Star Wars: Rogue One Comic Adaptation (2017) #1 to #6. All covers by Phil Noto.
The first issue of a new Star Wars comic centering around sequel trilogy villain Captain Phasma reveals how she escaped from Starkiller base at the end of The Force Awakens. It’s well-known now that the stormtrooper commander, played by Gwendoline Christie in the films, is returning in this December’s The Last Jedi. However, when viewers last saw her in Episode VII, the Captain was about to be unceremoniously tossed down the garbage chute on Starkiller, after being forced to lower the shields for the Resistance. When the planet was blown up, it was unknown how/if Phasma made it off-world, posing yet another mystery for fans.
Lucasfilm’s story group works hard to ensure the Star Wars franchise is alive and well across multiple mediums, using novels and comic books to fill in gaps in the canon that the films simply do not have time to cover. This was the perfect avenue to explain how Phasma survived the events of Force Awakens, with her own comic being launched as part of the “Journey to The Last Jedi” publications.
According to io9, the debut issue of the series spans a grand total of 6 minutes, testing one’s suspension of disbelief to almost absurd levels. Phasma gets out of the trash compactor thanks to one of the Resistance’s bombing runs on the base, which opens up a hole in its side. She then wipes the records that show her security codes were used to disable the shields, and sees that Lieutenant Sol Rivas had accessed the shield systems during her time in the garbage. Phasma schemes to frame Rivas as the one responsible for the base’s destruction and tries to hunt Rivas down (witnessing Kylo Ren’s duel with Rey in the process). She cannot reach him before Rivas flies off in a TIE fighter, so Phasma pairs up with a First Order pilot and new astromech BB-9E to escape in a TIE of her own.
This is a great illustration of the value of the non-movie canon materials, providing die-hard fans with answers to questions they may have had. It’s unlikely this comic will be referenced at some point in The Last Jedi, but for interested parties, it’ll make for a fun read, especially after Phasma was shortchanged in Force Awakens. Many were disappointed with the way the character was handled in Episode VII, but Lucasfilm is making strides to ensure she gets her due justice now. Phasma’s role in Star Wars 8 is said to be more action-heavy, and she is also the subject of a new novel that delves into her backstory.
One of the more interesting inclusions in the comic is the droid BB-9E, who is lovingly being referred to as BB-8’s evil twin by viewers. His role in the film remains under wraps for the time being, with clues in merchandising suggesting he has connections to Kylo Ren. Here, however, he’s associated with a random pilot before being whisked away with Phasma. Regardless of how BB-9E fits into the movie, Lucasfilm is making sure fans are keenly aware of his presence before December rolls around.
Star Wars: Rogue One—Cassian & K-2SO Special is a Marvel comic book that showed how Cassian Andor met the reprogrammed Imperial security droid K-2SO prior to the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. The comic was written by Duane Swierczynski with art by Fernando Blanco and was released in August 9, 2017.
STAR WARS ROGUE ONE: CASSIAN & K2SO SPECIAL #1
Written by Duane Swierczynski
Art by Fernando Blanco, Marcelo Maiolo, and Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: August 9, 2017
Cassian Andor is one of the top intelligence agents in the ranks of the Rebel Alliance, ably assisted by his reprogrammed Imperial security droid, K-2SO. But naturally, the two weren’t always on the same side of the Galactic Civil War. Now, for the first time, read the story of the pair’s first contentious meeting! It is very likely not to go well.
The annual begins (like the Rogue One comic adaption) with a Rebel’s Report, introducing Captain Cassian Andor and rebel spies, Kertas and Rismor. Their mission, to extract Imperial security protocols while attempting to evade detection.
The story opens with Cassian tinkering with the wiring of an unknown droid who very quickly tries to detain the Captain. We are then immediately transported to a few hours before, with Cassian flying a ship to Wecacoe, explaining to Kertas and Rismor that he doesn’t expect a large stormtrooper presence on the planet. After landing, Cassian continues to talk to the spies who never answer back as they communicate through scent. Before too long, the three spot a large Imperial force filled with stormtroopers and security droids. Refusing to be deterred, Cassian pushes on undetected until they reach a decommissioned Imperial cruiser. Cassian believes the Imperial security protocols are on the ship. Kertas and Rismor start trying to find them but Cassian quickly spots stormtroopers heading in their direction and soon an alarm is sounded.
Realising they can’t escape, Cassian comes up with a plan and tells Kertas and Rismor to stay put. Getting the attention of a security droid, Cassian tries to subdue the droid, who we learn is K-2SO, but can’t find the kill switch, as this is a model he has not encountered before. With ease, K-2 is able to defeat Cassian but is thwarted by the rebel spies, who press the droid’s kill switch. The story catches up with the start of the story, with K-2 reactivated and trying to detain Cassian as only 29.73% of his memory has been erased. The kill switch is thrown again.
Switched on again, Cassian gives K-2 new orders to lead them to the Rebel’s ship and take out any troopers who try to stop them. The team make it to find their ship surrounded by stormtroopers. K-2 once again tries to detain Cassian, getting the attention of the stormtroopers. Rismor and Kertas run off, leading the stormtroopers away from Cassian and K-2 but not before telling Cassian that K-2 has the intel the Rebel’s need.
The Rebel ship suddenly blows up and so Cassian tells K-2 that they need to find a new ship. Not one to be deterred from his programming, K-2 tells Cassian that he still needs to detain him and that 8.3% of his memory is still intact. Realising his mistake, Cassian switches K-2 off again and removes the droid’s base layer of Imperial programming. Once reactivated, K-2 is suddenly the droid from Rogue One and helps Cassian to find a new ship and escape. We see that Rismor and Kertas have blended into a crowd and are safe on the planet.
He’s the villain too good for Star Wars to scrap – and now, THRAWN is coming to Marvel Comics. The announcement came from Lucasfilm directly at San Diego Comic-Con, revealing the cover of the first issue of the series boasting one more menacing look at the blue-skinned, red-eyed Grand Admiral of the Empire. But for the diehard fans who already read through Timothy Zahn’s novel Thrawn, it’s mainly the artistic reinterpretation you have to look forward to… and not a brand new story starring the fearsome villain.
After being born from nothingness by Zahn in his infamous and aptly-titled “Thrawn Trilogy” of Star Wars novels, Lucasfilm’s decision to render the entire Star Wars Extended Universe non-canon hurt Thrawn fans most of all. But modern audiences and readers weren’t robbed of the great Imperial antagonist, as the story group at Lucasfilm reintroduced Thrawn into the world of Star Wars Rebels – and called Zahn in to craft the new (old) villain’s origin story. An origin story now making the leap from printed page to comic page.
The ongoing Thrawnaissance™ comes as no surprise to the fans in the know, as both Thrawn’s original story, and Zahn’s most recent Thrawn novel earned accolades. Which means writer Jody Houser (Mother Panic) and artist Luke Ross (Darth Maul) will have a high standard to meet when they launch their THRAWN series at Marvel beginning in February 2018.
The first cover image of the series is also what fans have come to expect, since little more than Thrawn’s icy stare is needed to excite existing fans, and attract the attention of casual Star Wars enthusiasts. Even if Houser hadn’t already made a name for herself at Marvel, DC, and beyond, the story of an unknown alien plucked from unknown space rising to the heights of the Emperor’s regime is a strong enough framework on its own. But having already worked in the galaxy far, far away on the Rogue One comic adaptation, she’s an easy choice. And for those already reading Darth Maul‘s pre-Episode I comic, Luke Ross is a perfect fit.
The panel in which the comic was announced also revealed some impressive cover art for the upcoming Mace Windu comic series, and comments from the writers of the previously announced slate of The Last Jedi tie-in novels. We’ll be bringing you some of those comments and images in the coming days.
It still may not be the big screen starring role many feel Thrawn always deserves (it seems the ship has sailed), but Lucasfilm’s commitment to keep Thrawn in the public eye is something. Will you be following along as Thrawn rises from obscurity to authority through cunning, deceit, and devious genius?
THRAWN #1 arrives in February 2018.
Star Wars is either a masterpiece, a chipped modern classic, or a sad devotion to an ancient religion, depending on who you ask. No matter what your opinion, the cultural impact of the original trilogy is undeniable. So when creator George Lucas announced his intention to flesh out the rise of Darth Vader and the Empire in The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith, fans were ecstatic… at least at first.
The prequel trilogy succeeded in both clarifying and muddying the classic mythology. Defenders and detractors alike can agree on one thing: Lucas’ second trilogy had a few flaws. One of the most common critiques leveled at the films (we’re not going near Jar Jar) is its mishandling of Darth Vader, where Lucas turned the cinema’s archetypal villain into the byproduct of a tepid soap opera. In particular, many take issue with Anakin’s final transformation sequence into Vader, where the very Frankensteinian moment is (some would say) ruined by the villain’s baleful howl.
Marvel’s Star Wars comic, Darth Vader #1, revisits the villain’s origins. Can it reclaim the oft-derided sequence, though, and give Vader a truly meaningful “birth”?
Episodes I-III attempted to present a viable reason for Darth Vader’s fall – his rebelliousness against Jedi doctrines, his impetuous and emotional nature, and his authoritarian desire for order by way of imposing his own will. Lucas succeeded to some degree, but, nevertheless, many fans of the original trilogy were dissatisfied with the quintessential foe’s rise to power. In particular, his turn from an upstanding if rebellious Jedi Knight (aside from a few dozen dead Tusken raiders, anyway) into a padawan-slaughtering, wife-killing psychopath.
One of the most contentious moments in the film arrives after Emperor Palpatine (aka Darth Sidious) has scooped up his apprentice’s remains from Mustafar and deposited them in a new, mechanized body. Palpatine informs Vader that his young bride Padme, as well as his unborn children, are dead by his own hands. The up-and-coming Sith’s reaction is certainly understandable, as he just accidentally killed his entire family, but for many fans, the agonized wail came across as too theatrical. Clearly, Lucas meant Anakin’s scream to echo that of his son, Luke Skywalker, who dealt with his own pain upon learning the galaxy’s worst menace was his father. But the impactful moment falls flat in Revenge, largely thanks to its imperfect execution, as well as Hayden Christensen’s wishy-washy portrayal (not entirely his fault) of the elder Skywalker up until his reconstruction.
Marvel has decided to revisit this oft-derided moment in their latest Darth Vader comic #1, which threatens to give Vader back some of his dignity. Written by Charles Soule with art from Giuseppe Camuncoli, the series will replay Vader’s transition and (hopefully) reclaim it from the Star Wars reel of shame. Marvel’s Star Wars editor Jordan D. White explores the reach of their latest Vader book, explaining (via Newsarama) that the galaxy’s biggest baddie will continue to tell his side of the story:
“With the all-new Darth Vader series, we will finally get the chance to witness iconic moments in the Star Wars galaxy through the lens of one of its most famous characters. With Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli at the helm, we are going to spotlight the construction of Vader’s red lightsaber, the fallout of Order 66, the beginnings of the Inquisitor program, the rise of an Empire, and many more sinister moments never seen before!”
In Darth vader #1, Soule and Camuncoli spin the not-so-classic scene from Revenge of the Sith in a different light. Their version actually comes across as visually stronger than the original to a degree, in particular by providing more insight into the dark Jedi’s agony. The comic book deemphasizes Skywalker’s reconstruction into Vader, instead focusing on his rapidly dawning realization of the pain he’s caused and his own betrayal. As emblematic as Lucas’ Frankenstein parallel is, the homage actually undercuts its own emotional depth, accenting Vader’s “rise” with Palpatine’s reveal seeming more like a footnote (“by the way, you killed your wife”), rather than the emotional crux of the entire franchise thus far. Even though moviegoers are well-aware of the Emperor’s twisted machinations, even his smug, baked-bean smirk seems too sedate under the circumstances, not that the scene requires hammy hand-wringing.
At the same time, Revenge has the disadvantage of being viewed from a third-person perspective, whereas Soule, alongside Camuncoli can rework the somewhat cheesy sequence in Darth Vader #1 through Vader’s eyes and heart. Like Lucas, they keep the dialogue to a minimum, at first, transposing images of mechanization with flesh and blood moments, which creates a moving picture of Vader’s emotional state. The Emperor’s positively gleeful expression also highlights the true depths of his malevolence: every step his apprentice takes towards misery is another string for the puppet master to tug at.
Viewing the “iconic” moment directly through Vader’s perspective also allows Soule to add an explosive twist to the sequence, as a wave of Vader’s rage and anguish actually flings Sidious against the wall. Not present in the original scene, it’s unclear whether this is a retcon or simply the way Vader views things. Palpatine seems genuinely overwhelmed by the raw power of his apprentice, and Soule uses this to construct the first power struggle in the newly minted master-apprentice relationship.
Instead of begrudgingly accepting Palpatine’s explanation – and then cutting to him puppy-dogging behind the Emperor on the bridge of a star destroyer – Vader explodes at the Emperor, questioning his promise to save Padme, which is arguably what sealed his deal for joining Team Dark Side. Ever the manipulator, Sidious sidesteps his supposedly “miraculous” powers, urging his apprentice to use his wife’s death, channeling her “gift of pain” to complete his transition into an agent of evil.
Also it appears that Soule ups the ante for the dastardly duo. The conversation between them suggests that Vader really didn’t have as much say in his final conversion as audiences presumed. Everyone assumed that Vader, although clearly under Palpatine’s influence, made a final conscious decision to embrace the dark side. Soule’s revision of his Sith origin adds a new, coercive wrinkle the dark lord’s rebirth – something already explored to a degree in the recent, post-A New Hope series from Kieron Gillen. From how it looks, Marvel’s version establishes Palpatine’s dire threat to his apprentice much earlier on, which, so long as it doesn’t override Vader’s own complicity in his fall from grace, gives their relationship and eventual falling-out an extra layer.
In addition to tweaking (hopefully for the better) his transformation, the comic also promises to peel back the layers of Vader’s role in the “Great Jedi Purge” – something once explored by a number of non-canon Star Wars Legends’ comics Dark Horse, as well as several novels and video games. Star Wars: Rebels and other more recent comics have dealt with Vader’s genocidal quest, but much of the disturbing but fascinating story remains untold.
Soule and company will also delve into the legacy of the Inquisitors – a group which dominated the first few seasons of Rebels and were a welcome addition to the galaxy’s rich lore. While Vader’s rebirth and evolution should be the true highlight of his latest ongoing journey, giving readers more insight into the exemplary evildoer and further details into the fledgling Empire as it tightens its grip on the galaxy. Most importantly, it appears to give Emperor’s right-hand cybernetic man a chance redeem his somewhat cringe-worthy “origin” story.
Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber has been a central fixture of the Star Wars galaxy ever since Obi-Wan first presented it to his son, Luke, in A New Hope. It always held the weight of legacy in its hilt due to the legendary status of the former Jedi, only for it to be revealed that it was also the same weapon used to hunt down and destroy many Jedi Knights, including the younglings at the Jedi Temple, after Anakin turned to the dark side and became Darth Vader.
That same lightsaber was eventually lost when Vader himself severed it from Luke’s arm, along with his hand, with the saber falling into the depths of Cloud City, only to resurface decades later when it calls to Rey from the basement of Maz Kanata’s palace. Now the saber isn’t even considered Anakin’s or Luke’s, with Lucasfilm marketing, explicitly referring to it as “Rey’s” saber. But it’s not the only weapon to be wielded by the fallen Jedi, as Vader is probably most well known for the crimson blade he wielded in each movie from the original trilogy.
Now, thanks to Marvel Comics’ Darth Vader #1, from writer Charles Soule and artist Giuseppe Camuncoli, the story behind the more sinister of Anakin’s weapons is finally being told.
Picking up during the ending of Revenge of the Sith, right after Anakin gets his fancy new black armor, the comic reveals that the infamous “NO!” yelled by the new Sith not only damaged the droids and medical equipment, but also knocked back Sidious himself. The Dark Lord of the Sith attacks Vader, taunting his new apprentice, saying “where is your lightsaber, Lord Vader? Use its power! Defend Yourself!” When Vader tells him it had been lost during the duel with Obi-Wan on Mustafar, Palpatine corrects him: “That blade belonged to another. A Jedi. You are a Sith.”
It was already revealed in the Ahsoka novel that Sith lightsabers are red due to a the kyber crystal inside being made to “bleed” when a Sith exerts his control over it. The comic goes into more detail, with Palpatine saying that Sith lightsaber blades are indeed colored by their crystals, just as Jedi blades are. But since the Sith don’t manufacture these kyber crystals, nor do they excavate them from natural sources. Sith steal their kyber crystals from the lightsabers of Jedi. After a crystal is extracted, the Sith who stole it pours all of his or her pain and rage into the crystal, effectively torturing the living force within the kyber crystal, causing it to “bleed,” turning it red. A process that is actually reversed by Anakin’s former Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, when she steals her kyber crystals from an Inquisitor, turning the blades white.
This continues a trend in modern Star Wars canon’s depiction of the Force that shows the Sith as usurpers, not simply tapping into a “dark side” of the mystical energy field, but actually corrupting its natural flow, perverting its original intent to serve their will, as opposed to surrendering to its will as some of the more wise Jedi, like Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, and Obi-Wan Kenobi urge in their teaching.
With Order 66, and contributions from Vader himself, having just killed thousands of Jedi, Grand Vizier Mas Amedda is hosting a public destruction of the Jedi weapons, declaring the Empire safe from their “Separatist plots” after their “attempt to assassinate” Emperor Sheev Palpatine. Vader notes that Palpatine is not giving him one of these lightsabers, deducing that it must be because “the saber of a Sith is not given. It is taken.”
In what appears to serve as a sort of right of passage for the new Sith apprentice, Darth Sidious takes him to an unnamed planet on the Mid-Rim, where he leaves him unarmed to track down his Jedi victim, claim his weapon, and bend its kyber crystal to his will in the black hilt of his new lightsaber. The obvious question is who will Vader’s victim be? Jedi bear a much more intimate connection with their Kyber crystal, and Ahsoka even recognized the presence in the crystals she claimed from the Inquisitor for her own. Will the Jedi that supplies Vader’s new kyber be one familiar to fans, and will this in any way reflect on his continued legacy?
Regardless, the lightsaber inherited by Luke – and later by Rey – was only the property of Anakin for a few years during the Clone Wars, whereas this new blade, presuming he doesn’t need to regularly replace it as well, has several decades of legacy behind it, so its only fitting for the very first story in Vader’s post-Mustafar career to revolve around its theft and construction, including a depiction of the former Jedi bleeding one of the crystals with which he used to share a much more intimate bond.
Whatever happens, with hundreds – if not thousands – of Jedi possibly still on the loose, the new Sith Apprentice has his work cut out for him once he claims his new crimson blade and continues to finish what Palpatine started with Order 66.
A new comic set at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens will reveal how Captain Phasma escaped the destruction of Starkiller Base. Now that Star Wars has returned to theaters, filmmakers are doing their best to honor the original films while still drawing in a new audience. One of the ways they do that is to include a number of easter eggs and references to the previous films and animated series. A familiar droid or vehicle from the past popping up in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or a character hitherto only seen or heard of in the animated series The Clone Wars.
But one of the easiest to spot references is Finn’s revenge on Captain Phasma at the end of The Force Awakens; after making her drop the shields around the Starkiller Base, he, Han, and Chewbacca forced the Captain into a trash compactor – mirroring the escape Han, Luke, and Leia made when they were trying to escape the Death Star. That was the last time Phasma was seen, and not long after that moment the base was destroyed. Despite that, Captain Phasma’s return has been promised in Episode VIII, meaning that somehow she not only got out of the trash compactor alive but escaped the planet.
According to StarWars.com, the question of how Captain Phasma survived will not be explained in The Last Jedi, but her story will be told in a 4-issue comic book. The series – created by writer Kelly Thompson and artist Marco Checchetto – will release this September, with the first issue’s cover using art created by Paul Renaud. Check it out below.
Captain Phasma is certainly not the only time a comic has been used to bridge the gaps between Star Wars films. One recent example was Shattered Empire – a prequel to The Force Awakens that filled in some of the blanks between Return of the Jedi and the new movies. There was also a single issue story about C-3PO that explained how he got his red arm. But this time the story isn’t bridging two movies but rather showing an event concurrent to Episode VII: it explains what happened while Han was confronting his son.
Artist Checchetto discussed why he was interesting the project, saying “We have not seen much of Phasma, and I’m very excited to explore more of this character.” He’s not wrong; the first female villain in a Star Wars film got a lot of attention before the film was released, yet barely had more than two minutes of screen time and a grand total of 11 lines. She’s set to have a bigger role in The Last Jedi, but hopefully this comic can also show why she’s worthy of the hype.
StarWars.com caught up with the series’ creators to get their thoughts on continuing and expanding Phasma’s story.
Kelly Thompson: “It’s exciting enough when someone lets you contribute to the Star Wars universe in any real way, but when they let you create the first ever Phasma story for comics? Well, that’s about as good as it gets! Like most, I’m a huge fan of both Gwendoline Christie and Phasma. Christie is magnetic and Phasma has so much fascinating untapped potential…potential which I can’t wait to help unlock for fans in our comic.”
“I’ve been a fan of Marco Checchetto’s work for a long time. We actually almost got to work on something together once before and it didn’t work out, so I’m really excited that everything came together this time. And his work on Star Wars: Shattered Empire was some truly exceptional comics, and I’m so excited about what he’s bringing to Phasma.”
Marco Checchetto: “With this series, I’ve had the opportunity to work on each era of Star Wars. Obi-Wan and Anakin in the prequel era, Shattered Empire and The Screaming Citadel in the classic trilogy, and now in the new era of Star Wars. I’m thrilled to be working on new characters. I’m a huge fan of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and obviously can’t wait to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We have not seen much of Phasma, and I’m very excited to explore more of this character. Kelly is a great writer. I can’t wait to read her script and start work on the series!”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is an upcoming six-issue comic book miniseries published by Marvel Comics and written by Jody Houser and drawn by Emilio Laiso. The series is an adaptation of the 2016 film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
“The comics will definitely expand on what was seen in both Rogue One the film and the novelization. Lucasfilm and Gareth Edwards had a bunch of ideas for extra scenes and character moments that didn’t make it into the film.” ― Jody Houser
Marvel Comics’ adaptation of last year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story fleshes out certain aspects of the blockbuster to reveal more character details. Comic adaptation of films are tricky. Too often, they’re just attempts to cash in on the success of the film and don’t offer anything new. However, this one written by Jody Houser and illustrated by Emilio Laiso, seeks to go beyond what was on the screen. The first issue is out in stores today and features numerous expanded scenes, as well as additional and deleted material that was not in the film.
Given that the Rogue One Blu-ray didn’t have any deleted scenes (or the film’s fabled alternate ending), this will be the closes fans will get to ever seeing what was left on the cutting room floor, making it a highly sought-after item for fans of Lucasfilm’s $1 billion spinoff.
Details about the issue come courtesy Star Wars News Net. The comic opens in the same fashion as the film, showing Krennic descending on the Erso family farm, killing Lyra and taken Galen prisoner. However, from there the comic goes into more depth with Jyn’s time living with Saw. During the scene in which Jyn is briefed by the Rebel Alliance, readers are treated to a flashback of Saw abandoning her. Previously, this scene was only mentioned during Jyn’s confrontation with Saw, but seeing it gives added weight to her conflicting feelings about him. Jyn also gets an additional scene where she is first brought to the Wobani labor camp where audiences are first introduced to her.
The character who most benefits from the added scenes is Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed). In the film, audiences are introduced to him as he’s being marched through the desert to see Saw. However, the comic actually gives more depth and story to his defection. We actually see him and Galen talking about his role in the creation of the Death Star and what he can do to help. The comic also shows his arrival on Jedha and his first encounter with Saw’s people. Bodhi arguably got the least screen time and development of the entire Rogue team in the film, and it’s good to see him getting more development on the page. In an interview with StarWars.com, Houser said that Bodhi became the standout character for her while writing the comic, so it’s likely that he’ll receive several more additional scenes or expanded moments.
Baze (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut (Donnie Yen) also get a small scene introducing them before Jyn meets them. Following the sequence where Tarkin and Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn) discuss the coming test of their super weapon, we see a short scene of Baze and Chirrut bantering about the Force. Both characters were standouts in the film, and hopefully will receive more development. However, readers might have to wait for the coming backstory novel centered on them to get the full backstory on the former Guardians of the Whills.
One final added scene gives depth to characters like Mon Mothma (Genevieve Reilly) and Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits). The small scene shows them discussing whether or not the Senate will push back against the Empire’s doomsday device, or whether they will simply cede to the might of the Empire. It’s a small yet politically powerful moment, one that taps into the reality of the Senate at the time without becoming heavy handed, which was a critique of the prequels.
It will be interesting to see how the comics add on to the rest of the film. While it’s unlikely we’ll see a different and happier ending, the comics are bound to increase fans’ knowledge of the film, and their enjoyment as well. Finally, we have a comic adaptation that is worthy of the film it is inspired by.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Comic Adaptation #1 is now on sale. Buy here.
In an entertainment franchise or fictional universe, it’s not easy being anyone but the hero. While their future and fan base is all but guaranteed, the surrounding cast faces their own added challenges. If you’re the villain, you’ve got to match the hero just to get the same attention, let alone be remembered separately. Sidekicks must be plucky and lovable, romantic interests must chart their own course, and so on. But for the villain’s henchman – the one best described as the ‘appetizer’ to the big bad – immortality is almost impossible to grasp. Except, of course, in Star Wars.
Boba Fett may be remembered as the faceless goon who became a pop culture icon against all odds, but when measuring characters whose obvious value was cast aside for the larger plot, Darth Maul takes the cake. His story is an epic journey in its own rite, and so packed with untapped potential that an animated Star Wars Rebels series needed to resurrect him just to do it justice. And thanks to the new era of Star Wars comics books from Marvel Comics, the Emperor’s first film apprentice will finally get a story worthy of his name beginning with Darth Maul #1.
It may only help his case for a standalone Star Wars movie of his own, but for now, the comic is tackling a story guaranteed to grab even casual fans of the Sith Apprentice. If you’ve ever wondered what Darth Maul was up to while Palpatine manipulated his way through Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, the comic gives a clear answer: in anticipation of his rise to Master of the Sith, Maul was looking to introduce himself to the Jedi in an… unforgettable way.
The most vivid memory of Maul is likely to be the impression that he was, at all times, restraining himself in both emotion and movement. In the film, that made his eventual reveal as an incredibly gifted, athletic, and acrobatic duelist all the more impactful. But in Darth Maul #1, the effort it takes to keep his incredible rage and lust for death in check is finally revealed (with some help from a beast introduced in The Force Awakens. As a team of men are ambushed and massacred by a single Rathtar – the tentacled creatures contained in Han Solo’s hold in Episode VII – Darth Maul emerges to battle it himself… and its friends.
The story, crafted by writer Cullen Bunn and artists Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard, begins in this murder-soaked setting – the planet Twon Ketee, for the fiction sticklers out there. It’s a sign of just how determined they are to do justice to the scale, the skill, and the terror Darth Maul conjures by his appearance – growing only more terrifying when he enters combat. Accompanied by his internal dialogue, Maul demonstrates that this act of slaughter is more than just surrendering to an urge, but honing the very skills that make him an accomplished Sith.
Fear. Hate. Anger. Maul channels these emotions that make the Sith strong in ways the Jedi can never contemplate in his attacks, savoring each second that he faces death’s snapping teeth in front of his face. But always reminded that Darth Maul is much, much more than the grimacing goon The Phantom Menace may have implied, he takes little joy or satisfaction in killing creatures that kill with ease. Because even as he bests them, he knows that their freedom to attack at will is not his own – and that his hunger can’t be satisfied by just any bloodshed.
It’s as chilling as it is, strangely, endearing. Not on the surface, since Maul remains a villain in every way by casual fans. But for those who know the beginnings of his story, and the ways of the Sith, a life spent training to defeat an enemy and never given a chance is a form of insanity. Darth Maul knows his purpose, knows he is capable, and thirsts for the blood of the Jedi he is destined to kill. But for now, the leash remains tight around his throat, leaving him to slaughter ignorant beasts in the wilderness.
The opening hunt provides a sense of the training and physical activity Darth Maul relies on to keep his senses (and fighting skills) honed – and shows why poor Qui-Gon Jinn never stood a chance – but it doesn’t answer the question of what role he served beneath Darth Sidious/Sheev Palpatine while the latter was working his way through the politics of Naboo and the Senate. Once the story shifts to Coruscant, we’re given a fitting, if unsurprising answer: he was busy hating Jedi, same as always.
But seeing Darth Maul silently despising passing Jedi from the shadows, imagining what it would feel like to finally cut them down isn’t just the signs of a killer biding his time. Darth Maul sees the moral victory, or at least an ideological victory approaching. He notes, as have fans, that the Jedi awareness of growing darkness, complacency as protectors of the Senate, and hypocrisy have shaken their once-solid footing. To his eyes, the Jedi have strayed from their mission to keep the peace, becoming agents of the Senate who kill without a full picture, thereby enforcing the peace.
The language used by Darth Maul is a victory in itself in this scene, showing that his true motivation is not just anger, but righteous anger. In his eyes, the Jedi are failing, they are falling, and they will be the ones who make their descent into darkness possible in the first place. Once they hit bottom, he’ll be ready to end them forever… but it won’t be him who makes them fall.
Given how much Darth Maul envied the Rathtar for their freedom and lack of obedience to another’s will, it’s no surprise to see him less than pleased when conversing with his master, Darth Sidious. But to get the most out of this dynamic (as the diehard fans craving this story will no doubt catch), it has to be remembered that throughout the history of the true Sith, there have been only two at one time. The Master, who passes his knowledge on, and the Apprentice, who learns all they can – before slaying their mentor, and taking the role for themselves. Until Sidious.
So as much as Darth Maul may wish to make that cycle complete once again, cutting down his master and launching an assault on the Jedi, he also knows that Darth Sidious has an intricate plan (since his intelligence and cunning are hard to miss for even audience members, let alone his closest allies). So he bides his time, anticipating the moment when he will see that plan reach its climax, watch as the Jedi fall onto his blade, and pave the way for his own rise to the rank of Sith Master. In the process, becoming a lot more reminiscent of another Star Wars figure of great importance.
The comparisons between Darth Maul and Anakin Skywalker in his own path to adulthood may have always been there for those looking, but Bunn deftly draws the parallel out by granting insight into Darth Maul’s own internal monologue. As the red-eyed figure cloaked in shadow at Palpatine’s heel, fueled by impatience, a lust for violence, and a desire to see his own power achieved and recognized, the scene creates a string between himself and the future ‘Chosen One,’ knotted at both ends. We may know how Darth Maul’s story ends, but seeing this chapter finally told promises even richer thematic links, reflections, and divergences.
The first issue of Darth Maul spends much of its time, as mentioned above, submerging readers in the tense and strained psyche and emotions of Darth Maul (while also reminding them that he is absolutely the kind of character who deserves his own narrative in the canonical Star Wars saga). And while Darth Maul’s mission to cover up a Trade Federation hostage scenario before it can expose Palpatine’s dealings (the construction of the film’s ‘phantom menace’) seems like a common occurrence, it takes an unexpected and incredibly promising turn.
When one of his would-be victims offers to exchange valuable information – information that he, and not his master, would then hold – Maul can’t resist. The secret is worth it, too: a young Jedi Padawan is being held captive by a criminal cartel and awaiting sale to the highest bidder. Darth Maul responds by killing those who remain, and setting off for the auction… with little intention for paying, we can only assume. In his eyes, it is not a sale or tormenter that stands in this young Jedi’s future – it is liberation.
Unfortunately for the Padawan in question, that liberation likely means he intends to “free” them from the Jedi teaching at the same time he “frees” them from everything else – with his lightsaber. But picking his way through a cartel, ferreting out the young soon-to-be Jedi, and doing it all before the Jedi leadership can act will be harder said than done. But as Darth Maul travels across the galaxy in pursuit of his first Jedi to kill, fans will be guaranteed a front row seat… one they’ve likely been waiting years to occupy.
Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 is available now.
While Star Wars began in the movies, stories from the franchise have come in all shapes and sizes. The Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm created quite the shakeup when they announced that they would be cleaning the slate for their own upcoming lineup. All Expanded Universe materials (everything but the six live action movies and the most recent Clone Wars cartoon series) were now considered “Star Wars Legends” and officially non-canon. Fortunately, Disney has gotten straight to work on the task of creating an all new continuing legacy.
One such expansion comes from their comic collaboration with Marvel. A number of series have come to fruition, exploring the backstories of characters like Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and Lando. But one core series — simply titled Star Wars — follows the principal cast between the events of the original film and The Empire Strikes Back.
In an interview with StarWars.com, Star Wars comic series author, Jason Aaron discussed his upcoming exploration of the untold adventures of Jedi Master Yoda. Issue #26 will see Luke in the main timeline, coming across Obi-Wan’s manuscripts about Yoda’s past adventures. A flashback adventure will continue from there.
Check out the Star Wars #26 Cover Art by Stuart Immonen below:
“I was always trying to figure out a way for us to use Yoda. We’re a bit hamstrung in terms of the time period of our main story because Yoda’s chilling on Dagobah. So this was kind of the only way we could kill all those birds with one stone — to do one story that connects Luke, Yoda, and Obi-Wan all at the same time, while still taking place in three different time periods.”
Aaron is also hoping to show Yoda in light unfamiliar to many fans.
“This story takes place before the Clone Wars and it’s set in a world we’ve never seen before… We’ve seen Yoda as the teacher, as the wise Jedi Master, but I wanted to see Yoda just as the Jedi. So this puts him on a very unusual adventure.
“The other big challenge with Yoda, of course, is finding something that’s a challenge for him… I think we came up with an interesting answer to that question… It’s not a matter of just him being the more powerful Jedi. It’s a bit trickier than that.”
While the story doesn’t have a precise date, it does pre-date the film series and features appearances from Qui-Gon Jinn and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. This adventure promises to play off of the ending of the previous arc, and will be illustrated by artist Salvador Larroca who recently made waves with his work on Darth Vader.
Star Wars #26 hits retail shelves December 2016.
Since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, Marvel has reclaimed the Star Wars comic book mantle from Dark Horse, one they originally held from 1977 until 1986. Since then, the House of Ideas has steadily built upon and integrated their shared universe, continuing the in-canon development of new characters like Star Wars: Rebels’ Kanan Jarrus as well as classic characters like Han Solo and Princess Leia. By far one of their hottest properties since redeveloping their line has been their Darth Vader solo series.
Starting in 2015, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca tapped into the untold tales between Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, exploring the aftermath of Vader’s ‘failure’ to protect the Empire’s first planet killer. Several months ago, Marvel announced that issue #25 would conclude the post-Battle of Yavin chronicle.
In honor of Vader’s popular run, Marvel pulled out all the stops, including variant covers from Adi Granov, Jamie McKelvie, Michael Cho, Sara Pichelli, Chris Samnee, Kamome Shirahama, John Tyler Christopher, and Cliff Chiang. Marvel CCO Joe Quesada even got in on the action (take a look at more variants here). In addition to the alternate covers, Marvel is also giving fans a sneak peek at the action-packed conclusion to this acclaimed series. Check out the synopsis and get an early look at the interiors, as well as a few more of the variants below:
“It has all been building to this! The epic conclusion to the blockbuster ongoing series! Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s critically acclaimed series comes to a close on October 12th in the blockbuster DARTH VADER #25! It has all built to this! Vader’s trials against Cylo’s creations! His machinations against the Emperor! His covert missions with Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids. It all comes to a head in this cataclysmic final chapter. Plus, this oversized issue also contains a thrilling new tale from Kieron Gillen and artist Max Fiumara. Who lives? Who dies? The answers may surprise you!”
The latest round of adventures finds Darth Vader trying to get back in the Emperor’s good graces after that whole Death Star fiasco. Of course as a Sith Lord, he has a few plots cooking on the side as well, including his wheelings and dealings bounty hunter favorites, his subterfuge with Doctor Aphra, and the reveal of Cylo’s diabolical ace in the hole in Darth Vader #24. The final issue will wrap up the swirling subplots, the menacing machinations, and conclude the heady “The End of Games” mini arc with a major bang.
As one of the most fascinating characters in Star Wars mythology, it’s no wonder Marvel chose to further expand on the Jedi hero turned Sith Lord. While the Prequel Trilogy and the Clone Wars animated series explored more of the elder Skywalker’s trials and tribulations, his early and middle years (glimpsed further in Rebels) show Vader in his prime. Gillen and Larroca’s work has delved into some of the meatiest material, allowing fans to watch the Emperor’s Right Hand recover from one of his worst periods since his defeat at Mustafar by his former teacher Obi-Wan Kenobi.
While it’s always a little sad to see Vader’s latest adventures come to an end, fans only have a short wait until the Dark Lord rears his sleek mask in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story this December. The Sith Lord’s story, of course, is far from complete. Following the success of his solo arc, it wouldn’t be surprising if the fallen Jedi finds his way into another solo run.
DARTH VADER #25 arrives in comic shops and on digital devices October 12, 2016. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016