Kieron Gillen stirs up conflict in a galaxy far, far away!

Though the Empire has already razed the sacred moon of Jedha, they’ve come back for more. In their attempts to raid the Kyber mines for the powerful crystals that fuel the Death Star’s weapons system, Imperial forces will encounter some familiar foes…but will Luke Skywalker be among them?

On January 3, Luke wavers between his allegiance to the Rebellion and his quest to become a Jedi in STAR WARS #41! Writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca present a few unexpected challenges in the fight against the Empire as the story continues.

Gillen stopped by Marvel HQ to speak about where Luke—and the Rebellion at large—find themselves in issue #41.

Marvel.com: With Luke preoccupied with his Jedi training, who might step up to lead the fight against the Empire?

Kieron Gillen: “What’s the right thing to do?” is just one of the questions that haunt this story. Hell, it haunts all fiction—or at least my own. I think you can chase that through the cast in the arc. Some of the characters go the other way—chasing the martyr journey that Jyn Erso ended up taking. Okay, that might be a bit philosophical for an answer, but to be more specific, Han would be the person I’d keep an eye on for the rest of the arc.

Each of the main three characters have their own arc in “The Ashes of Jedha,” and they rise and fall at different times. Luke’s started earliest and peaks with the training. Han starts lower and builds bigger later.

Marvel.com: How do Han and Leia react to Luke now that he’s gone off to do his own thing?

Kieron Gillen: I’d say the head-to-head between Leia and Luke says it all. It’s a fair question. What is practical in a situation? Either way, someone will have to make amends.

Marvel.com: Since the Death Star attack, what strategic value does Jedha hold for the Empire and the Rebellion respectively?

Kieron Gillen: For the Empire, it’s what it always was—a place rich in the resources they want. They’re a gauntlet squeezing the last bit of juice from the orange. The Empire needs all the orange juice it can get. Conversely, for the Rebellion, they don’t think the Empire should be allowed anything with Vitamin C in at all. They want the Empire to get scurvy. Any time the Empire try to buy some fruit juice, they’re arrive, swatting away the grasping gauntlet-y fingers.

Err…I’m not talking about actual orange juice, by the way.

Marvel.com: Right there with ya! Will we see any familiar faces in this struggle for Jedha?

Kieron Gillen: Well, Chewie has been conspicuously absent. I need to get some Bowcasting action in, surely?

Marvel.com: Oh yeah. Last question: how does it feel to have the chance to tell these stories between the action fans already know so well?

Kieron Gillen: It’s pretty magical. I’m working on the second arc at the moment, and I feel that I’ve really got the characters under my fingers. It feels like such a wonderful period of growth for the three core members and the Alliance, and getting to delineate the adventures they have along the way is so much fun.

What I’m doing is basically what I did with DARTH VADER—look at the gap in time, work out what’s been implicitly changed in that space, and then try to cook up a compelling reason for all those changes. Well, all the changes that [previous series writer] Jason Aaron hasn’t already touched on. That the book leans more towards the military side of the Rebels really brings Leia forward and Han’s conflicted response to it all. The trick ends up being about balance, so all the cast have their parts to play. For me, it’s an ensemble cast and I want to give everyone something.

Also, it never gets boring working out cool things you can do with a lightsaber.

Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca’s STAR WARS #41 hits on January 3!

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Kieron Gillen sums up what to expect in his initial story arc!

At the end of outgoing STAR WARS writer Jason Aaron’s run—which concluded with issue #37—Luke, Leia, and Han come to a rebel outpost recently burned to the ground leaving no survivors and come to one conclusion: it’s war. On November 22, new series writer Kieron Gillen, alongside artist Salvador Larroca, continue their new story arc with STAR WARS #39. This tale makes a bit of a time jump and we open to find our heroes fighting against the Empire among the wasteland remains of Jedha.

“If Jason’s run is kind of about being after ‘New Hope,’ mines more about being before [‘Empire Strikes Back’],” explains Gillen. “This is about the rise and fall of the rebellion. If you look at the movies it’s a really good time for the rebellion at the end of ‘New Hope’ and it’s a really quite bad time for them at the start of ‘Empire’

“In other words the Empire struck back before ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ starts.”

The Empire has destroyed Jedha, turning it into a post apocalyptic hellhole, but they’re not done. Instead of sending humanitarian aid to those still living on the unstable land, their forces attempt to suck every last usable resource from the planet while it’s still holding together. Luke, Leia and Han come to Jedha to make contact with the Partisans—a resistance group of individuals inspired by, or survivors of, Saw Gerrera’s forces—who attempt to prevent the Empire from leeching anything from this planet they might find beneficial to their cause by most any means necessary.

“I quite like just dropping some people in a cave, putting a gun to one of their heads and seeing what they do, you know what I mean, in that kind of how do Luke, Leia and Han talk their way out of this situation,” posits Gillen. “Because the Partisans are really mean you know, they are from a more ethically troubled place than Luke Skywalker and half the fun in this arc is seeing someone who is a pure innocent snowflake like Luke—to some degree—deal with these people who have a very different approach to the nature of rebellion.”

This issue will see Luke, the slightly damaged snowflake, on a journey that brings him face to face with the results of some real atrocities committed by the Empire. From these encounters, his initial impression of the unnecessarily harsh ways of the Partisans begins to change, realizing that they have a reason for why they do things the way they do, notes Gillen.

On top of this we have Luke’s personal struggle. “Jedha was one of the most spiritual places in the universe,” Gillen reveaks, “This is a place of enormous Force-worshiping temples, this is a place where pilgrims went and literally all that ancient knowledge Luke really wants to know is now a big hole in the ground. It’s in incredible multiple mile across metaphor for how Luke feels his future is in terms of him being a Jedi knight. He wants it so desperately but its just rubble, not just rubble, it’s like an enormous hell hole cut into the planet.”

But while this story definitely deals with some darker issues, Gillen assures us we can bank on a fair few of one-liners and some pretty cool new ways to use that beast of a weapon we fondly call a lightsaber. Not to mention Luke awkwardly apologizing to the natives as he cuts into their homes. Come on, Luke, they have enough problems to deal with—like the lack of breathable air!

Catch all rebellious, lightsaber wielding action on November 22 with Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca in STAR WARS #39!

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Jason Aaron and Leinil Yu pit Leia and some unlikely allies against a jailbreak!

Each week Star Wars Spotlight combs through the digital archives of Marvel Unlimited to showcase one classic story from that distant galaxy filled with Jedi, Sith, princesses, scoundrels and droids.

When last we left the Jason Aaron-penned STAR WARS series, it had crossed over with DARTH VADER in a story called VADER DOWN that left his right hand woman Dr. Aphra in the hands of the enemy.

In STAR WARS #1619 – drawn by Leinil Yu – Leia Organa took Aphra to a top secret Rebel prison called Sunspot because of its closeness to a star. Accompanied by Sana Starros, Leia found herself constantly explaining why they didn’t just kill all of their enemies when a mysterious masked sentient staged a riot on the prison! 

Star Wars (2015) #16

Star Wars (2015) #16

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Meanwhile, Han continued getting Luke and himself in trouble as he failed to correctly cheat while playing Sabacc and lost all of the Rebellion’s supply money in the process. This lead them to a smuggling job revolving around herding Nerfs before they heard Leia’s distress call and made way for Sunspot.

Back at the prison itself, the masked attacker unleashed some of the worst criminals in the galaxy to see whether Leia would kill them or not. Realizing they needed more help, Leia freed Dr. Aphra to back her and Sana, which also revealed that the two women had a history together that didn’t end well.

Han and Luke eventually showed up to help, but got captured almost immediately. Finally standing in front of Leia, Sana and Aphra, the masked man revealed himself as Eneb Ray, a spy first seen in STAR WARS ANNUAL #1 (see below). 

Star Wars Annual (2015) #1

Star Wars Annual (2015) #1

What is Marvel Unlimited?

Thanks to some planning with Artoo, Leia used an Ion Pulse to incapacitate Eneb as well as the whole prison itself. As the station started falling towards the sun, Ray raged, wondering if Leia truly had what it would take to make the hard decisions, the kind that would swiftly topple the Empire and pave way for a new world.

Leia proved her strength as a leader by correctly evaluating the situation and developing a plan that resulted in the least amount of loss. She also allowed Dr. Aphra to escape, which would not sit well with Ray who now counted himself among the Rebel’s prisoners, but with a key-looking shape up his sleeve, or more accurately, in his tooth.

From the Jedi Temple Archives

For the full story on what happened to former Rebel spy Eneb Ray, check out STAR WARS ANNUAL #1 by Kieron Gillen and Angel Unzueta. Deep undercover on Coruscant as Tharius Demo, Ray got new orders from Leia when a group of anti-Imperial senators came up for execution. After breaking into the prison and finding the politicians, he heard that the Emperor himself would see them before their murders. He came up with a quick plan involving other Coruscant spies to finally kill Palpatine, but the effort proved fruitless as the former senator showed his own immense power, shocking Ray with Force Lightning in the process, which presumably gave him the look he sported in Rebel Jail.

Come back next week for STAR WARS: BLOOD TIES, a father and son story about Boba and Jango Fett!

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An ode to the droid duo!

It’s Artoo to the rescue!

On September 13, STAR WARS #36, written by Jason Aaron with art by Salvador Larroca, finds our lovable little R2-D2 on a mission to rescue his best pal C-3PO.

Though Luke, Han, and Leia thought they escaped Darth Vader’s clutches without a hitch, they soon realized one member of the group didn’t make it out in time. In response, Artoo commandeered an X-wing and headed off on a solo adventure to save Threepio from the Empire’s grasp.

It’s a challenge only a true friend would undertake. And if William Shakespeare has taught us anything, it’s that this kind of true love can only be expressed with a complicated rhyme scheme.

Presenting: “An Ode to Artoo and Threepio”

 

Two droids, alike in physical mechanics,

Though quite different in personal dynamics.

One brave,

One grave.

Yet together, a friendship full of space antics.

 

Through bickering, fighting, and endless woe

In a galaxy far, far away, a long time ago,

Brothers, the two

Never say “I love you.”

Don’t worry, tin hearts…we know.

 

Luke, Leia, and Han may be a big factor,

But they’d still be stuck in a trash compactor

Without these two,

Doing what they do.

Save the galaxy, they must—true benefactors.

 

Now, too long have these friends been parted,

It’s time to finish what the Empire has started.

To rescue Threepio,

Bwreep-Boop, tally-ho.

Artoo will shoot first before he’s departed.

 

Only time will tell if the Empire can outgun

A friendship longer than the Kessel Run.

Is that long?

We could be wrong.

You’ll find out once issue #36 is done.

 

Find out if our favorite friends are finally reunited in STAR WARS #36, by writer Jason Aaron and artist Salvador Larroca, on September 13!

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The Darth Vader creative team will take over the title in November!

A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away … STAR WARS returned to comic shops world-wide breaking records and garnering praise from fans and critics alike. Initially launched with Jason Aaron and John Cassady at the helm, the series aimed to explore the period of time falling between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back” – an angle that continues to prove popular with comic readers of all ages.

Two years later, Jason Aaron will be stepping aside as long-time Star Wars collaborator Kieron Gillen (DARTH VADER, DOCTOR APHRA) ascends to the dark throne alongside current artist, Salvador Larocca. We spoke with Gillen about this change of the guard and what direction he and Larocca plan to take as the series moves forward.

Marvel.com: Kieron, how does it feel to be taking over the reins of the main STAR WARS title after Jason Aaron’s 37-issue run?

Kieron Gillen: Generally speaking, I like to think of myself as Palpatine, having successfully arranged a takeover of the once noble Republic and will now turn it to my evil ends. Jason has been reduced to living on a swamp world and speaking in unusual syntax. Gillen triumphant! Hail Gillen!

Er… it feels great. Jason’s run has been amazing, a piece of pop science fiction that speaks to the core wonder of Star Wars, and getting to follow him is an honor. It’s a book I’ve always felt close to, running its sister books in the time period with DARTH VADER and DOCTOR APHRA. That means it’s simultaneously familiar and intimidating, which is a really unusual feeling.

Marvel.com: You’ll be working with Salvdor Larocca again – a mainstay for Marvel’s STAR WARS comics line. How do you find having him as a collaborator helps you craft a story that rings true for fans of the Star Wars universe?

Kieron Gillen: First of all, Salva loves Star Wars. That’s true of a whole generation of artists, but every panel speaks to his love of the Star Wars universe, the research inherent to that and trying to ensure it feels like a lost frame from the movie. He does great likenesses of both characters and tech… but also is entirely capable of inventing his own things which feel like they must be a piece of design. Aphra’s ship, the Ark Angel, is a wonderful example of that – pure Star Wars, entirely new.

There’s also another aspect to Salva, in that he’s so fast it means that the book doesn’t need to flip between artists to maintain the schedule. That means that the book can have a consistent look and feel, which means you have a consistent Star Wars atmosphere.

Marvel.com: Unlike DARTH VADER, which gave you and Salvador the opportunity to explore the world of Star Wars from the perspective of the Sith Lord and the Empire, you will now have the opportunity to dig into the untold stories of our favorite Rebellion heroes. What aspects of these characters are you most interested in fleshing out that you haven’t had a chance to yet?

Kieron Gillen: With VADER, my first task was sitting down and doing a close reading and deciding what must have happened to them between the two series. They’re the same people, but there’s a host of implied experiences between the two. Jason’s backbone has been Luke’s exploring his Jedi powers, trying to find ways to become the Jedi he knows he has to be… and I think that’s gone almost as far as we can before “Empire Strikes Back.” As such, my run on the book is less about the Jedi, and more about Luke becoming increasingly prominent in the Rebellion.

I kind of see Leia as co-lead of the book, and her own route is in there – one thing which struck me is that while this period is about Luke starting the path to a Jedi, by implication, it’s also about Leia *not* following her force sensitivity. As we see in the “The Force Awakens,” she never went that way. Why? Obviously, all this impacts Han as well – that throwaway line in the opening of “Empire Strikes Back” when Han is leading, about him being a natural leader? Well, no he isn’t that in “A New Hope.” Let’s see that stuff.

So, we’re very much about the rebellion… and the rebellion’s plan in this period.

Marvel.com: I see you’ll be taking readers to Jedha? What made this a “first stop” on your Star Tour?

Kieron Gillen: In a real way, the arc is based on slamming the cast of “A New Hope” into the War-movie aesthetic of “Rogue One.” What better way of showing that than just doing it? On a character level, there’s so much for all the cast as well. Jedha and Alderaan sit next to each other on the Death Star’s hit list, and that’s core for Leia. Luke’s search for the Force leads him to a huge hole in the planet’s mantle where one of the holiest cities in the universe was. And Luke learning about all the things which led to him taking that shot on the Death Star… all that, without thinking about what happens when you rub someone like Luke against the new-generation Partisans.

Also, it just struck me when watching “Rogue One,” I wondered: “So, what happens to Jedha now?” That I’m the writer of STAR WARS, I get to answer such questions, and lo! Nuclear Winter post-apocalyptic Star Wars is go for an arc.

Marvel.com: Are there any villains that you haven’t had a chance to work with that we can expect to see at some point in your run?

Kieron Gillen: Hmm. I dare say I’ve hit most of the big ones in the period, which clearly won’t stop me from using them again. This is the period when the Executor launches with Vader at its helm, after it all. There’s a few others I’ve got my eye on, if only for a cameo.

Really, half the thrill is always working out ways to add new, interesting villains to the canon. Clearly defined enough to get instantly, but not too broad to be without nuance. I’ve a new Imperial Commander in the Jedha arc who is a joy to write. I’m also bringing back other villains we’ve introduced elsewhere – it’s very much building on all the work we’ve done in the comics. Queen Trios, from DARTH VADER, will certainly be showing her face, and rolling her eyes disdainfully.

Marvel.com: As a final question: I noticed you mentioned you’ll be charting the rise and fall of the Rebellion in order to set us up for the events of “Empire Strikes Back.” Just how low do you plan to bring the Rebellion?

Kieron Gillen: Heroism is proved in extremis. Pretty low.

This comes from almost the flip of my reading of the gap between “A New Hope” and “Empire” for doing DARTH VADER. There I saw “A New Hope” ending with the greatest military disaster of all time and the next movie starting with Vader (one of the few survivors) in a much higher position, with the Rebellion on the run, holed up at the edge of the Galaxy.

Here… the Rebels have just defeated the Empire’s 20-year plan. It’s a huge blow against them, and people now know the Empire *can* be resisted… plus they have wasted huge amounts of resources. The Rebels will be resurgent, people will probably be joining them and they almost certainly have plans based upon their experience of the Death Star… but we know that by the start of “Empire,” the Rebels are being pursued hard. Something happened between the two, and that’s the story I’m telling. The Empire *had* Struck Back by the time “The Empire Strikes Back” started. “A New Hope” is, as the title suggests, about this New Hope. My story is about moving from one to the other, and how our heroes and the rebellion navigate them.

Suffice to say, it’s a story of heroism on the galactic scale. I can’t wait to show some of the things we have planned.

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Obi-Wan takes center stage as we continue to look at Luke’s farm life!

We all know that the first Star Wars film changed the face of pop culture forever when it hit theaters 40 years ago today—but it’s not just the movie that’s celebrating that milestone in 2017. Star Wars comics arrived with force in 1977, and hundreds of issues later, they’re more popular now than ever.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, we’re looking back at our 40 favorite moments from the history of comics from a galaxy far, far away—one day at a time.

As much fun as a day in the life of farmboy Luke Skywalker may have been to see in Marvel’s 1970s Star Wars comics,  writer Jason Aaron has taken the idea and run with it for his current STAR WARS series. So far, three issues—#7, #15, and #20—have brought Obi-Wan Kenobi’s journal entries from Tatooine to life, as we experience his protection of Luke and the Lars family moisture farm from the Jedi Master’s perspective. At times, this presents as simple as watching young Luke crash his T-16 skyhopper at Beggar’s Canyon—womp rat cameos included! Obi-Wan jumps into action against Jabba’s thugs and Tusken Raiders. And without spoiling too much, Luke himself does some dramatic rescuing of his own!

Star Wars (2015) #7

Star Wars (2015) #7

  • Published: July 29, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: January 25, 2016
  • Rating: Rated T
  • Writer: Jason Aaron
  • Cover Artist: John Cassaday
What is Marvel Unlimited?

While getting a solid taste of Luke’s craving for adventure and excitement at such a young age proves fascinating enough, Obi-Wan’s own actions and introspection really make these issues stand out as modern classics. Aaron takes us inside Obi-Wan’s head, providing a better understanding not only of how seriously he takes his role of protecting Luke, but also of his struggle to balance assisting Tatooine citizens in peril with keeping a low profile—which, as his showdown with Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan attests, doesn’t always work out so well for him. Obi-Wan even has to deal with Uncle Owen yapping at him, saying he doesn’t need his help.

Who ever said life as a secluded hermit would be peaceful?

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Kieron Gillen continues the epic crossover featuring Doctor Aphra!

This month, writers Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen find themselves about halfway through their second intergalactic narrative crossing over STAR WARS and DOCTOR APHRA, and fans find themselves in the midst of a dinner party gone horribly wrong with the Queen of the Screaming Citadel deprived of her main course: Luke Skywalker! Not surprisingly, we see Doctor Aphra in the middle of it all as she and Luke attempt to escape the wrath of the planet’s monarch all the while seeking to unlock the mysteries of the Jedi crystal.

As we round the bend towards the mid-point of this event, we sat down with co-writer Kieron Gillen, to discuss what we’ve seen so far and what we can expect around the next corner.

Marvel.com: When we first spoke about “The Screaming Citadel,” we discussed the similarities to other pulpy horror adventures like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.” Given where things left off with the second issue of the story, I’d say that comparison was a pretty good one given the scene at the breakfast table…

Kieron Gillen: Of course, the other comparison would be that Sana and Aphra clearly had some “Bad Dates.”

Marvel.com: Do you have any other similar surprises in store for readers?

Kieron Gillen: Nope. Nothing happens in the remaining three issues. I’m not sure what we were thinking. We’ve decided to move into a weirder slice of life direction, where Han and Leia sit down with 000 and BeeTee and experiment with crochet.

Marvel.com: We also discovered that Aphra intended to feed Luke to the Queen. How do you bounce back from that sort of discovery if you’re Luke?

Kieron Gillen: Luke and Aphra’s relationship certainly ricochets around across the story. You have to suspect that the latest experience does put a general downer on it. Luke has tended to idealize Aphra. It’s hard to hang onto that when someone’s tried to feed you to an alien queen.

This is all written from experience. I had a friend who tried to feed me to an alien queen. Our relationship was never the same, but we’re at least polite in public now.

Marvel.com: On the other hand, how do you suppose Aphra convinces the Queen to unlock the secrets of crystal now that she’s blown her dining room?

Kieron Gillen: With great difficulty.

That said, it’s a big house. The Queen’s probably got a lot of dining rooms. And we’ve seen in the first issue she prefers to eat while standing on a balcony. Kind of Al Fresco.

Doctor Aphra #8 cover by Marco Checchetto

Marvel.com: Of course, we also have the secondary story you’re developing in the background with Han, Leia, and Sana who are trying to catch up to Luke and Aphra. Why is it that Sana is so reluctant to fill Han in on her past with Aphra?

Kieron Gillen: Because it’s deeply embarrassing, for one. Maybe that’s the main one; Sana and Han have a complicated relationship, and letting Han know the details would make her never live it down.

Of course, Sana is the person who told Aphra where they were. If she hadn’t done that, Aphra would have never been able to convince Luke to go with her. The more that Han knows, the more likely they’ll piece it together.

Marvel.com: Once the two groups reunite, we’re going to see Sana and Aphra come back together again. While Sana seems to be finding a place for herself in the Rebellion, Aphra doesn’t appear to be slowing down any. Do we get any idea of what happens next for them as the series continues?

Kieron Gillen: Oh, it’s certainly a heart-warming moment when they meet up. Possibly literally, in terms of having a blaster bolt setting Aphra’s heart on fire.

Marvel.com: Now, let’s pretend there’s a “happy ending” for this Star Wars horror story and Luke gets to learn a little more about being a Jedi after the secrets of the crystal are unlocked. But up to this point, Aphra hasn’t tipped her hand yet. What does she get out of all of this?

Kieron Gillen: The most messed up thing in all of this is Aphra’s been relatively clean on her aims. She wants to reactivate the Rur crystal. Where she hasn’t been honest is her main motivation, which is to sell it for enormous amounts of cash.

Marvel.com: Last question: What’s the deal with the Wookie allergies on this planet?

Kieron Gillen: It’s less of an allergy, and more of an intolerance. More next issue, shall we say?

“The Screaming Citadel” winds its way into DOCTOR APHRA #7 on May 31, then on to STAR WARS #32 on June 14, and finally back to DOCTOR APHRA #8 on June 28!

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Our heroes reunite to battle more than one monster and make a shocking discovery!

Each week Star Wars Spotlight combs through the digital archives of Marvel Unlimited to showcase one classic story from that distant galaxy filled with Jedi, Sith, princesses, scoundrels and droids.

Instead of taking it easy after the events of the first Jason Aaron-penned arc of STAR WARS, our heroes continued their planet-hopping exploits in issues #812. The first issue of the Stuart Immonen-drawn arc picked right back up with Han and Leia facing down the barrel of a blaster on an unnamed outer rim world the former thought might work as a Rebellion headquarters.

On the other end of that blaster? A woman named Sana claiming to be Han’s wife! After some craziness with a batch of TIE Fighters and the destruction of their ship at the hands of Sana, Han and Leia figured out a way to team up and get out of there.

Meanwhile, Luke decided he needed to get to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. However, as the former Republic capital then served as the seat of the Empire’s power, young Skywalker realized he needed to sneak onto the planet which meant he needed a crew.

Star Wars (2015) #8

Star Wars (2015) #8

  • Published: August 19, 2015
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: February 22, 2016
  • Rating: Rated T
What is Marvel Unlimited?

Trying to recreate the magic he found at Mos Eisely, Luke and R2-D2 traveled to the Smuggler’s Moon of Nar Shaddaa to put a team together. Instead, he wound up as the latest piece in Grakkus the Hutt’s extensive collection of Jedi memorabilia. Instead of freezing him in carbonite, though, Grakkus sent Luke into his gladiator training program.

Eventually word got back to Mon Mothma and the leaders of the Rebellion about Luke’s capture. Knowing she couldn’t send a large number of soldiers into a place like that, the Rebel leader relied on a pair of hardcases to get the job done: Chewbacca and C-3PO.

While Han, Leia, and Sana made their way to Nar Shadda, Chewie and Threepio faced off against Dengar the bounty hunter and Luke made his gladiatorial debut against Kongo the Disembowler, a tech-enhanced beast that made the Rancor look soft and cuddly by comparison. Thanks to a well-timed bust by some Imperial forces because of an undercover agent in Grakkus’ midst, the good guys joined forces, wielded lightsabers, and fought their way off planet to relative safety!

From the Jedi Temple Archives

Take a close look at the pages of STAR WARS #9, specifically the ones featuring Grakkus’ Jedi collection. In addition to all of the Holocrons and lightsabers, peep the mask that looks like it belonged to a Jedi Temple Guard as seen towards the end of “Star Wars Rebels” season two and beyond. Also, check out the Ahsokka Tano projection from one of aforementioned Holocrons saying, “Whoever is seeing this…it’s up to you now. Don’t let our deaths have been in vain. Don’t let this be the end of the Jedi.”

Next time, we work our way into one of the most dastardly gangsters in the cosmos’ gangs with a series of mid-90’s Jabba one-shots!

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Enter into the life of a Stormtrooper with new art and commentary!

Artist Jorge Molina joins the Star Wars team in the upcoming STAR WARS #21 on July 20, and he’s completely immersed himself in that Galaxy Far, Far Away.

We caught up with him and convinced him to not only open his sketchbook for a peek at his designs and layout, but got a few answers to our burning Star Wars questions.

Marvel.com: Jorge, what did it mean for you to be offered the Star Wars gig?

Jorge Molina: I never grew up as a Star Wars fan since I was a 90’s kid, so I didn’t have the big fan reaction one would expect. I took it more as a challenge artistically, since this was a very different universe from A-FORCE. Plus, I’m a big sci-fi fan and I thought it would be fun and different to see how I would approach STAR WARS.

Marvel.com: Of all the different aspects of Star Wars, what’s your favorite and why?

Jorge Molina: Like I said before, my favorite genre is sci-fi, where I can have certain freedoms to create new worlds and designs. For example, the Stormtroopers I designed for issue #21, which I’m very proud of. And I feel very fortunate and happy to leave my fingerprint on the Star Wars universe.

Marvel.com: Yeah, you’ve really gone deep into the design of troopers we’ve never seen before; how did that come about?

Jorge Molina: I wanted to make each one of them unique, but at the same time give them unity as a team. [Writer] Jason Aaron came up with all of these specifications and qualities that made them really easy for me to design. It just felt really natural, since the concepts he had in mind were very in sync with the stuff I like to draw.

Marvel.com: With the three main characters—Luke, Leia, and Han—where do you start with them as an artist? What goes into your portrayal of them?

Jorge Molina: I take two things into consideration when I start sketching the characters. First, their personality and the situation and emotions they are going through depending on the script, so I can have a better sense of the expressions I will be aiming for when portraying the characters.

Secondly, is the technical side of it, which is sketching the characters. I tried to avoid doing a portrait, but more making them my own, and giving them my personal touch.

Marvel.com: Do you enjoy drawing the character moments more than action sequences? Or vice versa?

Jorge Molina: Yes and no. I really enjoy the character moments because I can play  around with the body language, which makes the script more alive to me, but it takes me longer rendering these type of scenes. On the other hand, the action sequences are faster to sketch but I don’t feel as much connection compared to the character scenes.

Marvel.com: Does a Star Wars comic require a particular kind of page layout, in your opinion?

Jorge Molina: I always tend to keep my panel layouts very simple, so the reader doesn’t waste time trying to read the page. For STAR WARS specifically, I tried to aim for wider shaped panels so it has a more cinematic feel to it.

Marvel.com: Lastly, what was it like working with Jason’s scripts? What does he do that works well with your artistic sensabilities?

Jorge Molina: I have worked with Jason before on WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, and it was a shame that I didn’t have the chance to work with him longer back then. They approached me to do STAR WARS, and when they pitched me the idea of the Stormtroopers and I read the script I just felt very comfortable with what Jason had in mind. And like I said before, it just came very natural for me to understand the ideas and the concepts he wanted to portray.

STAR WARS #21 by Jason Aaron and Jorge Molina shuttles in on July 20!

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Obi-Wan Kenobi receives the spotlight in another special issue!

Once more, the Journal of Obi-Wan Kenobi opens up for another look into the “lost years” of everyone’s favorite self-exiled Jedi Knight. Artist Mike Mayhew’s on-hand again for STAR WARS #20—available June 15—and itching to talk about everything artistic—and wookiee-istic—behind the scenes of the issue.

Marvel.com: Mike, obviously, someone named Mayhew would have an affinity for wookiees; what was your initial reaction when you learned Black Krrsantan was featured in the story?

Mike Mayhew: I was intimidated. I can’t be named Mayhew, with the same last name as Peter Mayhew who played Chewbacca in the films, and draw a whack wookiee! When I was a little kid, I used to tell kids in the schoolyard he was my uncle—which was bogus!

Having drawn wookiees a few times, I can tell you that they are deceptively complicated. You’d think they are just a bunch of hair, but they have a very distinct and recognizable type of hair and face. There’s something about that initial Stuart Freeborn design and execution that is so distinctive and embedded in people’s brains that deviating from it in any way feels “off.”

Marvel.com: Do you approach Krrsantan as simply a bad Chewbacca, or is there something more in it?

Mike Mayhew: I remember explaining to [writer] Jason Aaron and my editors Jordan D. White and Heather Antos that I saw him a bit bigger and more gorilla-like. I explained that if you used a “Planet of the Apes” analogy, Black Krrsantan would be more General Urko to Chewbacca’s Cornelius. Not quite the same, but you get the idea. I felt he had to be very intimidating in order to feel like a credible threat to Old Ben who is a Jedi Knight.

Marvel.com: How has Ben Kenobi changed visually since you last drew him in STAR WARS #15? What kind of updates have there been?

Mike Mayhew: This is the second-half of a story that began right before this part begins, so Obi-Wan is the same. I got a lot of positive feedback on my Obi-Wan from STAR WARS #15 as a good meld of Ewan McGregor and Alec Guinness. It was nice to have confidence I was on the right track [while drawing] STAR WARS #20.

Marvel.com: Visually, who is your young Luke? What goes into his presentation in the story?

Mike Mayhew: Young Luke came easy to me. I really wanted to capture the elusive awkwardness and charm of those early teen years. I also wanted him to be very relatable like a boy from the neighborhood, rather than a child actor. He’s really the focus of the story to me. I’d love to see a “Young Luke Skywalker Chronicles” chronicles like “Young Indiana Jones.” It’s tricky material to mine, since you can’t contradict what’s in the film, but I feel the work Jason [Aaron] has done with these stories really fills a void that [raises questions] having watched “Episode IV.”

Marvel.com: How would you describe the overall design style of Tatooine? What sorts of influences make up its look?

Mike Mayhew: There’s not much to think about with Tatooine. It’s been in so many of the movies that it’s pretty well defined. I grew up in Arizona, so I always related to the desert location. I definitely wanted to create a very grounded sense of place. In the beginning pages where they are in the “lowlands” I wanted the dust in the air to affect the color and atmospheric distortion. When they get high up into the mountains, I wanted to air to be crisper and less hazy.

Marvel.com: Based on their designs, what are your favorite aliens from Jabba’s place and why?

Mike Mayhew: I remember not being crazy about the Jim Henson influence on the “Return of the Jedi” Jabba characters when I was 12, seeing the movie for the first time. I was a kid who was snobby about Star Wars skewing more for little kids. In hindsight the character designs are really wonderful. But, Jabba himself has to win that contest. I loved drawing him in STAR WARS #15. He’s so appealing and repulsive at the same time!

Marvel.com: How did you approach the STAR WARS #20 cover? We can see you played with the arrangement of the characters somewhat; what was important for you to achieve with that?

Mike Mayhew: The struggle with covers sometimes is that you have to do them long before you do the art inside, because of the way they are used to market the comic in the distributor’s catalog. I didn’t quite have my Black Krrsantan down when I did this cover. I mainly felt a lot of pressure to show an epic Jedi vs. Wookiee battle, which I couldn’t recall ever seeing before. It was tough. If I remember, I was going through some heavy stuff in my personal life too, which didn’t ease any stress. I hardly ever feel this way, but I’d love to take another crack at that cover now having drawn the entire issue.

Pick up STAR WARS #20 by Jason Aaron and Mike Mayhew coming June 15!

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