When Ron Howard revealed the news over the the weekend that the comedic duo “Tag and Bink” would be part of the Han Solo movie, many fans of the spoof comic series were ecstatic, while others were undoubtedly left scratching their heads. So, who are these characters and what does it mean that they are actually going to be integrated into the Star Wars canon? Well, thanks to my Marvel Unlimited subscription, I was able to check out all four issues about these two and their non-stop antics as they stumble in the background from one major event to the next. I had heard of these characters before, but I had just never taken the time to read the comics, so I admit I am definitely a latecomer to the Tag and Bink party. But what can I say? Better late than never.
The Tag and Bink comics consist of a two-issue limited series that takes the characters through the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, a special edition issue a few years later about their contributions in Return of the Jedi, and a prequel era comic about their early days as struggling Jedi Padawans. When we first meet Tag and Bink, they are rebel soldiers aboard the Tantive IV. As the Empire is about to board their ship, they decide that they aren’t going to hang around for what is sure to be a losing fight.
The two quickly get out of sight, but their cover is blown when the loud-mouthed C-3PO gives them away. When the opportunity comes, Tag and Bink manage to knock out their captors, steal their armor, and quickly find themselves stationed on the Death Star, looking for a chance to tuck tail and rendezvous back with the Rebels. When they see Alderaan, they decide to make a break for it, but soon Alderaan is destroyed. They are unsure of what to do, but Bink advises Tag that whatever they do, they can’t go back to the Death Star. However, after the transmission gets garbled, Tag thought Bink actually advised him to go back to the Death Star. The Millennium Falcon arrives and follows Tag in to the station, and Bink is forced to head back for his friend.
On the Death Star and back in Stormtrooper armor, the pair are given the duty of guarding the tractor beam. Killing time as they wait for another chance to get off the station, they make small talk about the new BT-16s as Obi-Wan sneaks away from the platform. Later, disguised as pilots again, Vader approaches them to come with him to defend the station against a Rebel attack. However, they are able to sneak away and leave the Death Star aboard the shuttle Tyderium, originally intended as an evacuation shuttle for Grand Moff Tarkin.
After surviving the Death Star, they head to Yavin 4 looking for the rest of the Rebels, only to discover the base had been evacuated. After an encounter with Boba Fett, they head to Cloud City, where an old friend of Tag, Lando Calrissian, owes him a favor. As it turns out, Lando used to date Tag’s sisters, (both of them…at the same time) and when he got himself in a predicament, needing to cover the fact that he was out with a third woman, Tag allowed him to use his own heroic story about the Battle of Tanaab as an alibi. They soon discover that Fett has also arrived at Cloud City, and later, while hiding out in a room under Lando’s direction, C-3PO stumbles in to their hiding place. Tag and Bink instantly recognize the protocol droid, and still angry at the droid for giving them away to the Empire, they decide to blast him to bits.
When Lando sends Tag and Bink to follow Leia and Chewbacca, they get mixed up with the group escorting Captain Solo to the carbon freezing chamber, where they discover what it feels like to be back-handed by a giant Wookiee. Later, they finally catch up to Lando and join him in his efforts to find Solo. They ambush Boba Fett, knock him out, and steal his armor. It turns out that Boba Fett is not even in Return of the Jedi – this was Tag in disguise all along. Bink also goes undercover in Jabba’s Palace as Taym Dren-garen, one of Jabba’s henchmen.
When the fight breaks out on Jabba’s sail barge, Luke Skywalker, unaware that Tag is there to help, slices his blaster and an unlucky hit from Han Solo sends him plummeting into the sarlaac pit. Jedi or not, Bink decides to knock Skywalker down a notch, aims for his lightsaber, and accidentally shoots him in the hand. After bailing over the side, Bink is later rescued along with Tag by a mysterious woman named Kannen that mistook Tag for Boba Fett.
Kannen introduces Tag and Bink to her contact, Manuel Both-Hanz, who gives them the plans to the second Death Star. Sadly, however, “Manny” Both-Hanz died bringing them that information. After delivering the plans to the Rebels, the duo head out to dispose of Both-Hanz’s body at the orders of Mon Mothma, and they get mixed up once again with the Imperials. Disguised as Imperial Guards, the pair are chosen to stand guard at the entrance to the Emperor’s throne room. When Skywalker arrives, they are ordered to leave. They walk around the elevator, only to realize that the only way down was through the door they just walked away from.
Rather than look stupid, they decide to wait it out behind the elevator shaft. When the Emperor is killed, they decide to make their move, only to find that the elevator was occupied. While waiting for it to return, the station explodes and Tag and Bink are killed. They later show up as ghosts on Endor alongside Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Anakin, alluding to the fact that they were somehow tied to the Force.
The final issue with Tag and Bink takes place during the prequel era, where we discover that the two were struggling Padawans in the Jedi Order. Having been gifted with Force abilities accidentally by Darth Plagueis, they are accepted into the Order (only barely). When they accidentally delete a planet from the Jedi archives, they decide to run away, rather than face the wrath of their Jedi masters. Later, they are discovered by Anakin Skywalker aboard a transport to Naboo, and he threatens to tell on them but relents when they threaten to divulge his obvious affection for the senator to the council. Instead, Anakin allows them to come with him to Naboo, where they help him win Padme’s affections.
When Anakin is forced to head to Tatooine, he leaves Tag and Bink stranded on Naboo, where they stay for the next three years. Finally arriving back home to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, they discover Anakin destroying the Jedi. As payment for their help with Padme, Anakin cuts their Jedi braids and sends them on their way, threatening to kill them if he ever saw them again. They decide to go to Tatooine, where nothing important ever happens…
I had so much fun reading this comic that I found myself wishing for more when all was said and done. I literally grinned the entire time reading it. Writer Kevin Rubio, who also directed the mockumentary fan film Troops, is both hilarious and ridiculously clever in his execution of the book’s plot. The dialogue is witty, upbeat, and he never misses a chance to tackle some of the biggest moments in the overall Star Wars story. Granted, if this was canon, the eye rolls would be all over the place, but this book is never shy about what it is, and it never takes itself seriously. It is admittedly non-canon and there are even several moments that break the fourth wall, like this page revealing an unamused George Lucas behind the scenes:
There are tons of pop culture references stuffed in the pages of this comic as well, from the Big Boy Restaurant on the Death Star to Buzz Lightyear in a booth at Dex’s Diner (above) and Finding Nemo at the opera in Revenge of the Sith (below). The bottom line is this: if you’ve never read these comics, do yourself a favor and check them out if you get the chance. Physical copies can be a little pricey as they have long been out of print, but if you have a Marvel Unlimited sub, you can read them digitally through the service.
After reading the comics, I understand why fans are so excited to see them in the upcoming Han Solo movie. I could also see where it could make some nervous, given the nature of the characters in their comic book origins, but I think it will be very interesting to see what they bring to the table. Of course, they could certainly just be relegated to the background as an homage to their history in the comics, but if they do come to the forefront at some point, perhaps they will bring some humor to various scenes throughout the movie. I for one look forward to seeing them on screen (if only in the background), and I’m already secretly hoping that we see another comic series with them in future.