Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
As weird as Marvel’s 1977 adaptation of Star Wars was with its off-model Darth Vader and unrecognizable Jabba the Hutt, it has nothing — nothing! — on a bizarre, unlicensed version published some three years later in China.
Discovered by historian Maggie Greene, the adaptation doesn’t much resemble a comic book as we know them; instead, there’s one panel per page, with some text. Greene notes that Star Wars had been released in Hong Kong about two years earlier, which she presumes is “where the ‘libretto’ and stills, etc. came from.” However, she writes, “it seems pretty obvious from the drawings that the artists weren’t always working from an actual film, or really much at all.”
Indeed, as South Morning China Post points out, many of the ships and uniforms have a distinctly Cold War feel, while C-3PO morphs between the droid we’ve come to know and the robotic Maria from Metropolis. That’s to say nothing of Darth Vader’s army of Boba Fetts (perhaps the comic’s creators were prescient?), his apparent plans for an attack on Kennedy Space Center, or the decidedly chimp-like Chewbacca (who curiously appears on-model elsewhere).
Judging from the inclusion of Boba Fett(s), the 2-1B surgical droid and Bossk, the artist had seen some promotional materials for The Empire Strikes Back, released in 1980, and mashed all of the elements into one strange little comic that needs to seen to be truly appreciated. Greene has the whole thing as a PDF on her website.