Star Wars #50
A lethal disease dubbed "The Crimson Forever" begins eating its way through both the Rebels and the Empire. Even Luke is hit with it. Lando and Chewbacca are called back from their search for Han Solo, to help. It all (loosely) relates to a flashback story with Han & Chewie and some red gems. Just a chance to whip up a Han & Chewie story; one that seems like it'd fit with their paperback adventures ("Han Solo and the Lost Legacy", etc. I actually read all 3, as a kid, and thought they were cool....back then).
In the present, the "Crimson" turns out to be a plot by Domina Tagge, who hates both sides (err...what about her brother who was still in the Empire?). Bossk, IG-88, Dengar and "Zuckass" all make very short cameos, as they're working for Domina. The Rebels are able to steal an antidote from Domina, but Lando lets it slip that she's wanted by the Empire....so it's implied that the bounty hunters turn her in.
The Rebels also have a temporary base on the volcanic planet Golrath. I only mention that, because it comes back in about 2 years. Oh, and while all the other infected Rebels die, Luke doesn't...because he has the Force. Just deal with it.
Last issue for Archie Goodwin, thankfully. His stories were self-indulgent sci-fi that could have fit in just about ANY franchise. I think (hope) this is the end of the Tagge stuff. Goodwin seemed SO in love with the clan. The big connection between Baron Tagge and Darth Vader was never detailed. He always complained how Vader blinded him, but there wasn't even a one panel flashback.
Star Wars #51
First issue for new writer David Michelinie; known for "Iron Man", "Avengers" and "Amazing Spider-Man"; a somewhat overlooked (and decent) Marvel writer. He immediately name-drops "Emperor Palpatine" in the opening captions. Think that's the first time we've seen that name. Walt Simonson is the permanent penciler, now, as well.
The Rebels are out looking for a new base, while the Empire is busy building "The Tarkin"--- their next superweapon. It's basically the big laser of the Death Star, with stuff built around it. The Rebels have the plans (of course), but as there's no flaw, they decide to sneak-in Luke, Leia, Chewie and the droids.
General Reeikan, the guy from Hoth, is the "supreme commander of the Rebel fleet". Again, Dodonna has completely disappeared with no explanation and, of course, Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma were still years away (plus that gray-haired guy whose name I always forget). Can't really blame Marvel for this, because the Rebellion's chain-of-command and organization was never clearly defined by George Lucas.
Also of note, Darth Vader kills another Imperial officer who couldn't catch Luke. So a secret plot is hatched by a good chunk of Imperial officers to KILL Vader. Which...absolutely seems like a believable and natural plot! Vader was always killing his own guys, so it makes sense that some would rally around a "Julius Caesar plot".
Even though we're in the second half of 1981, it FINALLY feels like "Empire Strikes Back" happened. Vader's in his big star destroyer, the Scout-Walkers and AT-AT's make appearances and it explains why the Empire hasn't built another Death Star (just yet). They also stir up the tension between Lando and the cast; whereas in his previous Marvel appearances, Lando was just slotted in and kept saying: "we have to find Han".