In the closing months of 2012, Disney made (arguably) one of the greatest acquisitions in history when it purchased Lucasfilm, including the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, from creator George Lucas. One of the big questions on many comic book fan’s minds was what would happen to the line of Star Wars books now that Marvel, a company that Disney had purchased only a few years before, was driving the car.
The story so far:
Dark Horse Comics had for many years a deal that brought brand-new original stories to readers through the Star Wars expanded universe, which after the Disney acquisition, ceased to exist. Marvel announced that they would be bringing the Star Wars comics “back home”, as Marvel originally published books based on the franchise from the late 70s to the mid 80s, and creating original books with some of their top creators which we’re finally getting a glimpse of this week.
Beginning with Star Wars #1, released this past Wednesday, writer Jason Aaron and artist John Cassaday deliver us a brand-new story that exists within the continuity established by the Star Wars movies. The debut issue throws us right into the thick of the action as Han Solo and a group of smugglers land on Corellia to make a deal with the Empire. The plot thickens quickly as the deal is revealed to be hostile takeover of the base by the rebel alliance. Han seems to be the centre of attention in this book but we do get appearances by Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker and most other members of the main cast. Unsurprisingly, given Aaron’s earlier work, Han’s quick wit and snarky attitude come across well through his script, and while Luke and Leia are kept relatively silent, they still feel like the same characters we know from the movies.
John Cassaday’s art holds up relatively well and while I’m not personally the biggest fan of his work in the past, which includes Astonishing X-Men and Uncanny Avengers, it does convey a very movie-like atmosphere, helped in large part by the great colouring by Laura Martin.
In addition to the main story we have previews for a couple other Marvel Star Wars books such as Darth Vader by the creative team of Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca as well as Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson, which was a welcome treat.
If there’s any real complaints with this issue, it’s that Aaron seems compelled to include almost too many characters, quirks and miscellaneous references from the movie as if we needed more evidence that this was a true Star Wars comic. It’s unfortunate when you consider the smaller, less forceful but ultimately more successful nods including the opening credits, the famous title crawl, and the subtle character details are what really make the book shine.
Secondly, addressing the elephant in the room, we had almost the same book released only a few years ago when Brian Wood created an in-continuity Star Wars book over at Dark Horse. That’s not to say that this is a bad comic by any means, it just didn’t quite carry the same weight the second time around.
While some fans of the old Dark Horse books might be upset about the complete dismissal of many stories and characters created there, having both the movies and the comics under one roof will ultimately create a better product. If this first issue of Star Wars any indication, I certainly wouldn’t worry about Marvel’s commitment to this iconic brand as, in the hands of Aaron and Cassaday, we seem to be off to a pretty entertaining start.