With Disney having acquired both Marvel Comics and Star Wars, it made sense we'd see the return of Marvel Comics in charge of the Star Wars comics again. Once the Dark Horse contract expired, Marvel welcomed back Star Wars in spectacular fashion! The stories are focused, tightly written, and exciting -- filling in the gaps between episodes IV and V.
The main Star Wars book, written by Jason Aaron, puts his "world building" talents to use - creating a believable experience to thrust our heroes from one adventure to another. The first 4 issues have been released, and they did a pretty resounding job of capturing whats great about Star Wars. I especially liked the focus on Luke Skywalker. Having the limelight stolen away by the charismatic Harrison Ford - it feels good to see Luke finally getting his due. In these issues Luke isn't exactly a Jedi yet - in fact, he's swatted away by Darth Vader like a fly. BUT - his notoriety for destroying the Death Star captures Darth Vader's attention (explaining who he knew to hunt for, in episode 5). A trip back to Tatooine is in order, which I'm excited to see.
The art by John Cassaday has been stellar, to say the least. He delivers art that not only pleases you with a photo-realistic style, but is also imbued with acting for everyone's depictions. Darth Vader comes off especially menacing. I was sad to hear that Cassaday is leaving the title so soon; I hope he'll come back for another arc. In the meantime, though, Stuart Immonen will take over starting with issue #8.
Meanwhile, Darth Vader has been making his own waves in his first on-going comic series. Written by Kieron Gillen, Darth Vader returns to prominence as the ultimate evil villain he always was. Darth Vader has a lot of schemes and plans going on - much of it behind the emperor's back. Even when he's simply talking, or dealing with internal politics, he's menacing -- just imagining James Earl Jones' voice with this dialogue is a joy.
Salvador Larroca supplies to the art for Darth Vader. While Larroca's style is more photo realistic, he makes you believe in these scenes with Darth Vader. I've especially been pleased to see illusions to Darth Vader's past. I've never been one of those prequel hating fans -- and these scenes are nicely added, delivering a better melding of those two sides together, of Anakin and Vader. Just seeing Vader on an adventure reminds me of all the action he saw as Anakin during the Clone Wars; and seeing it match up in the comic is really wonderful to see.
Some new characters have been added in Darth Vader's secret arsenal - one being Doctor Aphra, a trill seeking archeologist two repair ancient droids. She repairs and puts together two nasty droids for Vader -- an evil C3PO and R2D2. The first is versed in torture, while the later is armed to the teeth.
Only a few issues of Star Wars and Darth Vader comics have been made so far, but already I'm hooked! Greg Rucka has a 4-issue limited series coming up, Shattered Empire, examining what happened to the empire after the 6th film. Already a limited series Princess Leia comic has proved successful, with a Lando comic coming up as well.
I hope Marvel keeps their A game going in these titles. While Star Wars comics have never been bad - their having drifted away from the main heros made them regrettably forgettable in many cases. With this sharp focus on filling in the gaps between films, I feel more assured these titles will remain relevant for the foreseeable future.