It’s nearly a year since the Star Wars universe got rebooted. The reasons for that move will not truly become clear until December this year when The Force Awakens is released. It will be whatever events that reveals that will in turn likely explain why the move was warranted – or not! In the interim, how has fandom responded?
There have been three distinct streams of opinion: Pro-new EU only, pro-Legends only and the ‘a plague on both your houses, I’m enjoying both’ approach. Of these I have become aligned with the middle faction, no surprise there. Yet a year ago I thought it would not be the case. What has changed?
A large part of the change in my view can be attributed to A New Dawn (AND). For all people like to claim there is nothing special in it being the first of the new books, the claim is false. There is indeed something special by being first. AND is, due to being the first one out, the book that expectations come to rest on, and which influences the chance of future purchases.
AND did several things very well, due to it I decided to give a chance to the remaining books of the opening quartet. Tarkin was disappointing, but then its lead was never going to be the most engaging of protagonists. Weak villains did not help it either. Heir to the Jedi was a fun read, but how much you get out of it depends on how much of a Luke fan you are and what you expect out of the character. Lords of the Sith could well finish the quartet on a high note to rival that which kicked things off.
Of these books’ authors, all but Kevin Hearne were already known to me and had SW experience – indeed that was a major factor in my buying AND. So, that helped the books overcome my dislike of the reboot, an, at best, crude Death Star solution to what could have likely been better solved by surgical use of a lightsaber! Also I began to be intrigued by Star Wars Rebels, so that also drew me to AND. In light of the recent news of the Journey to The Force Awakens material, my attempt not to be sucked back in may have been well and truly blasted by the fact Greg Rucka is doing a SW story! That’s one hell of an attractive purchase, it’s practically pre-ordered as soon as I see it going for a good price.
In the end, time does heal things or lets you forget the sting of them! Am I happy SW was rebooted? No. Can I do anything about that? Also, no. But, there are petitions! And how many of those are successful? Exceedingly few. Nope, better to accept it has happened and resolve how to respond to it, preferably without engaging in hate-filled online diatribes. Not least as doing that really misses the point of a story like SW!
What I have become convinced of, however, is that if people want there to be more Legends material then the solution is to prove the material that has the tag on it sells! I cannot see it ever being revived to what it was, but sufficient sales of Legends material could see it establish itself as a niche product, with a dedicated fanbase. Therefore the trick is to persuade those new fans that engage with it and want to talk about it online to keep buying.
One thing that stayed constant from last year is the reduction in my buying. Purchasing the last Dark Horse Comics trades was a strange experience, one that is unlikely to fade anytime soon – still refuse to touch Brian Wood’s SW though. Yes, I’ve decided to give the quartet of opening shots a try but the results of that have been decidedly mixed. On comics, the UK Panini editions might tempt me where Marvel’s cheap-arse paperbacks would not. On the whole? I’m still in a holding pattern. The reason for that is TFA is not out, until it is, I am unlikely to be making any final decisions on what I think of this next phase. Nor am I likely to be the only one.
I’ll admit I find much of the book marketing quite nauseous. Marvel are, at least, big and cocky enough to not feel a need to have to crap all over what DHC did. They certainly want to match and surpass it which is itself a measure of respect. Del Rey however…. Ugh. They just cannot seem to help themselves, they keep making claims of doing a continuity like never before. Oh? What were you doing 2000-2014 then? No one ever marketed a franchise series like SW as: ‘this is what might have happened next’ or ‘one version of what happened next’. Cue much corporate obfuscation and back-pedaling. (Then again, I’ve never liked DR’s editors, that I bought some of their books at all was due to the writers!) Also, in a rebooted continuity canon has little meaning, what was rebooted once can be again.
Perhaps the most interesting element of the last year has been seeing the multimedia side of SW really come to the fore. If they can actually link things up, in an optional manner, across multiple mediums, then that has to get my interest to a degree – e.g. Rebels, due to AND, there’s a book-cartoons link, but there’ll be a comic series for Kanan, so we’re up to book-cartoon-comic, can it go further? Maybe.
In conclusion, the Great Reboot is not, nor will any subsequent corporate decisions be, sufficient to cause me to declare an end to being a SW fan. Creative decisions around the plot of Episode 7, particularly with regard to the state of the galaxy and what it suggests as to what went on in the missing decades could have a far bigger impact. But even there, it would more than likely see me simply sever my interest in that strand of SW. After all, I did that on the Denningverse nearly a decade ago and it was quite easy to keep my general interest going. So, in short, am I still fleeing the end? Indeed and I’ll keep doing so.