Posts Tagged ‘Villainous cyborgs’

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.




Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Lumiya’s first appearance was as a fairly uninspired “female Vader” design. She was incongruously the head of security on some ostensibly peaceful planet, although why anyone would have trusted someone in full black leather, dominatrix boots and mask of evil awesomeness, is on a par with hiring someone called “Wormtongue” to be your Royal Advisor. So Lumiya turns out to be evil (shocker) and buggers off, ready to fight another day.

Returning many issues later, in a shredded, messed up, and infinitely cooler version of her original look, she faces off against a post Jedi Luke Skywalker and proceeds to kick his ass seven ways to Sunday. Reading it back now, it’s a highpoint of the series. New artist Cynthia Martin pulled out all the stops, in a dynamic, wordless battle, and managed to convey everything through gesture and facial expression (pretty impressive seeing as Lumiya’s face was mostly covered up).

I didn’t feel that way at the time though. When this story appeared in the UK, the comic had reverted back to a weekly format, and the production was pretty shoddy. You might get as little as five pages of the main story at a time, so story seemed to go on for months. Also, there were many instances of the colour printing being misaligned, and on one memorable occasion, a page was printed back to front. Presumably the publisher just didn’t care at this point.

Marvel’s Star Wars comics were well and truly scuppered by the indecisiveness of Lucasfilm, not being allowed to progress the story in logical directions, and suffering from a big, Darth Vader shaped hole that was unlikely to ever be filled. Lumiya seemed like a promising character, though, mysterious and ruthless, but never got her due, as soon the series would be unceremoniously dumped. However, she was resurrected decades later, to appear in the modern Expanded Universe, so someone had been paying attention.