Saturday, February 24, 2018
Home  >  Features  >  A (Not So) Long Time Ago - A Year With The New Star Wars Continuity



On April 25th, 2014, Disney pressed the big red Death Star reset button on the Star Wars expanded universe. It was a traumatic and polarizing moment for many Star Wars fans. Yes, millions of voices cried out, but no, they haven’t really been silenced. Any internet article on Star Wars after that solemn late-April day features the prerequisite comments about the sham Star Wars has become by allowing Disney to destroy our Expanded Universe-childhoods. The loss of our favorite characters from the Expanded Universe drives pain into the very fiber of our existence anytime Star Wars is mentioned henceforth. Goodbye, Aurra Sing. We mourn the loss of your overly intricate and unnecessary backstory. 

The pain is real. 

Or is it? Two The Force Awakens teaser trailers and several solid additions to the official Star Wars ouvriere later, I think it’s pretty clear that the future of Star Wars is in very good hands even if the New Jedi Order books are no longer officially canon (note: also, probably a good thing).

I can’t say I was terribly upset when the lightsaber came down on the old Expanded Universe. Like a lot of Star Wars fanboys of a certain age, I had read numerous novels and comics while having played a metric ton of Star Wars video games. I had hypothesized and extrapolated out the various threads of the Star Wars Expanded Universe with nerds from all walks of geekdom. Star Wars has occupied a large segment of my life, though I am the first to admit that the Star Wars Expanded Universe had grown to a moribund, bloated expanse. It was filled with nigh-unbelievable twists and wonky turns of events that even I, a Star Wars nerd of the highest order, one who is heavily steeped in the arcane lore of the E.U., had a hard time making sense of in the grand scheme of things. It was too much.   

Yet, there is hope. The last year of Star Wars stories that have made up the new canon have been largely very good. Gone are the days of exploring events hundreds, or even thousands, of years before or after the Original Trilogy. There is a clear focus for the property from Disney and its related players.

Today, I am going to discuss the new Star Wars material from the last year that I have seen or read. Brace yourselves. If you have been taking a Star Wars break for the last year, there could be some spoilers ahead, though I try to keep them light.  



Star Wars Legends 

Let us begin with the old Expanded Universe continuity. As of April 25, 2014, the old continuity was no longer accepted canon. It was a much beloved universe, so there was bound to be some pushback. Disney and Lucasfilm wisely kept the old stories in a sense by labeling the previous Expanded Universe line as the Legends line. New printings of stories made before the cutoff date have a gold banner at the top helpfully labeling them (or heinously branding them, a la a scarlet letter) as Legends.

Like many Star Trek fans, Star Wars fans had to mentally reconcile this new label in their heads. Treating the previous stories as a giant “What if?” tale, this has led to the spilling of much digital ink. There is a vocal brigade of fans out there lifting their e-pitchforks high into the air and lighting e-torches to protest this move. While their sense of loss is understandable on some level, it made sense for Disney to start with a clean slate. The older stories are still out there, much as the old Trek movies and television shows are still available. The focus is now on the new material. Those stories don’t cease to exist. Their importance and precedence in setting the future Star Wars agenda has been lessened, but fans can still enjoy them at their leisure. 

Liked the New Jedi Order books? They're still out, they just don’t officially count.  


Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir

Darth Maul - Son of Dathomir 

Many fans want to credit Marvel Comics for producing the first canon comic book adventure in the new Star Wars era. That is untrue. The honor belongs to Dark Horse and their adaptation of an unused script from Season 6 of The Clone Wars, thus making it canon. During The Clone Wars, Darth Maul made his triumphant, if somewhat controversial, return to Star Wars. But wasn't he chopped in half at the End of Episode I? Yes, that is correct. He got better, though. 

It sounds kind of hokey to bring back Maul, but it was actually an excellent story that dramatically brought back the horned Sith. The Son of Dathomir story was really the first victim of the aborted sixth season of The Clone Wars. Several of the stories from this season would already be complete when the axe came down (more on that below), but this particular story was too early in the development process to complete the animation work. Comic books provided the perfect medium to present this already complete tale. It doesn’t answer a lot of questions about what happened to Maul between the Clone Wars and Episode IV, but it is a great story. 

Fans of The Clone Wars may have missed this since it was lost in the reboot shuffle, having been published less than a month after the announcement of the Expanded Universe shuttering. Many fans had also shifted their focus away from Dark Horse because it had been announced that the comic book license was heading to Marvel. Some fans threw their hands in the air, feeling like the DH titles being published were dilatory now. This attitude may have been shortsighted because fans missed out on a really great miniseries.  



The Clone Wars - The Lost Missions (Season 6) 

The Clone Wars television show was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lackluster prequel era. Set during the pivotal intergalactic war, the series fleshed out the conflict that was largely ignored between the end of Episode II and the beginning of Episode III. The films showed the beginning and end of the war, while The Clone Wars gave everyone an inside look at the conflict. With an animated series of this nature, lead time in the production of the series was key. By 2011, Season Six had already been written. 

In early 2013, however, the series was cancelled at the end of its fifth season. Thirteen unaired episodes from Season Six had been fully produced, while several others were in the early-to-mid stages of development. Netflix, the bastion and savior of all entertainment, came to the rescue. In an exclusive deal, Disney partnered with Netflix to air the final episodes of the now truncated Season Six, once again involving itself in the relabeling business by offering these thirteen episodes as The Lost Missions.  

The Lost Missions ended up being a mixed bag for viewers. No overarching plotlines were really resolved, especially the all-important cliffhanger of what happened to Ahsoka Tano once she was kicked out of the Jedi Order. Fans had the prerequisite Padme and Jar-Jar episodes, both proving the near-flawless rule that almost any episode prominently featuring either of those characters could (and should) be skipped. Interestingly enough, anyone clamoring for a Jar Jar Binks and Mace Windu team-up got their wish in the two-parter “The Disappeared.”    

Despite those unsurprising duds, the other episodes were largely satisfying for long-term fans. The bookends of The Lost Missions were especially great. The first four episodes attempts to answer one of the true great mysteries of the prequels: how was Order 66 executed? Was it Clone Troopers just following orders or was it something more inbred and sinister? Hint: it’s the latter. The final episodes also deal with Yoda’s quest to find out the source of the increasing influence of the Dark Side.  

Ultimately, The Lost Missions feel incomplete. That’s completely reasonable since it wasn’t truly finished. However, the quality of the few episodes released shows how strong The Clone Wars really was in a time of negative feelings about the prequels. While many did not enjoy the prequel movies, The Clone Wars animated show redeemed the prequels for many.   



Star Wars: Rebels - Season 1

Fans were naturally disappointed to hear that The Clone Wars was ending, but were immediately intrigued by what would be replacing it: Star Wars: Rebels. Set a five years before the events of Episode IV, Rebels follows a ragtag bunch of rabble rousers who are out to make misery for the Empire on the besieged planet of Lothal. The main characters were Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi Padawan who escaped Order 66 and went into hiding, and his new apprentice Ezra Bridger, a young orphan who has a talent for mischief and a connection with The Force.   

The series premiered in October 2014, airing a tight thirteen episodes. By comparison, a typical season of the The Clone Wars ran for twenty-two episodes each. The tighter production schedule on this show gives the creators more time to focus their stories, not unlike many hit shows today that focus more on smaller season orders while ramping up production value and storytelling quality. In essence, there’s less time to screw around in an attempt to pad out a longer season. Disney has made much of wanting to bring the fun and sense of adventure back to Star Wars, and Rebels succeeds wildly at that. At times it can be a little juvenile (it is a kids show, after all), but Rebels manages to capture that unique vibe of Star Wars that the main prequel movies severely lacked. 

Rebels also introduced a great new villain, The Inquisitor. The true connection of how this character fully related to or was integrated into Palpatine and Vader’s "Sith Rule of Two" was never firmly established. What was made clear was that this cool, calm, and collected bad guy was someone not to be toyed with. His demise at the end of the first season is a blessing and a curse. It added a sense of real danger to both sides of the show, heroes and villains alike. This new rebellion is a deadly game that could get anyone killed. On the other hand, as the Inquisitor warns, there are some fates worse than death. His death has a left a Darth vader sized void to be filled. With the ultimate Sith Lord hot on the heels of our heroes, Season 2 is shaping up to be awesome.  



Star Wars: A New Dawn 

A New Dawn is a novel by John Jackson Miller. It has the distinction of being the first novelized entry in new Star Wars canon. It follows the origin story of how Kanan and Hera met a couple of years before the events of Star Wars: Rebels Season 1. Of the newly canonized media I’ve read in the last year, this book impressed me the least. It wasn’t a particularly engaging story. It reminded me more of some of the economic wrangling that plagues the prequel trilogy. Want to read a book about the damages an Imperial mining industry has had on a remote Outer Rim world? Then this book is for you, and maybe only you.  

Rebels fans who are hungry for more Kanan and Hera after watching Season 1 would be better served holding out for Season 2 rather than checking this particular book out. There’s nothing offensively wrong with the book. It does lack the ongoing fun and banter of the Rebels series. The first season of Rebels acts as a sufficient origin point for these characters. Fans don’t really need an origin of an origin, which is essentially what this book attempts to provide.     


Marvel's STAR WARS

Marvel Comics' Star Wars Titles

Thank you, Marvel. Thank you, thank you, thank you.  

I've lauded the wonder of Marvel’s new Star Wars comic books on this site before. I won’t go into gory (more likely girlishly positive/giddy) detail of my love of the books again, but Marvel has captured the feel of the original Star Wars film exceptionally well. Rebels has been very good, don’t get me wrong. Marvel wins the title of the torchbearers for Star Wars currently for their fantastic job on their comics.

The main series sold over a million copies and went to multiple printings, despite the fact that first printings are easily (and probably will continue to be easy) to pick up. They have been doing a lot of fun alternate covers too. I normally hate alternate covers, but Star Wars melts my alternate cover-hating heart with the many cool covers Marvel has produced. This is proof that even love can make the geekiest of fanboys become hypocrites.  

The four series that have been released thus far have been very good. These series include the main title, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and Kanan, The Last Padawan. Marvel appears to be sticking with the Rebels and Original Trilogy timeline thus far. This fits along with Disney’s media plan to bring Star Wars back to its former glory days. With an announced post-Return of the Jedi miniseries on the way, it will be interesting to see how far Marvel is willing to spread its Star Wars creative wings beyond the established films. I hope Disney allows Marvel to take some storytelling risks to go beyond such comfortable boundaries, but it doesn’t look likely.  



Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens

I’m including The Force Awakens in this overview because both trailers have only been viewed 75 millions times collectively on YouTube at the time of this writing. The anticipation of this film is a high as any in the history of filmmaking.  

So what do we know based on the two trailers? Not a lot. Teaser trailers function to get us excited. In that regard, they have succeed wildly. What the trailers bring to the table in excitement they lack in giving any actual information. Fans watching these two trailers see tons of exciting imagery, but not much else. But ... tell me you didn't feel (and maybe made very audible) nerdy/geeky emotions when you saw Han and Chewie at the end. Not exactly revealing, but it was satisfying.  

Of course, there’s rampant speculation all over the internet as to what is going to happen in the movie. I won’t go into the rumor and speculation in detail here. I am trying very hard to block those kinds of spoilers out right now. Director J.J. Abrams has said some of the details floating around cyberspace are correct. This is a general and nonspecific an answer as you can expect from him. The trailers do leave more questions than answers, which is honestly how it should be. I want a little mystery at this point. That sense of excitement and not knowing what the the future holds for Star Wars is part of what makes this particular property so enthralling now. The Expanded Universe told us what happened next. Now, we’re being told to scrub all of that. What does happen next? I don’t know, but we’ll all find out together soon enough.  

The new film promises to spawn many, many “prequels” and subsequent media in the form of comic books, novels for all age groups, and video games that will explore the gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens.  It’s an exciting time to be a Star Wars fan. 


Enjoy this moment! The previous year has offered a small, yet tantalizing taste of what Star Wars is set to become over the next few years. Discover the new canon has been a fun experience that will no doubt explode into a memorable one on December 18, 2015


What are some of your favorite Expanded Universe stories? Share them below!


More Star Wars on MightyVille:


Four STAR WARS Comics from Dark Horse Comics to Skip

Celebrating STAR WARS at Dark Horse



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Which New #1 this week are you most excited about?

SIDEWAYS #1 (DC Comics) - 15.8%
DEATH OF LOVE #1 (Image Comics) - 5.3%
KICK-ASS #1 (Image Comics) - 5.3%
STAR WARS THRAWN #1 (Marvel Comics) - 5.3%
ATHENA VOLTAIRE 2018 ONGOING #1 (Action Lab Entertainment) - 5.3%
BABY BADASS #1 (Action Lab - Red Zone) - 5.3%
BLACK BETTY #1 (Action Lab - Danger Zone) - 0%
CHARISMAGIC VOL 03 #1 (Aspen MLT) - 0%
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