Monday, May 25, 2020

Whatever Happened to Jabba the Hunt? by Ted Blanton

via Ted Blanton
“Jabba's through with you!,” the bounty hunter Greedo shouts at Han Solo in the 1977 theatrical release of Star Wars. “He has no use for smugglers who drop their shipments at the first sign of an Imperial cruiser.” Those lines were moviegoers' introduction to Jabba “the Hut” (as it was spelled in the script), the crimelord who menaced Han Solo from behind the scenes of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.In the pages of the Marvel comics, though, Jabba wasn't just a faceless offstage threat. He showed up in person in Star Wars #2 (“Six Against the Galaxy,” cover-dated August 1977), but was certainly not the bloated, slimy creature we would finally meet onscreen six years later in Return of the Jedi. The encounter between Han and Jabba in Star Wars #2 was based on a deleted scene from Star Wars in which Jabba was played by Declan Mulholland. According to Steve Leialoha, who inked that issue, when George Lucas cut Mulholland's scene from the theatrical release, he instructed Marvel to “replace him with something (anything) more interesting.” The creative team then chose a random alien from the movie's cantina scene to represent Jabba in the comic book adaptation.

Marvel's version of Jabba returned twice more during the comic book series's first few years. In Star Wars #28 (“What Ever Happened to Jabba the Hut?”, October 1979), Jabba tracks down Han and Chewie on the planet Orleon, but when Jabba's ship is infested with stone mites, Han rescues the crimelord. Jabba forgives Han's debt to him and lifts the bounty, but Lucas's plans for The Empire Strikes Back forced Marvel to undo that development in Star Wars #37 (“In Mortal Combat!”, July 1980).
When Marvel's adaptation of Return of the Jedi appeared in Marvel Super Special #27 (1983), Jabba looked exactly as he did in the film, and Marvel made no attempt to explain the discrepancy between the movie version and their earlier character. When Jabba's scene was restored in 1997's Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope Special Edition, a CGI Jabba appeared in place of Declan Mulholland, and it seemed the character from the original Marvel years was all but forgotten. But in 2014, an article by John Jackson Miller in Star Wars Insider incorporated Marvel's “Jabba” appearances into the Expanded Universe canon by revealing that Han's antagonist in those stories was actually Jabba's Nimbanel henchman Mosep Binneed, a character originally identified as the Hutt crimelord's accountant in the Star Wars Customizable Card Game.Since Disney's 2014 reboot of Star Wars canon, all the old Expanded Universe material is now apocryphal, but Mosep Binneed lives on, having appeared in a story by John Jackson Miller in the collection Star Wars: Canto Bight. Somehow, the Nimbanel accountant survived the destruction of his master's sail barge in Return of the Jedi and lived into the era of the sequel trilogy. In a strange way, it seems fitting that the “original” Jabba of the comics has managed to outlive his “replacement” from the movies.

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