Chinese Star Wars Comic (Part 4 of 6): THX-1138, why have you left your station?7 min read

This is part of four of a six part post in which I plan to translate a 142 page Chinese comic book adaptation of Star Wars originally published in Guangdong, China, in the 1980s. Thanks to Maggie Greene for giving me the go ahead to re-post her scans, and Brendan O’Kane for bringing this to my attention. In this episode, Vader is duped by Solo’s Trojan Falcon, Obi-wan strikes out alone to take out the tractor beam generator, and Luke rescues Princess Leia only to find themselves trapped in a trash compactor…

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75. Meanwhile, in the meeting room of the “Death Star,” Vader is staring fixedly at star map. Fascinatingly enough, even after the largest device of mass destruction ever—the “Death Star”—destroyed the planet Alderaan, this star map looks the same as always. Indeed, it is only after careful inspection that it becomes apparent that a tiny dot is missing [from the map].


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76. The loudspeaker announces that a ship has been taken captive in the ruins of Alderaan. The identifying marks match those of the spacecraft which left the desert planet without authorization. Vader immediately heads to the docking bay (feichuan tingbochu 飛船停泊処) to direct a search of the vessel by the [Imperial] troops.


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77. The Imperial Troops enter the spacecraft. Although they look everywhere, they are surprised to find that the ship is empty. The controls are offline and every system is shut down. A soldier turns on the controls [only to discover] that, according to the navigation log, the crew of the ship disembarked before the spacecraft took off [from Tatooine] and that the ship flew to Alderaan on autopilot (zidong zhuangzhi 自動裝置).

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78. Vader orders a fully equipped (zhuangbei qiquan 裝備齊全) scanning crew to be dispatched to complete a thorough search of the spacecraft. He then saunters away and the remaining soldiers leave the ship in quick succession.


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79. Silence reigns inside the spacecraft. Suddenly, a section of the floor lifts up and Luke and Solo stick their heads out, with Kenobi and the others appearing shortly thereafter. Solo stretches and says, “This ship ain’t going nowhere.” Kenobi gives him a mischievous look and says, “Just leave it to me.”


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80. At the same time, two members of the scanning team have arrived at the entrance of the ship and report to the two soldiers standing guard. The guards want them to report the results of their scan immediately, and the two [technicians] nod, lugging their heavy [scanning] equipment up the stairs and onto the ship.


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81. The scanning technicians have only just entered the ship when a loud roar sounds from inside, causing the two guards to run inside as well. But as soon as they enter, the ape-man Chewbacca with Luke and the others make short work of them.


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82. In a small control room near the spacecraft, a officer in charge of the tow tractors [for the docking bay] discovers that the guards are missing and calls out over the radio, “THX-1138, why have you left your station?” In response, the receiver produces only static.


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83. A short while later, a guard descends from the ship and waves his arm at [the officer in the control room], tapping on his helmet to indicate that his communication device is malfunctioning.


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84. The officer opens the door [to the control room] and the guard shoots him with a high energy beam. The officer is immediately knocked to the ground. It turns out that this “soldier” is actually Solo in disguise. Shortly thereafter, two more “soldiers,” Luke, Kenobi, and the rest, walk into the room.


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85. As soon as he enters the room, Kenobi stands in front of the complex and difficult to describe controls to the computer system and begins to operate the device. The screen shows a schematic of the “Death Star,” which the old man studies carefully.


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86. At the same time, the two robots are inspecting an equally complex control panel. After a short while, R2 discovers something [important] and whistles loudly.


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87. Kenobi wants R2 to connect his data port (cha tou 插頭) to the computer with a cable so that he can download all of the data from the “Death Star” and find the power source for the tractor beam. The lights flash up and down R2’s chassis and the drone (weng weng sheng 嗡嗡聲) of the computer operating at high speed continues for several minutes before the task is complete.


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88. Kenobi volunteers for the mission to sabotage the tractor beam. Luke wants to go with him, but the old man wants him to wait for his signal and look after the two robots. It is of utmost importance, Kenobi says, that you get the droids to the Rebel base, otherwise many more planets will meet with the same cruel fate as Alderaan.


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89. After Kenobi leaves, R2 begins to whistle madly in front of the control board. It turns out that he has discovered Princess Leia. She is here, on Level 5, imprisoned in cell block AA-23. According to the information [on the computer], it has already been decided that she will be put to a slow death.


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90. Luke suggests that they rescue her but Solo says he won’t go. Luke tries to appeal to his morality (xiaoyi dayi 曉以大義) but Solo still won’t do it. Finally, Luke promises him a big reward (dabi choujin 大筆酬金) and Solo is forced to agree. They put Chewbacca in manacles, and pretend to be two Imperial soldiers escorting a captive out of the small control room.


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91. Moving deep into the bowels of the enormous base, a steady stream of Imperial soldiers, technicians, and robots pass by but they mostly ignore them, with only a few individuals giving the ape-man Chewbacca curious looks.


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92. They take the elevator to Level 5 where an officer interrogates them, saying, “Where are you taking this thing?” Chewbacca howls, and Solo jabs him in the ribs to shut him up. Luke smoothly replies, “We’re transferring this prisoner from cell block TS-138.”


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93. The officer says that nobody notified him, and turns to consult his instrument panel. After a quick glance at Luke, Solo unlocks Chewbacca’s manacles and says something to him under his breath. Straight away, Chewbacca roars and grabs Solo’s gun.


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94. Solo pretends to be alarmed, shouting loudly, “Watch, he’s slipped his restraints, we’re screwed! (bu de liao 不得了)” He and Luke pull out their guns and let loose a barrage of fire in Chewbacca’s direction. Chewbacca dodges and weaves. None of the blasts hit him, instead destroying the instrument panel and killing the three guards. The officer is the last to be felled.


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95. The loudspeaker demands a status report but Solo ignores it. He quickly finds Leia’s cell number and tells Luke to go rescue her while he and Chewbacca stay behind to stand guard.


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96. Luke uses his laser gun to blast open the door of [Leia’s] cell. He takes off his helmet and says to the stunned Princess Leia, “I’ve come with Ben Kenobi to rescue you—we found your two robots.” Princess Leia sighs happily.


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97. The Imperial Storm Troopers (Chongfeng Dui 衝鋒隊) pour in one after another leaving Luke and the four others are trapped in the corridor, with no exit in sight and no plan for escape.


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98. Princess Leia takes Luke’s gun and blasts open a small grate in the metal wall, leading everyone into the garbage chute.


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99. The stench of the garbage is hard to bear, and they look for an exit but all they can find is an access hatch which is locked tight. Just as they are starting to get nervous, something unexpected happens: there the rumble of machinery and the two walls on either side of the chute start suddenly start to move slowly inwards, making the narrow chute even narrower.


Nick Stember
Nick Stember is a translator and historian of Chinese comics and science fiction, currently working on his PhD in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge. In 2016 he completed his Master of Arts in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia with his (very readable and not at all obscure) thesis on the formation of the Shanghai Manhua Society in the mid-1920s.

2 thoughts on “Chinese Star Wars Comic (Part 4 of 6): THX-1138, why have you left your station?7 min read

  1. Pingback: Chinese Star Wars Comic (Part 3 of 6): Once we've entered hyper-speed, they'll never catch us! | Nick Stember

  2. Pingback: A Long Time Ago in a China Far, Far Away … | Maggie Greene

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