13 June 2017

The Phantom Limb

The Star Wars Launch Bay features a lot of great artifacts from the creation of the movies, some wonderful character interactions, and a Cantina set piece that speak to the child in many fans’ hearts (not to mention a shop where I could drop a ton of money, if I had that sort of dough). For those who have an eye for detail, the Lost and Found located within the Cantina is filled with abandoned pieces that have clearly come from film legends, as well as television, book, and Star Tours nods. Perhaps no piece is easier to recognize, however, than C-3PO’s golden arm.

While the most recognizable protocol droid in the galaxy had limited screen time during The Force Awakens, C-3PO makes sure to bring the intrigue by pointing out his new red arm. While we have seen C-3PO with a variety of miscellaneous body parts over the years, he’s never drawn attention to a specific component until this one. While it could have just been chalked up to the protocol droid’s innate ability to make himself the center of attention, even when a situation does not warrant it. However, the inclusion of his golden arm in the Launch Bay’s Lost and Found is curious, especially when you consider the story of how he lost his golden arm and acquired his red art.

In April of 2016 Marvel released Star Wars Special: C-3PO #1, a standalone comic with the subtitle of The Phantom Limb. Told by the team of James Robinson and Tony Harris, longtime Starman collaborators and their first project together in nearly two decades, the story features a ton of heart considering the majority of the issue focuses on C-3PO and five other droids. After a crash landing that killed all of the non-droid characters, this team of droids must find their way across a treacherous landscape of Taul to a homing beacon in the hopes that they will be able to use it to secure rescue. There is some discussion of skills and who should be leading the group amongst Threepio, VL-44 (a security droid), 2MED2 (medical droid), PZ-99 (security droid), CO-34 (construction droid), and O-MR1 (protocol droid). O-MR1 is actually a First Order droid that was captured by the Resistance because it is believed he knows the location of the kidnapped Admiral Ackbar.

As the ragtag pod of droids make their way across Taul’s hostile environment, they come under attack by spice spiders. PZ-99 draws the spiders away from the group and sacrifices himself so that they may continue. Further along, the droids come across a tar pit, while CO-34 is able to form a bridge so that the team can move forward, they are assailed by a tar monster. In the ensuing skirmish all of the droids are destroyed by the monster except for C-3PO and O-MR1, although C-3PO’s arm is severed during the incident.

As the pair continues on, the brutal Taul has one last surprise for them, acid rain just as they reach the homing beacon. O-MR1 decides that it is Threepio that must go on, even though he has been skeptical of the protocol droid and the Resistance during the entire story. He tells C-3PO that he isn’t choosing a side, but rather friendship as he transmits Ackbar’s location to C-3PO and steps on into the rain to activate the beacon. As he begins to disintegrate, with multiple limbs falling off, O-MR1’s metallic sheen begins to deteriorate, revealing the red primer underneath. Rescued by Poe Dameron and BB-8, C-3PO asks for the red arm of O-MR1 to be installed as his new limb as a way to remember the friends he had lost, even if it clashes with his “aesthetic sensibilities.”

Knowing that Threepio’s golden arm was removed by a tar monster, it is hard to piece together how it made its way to the Launch Bay. Then again, limbs and long-lost artifacts have a way of making their way across the Star Wars galaxy whether it seems likely or not. Plus, maybe this limb was from another time where C-3PO was disarmed. Either way, the story of the red arm reveals there was more to the story than the glib moment it was given during The Force Awakens.

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