP It is learned that the tractor beam is coupled to the main reactor in seven locations... but most of the data is restricted... Artoo will continue to learn what he can. With the tractor beam off, they can leave, but Ben knows that he must go alone.

Han has gotten more than he bargained for on this particular trip, but even he thinks taking the tractor beam out of commission will take more than the old man's magic. Ben knows that their destiny lies along another path and that they must deliver the droids to the rebel forces. Before leaving, Ben tells Luke to trust his feelings because the force is with him! PUH-WHEET! PUH-WHEET! PUH-WHEET! Threepio tells the others that Artoo is repeating that she is here! It was Princess Leia who put the holographic message into the R-2 unit! Han is not going anywhere, but Luke wants to change the space-pilot's mind by telling him how beautiful she is! Han finds life to be beautiful, too! The young farmer also mentions that she is rich and that the reward for her safe return will be more than he can imagine! The space-pilot can imagine quite a bit of money! With the promise of wealth, Han is ready to listen to Luke's plan!

Luke is about to put electric handcuff on Chewbacca, which causes the Wookie to go "HARARRGN!" The young farmer then decides that Han should do it, and the space-pilot already knows what he has in mind. "GHRK!" While Threepio and Artoo remain to monitor the situation, Han tells the two droids that if they are discovered, to pray the troopers don't have blasters! Cold comfort, indeed! Out in the corridor, Luke and Han try to appear inconspicuous in their stolen armor, as they wait for the vacuum elevator to open. Few give the trio a second look because they are used to seeing helpless prisoners -- even large ones. As they enter the security area, Han starts to think that this isn't going to work, and reminds Luke that he had mentioned it earlier! When asked where they are going with this -- thing, they inform the guard that the Wookie is a prisoner transfer from Block TX-138. The guard wasn't notified...

They are to wait there while he clears it, and as he starts punching in to make certain that Block TX-138 is not currently occupied... they see only three stormtroopers in the area, and that it's time to make their move. "ARROOOO!" The Wookie has gotten loose and its two stormtrooper guards are certain it will rip them apart! The next moment finds Luke and Han firing wildly, but not at Chewbacca. "GNRRR" They blast the automatic cameras -- the energy-rate controls -- TZIP ZIK ZURK! ZZRK "HNGH" FRAP Two of the stormtroopers are taken down!

Seconds later, valuable electronic equipment has been rendered useless by blaster-fire... SZZRAK The lone trooper suddenly realizes that the two newcomers are dangerous and opens fire! It is too late -- as the disguised space-pilot soon demonstrates -- ! KZIK ZZZZ "GNARK" Luke sees the officer in charge is about to activate the alarm system --! Han tells him to do something because he's got his hands full!"

ZZRAP Luke does a space-pirate proud! Han learns the Princess is being held in Cell 2187 and tells Luke to get moving while he holds them off in the security center! Although the space-pilot does his best to keep the rest of the station in the dark, he soon terminates the boring radio conversation with a BLAM! He and Chewie are about to have some unwanted company!

Luke has reached the middle of the long corridor -- and Cell 2187. He breaches it with his laser pistol -- then stops -- tongue-tied -- when the smoke clears -- and he sees that she is even more beautiful than he had imagined! Princess Leia, on the other hand, finds him to be a little short to be an actual stormtrooper! Removing his helmet, Luke introduces himself to the princess, and tells her they've come to rescue her! Ben Kenobi is with them -- and the droids, too!

In the outer security chamber, things have gotten very hot -- as several explosions have torn a gaping hole through which Imperial stormtroopers are beginning to come through... Han and Chewie have got to retreat! "HRNK!" Seeing the Princess, Han informs them that they can't go back the way they came! Princess Leia compliments the space-pilot on the way he has just cut off their only means of escape! Han begs her worship's pardon -- and offers to return her to the cell! He love to do just that but just now -- they've got trouble! FTIK ZIK He and Chewie start blasting! If they die here -- they will take as many of them along with them as possible! Luke calls for Threepio on the radio for information on other escape routes and gets no answer -- as the sound of the troopers' laser blasts come closer -- and closer--!

On the cover of Star Wars #3 by Gil Kane and Tom Palmer, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and Luke are doing battle with Imperial stormtroopers aboard the Death Star!

I first came across this comic book and series through the Whitman 3 Comics For A Dollar Packs.

Howard Chaykin and Tom Orzechowski were kind enough to sign my copy of this issue.

When it comes to colors, Steve Leialoha is a prince!

When it comes to lettering blaster sound effects, R-2 units, and Wookies, the orz is strong with Tom Orzechowski.

Back in the days before next-generation video game systems, droids and Wookies had to make do with three-dimensional chess.

One wonders what Wookies do when they win... do they rip only one of their opponent's arms when they are congratulated?

The Millennium Falcon goes over the moon for a short-range TIE-Fighter, only to learn that ain't no moon, but a space-station!

The Star Wars movie owe a debt of gratitude to Akira Kurosawa's "Hidden Fortress".

A ship in the hand is worth a Wookie in the mush!

Luke and Han's marksmanship drew little suspicion from the other stormtroopers until it was too late!

Artoo's reading skills are truly impressive to those of us who have plenty of unread email.

The officer in charge of the security center punched in and got his ticket punched out by Han and Luke in stormtrooper's clothing.

Steve Chung
"Death Review!"