Saturday at the annual "Cup O' Joe" panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego, Marvel's Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada revealed the as-expected news that it'll be launching a new Star Wars comics series. The surprise is that there's more than one, and who they picked to helm it.
This new "Star Wars" line at Marvel will be headed up by Star Wars by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday, who joined the panel upon the announcement by Quesada. The series, which will begin in January 2015, is primed to take place just after the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode VI, Marvel's Star Wars series looks to follow in the pronouncements or the upcoming Star Wars movies and be unconnected to the previous "Expanded Universe" continuity of Star Wars set up in licensed media such as books, video games, and of course Dark Horse's comics.
In an interview with USA Today published online concurrently with the announcement at the convention, Aaron says that the series will focus on the core cast from the original movie -- Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, C-3PO and R2-D2, and that he's writing it as if he was hired to do a sequel to Episode IV but knowing where the stories eventually go with the ensuing movie sequels.
Aaron & Cassaday's Star Wars title will be flanked by two more series -- February's Star Wars: Darth Vader ongoing by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca, and a five issue Star Wars: Princess Leia series by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson launching in March.
Jordan D. White, who is editing the "Star Wars" books, says that Star Wars: Darth Vader explores how the Jedi-turned-Sith went from being the lone survivor of the Battle of Yavin who was derided by some Imperial leaders to being the more feared presence in Star Wars, Episode V: Empire Strikes Back. Starring in his own series doesn't preclude the Sith lord from appearing in the primary Star Wars comic series, as in a seperate interview with USA Today Gillen says his interactions with that particular group of rebels is only part of his workload.
"Conversely in my book, that's what he does on Tuesdays," the British writer tells USA Today. "He is desperately overworked, and he is trying to do so much stuff between what he's doing for the Emperor and doing what he needs to do to create his own thing."
Gillen goes further in the USA Today interview, comparing Vader's derision amongst the Empire after the destruction of the Death Star to his heights by the time Empire Strikes rolls around to the career trajectory of Frank Underwood in Netflix's House of Cards series.
"[Darth Vader is a] man who's worked inside a system for a long time, feels slighted by it and now turns to methods that he wouldn't always have done previously," Gillen explains.
Senior Vice President of Development C.B. Cebulski chimed in to add that fans of Boba Fett should watch this book, ominously.
Star Wars: Princess Leia will follow the Alderaanian princess as she tries to find a place for herself after the destruction of her planet and the planet-wide murder of the only family she knew in the first Star Wars movie.
"Our story is essentially that she can either choose to be the princess of nothing or she can own up to her responsibilities and, as a leader, politician and princess, do what she can to rebuild Alderaan," Waid says in an interview with USA Today.
While only five issues, Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso said that Star Wars: Princess Leia will be the first in revolving door of Star Wars miniseries for the line.
At one point during the panel, a fan asked if any original characters from Marvel's first run of Star Wars comics from the late 1970s and early 1980s would appear in this second tenure with the franchise. To that, Aaron said, jokingly we believe, that he would try everything he could to get Jaxxon, a green-ish bunny-looking alien created by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin for the Marvel Star Wars comics, past White to include in the book.
Going from Lucasfilm space to Marvel space, comics writer Brian Michael Bendis was also on-hand to announce he is working with former Green Arrow artist Andrea Sorrentino on an over-sized one-shot in the fall, Uncanny X-Men Annual #1. The story, Sorrentino's first for Marvel, concerns the recently introduced time-traveling mutant Eva Bell and her recent displacement in time which saw her age in just a matter of panels. Come back to Newsarama Sunday morning for an interview with Sorrentino on this book.
Bendis also said that big plans are afoot for Marvel's Ultimate line that will prompt more buzz about the books in about six months. Over on his 616 books Uncanny X-Men and All-New X-Men, Bendis says a planned "Trial of Hank McCoy" story-arc will deliberate over perceived mistakes Beast has made in recent time such as bringing the time-tossed original X-Men to the present.
During the audience Q&A, a con-goer asked if the publisher had any stories or series coming up featuring a transgender character to allow more diversity. Alonso did confirm discussions have taken place, and could appear soon. Marvel has featured transgender characters in the past, such as Xavin in Runaways but not in a prominent, central role.
Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott was also on hand to talk about the forthcoming "Spider-Verse" crossover event, and said that the former Spider-Man Otto Octavius of Superior Spider-Man fame -- would be returning in a way as the location of the villain's brain would be a central part of the winter event.
Speaking of coming back from the dead, it was noted that Marvel was discussing reviving the Marvel Zombies title which had several successful miniseries in the early to mid-2000s.