This is a one-issue adventure that finds all our heroes (plus Dani the Zeltron, who stowed away on the Falcon in the last issue) re-united for a mission to the titular planet Lahsbane to find a lost rebel agent who apparently crash landed there. Unfortunately for the crew, things aren't going so well. The Falcon is immediately grounded with some kind of mechanical problem and the native Lahsbees (small, giggling, ewok-like critters) aren't exactly being helpful. Luke manages to get some information out of the natives- but it is bad news as well: the rebel agent is dead and it seems the Lahsbees took the data-tapes from the agent's ship and stored them in an apparently abandoned city- a city that is on the other side of a huge canyon- far from the Falcon's current position. And just when you thought things couldn't get worse, an Imperial Scout ship arrives and lands nearby. Thankfully, they didn't seem to notice the Falcon on their way in.
As Lando, Luke and Chewie set about camouflaging the ship, Leia and Dani get into a verbal altercation. Indeed, the two do not seem to get along at all. Some highlights of the conversation are as follows:
Dani (haughtily): "...I don't want any Imperial officer finding me here. I have the death sentence in six star systems."
Leia (snarkily): "As many as that? I didn't know there were so many places where what YOU do is still illegal."
Dani (angrily): "I was referring to STEALING! My partners and I have robbed and conned some very important people in our day!"
Leia (bitingly): "Oh yeah? You made a thorough mess of the only caper I ever saw you work! Your 'client' nearly killed you!"
Dani (defensively): "We fooled YOU pretty well!"
This escalates until the two of them pretty much dare each other to journey to the 'abandoned' city. They prepare to do so by commandeering some primitive balloons from the Lahsbees. As they are doing so, however, the Imperials happen by. Dani manages to distract them by dancing (which, for some reason, the Imperials enjoy, then move on without questioning WHY there is a Zeltron here...). Unfortunately, as Dani dances, Leia (hiding nearby) loses control of the balloon and is blown over the canyon. Dani only JUST manages to return in time to leap onto the balloon. Together, the two women drift towards the city.
Luke and Lando, just finishing the camouflage, are perturbed to discover that they have been left behind. In fact, the two seem oddly chauvinistic here- the implication being that the women are 'helpless' without them. Luke commandeers a Lahsbee glider and heads across the canyon- leaving Lando to finish repairs on the Falcon. It is then that a gigantic, shaggy-furred, hulking humanoid suddenly attacks, battering Lando and even Chewbacca when the latter comes out to help. As the fight rages, Threepio explains to a clobbered Lando- these huge things are "Huhks"- the mature form of the tiny Lahsbees.
We cut from here to Dani and Leia exploring the seemingly abandoned city. There, they find (and break into) a treasure vault containing the tapes left behind by the rebel agent as well as... well... treasure. On their way out, however, they run into a group of enraged Huhks.
Cutting back to the Falcon, Lando manages to get to his blaster and stuns the Huhk trying to choke the life out of Chewbacca. Evidently, for all their size these things are highly susceptible to energy blasts.
Back in the city, Leia and Dani are preparing for their final stand against the Huhks- only to have them collapse in front of them- having been stun blasted from behind by a smug-looking Luke Skywalker.
With the rebel tapes in their possession and the Falcon back in working order, the heroes prepare to leave the planet- only to discover that Dani is missing! Seems she's stolen the Imperial's scout craft for her own- along with a load of treasure she pilfered from the locals' vault while Leia was looking for the tapes. Decked out in her newfound jewels, Dani bids her farewell and states her intention to find her old partners again.
All in all, this was an okay adventure, even if it did have some pretty huge plot holes. For instance, the Imperials find Dani in the woods and she 'distracts' them with a Dance. It seems to me that only Lahsbees and Huhks live on the planet. Wouldn't a random Zeltron, dancing in the woods, make the Imperials suspicious?
Also, the Imperials are pretty much ignored after this appearance. They don't ever find the heroes, or the tapes and are apparently stranded on the planet at the end of the adventure. Seems weird to introduce an 'obstacle' like them and not use it.
As I mentioned in the commentary above, there is also the odd touch of chauvinism on display in this story. When Luke and Lando find out the women have gone off by themselves, they are aghast. This is really odd, considering how capable both of these women have proven to be in previous adventures. And then Luke does indeed have to show up to 'save' them. It just seemed odd to include this based upon writing in the earlier stories. At the very least, however, they came up with reasons for why Leia and Dani were unarmed at the time.
One thing I really did enjoy was the dialogue between Leia and Dani. They don't like each other, and the sniping between them is humorous. It becomes more so in future issues of the comic as Leia finds herself beset by 'annoying' Zeltrons at seemingly every turn. In fact, it becomes one of the running jokes of the series.
Dani (dancing to distract the Imperials): "I love the forest in the moonlight! It makes me feel so full of.. of-"
Leia (whispering as she hides a short distance away): "You're full of it, alright. Just so long as you keep their attention..."
Leia (exasperatedly): "It's not that I mind dying...it's just that this is such a stupid way to go!"
Dani (panicked): "I mind dying!"
Lando (after blasting a Huhk from behind): "I hope you didn't mind a little assist from the rear, Chewie..." Ummm. Yeah.
Again, the artwork in this era of the comics is my favorite. I am particularly fond of the variety of outfits the heroes are now 'allowed' to wear. This stands in stark contrast with the movie 'costumes' they were forced to wear in the early issues. Seriously, for the first year or so of the comics, Leia was in that white dress with the hair buns and Luke NEVER changed out of his farm boy clothes... was getting annoying.
THE ISKALON SAGA
This is a three-issue story-arc that finds our heroes on a diplomatic mission to the titular ocean planet of Iskalon. The story begins in "The Iskalon Effect" with some exposition. Luke explains aloud why they're on their mission, Threepio expounds on plot points from the previous missions leading up to this- namely the whole idea that the group is still looking for a lost rebel agent (one different from the one who they found had died in the last adventure). The dialogue also briefly touches on Leia's growing feeling of despair at the loss of her homeworld, of many of her comrades in the Rebellion and of Han Solo.
With this out of the way, we finally delve into the meat of this particular story as our heroes meet with the local aquatic species and discuss goings on in the area. They learn of Imperial subjugation and destruction from Primor, the leader of the Iskalon people. In fact, Iskalon itself has a garrison of troopers- seen patrolling outside the aquatic starport as the heroes carry on their meeting. Our heroes then learn that the agent they are looking for had recently visited Iskalon and was headed from there to the nearby world of Gamandar. It is decided that Lando, Chewbacca and the Droids will head to Gamandar to continue the search while Luke and Leia remain on Iskalon to deepen diplomatic ties with the locals.
Primor's son, Mone, decides to travel with Lando and his team and assist them in their mission, leaving his wife, Kendle, behind to worry. Meanwhile, Primor invites Luke and Leia to take an underwater tour of his planet.
Unfortunately for all involved. The previous discussions seem to have been overheard by a shady-looking spacer type. We see this man board his ship and and overhear his thoughts about getting an 'imperial promotion'.
The scenes shift to show the Imperials on Gamandar doing what Imperials do- opressing the locals, etc. The as-yet-unnamed Imperial Governor (who has one red, cybernetic eye with a cool crosshairs motif on it) receives the spy's transmissions and puts a plan into action. This is soon revealed to be the launch of a massive missile. Ironically, as the Falcon flies to Gamandar, they have to dodge out of the way of the missile as it heads to Iskallon- never knowing exactly what it was they passed.
Back on Iskalon, Luke and Leia return to the aquatic spaceport after finishing their underwater tour. They are shocked to see Kendle (Primor's daughter-in-law) inside the station, her water-tanks smashed- evidently the victim of some attack. Luke and Leia rush to her aid and reach her just as the Imperial missile strikes the oceans nearby. This sets in motion a massive tidal surge that crashes down on the spaceport. Thus ends the first issue of this arc.
The next issue (appropriately titled 'Tidal') picks up where the last left off. Luke and Leia struggle to survive the flooding of the spaceport. A revived Kendle tries to help them escape, but the group is suddenly attacked by another Iskalonian. Kendle promptly swims away, seemingly leaving Luke and Leia to their fates.
The story cuts back to Lando and his crew landing on Gamandar. There is a long spiel here about how they're going in undercover, even though they use the name Millennium Falcon. Yeah. I don't understand that either. In any case, they get a meeting with the local commander (the one with the cybernetic eye). We learn he is Admiral Tower. Lando, dressed in a raspberry beret and eyepatch, introduces himself as Captain Drebble. Amusingly, Drebble is the name of a former 'business associate' of Lando's, one who he apparently cheated and one who, on the planet Stenos just a few issues earlier, had put a 10,000 credit bounty on Lando's head. It is even more amusing that Lando actually uses this alias in future adventures... as we will see.
In any case, Lando pours on the 'charm' and attempts to locate the Rebel Agent (Tay Vanis)-or at the very least his droid- by posing as an enemy of the rebellion and in particular of Tay Vanis. He offers the Admiral payment in exchange for information on Vanis. Unfortunately, Tower tells him that Lord Vader wants Vanis as well, so... no deal. Tower allows Lando and his chums to leave- for the time being. As our heroes depart, the Imperial spy we saw on Iskalon appears and confirms to the Admiral that these were indeed the rebels he was looking for.
Unnoticed by Lando and the others, Artoo has slipped off by himself- having been mistaken for an Imperial droid...
Lando and the others head to the Imperial droid quartermaster- searching for Vanis' droid, whom they believe may (unknown to the bad guys) be in Imperial hands. They proceed to purchased K-3PX, who they believe to be the droid they're looking for. Once out of Imperial earshot, Lando attempts to convince 3PX of their good intentions, letting it slip that Luke Skywalker was with them on Iskalon. This seems to shock and interest the droid for some reason...
From there, we cut back to Iskalon itself. Luke, Leia and Kendle are confronted by an orange-skinned Iskalonian armed with a knife. The assailant promptly destroys the one air-tank Luke and Leia were sharing, forcing them to follow him out of the wrecked aquatic spaceport and up to the surface. They make it- barely- and discover a scene of horrific carnage. The port is in shambles and the broken bodies of the dead float everywhere amidst the wreckage. The orange-skinned local is nowhere to be seen, however. Luke and Leia survey the wreckage and are horrified that the Empire would kill so many innocents just to get them- noting even the deaths of most of the Imperial Garrison. They find the body of the planet's leader- Primor, floating with the others.
Kendle surfaces then, grieving for her father-in-law and all the other deaths. This is interrupted by the re-appearance of the orange-skinned native- who announces that all of this is Kendle's fault. Kendle once again flees. Luke and Leia prevent orange guy from pursuing, demanding he explain himself. He does so, noting that his name is Kiro and that it was Kendle who betrayed their location to the Empire- evidently in an attempt to save the life of her husband, Mone, who had gone with Lando. She hoped that turning in the rebels would save her family and her people. She was wrong. And it is at this point that Luke and Leia realize that Lando and the others were walking into a trap.
The issue ends with a shot of Lando and his team sprawled unconscious on the floor of an Imperial detention cell.
The next issue, titled "Artoo Detoo to the Rescue", begins with a scene featuring Darth Vader. Here, the droid 3PX reports to the dark lord on the happenings of the previous issues. Evidently, 3PX is an Imperial droid- though it is unclear at the moment if he was a plant, or reprogrammed or just a double agent. When Vader hears that Luke Skywalker may have been killed on Iskalon, he is furious and sets course for Gamandar right away.
Meanwhile, on Iskalon, Luke, Leia and Kiro tend to the few wounded survivors they find, but are soon attacked by a monstrous sea-beast- a Chiaki. It has been drawn by the 'feast' that all the dead bodies represent. After the monster is driven off, a new threat appears. Kendle has returned- with a horde of angry Iskalonians. She has convinced them that Luke and Leia are the ones responsible for all this destruction. Not wanting to fight them, Luke attempts to hold off the horde with Force powers. He is unable to mentally sway the Iskalonians because they can and do think as a 'school'. They are, however, frightened off by a display of telekinesis. Unfortunately it is only a delaying tactic...
Meanwhile, on Gamandar, Lando and his team wake to find themselves in a detention cell- having evidently been waylaid by K-3PX. According to Lando, the droid 'blasted' them all by surprise. All I have to say is: Wow. That's a pretty skilled droid. Admiral Tower then shows up to gloat and explain to them all that they were also betrayed by Kendle. Unfortunately for the Admiral, he is interrupted by K-3PX. The droid, acting on orders from Darth Vader, has the Admiral arrested.
As Admiral Tower is dragged off, R2-D2 shows up. He's been working 'undercover' all this time, pretending to be an Imperial droid. Amusingly enough, previous scenes have shown various officers around the base taking credit for Artoo's good work. In any case, he quickly frees his companions. As Lando and the others escape in the Falcon, Tower's execution is ordered by a hologram of Lord Vader. Tough luck.
Back on Iskalon, the situation grows dire. Luke, Leia and Kiro have to repulse attacks by both the angered natives and surviving Imperials. Things go from bad to worse when Kiro is wounded and begins to 'drown' in the air. As Luke and Leia struggle to get him to the water- another, monstrous Chiaki shows up. Its then that the Falcon arrives, blasting the beast. It collapses onto the platform wreckage. Ironically, it lands on Kendle, killing her.
Kiro is saved, but Mone, broken by the loss of his father and wife, returns to his people and decides that they will all retreat beneath the waves and have no further contact with off-worlders. And so the story ends- with death, tragedy and the loss of a possible ally to the Alliance. Whuf.
Overall, I liked this story, but again, there were some major holes in the plot. The most glaring of these is the fact that Lando openly uses the name Millennium Falcon when landing on an Imperial controlled world. He 'disguises' their presence by claiming that the ship belongs to Mone- because this evidently will throw the Empire off the scent. Okay, Yeah. I don't follow.
Secondly, there is Lando's plan to get information on Tay Vanis. Seriously? The best he could come up with is to go directly to the Empire? Still, I can't fault him entirely, indeed, I find the whole situation amusingly reminiscent of an RPG session in which the players come up with a somewhat sloppy plan then try to muddle their way through it... while the GM just sits back and gives them enough line to hang themselves with.
The oddest problem I have with the plot, though, is the fact that there are three traitors when there doesn't need to be. Why even include the character of the Imperial spy when the same purpose could have been served- and more dramatically- by Kendle. I mean, both the Imperial AND Kendle told Tower all about the rebels and their plans. These traitors have been brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Dept. Oh, and then there was K-3PX. Did he really need to betray Lando and the others when they were already betrayed... why would tower let them walk out of his headquarters at all when he already knew they were rebel spys....
All that being said, the CORE story is a solid one. For Lando and his crew there is good 'caper' action. For Luke and Leia there is a lot of angsty soul searching going on. And then there is the ending, which is surprisingly 'down' for a Star Wars comic, but fits pretty well with the 'desperate' tone of the post-Empire Strikes Back era.
It should also be noted that this adventure marked the introduction of Kiro, who would become and important supporting character in issues to come, even if he /does/ remain on his homeworld at the end of this particular one.
Admiral Tower (bored): "
Lando (disguised as Captain Drebble, with his arm slung around the Admiral's shoulder): "Drebble. Drebble they call me. "Drebs" to my friends. See, Admiral Tower, the way I got it figured is a man wants to do business in a new playce, first thing he oughtta do is drop in on the guy in charge and-"
Admiral Tower (incredulous): "Really? And do many people call you "Drebs"?"