The story goes it only took two words from Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso to Thor writer Jason Aaron for him to hop on-board the comic relaunch of one of pop culture’s most beloved franchises. Those two words: simply “Star” and “Wars”. From the company that coined the phrase “‘Nuff Said!”, this modicum of selling goes a long way. This is also being said prefaced against a pre-sale figure unheard of in two decades (over one million copies!). The point is, even though this is a very prestigious and lucrative commodity for all involved, the artifice of business is left at the door as the product itself is a pure labor of love.
For those unfamiliar with Star Wars’’ existence in the comic medium, this move to Marvel really is more of a “big deal” homecoming than corporate positioning. That cannot be stressed enough. Sure, it’s convenient both entities now reside under the “House of Mouse” but Marvel’s championing of George Lucas’s little “sci-fi fairy tale” predates any of its success. Industry giants Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin and Archie Goodwin were all integral in generating interest among the four-color crowd back in the day. Walt Simonson rose to prominence during the Empire Strikes Back era of the original run as well.
While not always a top-seller, especially in an era where Uncanny X-Men ruled the roost, there was still always something special about that inaugural series and a great deal of it had to do with the talent in its corner. Since then, the industry has obviously changed dramatically but old school sensibilities return this week and then some with Marvel really pulling out the stops. It wouldn’t be out of place to say this title is now being met with the same level of attention normally dedicated to one of the big blockbuster super-hero “Event” extravaganzas.
However, there is a bit of a “trade-off” effect between a monthly book based on a movie and one of the regular “tentpoles” like Original Sin, Infinity or Civil War. While the cape and cowl stories normally try to step above the cut of a garden-variety story, delivering something quasi-graphic novelly, with a definitive beginning, middle and end, announcing hyper-cinematically that this the “state of the Marvel Universe at this minute”, a Star Wars comic is actually afforded a much more comfortable breathing space.
Think about it: George Lucas devised the saga as a callback to the Flash Gordon serialized shorts and radio dramas of the 1930s and ‘40s. Or better yet, try watching Episode IV again with your eyes closed to really get that “theatre of the mind” going. Filled with so many cliffhangers and dramatic pauses, it’s a film that almost screams “tune in again next week” after every chapter break! In terms of what this means for its reinvigorated comic adaptation, there’s a great deal to be learned from this “grass is always greener” scenario. It’s just gravy that talent and business savvy has lined up as well as it has, hopefully to yield great things for many years.
As stated above, the simplicity of the pitch speaks volumes with the end result being the most transparently self-explanatory part of the “sell”. Essentially it goes like this: “Do you like Star Wars?” “Do you like comic books?” “Do you want to read a Star Wars comic that’s basically a movie-between-the-movies drawn ridiculously well by the guy who worked with Joss Whedon on that X-Men book like 10 years ago (John Cassaday, Astonishing X-Men)?” If the answer to ANY of these questions is “yes”, then face front and buy the living Force outta this book!!