One Thing I Love Today: Gerry Duggan’s ‘Chewbacca’ is pure ‘Star Wars’ bliss

02.24.16 1 year ago

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One Thing I Love Today is a daily column dedicated to putting a spotlight on some pop culture item worth your attention. After all, there's enough snark out there. Why not start every day with one quick shotgun blast of positivity?

Are you still basking in the afterglow of Deadpool?

One of the many people you'd probably want to say thank you to is Gerry Duggan, as he's been writing the character in various titles for a while now, both with Brian Posehn and without him. He's become a prolific writer for Marvel Comics overall, and he's a very good storyteller with a wicked sense of humor.

By far, though, my favorite thing he's done so far is Chewbacca, a five-part mini-series that's part of the overall push by Marvel Comics to publish both ongoing and standalone Star Wars titles. I think the main Star Wars title is great right now, and so is the Darth Vader ongoing series. But ever since 1977, I have had a specific affection for Han Solo's best friend, the Wookiee co-pilot played with so much soul and humor by Peter Mayhew. It may well be one of the greatest suit performances of all time, and even without any dialogue that you can understand, he has always felt like a real character to me, not like a prop. Maybe that's why I always get annoyed at the end of A New Hope, when Chewie doesn't get a medal even though he was flying the ship that saved Luke Skywalker, enabling him to blow up the Death Star. Han Solo gets a medal. What is Chewie, his dog?!

… sigh. I told myself I wouldn't do that.

Here's where I fell in love with the mini-series, written by Duggan and impeccably illustrated by Phil Noto, whose renderings of Chewbacca (and the rest of the Star Wars universe) are positively gorgeous: the opening crawl. Yes, each of the Star Wars comics gets an opening crawl, and this one is particularly great.

“It is a period of renewed hope for the rebellion.

The evil galactic Empire's greatest weapon, the Death Star, has been destroyed by CHEWBACCA, warrior son of the planet KASHYYYK… with some help from his trusty sidekick Han and his friends Luke and Leia. But Chewie is not one to grandstand. There is still much to accomplish.

The Battle Of Yavin reverberates through the galaxy as our WOOKIEE hero embarks on a very important and personal secret mission. Unfortunately for Chewbacca, his loaner spacecraft proves to be what they refer to in the Outer Rim as a 'hunk of junk'….”

Finally. Some justice for the Wookiee. Andelm-4 is a small planet on the ass end of nowhere, and Jaum is a local crimelord nee businessman who has set up a mining scam that he hopes will make him rich at the Empire's expense. Zarro is a young girl whose father Arrax has gotten them into debt to Jaum, and that means working in the Andelm Beetle Caverns. Trust me… you don't want to work there.

Zarro is looking for a hero. Chewbacca's ship crashes. And for five issues, the two of them have a great, fun, terrifically illustrated adventure that gets Chewbacca and Star Wars exactly right. I love that no one in the entire mini-series speaks Wookiee, so even though Chewie understands all of them, no one understands him, and yet, he develops a real friendship with Zarro. Every issue has a great cliffhanger to bring you back, and the art is so good that it's worth re-reading as soon as you finish each issue.

I know, I know… Star Wars is everywhere right now. There's a good chance that it will start to feel like overkill at some point. But it feels to me like a generation that was raised on Star Wars has finally been turned loose to play with it, and the results have breathed new life into the entire universe that George Lucas created. If this is the sort of thing we have to look forward to under Disney and Lucasfilm's stewardship, as well as The Force Awakens, then Star Wars is in very good hands, indeed.

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