Because he didn't know that "The Empire Strikes Back" was going to start with the Rebels on their new base on Hoth, Archie Goodwin didn't get to bring his Marvel comics stories all the way from the end of "A New Hope" to the beginning of "Empire." In the newspaper strips a few years later, he was able to rectify that.
"The Final Trap," which concluded on March 11, 1984, finds Luke and Han on the planet Verdanth, going up against an Imperial probe droid of the type they'd later meet on Hoth. After the adventure, Han says, "C'mon kid, let's get back to Chewie and the Falcon. We've been away from Hoth and the Princess long enough!" This would turn out to be not only the end of the Goodwin/Williamson run, but also the end of "Star Wars" on the funny pages.
Although Goodwin was able to chronicle the Rebels moving from Yavin to Hoth, the stories chronicled in "Classic Star Wars" 15-20 are somewhat of a creative limp to the finish for the series. I don't know if Dark Horse's editing team on these later issues wasn't as good as on the early issues, but whatever the reason, there's more redundancy and predictability from panel-to-panel here. For example, Skorr complains about "the spice mines of Kessel" on pretty much every page.
In "A New Beginning" and "Showdown," we again meet Raskar (from "The Power Gem"), who is sort of a prototype for Talon Karrde -- a pirate who is somewhat ethical. He could just sell Solo to Jabba, but he's willing to let Solo buy his freedom with lumni-spice from caverns on Hoth. (It's cool to see a part of Hoth that isn't snowy plains and ice caverns. Perhaps Goodwin and Williamson were inspired by Ralph McQuarrie's painting of grazing tauntauns?) Later, Raskar rescues Solo from bounty hunters to return a favor. Raskar ranks up there with Tanith Shire as the most well-developed new characters in "Classic Star Wars" -- sadly, like Tanith, he's never been heard from outside of this series.
Just by looking at the panels, you'd assume "Showdown" would be incredibly cool, because we see Boba Fett, Bossk (who for some reason is unnamed) and Dengar (who for some reason is called "Zuckass" even though his action figure had been in stores for a few years). And returning from the first "CSW" arc is Skorr, (arguably) the "bounty hunter on Ord Mantell" Han refers to in "Empire." Jabba, Vader and the Emperor are also on the fringes of this story.
But based on stories that would be written later, Fett's characterization in "Showdown" is questionable. He works with other bounty hunters here, even though the "Bounty Hunter Wars" trilogy, which takes place just before this (according to this timeline), establishes that Fett had a reputation for being a loner. (Then that "loner" personality was contradicted in "The Clone Wars" where we see him learning the trade from other bounty hunters, including Aurra Sing and Bossk.)
Although Fett doesn't totally embarrass himself in "Showdown" (it's Skorr's bumbling that leads to Solo and Skywalker's escape), it's not exactly the finest hour of his career.
While the chronology of Fett and the major bounty hunters remains muddled to this day, another oddity from these issues was later (somewhat) rectified. After "Doom Mission" finds Luke's rival Vrad Dodonna flying his X-wing into the Executor to buy time for the Yavin evacuation, his distraught father -- General Jan Dodonna -- sacrifices himself by blowing up the Great Temple and taking out some Imperial forces in "Race for Survival." A couple years before this, Dark Horse had published "Dark Empire," where Dodonna is alive and well. In the letter pages at the back of "CSW" issues, one of the first major continuity controversies played out. Dark Horse wisely left the strips' content unedited, and a few years later, Michael Stackpole chronicled Dodonna's capture and rescue in the "X-wing" books.
The blowing up of the Great Temple remains a continuity oddity, though, because Luke returned to the temple in Kevin J. Anderson's "Jedi Academy Trilogy" to find it looking the same way it did at the end of "A New Hope." Cobwebs, sure, but no mention of the serious damage chronicled in "CSW."
Also in this final batch of stories is "The Paradise Detour," a decent horror yarn where Luke is attacked by a mind witch named S'ybill who sucks out people's life forces like the Inca Mummy Girl in "Buffy" Season 2. Heck, it's an excuse for us to see Tanith Shire again, even if it is just the mind witch's magical projection.
All told, Goodwin and Williamson did some satisfying work on the newspaper strips, and Dark Horse did a respectable job of adapting the stories for "Classic Star Wars." They capture the fun of the time between Episode IV and V -- if taken with a healthy grain of salt. It isn't for casual fans, but serious "Star Wars" geeks and historians should have "CSW" on their reading list.
How would you rank the "CSW" arcs? My rankings are: 1. "Darth Vader Strikes" (story No. 2) 2. "Revenge of the Jedi" (10) 3. "The Night Beast" (6) 4. "Race for Survival" (12) 5. "Iceworld" (9) 6. "The Bounty Hunter of Ord Mantell" (1) 7. "The Serpent Masters" (3) 8. "A New Beginning" (14) 9. "The Power Gem" (8) 10. "The Return of Ben Kenobi" (7) 11. "The Paradise Detour" (13) 12. "Showdown" (15) 13. "Doom Mission" (11) 14. "The Final Trap" (16) 15. "Traitor's Gambit" (5) 16. "Deadly Reunion" (4)