Most fathers and sons, I’ve been led to believe over the years, bond over such things as sports. My sons and I are obviously cut from very different cloth, indeed…

I can’t remember now exactly how the subject first came up but, during an unexpected mutual lull in our daily responsibilities at the newspaper office recently, my son Josh and I found ourselves talking about crossover fiction. At one point Josh got to talking about how Star Trek has (at least in the comic books) crossed over with characters from both DC and Marvel, as well as other franchises such as Planet of the Apes and Doctor Who. He asked about whether there have been similar crossovers for Star Wars, and I mentioned that to the best of my knowledge such crossovers have been pretty much relegated to fan fiction - except for a few little “Easter eggs” in a couple of the Indiana Jones movies… and one especially memorable Star Wars-Indy comic book crossover.

Issue 19 of the Dark Horse anthology series Star Wars Tales (published in 2004) featured a story by Haden Blackman and Sean Murphy entitled “Into The Great Beyond.” The first part of story depicts Han Solo and Chewbacca making a blind hyperspace jump while trying to escape a battle with Imperial forces; the blind jump results in the Millennium Falcon crash landing in a forest somewhere in the western portion of North America. (I don’t think the exact location was actually stated, although in my mind when I first read it I had the feeling it might have been somewhere in Canada.) After crashing, Han and Chewie are attacked by Native Americans and Han is mortally wounded; upon Han’s death Chewie lets out a roar of anguish that is heard by the natives, who respond with a single word: “Sasquatch.”

The second part takes place 126 years later, in the 1940s. Indiana Jones and his young ward, Short Round, are investigating local Sasquatch sightings and discover both the wreckage of the Falcon and the remains of the pilot. Indy feels that something is “somehow familiar” and decides to call off the search, remarking that the monster should be left as part of the “Great Unknown.” As they leave the scene they are observed by Chewbacca, who sits perched in a tree not far away...

At the time this story got a lot of attention from myself and other crossover fiction aficionados - particularly some of my fellow members of the New Wold Newton Meteorics Society, who made the story the subject of one of our typically fun engagements in what Philip Jose Farmer liked to call creative mythology. Much of that discussion centered around the fact that the story had to take place in an alternate universe, since the Star Wars Expanded Universe novels of the day had shown that Chewbacca died before Han during the events of the novel Vector Prime.

Our group’s ringleader, author Win Scott Eckert, came up with a possible explanation: the idea that, during their blind hyperspace jump, Han and Chewie went through a wormhole to reach the Milky Way galaxy and in the process were somehow duplicated; Han-1 and Chewie-1 made it back out of the wormhole and continued their adventures in the Star Wars galaxy, while Han-2 and Chewie-2 ended up on Earth.

(I think it was also Win who pointed out that Indy's comment that the starship’s wreckage is like nothing that he saw in Atlantis was a reference to a previous adventure detailed in an earlier comic book mini-series by Dark Horse, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. It also bears noting that the phrase “the Great Unknown” had earlier turned up the the second Indy film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.)

After some thought, I came up with the following elaboration on Win’s theory. My idea was that (a) there may have been some sort of cosmic storm in or around the vicinity of the wormhole Han and Chewbacca went through, and that is what caused the duplication effect to occur; or (b) it may have been some kind of natural phenomemon similar to that which caused the transporter malfunction in the Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes involving duplicate Kirks and Rikers.

“Perhaps it was this natural phenomenon coupled with the physics (or 'pseudo-physics,' if you prefer) involved in hyperspeed travel that resulted in the duplicates of Han and Chewie being created in the first place,” I wrote at the time.

Well, as Josh and I were recalling that earlier round of speculation the other day, I was bemoaning the fact that the whole thing was wiped out altogether when Disney bought Lucasfilm and banished all those earlier Expanded Universe tales from continuity, rebranding them as “Legends,” and that Chewie’s heroic sacrifice in the old timeline has been replaced by Han’s rather pointless death in The Force Awakens. Josh’s response was the duplication theory could still hold true, since we’re still dealing with different versions of events. Instead of two alternate Star Wars timelines, there are now three: the original “Expanded Universe,” the new continuity begat by The Force Awakens, and whatever timeline in that galaxy far, far away that sprang from Han-2 and Chewie-2 being lost in the blind hyperjump.

I thought about that for a minute and was just about to accept it - when suddenly I remembered the events of Michael A. Sanford’s novel Tarzan On The Precipice - which itself is set outside the canonical Tarzan tales, but is still an interesting take on what might have happened between the first two original novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes and The Return of Tarzan.

Among other things, Sanford’s novel depicts Tarzan’s interaction with a tribe of Sasquatch, which (we are led to believe) are somehow descended from or related to the Mangani of Tarzan’s native Africa.

“Surely that means that Chewbacca couldn’t have been a Sasquatch, since the Sasquatch at some point migrated from Africa,” I said.

“Not necessarily,” Joshua countered. “Chewbacca could have easily mated with one of the true Sasquatch - after all, YOU were the one who said you always figured that the comic book story was set in Canada."

Then he paused for a moment and added, "OR... the Wookiees and the Mangani are an example of the same sort of the shared evolution that resulted in so many humanoid species in the Star Trek Universe. Which, now that I think of it, would also explain how Chewie could have mated with a female Sasquatch in the first place.”

And to give THAT theory further credence, he then went on to remind me that, during the Battle of Endor in Return Of The Jedi, Chewbacca is heard issuing what sounds like Johnny Weismuller’s Tarzan call. (There was a similar moment during the Battle of Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith, but I can’t remember right off if in that film the call was issued by Chewie or one of the other Wookies taking part in that battle.)

So there you have it. According to Joshua’s “head canon” (to borrow our friend Chuck Loridans’ phraseology), either way you look at it, the Wookiees and the Mangani are somehow related.

THAT’s the sort of thing my son - now 28 - and I talk about when the opportunity arises.

It’s also the sort of thing that helps keep me feeling younger than I actually am, and helps to stave off some of the dark moments that come when I get to worrying about such things as mortality.

So thank you, Josh. Your dad appreciates it.

(Column copyright © 2019 by John A. Small)