A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas created the science fiction franchise that would shape the face of the genre for a generation. The Star Wars trilogy is arguably one of the most beloved movie trilogies of all time, and in the years since its release, it has continued to dominate the collective consciousness of pop-culture. The stories continued in a largely unofficial capacity through novels, videogames and comics, creating what has been dubbed the “Expanded Universe”. Recently, Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars and abolished the years of lore that came with the Expanded Universe, but in their place, parent company Disney is offering a new trilogy and farther partnership with their other recent acquisition Marvel. Marvel’s superstar creators are working on three new comic titles that take place between Star Wars IV: A New Hope, and Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back and tell the official stories of the galaxy’s favourite rebels and Sith lords.
Disney’s move to eliminate the lore of the expanded universe meant the removal of many fan-favorite characters. For example, Timothy Zhan’s Heir to the Empire introduced fans to smuggler turned Sith and ultimately the wife of Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade. Mara, along with Jacen, Jiana and Anakin (Han and Leia’s children) are just some of the casualties that the Star Wars fandom had to accept. In place of the novels and comics they had held dear, Disney sought to create an official canon. Enter Marvel. The talent they recruited has an impressive resume. Of course, they couldn’t trust the new Star Wars continuity to just anyone, so they got the minds behind titles like Kingdom Come and Original Sin to mastermind the shape of Star War’s future.
As a fan of comics, it is difficult to ignore any books by creators like Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, or Mark Waid. These are some of the most recognizable writers at Marvel and all of them have made huge contributions to the Marvel universe’s canon so it says something that Marvel has trusted them with the monumental task of filling in the gaps between the Star Wars movies. Pair these great minds with artists like John Cassady, Salvador Larroca, and Terry Dodson and you have books with an aesthetic that matches the scope of the story. All three of the series are well crafted and take on overtones of their inspiration; they capture the spirit of the characters and the sense of adventure from the original story.
The main title, simply called Star Wars, follows Luke, Leia, and Han in their exploits following the destruction of the Death Star. Jason Aaron is the mastermind that weaves the story of a game of cat and mouse between the Galactic Empire and the Rebellion. Along with his action-filled script, John Cassady’s art captures the nuances of the characters as we remember them from the films. It’s arguably the most successful of the series and is immensely enjoyable for people new to the Star Wars universe and fans alike. Princess Leia is similarly adventure driven and captures the Princess’s strength and spirit. Mark Waid writes about Leia’s need to prove herself within the rebellion. Her rebellious nature is the focus for the story and Waid explores her determination and commitment to her cause while portraying a strong female character. Along with Terry Dodson’s art the story fits Leia perfectly; his pencils create dynamic scenes that balance the character of Star Wars with his unique style. Darth Vader is the third of Marvel’s new titles. The story follows science fiction’s favourite villain after the fall of the Death Star. He is cast out by the Emperor and skulks across the universe looking for a way to redeem himself. Kieron Gillen’s script betrays his temperamental nature, and Salvador Larroca’s art does justice to his imposing character design. The comic captures Vader’s essence; the very thing that has intrigued audiences since 1977, is the driving force behind Vader’s solo series.
With the release of three titles; Princess Leia, Darth Vader and Star Wars, Marvel has found a way to recreate the original magic of the beloved movies and capture their very essence on the page. If you aren’t keeping up with these series, you should be. Science fiction fans will revel in the fully realized universe that they are all too familiar with, and comic book fans will adore the perfect balance of narrative and action; overall, these three series are perfectly suited for almost everyone.