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Hope for the Future » Droid racism

Posts Tagged ‘Droid racism’

Extreme Valance

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

 

Valance is one of the most memorable characters from the Marvel Star Wars series, and even though he only made three appearances, it’s easy to see why. He was the badass bounty hunter before Boba Fett, and his introduction, in issue 16’s The Hunter was the first instance of a story that didn’t feature any of the movie characters (although they do appear in a flashback to the movie. In those days every issue featured a flashback to the movie. Even the ones that happened before it).

Valance’s motivation is a little shaky to say the least. He hates droids. Like, really hates them. He hates droids so much that he’s made it his mission to hunt down Luke Skywalker, not because of any sizable Imperial bounty on the boy’s head, but because he’s heard a rumour that Luke actually likes droids. Surely you could find better things to do with your time. And who wouldn’t like Threepio and Artoo? They’re adorable!

Marvel’s Star Wars series really ran with that “people hate droids” idea in its early days. Just because that bartender in the cantina wouldn’t serve them we got a few stories centred around the concept. In the very first post movie storyline Han and Chewie catch a ton of shit for helping an insectoid priest take a dead cyborg pilot to a burial ground. Yeah people hate cyborgs too, which is a bit like hating people who wear contact lenses, but whatever. I’m really surprised that no bright spark has retconned this droid racism as being a hangover from The Clone Wars. Plenty of planets were invaded by the Trade Federation and the armies of the Seperatists, that it stands to reason that some people who remembered back twenty years would be a bit ticked off when they saw any robots. Job done. You can have that one, Lucasfilm.

So anyway Valance fails to find Luke – he runs into our old mate Jaxxon instead. Then we learn that, shock horror, Valance is a cyborg himself. In fact his major passtime, aside from blasting the shit out of innocent robots, is sitting in his cockpit, stewing in anger and self hatred, and ripping away his fake skin to reveal his true semi mechanical nature. It’s a well used image, that probably appeared in a million 50s comics and pulp sci fi novels, but it looks good, hence the fact they reused the scene a couple of times.

Eventually Valance faces off against Darth Vader himself having (surprise!) changed his allegiance. I’ll let you guess how that one turns out. By this point, I guess it was established, or at least implicit that Vader was also a cyborg, so we get to see the story of Valance as a vague reflection of The Lord of The Sith. In the epilogue to that issue, Vader gets extremely pissy with some stormtroopers who display some of that inexplicable prejudice towards people with mechanical bits. Bloody idiots. I’m surprised he didn’t force choke the shit out of them, just for the hell of it.

 

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Master Of Puppets

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

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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