The Pitch – Marvel Star Wars, The Next Generation

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In our first “The Pitch” piece way back in November, we submitted some ideas for new Star Wars novels we’d like to see. At the time, the only books known to be forthcoming were Maul: Lockdown and Honor Among Thieves, and with the canon situation unresolved, no one really knew what to expect from Star Wars novels in 2014 and beyond—or whether there’d even be any.

Shortly afterward, the announcement came down that the Star Wars comics license would be transferring from Dark Horse to Marvel at the end of 2014. Now, six months later, we’re in much the same position with comics as we were back then with novels—the last of DHC’s new offerings will be along next month, and as yet there’s been no information of any kind on what Marvel will be releasing next year (though with San Diego Comic-Con in a few weeks, I suspect we won’t be in the dark much longer).

So this time, I asked the others to pitch their own Marvel comic series. This being our first Pitch article post-reboot, I also made it clear that ideas didn’t need to fall in line with the existing Expanded Universe. Here’s what we came up with.

Alexander: If there’s one ongoing comic that Marvel should do, it’s a new Republic. Not necessarily the New Republic. They probably don’t have enough information to do that first. Something set during the Original Trilogy would be fine. I refer instead to Dark Horse Comics’ Star Wars: Republic line. When the comic began, The Phantom Menace had not yet been released, and its end did not come until nearly a year after the release of Revenge of the SithRepublic was more than just a comic set in the time of the new films: it was an equal companion to the Prequel Trilogy that changed, adjusted its focus, and moved forward with every new film, and greatly helped to fill in the gaps between them (and before them, in the case of the earliest arcs).

Asharad2These were not just the continuing off-screen adventures of Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi: sooner or later, we would have grown tired of them stumbling through one improbable adventure after another. They were also the rotating tales of the likes of Ki-Adi-Mundi, Mace Windu, and Aurra Sing: bit characters (some seen only for a few short moments and without a single speaking line) who had not yet had a chance to shine. And then it went well above and beyond what was necessary to give us enduring and memorable new characters: Tholme, A’Sharad Hett, the Dark Woman, Iaco Stark, Sagoro Autem, Quinlan Vos, and Aayla Secura, the last two even making Lucas-endorsed leaps onto the screens of The Clone Wars and Attack of the Clones (a testament to the skill of their writers).

Marvel would be wise to follow such a successful example and do more than just take advantage of the most iconic parts of the source material to sell as many issues as possible. There is an opportunity here to enhance the universe, as well as profit from it. With the erasure of all but a small handful of established canon material, any ongoing comic series (be it during, before, or after the saga) is going to be in a position of unprecedented power in terms of reshaping the setting, and building on what’s set in stone by new novels and video games as they come out. The new stories they tell have the potential to fundamentally change how we view the events of the saga, and our expectations for the future. It would be a terrible waste of that influence to cheaply rehash the already numerous adventures of the Big Three when Republic has already proven we can do so much more than just settle for getting by.

Rocky: We’re jumping a lot of time between Return of the Jedi and Episode VII. So why don’t we fill in some of that time and introduce the audience to the next generation in comic form?

Young Jedi Knights, as a book series, brought a lot of younger readers into the EU, many of whom were the perfect age afterwards to start the New Jedi Order. It brought in a new ensemble cast who were relatable and fit within the larger universe, and gave a reasonable description of the state of the galaxy without being too full of yavin-yjkarcane details. Some of the plot threads cropped up again, and some of the side characters evolved into rather important ones. It was a series geared towards younger readers, and was accessible even for those not familiar with previous EU material. Something like this could be an ideal way of introducing everyone to the next generation of Skywalkers, Solos, and friends.

Consider this a lead-up to the release of Episode VII. We find out who some of the new characters are and a bit about what our heroes from the Original Trilogy have been doing for the last thirty years, set the tone of the galaxy, and generally fill in some backstory. Perhaps even use this as an opportunity to introduce future plot hooks for the sequel trilogy and spin-offs. A wide cast of characters, short adventures that connect into each other, and a series that will bring in a new audience: what’s not to love? We have to fill in that thirty years somehow, and right now we have a complete dearth of material to explain what happened after the Battle of Endor. A Young Jedi Knights-style comic might be just the thing.

Ben: Boba Fett and Death’s Head

Didn’t see it coming, yes? I don’t think anyone would see this coming but it’s a quirky pairing that could work surprisingly and tap a number of audiences.

spiderman-deathsheadCreated some 30 years ago by Simon Furman and Geoff Senior for Marvel UK, the character first featured in Transformers before getting his own stories that saw him tangling with Marvel UK superheroes, later encountering a certain rogue timelord and has recently had something of a return courtesy of Kieron Gillen. Gillen has used him both in his Iron Man run and the mini-series Revolutionary War. Paul Cornell also had him make a cameo in the much missed Captain Britain & MI-13 final issue too.

Why would a pairing with Boba Fett work? Well, they’re both boun – ahem, freelance peacekeeping agents, albeit one far larger than the other – but that could be got around. No, the reason this could work is the comedy potential – with Fett as the straight man and Death’s Head as the lunatic partner who’ll quite simply do anything to get his target.

At the same time Gillen is a rising star, both within Marvel and the creator-owned spheres. Indeed current rumour says he will be working on one of the new Star Wars books as he’s ended his Iron Man for an opportunity he couldn’t say no to. Why would he work so well? Gillen has a knack for taking characters people think they know and finding new takes. He also can do both serious and comedy in equal measure as his Journey Into Mystery and Young Avengers runs demonstrate.

We do not get Episode VII until September 2015, that’s nine months away from when Marvel start their run. Abrams is notorious for not wanting to give the plot away at all, so how do you fill in the time? You do a quirky, off-beat story that people don’t expect but are likely to be receptive to. Fett’s known for comedy potential given his Sarlacc trip, so he needs to restore his reputation and will partner with anything to do that, enter Death’s Head…..Courtesy of appearances in Marvel’s superhero books, Death’s Head could bring a new set of fans to Marvel’s SW line too.

Worth a try, yes?

Lucas: With my colleagues going the reasonable, logical route of tie-ins to the original trilogy, per Disney’s focus shift (and Ben going . . . somewhere else), I’ll take the opportunity to run in the other direction. I think Marvel should finish The Clone Wars. With canon now stripped down to the bare bones, it is more awkward than ever that the single biggest chunk of it sits unfinished, its plotlines unresolved, its characters dangling, without having gotten the chance to reach the finish line of the Clone Wars.

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I don’t even like the show, but even I can recognize that it deserves a resolution in the new canon. Marvel should take the chance to steer clear of the under-construction zone of the OT and post-OT eras and instead plug away in the prequel era until things clear up. With some clever writing, the ongoing could even put itself in position to continue into the Dark Times and eventually handle that transition, even helping lead into Rebels once that show has a few seasons under its belt to see where it’s going.

It’s counterintuitive and totally unlikely, but hey, it’s an idea!

Jay: The Adventures of Ars Dangor: an ongoing series on the intricacies of the Imperial burea–what do you mean I’m FIRED?

Alright, alright. So our parameters: Episode VII coming in 2015, story likely very tightly under wraps. OT-centric focus for books and television. Odds are, we’ll get something OT-centric.

The prosaic, easy bet is an ongoing from ANH to ROTJ featuring the Big Three. But we’re going to pretend that we’re budding writers in the comics industry or something, so we don’t want to go with the safe pitch. So what would we propose, knowing what we do? Our colleagues have offered quite a few interesting suggestions — including an off-focus Clone Wars continuation.

mothma-tcwWell, along the lines of Monsieur Gaultier, I’d suggest an on-going that did not focus on the Big Three. But I wouldn’t just use new, invented characters as Republic did — we’re all indebted to DHC for their creativity and their panache in creating those new characters for us, but what we’re looking for here is familiarity while being different. It’s nostalgia that’s forward-facing. What I’d like to see is the story of everyone else during the first three films. What was Ackbar up to? Is General Madine still an Imperial defector? Maybe we could get the definitive version of his defection. Was Mon Mothma just standing around looking like a species of statue, or did she risk her life on the stump for the Rebellion as well? Lando’s a scoundrel, surely he had some interesting encounters as the Baron Administrator of Cloud City? And there is, of course, the ever-popular story of Wedge Antilles and Rogue Squadron.

In one swoop, Marvel could attract older fans while telling fresh, interesting stories that have their basis in the old EU. We’d have an ongoing that captured the best of the old, with the flexibility of the new: it wouldn’t be tied down by old canon, and because it doesn’t use the Big Three, it won’t be tied down by the new films either.

Lisa: I’d like to see a new X-Wing-style series. I am a little hesitant in this because I love the old X-Wing books/comics a lot and it would be ambitious for them to try to create a new one because the current EU fans know and love those stories. But in that regard that’s why I think they should do it. Marvel should steer clear of Luke/Han/Leia and anyone that might show up in the movies. They should focus on giving us the little guys. They are the heart and soul of the Star Wars fan community in written/graphic format and I don’t want them to forget that. Who are our favorite characters? It’s not the main movie guys, it’s some obscure person that we’ve followed for years through the EU most of the time given life in a comic first and then expanded upon later in books.

I’m going to cheat a little bit and kind of give off two ideas. For something different I think they should do an X-Wing series, like I stated above, and a counter series set during the same time following the Imperial pilots around too. It would be something similar to what we’ve seen but then the Imperial aspect would give it a unique take on baron-soontir-felthe concept of fighter pilots. Star Wars as a whole has tried to give us both sides of the story which is something I enjoy and one of the reasons I keep coming back. I think one of the reasons my favorite characters are all on the New Republic side is because we don’t get an in depth look at the little guys of the Empire. I like the characters that aren’t the main or movie characters. This gives them the ability to fill in some of the holes between RotJ and Episode VII without stepping on any toes or risking continuity problems.

Mike: If there’s one thing I know about Marvel comics, it’s that they never throw any ideas out. Next month will see the highly-anticipated release of Guardians of the Galaxy, a film based on a two-year run of comics from about five years ago, which was itself a reinvention of a series from the nineties, featuring a team of characters (completely different from those in the film) that had been poking around the fringes of the Marvel Universe since the sixties. To say that the Guardians were an obscure team, even during their resurrection in the last decade, is an understatement—but all it took was a successful run by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning to take the corniest of Silver Age premises and make it fresh, interesting, and now, mainstream.

Which is my roundabout way of saying that I’d very much enjoy seeing Marvel pick up where they left off in 1986. I want Marvel’s first Star Wars comic of 2015 to be Star Wars #108.

Late last summer, I finally completed my epic read-through of all 107 issues of Marvel’s original Star Wars series that ran concurrent with the release of the original trilogy. It’s pretty infamous among EU fans, especially the earliest material, for being dated at best and stupid at worst, but reading the whole thing made me appreciate how far it had come by the time it was abruptly cancelled in 1986, thanks largely to latecomers Jo Duffy and Cynthia Martin (that’s right–a female writer and artist!). Following the release of Return of the Jedi, Lucasfilm was ready to move on to other franchises, and drastically restricted Marvel’s creative freedom in continuing the story past Endor.

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Barred from dealing seriously with the remains of the Empire, or the Rebels’ efforts to form a new government, Duffy created a new conflict from whole cloth in the form of the Nagai-Tof War; an incursion into the Galaxy Far, Far Away by two neighboring species who were themselves locked into an ancient struggle. Just when the war story really got going, word came down that the series would have to end, and Duffy was forced to jump past a great deal of planned material in order to bring the conflict to a hurried conclusion in one oversized issue.

Since Marvel’s in a somewhat similar position now—surely preparing for new material of some sort, but likely facing roadblocks preventing them from revealing too much about Episode VII too soon, why not go back and fill in Duffy’s gap? The Nagai-Tof War, by design, is a nice little post-Endor bubble that would allow fans to reestablish their relationship with the OT characters (and allow Marvel to promote it as continuing the story past RotJ) while still leaving some space before they jump into the inevitable VII lead-in story. It would be a great way to honor Marvel’s Star Wars legacy, it would give the new creators an opportunity to flex their muscles before getting caught up in the ST’s undertow, and let’s face it—if one thing is absolutely inevitable about the new era of Marvel Star Wars comics, it’s that they’re going to resume the original numbering eventually. They might as well earn it.

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