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Marvel’s new Star Wars title dropped a couple weeks ago (thanks Disney!). Obviously, it’s a little hard to tell how a good a whole series is going to be off a single issue. Still, the first issue wasn’t what I’d call bad. It was… middle of the road. Not really the level of stamped-out, fully-branded Product™ I thought it was going to be.
Regardless, there are some things I really think this series needs to do in order to stand on its own as a really good series. Four things, actually, but I’m sure you knew that from the title. Rambling, rambling, lets get to it:
So in the first issue Luke, Han, and Leia infiltrate an Empire factory under the guise of negotiators for Jabba, but don’t worry you guys, everyone is here. Chewbacca, C3-PO, R2D2, everyone. And that’s kind of the issue. It has all the familiar characters and that’s pretty much it. Sure, it was cool to watch these characters again, but as an obvious side effect, it did feel a little familiar.
To be fair, this is a first issue. A first issue of a franchise returning to Marvel after a long while. I can understand being a little cautious about getting too out there for mainstream audiences. They want to lull everyone in with the familiar. “Look at these guys! These are the characters you know and love!”
However, if this series is to stand out in any significant way I think it has to let go of the familiar. Stray away from the movies. We don’t need a reference to them every couple pages. Do things we haven’t seen before. This comic needs to be unafraid to take chances. Big old, moon sized chances. The least of which being…
The coolest thing about the Dark Horse Star Wars comics was that they were never afraid to add something to the universe. New weapons, new species, hell even an entirely new galaxy. Even though it was an IP book, it was still able to create it’s own little world. That’s as important to this new Star Wars title as it was to them. You’ve got to give us a reason to keep coming back, because the “but it’s Star Wars!” reasoning is going to wear off real quick.
Please, writers, leave your mark on the universe. Show us a cool new villain. Show us a Force power we’ve never seen before. An interesting new planet with even more interesting inhabitants. An important character completely different than anything we’ve seen. Something new.
Star Wars‘ biggest strength has always been its world. There’s so many ways to go. So many schemes of the Empire, so many different planets. I know it’s probably important, so it’s worth noting that all of this could be done without interfering with the pre-existing movies. It’s a war, after all. Lot of stories in a war.
So, unless I’m mistaken, this comic takes place in between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Which is fine. There’s a lot of ground to explore there. It’s just that we kind of know where the plot will end up. I know Han, Luke, and Leia are going to be fine. Everyone is going to be fine! It takes some of the unf out of it. I wasn’t too worried when Darth Vader appeared, I was more struck with some nostalgia.
We need to have some new characters. Someone — or someones — who isn’t under the constant protection of plot armor. Someone we can care about. Someone with stakes. That’s one of the reasons I was surprised we were following the main cast. There’s not a lot of stakes in between the movies. A part of me figured we’d see an entire new cast. A cast that could be expendable, with stakes.
Maybe one day. Again, it’s only the first issue and it’s hard to tell exactly where it’s going to go. I just have this worry that Disney is going to want the main cast all over the covers so that they can push more comics. Which is one thing, sure, but I think the comic can only suffer for it.
As far as I know, the previous canon is out the window. It is a bit of bummer, but I think in the long run this can turn out to be pretty great! The universe is now mostly a blank canvas. As such, it’d be criminal to not explore the universe.
Explore the operations of the Empire, how they take over planets, how they rule. Explore the cultures of the planets, both old and new. You can take some time with comic books. Let the world breathe a little. Hell, you can even follow new characters for entire arcs.
Speaking of characters, this Star Wars comic has a golden opportunity to flesh out the characters. Having each of them be broad archetypes is fine for 110 minute movies, but if we’re going to be following these characters around for issue upon issue, I want to know them more. I want to know what makes Han Solo tick. I want to see why Princess Leia is such a crusader for her cause. What, besides failing, does Luke fear? This would be the meat of the story, not “oh is Darth Vader going to kill them?” Which, I worry, will be the crux of it.
But what do you think? What would you want to see from Marvel’s Star Wars?