StarWars.com speaks with Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, and Mark Waid -- the writers of Marvel's just-announced Star Wars comics.
Marvel dropped a thermal detonator of an announcement at today's Cup o' Joe panel, revealing three new Star Wars comics helmed by all-star creative teams: Star Wars, an ongoing series by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday (coming January 2015); Star Wars: Darth Vader, an ongoing series by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca (coming February 2015); and Star Wars: Princess Leia, a five-issue miniseries by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson (coming March 2015). All canonical within the Star Wars universe, each book will pick up where Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope left off, filling in important, previously unexplored gaps for some of the saga's most iconic characters. To put it simply, this is very big news.
StarWars.com spoke with Aaron, Gillen, and Waid -- the writers of each title -- to find out what readers can expect from these historic comics.
JASON AARON -- STAR WARS
Jason Aaron comes to Star Wars having completed an incredible run of both critical and commercial hits, including memorable work on Marvel's Wolverine, Wolverine and the X-Men, and the current event series Original Sin, as well his creator-owned title, Scalped.
StarWars.com: To start off, I just wanted to ask: How excited are you?
Jason Aaron: It feels great so far. We've been working on it for awhile now. It feels good now to finally be able to talk about it. The whole thing has been exciting.
StarWars.com: How exactly did you get paired with this particular title?
Jason Aaron: Axel Alonso, the [Marvel] editor in chief, called me up one day and said, "Star Wars," and I said, "I'm in." [Laughs] There was not much more to it. That was not long after everybody realized the Star Wars comics were going to be transitioning over to Marvel. It was a very simple conversation. I didn't really need to think about it. It kind of threw my schedule for the year into chaos and that's why I had to shuffle some things around. That's why I had to leave the X-Men book I was doing, but I never gave it a second thought. It was the kind of job you couldn't say no to.
StarWars.com: Can you talk about Star Wars' impact or influence on you?
Jason Aaron: I can't remember when I first saw Episode IV. I do remember seeing Empire Strikes Back very clearly in the theater. My mom took me and one of my friends, and my friend's older brother. And the older brother had already seen it, so he kept wanting to tell us everything that was going to happen. "Oh, this part is going to be great. He's going to cut the tauntaun open and stick Luke in there. This is awesome, just wait." So we had to tell him to shut the hell up.
StarWars.com: Good thing he didn't have the Internet back then.
Jason Aaron: [Laughs] Exactly. I still have my original Darth Vader action figure case packed with all my figures. So yeah, it was a huge part of my childhood, and as an adult, I never really thought much about being able to contribute to that universe. I feel very lucky that it kind of fell right into my lap.
StarWars.com: I know you can't talk about too many specifics, but what can we expect from your book?
Jason Aaron: John Cassaday and I and everybody at Marvel have been on the same page since the get-go. We wanted this to feel like the movies. We wanted to feel like we were hired to do the direct sequel to the original film. So in terms of look, feel, and tone, that's what we're shooting for. It's very much a team book and we've got all the main players here. Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, the droids, and Darth Vader all get big moments in this first arc, and that's our core cast going forward. I do want to be able to use Obi-Wan Kenobi. I've always liked the old Ben Kenobi version of Obi-Wan, so we will see him in some capacity.
Story wise, I think our book is driven in some big way by Luke and by the pretty interesting spot we find him in at this period in the timeline. You look at the gap between Episodes IV and V and there's quite a bit that happens off screen that we get to explore. I'm really excited by the fact that Luke is in this position where he's still a guy who's just fresh off the farm. This is all pretty new to him. His world has changed completely. He had this mentor for five minutes who now is dead and leaves him with all these questions about his father, about his history, and where he goes from here, and what's his role in the grand scheme of things. I think Luke already can see that clearly there's something special about him. He was able to blow up the Death Star and do this amazing thing, but he has no idea where to go from here. He still has a ways to go before Ben whispers in his ear and says, "Hey, maybe you should see this guy Yoda." So it's an interesting time for Luke. He's on this journey of discovery by himself, and he wants to find out more about his father. Meanwhile, Darth Vader's chasing after him trying to find out who's this guy that blew up the Death Star. I like the fact that they're kind of chasing each other, without realizing the full implication of what they're chasing. Luke's chasing after his dad while running away from Vader. There's a lot of cool big beats in that gap that we get to grab and lay down as part of the canon.
StarWars.com: One of my favorite things you've written, both as a character and as a series, is Wolverine, and Han Solo is maybe the closest thing that Star Wars has to a Wolverine. So I'm really excited to see your take on Han.
Jason Aaron: I think Han's in an interesting spot at this point in the timeline, too. He's hooked up with the Rebels in some capacity. I think it's still a question mark for him at that point as to what is his role in this Rebellion and how much of a role does he want to have, and how long is he even going to stick around? I like the fact that he wakes up probably every morning thinking, "You know, today's the day that I gotta get the hell out of here. This is not my fight, this is not who I am. I gotta go deal with my own stuff." But clearly, for whatever reason, every morning he sticks around. So I like writing him in that position. We don't know how fully committed he is to this Rebellion, and we're in the very early stages of his relationship with Leia. That stuff is all cool. And of course, you know with Han, eventually his past is going to start catching up to him. So we'll see that happen, and in new ways. Not just, "Hey, there's a bounty hunter showing up to grab Han." I think we've seen those stories before, so I want to something a little different. And I want to have some beats for Chewie too, beyond being just Han's sidekick and co-pilot. We'll get to see Chewie unleashed in cool ways, too, I think.
StarWars.com: Since your book focuses on the bigger picture and doesn't have a singular character focus, will we see characters from other parts of the saga? Possibly someone from the prequels or the later movies?
Jason Aaron: Yeah, absolutely. I want to do as much of that as I can. You have to dance between the raindrops in some capacity, but absolutely. Even though, again, the core idea is to recreate the tone and feel of those original films, it doesn't mean we have to be beholden to how we were introduced to those characters in the course of that timeline. So yeah, I want to dump the toys on the table and mix them up in some different ways. I think you'll see Kieron doing that, as well, [with Star Wars: Darth Vader]. Whether that means characters you don't meet until Empire or Jedi, or characters that we met in the prequels, or maybe some of the new stuff coming up, I think all of that can be in play. As long as it still feels true to that tone and that feel we're going for. There'll be new characters we bring in, as well.
StarWars.com: Can you talk about working with John Cassaday on the book and what you think of his work so far?
Jason Aaron: The book doesn't start until January, but we've been working on it for a bit now, so there are scripts written and there are pages drawn and multiple covers. It's moving right along. The stuff John's doing looks awesome.
I don't know if you know just from John's work quite how big a Star Wars fan he is. When we went out and did our meetings with Lucasfilm, we got to do a tour of the Ranch and we got to go to the Archives. You know, we're looking at these shelves piled with lightsabers and blasters and spaceships. It's pretty cool. But as we're doing that, John was clearly the biggest Star Wars nerd out of all of us. [Laughs] He knew more about what we were looking at than I think anybody else. You could tell right away that this was something in his wheel house and something he was excited about. I think when you see the pages and the covers and everything, that passion is shining through. Of course, it's no surprise that John Cassaday draws really well. I think we've seen that plenty of times before, but you may not know how passionate he is about Star Wars. He already had character ideas about what Luke should be wearing and what Leia should be wearing. He already had a pretty clear vision for that from the earliest days of us talking.
StarWars.com: Are you in alignment with Kieron Gillen and Mark Waid? Will things that happen in your book be mentioned or referenced in their books?
Jason Aaron: Yeah. That's kind of what we're used to doing at Marvel. If you work in the X-Men office, there are several different X-Men titles that fit together. I think especially, the book Kieron is doing and my book will feel like two different sides of the same coin. You'll see, from time to time, where the books come together and where they go apart. Vader, in my book, plays a very specific role. And then in Kieron's book you get to kind of peek behind the curtain and see what it's like on the Empire side of things. So, yeah, we'll be working very closely with all that stuff.
StarWars.com: Finally, these comics are in continuity with the overall saga. What does it mean to you to be writing Star Wars stories that count just as much as the movies do?
Jason Aaron: That part's kind of gravy. Of course, I didn't really know anything about that when I took the job. I just said, "Sure, Star Wars comic, I'm down." That certainly frees us all up to go back to the original source material. It was really refreshing when I sat down to say, "Well, what do I need to do, research-wise?" Well, I have to go watch one movie, that original film, and that's all you need to know coming into this. [Laughs] Certainly, you take advantage of the fact that we know where the story is going and where it's been, in terms of the other movies and everything else that's part of the canon. But I found it really refreshing and freeing to go back to that original film and kind of remember what it was like to first see that movie and first get introduced to that world as a kid. I wanted to recapture that same sort of excitement and feel. That's pretty much what we're going for with this book.
Enjoy these special preview pages from Star Wars #1.