Sunday, July 27, 2014

Marvel to publish 3 New Star Wars Comic Book Series starting in 2015

Marvel announced at the 2014 ComicCon in San Diego this weekend that it will be launching 3 new series in 2015 when the Star Wars comic book license transfers from Dark Horse Comics at the end of this year.  Interestingly these three new Star Wars titles continue what appears to be a concerted Disney strategy in promoting the brand by focusing on the original trilogy of movies and essentially ignoring the prequel movies.  As a fan of the Star Wars franchise since going to see the original movie at the theater as a kid with my dad in 1977, I am so glad Disney is taking this path.  I remember going to see the first prequel movie with a bunch of my friends at a sold-out midnight first showing of the film and being witness to energetic fans just leaving the theater deflated and annoyed.  It had seemed that Lucas had sold out his loyal fans to entice a new younger generation in the franchise playing more to their likes than to the preserving the original vibe of the films.

Disney is working to restore that vibe and you can see that in these three new comic book series.  All three focus on the time period between the films Episode IV A New Hope (the original Star Wars) and the franchise's most popular movie Episode V Empire Strikes Back.  It had been speculated by some fans and comic industry folks that Marvel would do a series focusing on the new animated television series Star Wars: Rebels but it appears at this time that is not in the cards just yet.  It had also been speculated that one of the series might take place after Return of the Jedi to help erase some of the Expanded Universe connection with fans and tie the original movies to Episode VII which is supposed to hit theaters in December of 2015.  Neither of these speculations occurred.  All of the announced comic books will focus on the Star Wars cannon timeline between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.

In fact the stories in Issue #1 of these new series are set 2 weeks after the Battle of Yavin where Luke Skywalker, with an assist from Han Solo & Chewbacca, blew up the Death Star.  The first series titled just STAR WARS will focus on the adventures of  the Rebel Alliance from its point of view featuring popular characters such as Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.  The second series is titled Star Wars: Darth Vader and will focus on the Empires fight to put down the rebellion from Vader's perspective.  Star Wars: Princess Leia will follow this character as she struggles with the loss of her family, friends and home world to the Death Star and seeks to find her role in the Rebellion as both a diplomat and warrior.  Marvel has recently made it a corporate priority to strengthen its catalog of female characters and work to expand its female customer base.  It appears that Princess Leia is going to be joining the all-female X-men team, Thor and Captain Marvel in moving that policy forward although her series isn't a full blown one and will consist of a 5-issue mini-series.

Star Wars: Princess Leia will debut in March 2015.  It will be written by Mark Waid who has scripted issues of Daredevil and Indestructible Hulk to his credit and artist Terry Dodson who has provided artwork for Uncanny X-Men and Marvel Knights Spider-Man.  The story picks up a few weeks after the events of Episode IV where Leia is profiled as a trained diplomat and agent of the rebellion coming to terms with the destruction of her homeworld at the hands of Darth Vader and the Empire.

Star Wars: Darth Vader will come out in February 2015. This ongoing monthly series will show the Empire's side of the war.  While Darth Vader is the lone survivor of the Death Star's destruction, a crushing defeat for the Empire, he has lost the faith and good will of his Sith Master, Emperor Palatine.  In this series Darth Vader reminds the Empire why he is a figure to fear.  The comic book will be written by Kieron Gillen who has worked on Uncanny X-Men and Journey Into Mystery and have artwork by Salvador Larocca whose credits include Invincible Iron Man, and Uncanny Avengers.

The final series, which will also be the first one to debut is titled simply STAR WARS.  It appears to take the premise that Brian Wood's similarly titled comic book series for Dark Horse that was published for the last two years took and reboot it for Marvel.  Coming out in January 2015, STAR WARS picks up 2 weeks after A New Hope with Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo leading a Rebel Alliance emboldened by their successful attack on the Death Star and going on the offensive against the Empire. The Rebels find defeating the Empire may be more difficult than they'd planned when the find out Darth Vader, thought dead in the Death Star attack, is back.  This new STAR WARS series will be written by Jason Aaron who has scripted Original Sin & Thor: God of Thunder.  The artwork will be provided by John Cassaday who has recently worked on Uncanny Avengers & Astonishing X-Men.

Fans of  Darkhorse's Star Wars comics had wondered if any of the creative team who had worked on those publications might transition over to Marvel to continue working on the franchise or if Marvel may continue some of the ongoing titles like "Star Wars" and "Legacy: Anai Solo"; but it is apparent from the ComicCon announcement that Marvel will be taking its own direction and using its own talent moving forward.  From the description of these new comic book series and some preview artwork from the upcoming STAR WARS #1 issue provided by the official Star Wars website, I have to say I am impressed by Marvel's efforts and excited to pickup these new issues when they are released.

STAR WARS #1 will hit comic book stores in January 2015.
STAR WARS: DARTH VADER #1 follows in February 2015.
STAR WARS: PRINCESS LEIA #1 will come out in March 2015.

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