Boba Fett On Ice!

It's not the Holiday Special, but this early Fett appearance is just as awkward.
June 20, 2006
The story of Boba Fett's appearance on the pop culture scene is very well documented, but I'll recap quickly for those unfamiliar with the Fettnomenon.

Boba Fett's first on-screen appearance was in the Star Wars Holiday Special, specifically in the 9-minute cartoon produced by Nelvana for the event. The Holiday Special was broadcast once only, on Friday, November 17, 1978 from 8:00-10:00 PM EST on CBS-TV.

Here's Boba Fett as audiences first saw him that night:

Of course, the colouring and design off Fett's trademark costume is a bit off in the cartoon, but this is understandable considering what Nelvana's animators had to work with at that early stage.

Early concept art for Boba Fett by the awesome Ralph McQuarrie.

The next major appearance of Boba Fett came in early 1979, in the form of a special mail-away offer for a Fett action figure from Kenner. We can thank the Holiday Special for this (if nothing else), as the Fett figure was originally planned to be part of a line of Holiday Special figures that never eventuated. So while we never got action figures of Chewbacca's family (what a loss!), Kenner still wanted to do something with the Fett toy they had come up with, and so action figure history was made.

The figure that was actually shipped didn't have the rocket firing back pack, a fiasco which has become a pillar of toy collecting lore.

So, those were the two major foundations of the cult of Boba Fett, but what I want to do in this article is show another major early appearance of the character.

Compared to the plethora of Star Wars books, video games, and comics being released ad nauseam these days, there wasn't much going for Star Wars fans in those early days between film releases. There was the Marvel Comics series, which ran from 1977 to 1986, the Holiday Special, a handful of original novels based on Han Solo's early adventures, and the Star Wars newspaper strip.

The strip began on Sunday, March 11, 1979, written and illustrated by adventure strip legend Russ Manning, appearing in the LA Times Syndicate. It ran for five years (until 1984), and comprised 27 story arcs. There were some great (and some downright silly) stories in that run, but perhaps the greatest and goofiest is the ninth story arc, "The Frozen World of Ota", which ran from June 17 to August 10, 1980.

The Empire Strikes Back premiered a month before this storyline started appearing in the morning papers, on May 21. So by that stage audiences had gotten the dose of Boba Fett that they had been hungering for in the years building up to the sequel. Of course, in those days there weren't synchronised worlwide releases, so in Australia for instance (where ESB was released on August 7, 1980), fans would have been reading about Fett in the newspaper strip in the lead-up to actually seeing the movie.

One of my favourite Star Wars posters, but no Fett!

The main thrust of "The Frozen World of Ota" is to set up the history between Boba Fett and Han Solo which is hinted at in ESB. One of the best things about the Star Wars newspaper strip is that there were attempts to flesh out things that were only hinted at in the movies. This is more true of the Archie Goodwin/Al Williamson run on the strip, but it can be seen in Russ Manning's work too.

Enough history, though. Let's get into the strip.

Right there is the first strip from "The Frozen World of Ota", from June 17, 1980. You'd be excused for thinking this story was gonna be all Chewbacca from the look of that title panel, but Russ Manning just used any random character's head for those. I like the old "From The Adventures Of Luke Skywalker" tag line, which sadly isn't used in Star Wars literature anymore. That phrase dates back to the 1976 Star Wars novelisation, the public's earliest exposure to Star Wars.

It's a basic Star Wars story setup here. Luke's flying around shooting TIE Fighters in some random star system, and manages to down one over a planet's ice caps. He investigates, only to find no pilot in the wreckage...

And there we go, the first appearance of Fett in the strip. Yay.

Turns out it was Boba Fett in that TIE Fighter, and he's pissed. There's a bit of awkwardness here, as Fett gives Luke the opportunity to surrender, but then shoots him before waiting for an answer. He's an enigma, that Boba Fett. You can tell how early this story is, because of Luke's use of the term "Empire pilot" instead of "Imperial pilot". The use of "Empire" as an adjective is an annoying quirk of early Star Wars literature, present in the Marvel Comics series as well as this strip. I don't know why the writers did it, because the term "Imperial" was used even in the original Star Wars.

An interlude here, just to let us know that the rest of the gang is around.

"Duh... you don't look like what you're a-sposed ta."

And before you can say 'Continuity error! Continuity error! They met in the Star Wars Holiday Special! I want my money back ohwaitthisisinthenewspaperforfree...' a gang of snowboarding guys in hooded parkas, all waving capes above their heads, descends upon our heroes.

But wait- those aren't capes. They're electro stun-nets, and now Fett and Skywalker are in the clutches of- the Snogars! That sounds like one of the geniuses in the Pokemon Naming Department came up with it. "Hey Takeshi, we need a name for a little guy with ice powers." "That's 'Snogar', bro." "Thanks, Takeshi. Let me buy you a sake!" "No, man, I don't drink." "Aw come on, Takeshi. Just one. Promise I won't leave you lying in a hotel bath tub sans a kidney."

*cough* Ahem. Sorry.

Boba Fett loves it when a plan comes together.

Luke and Fett decide that being captured by a bunch of sub-zero dumbasses like the Snogars is a fate too ignominous to bear, so they make a break for it.

If there's one thing generic dumb sci-fi/fantasy villains hate, it's being tricked. This also applies to high school bullies in, oh, pretty much every movie ever made.

As Fett and Skywalker race across the frigid wastes of Ota, they encounter the inevitable wild beast, and Skywalker makes the biggest mistake of his life:

Under no circumstances do you tell Boba Fett to shut up. Never. The first rule of living to see the next sunrise is don't tell Boba Fett to shut up. Although I do understand Luke's ire, because when I'm playing those snowboard games at the arcade, I don't want people standing around telling me what to do while I'm trying to execute a 5050xx Turbo NICE MOVE KEEP IT UP GREAT x3!!!

Luke proves that he doesn't have what it takes to make it to the Interstellar X-Games.

Still, Fett is not one to let personal honor get in the way of flaming some hapless creature, so he pulls out a nice trick shot with his wrist flamethrower:

Yeah! That is one kick-ass comics panel.

Oddly enough, this is very similar to what happened in Fett's first appearance back in the Star Wars Holiday Special. Take a look.

Luke and Fett are not destined to get away from the Snogars so easily, though, as Luke looks back and sees that Han Solo has been taken prisoner by those magnificent dumb bastards. Luke thinks he's in for an argument with his escape buddy about going back for Han, but as we all knew Fett has a mad-on for capturing Han Solo, and so:

Come on Boba, you can do better than that!

It wouldn't surprise me if Han Solo was raised in the clone chambers of Kamino as well, and little Boba first cut his bounty huntin' teeth on an escaped baby Han.

JANGO FETT: Boba! That Solo brat has escaped from the grav-playpen.
BOBA FETT: Goo-goo gah gah. Gah! [picks up a few toys from his playpen to use as weapons, and sets off after Han Solo.
(And before anyone bitches in the comments field about the true history of Solo and Fett, yes I've read The Han Solo Trilogy, so just go back to your Natalie Portman fakes.)

Luke and Fett enter the Snogar compound to make good on the rescue, all of a sudden the Snogars appear from everywhere like ninjas in a ninja movie. Fett's had enough of it, though, and engages in some good old racial-vilification-and-violence. Meanwhile, Luke finally gloms on to the fact that this is Boba Fett, the most dangerous bounty hunter in the known galaxy. "And I told him to shut up!"

Fett whips out his flamethrower again, and clears the room. That thing could come in handy on public transport.

Nice dialogue, there. I am so replacing 'check yourself' in my urban vocab with 'don't puff yourself'.

As Han's ego overrides any concern about the fact that he's just been captured by a bounty hunter (most dangerous in the galaxy!), we get another little Star Wars continuity glitch. 'Jabba the Hut' was the spelling used in this and the Marvel Star Wars comic series, presumably before comics professionals learned to read, because 'Jabba the Hutt' was used in the novel and screenplay as far as I'm aware.

'Jabba the Hut' actually appeared in several issues of Marvel's Star Wars series. He was a Nimbanel, one of these ugly dudes:

I would've used a scan from the comics, but you, dear reader, aren't worth reducing the value of one of my Star Wars issues by 0.04 of a CGC rating.

Han is so pissed off that Fett is actually placing another hunt above him, and so he commences the fisticuffs.

You've been seeing someone else, haven't you? Haven't you?!

Fett has the upper hand on Solo, but then in comes Luke Skywalker, death from above!

Can you tell Russ Manning used to draw adventure strips?

Let's face it: homoeroticism in out-of-context comics panels is great.

As Han decides to turn his erstwhile lover over to the Snogars or something, Fett proves that he is the man. The once and future man:

Boba Fett has trick weapons like you wouldn't believe. I bet he even has those asscheek laser cannons like Astro Boy.

Interlude: back at the fort, the Snogars have decided that it just wouldn't be an adventure comic strip if they didn't kidnap a buxom female, so they bag up Princess Leia. I didn't even know Leia was on this adventure. Must've been in the Falcon's bathroom, doing her hair. OH SNAP.

More hilarity with those crazy Snogars. Trapped in a world they don't understand!

Russ Manning can be forgiven for the earlier lame Fett dialogue when one takes that last panel into consideration. So he rendered Fett as a third-person-speaking villain, but that line is just too cool.

Oh, the good lines just keep coming! This is Boba Fett, folks, not that whiny turd from Attack of the clones, and not the sombre, boring Clint Eastwood clone from the comics that Dark Horse has put out over the last ten years.

Boba Fett undermines Han Solo's manhood once again.

Did you notice a change in the art in the last few panels? If you did, give yourself a cookie. Unfortunately, at the time he was doing this strip, Russ Manning's health took a turn for the worse, and art duties were taken up by his assistant (Rick Hoberg) and the fantastic Alfredo Alcala.

Fett thinks everything's all wrapped for this hunt, but then in comes Leia. Fett tries to psyche her out with his invisible gun (look closely), but she ain't falling for it.

If you noticed that ominous shadow behind Fett in the last panel, now you know why. Han Solo can take his masculinity being undermined, he can take being slighted by his homoerotic love object, but he will not stand by while some punk in a vintage suit of Mandalorian armor plays invisible gunslingin' with his woman.

And now this Mole guy flicks a switch, which has the following effect:

It would have been alright if they'd just left it at that, though. I'm sure Fett doesn't hold a grudge, right? But no, they had to stand there and taunt him...


And with Fett left like a forgotten child on the Velcro wall after a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party, the Star Warriors shoot off into space, not knowing that Fett will get his own back in short order. They should've called it The Fett-Pire Strikes Back. Or maybe 'Fett-Pyre', cos of his flamethrowers. Get it?!

Well, that's about all I can stands. Hope you enjoyed this look at a side of Boba Fett that not many people are lucky enough to have seen.


Daniel85 writes all his articles with a yo-yo on one hand, pausing frequently to execute tricks.
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