While Dark Horse has barely managed to slip in some comics that are considered canon with the new Star Wars continuity, the eyes of the fans are on Marvel and their plans for the license when they take over it at the beginning of next year. At San Diego Comic-Con this year Marvel finally announced their opening plans, and I have to admit they are off to a good start. The three titles are:
- Star Wars
- Star Wars: Darth Vader
- Star Wars: Princess Leia
As the titles might suggest they are all taking place in the gap between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back with nary a look at the Clone Wars era or the years following Return of the Jedi. Presumably the former is so that the new Rebels animated show has room to breath, and because the Clone Wars show that ended last year is still considered canon. I expect as we get closer to the launch of episode 7 more media will start to bridge the gap between that and Return.
The first of these new titles will be Star Wars, which will be written by Jason Aaron and drawn by John Cassaday. That is a pretty strong team to lead with, though I fully expect that Cassady will be only a temporary artist on the series given how slow he tends to work. Jason Aaron has been making some waves at Marvel lately with some excellent work on Wolverine and the X-Men and Thor: God of Thunder among other things, but he does not necessarily strike me as the best fit for a title like this. His books tend to be over-the-top to the point of absurdity, which does not always work as well as it should. In an environment like the X-Men absurdity can be a pretty effective story-telling device, but Star Wars fans are going to have different expectations. This title is due in January, so we have less than half a year until we find out if Aaron is up to the task.
The second title will be Star Wars: Darth Vader with a February launch by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca. As the title implies the focus is on Darth Vader, who has to consolidate his forces and regain control of the Empire after the lose of the Death Star. The creative team on this one definitely meets the standards laid out by the first, and that is even when you do not factor in that it is no secret I consider Kieron Gillen to be one of the best writers in the industry today. Admittedly his strengths tend to lie more towards the magical end of the spectrum (but what is the force if not a sci-fi version of magic?), but he proved in Iron Man that he can write star-spanning sci-fi, too. There is also no question he can write a nasty villain (particularly of the British-lite persuasion) following his runs on Uncanny X-Men and Journey into Mystery (both of which you should run out and read if you have not already). There are no details about what we can really expect in terms of an actual plot, but there are so many different directions this could go that I find that to be a moot point right now.
The last title of the initial group, Star Wars: Princess Leia launches in March, and will be presented by writer Mark Waid and artist Terry Dodson. Mark Waid is one of the best writers in the business right now with some of the best reviewed books out there. I have zero worries about his abilities here, although I have to admit that, given his superb work on Empire and Irredeemable, I would have preferred to see him take on Vader instead of Leia. Artist Terry Dodson is a bit more of a risky proposition, though. He is a fine artist, no question there, but his works tend to drift more towards the cheesecake side of the spectrum. That is not to say that I expect this to be a T&A romp through Star Wars, but it still might not be the best choice for the title most likely to attract a female audience (who are not already Star Wars nerds, anyway). The one preview image we have so far is quite tasteful, though, so hopefully my worries there will be unfounded.
We have until January to read these new series, but it is a strong lineup of books with an exceptional list of creators. I fully expected Marvel to put their big guns on these books, and I was not disappointed. The future of Star Wars looks bright.