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John Cassaday

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Friday saw the launch of the brand new line of Star Wars toys and merchandise based on the upcoming movie The Force Awakens. One of the licensees profiting off the resurgence of the Star Wars brand is Marvel Comics, who, like Lucasfilm, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. When Disney bought the rights to all things Star Wars, the task of printing new Wars comics returned to Marvel, the company that first published the graphic novel adventures Luke, Han and Leia after the movie’s release in 1977. At Fan Expo today, “Force Friday” meant talking about Star Wars comics. (more…)

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…Hobby. Collecting antique pie plates. Now you know. Joking aside, it would make sense that Marvel Comics, free to create not just a whole new expanded universe, but have it officially recognized as part of Star Wars canon, would throw a curve ball into the story we think we know. In that spirit, the latest issue of Star Wars features a surprising twist for one of the main characters from the Original Trilogy. In a move that’s sure to be almost as controversial as Greedo shooting first – well, maybe – there’s a piece of information revealed at the end of Star Wars #6, which hits the stands today, that reveals Princess Leia is not the first woman to win the heart of the charming rogue captain of the Millennium Falcon. (more…)

Marvel Welcomes Back Star Wars with an Uninvited Guest

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The Walt Disney Company‘s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012 covered all levels of the Star Wars machine. Sure, it meant new movies and TV projects, but it also meant that all facets of Star Wars would be brought under the Disney umbrella, and one of those spokes is Marvel Comics. The move meant that the popular, expansive expanded universe created by Dark Horse Comics would come to an end, but it was a good piece of corporate synergy, and not only that, it would be a homecoming for the Star Wars brand, which first took comic form at Marvel in the 70s. Fans have been waiting to see what the House of Mouse and Ideas had in store, and today your imagination is somewhat teased with a press release and some art that suggests a blast from the past. (more…)

COMICS REWIND: ‘Astonishing X-Men: Gifted’

(Welcome to Comics Rewind, a weekly column devoted to discovering – or re-discovering – great comics published some time in the past. Here you will find looks back at comics published in every era, from the Golden Age to the Modern Age, as well as retrospectives on the work of important comics writers, lists of “essential” comics, and evaluations of important works, as well as works worthy of a second look or a wider audience. Enjoy!)

I almost didn’t do this one, not because it’s not worthy, but because I felt certain almost everyone has read it already. It is the Almighty Whedon, after all, tackling perhaps the most perennially popular superhero team in comics. I’m sure you’re at least aware of it, if not deeply, intimately familiar. But even if you are, I think Astonishing X-Men is important to talk about just now. The Avengers is looming, after all, and we’re all looking for clues as to how the thing will turn out. Astonishing X-Men has clues for us, friends, and in them we find that, even if we hadn’t seen a single piece of Avengers footage already, we can still have complete faith in Joss Whedon.

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COMICS REWIND: ‘Planetary’


I’ve been re-reading Warren Ellis and John Cassady’s Planetary lately, and reaffirming not just its quality, but the sense of wonder that’s in every single issue. Ellis doesn’t speak publicity much about the book, because, he says, it’s a project he associates with dark times in his life. It certainly wasn’t an easy story to complete. Planetary was plagued by illness-related delays throughout its run. It’s only 27 issues long, but it was 10 years between the debut of the series and the publication of its final issue in the fall of 2009. Though it was certainly no picnic for its creators, the difficulty of production enchanted Planetary for many readers. It became a cult comic without even trying. Patton Oswalt declared one of its stars – Elijah Snow – the best superhero in comics on live television (really, he did). By the time the final issue dropped and Ellis and Cassaday walked away from the project, they had both become comic book rock stars all over again.

Warren Ellis has since described the series as an effort to “download” from his head all of the superhero knowledge he had amassed through his years as a writer for Marvel and DC Comics. But Planetary doesn’t traffic in superhero stereotypes. There are hints of those old mythologies, but Ellis – ever the original – went deeper. He made the heroes of Planetary a kind of meta-archeological team, trying to break the skin of the world and get at the hidden universes lurking beneath. It doesn’t play by any of the rules of the genre, but I’d venture that Planetary is simply the finest superhero story written in the last 15 years.

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