Clearing Out the Backlog 9: I Like STAR WARS Stuff Now AMA

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a huge backlog of comics to read. I’ve decided to create this column to force myself to start catching up. Every couple of weeks, I’ll be posting short reviews of what I’ve read while Clearing Out the Backlog.

StarWars1CoverStar Wars vol. 1 by Jason Aaron (writer) and John Cassaday (artist) and Darth Vader vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen (writer) and Salvador Larroca (artist): I’ve never really had any particular reverence for the Star Wars franchise. I don’t know why, it’s just never clicked with me. Out of the six movies, I’ve only seen five of them. Even though it was targeted directly at my age range when it was released, Episode I was of no interest to my child self and then word of mouth has kept me away from it ever since. Episodes II and III are both fine movies and I can appreciate the original trilogy, but nothing has ever made me want to call myself a Star Wars fan. I was always way more into the Star Wars Lego sets than I was actually into the movies. If I’m being honest, sometimes my opinion of Star Wars depends on how annoying Star Wars fans have been lately.

When the current crop of Star Wars comics were announced by Marvel, I was very impressed by the creative teams. The question for me was, would I care enough about the books to actually read them? After hearing enough good things about this line from both big fans and casuals, I decided to give the Vader book a shot. Darth Vader is a character that I love on an aesthetic level. He’s a truly awful person, an absolute villain, but he looks so damn cool, you can’t help liking him. The week it was released, on a whim, I decided to pick up the first trade of Darth Vader and… I really liked it. I wasn’t surprised that it was a well-made comic. With Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca as the creative team, I knew that this would most likely be a good comic from an objective standpoint, I just wasn’t sure if I would care about what I was reading. What I ended up getting with this comic was a Star Wars story that I enjoyed more than I’ve ever enjoyed the movies.

This led me to pick up the first volume of Star Wars a few days later and I was blown away by that book too. I think what these two comics really did right was to make them very accessible. Gone are the days of the gigantic, impenetrable tapestry that was the Star Wars expanded universe. I have a very basic knowledge of the Star Wars movies and that’s about it. Whenever anybody would start talking to me about expanded universe stuff, my eyes would glaze over. These comics are super Star Wars-y, but they never lost my interest. I really enjoyed how the two series connected just enough so that you could read them both individually, but you get a greater overall picture from reading them both. They’re both very well written and they look fantastic, but if I was forced to choose, I’d say Vader gets the slight edge as being the better book from me. Gillen seems to be having a lot of fun with the character and his new supporting cast and Larroca’s art might be some of his best. Jason Aaron should also be commended for handling the pretty big cast of Star Wars very well and John Cassaday’s art is of the quality of his Planetary days.

You should probably read these books if you’ve been thinking about it. They managed to turn me from someone that didn’t care about Star Wars into a bigger fan than I’ve ever been. I still probably won’t see Episode VII the day it comes out, but now I’m actually excited to see it. As PoP!’s own Lee Rodriguez has said, if the movies were as good as these comics, I’d be way more into Star Wars.

boredtodeathBored to Death Seasons 1-3: I’ve been rewatching this underappreciated HBO series lately and I think it might be one of my favorite TV series of all time. Jason Schwartzman stars as Jonathan Ames (also the name of the creator and writer of the series), a frustrated writer who turns his extensive knowledge of detective novels into a second career as a private detective. The series also stars Ted Danson as Jonathan’s mentor and Zach Galifianakis as Jonathan’s best friend and a comic artist. The very entertaining series lasted for three seasons with a total of 24 episodes, making it pretty easy to binge watch. This strange mix of a half hour comedy, neo-noir, and overly introspective characters struck a chord with me that no show has done since.

Avengers: Age of Ultron: I liked it. Not sure why people went so far out of their way to say that they disliked this one. It wasn’t my favorite Marvel movie, but it certainly wasn’t my least favorite. I feel like I enjoyed the movie as much as I’ve ever enjoyed an Avengers comic.

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Kelly Harrass is a comic shop worker and writer from Milwaukee, WI. You may know him as one of the regular hosts of the PoP!-Cast and the co-host of PCW. Find him on Twitter @comicgeekelly and email him at kharrass@panelsonpages.com

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