Artwork courtesy of Joshua Stolte
Welcome back to the Star Wars HoloNet Digest, a weekly feature where I bring you a recap of the latest news from the world of Star Wars. Whether it’s a movie announcement or a noteworthy author interview, you’ll find it here. Let’s check the HoloNet and see what happened in the past two weeks.
San Diego Comic-Con produced quite a week of news. We’ve got a fun story about J.J. Abrams and an X-wing later in the HoloNet Digest, but I want to go straight to the Comic-Con stories.
Let’s start with the subject that’s closest to our hearts here at Suvudu: books! At a panel on Friday, Del Rey announced that it will publish a novel featuring Asajj Ventress and Quinlan Vos in Summer 2015. The book will be written by Christie Golden based on George Lucas-approved scripts for a Season 7 episode of The Clone Wars that (obviously) never aired.
At the panel, which focused on John Jackson Miller’s A New Dawn, The Clone Wars supervising director and Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni stressed that Lucasfilm never threw away unused material, and that he and others at the company were always looking for ways to adapt unaired scripts for other formats.
Asajj Ventress’ arc on The Clone Wars was, in my opinion, of the series’ best character-related accomplishments. She’s a fantastically complex person and this novel should be a great one.
If you want to listen to the entire A New Dawn panel, TFN has posted the complete audio here. We also have an archived liveblog here. There are some great comments in the panel from Filoni, Del Rey editor Shelly Shapiro, LucasBooks senior editor Jennifer Heddle, and Lucasfilm Story Group member Pablo Hidalgo about the shared, fully canon universe that all future media will inhabit. As Filoni points out, this means that concepts he can’t produce on TV can make their way out into the world in other formats, including as novels.
The other major Star Wars publishing news out of Comic-Con came from Marvel. The comic company announced plans for its first two ongoing Star Wars series and its first miniseries. The ongoing titles are Star Wars (written by Jason Aaron and drawn by John Cassaday) and Star Wars: Darth Vader (written by Kieron Gillen and Drawn by Salvador Larocca), while Star Wars: Princess Leia (written by Mark Waid and drawn by Terry Dodson) will be a five-issue miniseries. All three are set right after A New Hope. They will launch in January, February, and March of 2015, respectively.
Aaron and Gillen’s ongoing series will tell roughly the same story from opposing sides, with Aaron focusing on the heroes and Gillen depicting Vader’s experiences. Aaron has said that he will home in on Luke’s experiences in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Yavin, as he adapts to his new circumstances, responsibilities, and even powers. Gillen has big plans to depict Vader struggling to regain a place of influence in the Empire after the humiliation of the Death Star’s destruction. And Waid wants to explore Leia’s next moves, personal and political, in the wake of Alderaan’s annihilation.
All three titles sound good, but Gillen’s in particular sounds awesome. He has said that he is using House of Cards as a model for how Vader works inside and outside of the Empire’s formal hierarchy to restore his professional reputation and tackle some nagging personal problems. (For example, who was that X-wing pilot who destroyed the Death Star?) I will be following Gillen’s Darth Vader with great interest.
Already, a slew of interviews with these comic creators have gone online. You can check out interviews with all six writers and artists at StarWars.com, Marvel.com, USA Today, and The Hollywood Reporter. Kieron Gillen was interviewed by Bleeding Cool, ComicsAlliance, and Comic Book Resources. Mark Waid and Terry Dodson were interviewed by ComicsAlliance.
As with the Del Rey panel, TheForce.Net has an archived liveblog from the Marvel panel here.
Our San Diego Comic-Con coverage concludes with the Star Wars Rebels panel that kicked things off for Star Wars at SDCC on Thursday, July 24. In the week leading up to Comic-Con, Lucasfilm had confirmed TFN’s report that Jason Isaacs was voicing the Imperial Inquisitor and released an extended trailer for the series. At Comic-Con, they debuted another new trailer that hinted at very interesting story developments in the show’s first season. The trailer appears to reveal that Jedi Master Luminara Unduli was captured, not killed, during Order 66, and hints at the Ghost crew going on a mission to rescue her. There is also an appearance by C-3PO and R2-D2, who make appearances after Bail Organa assigns them to the governor of Lothal.
In addition to the trailer, the SDCC panel also screened three extra clips. Two of them have found their way online: Kanan dueling the Inquisitor and Zeb rescuing Ezra in a TIE Fighter. Lucasfilm also re-launched its HoloNet News website; it now features short Imperial propaganda newsreels that tie into events on Lothal and set the scene for the series.
I want to throw in a quick plug here for this week’s episode of The ForceCast, which will be released on Friday. ForceCast co-host Justin Bolger was at all of the convention’s major Star Wars panels, as well as the preview screening of Star Wars Rebels on Thursday night. This week, Justin discusses the panels, the screening, and all the other Star Wars stuff he saw at the convention. Justin was a one-man coverage machine for TheForce.Net during SDCC, live-tweeting all the panels and sending us recordings right afterward. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank him publicly for the awesome work.
Regarding the invitation-only Rebels screening, the consensus from bloggers and podcasters confirms what Justin told us on The ForceCast: this series is going to be amazing. In addition to Justin’s analysis in our special ForceCast episode, you can find spoiler-free reviews of the preview screening at Making Star Wars, IGN, Slashfilm, and Rebels Report.
Want to listen to the entire Rebels panel? Here you go, courtesy of Justin. You can also read his play-by-play on our liveblog. Interviews with the cast and crew of Star Wars Rebels are available from HitFix (Steve Blum), HitFix again (this time with Dave Filoni), IGN (warning: autoplay video), ScreenCrush, Collider, MovieViral, and Comic Vine.
Whew. That’s SDCC taken care of. Now, how about that X-wing? Star Wars: Episode VII director J.J. Abrams delighted the world when he released a new video to promote the Star Wars: Force For Change campaign. What was so special about this video? Well, as you can see below, Abrams delivers his pitch standing in front of a new, McQuarrie-inspired X-wing starfighter. At the end of the video, a pilot boards the craft and a MSE droid whizzes past J.J.’s feet.
Sometimes a few iconic images are all it takes to get the collective pulse of Star Wars fandom racing. Already, fans are dissecting everything from the pilot’s utility belt to the fighter’s wing design in an attempt to glean clues about the film. I really love this fan community.
Elsewhere in Episode VII news, there are photos from the film’s shoot on Skellig Island, Gwendoline Christie talked about getting cast in the film and Mark Hamill showed up at Guardians of the Galaxy’s London premiere sporting an Alec Guinness-like “contractually-obligated beard.”
Attention data lovers: I’ve got a great study for you to wrap up this week’s HoloNet Digest. FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s data-driven policy analysis website, conducted a fun survey to assess what people knew about the Star Wars franchise, what they liked about it, and what they disliked about it. There are a lot of fun nuggets in the report, some of which I’ve highlighted on TFN, but you should check it out for yourself.
If there was an overarching theme to week’s Star Wars news, it was that this franchise is alive and well, that its stewards have grand and carefully coordinated plans, and that we are in for a long and wild ride over the next few years.
Eric Geller is a journalist from the Washington, D.C. area. He co-hosts The ForceCast podcast and manages social media for Star Wars fan sites TheForce.Net and Rebelscum.com. He also contributes to The Official Star Wars Blog and Star Wars Insider.