Self-parody is a rare art. You have to earnestly love something while still being so self-aware about it to savagely call out its eccentric flaws. However, Kevin Rubio and Lucas Marangon were up to the task, thanks in part to Rubio’s short mockumentary Troops. Serving as a parody of Cops set in Star Wars, the short became so beloved that even George Lucas winkingly acknowledged the fan film as canonical in his eyes. However, the best was yet to come from the pages of Dark Horse’s boldest, craziest Star Wars comic yet, Tag & Bink.
Beginning first as Tag & Bink Are Dead, the series became known simply as Tag & Bink Were Here. It’s a rather fitting title, as the leads Tag Greenley and Bink Otauna become the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to the Skywalker Saga. If something goes wrong or a strange mishap arises, these two lovable idiots are probably responsible. From giving Anakin Skywalker flirting advice on Naboo to helping deliver the Death Star plans from the hands of the late-Manny Both-Hanz, even blowing up C-3PO as payback — the list goes on and on.
The leads themselves aren’t initially deep, but they more than make up for this in how humanly they’re written. You can hear these guys talking in your head in seconds, each like a brother from another mother, yet distinct from one another. Tag is the cocky Corellian with a streak of cowardice in the face of the likes of Vader, while Bink tries to be more logical yet not averse to getting cranky under pressure. They’re a textbook comedy duo and work perfectly amid the cast of iconic oddballs surrounding them.
Rubio’s writing is superb, capturing the tone not only of the films but of how people feel about them. It’s rare outside of fanfic like Blue Milk Special to see such a candidly absurd yet self-aware depiction of the setting. While certain background extras might be played up for laughs, more substantial cameos like Admiral Motti and Lando Calrissian are in step with their original portrayals. It’s that careful balancing act that makes the story legitimately engaging.
Though it’s obvious Tag and Bink are doomed to be scraping by through countless battles, making you care is what adds oomph to it all. However relentlessly tongue-in-cheek it all is, it captures that rare energy of dramedy out of Final Space and Archer, but in Star Wars! Instead of forcing the comedy, much of it is drawn from either acknowledging what the films try to skirt around or what fans have talked about for years. What’s better, it digs into the retcons by the prequels, both metatextually, with its own sudden prequel issue with swiftly altered backstories for the leads, and in the narrative itself. The Fetts in particular get thoroughly roasted more than once. There’s even a gag that’s funnier now after a ridiculous moment in The Rise of Skywalker.
None of this would matter though if the art weren’t up to par. Thankfully, Marangon hits it out of the park. Tag & Bink is dense with how many visual gags, background skits, and other comedic layers are worked into every panel. Where Rubio focuses on the central Star Wars jokes, Marangon goes full Mel Brooks. Everything is in this comic — it’s honestly amazing they didn’t get sued. MST3K pops up alongside Buzz Lightyear like it’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit. There’s an entire string of parody musicals like “Jedi on the Roof” and “Menace of the Opera.” Jay and Silent Bob are Jedi Knights. You’ll find nods to Dark Horse’s many contributions as well, even sillier ones like “Skippy the Jedi Droid.”
You’d think with all this indulgence the comic would be overloaded, yet as before, Rubio and Marangon maintain a balance the Jedi themselves could learn from. You can focus all on the wisecracks and charming buddy comedy of Tag and Bink or just pour over every page finding the dozens of visual jokes hidden within. It’s the sort of comic you can go back to, only to have a fresh experience again. It’s a testament to the creative team’s skill, passionately pulling it all together. And since the Disney acquisition, they’ve made the transition to canonical figures in the new timeline, though their scene was cut from the theatrical release of Solo.
What started as a simple joke comic has since come to be a time capsule of the series’s fandom and setting at its best in the mid-2000s. It’s never bitter or angry about the growing pains of the franchise. Rather than let any unwanted turn get them down, Tag & Bink’s stars just keep on trying to make their way through a wild, unpredictable galaxy. It’s a sentiment the fandom needs now more than ever, and I’m incredibly grateful it’s still available to read to this day. So if you need something to lighten the mood in your journeys across the galaxy, there are few better options than Tag & Bink!