Steam Wars Holiday Special
December 18, 2017
Sensation Comics 14: The Story of Fir Balsam
Well, it won't take me higher than the diamonds in the sky...
(Footage of the infamous special is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Produced at a time when variety specials were all the rage, and George Lucas' attention was elsewhere, The Star Wars Holiday Special was only broadcast in America once, with a few international markets airing it a bit later in dubbed form. The special is mostly about a group of Wookies – Chewbacca's family, in fact – engaging in a celebration of the Wookie holiday Life Day while dealing with Stormtroopers, missing Chewbacca, watching various bizarre programming for a holiday special, and Art Carney.
Linkara: It's a very obscure piece of media, as you may have noticed by the complete lack of any other Internet reviewers out there ever having tackled it, and certainly not one of my colleagues last week even covering the commercials that aired with the special.
Linkara (v/o): In all seriousness, despite the special being widely known these days, I explained what the hell it is because of something Stan Lee once said: "Every comic is someone's first." There is always the off-chance that somebody will watch this video never having watched Star Wars, nor is just coming into my show from a place not familiar with Star Wars minutiae like that, or even that they're just getting into it nowadays with the new trilogy, and they hadn't been made aware of it until now.
Linkara: But as I said, everybody's covered The Star Wars Holiday Special, and with good reason: it is so easily mockable, so goofy and weird. But of course, I don't cover live-action stuff, unless it's a Patreon-sponsored review. So how can I even make a holiday episode around it? Well, I can... sort of, also thanks to a Patreon-sponsored review.
(Shots of the comic book "Steam Wars" is shown)
Linkara (v/o): Back in 2015, I was paid to review "Steam Wars", a kinda sorta parody of Star Wars, transplanting A New Hope into a steampunk environment. It was actually pretty good, coming up with a lot of original concepts, the dialogue wasn't just a copy-and-paste from the film, and it had a few twists and turns not present in the film, either. Aaaand of course, there was a holiday special comic for it.
Linkara: And considering their version of Chewbacca was a grizzly bear, I look forward to the dialogue being even more incomprehensible. Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "The Steam Wars Holiday Special".
(The Christmas version of the AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has the Life Day song (sung by Princess Leia) from The Star Wars Holiday Special playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): The cover is cute, featuring the Chewbacca equivalent, Smokey, standing with what I presume to be his wife and father, along with his son at the bottom. And good Lord, they're huge! Like, yeah, bears are big, but you could fit all three of the human characters on this cover inside of Smokey. I'm pretty sure he was closer to the old bear originally. Oh, speaking of our human characters, Duchess Imoen and Beauregard Baron are admiring this tiny, crappy Christmas tree they got at the Dollar Store. One other cute note? The edge of the cover is made up to look like an old Star Wars action figure package, with "Kenner" replaced by "Perry". And no wonder it says "limited edition" at the bottom; there are, like, seven figures in this pack!
(The comic opens to the first page)
Linkara (v/o): We open with an opening text crawl. (reads text) "Episode 5-Alpha – THE HEGEMONY ENDURES".
Linkara: "Five-Alpha"? (scoffs) That's like having a Volume 2.5 of a DVD. Who does that? (suddenly sees he's holding up a DVD of Atop the Fourth Wall: Vol. 2.5: Special Holiday Issue) Oh, hey, how'd this get in my hands?
Text: Despite the loss of their ultimate weapon of terror, the Death Blimp...
Linkara: (narrator voice) ...which they were still able to write off on their taxes...
Text: ...and the death of their tyrannical overlord, Lord Baron...
Linkara: (putting his hand over his heart) A moment of silence for Governor President.
Text: ...the Hegemony continue their campaign of worldwide domination. The resistance forces, having at last backed their enemy into a corner, find the Hegemony more desperate and brutal than ever before.
Linkara: (narrator voice) Let's not even get into what they plan to do for the next Steam Wars: Battlefront game.
Linkara (v/o): It continues to say that they're avoiding fights with the resistance, instead working on harassing and enslaving civilian populations to erode support and gain resources.
Text: The Hegemony's viciousness is relentless and indefatigable even on today, the holiest of all days in the year...
Linkara: Arbor Day.
Text: ...the "Day of Life".
Linkara: The Day of Life ritual begins with a human sacrifice.
Linkara (v/o): We open over a forest, where our heroes, Hansel Lowe...
Linkara: Yyyyeah, if you haven't seen the "Steam Wars" review yet, watch it.
Linkara (v/o): ...and his bear companion, Smokey, flying over a forest in their ship, the Twentieth Century Fox.
Linkara: A ship they would soon sell off to Disney.
Linkara (v/o): In the distance, they spot an armada of ships, three destroyers and a troop carrier, passing very close to an Ursine Reservation.
Hansel: They're at cruise speed... so they could just be on patrol.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of The Simpsons)
Homer Simpson: The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): However, the ships soon begin sending out Landers toward the reservation, showing that indeed that's where they're heading.
Hansel: We gotta beat them to your home! We gotta warn your family! Gonna need you in the engine room. Gonna need all the power you can scrape from the hyperboiler!
Hansel: I know... We just salvaged the Fox. I know... She's not in top shape! But you're the engineer, Smokey! You'll find us a way! Your family needs us!
Linkara: (as Smokey, growls; as Hansel) Yes, I know it's weird that I'm more concerned about your family than you are, but if we don't get there in time, steampunk Art Carney is gonna give your dad some kind of weird virtual reality porn thing!
Linkara (v/o): At Smokey's home, we see his son playing with some toys. I do love how they gave the bears these kinda pseudo-cybernetic attachments, little devices that give them more grips for their hands to play with toys and whatnot.
Linkara: Certainly would explain how my teddy bear was able to play a chess match against Snowflame once – and win! (looks to his side and sees the teddy bear there; he yelps slightly)
Linkara (v/o): Smokey's father is also in the room and starts playing with the younger bear, both with toy wooden ships. However, the door to the room is slammed open by Smokey's wife, holding a bowl of something she's cooking.
Linkara: Oh, I get it. She was watching that one Harvey Korman clip from the Holiday Special, too!
(A clip of the infamous instructional video from the Holiday Special is shown)
Korman: (holding up the bag with the mini transmitter in it) Try not to rip it open, because it makes a very handy storage case for your tools until you need then again.
Linkara: (cringing) Yeah, sure, let's go with that.
Linkara (v/o): And geez, with that porridge she's probably making, the three are gonna get a visit from Darth Goldilocks. Anyway, we get the general idea of her roaring at them to keep it down while she's cooking, but then notices a family photo of herself, Smokey, and their son. Aw, isn't that sweet? I– Hey, wait, if she can just pick up the photo with her paw, why do they need the cybernetic attachments? Anyway, when she looks up, she spots the Landers coming down near them, quickly rushing to the two to tell them of the impending attack. The ships start bombing the area a bit as they flee their home.
Linkara: Wait, no music video by Jefferson Airship before they leave?
Linkara (v/o): The Hegemony's soldiers discuss their find of the Ursine Reservation.
Soldier 1: A most fortunate discovery.
Soldier 2: Just one of the ursine could do the work of a dozen slaves!
Linkara: (as soldier, clenching fist) And that substantially decreases the cost of their health care plans!
Soldier 3: Inform me when twenty-five male and twenty-five female ursines are in custody.
Linkara: (as this soldier) I mean, let's not be unreasonable here. Our slave camps are equal opportunity.
Soldier 4: Sir, aren't they just curs? Freaks? Mutants from the Old Republic?
(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching Jack Frost)
Crow: (as Ivan) Am I un-bear-able?
(Back to the comic again)
Lieutenant: The Establishment Harmonic once modified and bred thousands of these beasts to serve as slave engineers. Their primitive brains were genetically impregnated with astounding mechanical aptitude.
Linkara: (as Lieutenant) Although, disaster struck when they tried to put grizzly bears in the IT department.
Linkara (v/o): The Stormtroopers proceed to shoot at many of the fleeing bears.
Stormtrooper: Hey, Captain! Some of these ratholes are decorated! It's like they're celebrating a Day of Life or something!
Linkara: (confused) Yes, because tiny lights equals Day of Life? You might as well say, (points offscreen) "Oh, man, there's a plant! It's like they're celebrating Labor Day!"
Stormtrooper: Ursine scum is the same as human scum, Corporal!
Linkara: You need a lot of Lysol.
Stormtrooper: And they have the same rights!
Linkara: (as Stormtrooper, pointing to camera) So if a bear asks for a lawyer, you give it to them, got it?!
Stormtrooper: They have the right to serve the Hegemony as slaves, or they have the right to die like dogs!
Linkara: (as Stormtrooper, holding up index finger) Oh, but they also have the right to not forcibly house soldiers, so make sure you (makes a knocking motion) knock and ask to come in first.
Stormtrooper: The rest of the platoon can fan out into the woods and start blasting! We probably met our capture quota on the first strike... so set your weapons to kill!
Linkara: (as Stormtrooper) I mean, we probably made the quota. (looks around) Was anyone actually keeping count? (shrugs) Ah, well. It's not like we're an evil, oppressive regime that would be very unforgiving when it comes to failure.
Linkara (v/o): One of them spots Mama Bear and tries to shoot at her, but she fires back, leading to a splash page that's... a bit odd. It's essentially a bird's-eye view of a battle between the bears and the Stormtroopers, but it's so weird to see it at this angle. It almost seems like one of those things where you need to turn the comic on its side, but no, the dialogue and two smaller panels at the bottom clearly show it's the right orientation. It's just weird.
Stormtrooper: Mace Squad, hold your overwatch position!
Linkara: (as Stormtrooper) Ready the Hanzo and Genji! (looks up and shakes fist) READY THE HANZO AND GENJI!!
Linkara (v/o): The Stormtroopers clearly outnumber and can outflank Mama Bear, since she and the other two are just hiding behind a large tree. But fortunately, it's Smokey and Hansel to the rescue, Smokey landing on some Stormtroopers with Hansel on his back, firing guns. And I'm sorry, clearly the overwatch position belongs to Hansel, or should I say, McCree here. The two fight off the Stormtroopers with bullets and biting.
Hansel: Smokey! Watch out! Six fifteen o'clock! I've got the two twenty-five... and eight o'clock covered! New squad comin'! Troopers at four thirty!
Linkara: (exasperated) What time is it?!
Linkara (v/o): With the new squad dealt with, thanks to Smokey's arm-mounted cannons, Hansel provides cover while instructing Smokey to get his family and anyone else he can rescue back to the ship. He proceeds to do so, leading as many bears as they can find back to the Twentieth Century Fox, Hansel soon arriving shortly afterwards. As they fly off, we finally learn the names of the other bears: Cindy, Yogge and Little Bou. (pronounces it "Little Beau")
Linkara: And even if it is just a Yogi Bear reference, it's a thousand times more dignified than having names like Lumpy and Itchy.
Linkara (v/o): Hansel tells Smokey that they'll save the others eventually, as well as build them a new home.
Hansel: The ursine are our friends-- no... family!
Linkara: (as Hansel) Which, come to think of it, uh... still waiting on my Day of Life present.
Hansel: You know that, right?
Linkara: (as Hansel) I mean, I don't even want to get into what my actual kid ended up doing... although I hear he has an eight-pack, so at least he's taking care of himself.
Linkara (v/o): He tells Smokey to go check on his family. And so, our comic ends with Little Bou giving Smokey that he brought with him when they fled, and oh, my God, it is too cute for words! The family hugs, and the Fox flies off into the night.
Linkara: (cupping hand over mouth) Boo! Where's Duchess Imoen High-As-a-Kite singing a song to us? (holds up comic) In all seriousness, this comic is just fine.
Linkara (v/o): It basically plays out the main plot of the Holiday Special, but done straight: a family having to deal with imperial forces on a holiday.
(Cut to footage of Ackmena, Bea Arthur's character in the Holiday Special)
Linkara (v/o): It's just that in this case, instead of a few Stormtroopers apparently hanging out in a Wookie home for three hours, watching Bea Arthur sing in a bar on Tatooine...
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...it's a bunch of Stormtroopers trying to kidnap bears to work as slave labor and we've got lots of guns shooting.
Linkara: Ah, it's not Christmas until the bullets start flying.
Linkara (v/o): It's sweet and cute and a hell of a lot better than the actual Star Wars Holiday Special. Certainly doesn't have a weird-ass cartoon with Boba Fett in it. No, my problem with it is basically the same as the "Hellraiser" Holiday Special from a couple of weeks ago: there's barely anything holiday-related here. They make, like, two Life Day references, a present, and that's it. There's nothing particularly holiday-related about this. And while I joked about Duchess Imoen singing like Carrie Fisher did, we at least got to see the other Star Wars characters in their holiday special, whereas this only has Smokey and Hansel. In some ways, that's better, but the cover advertised the main cast and it didn't deliver, which feels like a bit of a cheat, given the source material. Don't get me wrong, this comic is not bad at all, but for a holiday special, it doesn't feel particularly festive.
Linkara: And you know what? We should have that. Next week is Christmas Day, and we're going to celebrate with a bunch of holiday stories all in one. Come back next Monday for "Christmas with the Superheroes #2". (gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll)
Yeah, I started playing Overwatch. You tend to take breaks from gaming while working on a storyline for two years. I still need to play Doom. Anyway, no I don't really have a main yet. Pharah's fun.
Steampunk Bea Arthur liked the Last Jedi and felt it was a great reversal on expected tropes of Star Wars while advancing the characters in various ways. If you disagree, that's fine, just one more round, friend.
(Stinger: A clip of The Star Wars Holiday Special is shown, showing the Wookie family roaring softly)