Ewok Corner: The State of the EU

April 9, 2015 at 12:00 am | Posted in Books, Comic Books, Ewok Corner, Marvel, Opinion, Regular Feature, Star Wars, Star Wars Books | 2 Comments
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Ewok_Corner_smallThe State of the EU

According to Disney, the old Star Wars Expanded Universe, the vast wealth of stories, comics and novels, are all a part of Legends now. Moving forward, books and comics are a part of canon. So far we have seen Del Rey and Marvel both take their their first steps in the realm of canon with A New Dawn, Star Wars, Tarkin, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Heir to the Jedi and Kanan: The Last Padawan. These tentative first steps have tread lightly on the expanded universe we used to know. However, this Fall, that will all change with the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

It was first announced on EW.com and followed up by further announcements on StarWars.com that the lead up to the release of The Force Awakens would be preceded by over 20 new books. From sticker books for kids to a new adult novel from Del Rey, the publishing lineup is all a part of their Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens campaign. Among those involved are Marvel, Del Rey, DK Books, Studio Fun International, Egmont UK, Topps, Phoenix International Publications, Disney-Lucasfilm Press and Disney Publishing Worldwide.

At first, book lovers rejoiced at the initial announcement, “Twenty new books!” Then reality and the details dawned on us. Yes, 20 new books, but really it’s just two new Marvel comics and one new Star Wars novel with a few extra young reader stories that may or may not be of interest to adult readers. I don’t think there are too many people excited by new sticker books or look and find books.

So, what does Aftermath have in store for us? What will it mean for Star Wars readers? And how will it affect Legends?

The biggest impact will be the direction of the new post Return of the Jedi era. Up until now, the canon novels and comics have not touched on anything that occurs after the events of Return of the Jedi. In the previous incarnation of the expanded universe, the post-ROTJ era was very popular with fans and widely explored in both books and comics. We were shown a version of history where Luke went on to found a new Jedi order. Han and Leia had kids who grew up to be Jedi. The Empire retreated into a small chunk of space that became the Imperial Remnant. Dozens of enemies challenged our heroes, threatened the galaxy, and were defeated through hard won battles. But with all that being Legends, including Ewok smugglers and lightsaber wielding Hutts, Aftermath will begin the work of steamrolling all those old stories under a new road of pavement.

This endeavor is also falling into the hands of an author who has never written a Star Wars story before. Chuck Wendig is certainly an established author with a strong fanbase, but for many Star Wars readers, this will be the first book they’ve read by him. On top of that, the expectations will be higher than ever. Because of the time placement of Aftermath, it will be competing with the likes of Timothy Zahn’s classic Heir to the Empire, one of the cornerstones of the old expanded universe. Heir to the Empire not only brought us the first adventure in novel format of Luke’s post-ROTJ experiences, but it supercharged fandom and created a new generation of readers. Wendig will have quite the hill to climb if he’s going to match that kind of success, let alone assuage the wounds of Star Wars readers who will be mourning the loss of the EU as Aftermath plows over it.

As a long time reader of the books myself, and as someone who got started with Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy which included Heir to the Empire, I can certainly relate to those fans clinging to the EU. While I’m not averse to the new canon stories—I’ve actually enjoyed them quite a bit—it will be a challenge to read a new version of events. Will Luke start a new Jedi order? Will he fall in love with Mara Jade again? Will Han and Leia still have kids and get married? Will Pellaeon still be a prominent figure in the Empire? Will Thrawn exist? So many questions, and just one book to get us all started, Aftermath will need to tread carefully if it wants to be a success.

Then there is the world of comics and namely Marvel’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire #1. I have to admit, I’m a lot less attached to comics, and when put on par with it’s predecessor, Dark Empire, the expectations for Shattered Empire #1 are lot less intimidating than those imposed on Aftermath. Still, Shattered Empire #1 will have to face the same storytelling reboot factors. And let’s face it, the EU is getting rebooted. Aftermath and Shattered Empire #1 will be replacing the old stories of Legends. So far, Marvel hasn’t been doing too bad with their Star Wars line. The main Star Wars title is fun and off to a great start. Darth Vader and Princess Leia are both off exploring characters in interesting situations, though not as well as Kanan: The Last Padawan, which is really raising the bar. However, as of yet, we have no idea who is writing Shattered Empire #1 or who will be handling the interior art. All we know is that Phil Noto did the teaser image for it.

Rounding out these two front runners is a supporting cast of young reader novels. Historically, these books can be hit and miss depending on the author and the reading level, at least when we’re holding them up to adult readers looking for their Star Wars fix. Sometimes they can be really good, like Ryder Windham’s The Wrath of Darth Maul. In this case we’re getting Smuggler’s Run: A Han Solo Adventure by Greg Rucka, The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry, Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci and Lost Stars by Claudia Gray. Most of the authors are new to the Star Wars universe, save veteran Star Wars author Jason Fry. So, giving them the benefit of the doubt, can these YA books help fill the void of the EU? Can they add an extra wallop to Aftermath and Shattered Empire #1, giving Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens the punch it needs to win fans over?

I think the answer is going to lie with risks. To win big, you have to bet big. You have to be ambitious. If the storytellers are willing to introduce bold new characters to captivate readers, to lay out innovative plots to spin the wheels in our minds, and to tie it all in with the familiar feel of the galaxy far, far away, then the journey this Fall will be one we can all enjoy. For now, this Ewok remains optimistic.

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot. The Thinking Ewok.
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2 Comments »

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  1. I think one of the things that concerns me is that I have only enjoyed A New Dawn so far (Lords of the Sith is waiting on my kindle to read still. Strangely it has been the comics for the most part that have been really hitting out of the park for me, for the most part). That on top of replacing my first entry into Star Wars books, The Thrawn Trilogy, which was a very good beginning and felt like Episodes 7-9, it’s tough. I guess in the end I am comfortable with Thrawn and that comfort is about to be upset and I just want it to be as good as the trilogy was, at least. I’m not going to be one of the fans that just hates things because they replaced something I liked. I want to love the Star Wars that comes out, especially the canon stuff, but is needs to be good. Tarkin and Heir to the Jedi were big letdowns for me, but after ROTJ, that’s where the rubber really hits the road, crossing my fingers it is good.

  2. You know, that’s a good point. The Thrawn Trilogy felt like the movies, each having an episodic feel, and all three coming together to make a trilogy. That’s one thing the new canon novels have not capture and that’s the movie feel of Star Wars. On the other hand, Marvel captured it perfectly with Star Wars #1.


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