Marvel’s Star Wars Comics Are Finally Moving on From the Most Unhinged Year in Canon

Marvel’s Star Wars Comics Are Finally Moving on From the Most Unhinged Year in Canon

Since early 2020, many of Marvel’s primary Star Wars comics—the main Star Wars series, Darth Vader, and the already concluded Doctor Aphra and Bounty Hunters—shifted to a new period in the timeline of the original movies: the immediate days and weeks after the events of The Empire Strikes Back. Like the first renewed generation of Marvel Star Wars material before it, which explored the years between A New Hope and Empire, this one would explore the time between Empire and Return of the Jedi.

Now, that era is coming to an end, with Marvel’s confirmation that both Star Wars and Darth Vader’s current volumes would end with issue 50, with both to set to release as bumper-sized, 50-page comics in September. Here’s the problem though: the time period between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back was about three years, much as it actually was between the release of both films in our world. That’s a lot of time to write Star Wars comics in, and Marvel did, for about five years! The time period between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi?

One year. One. About. And we’ve had as much, if not more with all the different series that have cropped up, Star Wars comic stories crammed into that time period—included as part of the current canon—for almost as much time.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of these stories have actually been really good. But they’ve also frequently been absolutely bonkers—like that time Qi’ra from Solo showed up to try and kill Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine by locking them in a big box and throwing that big box into a sun, only to be stopped by the Knights of Ren (don’t worry about it); or that time all that led to an ancient piece of technology unleashing a droid zombie plague that nearly took over the whole galaxy in an attempt to dominate the Force itself (do not worry about it); or the time Darth Vader uncovered that Palpatine’s advisor Sly Moore had actually been leading a rogue faction of the Empire seeking to overthrow the Emperor, the Schism Imperial, and pondered joining it himself (maybe do worry about this one, it’s a relatively recent plot line that is name checked in Marvel’s PR about the road to Darth Vader #50, but also maybe don’t, because we know what happens immediately after this, it’s Return of the Jedi!). And that’s not even half of it.

All of these moments and reveals, on their own, would still largely be kind of wild and crazy, in that loving Star Wars extended universe material way—canon, rebooted or otherwise, kind of needs those wild moments to feel properly like Star Wars to me, but maybe that’s just my frame of reference after having grown up with things like That Time Chewbacca Died Because Extragalactic BDSM Aliens Dropped a Moon on Him or The One Where Ki-Adi-Mundi Has So Many Wives. But it’s the fact that all these huge stories, on top of the interesting, emotional ones that have made connections to set up the journeys characters like Luke, Leia, Lando, and Vader go on to be the people we meet in Return of the Jedi—especially Luke, having to grapple with the truth of his father and his lonely path to becoming a Jedi—have had to be crammed into a singular year in the timeline just makes them feel even more insane.

Whatever’s next for Star Wars comics at Marvel remains unknown. Today’s news only came with the vague promise of more information to come on the “new era” of comics in the coming weeks, rather than definitive confirmation of when they’ll be set. We could go immediately after Return of the Jedi and fill in some of the gaps still floating around in that period (Marvel already did that in small part in Shattered Empire, during the “Journey to The Force Awakens” transmedia initiative). There’s 30 years still largely unexplored between Jedi and The Force Awakens that are ripe for more storytelling opportunities. Hell, they could even start doing what they did for the original trilogy with the sequels, going between movies volume by volume. Or the prequels! The comics could go back in time as much as they’ve gone forward.

There’s so many possibilities that open up now that this particularly wild era of Star Wars comics is coming to an end—hopefully the next era will find somewhere with more room to breathe.

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