Master Of Puppets

The second long story arc in the Marvel Star Wars series was based around The Wheel, a neutral space station full of casinos and yuppie space scum. The UK editions were published weekly rather than monthly, so each of the US issues were broken down into shorter episodes. This had the effect of making it seem like this story lasted forever. Even now, reading the original comics, it feels about two chapters too long. The killer concept that this story arc offers is SPACE GLADIATORS! Rather than fight crazy CG monsters in an arena watched by angry termites, Episode II style, Han and Chewie have to battle in a vaguely psychedelic antigravity holodeck type arrangement. It’s like a cross between an old issue of Warlock and that Buzz Lightyear shooting game in Disneyland. It looks pretty cool, but a few issues previously Han had a similar shootout with Crimson Jack floating in space, and that only took one issue, rather than six!

The rest of the story concerns The Wheel’s administrator, a former senator called Simon Greyshade. This suave motherfucker is less interested in Imperial politics than he is in Princess Leia’s sweet sweet ass. Now I know what you’re thinking, the head of a swishy, opulent facility in space, who gets in bed with The Empire and has an eye for the ladies sounds like a familiar type of character. He even wears a cape and rocks a smooth ‘tache. However, Lando Calrissian hadn’t been heard of at this point, and Greyshade is altogether sleazier.  At one point, if I understood correctly, he agrees to let our heroes go free as long as he can fly off with Leia aboard his personal pimp jet, which I can only assume is stocked to the rafters with lube and space rohypnol.

Greyshade’s one redeeming feature seems to be his friendship with Master-Com, a sort of ambulatory city central computer, in the shape of a more butch C-3PO. Yes, this dude would have pissed off Valance no end, had the tetchy self hatin’ cyborg been around. Master-Com gets blasted to pieces, but later reveals he has a bunch of different “bodies” that he can control (one of which looks a rather natty shade of pink) so he can immediately reappear and make snarky comments like a right smartarse. No wonder people hate droids so much.

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