Thursday 20 August 2015

1982: STAR WARS: WORLD OF FIRE (Marvel Illustrated Books)

From October 1982: A Marvel STAR WARS adventure which will seem a lot more familiar to British Starloggers than our American cousins: WORLD OF FIRE.

This Chris Claremont penned adventure (art by Carmine Infantino and Gene Day) was first published in March 1980 in the pages of STAR WARS WEEKLY (issues 107-115), one of several "buffer" strips inserted into the UK run whenever it looked close to running out of material (Marvel were smart enough to realize a repeat of an Apeslayer style deadline crunch should be avoided at all costs).  By this point, SWW was already the first-run outlet for the strips, appearing in the UK before they were 'reprinted' (albeit in colour) in the US monthly.  

It's unclear whether this, and the other UK exclusive strips emanating out of the US Bullpen, were ever penciled into the American book's schedules or whether they were always created on the understanding that they would only be seen oversees.  If the latter was the case, it's interesting that by 1980 the NY office didn't just tell the post-Revolution British Bullpen (by now adept, albeit sometimes reluctant, at producing strips in-house) to "sort it out yourselves".  

It's also odd, but presumably down to licensing and cash, that the US didn't see the launch of a second, companion, title to the core monthly ala the multiple Spider books of the era (partly created to ensure that the British weekly was never short of reprints).  A second book would almost certainly have increased overall sales (even if the core book took a slight hit) and would have helped ensure the Weekly was kept well-stocked.

Regardless of plans, this adventure was left on the shelf once THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK hit and Marvel switched to a succession of self-contained post-movie stories.  Once again, they could have presented it as a post-movie adventure (with, perhaps, new wraparound bookends to position it as a flashback tale) but it turned up here, as a hard-to-find, black & white paperback instead.  

I've never seen a copy in stores (at a guess I would say UK distribution was virtually non-existent) so I eventually took the plunge and ordered this copy on-line.

It's officially STAR WARS 2 because Marvel had already published the 1977 paperback version of the movie adaptation.  They presumably chose to ignore that they had already published a second SW paperback: the 1980 outing of The Empire Strikes Back.  

Ironically, the strip is actually pretty symbolic for me as issue 110 was the first issue of SWW I ever owned.  Although, thanks to School Fairs and a market stall, I soon amassed a substantial selection of earlier issues.   

For the record, the other UK-only strips that appeared in SWW were Way of the Wookiee (SWW 94-96), The Day After The Death Star (97-99) and The Weapons Master (104-106).  SWW also reprinted the strips from PIZZAZZ magazine which also didn't form part of the regular US run.

These extra strips (and their excellent original covers) are usually omitted from compilations of the US runs but they can be found in the WILD SPACE collection (along with the latter post-ESB British created strips and other oddities).  Snap up a copy of this Dark Horse published book whilst you can as it will, presumably, drift out of print now that the license has shifted to Marvel again.  Those hefty hardback Marvel omnibuses are, once again, skipping these adventures.  They've never been published in colour (SWW and this paperback are both black & white) and, presumably, the colour work was never completed. 


  1. Thanks for these scans slow and all of the background info. I've never seen that back cover.

    I kind of like the fact there was only one core title back then whereas now the franchise is in danger of over saturation with even darth vader getting his own ongoing series. When I first read SWW back then, it never occurred to me that the strips were derived from the usa version. Its clear that many of the covers for SWW ( notably those by carmine infantino ) were created especially for the uk.

    The new issue of DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE has a lot of info on forthcoming titles. The next comic collection is titled THE EYE OF TORMENT featuring the 12th doctor. The mag also has a 2 page ad and a 4 page article on the COMPLETE HISTORY COLECTION. As the editor rightly says, this is a golden age for whovians.

    1. I'm looking forward to the WHO COMPLETE HISTORY COLLECTION. The article and the sample pages therein make it look like it will be an excellent read. I always thought they should have dusted off the original articles and interviews for the DVD collection (so, even if you had the packed-with-extras BBC releases already the print material would justify the double-dip) but this is even better. It looks like the first issue will be sale during, roughly, the second week of September.

  2. its more likely it was called star wars 2 as it was volume 2 in the marvel illustrated books series. Volume 1 printed the stories ' wookie world ' , ' day after the death star ' and ' the weapons master. ' You can see them both here:

    I'm just wondering if volume 1 actually WAS printed in colour because even those stories were reprinted in black and white in the WILD SPACE volume.

    1. Hi there

      That would explain everything. That first volume is even more illusive than the second and even some of the most dedicated websites don't seem to know that it exists. Oh to stumble across a (reasonably priced) copy of that.

      It does seem weird that WILD SPACE doesn't print the pages in colour but maybe only the reformated-for-the-format panels and pages were coloured and never the original art as published in SWW (and reprinted in the better-late-than-never compilation. DH may have decided the effort of putting it all back together wasn't worthwhile (or possible).

      I will amend the text when I have time.


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