Not even two weeks into the new year and Disney/Marvel isn’t wasting time with more Star Wars news!
Disney recently announced that the Star Wars comics license will be going back to Marvel after more than two decades at Dark Horse. With Disney purchasing Marvel back in 2009, the move was an inevitable decision that many were counting down to since Disney also purchased LucasFilm in 2012. Marvel will begin publishing all future Star Wars graphic novels and comics in 2015, coinciding with the release of Episode VII and the full premiere of Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD. As of this writing, there is no news on whether the novels of the Expanded Universe will move from Del Rey Books, but since the Star Wars Action Team is still going strong it looks as if Del Rey may be left untouched (for now).
Speaking of the Expanded Universe, that’s going to go through an upheaval in the near-future was well. It’s been a long oft-unspoken agreement that whatever happens in the films and TV series trumps whatever happens in the video games, comic books, and novels. Well, Disney is looking to change that. According to Holocron Keeper Leland Chee, the EU will begin to form a more cohesive universe very soon. This will not only give the makers of the films more say in what is canon (of course, the final word on that would till have to come from Lucas and/or Disney execs), but will simultaneously restrict artists and authors in what they can and cannot create for the EU.
This is where I get antsy. First of all, while the Marvel Star Wars comics from the 70’s are regarded by many as precious in a nostalgic sense, there’s little denying that Dark Horse took a traditionally family-friendly story and made it more suitable for fans who wanted a bit more maturity and rawness from the franchise (after all, politics and warfare are messy businesses and the movies rarely went far enough to depict that).
With the Star Wars license going back to one of the Big Two comic publishers, I’m worried that that grit may be lost once again for the sake of appealing to a more general audience instead of those interested in the darker aspects of the franchise. Of course, my misgivings on that may be completely unfounded and rooted in paranoia, but that’s par for the course whenever a major change for any fandom is announced.
As for the EU, as it stands Leland Chee has had a hell of a time keeping everything straight for fans for years. With constant contradictions, retconning, and non-linear releases (example: novels set during the Clone Wars were not always with the Clone Wars TV series, especially those published before the show’s premiere in 2008) the EU is little more than a giant mess continuity-wise. The decision to begin establishing a more cohesive universe is honestly a long time coming, but again I have my worries.
Part of the fun of the EU is the “official fan fiction” nature of the books and comics. If something happens in them that I don’t care for, I just remind myself that it’s not canon and it can be retconned by another writer at some point (or just plain ignored altogether). For example, the fates of Adi Gallia and Asajj Ventress in the Clone Wars comics, which I wasn’t too happy with, were retconned by the Clone Wars TV show. If I want more information about certain events that are just glossed over in the “official canon”, I can turn to the EU. For example, General Grievous was little more than a cyborg with asthma attacks until James Luceno’s Labyrinth of Evil (2005) gave more insight into how he became a mostly robotic pawn of Dooku and Sidious; further backstory was provided in the February 2006 issue of Star Wars Insider magazine with the article Unknown Soldier: The Story of General Grievous.
There’s no denying that a more coherent timeline of the Star Wars universe would be an immense help in keeping everything straight (and not just for fans), but the question is how much will that cohesion hold back the creative teams for the books, comics, games, and films? How much will casual fans be able to live without and still know what’s going on? Will the films still be given precedence over written material? Only time (and Leland Chee, Pablo Hidalgo, and whomever else will be on the proposed committee to determine official canon) will tell. Let’s just hope Disney/Marvel leaves the task to those who know what they’re doing and put the fans first.
About Reporter Michelle Lawhorn:
Michelle, a.k.a. Stormraven, is what can only be described as an eclectic nerd. Her interests and expertise range from Doctor Who to Lord of the Rings, cosplay to comics, and Bollywood to opera to name just a few. When not raving about her “fandoms”, she can be found working on projects as an Associate Editor at Haven Publishing and adding to her ever-growing list of Things to Cosplay. She can currently be found searching for more material to feed her newfound obsession with Star Wars.