Star Wars Comics History-Age of the Empire

While it was currently running the prequel-era “Republic” comics, Dark Horse also began a second monthly, featuring events during the Original trilogy era.

 

The series started with the Betrayal arc, in which a series of Grand Moffs-who don’t like being ruled by two Sith Lords-try to organize a coup against the Emperor and Vader. Of course, it doesn’t quite go well.

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The arc also introduced-and quickly got rid of-Grand Moff Tractha, who like Vader has Cybernetic replacements; however, he later showed up in the “early Empire” story Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, and even got a Hasbro figure.

 

After a brief interlude with Princess Leia (“Princess, Warrior”) taking place slightly before “A New Hope”, and a Boba Fett issue by the team who wrote his one-shots “trilogy”, we’re given the second major arc with “Darklighter”.

The comics largely detailed the backstory of Biggs Darklighter, an old friend of Luke’s, who dies on the Death Star trench run.

A lot of Bigg’s role and backstory in the movie was deleted (although one scene was restored for the special edition). In older cuts, Luke actually appears far earlier in the movie, spotting the space battle overhead and running to tell his friends, including Biggs who is on leave from the Imperial academy. The two get to have a talk, in which Biggs confides in him that he’s joining the Rebellion.

The comic builds heavily on not only this, but also Bigg’s short career as a TIE fighter pilot, with the artistic choice to make the helmet translucent to better show the emotions of the characters. The issues with the Darklighter aren’t actually sequential (perhaps due to the time needed to finish the detailed art) and were broken up between standalones.

After two more standalones-one featuring a Stormtrooper on the Death Star, and another revealing what happened to Vader after his TIE went out of control at the end of the film, we get another new arc after the Darklighter issues finally finish.

 

The next arc deals with an Imperial batallion dealing with a large group of hostile, flatworm-like “Anamamen”

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Represented in the films by this kin of creepy guy.

They’re led by Janek Sunber, whose story also ties into Luke and Biggs…

After this arc ends we get a short interlude with Vader targeted by the Faleen, an alien species who’s homeworld was messed up by Vader (This also ties into the Shadows of the Empire storyline).

What follows are a few adventures with Han, Leia, and Chewbacca, one in particular introducing the character Deena Shan, who plays a significant role in the final arc of the series.

 

The next major arc-after a Boba Fett standalone and a two issue-story where Luke recruits a former Clone trooper into the alliance-we get “In the Shadows of their Fathers”. This is a sequel to the “Battle of Jaabim” arc, with the Jaabim rebels not being too pleased with how things went down during the Clone Wars, where another man by the name of Skywalker abandoned them. It’s got some pretty cool covers…

 

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It ends with Luke leaving the planet, but somewhat unsettled by what he’s learned, that his father might not have been the great hero he thought he was, and  that Obi-Wan was ‘killed’ on the planet. He wonders what Ben was keeping from him…

The final arc is “Wrong Side of the War”, where Luke, Deena, and other rebels go undercover in Imperial outfits as part of a rebel infiltration and strike force. However, things don’t go quite smoothly. Deena falls in love with an Imperial officer during the mission, and Janek Sunber shows up, and recognizes Luke. We learn that Janek is in fact, Luke’s old buddy “Tank”-mentioned in Star Wars as having left like Biggs did to join the Empire, but unlike Biggs, he didn’t join the rebels….he recognizes Luke, but only as his old friend, who he’s convinced also joined the Empire, not knowing that Luke is a rebel hero. Of course, Luke’s true allegiance is finally figured out-but Sunber is reluctant to join the alliance, as he believes in the Order of the Empire.

 

The storyline continues in the sequel series “Star Wars  Rebellion”, which I will cover in the next article.

 

 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Sizzle reel thoughts *potential spoiler warning*

Although we didn’t get a full trailer yet as of this posting., we did get something almost just as good for the film-a Sizzle Reel. (Previously, The Force Awakens and Rogue One had these as well, and Lucasfilm did release several BTS materials for the prequel trilogy prior to their release) Here’s a few observations. Although a lot of this is speculation, some of it is based on rumors circulating around the internet, so there are some potential spoilers.

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Early on, we see some red material exploding. I’m guessing this is some of the salt on the planet seen in the trailer or something, and not a person exploding into a bunch of guts. Star Wars is still PG-13 after all!

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Plenty of shots of Rey in her new look.

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Chewie, but looks like he’s in a fighter far too small to be the Falcon.

 

 

 

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A character in some sort of gun pod, similar to those seen on The Millenium Falcon and the Republic gunships in the other films. I think this is Veronica Ngo, and the character she’s playing is Paige, Rose’s sister and fellow resistance member. Rose is pretty much a new main character, introduced in this film perhaps as how Lando became part of the gang in the second.

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We also get what looks to be a somewhat similar outfit on a character falling into a group of spheres (Could be Paige as well). Knowing how Star Wars uses spheres so often, these could be anything, really.

Speaking of Rose, it looks like she’ll be in the Finn/Poe/BB8/Leia part of the story (Which might meet up with Rey and Luke’s at some point). Here they appear to be in a medbay, perhaps where Finn is recovering from his injuries sustained in his fight with Kylo Ren.

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It also looks like Finn and her go undercover on some First Order vessel. Dressing up as the bad guys is something that of course goes back to the very first film, and was recently repeated in Rogue One. I guess Finn’s defection hasn’t reached whatever ship or installation they’re infiltrating (There’s a rumor that this scene also involves Tom Hardy in a cameo).

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Speaking of Finn, looks like he gets a haircut and a flight suit similar to Paige’s-and what appears to be a new haircut (possibly trimmed to accommodate First Order officer regulations?)

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Given Finn’s skills as a gunner in both the TIE fighter and the Falcon, I’m guessing they’re building that up as a trait for his character.

 

After the positive reaction to the “Traitor!” Stormtrooper in TFA, looks like the First Order’s got some new melee weapons for the troops. Looks pretty nasty.

 

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Interesting shot of Leia here, possibly on Luke’s planet, finally reuniting with her estranged brother?

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We also get these guys, rumored to be among the local wildlife on Luke’s planet.

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Also a good view of the “Space horse” Finn’s rumored to ride, and one spotted on set.

 

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Looks like Ren’s managed to get his mask back back on although if the trailer’s any indication he’s going to break it at some point.

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Here’s Laura Dern’s admiral apparently meeting with Leia. It’s unclear what side Holdo’s on. It’s possible she’s part of the Republic, and she’s trying to re-organize the fleet after the destruction of Hosnian prime.

 

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Benicio Del Toro. He’s rumored to play “DJ”, a character with underworld connections possibly on a rumored “Casino planet” Leia and co. visit (and possibly meet with Holdo).

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What looks like a tiny dealer at the Casino planet. Reminds me a bit of Colonel Gason from the “Clone Wars” cartoon, who was also very small, but many of the features seem a bit too different for it to be the same type of species (Maybe a distant relative, perhaps)

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Luke in a new outfit, perhaps preparing to leave his exile is the bag’s any indication.

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Here we’ve got Poe in what appears to be an A-wing. In recent comics and novels, it’s  revealed that Poe’s mother piloted an A-wing at Endor (and nearly shot down Luke’s shuttle to boot!) Or it could be the thing Chewie’s piloting.

 

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Speaking of A-wings, here’s a blue one….

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Although of course not exactly the same, the look kind of reminds me of Ralph Mcquarrie’s concept art for the A-wing:

 

A shot of what looks like Hux or another First Order officer in a landspeeder that looks part Batmobile.

 

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Star Wars Comics History: Begun, this Clone War has-Anakin and Obi-Wan

(Thought I’d skip ahead a bit in the comics history thing, as Quinlan Vos alone is enough material for a few posts which I’ll work on somewhat later).

The Clone Wars is, of course, the three-year war that took place between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”, laying the seeds for Emperor Palpatine’s conversion of the Republic into the Empire and “Order 66” the purge of the Jedi Knights…..also of course, the birth of Darth Vader. It’s a topic covered in various Star Wars media, especially the “Clone Wars” animated series that ran from 2008-2013. The comics and novels paint a somewhat different picture of the war and it’s timeline, one that struggled to fit in with the continuity of the cartoon series until it was decided the CG series would be the only ‘canon’ account of the war.

The Clone Wars issues of Star Wars Republic (Which it was renamed as) mainly began with issue #50, with Obi-Wan and Anakin. (#49 is set after AOTC as well but features Quinlan Vos, which I’ll deal with in a later article) This issue, which was extra-sized and included three stories (all set during the battle) was also the debut of the elite ARC troopers, including the character “Alpha” who would later become the inspiration for Captain Rex in the CG series.

Alpha would also accompany Obi-Wan and Anakin to the moons of Naboo (Home of “disgruntled spice miners” as Mace Windu put it at the beginning of “Attack of the Clones”), where Anakin and Obi-Wan first meet Durge, who before General Greivous and Cad Bane, was considered the main major Clone Wars villain next to Asajj Ventress….and he’s literally next to her on the cover to #52.

 

Ventress, long before her cartoon appearences, first appeared in these comics, although technically her design goes back to ideas for an AOTC sith lord….a concept ultiametly realized in her commander, Count Dooku.

 

This stories’s strangest thing? Zombie Gungans (although they’re mainly just puppeted by Ventress’s force powers). They were wiped out by a deadly virus that the seperatists want to use on Naboo itself, and stopping it is of course a priority for Anakin, for obvious reasons.

The next arc (after a Vos issue and an Obi-Wan solo in which he’s the sole survivor of a Jedi mission) takes the two Jedi to Jaabim, where a fierce battle is being fought. The Republic however has a nice new toy:

Obi-Wan however is presumed dead during the battle, and Anakin is put in charge of a group of “orphaned” Padawans.

They fight fiercely, but ultimately all end up dying except for Anakin, who orders the Republic retreat in part to of course, save his star future pupil. As Anakin reluctantly leaves, he learns a sort of “handy” skill with the force to keep back an angry Republic partisan; one that would become one of his trademarks.

 

Anakin’s actions here would prove to haunt his son later on, in a sequel story in the “Empire” comics.

Still presuming Obi-Wan to be dead, Anakin is next teamed up with the one Jedi he’d rather not be: The one raised by the Tuskens.

For obvious reasons, of course.

After a mission, Anakin nearly lashes out at A’shared Hett. Hett calms him a bit by revealing his true face, and Anakin admits to Hett his secret about killing the Tusken village. In a haunting ending, when asked if he’d do it again, Anakin replies plainly: “Yes”.

Of course, given what happens to Krayt later on, this is kind of ironic….he pretty much revives the Sith and restores the Empire, undoing a century of peace, in the “Legacy” comic series.

The next arc features Obi-Wan and Alpha-who are actually alive, escaping from Ventress’s dungeon (Anakin in the meantime is apprenticed to Ki-Adi-Mundi, who we learn lost his family in the war). This arc also revealed much of Asajj’s backstory.

 

The next arc to feature Anakin and Obi-Wan draws closer to “Revenge of the Sith” with Anakin knighted and with new, longer hair. They team up with Quinlan Vos, (Sort of, as he’s sort of a double agent for both sides; it’s complicated) He’s also sporting the Azure Angel, the custom starfighter patterned in part on his old Pod Racer, and which also featured heavily in the original Clone Wars cartoon.

(In “Canon” Anakin would just have a yellow Jedi starfighter, both AOTC and ROTS versions, although a Jedi starfighter with a similar color scheme shows up in ROTS, but not piloted by Anakin, but by Plo Koon)

The arc also features Captain Dodonna, a character who would later give command a very critical operation (although on the opposite side of things):

The arc features the Dreadnoughts, powerful ships that play a significant role in the post-ROTJ Thrawn trilogy.

 

The arc ends with things sort of settled and everybody on Coruscant, with Palpatine gaining a new fleet of warships. However, Ventress shows up, discover’s Anakin marriage, and the two duel-with Ventress’s blade creating the scar we see him sport in ROTS.

Of course it’s the first of many, many more.

Anakin believes he’s killed Ventress after their fight, but in fact she’s rescued by Dooku.  In the series “Obsession” Obi-Wan becomes obsessed with finding Asajj Ventress. He also pretty much lands on Naboo to find Anakin and Padme, but he just shrugs it off a bit, not bothering to report it to the council (It’s sort of implied in both AOTC and ROTS he knows what’s really going on, but has enough respect for Anakin to not make a big deal of it). Smooth move Obi-Wan…and they thought Jar-Jar was responsible for the Empire.

 

In the comic Anakin also shows some more ruthlessness, by dropping the character Durge into an escape pod and throwing him into a sun, killing the seemingly immortal bounty hunter. So much for “It’s not the jedi way”.

The comic ends with a showdown on Boz Pity (Thanks to some help from Bail Organa), with General Greivous unleashed, killing Jedi council member (and star of the Jedi starfighter game) Adi Gallia. (In the cartoon, she dies at the hands of the ressurected Darth Maul and Savaj Opress; also, a look-alike character, Stass Allie, is killed during the Order 66 montage. Explanation? They’re cousins).

 

IIRC Adi Gallia was killed by Maul and Savage, so who gets gunned down by the clone troopers on the speeders in RoTS?

Eventually Ventress has a last-minute change of heart, and apparentally dies going to the light side. Plus she leaves a little hint as to the Sith’s next plot.

However, plot twist-she’s actually not dead, and commandeers a medical frigate to parts unknown, but just as far from the war as she possibly can.

What happens next in “Legends” continuity is either this:

 

or this:

As they both kind of have somewhat contradictory views of the events leading straight to Sith.

Star Wars: Han Solo and the history of troubled Star Wars production

It’s been recently announced that the directors of the Han Solo film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, have left the film. While the details are a bit sketchy, it seems to have mostly come down to creative differences between Lucasfilm and the two directors (Seen manning the controls here alongside the cast)

This isn’t of course the first time this film has suffered director problems-Josh Trank was apparentally part of the project up until mid-2015, during the highly publicized turbulent release of his “Fantastic Four” film.

Reportedly, this is because Phil Lord and Miller-whose main experience is directing family (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) and comedy films (The 21 Jump street films) were making the film too much of a comedy, and Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan-who fleshed out Han’s character as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens-wanted the matter to be taken more seriously, arguing that while Han’s provided moments of comic relief, it’s been in a more sarcastic way.  I’m actually kind of with Kasdan on this.

“I grew up here, you know.”

“You’re going to die here, you know. Convenient.”

 

Although this of course isn’t the first time there’s been production issues with the films, or sudden departures-although I’m pretty certain the films haven’t fired directors before-perhaps because George Lucas directed four of the original six films (Despite a few fans wanting him to step aside after TPM disappointed them)-mainly removing himself from ESB and ROTJ largely because A New Hope was a tough shoot, with Lucas not even sure the film would do well, problems with the special effects, the tough filming in Tunisia etc..

 

Empire Strikes Back suffered quite a few problems during production as well.  Difficulty with the sets, such as the Dagobah set with stunk, the very cold filming in Norway….

and perhaps most troubling of all was the Carbon Freezing chamber set where two key scenes were set (Han being frozen and the first part of the Luke/Vader duel), which had the very loud pistons fire at the wrong time, numerous dialogue rewrites, and was pretty hot too.

The film went largely overbudget, and it’s been speculated by many that this is why producer Gary Kurtz left the series (Although Kurtz says it’s more to do with creative differences with Lucas)

 

“Return of the Jedi” went a little smoother, as did the prequels somewhat, although there were some problems with TPM’s production (sandstorms, for one)  and Lucas disagreeing visibly with his team (Most notably ILM’s John Knoll). Much of this was shown in The Beginning, a documentary released around the time of TPM’s DVD release-footage from which is often used by internet critics on youtube to help dissect what went wrong.

The main problem was mainly with the actors, most notably Ralph Marsh (Pilot Ric Olie) and Terrance Stamp (Chancellor Valorum) who expressed pretty damning opinions of Lucas’s directing after the film came out. There were also rumors of on-set disputes with arguably two of the most successful actors from the films, Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman.

 

Even under Disney things haven’t been 100% smooth. Michael Ardnt was the initial writer of Force Awakens, but was also let go (He didn’t seem too sad about it, though)

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And of course there’s the on-set accident which badly hurt Harrison Ford’s leg (as demonstrated by Harrison on the Tonight Show).

 

And Rogue One had some highly publicized reshoots, including a great deal of the scenes shown in the initial teaser trailer-although it at least kept it’s director.

 

And of course Carrie Fisher’s recent passing has radically reshuffled plans for Episode 9, set to film fairly soon as the finishing touches are put on “Last Jedi”. Although not the only person to die while working on a Star Wars production-Leigh Brackett for instance died while writing The Empire Strikes Back-she was reportedly going to be center to the plot of 9, perhaps with Leia’s relationship to Kylo Ren.

So now, things remain a bit frozen while the search for a new director takes place, possibly with Ron Howard (Who worked with Lucas behind and in front of the cameras with “American Grafitti” and “Willow”)…but right now, things remain….frozen like a certain scoundrel…..

But hopefully soon the Millenium Falcon will fly again 🙂

 

 

 

Star Wars Comic History-Wars On Infinite Galaxies Part Two-There is Another

 

In this second alternate take on the trilogy, Luke actually succumbs to his wounds from the Wampa attack. Before he passes, the delirious Luke relays Obi-Wan’s message…and suddenly Han believes he’s the chosen one!

 

Luke’s funeral distracts the characters from finding out about the probe droid, and so the Empire’s able to do a sneak attack. Like in the film, the “Falcon” escapes but makes it to Bespin without entering the asteroid field. Things on Bespin play a lot differently, with Boba-unmasked (This came out at the same time “Attack of the Clones” was released, and pretty much “unmasked” Fett and revealed his backstory, so naturally the artists probably wanted to use that)

Fett arrives at Bespin but, without the backup of the Empire, he’s outsmarted by Lando and co, and becomes the carbonite victim instead of Han.

 

Unfortunately, when Vader does arrive after Han and co. leave he’s not too pleased and destroys the city-Lando and frozen Fett included.

Han and co. make it to Dagobah, where Yoda pretty much spills the beans about Vader being Leia’s father, and Han definitely not being a Jedi.

While Leia gets trained by Yoda instead of Luke…..

 

Han and Chewie head to Tatooine to pay off Jabba the Hutt, minus the whole ROTJ plan, although things don’t go quite well. In yet another crossover with “Attack of the Clones”, instead of a rancor we get two Nexu (The cat-like arena monster):

Meanwhile-Vader-dissecting his old friend C3PO after Han and Chewie escape from Jabba’s clutches-leaving the poor droid behind-and shows up to battle Leia and Yoda. Yoda first battles him on the astral plane, causing a strange effect to Vader’s armor that makes it look a lot like the old Mcquarrie design, and he even removes his helmet to reveal Padawan Anakin Skywalker (With Hayden’s AOTC likeness-AOTC connection #3), but he’s able to overcome the illusions and defeat Yoda. Then father and daughter have a duel…

 

….but it’s Han that delivers the deathblow with his blaster when he returns. Works better here than it does in the actual film, it seems….

Although that’s not nearly as bad as what happened in “Empire’s End” with cloned Palpatine.

“Han shot first” indeed.

Vader is then burned ROTJ-style by Leia, but there’s still the rest of the Empire to worry about-although Dark Horses’s infinities twist on ROTJ wouldn’t follow this one, but also be self-contained.

Star Wars Comics History: Wars on Infinite Galaxies Part One: A New Hope?

“If you will not turn to the Dark side, then perhaps she will!”-Darth Vader, ROTJ.

 

For years, Marvel and DC ran several comics that asked “What if?” certain things happened to their characters-funny thing is, some of the stuff later happened…as Spider-Man fans know well.

 

 

However, in the early 21st century, Dark Horse threw their hat into the ring, with Star Wars: Infinities.

 

The storyline began with Luke’s torpedo’s at the end of “A new Hope” malfunctioning, damaging, but not destroying, the Death Star, allowing the rebels at least some time to escape-however, while Han and Luke are able to flee in time, Leia and the Alliance command are re-captured. Vader begins to sense some force stuff with Leia, so he sends her to Coruscant, and trains her in the dark side along with the Emperor. Meanwhile, Luke, Han and Chewie manage to evade capture, and Luke begins his training with Yoda a bit earlier…

 

Half a decade passes, the Empire is more powerful than ever and Leia is now a Dark Jedi and an Imperial true believer. The Death Star is now called “The Justice Star” as well.

I’m reminded somewhat of this “Simpsons” quote.

Luke-who by now has completed his training (Which I guess took far longer in this reality) learns the truth about his father and sister from Yoda, and the group-including Yoda-decide to pay the Emperor a visit on Coruscant, which now has a Death Star around it and what looks like a ton of Super Star Destroyers.

 

What follows is Return of the Jedi to the power of eleven, with Luke battling Leia-and eventually redeeming her-which in turn redeems Vader when the Emperor tries to kill them both with force lightning, and with Yoda Jedi mind-tricking Tarkin into giving him control of the Death…”Justice” Star, which he then crashes on top of the Emperor on Coruscant, killing him and R2-D2 in the process (Although R2’s memories are saved and put into a new body, and Yoda still becomes a ghost).

 

“Infinities”, while a bit goofy, is still an entertaining experiment. The same treatment would later be applied to ESB (With Luke dying on Hoth) and ROTJ (With the Jabba rescue being badly botched), and for a while “Infinities” would be considered a catch-all for explicity-non canon Star Wars (Before “Legends”), which at the time included many elements of  the “Star Wars tales” anthology series. I’ll cover those in a later article.

The weirdness wouldn’t end here, either….as “Vader the White” here demonstrates.

 

 

Star Wars comics history: Farewell, Chewie (Wait, what?)

Spoilers for the New Jedi Order and Vector Prime.

 

After decades of peace, a new conflict arises in the galaxy, giving rise to new heroes and new villains. During the first major battle, one of our heroes-a co-pilot of the Millenium Falcon-makes the ultimate sacrifice,during an attempt to save the son of Han Solo.

No, it’s not Force Awakens, but “Vector Prime”, the first chapter in the “New Jedi Order” novel series, which had the New Republic and Luke’s fledgling Jedi Order face off against the Yuzzhan Vong, a formidable foe which relied on biotechnology instead of mechanical stuff (Plus they really, really hated mechanics-they viewed Droids, in particular, as abominations) and pretty much upended the Star Wars universe, conquering-and even terraforming-the safe havens of Coruscant and Yavin IV. Ironically, the concept behind the NJO started life as a Dark Horse comic pitch, being teased in work such as “Crimson Empire”.

 

…and there were many casualties…the first major one being Chewbacca, who dies while trying to save Han’s son, Anakin, from a crashing moon (He succeeds, although Anakin dies during a mission several books later).

 

A comic miniseries, “Chewbacca” followed, which functioned as a sort of Eulogy for the fallen hero, as well as an anthology, somewhat similar to DH’s own “Star Wars tales” but with a narrative framework. Here, C-3PO and R2-D2 go around the galaxy interviewing various people about their friendship with the walking carpet.

 

The first issue deals mainly with young Chewbacca’s adventures on Kashyyk, including the courtship of his wife. The second deals with some of Chewie’s adventures on the wrong side of the law, including his first meeting with a young TIE fighter pilot (In the “Legends” continuity, Han started out as an Imperial pilot for a brief time before resigning his commission due to Chewie’s treatment. It remains to be seen if anything similar will be done in the upcoming Han Solo movie).

 

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The third issue deals with Chewie’s adventures with the Rebellion, including a misadventure with Wedge Antilles, and Lando. Leia also is a bit mad that he died, because it’s made Han (naturally) despondent. She’s a little selfish here, although at least she has an excuse for why she couldn’t hug the Wookie (For those familiar with the “Force Awakens” mini-controversy). Finally, we have Luke and Han, with Han recounting how Chewie’s saved his kids in the past.

 

 

 

 

Han eventually gets over his grief in the later novels, although he unfortunately loses both his sons, although his daughter, Jaina, lives on and becomes a skilled pilot, Jedi and possibly a Queen. She even got some merchandise…

Heck, she’s *still* getting figures, despite not being canon anymore.

 

 

 

However, all of this is no longer in continuity since the Disney buyout/canon restructering….Chewie’s alive and well (at least for now)

But Han definetly isn’t….

And while there’s a new bright hope for the Jedi in Rey, replacing Jaina sort of, Han’s only known offspring isn’t exactly making good (Then again, same thing happen to Jacen Solo in the comics)

but hey, you never know….