Carter’s Comic Corner XIII: The Boba Effect

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Finally, time to do an obligatory Star Wars piece!

Of the new trio of main characters, my favorite by far is Poe Dameron. Oscar Isaac’s pilot was able to be the most endearing, funny,  and heroic character in a group of characters who are defined by being endearing, funny, and heroic. Unfortunately though, Poe is missing from a large portion of the film, as the original plan was to have him die very early on. Fortunately though, his story will be getting fleshed out in the coming months with Marvel’s Poe Dameron comic. However, this puts me into a strange position, because of something I like to call the Boba Effect.

So, remember how Boba Fett does very little in the original trilogy and dies very anti-climatically? Wonder why he has such a big fan base? Because the extensive “Expanded Universe” of comics, books and other media has fleshed out his story. I have always hated this attitude. If the character is a non-presence in the films—the core of the series—then the side, frequently non-canonical material shouldn’t be used as evidence of a character’s greatness.

This is a problem I’ve thought about for a long time, because Star Wars is not the only film/TV franchise to have comic tie-ins. Adventure Time, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and many more have dipped into the comic world, and as more and more properties are given this treatment, the question of their canonical nature and whether we should acknowledge them as a part of the universe is more and more prevalent.

My typical argument has always been that the original creators are rarely involved with these creations. The comics and spin-offs with Boba Fett had no involvement from George Lucas, as most of the expanded universe was made by fans or hired after buying the rights. Granted, many creators give their blessing, but I feel if the people responsible for creating the world and characters, or have provided a playbook for their creation, it’s hard to consider these comics as a part of the universe. However, this logic doesn’t always hold up, because the Poe Dameron comics are made by Marvel, a division of Disney.

Another questions comes at the idea of revisionism. It always catches me off guard how little Boba Fett is actually in the movies. That’s because the decades of tie-ins have created a sort of revisionist history where he is a critical character of the lore, instead of just a cool looking one. Does it ruin anything? Of course not. But it does risk giving people incorrect expectations or altering our memories of the original work and why we loved it.

And what happens if those tie-ins aren’t good? Like it or not, the sheer amount of comics that are released for any property makes it somewhat likely many of them will turn out less than stellar. Star Wars is the ultimate example of that: after almost 40 years of new content, the bad is in danger of outweighing the good. If a comic tie in ends up not living up to expectations, then it is a part of the canon that risks hurting the whole.

But honestly, my negativity is mostly just personal gripes. Comics serve as a great way to broaden a franchises universe. They are far easier to produce and distribute than any other form, providing the more content than any other art form. Even if one isn’t that great, it’s not like there aren’t a dozen more options to look for. And what more flexible, visually interesting medium is there than the paper and ink of a comic? I feel tie-ins are inevitable for every notable franchise now, so if we must have them, maybe the pages of a comic might be a better place for them to be.

Carter Glace is a Highlighter staff columnist.


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