Star Wars 87: Still Active After All These Years is the eighty-seventh issue in the Marvel Star Wars series of comics.
Beginning another cosmic adventure that goes beyond "Return of the Jedi!" What could keep Luke Skywalker from being reunited with the Rik Duel gang? How about a still active imperial Doomsday weapon? We just had to call this story "Still Active After All These Years!" Guest-starring Kiro, the Water-Breather.
Time is running out! The imperial doomsday machine is about to cause armageddon—galaxy-wide! It's up to Luke and his band of con men to save the cosmos! And Danny [sic] the Zeltron and Kiro are in this one, too! "Countdown!" is written by Jo Duffy, penciled by Ron Frenz [sic], and inked by Tom Palmer!
After meeting on the planet Iskalon, Luke Skywalker, Plif, Dani, Chihdo, Rik Duel, and Kiro make their way to the next planet on Luke's list, the Core World of Shawken. Luke is interested in meeting with the planetary leaders to invite them to attend a planetary council concerned with the establishment of a new government. As Luke lands his X-wing and Rik lands the Moonshadow, Skywalker warns the group that they are there as official representatives of the Alliance and that they should be on their best behavior. Although Rik and his band agree to act appropriately, Luke detects their insincerity, but before he can speak with them further, they are greeted by Shawken's welcoming committee, led by Santor. Luke questions the planetary representative, curious as to why there is almost no sign of the Empire on the world, especially since it was purported to be one of the Empire's strongest sites. Santor explains that word of the Alliance's victory at the Battle of Endor had reached the world, and that the Imperials, having heard rumors that the Rebellion was headed to Shawken, had immediately evacuated. Santor invites the delegation back to his home, but Rik and his gang are less enthused about further diplomatic talk. Wishing to accommodate his guests, Santor tells Rik and his gang that they are welcome to explore the nearby catacombs, the site of recent excavation by the Empire. Rik agrees, and the two groups split up.
At Santor's home, Luke explains that the Alliance is willing to offer medical, military, or other aid to the world, since the Empire has so abruptly abandoned them. Santor is impressed with how much the Alliance has achieved in such a short amount of time, and he questions the group about their origins. After Plif and Kiro explain the situations on their homeworlds, Luke mentions that Rik, Dani, and Chihdo pirates and swindlers, and are probably scheming to steal artifacts from Shawken's ruins. Kiro, appalled by Rik's dishonorable intentions, storms out of Santor's house, promising to stop Rik and his gang from doing any such thing. Santor and Luke, somewhat taken aback by Kiro's immediate desire to confront Rik, continue their discussion. Luke is still looking for a diplomat from the world to return with him to attend the Alliance's planetary council. Santor's aides, Margan and a woman, claim that Santor is the obvious choice, and that he will be a great benefit to the planetary meeting. Meanwhile, Rik, Dani, and Chihdo are exploring the catacombs, pondering how they might be able to remove some of the ruins to their ship, as it would fetch a high price from any art collector. Just as Chihdo suggests shooting at the ruins in an effort to free some of the artifacts, they are confronted by Kiro, who is shocked by their plans to destroy some of the ruins. Chihdo, irritated by Kiro's honorable nature, fires his blaster at the Iskalonian. Kiro, appalled by the behavior, grabs Chihdo and slams him against the walls of the catacombs. However, the Rodian's body pushes a hidden lever in the wall. The lever triggers a reaction which slams shut all the doors to the room that they are in, sealing them in darkness. As the group puzzles over what to do, a loud ticking begins, leading Rik to exclaim that a bomb has been activated, slowly counting down until its explosion.
Back in Santor's home, a Shawkenese guard rushes in, telling Santor about the event in the catacombs. Santor is frightened by the occurrence, as he has heard tales of his ancestors, who created terrible weapons. He believes that it is possible Rik and his gang may have activated one of these destructive weapons. Luke, Santor, Margan, and the guard rush to the catacombs, but they are greeted by the weapon's defense system. Luke is able to destroy the defense system's blaster cannon, but the destroyed blaster reveals to Santor what weapon they are dealing with. One of Shawken's ancient scientists was a nihilist, who believed that the galaxy had gone wrong, and that it was better to simply destroy the universe and hope that something better would result from a fresh start. As a result, he had built a weapon designed to create a new artificial Big Bang. Theoretically, the weapon would send Shawken's fiery core through space at sublight speeds until it hit another planet, setting off a similar reaction that would build upon itself until the entire universe was destroyed. With galactic implications at stake, the group rushes to Rik and his group's location. Plif is able to deactivate the doors by "eating" the energy around them, causing them to release. Luke finds a trap door in the center of the room, and alongside Kiro, the two head off to deactivate the device. The trap door leads them to a vast underground body of water. Before the two can explore the water, Kiro asks Luke to help him remove his rebreather suit, as it will only hinder him while they are in the water. As Luke helps Kiro remove his armor, he gives his lightsaber to the Iskalonian. With the lightsaber in hand, Kiro tells Luke that he is going alone into the water, since there might be further traps, and Luke, an airbreather, would surely be killed in such an occurrence. Luke reluctantly agrees, and Kiro dives into the water.
Swimming through the water, Kiro goes through an underground tunnel into a dark chamber. Turning on Luke's lightsaber to provide himself with some light, Kiro finds that he has reached a dead end. Confused, and not sure what he is looking for, Kiro suddenly feels the Force at work, guiding him. Behind him, the device has finally started to activate, as the giant face of the weapon begins to glow brightly. At the last second, Kiro swings the lightsaber into the weapon, deactivating it. A large explosion results, creating a massive tidal waves that forces Kiro out of the water, badly injured. Luke grabs the Iskalonian and returns to the room containing the rest of the group. Not sure whether Kiro is alive or dead, Luke lays Kiro in the center of the room. Plif rushes over to the body, and is able to detect the presence of mental processes within Kiro. Plif claims that there is still hope that the Iskalonian will be saved. Luke promises that Kiro will stay alive—everyone owes Kiro that much.
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Behind the scenesEdit
This issue continues Luke's diplomatic mission from Star Wars 82: Diplomacy and takes place concurrently with the previous issue, Star Wars 85: The Hero, in which Mon Mothma describes his quest. Luke returns to Endor in a later issue, Star Wars 90: The Choice.
The story in this issue was originally intended to appear in issue 83, then was pushed to issue 84 when the publication of Hoth Stuff! in issue 78 delayed the next five issues one month. The penciller then changed to Tom Palmer instead of Ron Frenz, as was originally listed in Marvel Age, further delaying the issue until it finally appeared here.
Notes and referencesEdit