I recently read the first trade collection of the Brian Wood Star Wars series and… well, it didn’t go well and this was some time before the very recent controversy over Wood’s interactions with female comics professionals. But it also got me thinking as to why I’m still looking at items in the Expanded Universe at all. It’s fair to say that I’ve become more disillusioned with Star Wars over the last decade due to a combination of corporate decisions and dismissal of it from one G. Lucas who’s nevertheless happy to profit from it.
Reading the new comic, however, brought a new aspect to the fore that I’d been unaware of, or perhaps trying really hard not to notice – and that’s the sense that the magic has gone. People go to the films, they see works like Star Wars that take them away to another world, another time but it’s only for a couple of hours. What if you could stay longer? What if there were more stories? What if you didn’t have to let that magical experience fade away? Enter the Expanded Universe.
So what did Wood’s Star Wars do that was so offensive? It went and stomped all over the Classic Star Wars run by Goodwin and Williamson, oh it wasn’t intentional, it was a side-effect! It wasn’t personal, it was just business, you understand? Oh, I understand all right and I’m flogging the book in response at a very competitive rate! Just business you understand?
It has been, in a way, the essence of Star Wars fandom to fix things, to reconcile the apparently irreconcilable, to innovate boldly where few others would and square any and all circles! Except this does not work on this new series – for starters there’s a entire load of TIE Interceptors around and not just a standard, garden variety type either. Nah, these have torpedoes, shields and hyperdrives! Overpowered? Oh yes, Soontir Fel would have caused utter mayhem with one of these. Then there is Darth Vader’s flagship Super Star Destroyer – the Executor. That’s where the hit really comes from because the building and launch of the Executor and its assault on Yavin is a major part of Classic Star Wars.
So, if I’m to enjoy this new series it is going to have to be at the cost of another that I hold in much greater esteem and that’s a choice I do not care to make. Oh but it’s part of a new continuity? Oh it is? Well, must be one where the Imperials are idiots and they just let the Rebels leg it from Yavin! Another one of the classic serial’s ideas was that the Empire blockades Yavin to keep the Rebels penned up, why let them run to establish another secret base they then have to find all over again?
But I’m not supposed to think logically about all this, I’m supposed to be a fan and buy uncritically. I’m supposed to find reasons to like a story, I’m supposed to be able to once again see that magic that was in the films that drew me to these stories in the first place. But I can’t because the magic isn’t there! Oh, I’ve chased it and searched it but it’s just…. Gone.
And it’s not coming back. Oh there’ll be new stories, in a year or so there’ll be a new film but will it be for me? Will it speak to me in the way the first three films did so long ago? I doubt it. Similarly, the new stories may be very well done, but I doubt they’ll be for me, given my response to the likely first representative of them.
Fleeing the end then? Doesn’t look like it, not this time. Nope, this time, time’s up.