Marvel Comics and Star Wars: a match made in heaven?
When Disney first bought Lucasfilm, Star Wars comics were being published by Dark Horse Comics. I have been reading Dark Horse Comics for years and really enjoyed their run of comics telling the “Expanded Universe”, now Legends, stories. As soon as the buyout was confirmed, it too was announced that Marvel would again be the comic house for the future of Star Wars (returning after their brief stint in 1977 to 1986) and made complete sense, given Disney own both Lucasfilm and Marvel.
When this happened, all previous comics were categorically named “Legends” and confirmed non-canon. While this caused a stir in the fandom, I wasn’t overly fussed. The brand was going to Marvel, the largest comic publisher in the world* (as a huge fan of DC, more than the usual Marvel comics, it annoys me saying that but I digress…) so in a pair of trusted and good hands. Some of the Dark Horse stories were amazing, particularly the Darth Maul run-in 2000 and the Son of Dathomir run in 2014 (just before the take over of Disney) … yes for those who haven’t heard me on The Jedi Council Podcast (and if not, why not? Editor), I am a bit of a Maul fanboy! It was then detailed that these new Marvel comics would be canon…which made this even better, if it was done right and the stories were good!
Fast forward 4 years and I am still reading the latest Marvel Star Wars comics and this includes the reading of Darth Vader: The Burning Seas arch (see my review on here). Previously, I would be the reader who had a pull list in his local comic book store (a shout out to Ace Comics in Colchester), who would pick up his new books weekly, and who would take 2 hours out on a Sunday to read them… after a period of time where the last part of this ritual wouldn’t happen, I realised my pull pile at home was almost as tall as me (I am 6’0 tall), and I am running out of space in my geek room! With this, I have now become a reader of trade paper backs, catching up on my reading when the mood takes me. Roll on March when the end of the Vader series is collected! What is more radical, is my new love for digital comics. I could write a whole piece on physical vs digital, they both have their merits!
What I have seen in the last 4 years is Marvel and Lucasfilm taking Star Wars into many directions, without shifting away from the fundamentals of a good Star Wars story. In these 4 years Marvel have produced 17 separate runs of comics stories from:
As well as creating new adventures for our known heroes and villains, they have also done an amazing job in recreating the latest movies in comic adaptations. In fact, there are elements of the comics that are better than the films! We actually see Luke mourn for Han in the adaptation of The Last Jedi and how the rebels are not as clean cut as you’d think in Rogue One!
The comic world also allows for further explanatory views of characters. The new Marvel comics have brought one of my favourite moments from Star Wars in any format, ever. In the Vader Down cross over series, Darth Vader 13, we see the most epic of Vader scene. For me, it even rivals the famous scene in Rogue One, where we see Vader unleash hell on the Rebel soldiers. This Vader Down scene was a surprise to me as I did not expect a comic to have that much impact on my fandom. I won’t spoil it for you, but check that book out and I am sure you will agree!
For me, the comic genre of Star Wars storytelling has always been important. It could be a symptom of being a fan in the "Dark Times” where there was no movies or TV shows? It is also one of the most exciting times as a fan. Marvel are doing an amazing job of enhancing and developing the Star Wars ethos and connecting many dots. Recently there was an announcement about Marvel creating a book that is to be released called ‘Galaxy’s Edge’ which will be set on the planet Batuu but also connect directly to the new Disneyland and Walt Disney World park expansions! This creative thinking and connecting every element of the Star Wars universe is why Marvel are the success that they are, and with the guidance of Lucasfilm/Disney, it can only get better!
*as per the recent publication by Diamond Comics of the best Comics, Graphic Novels and Distributors of 2018 - https://www.diamondcomics.com/Home/1/1/3/597?articleID=222991
May the Force be with you... always