When Star Wars opened in 1977, the world was changed forever. It is difficult to find any special effects wizard, costume designer, matte painter, model maker, etc. who was a child in the late seventies and not be inspired by George Lucas‘ space epic – an entire generation of artists shaped by a singular vision. The three movies that were produced, and later the next three, were not enough for many people who fantasized and role played their own adventures in the Star Wars Universe. Many artists were able to create parts of the Universe officially through the world of licensed novels, comics, and cartoons overseen by Lucasfilm. Marvel published a 107-issue comic series from 1977 to 1986, and in 1991, author Timothy Zahn created his famous “Thrawn Trilogy” of novels, which spearheaded a rebirth of Star Wars fiction, leading to scores of new novels and hundreds of new comic stories published by Dark Horse comics. All of this literature (some good, some bad, a lot somewhere in the middle) created a rich tapestry, spanning thousands of years of “history” and allowing fans of Star Wars to immerse themselves in their favorite universe in ways that were fulfilling and real.
That is until Disney bought Lucasfilm and threw all of it in the garbage. Almost 30 years of art was discarded so the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, could have a brand new canvas to work from. The new film is written by J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, both of whom are well respected, experienced writers. But if their Star Wars Universe isn’t as good as Timothy Zahn’s, there may be Phantom Menace-levels of hatred generated from fans. A new universe is now being created in novel and comic form (Marvel comics back in the fold) but this article will look at some of the more bizarre stories to come out of the original canon of Star Wars literature. These are the 10 Bizarre Stories From The Star Wars Universe
10. The Dreams Of Cody Sunn-Childe – Star Wars Does Cults
In Marvel’s Star Wars 46, published in 1981, writer Wally Lombego introduced characters like Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca, who at this point were searching for Boba Fett and the frozen body of their favorite Corellian, to Cody Sunn-Childe, a former mercenary-turned-pacifist cult leader. Sunn-Childe had been given reality-altering powers by a supernatural flame, which awoke in him a powerful spirituality. He gave up his life of violence and converted many other beings to his religion, including a Buddha rip-off character named Ansible Beelyard.
Now Sunn-Childe and his followers live in a space commune and peacefully coexist with nature. Sunn-Childe has the power to save the entire galaxy from the Empire, but chooses to do nothing but protect his converts. When the Empire arrives later in the story, Sunn-Childe allows himself to be killed rather than give up his pacifist beliefs. The entire story shines a positive light on the cult lifestyle and almost none of it really makes any sense.
9. Death Troopers – Star Wars Does The Walking Dead
In 2009, Joe Schreiber wrote the novel Death Troopers, a mixture of Star Wars and horror that had not previously been seen. In this book, Han Solo and Chewbacca find themselves stranded aboard an abandoned Star Destroyer called Purge, littered with zombies. That’s right, zombies.
The crew turned to the non-living due to a pesky imperial experiment gone wrong. An episode of the Clone Wars cartoon featured Geonosian warriors come back from the dead (in a really fun Aliens parody) which turned out to be small worms animating dead bodies, but Death Troopers gives us the real thing. The book has some frightening moments and is actually a bunch of fun, but still a bizarre concept.
8. The Last Gift From Alderaan – John Carter Copycat?
Ignore the title of Marvel’s Star Wars 53, published in 1981. It makes no sense in the context of this two part story written by Chris Claremont. Princess Leia crash lands on the barbaric planet Shiva IV, where she befriends the local warlord Aron Peacebringer and his entourage, alien sidekick Keral Longknife and beautiful Princess Alisande. The Empire has begun recruiting the Shiva IV natives as Stormtroopers, putting the kingdom of Illyriaqum in jeopardy.
Of course Leia helps save the day, but the bizarre part of this story line is all of it is a blatant parody of John Carter, the warlord of Mars. Shiva IV is obviously Mars, with Aron as John, Keral as Tars Tarkus, and Alisande as Dejah Thoris. Chris Claremont is a great writer, but lifting so much from the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels to create this weird, unofficial crossover is truly bizarre.
7. Tatooine Storyline – Star Wars Does The Plague
Russ Manning had a great run writing and illustrating the Star Wars newspaper strip from 1979 to 1980. Everyday, kids everywhere would grab their parents’ newspaper to see in three or four panels the latest exploits of their favorite Star Wars characters. Dark Horse collected most of these comics and republished them as Classic Star Wars for an entire new generation to enjoy. Manning had a lot of bizarre ideas (Grand Moff Tarkin’s wicked wife!) but the story line I always found truly strange was Luke Skywalker investigating a plague on Tatooine. Teaming up with Aduvil of Ogem, a female rebel who looks like she stepped out of a Buck Rodgers’ comic strip, Luke explores his least favorite planet before contracting the very disease the Rebel Alliance was afraid of.
Here is the bizarre part: the plague that is sweeping through the outer rim is an Imperial plot to pass along star charts which appear in the eyes of those infected. Uh, what? Luke is cured, but a plot lacking any logical sense prevents a satisfying ending to this story arc.
6. The Crystal Star – Star Wars Does Star Trek?
In 1994, Vonda McIntyre wrote the novel The Crystal Star, which ultimately featured Luke, Leia, and Han trying to rescue Leia and Han’s three children from a former Imperial-turned-kidnapper named Hethrir. Turns out Hethrir has formed a cult and wants to sacrifice the young Solos to the object of the cult’s worship, a being called Waru. Waru is supposed to be a creature who exists between dimensions, and appears in our heroes’ dimension as a mass of gold plates held together by a blob of living tissue.
When I first read The Crystal Star, I immediately concluded that Captain Kirk, and not Luke Skywalker, was the best hero for the job. Nothing about this kind of menace seems like Star Wars to me, but the Enterprise in the original Star Trek series dealt with strange dimensional beings often. Maybe this is just an impression, but Waru seems too bizarre for the Star Wars Universe.
5. Tilotny Throws A Shape – Alan Moore Does Star Wars
I’m not going to bury the lead here: Alan Moore wrote Star Wars! One of the most innovative and greatest comic book writers ever. The guy who wrote Watchmen and all those great Swamp Things, wrote this obscure Star Wars story published in the early 1980s by Marvel U.K.’s Empire Strikes Back Magazine. In Moore’s tale, Princess Leia and a squad of Stormtroopers trying to arrest her, encounter a pantheon of God-like entities out for a stroll. Tilotny, Horliss-Horliss, Dandasine, and Splendid Ap play with their own existence, not quite understanding what parts of reality they have created and what parts they have not created.
The four transcendants play with Leia and the troopers like Legos, building and rebuilding them on a molecular level, causing them to live and die as they please. The entities finally grow bored and part from our puzzled party. Luckily, Leia winds up relatively unscathed while the troopers not so much. Mind bending!
4. I’ll See You In The Throne Room – Star Wars Does Medieval
Ann Nocenti wrote Marvel’s Star Wars issue 89 in 1984. My least favorite issue of Marvel’s initial comic run comes off as too bizarre and unclear to be any fun at all. Luke has helped lead a rebellion against the Empire on the planet Solay, where he has fallen in love with the vivacious Mary. The leader of the local rebellion, Raggold, is murdered, and Mary also dies in what is an apparent orbital bombardment. So Luke decides he must solve Raggold’s murder with the help of a plucky orphan named Scamp.
Why Luke is all by himself on Solay is never explained, and it doesn’t help that the entire planet seems like the setting for Conan the Barbarian. No identifiable Star Wars ships or characters appear at all, just a lot of medieval-looking characters and buildings, with the Imperial ruler of Solay portrayed as a creature that resembles a World of Warcraft Orc. After all of this weirdness, it turns out Raggold committed suicide. Bizarre and stupid.
3. The Star Wars Holiday Special – Star Wars Does Thanksgiving
The Holiday Special is not considered canon even in the original Star Wars Universe due to its bizarre nature and poor scripting. Han and Chewbacca are going to Chewie’s home for the Wookie holiday Life Day. The Empire wants to spoil the fun, leading to some moments that could be tense if any one actually cared.
Leia sings the theme song, Chewie’s dad is named Itchy, his son is named Lumpy, and despite the first appearance of Boba Fett, George Lucas (the guy who likes Phantom Menace) thinks it’s garbage. Most bizarre of all, even though a ton of dialogue is in Shriiwook (the Wookie language), no subtitles are offered, leaving the audience to listen to minutes of growls and hoots with no knowledge of what in the “Rishii moons” is going on! I recommend watching this online immediately.
2. Wat Tambor And The Quest For The Sacred Eye Of The Albino Cyclops
I believe that when Michael Murnane wrote “Wat Tambor,” starring nobody’s favorite Separatist Leader, for the graphic anthology Star Wars Visionaries, he was trying to be as obtuse as possible. His piece makes absolutely no sense in a brilliant subversive way, as Wat Tambor undertakes a journey though his own mind, guided by the rulers of his species and a disembodied voice that recites bad, second grade level rhymes.
The journey of imagination, through all sorts of psychedelic nonsense, eventually leads him to Mustafar and his fate at the hands of Anakin Skywalker. Murnane has captured the essence of watching Revenge of the Sith while ingesting LSD perfectly. Well done, sir.
1. Into the Great Unknown – Star Wars Does Indy
Hayden Blackman wrote one hell of a story for Dark Horse’s Star Wars Tales 19, published in 2004. One of my favorite bizarre stories, Blackman follows Han Solo and Chewbacca, fleeing from the Empire and crashing on Earth, specifically the Pacific Northwest of the United States, sometime in the 1800s. Han is killed by Native American warriors, forcing Chewbacca to create a new, solitary existence on our world, a stranded spacer whom the Native tribes come to fear and respect. Chewbacca becomes Bigfoot to the Native people, and as his legend grows, so does his fame.
A century later, around the 1940s, Indiana Jones and his pal Short Round explore the forests, searching for clues about Bigfoot’s existence. By the time Indiana discovers the wreckage of the Millennium Falcon, and one Harrison Ford finds the corpse of another Harrison Ford, my mind was completely blown.