It’s about time to talk about the decline of the Marvel Star Wars books. We have had some good series since the old canon reset button was hit a few years back, and there have been some fine issues along the way. Lately though I’ve been increasingly suspicious that the newer books have been taking fans for granted. This site tries to be positive, but also knows that it is unfair to the good material to hand out praise unduly for lesser content.
Firstly though, I am keen to focus on the positive. There has been very good material over the years. The current Darth Vader run is very strong, as were parts of the previous 25 issue series. I love Poe Dameron although the series itself has had its ups and downs. As a series it has that kinetic energy that reflects Star Wars at its Saturday morning matinee best. L’ulo’s funeral was particularly poignant and the humor within the series is really good at times – see Exhibit A Jess Pava’s nickname of ‘The Great Destroyer’.
Likewise there have been solid mini-series for Phasma and Maul. These two series struck me as a lot of fun and expanded the character list within the saga, as well as utilizing much loved side characters (Exhibit B Cad Bane and Aurra Sing). I’d go as far as to say that most of the mini and maxi-series have been enjoyable. The early years of the new Marvel era produced a series of strong stories and new characters in the comic format. Likewise I’ve enjoyed both The Force Awakens and Rogue One comic book adaptations, even if the coloring work in the former was a little off. It’s important to realize too that people will have personal preferences, for example Dr Aphra is a real favorite of some fans, but personally I find that book to consist of nothing more than ephemeral nonsense.
When the books go bad though, I feel that they go very, very bad. The Yoda arc in the main Star Wars series was miserable and the standard hasn’t picked up since, the Screaming Citadel was a steaming mess, and Mace Windu was atrocious, with interior art as close to objectively awful as a subjective medium can get (Exhibit C).
These books aren’t cheap and it is asking a lot for fans to keep shelling out for them. For this reader, the Marvel Star Wars output is currently striking out at an alarming rate. My wrath though is reserved especially for their series of one-shot comics. Aside from the C-3PO title which I found quite interesting, toying with ideas of droid sentience, there has been a gradual and steep decline. Even that book overplayed its “origins of Threepio’s red arm” shtick.
Cassian and K2-SO was more fluff served up as a cheap trick and a tie in to cash in on Rogue One. The straw that broke this particular Bantha’s back though was the dual impact of the Storms of Crait one shot and the DJ one-shot; part of The Last Jedi tie-ins. The storytelling in both those books was banal in the extreme; the art atrocious. The books represented a new low in the Marvel output. I read a lot of other Marvel and DC books each week (as well as a lot of indie titles), and it is only when you compare the standard that is required from other publications that you can see how lightly Star Wars Marvel gets off. Are the editors giving the artists and writers sufficient time? There is an undoubtedly rushed and slap-dash feel to these books.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration that most books serving up sub-standard fare would have been discontinued by now. Another confidence trick that I think gets over-deployed is the ruse of variant covers and generally great cover art, but poor internal art. never judge a book by its cover as the old adage goes. Take the DJ book for example – the cover art was awesome – but there is a stark contrast between that and what was found inside (Exhibit D – yes that is DJ). The same with Storms of Crait, which had a sublime cover but which showcased some truly grizzly photo-realistic artwork inside (Exhibit E). I’m deliberately not naming the artists, blame needs to be attributed to those who vetted the work.
Most of the Star Wars Marvel books are now banking on the brand and the fact that a lot of fans that buy these comics and no others. To those fans I would plea, read some other comics so you can see the chasm between other top titles and the Star Wars fare. There are marvelous, charming, exciting, beautiful books that hit the shelves each week. Hell, look at IDW’s Star Wars line to show how to do a beautifully presented and charming Star Wars comic (see below – I mean look at those last few panels and the witty dialogue).
I can’t say I’m too enthused about the forthcoming attractions from Marvel Star Wars. Do we really need a Thrawn comic with the same plot as the book? What about some new characters or deploying some much loved smaller characters to better effect? Where is the creativity and novelty from the editorial desk? Absent because they know that they don’t need it.
I’m opting out of Star Wars comics from now on, having bought every book released to date. There comes a time when good sense and knowing the value of hard earned money makes you realize that staying up to date with canon just isn’t worth it. With two of these flimsy publications costing roughly the same as a good Star Wars paperback, I know where I’ll prioritize my spend. I’m separating myself from the need to acquire all canon output, and I feel fine about it. I’ll stick with Poe and spend the rest of my money elsewhere. Call me when there’s an improvement.
Editor’s Notes: All images subject to copyright and can be removed upon request