Remember when Darth Vader was green and Han Solo used to pal around with a talking space rabbit (that would be the mighty Jaxxon)? Not so much? Well, if not, you’ll get to discover Jaxxon and Marvel’s sometimes great, sometimes wildly off-model take on the Star Wars universe when the publisher releases Star Wars: The Original Marvel Years omnibus in January 2015.
Marvel dropped details about the collection in a press release this morning, saying that the massive book would include Star Wars issues 1-44 along with the first annual. That’s a little over a third of the series’ 1977-1986 run (it ran a total of 107 issues excluding annuals). Based on the cover and the not-green Vader, it looks like Marvel might be correcting some of the early production mistakes from that first run.
Before Dark Horse got hold of the license in the ’90s, this was the way to read Star Wars comics after the release of A New Hope in 1977. They were very different from the darker, much more serious comics to follow (even if they did have enough death, doom, and destruction to send about 10 galaxies spinning into chaos): these were the swashbuckling, planet-spanning adventures of Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewie in an ongoing war with the Empire, and damn if they weren’t thrilling (and occasionally, early ’80s weird).
It helped that Marvel had some great talent on the book at the time: writers Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin, Archie Goodwin, Jo Duffy and Chris Claremont were joined by artists Carmine Infantino, Walter Simonson, Herb Trimpe, Michael Golden, Al Williamson and Mike Vosburg (with Chaykin doing double duty as an artist for the series as well).
Previously, Dark Horse held the rights to reprint the series, offering five color, phone book-sized omnibus editions as well as color reprints of selected single issues. Disney recently took the rights to the Star Wars license back from the publisher, who’d been printing what were, at the time, new canonical stories set in the expanded universe alongside the Marvel reprints. Next year, Marvel is set to release new comics featuring Han, Leia, Luke, and Chewie in 2015 in the lead up to Episode VII.