Ben Acker and Ben Blacker embark on a journey to ‘The Last Jedi’!
Among the many wild wonders awaiting moviegoers this December in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the planet Crait stands tall as a battleground that may decide the fate of a galaxy. STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI – STORMS OF CRAIT, hitting the shelves shortly before the film, will not only shed illumination on the world and its possibilities, but also tie its story to the classic era that preceded it in the overall galactic struggle.
The STORMS OF CRAIT writers, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, can’t be more excited to give readers an up-close tour of everything this mysterious new locale has to offer a certain war-weary band of freedom fighters.
Marvel.com: Gentlemen, how did it feel to be asked not only to write a Star Wars comic, but one that ties directly into the new film and the classic Rebellion era?
Ben Blacker: We’ve been in the Star Wars family for a little while now with our YA novel series Join the Resistance, but this was our first opportunity to write some of the characters who, in many ways, are responsible for our wanting to become storytellers. So, obviously, it’s completely thrilling.
Ben Acker: Yes, just to name-drop some of the folks we have gotten to work with thanks to this issue, there’s Luke, Leia, Han. That’s the big three right there. I also had no idea how much affection I had for Wedge Antilles until we got to write this one.
Ben Blacker: And that the comic takes place around “A New Hope” but has repercussions for the new film is really cool. We’re the biggest fans of [director] Rian Johnson, so anything we get to do that even tangentially ties in with “The Last Jedi” is exciting. Now we want to write tie-ins for all of Rian’s movies. Our “Brick” spin-off about Lukas Haas’ character is gonna be amazing.
Marvel.com: Where are both Luke and Leia at in their heads as this story unfolds? What are they feeling, either privately or publicly?
Ben Blacker: Post-“A New Hope” but before [“Empire Strikes Back”] is an interesting time to visit the characters. They won a battle—they destroyed the Death Star—but they haven’t won the war. So imagine what that does to a leader like Leia, who has so much responsibility resting on her shoulders. She might be looking for any kind of win. And for Luke, who isn’t really a leader yet but both wants and needs to be, he’s still learning what it takes. He’s going to get things wrong because he doesn’t understand the nuanced facets of what makes for a leader.
Ben Acker: Not that we’ve won any battles or anything, but Luke is a classic Hollywood story. He’s a kid who left his moisture farm to be a part of something bigger and he had early success—he blew up the Death Star—but he still feels like a farm boy inside. I found it really relatable.
Marvel.com: Why is the planet Crait of interest at this time to the Rebellion? Why might it be a good place to hide out?
Ben Blacker: When we find the Rebellion in this book, they’re on the run and without a base of operations. Crait has some personal backstory for one of the characters, which is, I think, all we can say about that. It’s also just remote and abandoned enough to be a good Rebel base.
Marvel.com: What did you both personally find fascinating about this world?
Ben Blacker: The most interesting aspect of Crait, I think, is the visual element. What you see in the trailer for “The Last Jedi” is this white-covered planet that kicks up red when the speeders fly over it. It’s really beautiful and kind of creepy. I’m not sure how much we can tell about that visual element, but how the topography got to be that way is a major story point and was definitely the hook for the book for me. And [artist] Mike Mayhew draws the planet gorgeously.
Ben Acker: Mike Mayhew is the real deal. I’m not sure he is capable of drawing anything ungorgeously. I’m also not sure “ungorgeously” is a word.
Star Wars – The Last Jedi: Storms of Crait #1 cover by Marco Checchetto
Marvel.com: Okay, let’s go there—how’s it feel to have Mike backing you on art?
Ben Blacker: This guy is incredible. We loved his work on the STAR WARS title, but collaborating with Mike has been a terrific experience. He’s a really thoughtful artist, asking lots of questions and making lots of suggestions that make the book better. He does his homework too! The ships look amazing, and I have no doubt they’re “correct” down to the details.
Ben Acker: He’s such a fan of this stuff too. He’s excited by and meticulous about every ship and wardrobe choice. It’s amazing for us to write Luke and Leia, but seeing him put Luke in one particular jacket was next level. Mike inventing Leia’s outfit based on others we’ve seen was the same. It makes it that much more exciting for us and we know the readers will feel the same.
Ben Blacker: His character designs are really considered and smart. And everything just looks stunning. We’re lucky to work with this guy. He makes us look like we know what we’re doing.
Ben Acker: This is absolutely true.
Marvel.com: Back to the story, who will be the antagonists in this tale? What are the challenges for our heroes?
Ben Blacker: The challenges come from both within and without. As I mentioned, Leia and Luke both struggle with leadership and expectations post-“New Hope.” There’s also some romantic tension between Han and Leia that was fun to play with, nudging them along to where they are in “Empire.” As for outside antagonists, there are a few. If you’re a fan of the ongoing STAR WARS comic—which we really, really are—then you’ll see some familiar baddies.
Marvel.com: Will we see some new, original Rebels of your own creation?
Ben Blacker: You’ll see some new characters. What their alignment is, however, you’ll have to wait to find out.
Marvel.com: You mentioned Mike Mayhew’s work on ships; assuming you get to utilize Rebellion-era ships and the like, what was highest on your priority list to have in the story?
Ben Blacker: The first couple of pages of the story are a big space chase and dogfight. I was excited to write it, but I was more excited to see what the artist did with it. And then we got Mike’s pages and now I cannot wait for everyone to see them! I was never a big vehicles-guy, but the way Mike drew X-Wings, and TIE Fighters, and some of the other ships makes me want to be there. Really, his art makes me feel like I am there.
Ben Acker: It is un-ungorgeous. I just want to say to Blacker that I’m surprised you’re not a vehicles guy, considering the relish with which you attacked the space chase.
Later this week, artist Mike Mayhew shows off and talks about his work for STAR WARS – THE LAST JEDI: STORMS OF CRAIT, coming soon!