This is it. With Star Wars: Rebels currently airing, Star Wars: Tarkin hitting shelves next week and Star Wars: Episode VII wrapping production, we’re now entering the phase where the floodgates of Star Wars goodies are about to crack wide open. It seems that, with one Star Wars film being released each year for the foreseeable future, our favourite franchise will be omnipresent in a way it hasn’t been since 1983.
The “power of the Force” is back in a big way.
In order to reacquaint the masses with that galaxy far, far away, Lucasfilm are adopting a three-pronged approach: first is Lucasfilm Animation’s Rebels TV series, which seems to be its main entry point for non-fans (and a possible tie-in to Episode VII); second is Del Rey’s new Star Wars novels (including Rebels tie-in A New Dawn); third is Marvel’s return to Star Wars comics (including Rebels tie-in Kanan).
Marvel have a long history with Star Wars, going all the way back to March 1977 with their Star Wars comic adaptation. Now, with a sparkling new canon to play in, the possibilities for Marvel are endless.
Marvel’s new Star Wars comics kick off in January with their flagship title, the eponymous Star Wars. Set immediately after the events of Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars is essentially the sequel we never got—call it Episode 4.5. Writer Jason Aaron is writing this so that it can be read even if you’ve only ever seen A New Hope—just as the original Marvel run was written, back in ’77, except Aaron has the benefit of hindsight.
While Star Wars will be a “team book”, the narrative thrust will be Luke’s search to find out more about his father… all while Vader searches for the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. There’s rich dramatic irony there, ready to be mined by the careful writer. We’ll of course see the continuation of Han’s plot thread regarding his debts, as well as the Rebels taking advantage of their major victory at the Battle of Yavin. As a bonus, we may also get to find out more about Ben Kenobi qua Ben Kenobi, presumable involving his time on Tatooine.
This first Star Wars title from Marvel is exciting primarily because it is the first time this story is being told without the burden of masses of EU continuity yet also with the knowledge of George Lucas’ entire Star Wars canon. If done well, it’ll be the comic every fan would have wanted to read after seeing the original Star Wars for the first time—the book that tells the real story of our heroes in the immediate wake of the Death Star’s destruction.
But of course that victory for the Rebellion was a crushing defeat for the Empire, and especially for Vader, who took “an awful risk” and paid heavily for the outcome. Star Wars: Darth Vader, which will debut in February, will tell the story of Vader’s fall and rise as the Empire regains its footing. Inspired by The Godfather, I, Claudius and House of Cards, Darth Vader will show the Dark Lord of the Sith as he rebuilds his powerbase, often drawing upon the seedier side of the galaxy in doing so.
Darth Vader, in a sense, is the other movie happening while Marvel’s Star Wars plays out. Both titles will be standalone works that nonetheless converge at key points.
The third title in this triptych of Marvel Star Wars goodness is the five-issue miniseries Star Wars: Princess Leia, which starts in March. Princess Leia explores the ramifications of the destruction of Alderaan, including the rather bizarre predicament of being Princess to a world that no longer exists. In addition, we’ll see flashbacks to the young Leia’s formative years, prior to her participation in the Rebellion.
All three titles are being written in conjunction with each other, though Princess Leia appears to be the most independent of the set. Nonetheless, they all take place shortly after the end of Star Wars: A New Hope.
A fourth title, which debuts in April, stands outside that era in Star Wars history. The first issue of Star Wars: Kanan begins the day before Order 66, and from there we witness the early life of Kanan Jarrus, nee Caleb Dume, as he avoids the clutches of the Empire. With the first arc of Kanan being written by Rebels season 1 executive producer Greg Weisman, this title will help to provide backstory to the show’s “cowboy Jedi” beyond John Jackson Miller’s A New Dawn.
All in all, Marvel’s initial slate of titles are intriguing, to say the least. I’m really looking forward to Star Wars and Darth Vader, with Princess Leia providing a different perspective and Kanan shedding light on the life of a Jedi fugitive.
Once January rolls around and Marvel starts releasing their Star Wars comics, the first year of the new era of Star Wars will have arrived.