The Star Wars comic adaptations are starting to feel pointless

Why should fans care about these anymore?
Marvel Comics Star Wars: The Force Awakens adaptation. Rey and Finn. Image Credit:
Marvel Comics Star Wars: The Force Awakens adaptation. Rey and Finn. Image Credit: /

Movie adaptations have been a staple of Star Wars comic books since the beginning. The very first comics based on the franchise were an adaptation of the original film in 1977, retelling the story in a six-issue series.

Apart from depicting the wildly popular film in a creative new way, the Marvel comic also introduced new scenes audiences hadn't witnessed in the movie, such as the introduction of Jabba the Hutt. Although his look was wildly different from his appearance in Return of the Jedi, the scene gave readers something new of value that wasn't offered in theaters at the time. Artistic interpretations of the on-screen events of the films, alongside never-before-seen scenes and material, can make the comic adaptations worthwhile for hardcore fans who want to experience their favorite saga in a brand-new way while also getting a little something new in the process.

However, recent adaptations of Disney+ series The Mandalorian and Obi-Wan Kenobi seem to have missed the point of what the comic adaptations can offer.

Star Wars Rogue One: A Star Wars Story comic adaptation. Marvel. Jyn Erso. Image Credit: /

When Marvel Comics reacquired the Star Wars license in 2014, it was inevitable that they would publish adaptations of the new films that began releasing soon after. When The Force Awakens was released in 2015, a comic followed suit a few months later and provided a fairly straightforward experience. It was more or less just the film in comic book form, with slightly faster pacing to accommodate the format. It was a fun way for fans to relive the first Star Wars movie in a decade but ultimately didn't offer anything new.

Marvel would tweak their strategy when the adaption of Rogue One was released in 2017, with the addition of some brand-new material not seen in the film. This was a welcome surprise, as the final film famously lacked many sequences shown off in the widely popular trailers, partly due to heavy reshoots. Nothing profoundly changed the film's story, but things like a conversation between Bodhi Rook and Galen Erso, Saw Gerrera's final words, and a cameo by a young Princess Leia helped flesh out the characters and deepen the story. This trend would continue with Marvel's subsequent adaptations of The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story, adding small moments here and there to enhance the experience for fans.

Marvel Comics Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Adaptation. Kylo Ren. Image Credit: /

Marvel was supposed to give the same attention to The Rise of Skywalker in 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic halting the sale of physical comic books meant that the final film in the Skywalker Saga would ultimately never see its own adaptation come to fruition. While the majority of Marvel's comic book output would resume publication once stores began to reopen, many lower-selling books would be canceled without a resolution to their storyline. Some brand-new and upcoming series never saw the light of day at all. Episode IX's comic adaptation was one such casualty, being canceled before a single issue had been released.

Writer Jody Houser revealed that the comic would feature scenes and moments not seen in the film; however, given the cancellation, the specifics of what bonus content it may have contained are still unknown. Given the mixed reception to The Rise of Skywalker, perhaps the added content could have helped flesh out the story and smoothed out some of the more controversial elements. There was speculation at first that the series could still be released later, maybe even as a full graphic novel release instead of six individual issues. As the years pass, it seems less and less likely that the series will see the light of day. This is the beginning of the decline for Marvel's Star Wars comic adaptations, leaving fans with a hole in their collections where the last film in the saga should be.

Marvel Comics Star Wars: The Mandalorian adaptation. Din Djarin. Image Credit: /

Two years later, Marvel would finally begin publishing Star Wars adaptations again, this time based on the hit Disney+ series, The Mandalorian. After a long hiatus, the announcement was surprising, though it seemed to spell even more doom for The Rise of Skywalker's comic, which was now definitively being skipped over. Each issue of The Mandalorian would cover an episode of the show. This time, it would be about as straightforward of an adaptation as it gets.

Nothing new to offer, just the episodes, as presented on Disney+, with faster pacing to accommodate the comic book format. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the release was that collectors could now own the first comic book appearances of Din Djarin and Grogu, possibly the most popular new characters of the Disney era. Soon after, Marvel would begin publishing a series covering Season 2 of the show, utilizing the exact same formula. The comics weren't the most substantial thing, but at least they proved that the company was willing to continue adapting the newest releases of the Star Wars universe, at least as far as live-action goes.

Marvel Comics Star Wars: Obi-Wan Kenobi comic adaptation. Image Credit: /

In 2023, Marvel began releasing an adaptation of the Obi-Wan Kenobi limited series. In a similar vein to The Mandalorian, the six-issue series would simply cover each episode, beat-for-beat. This time, there was something off.

The art felt less like an artist's depiction of the on-screen events and more like those events had been traced onto the page. The art choice is jarring at times and creates an uncanny valley effect when the characters' faces look ripped straight from the show, with a filter thrown over the top of them.

All of this leads one to wonder what the point is. The current adaptations of the Disney+ shows aren't offering anything new that fans haven't already experienced, and their presentation can be seen as fairly lackluster. Even things like thought bubbles or narration can go a long way to provide readers an inside perspective on what characters are thinking or feeling.

Yet the comics are determined to present their material as straightforward as possible. If they're being made for the sake of tradition, giving fans more to add to their collection, then where is The Rise of Skywalker comic? The argument could be made that there wasn't a market for it, which would imply that there wouldn't be one for further installments down the line either.

Additionally, the target audience for film and TV adaptations would presumably be hardcore Star Wars fans who want to relive their favorite live-action moments in a new format. However, if they offer nothing new or interesting, then why should fans bother? Surely, if they want to experience the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi, most fans would watch the show again over reading a comic with rushed pacing and artwork ripped straight from the show itself. It's hard to imagine newcomers to the franchise wanting to experience the major installments in comic book form versus just watching the original material.

'Ahsoka' Comic Adaptation from Marvel Comics. Image Credit: /

Things don't seem to be slowing down too much for Star Wars adaptations, with a comic based on the Ahsoka series coming this summer. Curiously, shows such as The Book of Boba Fett, Andor, and the third season of The Mandalorian have yet to receive adaptations despite being released on Disney+ well before Ahsoka. It's safe to assume that the Ahsoka comic will continue the tradition of presenting the events of the show exactly as they were in live-action, with little to no new material. Seeing things like more flashbacks to Ahsoka's youth or training with Sabine would be welcome, but it feels like nothing more than wishful thinking at this point.

These comics don't hurt anything by existing. After all, if fans truly take issue with their direction or don't think they're worth the money, they simply don't have to buy them. However, it does feel as if their existence is little more than a cash-grab, intended to sell a few more comics without having to do much creatively. If these comics are going to continue, perhaps Marvel and Lucasfilm should consider giving fans more incentive to keep reading.

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