Two months ago, we saw the release of the first Episode VII trailer. Two weeks ago we saw the launch of Marvel’s Star Wars #1. Before Disney bought Lucasfilm, I don’t think I was alone in my belief that the fabled VII, VIII, and IX trilogy would never be made. Given how disappointing the prequel trilogy ended up being, I was OK with the final trilogy never happening. But now the Star Wars franchise has been given new life. The anticipation for Episode VII is already breaking all sorts of records. I’m beginning to get on-board with the hype.
I have been reading Star Wars books since middle school. Back when I wore mom jeans and listened to the Spice Girls, I was also steadily making my way through the Star Wars Expanded Universe. For me, the movies were only the beginning. In the books, the characters were much better realized and stakes were always higher. They will never be hailed as high literary classics, but they were special to me. I was especially a fan of the New Jedi Order and Legacy of the Force books.
I am writing about all of this because the Expanded Universe has just experienced it’s first ever reboot. Reboots are nothing new in the Entertainment Industry. Both DC and Marvel have done more times than I could count, but it has never truly been done with Star Wars. I recently read an article about DC’s upcoming Convergence event. It’s an incredibly ambitious idea that I find a bit difficult to wrap my head around. Marvel is also doing a new reboot of sorts with their Secret Wars event. I get it – reboots are necessary. It rids the canon of clutter and redundancies. It gives new writers a chance to write something new without being bogged down by what came before them. It gives new readers an entrance point.
As soon as Episode VII was announced, I knew a reboot was inevitable. What remained to be seen was how extensive it would be. As it turns out, the reboot is to be all encompassing. All existing Star Wars books will now be published under the Star Wars Legends banner. I went to the New Dawn panel at New York Comic Con back in October, where they talked about the future of Star Wars publishing. It was informative, and it actually reinvigorated my own fandom. I actually think that they are going about it in the best way possible. My Fanboy Nerd Rage only kicks in when I consider the following: Jar Jar Binks is still an official part of the Star Wars canon, but Mara Jade and the Solo twins no longer are.
There are some who are still holding out hope that these (and a few of the other Post-RotJ EU characters) might make their way into the next trilogy, but I’m not holding my breath. The rumors of a Kira Solo character have been making the rounds, presumably Han and Leia’s daughter. The fact that they’d change the names of Han and Leia’s kids feels a little bit like salt in the wound. Here’s what I wish would have happened: The reboot would wipe the slate clean of everything but the movies and a few select works. Timothy Zahn’s Thawn Trilogy, for instance. Would that one trilogy of books, set 25 years before Episode VII, truly be a hindrance on the creativity of new Star Wars writers? Why not keep Drew Karpyshyn’s well-reviewed Darth Bane Trilogy? I can’t see how a single well-regarded work set one thousand years before Episode I would be a drag on the canon. </end rant>
One of my favorite things about the Star Wars books and comics is that they all fit into the same shared universe. Where characters like Batman have been revamped and reintroduced so many times that it borders on ridiculous, Star Wars kept a single timeline throughout it’s mediums. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of inconsistencies within it, but there is nothing on the scale of a multiverse. I realize that Expanded Universe readers are not the target demographic of the new movies, or even the new Expanded Universe. I also know that pleasing the hardcore fans, with purist diatribes, is near impossible. The look of Episode VII seems promising. I will continue reading the entire new Marvel Star Wars line. I just wish the old slate hadn’t been wiped in it’s entirety.
I have met many aspiring comic creators in the last few years that grew up reading the superhero comics, with goals of writing for the DC and Marvel universes. One of my goals as a writer is to one day publish something under the Star Wars banner. I have gone so far as to hold off on getting the Madalorian Crest tattoo that I want until that happens. My hopes of one day adapting the New Jedi Order into an animated series maybe crushed, but my resolve to contribute to the story of a galaxy far, far away have not abated.