We continue our look at Roy Thomas & Howard Victor Chaykin's Magnificent Seven by way of Star Wars homage with Star Wars #9!
The cover (once more by Gil Kane) depicts Han, Chewbacca, Amaiza and - the Lepus of the hour - Jaxxon, the foursome in deadly combat with the Cloud-Riders. Strangely, Jaxxon doesn't seem to be wearing his shirt on the cover. Also, he's drawn rather more realistically than we've seen him in the interiors so far.
The story, "Showdown on a Wasteland World!" was again inked by Tom Palmer. The tale opens with Han and Chewie leading their six hired guns astride Banthas (when you absolutely, guaranteed have to be there in six to eight months) to the village they're to protect. En route it becomes clear Jaxxon has as much a gift for the gab as Solo himself:
"Yeah, I know, Chewie... I know! It's too quiet for me, too; I just didn't want to say anything."
"So now I guess yer gonna talk all day about how ya didn't wanna talk!?"
"You can be replaced on this mission, y'know, Jax."
"Yeah? Who by, Solo? Looks ta me like yer already scrappin' the bottom of a low barrel just to dig up this group!"
After a flashback sequence where Han recalls the events leading up to him becoming the leader of these rag-tag characters the group sees a flock of High-Hounds, giant feathery scavengers with semi-humanoid features. The team begins blasting the creatures out of the sky, granting them an opportunity to demonstrate their abilities to Solo and practice for the eventual fight with Serji-X. In the midst of the fight, Jaxxon begins putting the moves on Amaiza:
"Y'know Amaiza-- when this baby-sittin' mission's over, howzabout you an' me teamin' up? I got a hunch we could make beautiful blaster-music together."
Amaiza isn't interested: "No offense, but if I hung around with a guy who looks like a big green rabbit, folks might start to talk." Solo sees one of the High-Hounds diving at a local and springs into action in time to save her. The beauteous babe (on loan from one of Thomas' Conan plots) proves to be Merri, the daughter of the village's chief, Oncho. Han begins gathering up the locals to prepare defenses against Serji-X's inevitable assault.
Meanwhile in the subplot, Luke, C-3PO & R2-D2 find a planet in the Drexel system which seems appropriate to serve as the Rebels' new base, but mid-broadcast back to Leia, his message mysteriously cuts out. Leia decides she'll pursue Luke's trail to Drexel and discover what happened to him. Back on Aduba-3, Merri's grandfather, a shaman, tries to tell Solo about his mystical resources and some monster he believes has the power to defend the village, but Solo takes him for yet another senile old man and ignores him.
Jaxxon alerts the others to Serji-X's approach: "If what they say about us rabbits havin' good eyes is true-- then I suggest we get up off our fannies an' cotton tails-- 'cause I got a hunch trouble's on the way... big trouble-- an' it's comin' at us hard an' fast!" Serji-X demands the villagers turn over their tribute, and includes Merri amongst what he wants, enraging Solo. The fight begins and Effie the droid helps out by extending its arms to grab one of the Cloud-Riders' skyspeeder, bringing its rider directly into Chewbacca's fists. However, Effie then notices the Starkiller Kid is about to be shot in the back; despite asserting the Kid is not its master, Effie serves as a shield, being completely destroyed by the ensuing blaster fire.
Don-Wan also gets into the fray to defend Amaiza from one of the bandits, which he does quite well, striking him in the back with his lightsaber (proof that he's a real Jedi: he doesn't fight fair). However, another bandit shoots Don-Wan in the back; Solo believes him dead (he's not, likely because of his armour). Solo and Jaxxon share another exchange:
"Hey, Jaxxon! How's our ammunition holding out?!"
"Ain't complainin', Solo! An' if I run outta power, I can always kick those riders outa the clouds!"
However, the chaos of the fight takes a sudden turn as the old shaman summons forth the slumbering monster he alluded to - the Behemoth! It's now a three-way battle for the village!
Tomorrow: the conclusion in Star Wars #10!