Never Hesitated For A Second: Jason Aaron On Writing ‘Star Wars’ For Marvel [Interview]
Arguably the “biggest” announcement of Comic-Con weekend was Marvel’s unveiling of the creative teams for its first three all-new Star Wars comics. The new books have been hotly anticipated since plans for Marvel Star Wars books were first announced back in January, shortly after the company’s corporate parent, Disney, acquired Star Wars creator George Lucas’ Lucasfilm.
Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca will team for a Darth Vader ongoing series; Mark Waid and Terry Dodson will author a five-issue Princess Leia miniseries; and Jason Aaron and John Cassaday have been named as the creative team for a Star Wars ongoing series. The three series will launch through the first quarter of 2015, each telling original stories set between the events of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back — the obvious place within the original trilogy to expand the universe and explore the characters.
The core Star Wars title from Aaron and Cassaday will naturally focus on the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo as they go up against Darth Vader’s imperial forces. To learn more about the project, ComicsAlliance spoke with Aaron and series editor Jordan D. White (unfortunately Cassaday was not available for comment before publication time).
ComicsAlliance: Earlier this year, Marvel announced its plans to produce Star Wars comics. Jordan, is this one of those instances where people were beating down your door to pitch, or were you approaching specific creators for assignments? In other words, how did Jason and John land the book?
Jordan D. White: We’ve certainly had quite a number of people express interest in working on Star Wars since we announced that we’d be putting out their comics… but that being said, the team of Jason Aaron and John Cassaday was our top choice to launch the opening series long before we made the public announcement. We knew we wanted to come thundering out of the gate with a team that would do stories that tapped into that Star Wars feel, and we knew these guys could do it. In our first secret, cabal-like meetings between myself, [Marvel Editor in Chief] Axel Alonso, and [Senior Vice President, Creator & Content Development] CB Cebulski, the names we whispered in hushed tones were Aaron and Cassaday.
CA: What was the thinking, dramatically and otherwise strategically, about showing Luke, Han, and Leia, fresh from blowing up the Death Star? What was it about this point in the saga that appealed to you?
JDW: It’s definitely the sweet spot for the most Star Wars stories of all. Obviously, at this point, the saga has grown to encompass a lot, but it all started with that classic hero’s journey of Luke Skywalker. To kick off Marvel’s return to things, we wanted to bring it back to that very simple start and grow from there.
CA: Between the original Marvel run, books like Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, and the most recent “adjectiveless” Star Wars book at Dark Horse, this time period between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back has been heavily excavated. Lucasfilm’s canon cops have pretty much wiped the slate clean when it comes to these previous looks at the time period, but how much does this (now non-canon) stuff feed into the types of stories you’ll be telling? Do you lean on it, do you avoid it entirely?
JDW: We’re no strangers to parallel continuities, here at Marvel, given our core universe, the Ultimate Universe, the Cinematic Universe. That said, as you pointed out, we’re joining with Lucasfilm at an exciting time. Unlike the previous “extended universe”, the promise going forward is that any Star Wars stories we put out are part of the core canon, right along with the films and television series. To that end, we’ve been working closely with the Lucasfilm Story Group to make sure everything we do is in lock-step with their larger plans.
CA: Jason, I’m curious to know what was it about Star Wars that drew you to the book. What’s the fun or fascinating thing about it to you?
JA: Are you kidding? They had me at “Star Wars”. The kid inside me would’ve clawed his way out and strangled me if I’d turned this job down. This is a universe I never imagined myself getting to play in, especially not on such a major scale. I never hesitated for a second in taking this job. Even though it threw my schedule into a bit of chaos there for awhile. Now you know why I had to leave the X-Men universe sooner than expected.
CA: Another tricky bit with this period is that fact that, well, Empire Strikes Back exists. We know that things can happen to these characters, but we also know that whatever happens, they’re going to be “okay” because we’ve seen what comes next. Does this offer any challenges from a story perspective that are radically different than, say, writing Thor or Ghost Rider, where narrative markers are much more fluid?
JA: Yeah, of course it’s a challenge. But I think the appeal is just in experiencing more adventures with these characters that we all love. Yes, you know Luke Skywalker isn’t going to die in issue #3. But that doesn’t mean you’ve seen every Luke Skywalker story there is to tell.
CA: This title is being released alongside a couple more series (a Leia solo series by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson, and a Vader series from Kieron GIllen and Salvador Larroca) that focus on specific characters within this same timeframe. How much communication is going on between the teams to make sure everything dovetails nicely? Or is that less a concern than it seems to be in the Marvel universe?
JA: There’s a high level of communication between all of us at Marvel, and between Marvel and Lucasfilm. All the new comic series will definitely feel like they’re their own little imprint, you know? Different sides of the same coin, so to speak. But I think each one will also stand on its own.
CA: One more question and I’ll let you all get back to work: Jaxxon?
JDW:…Versus Jarjar—coming in 2015!