Why You Should Be Reading
2015 saw Star Wars comics move from Dark Horse to the House of Ideas, and Marvel has wasted no time releasing 2 ongoing books, 1 Mini-series, 8 issues as of March and 3 more series’ on the way before the December release of The Force Awakens. If you haven’t had the opportunity to jump onboard this new era of Star Wars comics, now is the time.
Minor, plot spoilers to follow.
Star Wars (Ongoing)
January saw the release of Marvel’s first ongoing series set in the Galaxy Far Far Away, simply titled, “Star Wars.” While it shares the title and time period of Dark Horse’s Star War (2013), that the previous story is part of the Legend’s series and this new title has free reign to explore the period between Episodes IV and V.
Written by Jason Aaron with art by John Cassaday, this “Star Wars” ongoing series starts off with a bang! Han, Luke, and Leia, posing as negotiators for Jabba the Hutt, meet with an Imperial officer at a weapons factory on Cymoon 1. In a turn reminiscent of the Endor shield assault from Episode VI, the trio attempts to blow the facility sky high. But the entrance of Darth Vader, fresh off his defeat at the Battle of Yavin, complicates things for our heroes. Issue One ends with a face-off between the young, inexperienced Skywalker and the Dark Lord of the Sith, something I think no one was expecting!
This first arc, titled Skywalker Strikes, ran 3 issues and concluded in March. With excellent pacing, dialogue that seems natural for all the characters, and fantastic art work with likenesses that appear to jump of the screen, Star Wars ongoing starts strong and doesn’t let up. Despite one hiccup in the last issue, which will leave readers wondering if a few panels were left on the editors floor, Leia, Luke, and Han’s first graphic adventure is not one to be missed.
Darth Vader (Ongoing)
Star Wars: Darth Vader picks up after the events in the first three issues of the Star Wars ongoing series. Vader is not in the Emperors good graces after his defeat at the destruction of the first Death Star, and the recent run in with rebels on Cymoon 1. But the negotiations with crime lord Jabba the Hutt must proceed and the Emperor tasks Vader with returning to Tattooine and completing those talks himself. However, Vader also has a mission of his own, and tasks a fan favorite character to help the Sith Lord with his personal quest.
With writing by Kieron Gillen and art by Salvador Larroca, Star Wars: Darth Vader succeeds in the same ways that Marvel’s other ongoing series does. The art work uses photo-referencing to get a very true Star Wars style, and it is the depiction of Vader that shines here. Like in the films, Vader is a character who lets his presence and actions speak loudest. By not giving Vader inner monologues but still allowing the character to emote through movement, we are given a very accurate representation of the character that’s worthy of the name.
During the first three issues, we are also introduced to a new female character that is sure to turn a few heads and we discover the fate of one Imperial General, who first appeared in Episode IV. No spoilers here, so you’ll have to read the issues to find out more. And read them you should. Star Wars: Darth Vader is probably the prettiest book out right now from the Galaxy Far Far Away, and getting to see how Vader gets from Episode IV to Episode V should be an interesting ride that I highly suggest everyone take.
Princess Leia (Mini-series)
The first Star Wars mini-series from Marvel sheds light on one of the big three characters that needed it the most, Leia Organa. Picking up with the final scene from A New Hope, this six issue run focuses on Princess Leia coming to terms with the destruction of her home world, and even more, the expectation of the other Rebels. Teaming up with a talented pilot, also from Alderaan, Leia sets out to save her culture that is quickly disappearing from the galaxy.
The series is written by Mark Waid with art by Terry Dodson and succeeds in one way while falling flat in another. The dialogue, story, and characterizations are all great. They’ve captured Princess Leia and other known characters voices, and introduced new and interesting people to flesh out the Rebel Alliance. But for me, the art falls flat. This is the first of the new Star Wars books to use it’s own style, and while thats not necessarily a bad thing, and there are some nice looking panels on display here, the one thing that has bothered me is Leia’s face. On many of the pages, if it wasn’t for her clothing or hair style, I would have no idea I was looking at the iconic princess.
Don’t let my comments about the art deter you, because this story is one you should be reading. Due to the fast pace of event in the movie, we don’t get to see the impact that the destruction of her home planet has on Leia. Two issues in, Star Wars: Princes Leia is exploring the events that helped shape the iconic character and it is not a journey to be missed.
The fourth Star Wars comic series is also the first one to take place outside of the timeline between Episode IV and V. During the first book of the first story arc, titled “The Last Padawan,” the series opens during the final days of the Clone Wars. We see a young Kanan Jarrus, at this time known as Caleb Dume, and his Jedi Master Depa Billaba fighting on the planet Kaller. This book shows what kind of relationship the young padawan and his master have between themselves and their clone troopers. There is also some exploration on the notion that not everyone agrees with the Jedi Council and their decision to be involved in the conflict.
One of the biggest draws to this series is that it is written by Greg Weisman, producer of some classic animated series’ including Star Wars Rebels. And while his writing is definitely top notch and it is fun to see him explore the back story of such a prominent character from the show, we should not neglect the art by Pepe Larraz. While shying away from the “realism” of Star Wars and Darth Vader, Kanan succeeds where Princess Leia falls flat. The art work and characters are done in their own style, while still feeling appropriately Star Wars. All around, top marks on the production of this book.
For fans of Star Wars Rebels or the Clone Wars era, picking up this book is a no brainer. In fact, I would say that, based on the first book, any Star Wars fan will not want to miss this story. In other words, Star Wars Kanan comes highly recommended and I look forward to seeing where this series goes.
What the Future Holds
If you thought three on going series and one mini-series was enough Star Wars, think again! We are going to be seeing new comics pop up all year long. As part of the “Journey to The Force Awakens” initiative, Marvel will release two new stories. The first is titled Shattered Empire and will explore the time between Episodes 6 and 7, with a second series, simply titled C-3PO, also set in the same time period.
With comic releases alone, we are getting new Star Wars stories nearly every week and that doesn’t appear to be letting up as we make our way to The Force Awakens. All of these books can be found at your local comic book store or digitally from Comixology. For fans, there is no reason to miss out on this exciting time!