Hello and welcome back to our coverage of Star Wars: Celebration VI from the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. Star Wars has a long history of existing in other media outside of the original films. This “Expanded Universe” as it is called gives fans a chance to see the way the universe of the beloved franchise exists on other worlds, in different eras, explore new characters and get deeper into the history, and future, of the characters they already love.
Dark Horse Comics has been making Star Wars series, mini-series, and graphic novels for 25 years. With comic books, they’ve been able to explore everything from the Dawn of the Jedi to the far-future Legacy of the Force. Today, Dark Horse brings John Jackson Miller, Jan Duursema, Doug Wheatley, Dave Marshall, and Randy Stradley to the fans to talk about what’s coming from the company in the world of Star Wars looking into 2013.
Stay tuned and keep the refresh button handy as we update LIVE from 1:30 pm EDT until 2:30 pm EDT, discussing the world of Star Wars comics!
We’re kicking off with the panelists, listed above. Editor Randy Stradley starts by saying they’ll be talking about what’s coming from now through the end of 2012 before they jump into 2013. They’ve decided not to use this show for announcing any big new series, those will be at New York Comic-Con in October (although if you read further, you’ll see no less than 3 announcements, go figure!).
Knight Errant: Escape is the current series featuring Jedi Knight Kerra Holt. JJM is the writer of the series, the third one, plus a novel. “This really is the best series we’ve done for Knight Errant. Holt has discovered she’s the only Jedi working in this area of Sith space. She’s a freedom fighter, and she has found something in this storyline that concerns the fate of the universe. Odeon, the Sith Lord she’s fighting, believes he needs to destroy all life in the universe because it’s giving him a headache. We have a big surprise coming up, the most important moment in Kerra’s life so far.”
Next is the current Darth Maul series, Death Sentence, which takes place directly after the events of Clone Wars Season 4. The Jedi are forced to come to a mining colony as the owner of the colony has put out a hit on Darth Maul. There are new Jedi, and a few fun cameos.
“Also featuring Maul and Oppress,” says Stradley, “is a digest called Clone Wars: The Sith Hunters. That takes place just before the Death Sentence series, spinning out of the events of Season 4. Dave Filoni, Supervising Director, did the cover.”
“Another Darth, Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison is a story of an attempt of someone within the empire to takeover Palpatine’s place.” The series features a secret Jedi prison that was lost to the empire, full of force users.
A new series launches this month, Lost Tribe of the Sith: Spiral. The series ties directly into the prose stories by John Jackson Miller. “It’s a planet full of Sith who have been marrooned there for generations. The political dynamics there are pretty intense,” said Marshall. JJM continued, “It’s been a blast. It really shows the synergy between the prose and the comics. We created a backstory for the lost tribe that was created in the Fate of the Jedi novels. These were characters stranded on this planet with no technology, no way to go anywhere. All they have is lightsabers, it’s kind of a sword and sorcery setting.
“We released the collected stories of the short prose e-books in print a few weeks ago, and it’s on a third printing! Then we said we wanted to see what these characters really look like. So this picks up immediately after the last story in the prose collection. The fun thing about it is since it spans so many years, this particular batch of Sith are the same characters in the big novella. What happens in this storyline, they discover they might not be the only superpower on this planet. There will be some fun surprises for them along the way. There’s no metal on this planet, it’s all very medieval looking. Glass arrows and daggers, not really what you’re accustomed to seeing in this Star Wars high-tech universe.”
Star Wars: Agent of the Empire kicks back up this fall, with lots of guest stars joining Johan Cross. Leia, Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and more will cross paths with the superspy who works for the imperials. “James Bond meets Star Wars – the empire gets a hero face for a change,” describes Stradley.
Now we’re into Dawn of the Jedi, the story that tells how they actually formed up. Jan Duursema is co-plotting and drawing the series. In the second arc, called Prisoner of Bogan, it’s one force hound chasing another who fell to Tython. Xesh is on Bogan, the dark side moon, and runs into a dark Je’dai who the others don’t want let back into the mainstream group.
“This is something new that no one knows about, so Randy was lying,” said Marshall about the next slide, showing off an image from a new arc of Star Wars: Dark Times.
Randy is writing that, and Doug Wheatley is doing covers, with Gabriel Gusman doing the interior art.
“This arc picks up with the Jedi younglings that haven’t been seen since volume 2, so it’s been many years since we’ve checked up on them. They managed to get off the moon in a repaired ship that holds up just long enough to crash land in a place that leaves them in an awful lot of trouble.
“Meanwhile, Darth Vader has embarked on a program to train the assassin he captured in the last arc, Out of the Wilderness. He’s now being trained by Vader for a special mission; he’s given a choice, he can do what Vader tells him to, or he can die.”
The series is called Dark Times: Fire Carrier and that comes out early 2013.
Star Wars: Purge – The Tyrant’s Fist is another new announcement (sorry, Stradley!). The Purge series of one-shots follow Vader scouring the galaxy to personally kill Jedi after Episode 3. Written by Alexander Freed, writer from Star Wars: The Old Republic game and comics, this will be the first 2-part story in the Purge series.
“It takes Vader to a more primitive planet, where the Jedi have a very mythic reputation, are very rooted in the culture of this planet. Vader is after these Jedi that are very entrenched, and comes to realize that eradicating the Jedi isn’t just a case of getting rid of the Jedi themselves, but also getting rid of what they mean to people, what they represent,” said Marshall.
Brian Wood’s Star Wars, a series that takes place just after Episode IV, comes early 2013. The previously announced series, featuring interior art by Carlos D’Anda from Batman Arkham Asylum, has lots of rumors spreading. Stradley says “no one has them right, but Brian Wood will be here tomorrow night to give everyone just enough information to start a whole new batch of rumors.” Stradley did assure fans, this is not a reboot, and will not ignore continuity.
Things like Leia grieving over Alderaan, those little moments inbetween the big moments, are what will be explored. “There’s a lot of room for fun and interesting character exploration in this.” Marshall added, “This is the place to start all your friends who are Star Wars fans but don’t read the comics. If you’re looking for a gateway drug for them, this is it!”
And now we’re into Fan Q&A time.
Q: Whatever happened to Star Wars Invasion?
Stradley: It reached kind of an ending point. Every few years we try to bring in new titles and cycle old titles out. We reached a satisfying stopping point, and also realized the artist wasn’t going to be able to do it for awhile. We may go back and revisit those characters, but it will probably lie still for a couple of years.
Q: Any possible continuation of Legacy now that Legacy: War is over? (Lots of applause)
Stradley: I will take that under consideration, and maybe keep your eyes open for more there…
A fan asked if anything special will be done for Dark Times 108th issue, which makes it the longest running Star Wars comic ever, but Stradley said nothing big.
There are no plans for more Old Republic comics right now, but Marshall encourages those fans to check out Freed’s Purge two-issue story.
“It’s possible” for more Tales of the Jedi stories, said Stradley. JJM said “you may see some stuff in Lost Tribe of the Sith: Spiral that ties back to that… That will be your Tales fix for the next while.”
There are more Del Rey connections happening with Dark Horse. “There is more interaction between our two companies than there used to be,” said Stradley. “We’re actually talking about a really cool series in the future, where we’d each tell a part of the story leading to one climax.”
Marshall noted the next Old Republic novel picks up right where Lost Suns, the comic, left off.
Q: Any reprints of the UK black and white comics?
Stradley: Just recently we did some shuffling in our Omnibus program, and those books were going to come in 2014, but will actually come next year. Two omnibus volumes with the UK stuff, the black thorn issues, weird little things that were done for toy inserts or magazines.
Q: Can you talk about how Dark Empire came to be back in the 90s?
Stradley: I wasn’t really involved in that when it was done, but I remember we talked about how great it would be to get the license, Lucasfilm asked Marvel if they had plans to do more, they said no, and so it dropped from them and came to us. There was a project there that had kind of gotten started called the Dark and Lightness wars, and that became Dark Empire with us.
Q: Any idea or concept for more Knights of the Old Republic?
Miller: Yeah, I have ideas. War is the tenth collected edition, coming out this fall. The thing is, this hits at a time when I am beginning work on my own novel and my own series of short stories. I love the licensed stuff and I love Star Wars, but I’ve been writing for 9 years and have only one thing that I actually own.
Stradley followed up the fan Q&A by pushing the panelists for more teases. Wheatley said he really wishes he was doing the interiors for the new Dark Times arc, after reading the outline. Doug will draw the next arc, which got put on hold because of “a thing Doug’s doing that I can’t talk about.” Wheatley said, “most of the stories have been building characters and setting the stage for what is happening to the galaxy under Palpatine’s reign. The next arc, I knew we were coming to this point, and I think it’s the one you guys have been waiting for as well.”
“It’ll be a great payoff” said Stradley.
That’s all she wrote for Dark Horse Star Wars. Stay tuned to Newsarama for much more from Celebration VI!