I’m very excited for Star Wars Visions this month, and I’m sure The Book of Boba Fett will be great, but I remember thinking at Disney’s Investor Day presentation that for the foreseeable future we’re mostly looking at a bunch of character-name-title shows or spinoff series from The Mandalorian. With Mando season 2 and The Bad Batch season 1, it seems to me that Lucasfilm are currently relying on special character appearances and fan-service to win back approval from the fandom after the sequels’ mostly negative reception. In fact, many speculate that we’re building up to some kind of adaption of the original Thrawn trilogy - like how many view the sequels, a rehash of a story we’ve had before. After the great ending of Rebels, I wanted a follow-up more surprising and creative than that. If this really is the direction Star Wars is going, I’m sure it will appeal to many and I don’t want to shame anyone for that or anything, but it’s not quite what I was hoping for.
Instead, I’ve found exactly what I’m after in the world of Star Wars publishing. Something I’ve always loved about being a fan of this franchise is that the movies are only the tip of the iceberg, and right now, the good stuff is in books and comics. On some level it’s always been that way, but what I’m really loving right now is how ambitious everything is.
From 'Inside the Magic’s article: ‘New Era of ‘Star Wars’ is “Untethered” and “Unchained”’ by Rebekah Barton
The High Republic — which will last for years in Marvel Cinematic Universe-like phases — is said to be an “interconnected mega story.” During yesterday’s panel, Lucasfilm Publishing creative director Michael Siglain shared:
“Phase I runs through 2021 into 2022. I’m not going to tell you how far it goes into ’22, but I can say that there will be a steady stream of books, comics, and magazines coming your way on a monthly basis, which is really exciting. When we talk about this being a multi-year initiative, that is true. We are absolutely playing the long game here.”
I don’t think we’ve ever got this level of planning and author collaboration from Star Wars before, not even in the Shadows of the Empire project. The High Republic authors are acclaimed fan-favourites who are not only close colleagues but friends, and the meticulous planning of the High Republic story is exactly what so many people wanted out of the sequel trilogy. There are so many loveable characters already, and it’s a sometimes-optimistic sometimes-dark vision of the galaxy at this never-before-explored period.
Next up, Charles Soule - the writer who kicked off a new era with Light of the Jedi and who was already beloved for his comic runs such as Poe Dameron and Darth Vader (2017) - made a massive pitch to Lucasfilm last year and they let him run with it. Now we not only have Qi’ra - a character whose cliffhanger ending in Solo desperately needed a follow-up, in my view - making appearances in the War of the Bounty Hunters comics, we have a Qi’ra TRILOGY on the horizon!
I love unlikely teamups or characters from different eras being thrown into a story together - it’s why I love The Mandalorian chapter 15, and it’s why I love War of the Bounty Hunters now. We have classic characters like Luke, Leia, and Vader thrown in with new favourites like Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros, as well as Ochi of Bestoon whose development provides interesting expansion to The Rise of Skywalker. With Vader, Palpatine, Qi’ra, Luke, Leia, Aphra, Deathstick and the Knights of Ren, Crimson Reign looks to be no different.
From marvel.com article “Darth Vader, Qi’ra, and More Brace Themselves for a Galaxy-Shattering Saga in New ‘Star Wars: Crimson Reign’ Connecting Cover”
“While Qi’ra plays a huge part in WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS, that event is really a Boba Fett story,” Soule told IGN. “I have a bigger story I’m going to tell with Qi’ra and Crimson Dawn, and it’s all connected to the reasons she kicked things off in WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS in the first place. You’ll learn more about that in the closing pages of WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS #5, out in October, and I think fans have no idea how exciting and new this story will feel.”
Star Wars publishing has always been great at expanding on or enhancing the films and series. I’m thinking of how I can watch the first act of Return of the Jedi with Steve Perry’s Shadows of the Empire novel in mind, or how the conversation in Empire between Vader and Palpatine has so much more subtext thanks to a moment in the 2015 Vader comic series, or how we even got great books like Bloodline and Resistance Reborn out of the sequel era. But like with the post-Endor and NJO era, or the Old Republic era, books and comics are once again coming into their own to map out fantastic new tales of their own making. If things continue in this way for the foreseeable future, we will be in a new golden age of creative visions for the Star Wars galaxy.
Of course this post is an invitation for discussion, but it’s also a plea to those who haven’t dived into the High Republic era yet, or to those who have never really bothered with comics or books. Perhaps you’ve been put off by the amount of noise out there from people searching for anything to latch onto and complain about, even if they haven’t read that thing themselves. Usually it’s complaints about diversity from those masking their intolerance as valid criticism, and the wonderful authors we now have writing stuff for us don’t deserve to have their work dragged down by that. Please, try out these new stories to see what you think and give your support to the initiatives which deserve it. Novels and comic books deserve no less respect as storytelling mediums than movies and TV shows. Now more than ever, they’re proving that.