May the Force Be With You! Welcome to MTFBWY #2, the second of our new weekly Star Wars column here at ComicBook.com. The second edition comes after a week full of news and rumors about my favorite franchise, with casting possibilities for the spin-offs, plus news that Darth Vader #1, the second launching comic from Marvel’s new lineup and debuting later this month, is clocking in at over 300,000 copies sold.
ComicBook.com can also confirm today that Princess Leia #1, the third launch, is currently at over 200,000 copies preordered by comic retailers. That one debuts in March, and collectively this makes a linewide launch that is … most impressive.
Elsewhere around the Star Wars Internet, and while it was covered yesterday, I felt it was important to tell you that there is now a Star Wars Game Humble Bundle. It’s active for the next 13 days and features many old favorites. For the uninitiated, Humble Bundle is a pay-what-you-want service featuring bundles of games, comic books, and other fun and usually geeky things. The bundles always support a charity or two; this one is going to Star Wars: Force for Change and Unicef. Currently, the base bundle contains Knights of the Old Republic, Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, and Dark Forces. If you pay more than the average (at press time, it sat at $11.32), you also get Star Wars: Battlefront 2, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, and Star Wars: Republic Commando, plus more games that are added later to the bundle. If you pay $12 or more (so literally 68 more cents here), you also get Empire at War: Gold Pack, The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition, and Force Unleashed 2. Whew. The games are all given to you as Steam keys, meaning they’re for Windows, but a handful are also for Mac. If you’ve missed out on even one or two of these, or it’s just been a long time since you’ve played KOTOR and you don’t have those discs anymore, then hop to it.
And that brings us to this week’s hashtag, #FaveStarWarsCharacter. Let’s see what you folks had to say:
@LucasSiegel Suave, good business man, and has a unique composure with his personality. He's Han Solo but with better business sense— Chris Arrant (@chrisarrant) February 4, 2015
Yes, folks, we have two votes for Threepio, including further down below from our guest this week...
#FaveStarWarsCharacter Darth Maul. Because of his ferocity, skills and hatred of the Jedi . Later, we find out he's cunning and organized.— Hasan Scarborough (@KGUN4LIFE) February 4, 2015
Plus a couple from Facebook:
Marshal Honorof: "Corran Horn. He started off as a bit of a Mary Sue (he's an X-Wing pilot AND a Jedi AND all the girls want him? Awesome!), but he really came into his own later in the New Republic era and the New Jedi Order [novel] series.
I dig Corran because even though he's unconventional and does things his own way, he still respects an organization's hierarchy and tries to play by the rules whenever possible. Acting as a mentor to Tahiri helped give him a sense of responsibility. He's just a good all-purpose character. If you need a major plot point taken care of and the Main Cast is busy, Corran is your man.
And his lightsaber is both silver AND purple. C'mon now."
Lan Pitts: "Vader or Luke. I mean I still think Star Wars is Anakin's story and everything else is consequences of his actions. He did some vile shit and even at the end of the day, he saved his son."
Jill Scharr: "Jaina Solo! She was born into such high expectations, and being the Chief of State's daughter and one of the first new Jedi often didn't sit well with the rebellious personality she inherited from both her parents. But when Jaina is needed--and she's always needed; she's saved the galaxy like a dozen times now--she always puts other people's needs before her own."
As for me, I struggle with this one a lot. I don’t have an instant-answer favorite like many of my respondees do. A couple of my nominees definitely come from the “Legends” lineup. So many amazing stories and characters have come from that world, including but not limited to Mara Jade, Starkiller, Jaina and Jacen Solo… Ultimately, my favorite character is probably Obi-Wan Kenobi, and that’s largely thanks to The Clone Wars. He gained a lot of nuance over those six seasons, and while he’s a Jedi Master, he still struggles with things like his feelings and relationships; ultimately he shows incredible dedication to the order, the galaxy, and his fellow Jedi, and sacrifices any semblance of his own life to live in a cave in the desert. What a guy.
You can still join in the fun of this week's hashtag on twitter and in the comments. Next week's hashtag is: #StarWarsFirst, and it's borrowed from my pals at the Full of Sith podcast, who ask this question to all their guests: What/when was your first exposure to Star Wars, or your first memory of it?
Part two of the column this week brings in one of the newest members of the Star Wars Story Group, Marvel Comics editor Jordan D. White. A life-long fan of the franchise, White tells us about the goals for the line, his pleasant surprise at getting to work on the creative side of this franchise, and even gives us some nice little hints and teases about what’s coming up in Vader and beyond!
Jordan, what would you say your overall goal is for the Star Wars line at Marvel?
Jordan D. White: The overall goal is always to make the best books possible, to put out books that people love and want to keep reading for many years to come. Our hope is that it will be as big and as strong of a line as any of our other lines, as Avengers, and X-Men, and Spider-Man, and that people will view it as a giant and important, vital part of the Star Wars story, that they’ll come back every month and feel like they’re continuing the saga.
What would you say you’re doing specifically to bring in fans who are already big Star Wars fans?
Jordan: That’s a really broad category of people! (laughs) Obviously, from the books we’re putting out right now, you can tell that we’re leaning into the classic Star Wars imagery and characters with our starting books. Our first three books all take place right after A New Hope [the very first live-action film]; we’re trying to go back to the beginning. Since Lucasfilm changed the Expanded Universe to Legends, and that’s not the official ongoing canon right now, we thought the best thing to do was go back to the very beginning and start fresh.
Anyone who’s a fan of Star Wars, whether their favorite part is the original trilogy, the Expanded Universe, anything, they probably like A New Hope! (laughs) I hope so! So we thought that would be the touchstone, the place to go back to, the beginning. As things go forward, obviously, we’re going to be adding more and more stuff, and reaching out broader into that galaxy. We’ve got a Kanan book coming up in April, which takes please even earlier than the Rebels cartoon series. With such a giant timeline to explore, I’m sure eventually we’ll be getting into every piece of it. But we wanted to start at the touchstone, the base that everyone who knows Star Wars knows this. Then, we can start branching out.
I know some people were disappointed that we’re focusing so much on movie characters. My answer to that is, again, that’s where we’re starting. There’s so much time and so much opportunity to explore more, but this is the best way to put our best foot forward, and get more readers to check it out. The more readers we have, the more opportunity we have to tell more stories!
There are some people that maybe don’t like Star Wars or haven’t gotten into the franchise previously (yet, hopefully). What can you do to bring people in, if this is their first taste?
Jordan: (laughs) Well, on some level, I say, that’s crazy.
I’m inclined to agree with you, as I’m looking at my shelves with hundreds of Star Wars books and comics on them right now…
Jordan: (laughs) Right! I mean, I would say, the thing we’re doing for that is that we are bringing out the top talent of Marvel. You could be a big Marvel Comics fan who doesn’t care about Star Wars, but want to check it out because Jason Aaron and John Cassaday are so terrific, and because Kieron Gillen and Sal Larocca are doing such an awesome job on Vader, etc. That being said, if you didn’t like Star Wars, you probably aren’t going to like our books! (laughs) That’s not a knock against our books, I think they’re great, but I love Star Wars! I would recommend probably watching at least A New Hope before reading these, but that’s me.
Fair enough. Now I know you editors can’t comment directly on sales, but we can confidently say that sales figures have been looking mighty nice. You’ve been in this zone: an amazing debut issue, we heard from Marvel SVP David Gabriel that #2 is in the 200 thousand range, with similar numbers or higher for Darth Vader #1, for Leia #1. What does it mean to you to have something that’s this successful right off the bat?
Jordan: I mean, it’s kind of crazy! I’ve never had a book that has done this well, I mean, obviously, because no one has had a book that’s done this well for 20 years! Working on the Deadpool Marvel NOW! launch was very gratifying, because I felt like we put together a great lineup for that, and it was very successful and so satisfying. This is crazy on another level, because it’s so much exponentially huger. The number of copies of issue one of this book that are out there is just impossible to even think about! But I can be very happy, because I’m very proud of the pages that are in this book. So for those millions of copies, without quoting an exact figure, (laughs), I can be confident that whoever gets it, they have a great comic in their hand. I think that anyone who gets it will be very satisfied, will say “that was great, I want to see issue 2!”
So it is, it is super crazy… I keep using the word crazy, but it is. It makes my head spin! I have been working on these books for – well I’ve known about them for over a year, and been actively working on them for at least a year, at the planning stages, getting the creative teams, and all these things. It’s so wonderful for it to pay off so well with people really liking the book as it comes out. At this point, issue two hits [today], and I can’t wait to see what people think of it. We ended the issue with Luke and Vader facing off, and I can’t wait to see what people think of how we handle it. I love it, myself, so we’ll see.
One of the things that people loved a lot, that I loved a lot, about the Expanded Universe, was that there were so many different styles of stories. There were different points of view, and tones, and even different genres. Is that something you guys are reaching towards right away, or at the start here are you trying for a more unified tone across the launch titles?
Jordan: I do think that we’re already going for different tones. The Darth Vader book is already different from the Star Wars book in that it’s darker; it’s twisted. It’s dark, but it’s dark with a twinkle in its eye. Kieron Gillen is good at coming up with some twisted and evil things. Some of the things coming up in that book, I don’t know what people are going to think of it. I don’t want to say I’m scared, that’s too far. (laughs) But I’m excited for the reaction, I cannot wait to hear it, whether they’re freaked out, or happy about it, whatever. It’s a very different book from what Jason is doing. Jason is doing a book that’s as close to the original trilogy as we can get, and Kieron’s book is the much darker companion book. Leia by Mark Waid and the Dodsons is also different, and we’ve got plans for way more stuff. The series after Leia, which I can’t talk about at all, has a very distinct feel, and a different tone from the other books.
So yeah, I do feel that the more we do, the more we’re able to explore this universe, the more we’ll branch out into different styles and ways of looking at it. Again, I can’t say too much because everything else is in very early planning stages, the later books.
You know, it was interesting that you guys had everything so ready to go. You knew you were able to start publishing Star Wars comics in January 2015, and you started publishing them in January 2015!
Jordan: Well, like I said, I’ve been actively working on the books for at least a year. Which is not to say the script to issue one came in a year ago, nothing that extreme, but we’ve been working, and it’s definitely the furthest ahead I’ve ever been able to be working on something. Obviously there’s been stuff we’ve known about at Marvel in the publishing plan for longer, but the fact this became a major part of my day so early on, we knew it would be very important to us and we wanted to treat it as such.
Awesome, well, I have to ask you this, just because I’d pay good money to be the proverbial fly on the wall at one of these meetings … What was it like the first time you sat down with the Star Wars story group? Getting to sit around and talk about the future of the franchise, as a fan, had to be insane.
Jordan: Absolutely. And you know, they’re all big fans as well! I mean, it’s great. I’ll be totally honest, it’s not entirely different from sitting around a Marvel Editorial retreat, when we’re sitting talking about superhero characters in the same way, it’s people who care deeply about them, know a lot about their history, and are talking about what’s best for them going forward, and what they want to do with them. It’s the same thing with Star Wars.
It’s not something I ever thought I’d get to do, Marvel’s one of my favorite things in the universe, and having committed myself to working at Marvel, I never thought, “eventually, I’ll be doing this with Star Wars!”
Not the first time we ever went out there, but the second time we went to Lucasfilm, and we brought Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, we were talking about what the story was going to be, and we were breaking that first story, figuring out the general direction for what Vader was going to be about too, and it was so wonderful. Again, everybody there is so into Star Wars, and is so knowledgeable and helpful: they want to tell the best stories possible. We had so many ideas flying around, then they’d say, “here’s something going on with this, so you can try that,” and it’d be great. New things, for example, I don’t move in the book world very much, so I don’t know the etiquette for spoiling books. I want to say something that was revealed in the Tarkin book that came out in November; with a comic if it came out last month we’d just talk about it …
I'll put in a SPOILER WARNING for the novel Tarkin and a specific Star Wars surprise!
That’s something in Tarkin that they told us early in this meeting. We were like, that is so cool! It immediately started the wheels spinning of what does that mean, how will it be represented? There’s a lot of neat things like that, where they were terrific about helping us tell the best stories possible.
So we had this great meeting that day, then all the Marvel people, we all went out to dinner and to a bar, and basically broke the story, came back and presented it the next day, and they thought it was awesome, gave us some feedback. It’s so cool, it’s so cool. We’re actually going back out to meet with them again on Monday, and I’m very excited about it!
Jordan: (laughs) Sure, sure, yeah …
So Star Wars #2 comes out today … Looking to the future, can you give us any kind of little teases for Darth Vader #1, something you’re really excited for fans to get to see?
Jordan: Oh, that’s tough. For Darth Vader #1, what is something I can tease without giving away too much … Well … oh, man …
I guess what I’ll say is, in Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader seems to be, in our opinion, at the height of his power. Everyone has to do what he says at all times, he chokes people on a whim whenever they dissatisfy him. That’s an interesting place to be in, considering he’s the sole survivor of the biggest defeat the Empire has ever faced. So things might not be so good for him in Darth Vader, and those status quos set up what we do in our story.
Excellent. Any wild spoilers or books coming up you want to tell people about?
Jordan: (laughs) Oh man, I want to tell you so many things! But I can’t… (laughs)
Well, I have to ask you the question of the week: Who is your personal favorite Star Wars character and why?
Jordan: (with no hesitation) It’s C-3PO. As for why, it’s not because I love being made fun of, because that is what happens when I tell people that C-3PO is my favorite… it’s because he’s super funny, and in a real charming way, he’s a bit of a coward and doesn’t know how to do anything properly. I just love that about him. I love how consistent he is, and that Anthony Daniels does his voice for everything, so you always get that “real” C-3PO. He’s terrific. He’s shiny, and looks awesome, I have a big 12” figure of him here on my desk. He’s fun to laugh, well, at, not with, and I love that about him.
That's all she wrote for this edition of MTFBWY. Hit us up in the comments and on twitter with #StarWarsFirst and your first Star Wars experience or memory. Finally, some parting words from C-3PO and R2D2:
So, knowing they have plans for expansion, what era of the greater Star Wars mythos do you most hope gets explored in upcoming comics? Sound off in the comments below!