The Star Wars Special: C-3PO #1 had one job to do. Explain to Star Wars fans how C-3PO got his red arm in the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And have that explanation be approved by LucasFil and JJ Abrams.
It was also being created by the Starman team of James Robinson and Tony Harris, who have a history of not exactly getting on with each other.
Oh and it was months late. So whichever way you looked at it, the omens weren’t good.
But instead we have a war comic that examines the moral questions of duty, of fighting for life, of sacrifice and abuse. And while the location of the red arm, its meaning and the reason that C-3PO hasn’t had it fixed is a meaningful one, it’s also one of the least important aspects of the comic, a symbol of what came before.
A motley collection of fellow soldiers, each from different lives, each there without volition, each with moral uncertainty for what they are doing, seeing no difference between one side of the war and the other. And reminiscent of the concerns of the soldiers in World War I, who felt abandoned even as some still felt loyal to those who had forgotten them.
An attitude that C-3PO lookalike O-O-O expresses in today’s Darth Vader comic book as well.
If you are a droid, you fight on the side you have been built on. Your choice over which side you fight on is not yours – but in the end it may be the only power you have.
It has been observed that in war, the life that came before for each soldier seems less real, fades away, as if there has only been war. In a droid’s case, that subtext is made text, it is literally true… …mostly. As C-3PO recalls memories from the prequel movies, those that should have been erased…
And, yes, if only we could have our memories of those films equally excised. There’s even a screencap.
But note how we get the feeling of stained glass windows, the big bold black lines, colours like light through a filter, because this is a legend now, a story, one that fits alongside all the other stories.
It just happens to be a really good one.
C-3PO Special is published today by Marvel Comics