This article contains spoilers for "Chewbacca" #5, on sale now.
Since its launch in January of this year, Marvel's line of "Star Wars" comics have been packed with awesome moments, nods to continuity and answers to questions leftover from the trilogies of films. Today's "Chewbacca" #5, which concludes the latest in a line of "Star Wars" miniseries, is no different. The final issue from writer Gerry Duggan and artist Phil Noto contains a moment that calls back to the very first "Star Wars" film, putting a question that fans of the franchise have had for almost 40 years to rest. That question (and here's one final spoiler warning)?
Why didn't Chewbacca get a medal at the end of "Star Wars: A New Hope"?
After the destruction of the Death Star at the conclusion of 1977's "Star Wars," the heroes of the Rebellion gather on Yavin 4 for a grand ceremony honoring the brave fighters responsible for saving the day. Princess Leia hangs medals of bravery around Han Solo and Luke Skywalker's necks; but Chewbacca, who served as Solo's co-pilot in the run against the Death Star, was left out.
"Chewbacca" #5 takes on that ceremonial slight with a clever, heart-warming reveal. Towards the end of the issue, the Wookiee warrior says goodbye to his new teenage friend Zarro. After a whole miniseries of adventures together, Zarro expresses her desire to have something to commemorate their heroic acts against the Empire. Chewbacca reaches into his ship and pulls out, yep, a Medal of Bravery.
This confirms that Chewbacca did indeed get a medal in the rebooted expanded universe canon -- and now we know what he did with that medal. It's now owned by Zarro, resident of the newly liberated planet Andelm IV.
The history of Chewbacca's medal, the one he notably did not have around his neck at the end of "A New Hope," is itself fascinating. The artifact's Star Wars Wikia entry points out that fan disappointment led George Lucas to reveal in an interview following "Star Wars'" initial release in 1977 that Wookiees do not generally care for medals. He later explained that Chewbacca did receive a medal, but not during the ceremony because Leia was too short to put it around his neck. Those explanations were eventually worked into canon via the UK weekly Star Wars series and the CD-ROM "Star Wars: Behind the Magic."