Marvel editor Jordan White is charged with stewardship of two galaxies, one that includes the Marvel's planet Earth, and another far, far away...
In the first half of our interview with White, he discussed Marvel's expanding Deadpool line. In addition to his Deadpool duties, White has been overseeing Marvel's Star Wars line of comics and is about to take over as editor of the Guardians of the Galaxy titles.
In the second part of our interview, White talks about writer Brian Michael Bendis' final Guardians of the Galaxy story, "Grounded," which sees the cosmic adventurers stuck on Earth, as well as the recently announced Star Wars Doctor Aphra ongoing series, and more.
Also, check out some preview art pages from Guardians of the Galaxy #15, Rocket Raccoon #1, Doctor Aprha #1, and Star Wars #25 in the gallery below.
You’re taking over as editor for the Guardians of the Galaxy books. They’re about to kick off the “Grounded” arc, which will be the last for Brian Michael Bendis and sees the team stuck on Earth. Which of the Guardians would you say is best adjusted to Earth life, and which would you say has the hardest time?
Jordan White: You'd certainly think that Star-Lord would have it easiest, being from Earth, but he does not, in the sense that he's so acclimated to outer space society and how to live out there that he does not remember how to live here on Earth at all. In his book, Chip Zdarsky is launching that book and talking about what he goes through trying to live a normal life or a normal-ish life, is pretty great and pretty hectic.
That said, I think Rocket definitely has it worse because Rocket hates this place with a passion. He cannot wait to get out of there. On some level, I would say Drax would have it worse because he's so different but he also doesn't freak out as much as Rocket does. He's able to deal with things a little bit better than Rocket is. Same with Gamora who, again, she doesn't want to be here but she doesn't overreact quite as much as Rocket does. In Rocket's series, he is no stranger to trouble and he causes a lot of it being stuck here.
Those two books are going to focus on their stories, obviously, and then Brian Bendis is going to focus on all the other characters much more in the main Guardians book. We've got a great story about what happens when Thing comes home, we got an awesome Groot story coming up for what Groot does on Earth and what he thinks of what's going on on this planet. It's some neat stuff.
I think it’s interesting that you pointed to Star-Lord and Rocket, the two Guardians who could actually pass for Earth creatures – Star-Lord being a human, and Rocket looking like a raccoon – as the ones who struggle the most with being on Earth.
JW: Sure. I think that definitely adds to Rocket's frustration. If you see a giant green man with swords and knives and stuff, you're probably going to let him do whatever he wants and clear the way for him. If you see a little raccoon thing people are apt to thinking he's cute or thinking they know what he's about, which Rocket does not enjoy.
Brian Michael Bendis is a writer who tends to leave a lasting mark on a series. For example, he's remembered for Avengers Disassembled and launching New Avengers, and for bringing the original X-Men back in All-New X-Men. What do you think Bendis’ lasting legacy, his big contribution, to Guardians of the Galaxy will be remembered as?
JW: Brian has been the only writer to write the series since this version, which then obviously became the movie version, came out. Obviously, they're similar to the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning run, but Brian's book launched a little bit before the movie with the exact movie team and everything. I think people will remember Brian as the person who brought them the joy and the fun of the movie into the comic. He nailed the humor.
The thing that Brian is best at is writing characters and writing characters interacting with each other in realistic and fun ways. That's why his Guardians team feels so vivid and like each of them are distinct and real and you believe every interaction between Rocket and Star-Lord, between Star-Lord and various people, including of course Kitty and Iron Man and Captain Marvel. I think he brought a connection from the Guardians to the Marvel universe as well by having them meet the Avengers on a regular basis, by having them have Earth-based heroes on the team on a regular basis. Again, as much fun as the Abnett and Lanning series definitely was, it was always very separate. There was the cosmic universe and there was the Earth universe. If you went from one to the other that was permanent, whereas nowadays it's much freer. The Guardians are part of the giant scope of the Marvel universe and it's all one thing.
You may have heard that the Guardians of the Galaxy have another movie coming out in 2017. Obviously, that means it's going to be a big year for the Guardians in pop culture, and then they’ll be the creative shift in the comics. I’m sure you don’t want to say too much, but is there anything you tease out for fans who are awaiting another big year for Guardians?
JW: I certainly can't say too much, but I will say we are already hard at work on the next volume of Guardians of the Galaxy and we are looking to make a big splash when we kick it off. I don't want to say too much about it because, again, Brian has a lot of great stuff planned for the end of his run and I don't want to take the spotlight off of him. He's wrapping up an awesome epic run on Guardians and I don't want to take anything away from that.
In addition to now handling the cosmic heroes of the Marvel Universe, you’re also the editor for Marvel’s Star Wars line. We just heard the announcement that Doctor Aphra from the now concluded Darth Vader series is getting her own ongoing series, making her the first character created in comics since Marvel took over publishing Star Wars comics to get such treatment. How and when did you and your team, including writer Kieron Gillen, realize that Aphra could be a breakout character?
JW: I don't know the exact time but it was definitely around the time when we realized that we would be winding up the Darth Vader run. We were nearing the end of Kieron’s story and that would be coming to a close. Aphra, as soon as she got into the series, everybody fell in love with her, from Kieron to us, the editors, and then thankfully readers as well. We had such a blast reading about her and of course her droid companions that sometimes steal the show from her. Knowing that we all liked her so much, we did wonder if there was something that we could do with that.
At first, we had to talk to Kieron because, I think Kieron might have discussed this in some interviews, it was very unclear whether she could live through Darth Vader, whether there's a way to save her. If Darth Vader wants you dead there's a very good chance you're dead. Thankfully Kieron came up with what we think is a brilliant way to save her from him. Then he said to us, "We can talk about doing an ongoing." He definitely did not want to spoil her survival, which is why we have kept it quiet for so long what the series was going to be.
What do you think it is about Aphra that makes her resonate so well with Star Wars fans?
JW: I don't know that there's a ton of characters like her out there. Obviously the main Star Wars saga focuses on the rebel heroes and Han Solo is similar to her in that he is a very roguish character, but he's a roguish character who is learning how to care about something and do the right thing, whereas Dr. Aphra has not learned that and it doesn't look like she's learning that anytime soon. She's a charming selfish roguish character who still is interested in doing what's best for her, what will get her the most profit and/or what is the best adventure that will pique her interest in the ways of what you might want to call “evil archaeology.” It's not evil archaeology but she doesn't use it for good, that's for sure.
The Star Wars comics are somewhat unique in that they’re technically based on a movie, but rather than just borrowing from those films, you can actually add to the canon of the Star Wars universe. What’s it like being able to have a verse in the Star Wars saga by adding new characters like Aphra?
JW: It's terrific. Both Jason Aaron and Kieron and the artists as well have talked about how amazing and wonderful it was that we were able to show the moment, both in Star Wars #6 and in Darth Vader #6, where Vader learns that his son is alive. That's such a big and important and powerful moment and the fact that we got to have it in our comics first, that's the moment right there. That's amazing. That's so cool.
Then, like you said, being able to bring in new characters like Aphra, like Triple Zero and Beetee, like Black Krrsantan, it's neat. We are holding our breath for the days when those characters appear in something other than our comics, whether that be a video game or a cartoon or, total dream obviously, a movie. You never know.
Have you and the writers ever spent time fantasy casting for such a movie role or even an appearance on Star Wars Rebels?
JW: We haven't. I don't have a good answer for that, unfortunately. I'm surprised that we haven't because it's definitely the kind of thing I would do. I don't think I could do it off the top of my head unfortunately but I'm open to suggestions. People should tweet at me who they think should play them.
Marvel Star Wars comics so far have been primarily focused on the time period between Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. There’s an obvious reason for that in that Han Solo isn’t frozen in carbonite, but even so, has there been any discussion of exploring the time between The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi?
JW: There's been a discussion of it in general as a concept as “Is this something we'd be looking to do?” Like you said, for the main book especially we like the fact that we have all of the main heroes in this period. It's definitely the most appealing to us for that reason. The reason we try to set most of the books then – not all of them, obviously we've done various books at different times - but the reason we set most of our books in that same period is because that way you can give the Star Wars line the same feeling as the Avengers line or the Spider-Man line or the X-Men line, that all the books take place in the same period and then they can be relevant to each other, they can cross over with each other, like say, as we did with "Vader Down." They can affect each other in that way.
Again, that won't ever stop us from doing other stories where there are good stories. Obviously, we did Obi-Wan and Anakin, we're happy about that, that was set much earlier. We do Poe Dameron, obviously. As projects come up we'll take them into whatever period they need to be, but our default setting for the time period is to set stories around the same time as we set the main series which, for now, is between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.