Alan Moore's Star Wars Episode II: 'Tilotny Throws A Shape'
Last time we revealed that bearded/brilliant writer Alan Moore is responsible for five short stories taking place in the "Star Wars" universe.
Moore’s first tale, “The Pandora Effect”, was published in November 1981. But what about his second…?
Having shattered any hint of expectation with “The Pandora Effect,” Alan Moore’s second expedition into the world of Star Wars featured inside The Empire Strikes Back Monthly #154, landing in stores during February of 1982. Was this tale any less peculiar than its predecessor? Let me put it this way: It’s called "Tilotny Throws A Shape."
Along with veteran artist John Stokes (whose comic book career stretches back to the mid-1960s), Moore treats readers to a 5-page bonanza of mind-bending, time twisting, stonkingly smart storytelling.
Recently landed on a strange, unidentified planet, Princess Leia is the unfortunate target of pursuing Imperial stormtroopers. They’re closing in quickly, and prospects look grim for the fleeing princess. But things take an unusual turn when Leia stumbles upon the remnants of another trio of stormtroopers. Where did they come from? Who sent them? One thing’s for sure: These rusted, ramshackle servants of the Galactic Empire have been festering away for one helluva long time.
Attention is shifted from this curious find by the appearance of four non-corporeal spirits, the latter of which is called Tilotny. As predicted by the story’s title, she throws a shape. Quoth the omnipotent investigator of time and space:
"A shape! I've thrown a shape! I've invented form! I've invented mass! Oh, cleverest Tilotny!"
See, Tilotny was the first of these freakish spirits to take on a physical form, materializing in the guise of a human female. She also takes credit for crafting the mysterious planet on which they dwell, along with the recently arrived Princess Leia. The other spirits aren’t convinced Tilotny is responsible for such feats of mystical manufacturing, not least when the stormtroopers enter the scene—the bedlam spirit is mocked for “repeating” shape while crafting three identical soldiers.
Tilotny’s strategy to rectify the situation is rather…unconventional. She crystallizes one of the troops, resulting only in his sparkly demise. Princess Leia is next up for anatomical adjustment—her heart is turned into a diamond (!), killing her.
Yep, that’s right—Princess Leia DIES! Kicks the bucket! Perishes! Cause of death? The rather rare “Heart Turned Into Diamond” syndrome.
It makes you wonder what George Lucas thought about all of this…or if he had any control over what Marvel UK could publish while using his characters. My guess? HELL NO.
Anyway, back to the story. The remaining stormtroopers are spliced together into a writhing, soon-to-be-deceased bundle of limbs. Each of the spirits’ four visitors now extremely dead, it’s left to Tilotny’s ethereal pal to resuscitate and return them to their original form. She succeeds, but due to a limited understanding of the concept of time, accidentally sends the Imperial troopers 8,000 years into the past. So that trio of stormtrooper remains discovered by Leia earlier in the story? They were…yeah. You get it.
If Alan Moore deliberately set out to sabotage Star Wars’ established storytelling formula, “Tilotny Throws A Shape” is a triumph of biblical proportions. It’s remarkably odd, even by the author’s significant standards. But the level of imagination on display is nothing short of impressive, while the style—and strength—of writing holds up admirably almost 34 years after initial publication.
Next time: Alan Moore’s Star Wars Episode III: Dark Lord’s Conscience (In which Darth Vader proves himself to be an utter bastard. A smart one, too.)