On Star Wars, Mara Jade, and generations

tumblr-featured1I had a few days off because I didn’t go to Origins JadeCon this year, but I did end up writing/repurposing some stuff from Tumblr for a post on Mara Jade and the Star Wars generation gap. It’s done pretty well, going viralish on Facebook and getting chosen as a featured link on Tumblr. (Isn’t it nice that they finally made Tumblr links look decent?)

It’s a little weird to look at fandom and realize how young some of these folks are – Tumblr, Twitter, makes no difference – it’s just the nature of Star Wars that it picks up new folks with each new wave, and sometimes it’s just boggling. (I remember feeling shocked when I realized that most of the staff of another site were probably fairly young teenagers when they started it, even though I was a teenager when I started my first site…) The roots of that Mara post, for instance, lie not just with the Ahsoka thing I mention, but with something I randomly came across on the tags several months ago, when I realized that these fans don’t know what it’s like not to have Star Wars stuff all over the place constantly. They never had to search for an out-of-print novel from 1977, because only a tiny handful of Star Wars novels have gone out of print in their lifetimes, period. (Suck it, Young Jedi Knights.) They never had to learn about the events of a comic book from the roleplaying supplement because it was the days before mall bookstores carried graphic novels. Most of them probably can’t even imagine fandom before Wookieepedia.

And hell, I can’t remember waiting for the original movies to come out, one by one – not when I couldn’t even wait a day after The Empire Strikes Back to watch Return of the Jedi on VHS. And that kind of thing – the waiting – can really define your relationship with something. I didn’t wait for the OT, but I’ve been waiting for each of those books since December 1991. I remember thinking that it was more likely that Mara was going to die in Visions of the Future than have anything happen with Luke.

Now, the thing with doing anything regarding Mara at this point is that it brings out the ‘she should be canon!’ comments – and not just from the frothy fringe types who throw fits about the old books being declared noncanon. I’m of mixed minds about bringing Mara back, but talk of it isn’t really something that can be avoided.

Obviously, I can see half a dozen ways they could do it, involving both Episode VII spoilers and canon stuff that’s out in the open. Any spoiler-reading fan who knows the difference between Legends and canon could probably do the same, and I could no doubt write a post about it and go viral all over again, but the thing is I don’t want to encourage that thinking. I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up. My prevailing mindset here is wait and see, and I honestly feel that’s the safest path. I can’t control the whole fandom – there are no doubt a couple of those posts already out there – but I don’t have to participate, either.

Will I be devastated if they don’t bring Mara back eventually? Maybe, but I suspect not. I’ve joked that if I do hate Episode VII that I’ll just quit blogging and write fanfic of ‘my’ version – though if I was going to write fanfic, period, wouldn’t I have done it by now? But no amount of snotty know-it-all fanboy assholery is going to stop me from hoping, either. I’ve certainly had enough practice.

9 thoughts on “On Star Wars, Mara Jade, and generations

  1. “They never had to learn about the events of a comic book from it’s roleplaying supplement because it was the days before mall bookstores carried graphic novels.”

    THAT. THAT WAS MY LIFE. I didn’t find the comics until I went to college. I didn’t find most of the roleplaying supplements until then either. A whole new Star Wars world opened up for me and it was glorious. (It was also pretty WTF because Tales of the Jedi was a bit out there. But I drank it in just the same because Star Wars.)

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    1. Even the comic stores around me didn’t carry trades back then! I saw Dark Empire once at a SunCoast but I was dumb and didn’t buy it the minute I saw it.

      Luckily even the mall bookstores had WEG, and then we got a Media Play, which always had a good selection of that stuff. But by that point trades were becoming more common at bookstores, too.

      I remember buying ToTJ – in issues! – during my X-Men phase. They’re still in a longbox somewhere.

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      1. The Waldenbooks at the Westland mall had a random copy of TOTJ: Dark Lords of the Sith which I snapped up immediately. (Continuing my personal trend of experiencing Star Wars backwards: I saw ESB before ANH, and I stumbled on an audiotape (!!) of DFR before I read HTTE!) Once I knew there were comics out there I had to have them. I was addicted to reading the *entire* story back then. I didn’t find a bona fide comic shop until I got to college. If there were any in/near Canton I never found them. Not that I looked all that hard. I was a shy kid, and Star Wars was a “dead” franchise.

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        1. I remember stumbling upon Dark Force Rising in hardcover at the B. Dalton’s at Southland, I think.

          With comics, we had one within biking distance, and my friend Sara and I were super into X-Men so we went up there, and that’s where I found the first TOTJs. Shortly after we discovered the store – which was run/owned by a woman! – the whole thing where Marvel (I think?) bought a comic distributor went down, and shops had to buy from at least two different ones, cutting into their margins. A LOT* of shops closed in that period, ours included. I started going to another shop, one that I think survived this period by also selling games (Pogs! Remember pogs?) and trading cards, but it wasn’t close enough to casually walk/bike to. Ironically I live not too far from there now, but that building has since been replaced by a drug store, and I buy my comics at Green Brain in Dearborn.

          * According to this article, 75% of American comic shops had closed down by 1997. 75%!

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    1. She’s a character who originated in Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy of novels – Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. (AKA the only Star Wars novels I really recommend to people.) Those are probably the most popular Star Wars books, in part because they were the first to really continue the story after Return of the Jedi – at the time, anyway. She kind of took off from there, but she’s not in the movies so it’s not a name I’d expect everyone to know.

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  2. I love Mara too. If she does come back, I hope it’s without marrying Luke. In a rebooted canon, if they don’t go through her Emperor’s Hand storyline, then it could just feel like “Hey guys, we gave Luke a wife” instead of giving her her due. Also, I like the idea of continuing the spiritual character arc with him and having the romantic character arc with Han and Leia (now that ROTJ removed the awkward triangle).

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    1. Well, I used to be a L/M shipper, so… It really depends for me on how they’d bring her back, though. I’m very conditional about it. Mara got very badly written at points, so it’s easy to look at certain books and things and declare she was having an “out of character experience,” and it’s far too easy to see that happening again.

      But certain things in the new canon – the Rebels Inquisitors, specifically – could easily fill in for the whole Emperor’s Hand thing in spirit, if not in title. I don’t really want her back first in Rebels itself, but I find the groundwork laid there to be very promising.

      And having a wife/kids (whether they’re in the picture or not) doesn’t mean Luke can’t be on a spiritual arc…

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  3. A coworker and I were talking about this, in a larger sense, recently. I said that I would really like to see, once The Force Awakens comes out, Del Rey hire Timothy Zahn to write a novel that gives the New Canon take on his characters that takes into account the new film and the Journey to The Force Awakens projects. Not just Mara, but Thrawn and Palleaon, too. Maybe even Talon Karrde, Jorus C’boath (the original or the clone), the Noghri, and the ysaalmiri. (I probably misspelled the last.) He agreed that there was potential to that, but he wanted to see KJA’s characters, too, like Kyp Durron.

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