Chris Claremont, Carmine Infantino and Walt Simonson tell an epic Princess Leia story.

Each week Star Wars Spotlight combs through the digital archives of Marvel Unlimited to showcase one classic story from that distant galaxy filled with Jedi, Sith, princesses, scoundrels and droids.

Back in 1981, three undisputed comic book legends came together to tell another story showcasing Princess Leia Organa’s absolute awesomeness. Published in the the original STAR WARS series from Marvel, this Legends story from STAR WARS #53 and #54 features the immense talents of Chris Claremont, Walt Simonson and Carmine Infantino.

The story began with Leia thinking of all she lost when the Empire ordered the destruction of her beloved home Alderaan, but that trip down memory lane came to an end when duty called. The Blockade Runner she traveled in reached a planet called Shiva that had garnered Imperial interest. She and Captain Chedaki planned to take a shuttle to figure out why, but when the Runner hit space mines, the plan got scuttled.

The shuttle itself caught on fire, so to save everyone else – Chedaki perished in the initial explosion – she flew the craft out of the larger Rebel vessel and crash landed on Shiva itself. There she survived on her own for a few days before running into Aron Preacebringer and his band of warriors including Keran and Delois. This group found themselves locked in a war with the Outcasts in a battle mostly fought with swords and blasters.

Star Wars (1977) #53

Star Wars (1977) #53

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At first, Leia and Aron did not understand one another because of the language barrier and the Translatacomp did not recognize the speech at all. After fending off the Outcasts, the group returned to Aron’s throne city where he reunited with his wife Alisande. While there, Aron tried to figure out who had bombed one of the nearby cities and Leia acclimated to life on Shiva as best she could, though the growing feelings between Peacebringer and herself threatened to complicate her stay.

Conflicted about being rescued by the Rebels – part of her liked the sound of living a far more simple life on this out-of-the-way planet – Leia soon found herself in the middle of a much bigger problem as Imperial Blackguards came out of nowhere and subdued both her and Aron before taking them to their boss, Imperial Strike Force General Sk’Ar.

Once in the villain’s clutches, Aron learned that his compatriot Delois had betrayed them. He sold them out to the Empire and would become the planet’s leader after the Imperials took over. After learning how Sk’Ar intended to take Shiva over, Aron and Leia broke free of their captors and escaped into a ship that they used to catch up with a bomber. They dismantled the bomb aboard the craft, but received some unexpected help from Luke Skyalker who seemingly appeared out of nowhere to stop Delios from getting the drop on Leia.

Star Wars (1977) #54

Star Wars (1977) #54

  • Published: September 22, 1981
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 15, 2015
  • Rating: All Ages
  • Writer: Chris Claremont
  • Cover Artist: Walt Simonson
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With most of the villains wrapped up by the combined might of Aron’s men and the Millennium Falcon’s usual crew, Sk’Ar attempted to make an escape that Chewbacca stopped by throwing a solid steel gun mount so hard at the craft that it exploded!

The elaborate celebration afterwards came to an abrupt end for the Falcon-fliers when word of a Star Destroyer in orbit called them to action. Luke took the controls from Lando and worked some fancy flying as he took the ship close enough to a black hole, but darted away after the Destroyer got stuck in its pull.

After all of this death and destruction, Leia showed why she was a formidable Rebel leader. She not only mourned the loss of her homeworld, but also all of the sentient lives who came to an end on that Star Destroyer and in the war in general. Luke even offered to drop her back off on Shiva and say that the rescue mission came up empty handed. Leia persevered, though, saying “I am Princess of Alderaan, Luke. Fate has cast me as a leader of the Rebellion. For better or worse, whatever the outcome…I’ll play that role to the finish.”

From the Jedi Temple Archives

If some of the characters in this story, like Aron Peacebringer seem somewhat familiar, that’s because they began life as pages for the JOHN CARTER WARLORD OF MARS series that Marvel produced between 1977 and 1979. Carmine Infantino drew several pages that wound up not getting published because the series came to an end. Chris Claremont and Walt Simonson then came in to take the existing material, tweak it a bit and come up with a Star Wars story turned out to be a fantastic spotlight on Princess Leia!

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Thor, Loki, and Odin fight off the fire demon and the coming of Ragnarok!

As the clock ticks down to “Thor: Ragnarok,” spend your time wisely by reading these stories plucked from the Marvel Unlimited archives!

From issue #337 to #367, the legendary Walt Simonson wrote and drew THOR on his own. In that time, he revolutionized the character, expanded the mythos, and built upon the foundation Stan Lee and Jack Kirby built for the series.

One of Simonson’s best-remembered arcs arrived in THOR issues #340 to #353. Now known as “The Surtur Saga,” the year-long arc took its time to grow before exploding into a grand conclusion that left both Asgard and Midgard shaking in the aftermath.

Thor (1966) #340

Thor (1966) #340

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In the early issues, the only glimpses readers got of the fiery demon called Surtur came in the form of a shadowy individual pounding a sword on an anvil, sending resounding “DOOM” sound effects across the page. But the more Surtur worked, the more evil creatures woke up inside Earth, waiting for a call to action.

As he worked on this sword, which he named Twilight, Surtur sent the likes of Malekith to Midgard. Thor battled the Dark Elf there for the first time, allowing Surtur to rally his troops for their impending attack.

Odin sensed these brewing troubles and tasked the Warriors Three with gathering a force to fight for Asgard—and ordered that his own armor be prepared. A smart choice, as Surtur broke through the dimensional barrier to the realm at the end of THOR #348.

Thor (1966) #348

Thor (1966) #348

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Thor then returned to Asgard alongside Beta Ray Bill and Sif. After discovering that Surtur planned on using Earth as a stepping stone to get to them, all in the Norse force—except Odin and Heimdall—traveled to battle the monster on Midgard, in Manhattan. Joined by the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, Thor and his allies unwittingly played into Surtur’s plan to get to Asgard, kill Odin, and use the Flame of Destruction to bring about Ragnarok—the end of all things.

Suddenly understanding the plan, Thor left his compatriots to fight Surtur’s forces on Asgard, arriving just in time to save his friend Heimdall. Despite this early success, the Odinson failed to stop Surtur from destroying part of the Rainbow Bridge.

Armed with the Scepter Supreme, King Odin joined the fight. He stood firm against the demon, but Surtur’s power grew as he got closer to the Fire of Destruction. Summoning the power of the Cask of Ancient Winters, the flame beast froze Odin before placing Twilight in the Fire of Destruction!

The story reached its climax in the pages of THOR #353, when the previously absent Loki appeared to reveal that Surtur had placed his sword in an illusion, not the real Fire of Destruction. After their allies on Earth regained the Cask, Odin found himself freed and joined his sons in battle.

Thor (1966) #353

Thor (1966) #353

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As the heroes on Midgard defeated Surtur’s demons, distracting their dark leader, Thor threw Mjolnir at Twilight, disengaging the sword’s power. Seeing an opening, Odin grew to Surtur’s size and battled his foe hand-to-hand. As they grappled, Odin ordered Loki and Thor to blast the ground at their feet, sacrificing himself, sending both he and Surtur into Muspelheim.

Quiet fell across Asgard—as the realm stood safe, but without its King.

Ragnarok and Roll

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby chronicled some of the background to this story in the “Tales of Asgard” back-ups featured in the first “Thor Lore” stories! Surtur debuted in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #97, appearing in a panel that read, “At the world’s end sat Surtur, the demon of fire, who waited, with his flaming sword, for the end of the world, when he might go forth to destroy gods and men alike!”

In issue #99, Odin battled Surtur, trapping the demon in Earth’s core. The prophetess Volla then showed Thor and his compatriots what Ragnarok would look like and the part Surtur would play in bringing it about.

In honor of the battle between Thor and the Jade Giant in “Thor: Ragnaraok,” we’ll check out INCREDIBLE HULK #300 next week!

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Take a journey back in time to witness the first appearance of the Dark Elf!

Every Friday we use the powers of Marvel Unlimited to look back at the very first appearance of a major character, place or object that made waves this week.

Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman launched a new storyline in this week’s MIGHTY THOR #15 featuring the continued schemes of Malekith as his desire to conquer the 10 Realms lead into the Asgard/Shi’Ar War. As battles rage between gods and aliens, let’s jump back to Malekith’s first foray into villainy.

The most famous resident of Svartalfheim broke out onto the scene in the pages of THOR #344 by the legendary Walt Simonson in 1984 and stuck around to cause problems until issue #349. We’re introduced to Malekith as Balder encounters Loki while on an errand for Odin. The trickster described the Dark Elf as, “He whom Odin did banish to the limbo of endless night so many ages agone.” Balder himself notes that Malekith and his master represent the threat Odin needed to see Loki about.

Malekith quickly discredits Odin and reminds Loki that his step dad regrets adopting the halfling before reminding him, when the old standards come crashing down, there will be plenty for the ruthless to take for themselves. Later, after picking up a sword even though he swore never to do so again, Balder attempts to strike Malekith down, but the villain disappears. “Foolish Balder,” Loki says. “Do you not remember the power of the Dark Elf, to enter the shadows and vanish…to travel where he will and emerge even on the other side of the universe.” With that, Loki tosses aside the letter from Odin explaining that he already agreed to align himself with the son of Svartalfheim.

Over the rest of the arc, Malekith transports himself to Midgard, specifically New York City, where he seeks the Casket of Ancient Winters, which has been guarded for eons by a man named Eric Willis. Though he kills Eric, the duty of protecting the artifact passes down to his son who proves more than adept at the task. To get the cask, the Dark Elf calls the Wild Hunt which sends a legion of monsters after the box and Roger. Not taking kindly to this attack, Thor enters the fray.127274-162115-malekith

Malekith enrages Thor further when he kidnaps his girlfriend Melodi—actually Enchantress’ little sister Lorelei. Aided by Roger, the God of Thunder travels to the villain’s English castle to save his lady but both heroes fall, allowing Malekith to acquire his prize.

Even after Thor seemingly gains the upper hand, Malekith destroys the Casket, loosing magical winter on Earth and allowing the Twilight-wielding Surtur and his demonic minions to break through the dimensional gate that kept them at bay. With his foe unconscious, Thor took Malekith to Asgard and raced off to face this new threat.

Since then the Dark Elf has popped up to continually make life difficult for Thor as well as other heroes like Iron Man, Hercules, and even X-Force. Jason Aaron brought him back to the forefront in THOR: GOD OF THUNDER and has continued developing his machinations since in the pages of THOR and MIGHTY THOR leading directly into the Asgard/Shi’Ar War.

Flash Forward

Malekith gained further fame in 2013 after leaping to the big screen in “Thor: The Dark World.” Played by Christopher Eccleston, this version of Malekith woke after years of slumber when Jane Foster accidentally released the Aether. The villain eventually takes the Infinity Stone into himself and battles Thor throughout a variety of dimensions, but falls to the Odinson.
For more Flashback Friday goodness, check back in next week!

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