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Marvel Star Wars Issue 50: The Crimson Forever

What is it ? : Well, it's the 50'th Issue and it's a double sized one with a three part tale contained within its 40 pages.

Lando and Chewie are attempting to catch Boba Fett as he takes Han to Tatooine, when they run into an Imperial patrol, but receive help from a welcome but unexpected source, Princess Leia aboard a Corellian Corvette. She escorts them back to a new rebel base, within a Magma smelting plant on the volcanic world of Golrath. Taking them to the medical centre, they find Luke Skywalker comatose with bright red eyes, and Leia tells them the tale of how he contracted the disease they're calling the Crimson Forever (because their eye got Crimson and seem to stare off into Forever).
Luke was leading an X-Wing patrol which found an Imperial Star Destroyer floating in space, boarding it they discovered all of the crew were dead with bright red skin, and also found a container with a large red crystal in it, after this the members of the patrol all began to succumb to the Crimson Forever.
But the Crystal made Leia remember a tale that Han once told her of an adventure he and Chewbacca had, which is why she has retrieved Lando and Chewie, so she can speak to him before Luke dies.

Part 2
Chewbacca tells the tale, that before getting involved with the Rebellion he and Han had become press ganged into service aboard a vessel going to the Red Nebula, the ship was commanded by a native of that area of space who knew there was treasure to be looted.
Han pilots their ship into the Nebula through a meteor shower, landing on a planet, they discover a temple containing two large red gems which are protected by a massive hairy beast, which becomes protective of Chewbacca as it believes he is a child of it's race.
The priest of the temple urges Han not to remove the crystals as it would doom the world, but Han seemingly ignores his advice. Returning to the ship carrying a sack, he is betrayed by the captain, who strands Han and Chewie on the world, but without Han at the helm, the ship is destroyed as it leaves.
The Priest is confused as to why the destruction of the world hasn't begun already, when Han reveals that he suspected betrayal, so only took a bag with rocks in it, and hid the crystals elsewhere.
They discover another of the members of the crew had attempted to steal one of the crystals from Han's hiding place, but has died with bright red skin, and the priest reveals that the crystals must never be separated from each other.

Part 3
Leia, Lando and Chewie head back to the red Nebula to find out what's happened with the Crystals which they assume are the source of the Crimson Forever. Finding a damaged and drifting TaggeCo mining explorer floating near to the Nebula.
Boarding it they discover the crew have succumbed to the disease, but they are approached by IG-88 who takes them into a sealed area of the ship, where they discover Domina Tagge.
Tagge recounts the tale of raiding the Red Nebula and capturing the Crystals and the Priest, however as they exited the Nebula with their treasure, they were attacked and boarded by an Imperial Star Destroyer, and during the chaos the Priest opened the containers with the Crystals releasing the Crimson Forever.
While the Imperials made off with one of the Crystals, and were eventually found by Luke having succumbed to the disease, she has remained floating here in her crippled ship ever since.
The reunite the two crystals, and while some of the victims die from the shock, Luke recovers, and they load the two Crystals aboard the Star Destroyer and send it on a course out of the galaxy.

High Points : The Crimson Forever is a brilliant story, and a fantastic way for a celebratory issue to get Han Solo into a story. We get the return of Domina Tagge, apparently for the last time until 2019, and some amazing imagery.

I was most impressed by the Rebels already having found an alternative base, something the comics seemed so unwilling to do between the original movie and The Empire Strikes Back, with them remaining on Yavin for that entire run, we now have them moved to Golrath and a base inside a volcano. It's an amazing setting, and shows the imagination they were willing to give to everything else except where the Rebels might go. I suppose they kind of had to, because Hoth is written off within that Movie, but I kind of suspected that they'd just leave the Rebels based from the fleet deep in space as seen at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.

Low Points : The disease itself doesn't really make a whole load of sense except for story reasons, why would two crystals infect people with a disease when they're lonely?
For story reasons it's an easily solved illness, just bring the crystals back together and it's done, but makes no sense otherwise.

I'm also not a fan of how Han and Chewie are captured and enslaved aboard the ship going to the Red Nebula. They're gunned down in the street and awaken aboard. I would definitely have prefered if they'd joined on their own for a percentage of the treasure, it definitely sounds like the stupid kind of moneymaking scheme that Han would get involved with, and immediately regret.

So what do you really think ? : A nice solid story, not the height of excellence that so many issues have been recently, but a well put together story of Han and Chewbacca's exploits before they joined the Rebellion, and a nice reappearance of Domina Tagge.

Final Words : Well this is where the child Freddy stopped reading. I received this story in an Empire Strikes Back Annual at Christmas 1981, but didn't read the comics anymore, having moved onto Blakes 7 and Doctor Who magazines, both also by Marvel.
So we're heading into uncharted territory, with no sentimental memories attached to the stories. I wonder whether new stories will excite me, or without that I'm going to be disappointed?

Score : 8.5/10

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