Greetings and salutations, fellow Fridge Nukers! Bradfield here, reporting from my local Tosche Station. It’s a long story… Our fearless Commander-In-Chief, Louis Love, and I had a Groupon for power converters…
There were certainly many questions in the minds of scifi/comics fans when Disney not only acquired the Marvel Comics stable of characters, but shortly thereafter, bought Lucasfilm – and the vast majority of those questions concerned the future of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones film franchises. However, with one of the biggest names in popcult history and one of the biggest comic book publishers under one roof, at least a few fans pondered the future of Star Wars comics. After all, Dark Horse Comics [the “House of Hellboy”] had the Lucasfilm license for a little over two decades, and was publishing Star Wars and Indiana Jones stories that were often more well received than the more recent attempts at recapturing the magic of the source material on the big screen.
Needless to say, the question wasn’t so much whether or not Star Wars (and by extension, Indiana Jones) would be returning to Marvel, but when. The question was answered at this year’s “Cup o’ Joe” panel (hosted by Marvel head honcho, Joe Quesada) at San Diego Comic-Con International: Star Wars Comics would (re)re-launch under the Marvel banner. Further, where there was only the one Star Wars title in the 70’s and 80’s (not counting Droids and Ewok Adventures spinoffs, based on the cartoons rather than the films), Marvel will be returning with three Star Wars titles so far, and more to come.
As I mentioned above, Dark Horse has been publishing Star Wars comics for more or less a generation. Yet when the first film came out in 1977, Marvel Comics reigned supreme not only in adapting popular films into the medium of comics, but for being able to sustain the characters and stories far beyond the original narratives. Marvel’s Star Wars series ran for one hundred and seven issues from 1977 to 1986. The biggest difference between Marvel’s treatment of Star Wars and Dark Horse’s is that by the time DH picked up the property, George Lucas had more control, so while the stories were not necessarily “canon,” there was more of an effort to make the world of the comics jibe with the tone, characters, and stories in not only the original movies, but the “Expanded Universe.”
Meanwhile, the Marvel take on Star Wars is… flawed, but I would say lovably so. Kind of like a drunk relative explaining the movie to you. In the 70’s, there wasn’t really a road map for expanding the comics universe of something that existed in another medium, let alone the volumes of visual reference that even the most casual Star Wars fan has today. [Example, until the 1997 re-release, Marvel’s Star Wars was the only medium in which one could see the lost scene between Jabba the Hutt and Han Solo, as the artists were working on the book before the final edit of the film. Of course, with no real idea of what Jabba was going to look like, they basically made him look like a bright yellow otter in a military uniform.] The fans that are aware of the Marvel series are divided into two camps: hardcore fans who, because it has no acknowledged relationship to continuity, reject it; and those of us who appreciate it for what it is, even if at the end of the day, it was a misfire.
To that end, Marvel will be re-issuing its original series, in omnibus form, starting later this month. However, a re-issue of older material is hardly news – if you don’t want to wait, Dark Horse released the original Marvel material in the form of four volumes of graphic novels, and copies are hardly rare.
No, it’s all about…
Starting this week, Marvel will release three new titles (one each month until March) taking place the time period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Naturally, there will be an overall Star Wars series concentrating on the war between the Empire and the Rebels. At this point in the story, the Rebel Alliance is riding high after successfully destroying the Death Star. However, when Luke, Han and crew get cocky, you know, problems arise… Writer: Jason Aron; Artist: John Cassaday.
A new Star Wars ongoing series is exciting news on its own. Marvel is upping the ante with two additional series concentrating on the once and future Anakin Skywalker, and his beautiful baby girl (whose relationship to him at this point is unknown), Princess Leia Organa. Examined through a different window, Star Wars keeps step with any Shakespearean drama — political intrigue, family secrets, etc. — and if the synopses are any indication, these series will bring that aspect of the Original Trilogy to the forefront.
Star Wars: Darth Vader (release date February 11) shows a lot of promise in that for the most part, we’ve only only see him as a figure of menace in relation to the Rebel Alliance. SWDV will concentrate on what the Dark Lord of the Sith does when he’s not hunting those “wascally webels.” More than likely, this will not mean a concentration of how one removes body armor to take a bubble bath, but you can’t be the Number Two Badass in the known universe without making a few enemies. Think Game of Thrones meets House of Cards, but in space. Writer: Kieron Gillen; Artist: Salvador LaRocca.
Star Wars: Princess Leia (release date March 4th) concentrates on the regal side of the House of Skywalker, though during the time that the series takes place, she is unaware of her connection to the powerful Jedi family name. Rather, when the series picks up her story, not only has she survived being a political prisoner of the Empire, and presumably tortured by her own father, she’s seen her home planet destroyed in front of her very eyes. The Original Trilogy is largely Luke’s story. SWPL promises Leia’s own “heroic Journey,” from diplomat to military leader. Writer: Mark Waid; Artist: Terry Dodson.
Knights of The New Republic
How will Marvel’s New Star Wars Universe differ from the publisher’s first attempt? Well, comics have changed a lot since the late 70’s. In a nutshell, they are more sophisticated, but it’s deeper than that. In the 70’s, the people working on any given adaptation of a motion picture and its world most likely had no emotional attachment to it, let alone understanding. Not to disrespect master story adaptors like Bill Mantlo, but they were in effect “hired guns.” – but still the best of the best from Marvel’s fabled Bullpen. [People who’ve read Jack Kirby’s hilariously misguided 2001: A Space Odyssey series know what I’m talking about.]
The architects of the New Star Wars Universe, in Comics, like their counterparts in the current world of film, were raised on Star Wars. Do you think YOU are a superfan? Try talking to John Cassaday. [For one.] You’re talking about a group of people who would like to bring back characters from the original Marvel series like a giant green rabbit called Jaxxon. They will be comics written for fans, by fans. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that, at this point, the Star Wars Universe has been in the public zeitgeist, and in virtual development for almost 40 years. I’d hazard that, no matter what, with six features, two TV movies, a bevvy of animated series, comics, and novels already published, what worked and resonated will stay and the rest will go the way of the Star Wars Holiday Special.
And speaking of Star Wars superfans, check back early and often, here at Nuke the Fridge, for your Star Wars information needs.
[Sources: “Cup o’ Joe” panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2014, and StarWars.com. Images property of Disney/Marvel/Lucasfilm.]