A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...
Even the opening of each Star Wars reads like a fairy tale. "Once upon a time." And at the heart of it, Star Wars is technically nothing more than a story, a canon-approved tree with Expanded Universe/Legend branches sprouting off of it everywhere. One of my favorite scenes in Return of the Jedi is all about storytelling. Threepio relates "the story so far" to the Ewoks in the inimitable Threepio way, with sound effects and, despite speaking in the Ewok language, absolutely no change in his vocal tone.
Panel from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi #3 (December 1983); script by Archie Goodwin, pencils and inks by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon, colors by Christie Scheele and Bob Sharen, letters by Ed King
It's fitting, then, that Threepio would be featured in what might possibly be described as "The Last Star Wars Story." It certainly is the last one I'll feature this year, and I think it speaks to the love and enthusiasm — and inspiration — that the movies and novels and comics and action figures all give us. It's called, aptly,
Panel from "Storyteller" in Star Wars Tales #19 (March 2004); script by Jason Hall; pencils, inks, and colors by Paul Lee; letters by Steve Dutro
Many, many years after the stories we're all familiar with (1,000,000 ABY? If Wookieekind is still alive), a race called the Vidar enslaves, tortures, and murders another, unnamed, race.
Two of these oppressed beings, Otalp and Remoh, go on a pilgrimage for the fabled Oracle who will reveal truth and hope through its stories.
And I'm pretty sure you can guess who this oracle will be, right?
I find it both funny and sad that the first being Threepio asks for in his blind awakening is Artoo. I always liked to think that that two of them would have gone out of these worlds together, but for Threepio it's a lonely, lengthy death.
He tells his story...and we recognize every bit of it, even though it's seen through the eyes of Otalp and Remoh.
But the Vindar have tracked them down in the cave. They destroy Threepio with a blaster shot, and kill Remoh while he tries to divert their attention away from the hiding Otalp.
But what's this Otalp discovers with the abandoned remains of Threepio? well, it's mot as clumsy or random as a blaster; it's an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. But the true weapon that Threepio has given Otalp?
A new hope, to be accurate. And, like every ending that culminates in a question mark or "The Beginning," the adventure is only just starting. Thanks to a story — a story as powerful as a lightsaber.
I once believed, in 1983 and in 2005, that I'd never see another Star Wars film in my life. I was wrong. Twice. May it forever be so, always bringing us adventures of Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker and Ahsoka Tano and Mace Windu and Aayla Secura and Kit Fisto and Yoda and Bail Organa and Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine and Han Solo and Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian and Lobot and Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma and Wedge Antilles and of Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, Maz Kanata, BB-8, Doctor Aphra, Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, K-2SO, Bodhi Rook, and throughout it all our Greek chorus of R2-D2 and C-3P0. And beyond. May they entertain and inspire us all, whether canon or legends, on and on, until the beginnings of it are lost to time.
May the Force be with you!
Cover to Star Wars (2015 Marvel series) #1 (EMP Museum Exclusive Michael Del Mundo Variant), painted by Michael Del Mundo