How a French Comic Series Inspired Star Wars

Unmasking Darth Vader

In the end of the original Star Wars trilogy, Darth Vader, the ominous masked big bad villain of the entire trilogy, receives fatal injuries after saving Luke Skywalker from an energizing death. Luke unmasks him and reveals a severely damaged face.

There’s a similar unmasking in Empire of a Thousand Planets. The authorities here are wearing white robes and a helmet, and one of them unmasks himself in the end, also revealing a severely damaged face.

Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus Return of the Jedi (1983)
Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus Return of the Jedi (1983)
Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus Return of the Jedi (1983)
Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus Return of the Jedi (1983)

Han Solo encapsulated in carbonite

One of many things The Empire Strikes Back is famous for is when Han Solo is encapsulated in carbonite. Valérian is actually placed in a similar situation in Empire of a Thousand Planets only he’s encapsulated in plastic and is still somewhat conscious. But even his hands is posed in the same way as in the movie.

Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The flapping merchant Watto

The junk store proprietor Watto seen primarily in The Phantom Menace could have been inspired by the Shingouz, a race that excels at selling information in Ambassador of the Shadows.

Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) versus The Phantom Menace (1999)
Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) versus The Phantom Menace (1999)
Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) versus The Phantom Menace (1999)
Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) versus The Phantom Menace (1999)

A temple entrance

In the beginning of the Star Wars movie Return of the Jedi, the two droids C-3PO and R2-D2 arrives in front of an enormous temple stone gate that slowly lifts up to reveal the dark inside. A similar temple gate can be found in the comic book Empire of a Thousand Planets.

Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus Return of the Jedi (1983)
Empire of a Thousand Planets (1970) versus Return of the Jedi (1983)

The servant droid

This one is probably a long shot. In the rough bar that Laureline visits in Ambassador of the Shadows, there’s a small servant droid (or perhaps it’s just an alien that looks like one). R2-D2 has also been a servant droid on board Jabba the Hutt’s sail barge in Return of the Jedi.

Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) versus Return of the Jedi (1983)
Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) versus Return of the Jedi (1983)

Other comparisons

Being underwater in a small sub only to be chased by a big lake monster.

Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) versus The Phantom Menace (1999)
Ambassador of the Shadows (1975) versus The Phantom Menace (1999)

The distant city in the clouds.

Brooklyn Station, Terminus Cosmos (1980) versus The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Brooklyn Station, Terminus Cosmos (1980) versus The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Even the idea of a clone army in the Star Wars prequel trilogy was also used in the comic book series.

On the False Earths (1977) versus Attack of the Clones (2002)
On the False Earths (1977) versus Attack of the Clones (2002)

Reaction and links

The story goes that the artist of the comic series, Jean-Claude Mézières, saw Star Wars back in the day and responded with being “dazzled, jealous… and furious!” In 1983, he even made the illustration below for the Pilote magazine which was noted for showcasing the talents of French and Belgian comics artists.

Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker meets Valérian and Laureline while surrounded by familiar aliens.
Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker meets Valérian and Laureline while surrounded by familiar aliens.

Want to know more?

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog post, even if you don’t agree with the insinuations. Finding, scanning, snapshotting, adapting and combining all these pictures was quite a monumental task.

If you liked this blog post, I also recommend The Gravity Gun, 45 Years Prior to Half-Life 2.

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