Meet some of the new characters in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” with this abridged version of 30 years of Star Wars history
A lot can happen in 30 years, but one doesn’t need to know three decades of back story to enjoy “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” The need-to-know information will be explained in the opening text crawl that marks the start of every film.
But with a galaxy so big, there are stories that the movies only hint at, and for the curious, there was a recent spate of comics and novels to help fill in some gaps.
The events that shaped the Star Wars galaxy into what will be seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” is that the Galactic Civil War did not end with the death of the evil emperor, Palpatine, at the end of “Return Of The Jedi.”
It set the Empire back, allowing Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and the rest of the rebellion to push forward. Many planets shifted allegiance to form the New Republic government.
Marvel Comics’ four-part miniseries “Shattered Empire” picks up the day after the rebels’ big win in “Return Of The Jedi.” The stage is set for turbulent times as Han Solo leads a group of soldiers to take out a nearby Imperial stronghold while Leia takes the first of many diplomatic missions to begin setting up the new galactic government. Luke, in the meantime, starts begins his quest to begin reclaiming Jedi artifacts from the Empire.
“Shattered Empire” introduces two new characters, a husband and wife pair of rebels – Shara Bey and Kes Dameron – who become parents of Poe Dameron, the Resistance pilot played by Oscar Isaac. At the end of the series, Luke gives them a special gift, leaving readers to wonder if it will somehow play into Isaac’s character.
The prose novel “Star Wars: Aftermath” by Chuck Wendig, takes a look at the state of change in which the galaxy finds itself. It charts stories of several new characters attempting to adjust to the turbulent political situation. Some characters interact with the familiar Star Wars characters, but the novel is at its most resonate in short chapters detailing the lives of ordinary galactic citizens who find themselves trying to make sense of the current events.
Their discussions and arguments over whether the Rebels were heroes or terrorists and the merits of fighting against the Empire or just keeping to one’s self and not getting involved, echo similar, real life conversations that have played out around dinner tables, water coolers and friends in the real world.
One of the most stunning images from the trailers for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is a crashed Imperial Star Destroyer, half buried in the sands of an alien world. It posed the question: What kind of battle led to that? A very decisive one.
Approximately one year after the events of “Return Of The Jedi,” the New Republic forces made a major assault on an Imperial weapons facility on the planet Jakku. Although Jakku was not in a strategic location, the Empire committed much of their battle-weary forces to the conflict. The battle quickly became a rout and in their defeat, the Imperial Star Destroyer is scuttled by crashing onto the planet’s surface.
Fans can read more about the Battle of Jakku in the novel “Star Wars: Lost Stars” by Claudia Gray or can participate through a downloadable expansion for the “Star Wars: Battlefront” video game.
Marvel’s main “Star Wars” title is set between the original “Star Wars” film and its first sequel, “The Empire Strikes Back.” The Rebels scored a big win by destroying the Empire’s planet-destroying weapon, the Death Star, but they still need to find themselves a new secret base and capitalize on their victory. Luke realizes that with no one to guide his Jedi Knight training, he must seek that information on his own.
In his own series, the villainous Darth Vader learned the identity of the Rebel pilot who destroyed the Death Star, setting up the conflict between Vader and Luke we see in “The Empire Strikes Back.” Vader learns he is not the only evil Force-using henchman at the emperor’s disposal and is engaged in a series of intrigues to stay in his master’s good graces.
Marvel published a handful of mini-series focusing on the solo exploits of various Star Wars heroes. In one, Leia undertakes a mission to unite the scattered survivors of the destruction of her home planet, Alderan. In the mini-series headlined by Lando Calrissian, the suave conman finds himself mixed up with some stolen priceless artifacts from the emperor. Given that one of these artifacts originates from the evil Sith, this story may indirectly tie into “The Force Awakens.” We have seen hints there are new evil Force users who may be interested in collecting similar objects.
For those who don’t make regular pilgrimages to local comic book shops, Marvel has collected the “Star Wars” main series, “Darth Vader” series, “Shattered Empire” and the solo character mini-series into individual trade paperback volumes.
What was released merely touches the surface of stories that can be told of adventure in a galaxy far away. As Star Wars films continue to grace movie screens, fans will have new comics and books that support those films and chart new tales.
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