Qui-Gon Jinn Ponders a Seat on the Jedi Council in Master & Apprentice – Exclusive Excerpt

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In Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Obi-Wan Kenobi implores his master, Qui-Gon Jinn, to temper his request that a young Anakin Skywalker be trained as a Jedi. “Don’t defy the Council, master. Not again,” he says. “I will do what I must, Obi-Wan,” Qui-Gon replies. It’s an exchange that offers great insight into their relationship — one of both friction and respect. Indeed, Qui-Gon would later acknowledge that his student is much wiser than he.

Claudia Gray’s upcoming Star Wars: Master & Apprentice, arriving April 16 in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook, will delve further into the dynamic between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan, which has gone relatively unexplored until now. In the exclusive excerpt below, the Jedi Council summons Qui-Gon following a difficult mission and makes a surprising offer…

Star Wars: Master and Apprentice cover.

As ever, after a mission, Qui-Gon had been summoned to the Jedi Council’s chambers for his report. It was nighttime—later than the Council usually met, at least for ordinary business—and the darkness around them was illuminated by the cyclone of Coruscanti traffic and ships’ lights. Yet here, within this room, a sense of serenity prevailed. Qui-Gon relished the contrast.

Master Billaba leaned forward, studying her datapad with a frown on her face. “It worries me, this misunderstanding between you and your Padawan. This isn’t the first time you’ve reported such difficulties.”

Qui-Gon bowed his head slightly. “It worries me as well. Obi-Wan is strong in the Force, and eager to do his duty. The failure must be mine. Fundamentally, I fear, we are a mismatch. I’ve been unable to adapt my teaching methods to his needs, despite my best efforts.”

Yoda cocked his head. “Adapt he must as well. Cooperation is learned not through individual effort. Only together can you progress.”

Agreeing to that proposition—sensible though it was—would mean shifting some of the blame onto Obi-Wan, which Qui-Gon preferred not to do. He simply remained quiet. The Jedi Council had a habit of assuming that silence equaled agreement; Qui-Gon had found this habit useful, from time to time.

Regardless, he expected the Council to eventually ask him if he wanted them to reassign Obi-Wan’s training to another Master. He’d known before this meeting began that they might even ask the ques­tion tonight, but he still wasn’t sure what he would say. The suspense seemed worse than he would’ve anticipated, maybe because he didn’t know what he wanted to answer . . .

. . . or because the silence in the room had lasted a suspiciously long period of time.

Qui-Gon focused his attention back on the Masters surrounding him. They were exchanging glances in what seemed to be anticipation. He straightened. “Have you another mission for us?” Maybe they in­tended to test him and Obi-Wan one more time before any decision about reassignment would be made.

“Yes, another task for you we have.” Yoda’s ears lowered, a sign of deep intent. “Consider it carefully, you must.”

Mace Windu drew himself upright and folded his hands together in a formal gesture of respect. “You may not have heard that Master Dapatian intends to retire from the Council, effective next month.”

Qui-Gon glanced at Poli Dapatian, a Master of great renown . . . so much so that Qui-Gon had failed to note, in recent years, how aged he had become. “That is our loss.”

“We hope it will also be our gain,” Mace replied. “Qui-Gon Jinn, we hereby offer you a seat on the Jedi Council.”

Had he misheard? No, he hadn’t. Qui-Gon slowly gazed around the circle, taking in the expressions of each Council member in turn. Some of them looked amused, others pleased. A few of them, Yoda included, appeared more rueful than not. But they were serious.

“I admit—you’ve surprised me,” Qui-Gon finally said.

“I imagine so,” Mace said drily. “A few years ago, we would’ve been astonished to learn we would ever consider this. But in the time since, we’ve all changed. We’ve grown. Which means the possibilities have changed as well.”

Qui-Gon took a moment to collect himself. Without any warning, one of the turning points of his life had arrived. Everything he said and did in the next days would be of great consequence. “You’ve argued with my methods often as not, or perhaps you’d say I’ve argued with yours.”

“Truth, this is,” Yoda said.

Depa Billaba gave Yoda a look Qui-Gon couldn’t interpret. “It’s also true that the Jedi Council needs more perspectives.”

Is the Council actually making sense? Qui-Gon hoped none of them had picked up on that thought.

Mace nodded. “Yes, Qui-Gon, we’ve disagreed often. Butted heads, even. But you’ve always acted with respect for the Council’s authority, without compromising your inner convictions. This shows a great gift for—”

“Diplomacy?” Qui-Gon asked.

Mace replied, “I was going to say balance.

It was a delicate line to walk, one Qui-Gon had stumbled over on many occasions. But those occasions had become rarer as the years went on. He’d learned how to handle the Council well enough. Now, it seemed, the Council had become ready to hear him in return.

Qui-Gon had never imagined sitting on the Jedi Council itself, at least not since he was a youngling. Dooku had chuckled once, early in Qui-Gon’s training, when they spoke of the Council. “You have your own mind, my Padawan,” he’d said. “The Council doesn’t always re­spond well to that.” Given how many times Qui-Gon had clashed with the Council—from his earliest days as a Jedi Knight up to six weeks ago—he’d always assumed that he would never ascend to the heights of the Order.

But now it could happen. Would happen. He’d be able to weigh in on the Council’s decisions, and perhaps create some of the change he wanted to see. It was the greatest opportunity of his life.

“You honor me,” Qui-Gon said. “I ask for some time to meditate upon this before I accept.” Of course he would take the seat on the Council. But in doing so, he wanted to more fully reflect upon how this would change him, and the breadth of the important role he would assume.

“Very wise,” said Depa. “Most of those asked to join the Council do the same, myself included. If someone didn’t—well, I’d think maybe he didn’t know what he was getting into.”

Laughter went around the room. Amusement bubbled within Poli Dapatian’s respirator mask. Depa Billaba’s grin was infectious, and Qui-Gon realized he was smiling back at her. Although the Council had never been hostile to him, this was the first time Qui-Gon had felt a deeper camaraderie—the friendliness of equals. Already Teth and the Hutts seemed like a problem from years ago. The future shone so boldly that it threatened to eclipse the present.

Steady, he told himself. Even an invitation to the Jedi Council mustn’t go to your head.

“Consider carefully, you must,” said Yoda, the only member of the Council who remained gravely serious. “No hasty answer should you give.”

“Of course,” Qui-Gon said. Hadn’t he just indicated that he in­tended to do exactly that?

Before he could think more on it, Mace said, “In some ways, this invitation comes at an opportune time. This change could, potentially, resolve other problems.”

Only then did it hit Qui-Gon: If he took a seat on the Council, then Obi-Wan would be transferred to another Master.

It wasn’t forbidden for a Jedi on the Council to train a Padawan learner; one of Qui-Gon’s crèche-mates had become the Padawan of Master Dapatian, back in the day. Exceptions had been made during times of crisis as well, when everyone needed to take on extra duties. But such exceptions were rare. Serving on the Council required a great deal of time, concentration, and commitment. Balancing that com­mitment with the equally sacred task of training a Padawan—well, it would be a difficult situation, one potentially unfair to both Master and student. Only those who had served on the Council for a long time, and had adjusted to its demands, contemplated such a step.

“I see what you mean,” Qui-Gon said. “Perhaps it would be for the best. But I must think upon it.”

“Of course,” Depa said warmly. Yoda nodded, clutching his gimer stick and saying nothing.

Mace Windu rose from his chair to put his hand on Qui-Gon’s shoulder. “We will of course keep this invitation private unless and until you choose to join us. At this point, the only person outside this room who knows of it is Chancellor Kaj herself. But if you need to discuss it with Padawan Kenobi, or any other friends, you may feel free to do so, as long as they will promise to be discreet.”

“Understood.”

Qui-Gon walked out of the Council Chamber into the Temple in a strange state of mind. He couldn’t call it a daze, because this was in some ways the exact opposite. Every detail of his surroundings struck him with fresh vividness, whether it was the colorful patterns of inlaid marble beneath his feet or the scarlet trim on a young Jedi Knight’s gown. It was as though the invitation to join the Council had given him new eyes. A new way of seeing the world, one that he would no doubt spend the rest of his life learning to comprehend.

The Council, he said to himself. By the Force, the Council.

Perhaps another Jedi might have given way to elation, or even the temptation of pride. Qui-Gon Jinn was made of sterner stuff. Besides, he couldn’t bring himself to feel entirely happy when he considered the question of Obi-Wan.

He’d already come to believe that they were mismatched as teacher and student. The main reason Qui-Gon hadn’t asked for a transfer before was that he knew Obi-Wan would be hurt by it, and would blame himself. The Council’s invitation would allow the transfer to be impersonal, merely practical. Obi-Wan could then be reassigned to a teacher who would serve him better.

Why, then, did the idea fill Qui-Gon with such a profound sense of loss?

Star Wars: Master & Apprentice is available for pre-order now.

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The Art of Star Wars Rebels Book Revealed

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Even Chopper would be excited about this.

The beloved animated series Star Wars Rebels will be celebrated with a major new book, it was revealed this week. The Art of Star Wars Rebels, written by Dan Wallace and coming October 1 from Dark Horse Books and Lucasfilm, will chronicle the making of the show over its four-season run, complete with never-before-seen concept art and process pieces, along with exclusive commentary from creators Dave Filoni, Simon Kinberg, and Carrie Beck, among others. It’s available for pre-order now.

Temporary cover for The Art of Star Wars Rebels.

Temporary cover for The Art of Star Wars Rebels.

Star Wars Rebels followed the motley Ghost crew in the early days of the rebellion against the Empire, while incorporating elements and characters from Star Wars: The Clone WarsRogue One: A Star Wars Story, and much more from across the Star Wars saga. Be sure to check out StarWars.com’s extensive Star Wars Rebels coverage, including episode guides, in-depth interviews, and insightful editorials on the series.

Stay tuned to StarWars.com for more on The Art of Star Wars Rebels. Fulcrum out.

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The Art of Star Wars Rebels Book Revealed

Illustrator Jeffrey Brown on Reimagining Rey and Pals — First Look

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If Rey and Kylo Ren had grown up together, would they have joined forces for an epic game of dodgeball? Would Poe have been a hotshot video gamer teaching a hapless Finn the basics of virtual space battles?

The cover of Rey and Pals by Jeffrey Brown.

These are some of the questions running through the mind of Jeffrey Brown, the author and illustrator behind the forthcoming Rey and Pals. Told in the style of his bestselling series Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess, the new book will feature pint-sized versions of Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe Dameron, Rose Tico, and other characters from the sequel trilogy and the hilarious hijinks that ensue in some very relatable situations.

Today, Brown answers a few questions about his creative process and reveals some charming new sketches from the forthcoming book.

StarWars.com: Fans were first introduced to your imaginative style with the Darth Vader and Son series. When you’re taking characters fans already know and love and restyling them as children, what do you define as the essential details and pieces to make sure that, for example, Rey still looks and feels like Rey? How do you capture the personality and costume details so the kid version is immediately recognizable?

Jeffrey Brown: The first step is to simplify, and boil the look of the character down to a few elements. Some of the costumes have a lot of detail, but if I draw too much detail in a costume, it doesn’t gel with the cartoony look of the characters’ faces — especially when I’m drawing Rey as a little kid. The other thing to focus on is body language and expressions. Rey is someone who dives right in, and can be very decisive and isn’t afraid to try and fail. So when I’m drawing her I’m imagining when kids are like that, trying to capture that feeling with how she stands or walks or gets into mischief. It also comes with time. I have to live with the characters quite a bit, watching the movies over and over while drawing and sketching them, so by the time I’m creating the final artwork, they’ve developed their own look and feel.

StarWars.com: Tell us a little about your process for writing one of these books, marrying some real-world scenarios children encounter everyday with Star Wars references and characters. What inspires the situations that you end up including in your stories? 

Jeffrey Brown: It’s always a mix of starting with a character or scene I want to draw — or both, in the case of a giant spread set in Maz’s castle — or thinking of a real-life situation and finding the right Star Wars moment to filter that through. For example, I grew up playing role-playing games, and my older son has started playing them with friends now, so I came up with some of the characters playing something like Dungeons & Krayt Dragons. Overall, the process starts with coming up with a ton of ideas — almost 200 for this book! Some are clear from the start, some get re-worked and recycled, left for later. And some I know aren’t likely to make the cut, because they’re too dark or don’t have the right tone, but I draw them anyway. By the time I’m creating the final art, all the concepts seem obvious and immediate, and sometimes I forget just how much work it was for us (myself and the editors and Chronicle and Lucasfilm) to craft the ideas.

StarWars.com: Can you give us a sneak peek of your work on the book?

Jeffrey Brown: Yes, and you don’t even need Bothan spies to share!

A sketch from Rey and Pals.

The mirror sketch was one of my first handful ideas. I was telling my older son to brush his teeth way back when I drew Vader’s Little Princess, and now I’m always telling my younger son. I think if you’re a kid it must seem like the scene on Ahch-to, you’re always having to brush your teeth over and over!

Face sketches from Rey and Pals.

These character heads are for the end sheets. It was a fun solution for the first book, but even more fun this time with so many more characters to choose from.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Illustrator Jeffrey Brown on Reimagining Rey and Pals — First Look

Step into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with New Books, Comics, and Fables

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As we prepare to make our first pilgrimage to the fringes of Wild Space and journey to the planet of Batuu, when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort later this year, there’s a galaxy of books and comics coming to shelves featuring stories that intersect with the inhabitants of the far-flung world.

Meet Dok-Ondar, the infamous Ithorian who deals in rare antiquities, find out why General Leia Organa takes an interest in Black Spire Outpost, and indulge in myths and fables from a galaxy far, far away, plus other stories set on the Outer Rim locale.

StarWars.com is pleased to announce the first six titles that will help introduce fans to the planet of Batuu:

The cover for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Marvel comic.

Marvel Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge miniseries
Written by Ethan Sacks
Art by Will Sliney
Issue #1 available: April 24, 2019

Black Spire Outpost has long been frequented by smugglers, merchants, and travelers from every corner of the galaxy looking to make their score on the infamous black market — or experience the exotic thrills the remote world of Batuu alone has to offer. Aliens like the infamous Dok-Ondar, a proprietor of rare and one-of-a-kind antiquities, thrive on the unique opportunities which abound on the lawless outpost at the very edge of Wild Space in this all-new miniseries from Marvel writer Ethan Sacks (Old Man Hawkeye) and artist Will Sliney (Solo: A Star Wars Story).

The cover for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge Black Spire.

Black Spire (Del Rey)
Written by Delilah Dawson
Available: September 3, 2019

In this novel, a prequel to the Disney Parks experience, General Leia Organa dispatches her top spy to Batuu in a desperate search for Resistance allies.

The cover for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge A Crash of Fate.

A Crash of Fate (Disney Lucasfilm Press)
Written by Zoraida Cordova
Available: August 6, 2019

In this Young Adult novel, Izzy and Jules were best friends until Izzy’s family abruptly left Batuu when she was six. Now she’s back, and Jules, the boy who never left, is unsure what to make of her. While on the run from vengeful smugglers and an angry pirate, the two friends will come to terms with who they are, and what they mean to each other.

The cover for Star Wars: Myths and Fables

Star Wars: Myths & Fables (Disney Lucasfilm Press)
Written by George Mann
Illustrations by Grant Griffin
Available: August 6, 2019

In this middle grade novel, hear the thrilling space tales, fables, and myths that are told in a galaxy far, far away. The book features two stories that take place on the remote Outer Rim world of Batuu, plus many other untold tales from the edge of the galaxy, lushly illustrated in a style that pays homage to real-world children’s classics.

Read an exclusive excerpt from the tale “The Knight & the Dragon” below!

A Tusken raider is seen in an illustration featured in Star Wars Myths and Fables.

There was once a tribe of nomadic people on the distant, dusty planet of Tatooine who, for many months, had been terrorized by a fearsome dragon.

These were a simple people, with simple needs, who had for generations eked out an uncomplicated existence on the harsh desert sands, trading with the other tribes for water and sustenance, salvaging the wreckage left behind by those careless few who shared their world—those others whose lives unfolded in the noisy cities and spaceports, who tried ineffectively to hold back the sand rather than embrace its gifts.

The desert folk had little cause to visit those teeming cities, however, and although they had once roamed the rolling dunes in great caravans, they had found a place to settle. They were at one with the land and knew that the desert itself would provide them with everything they might need.

So it was that these Sand People came to establish a village of their own, a place they might call home.

For many months the village flourished, and food and water proved bountiful as the desert offered up its gifts. The villagers, once so used to their endless migration across the sands, grew complacent and comfortable. Yet in their ignorance, they knew not that they had awoken the wrath of a great dragon, Krayt, that made its nest amongst the nearby dunes and called that domain its own.

Krayt was sly and knew that the people of the sand were in no way its equal in battle or cunning, so it devised a plan to rid itself of them. Just as the desert had provided for the villagers, it would provide, too, for the dragon. The people of the sand were numerous, and the dragon ever hungry; if it rationed them carefully, the villagers would sustain it for many months to come. Soon enough, it would reclaim its domain from those interlopers—once they were all inside its belly—but dragons are long-lived and lazy, and Krayt saw no need to hurry.

Thus, it chose to begin with the villager’s plump livestock, which they held in large corrals on the outskirts of the village. Only then, when the entire herd had been consumed, would the dragon enjoy the taste of that which it so craved: people.

So began a campaign of nightly terror as the dragon—so large that the beat of its wings alone was enough to stir the sand into great storms that ravaged the villagers’ tents—descended upon the village to snatch at the mewling beasts in their pens before hurrying away, back to its sandy lair, to feast. The villagers cowered at the mere sight of such a terrible beast, and in their fear, they made no move to try to prevent the dragon’s attacks.

On the fifth day, however, the villagers were growing desperate, for they knew that if the dragon continued, soon there would be no livestock left in the pens to feed their children. That night, ten of the village’s most trusted warriors took up their arms and went to stand guard over the pens, in the belief that, together, they might prove strong enough to scare the beast into fleeing, or even to slay it.

As it had each night before, the dragon came with the setting suns—a vast and horrifying silhouette, stark against the reddening sky. On huge wings it soared, sweeping low over the heads of the villagers, wheeling above them as they raised their weapons and took aim. Yet their weapons were ineffective and did not so much as scratch the beast. Far from dissuaded, it brushed the villagers aside with a flick of its wing and once more sailed away into the night with a squealing animal for its supper.

In such a way it continued for many days, until the villagers’ livestock had all been consumed, and the Sand People themselves lived in fear of what the dragon Krayt might do when it returned to discover the pens empty.

Krayt, though, had planned for such an eventuality and had secretly willed that day to come, because to a dragon, there is no sweeter meal than a helpless villager.

That night the dragon returned to the village to find the livestock pens had been abandoned. With a cackle of malicious glee, it turned to the village and beat its wings until the tents were swept away in a blizzard of sand and the people cowering beneath were revealed. For a moment the dragon seemed to linger, and then, licking its lips, it selected a young boy, whom it plucked from his mother’s arms and carried away into the night.

The boy was not the last of his peers to be lost in such a fashion, for Krayt soon developed quite a taste for children. The villagers took to hiding their young in pits beneath the shifting sands, but the dragon was wise and had seen such tricks before. It dug up the children like wriggling worms, one to feast upon each night.

The villagers could stand for this no longer and elected a warrior from amongst their number, whom they armed with their most precious weapons, adorned with their strongest armor, and sent out into the desert to stir the dragon from its nest. This warrior carried vengeance in her heart, for she knew the dragon must pay for the lives it had stolen, and she boldly claimed that she would soon return with the beast’s head as a trophy of her victory. The villagers cheered as she strode off toward the horizon, and in their hearts, for the first time in months, they carried hope for the future….

You can expect these books and even more titles coming this fall including a Galaxy’s Edge kids comic from IDW Publishing, home of the critically-acclaimed Star Wars Adventures and Tales from Vader’s Castle, to transport readers to the mysterious world of Batuu in an action-packed adventure for readers of all ages. There will also be an official Galaxy’s Edge cookbook from Insight Editions, featuring some of the exotic cuisine created for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge as well as dishes drawn from the saga’s history, written for home cooks of all ages and skill levels by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel, New York Times bestselling author of A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Cookbook and The World of Warcraft Cookbook, with Marc Sumerak (Star Wars: Droidography).

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Step into Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with New Books, Comics, and Fables

Marvel Journeys to Batuu in New Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Comic – Exclusive

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Pirates, smugglers, merchants, and wanderers from across the galaxy have traveled to make their score or sell their wares at the infamous black market located at Black Spire Outpost on Batuu.

In April, journey to this locale in the Outer Rim in the new Marvel Star Wars comic series Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which ties into the new lands opening at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort later this year.

Readers of the five-issue miniseries will be the first to meet the infamous Dok-Ondar, the Ithorian collector of rare antiquities, and find out what happens when the First Order reaches the edge of wild space. The key to saving this lawless outpost might just involve a job pulled long ago by none other than Han Solo and his cohort Chewbacca.

Get your first look at a concept design variant cover art featuring Dok-Ondar, designed by Karl Lindberg and Iain McCaig, for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge issue #1 below! 

A variant cover of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge issue 31.

The series is written by Ethan Sacks, who recently entered the Star Wars comics galaxy with a tale of Jedi Master, Mace Windu, in the Star Wars: Age of Republic series. The series will be illustrated by Will Sliney, the artist behind the Beckett one-shot who also penciled the comic adaptation for Solo: A Star Wars Story. Cover art will be created by Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm artists.

We recently spoke with Sacks to learn more about how Star Wars first captured his imagination, and get a sneak peek at what’s in store for fans when the new series launches this spring.

StarWars.com: You just recently wrote your first Marvel Star Wars story, focusing on the fearless Jedi Master Mace Windu in the Star Wars: Age of Republic Special. What was it like being a fan entering the galaxy to shape a story around this character? And how different has it been plotting and collaborating for your new series, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?

Ethan Sacks: My lifelong fandom started on a summer afternoon in 1977, when as a four-year-old I first heard John Williams’s score in the theater. That experience of wonder changed my life in a very literal way, driving me on a path that ultimately led me to entertainment journalism and later writing comic books. So this is very personal for me.

The Mace Windu story in Age of Republic was self contained and fairly easy to write once I came up with the basic story idea. While Galaxy’s Edge has intertwined stories over several eras — including a Han Solo and Chewbacca adventure, a very specific dream come true — so plotting it to fruition was kind of like playing a high stakes hand of Sabacc on an active Dejarik board. Fortunately, I have great editors in Mark Paniccia and Thomas Groneman to help me navigate that asteroid field.

StarWars.com: What can you tell us about Dok-Ondar and his role in the story? We know he’s mentioned in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but only briefly.

Ethan Sacks: There’s a reason Dok-Ondar’s name ripples far and wide in the Star Wars universe. He’s a mysterious Ithorian who is the proprietor of the most notorious antiquities shop in the galaxy. And every item has a story behind it. Some more dangerous to listen to than others.

StarWars.com: Your story takes place on Batuu at Black Spire Outpost, a place fans will get to visit later this year at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. How did you approach adding to this vibrant, remote black market?

Ethan Sacks: Our series will give fans the chance to visit Black Spire Outpost months ahead of voyaging to Batuu in person. Armed with top-secret sketches and information from Walt Disney Imagineering and Lucasfilm, we are keeping this authentic to the spirit of this rich new setting. I’d tell you more, but I already have the death sentence on 12 systems….

Be sure to reserve a copy of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge issue #1 at your local comic store, or wherever comics are sold.

Check back for more exciting news on other Star Wars books and comics hitting shelves in 2019!

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.

Marvel Journeys to Batuu in New Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Comic – Exclusive

First Look — Marvel’s New Star Wars: TIE Fighter Series and Alphabet Squadron Novel Covers

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From a certain point of view, the rebels are traitors to the Empire, putting the innocent people of the galaxy at risk. In the last days of the Galactic Civil War, an elite squadron of TIE fighter pilots, known as Shadow Wing, is assembled to protect Imperial interests.

Starting in April, you’ll meet these brave pilots in Star Wars: TIE Fighter, a new Marvel miniseries set in the time of Alexander Freed’s forthcoming novel Alphabet Squadron, which we are happy to announce will be a trilogy.  The exciting new crossover series from Del Rey and Marvel comics, set after Return of the Jedi, will follow the brutal fallout during the fall of the Empire from both sides of the battle.

Get your first look at the cover art for Star Wars: TIE Fighter issue #1 and Alphabet Squadron below! Cover art of Star Wars: TIE Fighter issue 1.

The comic series is written by Jody Houser, who penned both Marvel’s Star Wars: Thrawn series and the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story comic adaptation, with art by Rogê Antônio and other acclaimed artists, including cover art created by the team behind the recent Darth Vader comic series, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Elia Bonetti.

Be sure to reserve a copy at your local comic store, or wherever comics are sold.

Check back for more exciting news on other Star Wars books and comics hitting shelves in 2019!

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

First Look — Marvel’s New Star Wars: TIE Fighter Series and Alphabet Squadron Novel Covers

Marvel Celebrates Original Trilogy Icons with Star Wars: Age of Rebellion

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Original trilogy fans, these are the comics you’re looking for.

Marvel’s Star Wars: Age of Rebellion, a special series of one-shots written by Greg Pak, will celebrate rebel princesses, Jedi Masters, and more legendary heroes and villains from the time of the Galactic Civil War. While the series doesn’t launch until April, StarWars.com is excited to offer a first look at its kick-off titles.

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Princess Leia #1 cover.

Cover by Terry and Rachel Dodson.

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Princess Leia #1, with art by Chris Sprouse, arrives April 3; set following the events of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the story tells of how Leia prepares for the rescue of Han Solo by taking on the identity of bounty hunter Boushh, and must earn the trust of Bossk.

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Grand Moff Tarkin #1 cover.

Cover by Terry and Rachel Dodson.

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Grand Moff Tarkin #1, illustrated by Marc Laming, hits shelves on April 10 and explores how the Imperial mastermind ensures that the Death Star lives up to its name.

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Special #1 cover.

Cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Guru-eFX.

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Special #1 lands April 10, featuring three stories starring characters both iconic and lesser known: writer Si Spurrier and artist Caspar Wijngaard tell a tale of droid bounty hunter IG-88; a Yoda story set during the Jedi Master’s exile on Dagobah comes courtesy of writer Marc Guggenheim and artist Andrea Broccardo; and writer/artist Jon Adams focuses on rebel pilots Biggs Darklighter and Jek Porkins.

Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Darth Vader #1 cover.

Cover by Terry and Rachel Dodson.

The second of three series exploring different eras of Star Wars (the prequel-centric Age of Republic is in stores now, and sequel trilogy-focused Age of Resistance will follow later this year), Age of Rebellion will continue with even more major issues: Han Solo #1, Boba Fett #1, Lando Calrissian #1, and Jabba the Hutt #1 arrive in May, and Luke Skywalker #1 and Darth Vader #1 come to our galaxy in June.

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Marvel Celebrates Original Trilogy Icons with Star Wars: Age of Rebellion

Find Hondo Ohnaka on Batuu in this Star Wars: Pirate’s Price Exclusive Excerpt

StarWars.com

No one weaves a tale quite like the greatest pirate in the galaxy, Hondo Ohnaka! The self-declared hero and incorrigible schemer has captured Jedi, led rowdy Weequay pirate gangs, and traveled from one end of the galaxy to the other in search of riches and fame.

In his newest adventure, Star Wars: Pirate’s Price, a new book by Lou Anders and illustrated by Annie Wu as part of the Flight of the Falcon series, Hondo is back in the spotlight and — what else? — talking his way out of things, regaling feared bounty hunter Bazine Netal with stories of his heroic deeds aboard the famed Millennium Falcon.

Today, StarWars.com is pleased to give you your first look at the opening pages from the new book as well as a glimpse at a second excerpt, torn straight from one of Hondo’s daring escapades. As many Star Wars fans and readers already know, soon you’ll be able to visit the planet Batuu and the village of Black Spire Outpost at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, coming this summer to Disneyland Park and this fall to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Learn about this exotic Outer Rim destination below and pick up your own copy for additional stories including Hondo’s run-in with the mighty Wookiee Chewbacca, the pilot and scoundrel Han Solo, and more.

The story begins in the Outer Rim, at the galaxy’s edge, on the planet of Batuu…

As far as wretched hives of scum and villainy went, Bazine Netal thought that Black Spire Outpost seemed friendlier than most. Certainly, the Trandoshan running the supply company was more than willing to point her in the direction of her quarry. He didn’t even ask her why she was looking for the Weequay. He just sold out his neighbor for a few credits.

She moved through the crowded streets. Although she looked striking in her black leather skull cap and Rishi eel ink–tipped fingers, no one paid her any attention. The locals were used to all manner of beings coming and going. Still, Bazine knew better than to turn her back on any of them. Especially not when she was so close to her goal.

She had been a long time getting there.

After being led on a chase across the galaxy, she had tracked the Millennium Falcon to the planet Batuu and its infamous port—Black Spire Outpost. Glancing above the roofline of the buildings, Bazine could see how the place found its name. Rising above the shops and dwellings were the petrified trunks of what were once giant trees that had dominated the skies of that world. Now their blackened remains stood as silent sentinels on the outskirts of the town.

The outpost was not an easy place to find unless you knew about it first. It was located where the Unknown Regions met Wild Space, a stopover for smugglers and those of less savory occupations—a place for rogues and opportunists, con artists, thieves . . . and of course, pirates.

So it made a sort of sense that her target would be there. After all, the infamous Hondo Ohnaka had been all those things and more.

Bazine’s intelligence had told her that the notorious Weequay scoundrel was there on Batuu, where he was running a shipping operation called Ohnaka Transport Solutions. Doubtless it was a thin front for a smuggling operation. But it didn’t matter to Bazine what it was. She wasn’t interested in his services—just his ships . . .or rather, one of them in particular. One very special ship.

She found the old pirate in a busy cantina where a repurposed RX-series pilot droid was playing upbeat music to an audience that mostly ignored it. But there was Hondo. He was sitting at a corner table playing sabacc with a nervous-looking Ithorian, a furry Yarkora, and a grinning Suerton.

Surprisingly, the Weequay didn’t even have his back to the wall. If she had gone there to kill him, he would already be dead. Fortunate for him, then, that she wasn’t planning to. At least she wouldn’t unless she had to. And that remained to be seen.

Still, the way he had his back to half the room struck Bazine as unnecessarily careless and ridiculously trusting. It certainly spoke to his legendary overconfidence. In fact, Hondo wasn’t so much sitting in his chair as sprawling in it, a drink in one hand and three sabacc cards in the other. He wasn’t playing it close to the vest, either, but swinging his sabacc cards in time with the music. As she approached him from one side, Bazine could easily glance at his hand. He had a two, a three, and the face card known as a sylop, sometimes called the idiot. He was grinning like one, too, although, judging from the pile of credit chips on the table, it looked as though the Suerton was the one who was winning the most.

“My friends,” said Hondo, his voice ringing out with a happy lilt that was almost musical, “I cannot tell you how much it pains me to take all of your credits today. But you make it too easy. And as my sweet mother used to say, if you’re going to bet, bet big.” He tossed an impressive handful of credit chips onto the growing pile in the center and waited for the others to ante up.

“You’re bluffing,” growled the Ithorian from one of his twin mouths.

“I never bluff,” Hondo replied. Then, after a slight pause, he added, “Except maybe for those occasions when I do. But this is not one of them”—another pause—“as far as you know. Which is not very far.”

“So you are bluffing?” asked the Ithorian, confused.

“How can you be sure? I could be bluffing about bluffing,” said Hondo. “Hmmm . . . or bluffing about that.”

“Bah,” growled the Ithorian from both mouths at once. But then the Yarkora spotted Bazine. He gave a little start, and it amused her to wonder which of his two stomachs had done a flip.

“What is it?” said Hondo. “Have I got something on my face? I mean besides my so very attractive frills?” He brushed the backs of his fingers across the barbs that grew from his jowls. They had gotten longer as he had gotten older. Perhaps he thought they made him look distinguished. But then he caught sight of the newcomer out of the corner of his eye.

“Oh, we have company, don’t we?” Hondo said. He swung his legs around and turned in his chair to face her. “Well, well, won’t you join us for a game . . .Bazine Netal?”

A map for the Flight of the Falcon series.

With his trademark panache, Hondo acts as host and narrator, recounting a litany of tales for Bazine and readers, from his first time aboard the storied to ship to the time he got into the cockpit and flew the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy…

The day started out like so many others.

I woke up in a strange spacecraft. I was alone in the cockpit. The control console was smoking and sparking. Crackle, crackle, fizzle, spark!

Oh, and it seemed that two Imperial TIE fighters were shooting at me.

Keeooo-keeooo!

It was all very exciting.

How did I get there?

I had only the vaguest memory. I recalled something about a party, excitement and dancing.

Oh, yes, and a strange drink called Sarlacc Juice. In hindsight, I don’t recommend it.

Oh, and I think there was an Imperial garrison commander.

He was the one doing the dancing.

Because I asked him to.

By “asked,” you understand, I mean I was firing blaster bolts at his feet. And he was hopping about so as not to get shot in the foot. It was so amusing, for me at least. But perhaps he was not having as much fun.

Ah.

So that explained why the Imperial TIE fighters were shooting at me.

Well, there is always a price for a good time.

And this was another good time.

But all good times must end.

And the strange ship didn’t look like it was going to last much longer, not with the smoking and the sparking and the shooting—keeooo-keeooo!—and everything coming apart around me.

So I looked for a place to land.

There was a planet up ahead.

The navicomputer said it was Galagolos V. Do you know it? It is one of those swampy, stinky planets. Not much to look at and you have to be careful where you put your feet. But beggars cannot be choosy when their ships are on fire, I always say.

So I set down.

I went careening through the atmosphere, black smoke billowing behind me. It must have really been quite a sight.

And do you know, it was a perfect three-point landing.

By that I mean, I hit three separate points before I finally came to rest.

What was left of the ship skidded to a stop right in an empty docking bay. At least I think it was empty.

There were some bang-crash-crunch-crunch noises at the end before I stopped moving. I hopped out quickly. The service droids were getting excitable.

“Sir, sir, you can’t dock here,” they said, rushing up to me and waving their metal arms about.

I tossed them a handful of what might be credit chips.

Or maybe just pieces of the control console.

“Keep the change,” I said.

Then I rushed through the doors before they could stop me, and I was in the spaceport proper. I hoped to quickly lose myself in the crowd. Oh, it was a busy place for such a stinky, swampy planet. That was good. But the air was all sweaty and wet. Sticky, sticky. Nothing like the dry heat of my beloved Florrum. It was no matter.

I didn’t plan to stick around for long.

But to get off that stinky ball, I would need a new ship. That was, of course, merely a momentary setback for a great pirate such as myself. And there I was lucky enough to have crashed in a spaceport. Opportunities abounded for the unscrupulous and the bold. And I am both of those things.

I began to look around.

So many people. And I did not know any of them.

The day was alive with possibility. I had a feeling that something was bound to happen.

Pre-order your copy of Star Wars: Pirate’s Price today!

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Find Hondo Ohnaka on Batuu in this Star Wars: Pirate’s Price Exclusive Excerpt

Writer Charles Soule on the Journey to Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith‘s Climactic End

StarWars.com

Spoiler warning: This story contains details and plot points from Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith Issue #25.

Since 2005, when Charles Soule first sat in a darkened movie theater and watched the newly born Darth Vader lurch off the surgical slab with an agonized cry of mourning, he’s been waiting to discover what happened after the credits rolled on Revenge of the Sith.

More than a decade later, his comic book series Marvel’s Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith picked up at this pinnacle moment and invited fans on a visceral exploration of Anakin Skywalker’s transition beneath the mask. We’ve watched as he grew accustomed to his mechanized suit, sometimes being forced to rebuild himself from droid parts in the heat of battle. The story brought us closer to understanding Vader’s motivations and the Emperor’s power over his apprentice. His turn to the dark side has been punctuated by moments of light, an ambiguous action that can at once be read as Vader protecting his own interests or protecting the future, and levity.

Today, with the final issue in the series on store shelves, we finish this journey at Darth Vader’s side in the most intimate exploration of his inner self yet. Or as Soule described it in his initial pitch for the final issue: “Very trippy, very dark, and intense and strange.”

The cover of Issue 25 of Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.

With a storyline that feels like an in inverse of the Mortis arc from The Clone Wars, where Anakin Skywalker was faced with a vision of his dark future, the final issue in the series invites us into Vader’s meditative mindscape on Mustafar as he travels among the ghosts of his past, a deeply moving journey woven with familiar images and dialogue clipped right from the Star Wars films and other stories. Vader confronts the looming shadow of his present form as it casts a pall over his childhood. Ultimately, he finds a twisted and evil version of Padmé and makes one last attempt to save her before accepting his fate, a pale vision of a single Jedi warrior seen just on the horizon. “He goes from no to yes in the series,” Soule says, literally bookending the first panel of the first issue and the last panel of the final issue with these simple words that denote a complete shift in the character’s thinking. “What he realizes in 25, and it was a very pointed choice to not show possibilities, everything he’s seen is stuff that’s already happened… What’s the point of doing anything other than this? This is all there is for me.

“The big thing that he realizes, the thing that he says ‘yes’ to is that he’s trapped. That he knows that there’s no other path for him, he sees where his path is leading: that vision on the last couple pages…this figure with a blue lightsaber waiting down the road for him.”

All things are possible through the Force. And through Soule’s storytelling and the exquisite illustrations by pencil artist Giuseppe Camuncoli, inks and finishes by Cam Smith and Dainele Orlandini, and colors from David Curiel, Dono Sánchez-Almara and Erick Arciniega, the series has managed to shed new light on the more intimate emotional side of an iconic villain and broken man. “I hope that what the series conveyed is that complexity,” Soule says. “You see a person of many, many layers even though he’s just a guy in a suit at this point.”

Duty and destiny

Soule alone has had a hand in expanding the backstories of several important legacy characters through Marvel comics series: Lando Calrissian, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Poe Dameron, just to name a few. But when he first got the call to pen the five-issue Star Wars: Lando series, Soule couldn’t believe his luck. “You know, I was an A New Hope kid,” Soule says, with fond memories of rewatching the original trilogy on LaserDisc and inventing new stories for his action figure collection alongside his siblings. “So as an adult, as a writer who I guess had finally worked my way up to the point where Marvel asked me to write a Star Wars book and Lucasfilm agreed to let me do it, was just shocking.”

With Lando, Soule introduced the tragic friendship of Lando and Lobot. “I just wanted to try to say something about Lando that felt correct to me, that would maybe adjust the way people think about him a little bit, deepen him a little bit, and even take a side character like Lobot who was really pretty disposable in The Empire Strikes Back but also very striking.”

In Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin, Soule dabbled in his first story on the man who would become Darth Vader, focusing on the troubled teenage years of Obi-Wan’s young apprentice. The story, set between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, gave Soule the foundation for beginning to understand the character’s struggles with authority, duty, commitment, and destiny. “It was an opportunity to think about what a 13- or 14-year-old Anakin would be like, when he’s a teenager, when he’s questioning authority. Realizing that a decision that he made when he was nine is going to steer the course of his life… I mean, a space wizard came in with a laser sword and said, ‘Hey, let’s go!’ Any nine-year-old kid would go,” Soule says. “And I don’t think he understood what it meant to become a Jedi at that time. He certainly did later.”

A page from Issue 8 of Marvel's Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.
A page from Issue 8 of Marvel's Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.

A page from Issue 25 of Marvel's Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.

But none of his previous projects were quite like facing Darth Vader. From the start, Soule and his creative team plotted out the 25-issue run, with the same core group working on each successive arc. “It’s a team that has been consistent, which is extremely unusual for a more-than-monthly comic book,” Soule says.

That cohesive collaboration gave the crew a kind of shorthand behind the scenes and lends discernible continuity to the storytelling. For instance, the visual language used to accompany scenes where Vader meditates, his phantom limbs a striking and empty white space while his organic form is crimson and raw, remains the same throughout the series because the same artists were responsible for illustration. “When I see it being drawn consistently and looking the same way throughout the series, then I know that if I use that piece of visual language, that piece of visual storytelling in another issue, it’s going to be consistent,” Soule says. “The readers will understand.”

For Soule, the series needed to be more about the metaphysical than the physical. Lightsaber-slashing stunts and fight choreography play a part, but the series is deeply character focused. “Everything we tried to do here was very much character-based, not just with Darth Vader, but also in the larger story of the galaxy, characters we know, the Empire growing, all of the things that would be happening as we transition from the prequel era into the original trilogy era,” Soule says. The series introduces the Inquisitors, connecting to Star Wars Rebels, as well as forging connections to The Clone Wars, and even the sequel trilogy. “There are so many ways that Vader as a comic serves as this central lynchpin between so many different parts of the current Star Wars universe and I think that is part of why people have responded to it the way they have,” Soule says.

A Vader like no other

Soule admits he was apprehensive about delving into this dark and unexplored era in the Sith Lord’s lore. “When I first got the call…I was a little nervous about it,” Soule says. “It’s a massive project, arguably the most popular and well-known villain in all of pop culture and arguably the most popular and well-known character in all of Star Wars. Which means one of the most well-known characters in all of fiction, right?” And here was Soule, being asked to illuminate this “hugely important chapter in his life.”

A page from Issue 1 of Marvel's Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.

By picking up at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Soule practiced a bit of his own fan wish fulfillment. “I wanted that movie to go on for another four hours. And when Marvel called me and said, ‘You can do this book and we want to set it after Episode III,’ I was like, ‘I want to set it right after Episode III. Immediately after Episode III, and just go!’”

To walk beside Darth Vader on his final steps toward embracing the dark side, Soule and readers of the series would be confronting some of the character’s darkest moments. “It’s taking on a book about a person who was conceived by and sort of bathes in darkness as part of his daily MO,” Soule says, so he was determined “to find a way into the story that didn’t make me feel miserable all the time…I wanted to find a way to tell that story that wouldn’t be massively depressing either for me or for the readers.

“I think there are certainly moments in Vader that are very dark and very brutal from both a psychological and a physical perspective. But I think it’s still done in such a way that it still feels almost…cathartic,” Soule says hopefully. “You’re working through some of your own emotions — I certainly did when I was writing it — about the world through the Vader story. The frustration and anger and fear that he feels is something that I think is kind of relatable.”

And he wanted to deliver a never-before-seen side of the Sith Lord. “I wanted to create a Vader that didn’t feel like a Vader that we’ve seen in all the other Vader appearances,” Soule says. Aside from the final moments of Return of the Jedi, the Darth Vader fans know is hyper-competent and brutally calculating, an “extremely confident and menacing figure who seems to know exactly what he’s doing at all times, and can’t be stopped, can’t be defeated, can’t even screw up really in some ways,” Soule says. “But in this series he’s not that yet. He is somebody who’s just put on the suit. The first couple arcs are concerned quite a bit with him learning to use it, learning to physically exist as a person in this robotic suit of armor and understanding that the way he uses the Force has to change. He can’t be this agile, flippy-jumpy lightsaber guy,” Soule says. Vader is more like a walking tank. “And the choices he makes… He realizes what he is by the end of 25. And everything he’s lost, everything he’s set aside, what his relationship is going to be for the next several decades. For all he knows, the rest of his life.”

Darkness and light

As Soule sorted through Vader’s feelings, his journey to more machine than man cast his eventual redemption into new light. Even in the driver’s seat, Soule isn’t quite sure he’s ever rooting for Vader in any sense of the word. “He tends to kill people whenever he wants,” Soule says. As a child, Luke Skywalker’s journey resonated more with Soule. “I thought Vader was awesome, but I was afraid of him. The revelation that Vader was Luke’s father at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, I remember debating it a lot with my friends and my brothers and sister and my dad about whether that could possibly be true. Because it meant that Obi-Wan had lied. For those three years between Empire and Jedi you just didn’t know….It seemed so impossible that somebody that evil could be the father of somebody who was obviously so good and trying hard and so awesome. And so I resented Vader.”

Having written this chapter in the Sith Lord’s life, Soule emerges still conflicted. “I understand him. I like to think I understand him very well now. But I spent a lot of time thinking about him and what his story actually is, not just the way that the emotional beats are that we see in the films and other media, but the actual story between the story. What this guy felt like at different times in his life. Stuff he thought when he was 13 and he realized the impact of the choice he’d made. And so if you look at it from baby to nine-year-old to teenager to falling in love and getting married to betraying everybody and killing everyone he loves, all of the things that happen to him, it’s an awful story. This poor guy! It’s a story of missed opportunity and missed potential and manipulation and fear and all of the things that make him so compelling.”

A page from Issue 10 of Marvel's Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.

As a reader, at times Vader seems to consider turning back to the light and toward his own redemption, through actions that contrast with his role as the Emperor’s brutal right hand. In issue 10, Vader captures a data file that contains the names of every Force-sensitive child the Jedi had identified before Order 66 nearly wiped them out. Jocasta Nu has died, desperately trying to get off Coruscant with the information salvaged from the Jedi Archive she once oversaw, “because she did not want that to fall into the Emperor’s hands,” Soule says.

But instead of turning it over to his master, Vader crushes the data file and lies toEmperor Palpatine about the success of his mission. “I think that’s a very debatable moment and I left it,” Soule says. “I could have made it more clear as to why he did that but I left it ambiguous because you don’t know if he wanted to avoid giving the Emperor more power, or was it that he wanted to avoid other children going through what he went through —  being manipulated and turned the way the Emperor had done to him? Or was it some other Vader-y motivation? You don’t know. That is what I tried to do every opportunity I had, to make his motivations a little bit opaque. Is it Anakin doing this or is it Vader doing this? Because Anakin’s still kind of fresh with him, he’s only been in the suit for a little while at this point so you could see him maybe making redemptive choices here, but you don’t know. It could just be this is a very strategic, smart choice for Vader to make to avoid the Emperor getting more Force-sensitive people that could possibly attack him at some point.” Maybe Vader just doesn’t want the Emperor to have a chance to replace him, as he has so often with other apprentices in the past.

A page from Issue 23 of Marvel's Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.
A page from Issue 23 of Marvel's Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.

The speculation continued with the erection of Vader’s castle and the antagonist Momin, a death-defying creature in a mask who also provides some levity throughout the series as his corporeal form changes — with each misstep, Vader kills the host and places the mask on a new victim to show his frustration with the process of building a castle. “It felt right to me to make it a little bit lighter because I knew where the story was going to go after that,” Soule says.

The arc was constructed to answer a nagging question on Soule’s mind. “Why would Vader have a castle or a fortress at all?” he asks. “It just seems like a really odd thing for him to do. It’s badass, there’s no doubt about it. So my first question is why does he have this thing? Why would he want it and why would he put it on Mustafar of all places?”

In the shadow of the Sith

The climactic final issue is a masterful fusion of storytelling and art. As Vader steps through the portal, he leaves behind his shattered body and enters the mindscape of his earlier meditations.

“This was a very difficult issue because it’s largely silent in some ways,” Soule says. “The main character doesn’t speak very much.” So much must be conveyed through the illustrations and coloration.

“Most of the dialogue in the issue is lines from the films, and it’s lines that we’re familiar with,” Soule says. “It’s lines from comics, all these beats that we’ve seen that are iconic language from Darth Vader’s life and lines that he’s never heard, there’s stuff from the sequel trilogy that drops in there. So Vader stepping into this kind of world of his own legend and his own past and his own future, he’s stepping inside himself, but he’s also seeing outside himself to see what might happen. So when he meditates, when you see that happen first in issue 5 or 6 you see this kind of purple lightning field horrorscape… that’s what it feels like to him inside. And I wanted the readers to viscerally experience what Vader feels like inside. And that is what issue 25 is. It’s as close as I could come in a comic book to making it feel like what Darth Vader feels like emotionally.”

Inside Vader’s mind, a storm is raging. “The parts of himself that he’s lost, those parts cannot touch the Force,” Soule says. And what remains of the boy who was Anakin Skywalker is raw and wounded. Or as Momin says tauntingly, all that Vader is now is “a stub of charred meat in a cape.”

“In issue 25, you see a progression of Vader from young, little Anakin going all the way up through our current version of Vader. And as he ages in the mindscape, different pieces of him disappear and become whited out that way. So, for me, it was about how do I want it to feel for the reader? And communicating that as clearly as I can to Giuseppe [Camuncoli, Cam Smith, and David Curiel.]…I just write the words down, they make it look amazing.”

The art team brilliantly translated Soule’s description into quiet depictions of frustration and seething anger, despite working with a main character who almost devoid of facial expression. “He just has eyes and the eyes don’t move very much,” Soule says.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace poster

Episode I Teaser poster

A page from Issue 25 of Marvel's Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith.

To complete his transition to the dark side, Vader must traverse his memories, traveling through the life he knew. Anakin’s boyhood gave Soule the chance to incorporate visions of Vader as young Anakin’s nightmare, and the story revisits an image that previously appeared as a teaser poster for The Phantom Menace, with young Anakin walking the sands of Tatooine with the looming shadow of Darth Vader cast behind him.  “I always loved that image. If you’re a Star Wars fan, that’s a very iconic image,” Soule says. “It was so ubiquitous back then, back in the ’90s.” He liked it so much, he bought a copy when it first came out. “Little did I know I would be canonizing that picture. Sometimes you do stuff to amuse yourself.”

In his mindscape, Vader faces the Jedi Council, cutting down members recently dead and some still living. “They’re the ones he felt kind of betrayed him. They wouldn’t make him a member of the council.” Ultimately, he finds Padmé, or a version of her seemingly alive but already decked out in her funeral garb, yet he still cannot save her.

But in Soule’s mind, although he expects fans to speculate on whether or not Vader’s fortress holds a path similar to the “World Between Worlds” introduced in Star Wars Rebels, a realm where altering time and space is actually possible, the entire sequence is just an illusion. “The scene with Padmé is supposed to illustrate that. I don’t think that’s Padmé, right? I mean, who knows if it’s Padmé. Even though I wrote it, sometimes I don’t even know,” Soule says. “And we’ll see what the fans think. That’s the crazy thing about Star Wars, it almost doesn’t matter what I was doing, it matters how it’s received down the road. But in my mind, that’s not Padmé, that’s the dark side trying to convince Vader, ‘Look man, you’ve got to get on with the real work. That’s part of your past and your path goes to new places.’”

That’s somehow more devastating than a path to the real woman he loved, a second chance to save her from her fate. “I think this version is much more tragic,” Soule says. “It’s creepier that the dark side would use this thing that means so much to him and do this in this particular way. It just underscores the tragedy and makes it clearer that his path is his path and there’s no going back and there’s no changing it. You can only move forward. You have to let go, in other words. You have to let go of the past,” Soule says, echoing a similar quote from The Last Jedi that’s also part of the sequence, a distant feeling from Vader’s future grandson. “It’s a very Jedi lesson that he never learned that well and the dark side is trying to [teach] him. And I guess the dark succeeds where the light side failed.”

The ending only works because Soule has built up trust with the readers who have been along for the full ride, he says. “The reviews on this series have been extremely kind. People have been willing to follow it wherever it went and it’s gone to some really strange places,” he says. “Issue 25 is bizarre…it only works because it’s the end.”

But it can’t turn Darth Vader into a hero. “When he showed up in Rogue One, I was like ‘Yeah! This is fantastic.’ But am I ever really rooting for him? I wouldn’t say I’m ever rooting for Darth Vader. I will always watch him and probably always enjoy watching him do what he does and being Vader, but I, you know, I hate him. That’s the thing that makes him such an incredibly powerful villain. Even with all this humanization and all of this depth of storytelling that goes into him from the original trilogy the prequels, Rebels, my comic, Kieron Gillen’s incredible comic from a few years back, all of the other ways his story’s been told in a cohesive way, he is still the villain. He is still the bad guy. And he is still very easy to hate even if you understand every choice he’s making.”

Soule hopes readers will be satisfied that the comic fulfills its destiny as the story he and others envisioned after Revenge of the Sith. “This was the story I was desperate to see,” Soule says and it seems to have resonated with fans. “They wanted to see Jedi being hunted. They wanted to see the [red] lightsaber. They wanted to see the castle. And I hope that this version of it was the best they could possibly hope for outside of maybe a film version So if I did that and made Vader as awesome and terrifying and wonderful as we all kind of think he is, then I did my job.”

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them!

Writer Charles Soule on the Journey to Marvel’s Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith‘s Climactic End

Star Wars: Jedi Academy: Revenge of the Sis – New School, New Padawan Problems

StarWars.com

The latest in the Jedi Academy series will transport readers and Padawan learners to Jedha City for new adventure in the Starspeeder family saga.

This time, the focus is on star pupil Christina Starspeeder, in Jedi Academy: Revenge of the Sis, the new book by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and Amy Ignatow hitting shelves in March. Told through a mix of doodles, drawings, journal entries, and comics, the story takes on the trials of starting a new school and meeting new kids and famed Jedi Masters.

StarWars.com recently sat down with the authors to talk about the importance of female characters who are multi-faceted and formidable, the humor in duck-faced selfies, and the transcendent power of truth in storytelling.

The cover art for Jedi Academy: Revenge of the Sis.

StarWars.com: This is the first time Christina Starspeeder of Naboo has the spotlight without sharing the story with her brother, Victor. How would you describe Christina and why was it important to you to shift focus to her trials and tribulations at the Jedi Academy at Jedha City?

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: We learn so much about Victor in his story arc, and his sister is seemingly unflappable. But the family dynamics that affect Victor will also affect Christina, so this new story arc will help us scratch below the surface to discover what we can find. We also get to explore the greater galaxy with Christina as she travels with her mentor, Skia Ro, in that time just after her graduation from the Coruscant campus.

StarWars.com: When we begin this tale, Christina is worried about leaving her brother and they’re both still wrestling with the Starspeeder family drama of their father becoming a Sith. For fans of the series and newcomers alike, where does this fit into the timeline with the other Jedi Academy volumes and the greater Star Wars galaxy?

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: The volumes that were created by Jeffrey Brown take place about one-hundred years prior to the events of The Phantom Menace. When I was asked to create a new story arc starting with A New Class, I moved time forward enough so that Jeffrey’s students would be out into the galaxy doing their things but many of the same faculty and staff would still be around.

StarWars.com: These middle grade readers are packed with comics, doodles and journal entries to move the story of Christina’s Jedi apprenticeship along. How do you decide the proper mix of journal entries, social media tidbits, and straight comic panels to tell this story? Can you give an example of why one format would be better to explain a plot point or moment over the rest?

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: This is something that Jeffrey Brown set up perfectly and I pushed it further along with the addition of the click-bait articles and Stargram, and now Amy even more so with the addition of Galactic Zoology Today, a news site that Christina is obsessed with. Each artifact moves the story along in some way, though they do offer pieces of levity and references to the greater Star Wars universe. When we use the comics, we are showing what is actually happening at that moment. But with the journals and doodles, we can really get into that character’s brain and psyche. Oftentimes, there is a sharp contrast in how something happens and how one perceives it to be — in real life and in these books. There is a rhythm to deciding which pieces go where and how many comics pages do we utilize versus how many journal pages, etc.

I’m also a big fan of the page-turn in comics — when the panels are leading up to an explosive action sequence and then you turn the page and to reveal a double-page spread with action!

StarWars.com: Jarrett, you joined Jedi Academy with #4, A New Class, back in 2016. Tell me about your experience as author and illustrator for the first three books you helmed in the series. How did things change with Amy co-writing this latest book?

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: It certainly was tricky because Jeffrey did such an outstanding job with those first three books. As intimidating as it was, I knew that the only way it would work would be for me to make it my own. I brought in an entirely new cast of characters and my sensibility. With Amy, we really wanted her distinct voice in this. So while I outlined the story, the sharp dialogue and laugh-out-loud character traits are all her. When reading Christina’s journal entries it will feel like an entirely different person from Victor because an entirely different person wrote those lines.

StarWars.com: Amy, what’s it been like tackling this project, helping to bring a female character front and center in the series?

Amy Ignatow: Really fun! Jarrett had already established Christina Starspeeder as a really smart, really competent Jedi-in-training and making her fallible and more interesting was a pleasure. It’s important to have female characters that are both multi-dimensional and [tough].

StarWars.com: What was the most challenging part of co-authoring? What comes first, the words or the illustrations?

Amy Ignatow: Jarrett wrote a very detailed outline of the plot, down to which pages would be written as journal entries and Stargram accounts. I wrote the book according to his excellent directions, and then he created the art. Because I’m also an illustrator, I could give clear art directions when needed and I trusted him to come up with visuals that would punch up the words. He did not disappoint.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: What’s funny is Amy and I each think the other made this process super easy for the other one.

Amy Ignatow: This is very true. I’m kind of curious to see what other things Jarrett can do that I find difficult, like bowling or lithography or baking.

StarWars.com: Jarrett, the series is a departure from your graphic memoir, Hey Kiddo, in tone, but both share honest depictions of emotions, anxieties and self-doubts, which is especially important in teaching young readers that they’re not alone in how they feel. Why do you think this truth in storytelling transcends stories set in our world and in a galaxy far, far away?

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: I love that you noticed that! What a unique opportunity for me to express some of those more complicated realities about life via Star Wars. Young people need to know that they are not alone no matter what they are going through. It could be something as complicated as a father turning to the dark side or the more everyday worries one has about where they fit in with a social circle.

StarWars.com: She’s such a relatable character from her anxieties about starting a new school to getting starstruck in front of her master, Skia Ro. And every time she tries to help it all goes sideways. Did your own experiences in middle school help shape some aspects of this story?

Amy Ignatow: Nope, I was a typical middle schooler — just really confident and popular and immediately good at everything. Please just believe me and understand that there is no need to ask anyone from my time in middle school to verify that. Next question.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: I, too, had a flawless middle-school experience that did not at all involve getting braces and glasses within a week of one another, constantly getting picked last in gym class, and tripping flat on my face in front of the entire class.

Amy Ignatow: My dude, you just wrote an entire memoir about your childhood. We’ve all seen the haircuts.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Hey, watch it! I went to college with one of your very oldest friends and she’s my Facebook friend…

Amy Ignatow: She is a notorious liar who is not to be trusted and I love her very much but don’t believe a word she says and perhaps remind her that I, too, have blackmail material. NEXT QUESTION.

StarWars.com: There are plenty of sly Star Wars references — trash compactors and womprats! — mixed in with humor that every kid can get behind — an accidental fart joke while trying to speak to the Wookiees. Tell me about your own Star Wars fandom. How did you craft this story so it speaks to both kids who are fans and kids who have never seen Star Wars?

Amy Ignatow: We had a copy of A New Hope that we’d recorded off of television that I probably watched hundreds of times as a kid, so writing this with Jarrett (and spending hours looking stuff up on Wookieepedia) was a joy.

But the beauty of Star Wars is that it isn’t all about womprats (although I would for realsies watch that National Geographic special until my eyeballs fell out). It’s a story of Good v. Evil, of family, of friendships, of doing what is right versus doing what is easy, and I think anyone can relate to those things. You might not be a Padawan, but everyone knows what it’s like to start at a new school.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Funny enough, I did not see A New Hope until my freshman year of college. My grandparents took me to see E.T. when it was released in 1982, and four-year-old me left the theater in tears, terrified. There was no family outing to see Return of the Jedi that next year. At any rate, I missed out and I have been making up for lost time ever since. That being the case, I do approach these books with the non-Star-Warsian kid in mind. The relatable problems get written first, the lightsaber action gets layered in afterward.

Amy Ignatow: I didn’t see E.T. until last year. My mother (not a native English speaker) told me it was “about a spaceman” and for YEARS I assumed it was about astronauts.

StarWars.com: OK, last one. What are you most excited for readers to discover when they pick up this title in March?

Amy Ignatow: That the farts of dweebits made the entire planet of Belkadan uninhabitable. I’m not sorry. This is important information.

Jarrett J. Krosoczka: Porg snacks.

Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them!

Star Wars: Jedi Academy: Revenge of the Sis – New School, New Padawan Problems