- "Han once told me any landing you can walk away from is a good one—I bet this one would make him change his mind."
- ―Luke Skywalker
The Day after the Death Star! is a short comic that takes place, as the title says, the day after the destruction of the first Death Star. It is in this comic that Chewbacca receives a medal for his participation in the battle.
The story first appeared in three parts in Marvel UK's Star Wars Weekly 97–99, and was reprinted in Marvel Illustrated Books' Star Wars. The story was named after the first original part; the other two parts were "Space Duel!" and "Empire Kills!". More recently, Dark Horse reprinted the story in Star Wars: Luke Skywalker, Last Hope for the Galaxy.
An excited Luke Skywalker sneaks off from the celebration following the destruction of first Death Star to go joyriding with R2-D2 in his T-65 X-wing starfighter. They encounter a TIE/LN starfighter, a lone straggler left over from the battle, in the sky over Yavin 4 and engage in a dogfight. When Luke discovers his X-wing's weapons have no charge, he is forced to collide with the TIE before the Imperial fighter can put him in its sights. Suffering damage, both craft spiral out of control to the jungles of Yavin 4 below and Luke manages to crash nose-first into a lake, but loses R2-D2 in the process.
Scrambling to shore, Luke berates himself for acting so rashly, which has caused him to wind up stuck out in the jungle with no way to call for help. His problems grow worse, however as the TIE pilot Qorl has managed to bring his own stricken craft down nearby and fires a shot at Luke just as Luke is shrugging out of his flight suit. As he lies in wait for the TIE pilot to approach, Luke discovers that in his haste he has left his gunbelt at the party—he is unarmed!
As the TIE pilot rounds the tree Luke is hiding in, he at first thinks the smoking ruins of Luke's flight suit are all that remains of his target, and Luke uses that moment to spring from the branches overhead and onto the pilot. The two wrestle for the TIE pilot's blaster, but the pilot's armor gives him advantage and Luke's blows do little damage. When Luke manages to finally get a hold of the blaster, it is at the cost of taking his weight off the TIE pilot, who upends them both into the nearby lake. There the pilot's breathing apparatus provides him with air that Luke doesn't have, while the weight of his armor helps him hold Luke down until he drowns.
However, Luke grabs one of the TIE pilot's respirator hoses and the tables are turned. Luke drags the near-drowned pilot to the shore and stands over the unconscious body with a club, intending to take vengeance upon the Imperial for the deaths of uncle Owen, aunt Beru and Obi-Wan Kenobi. But the TIE pilot's helmet falls off revealing the face of the pilot and Luke realizes the enemy is more than just armor and starships—the enemy lives and breathes, just like he does. Kill when it can be avoided and Luke would be no better than the Imperials at their worst.
When Princess Leia Organa, Han Solo, Chewbacca and the droids arrive, having tracked the wreckage to the lake, Luke is waiting there for them, with memories not only of the day he destroyed the Death Star, but of the day after as well.
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