Charles Soule is about to embark on a dream job to answer some of the burning questions he’s had since he was a young fan growing up idolizing Luke Skywalker. For example, “How did Luke go from being a miserable dude with his hand cut off to being that black-uniform badass who waltzes into Jabba’s Palace with his hood up?” he asks.
As announced today at the publishing panel at New York Comic Con, next year Soule (Lando, Poe Dameron, Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith) will help relaunch Marvel’s flagship Star Wars comic to explore the uncharted waters between Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The first cover, with art by R.B. Silva as seen above, was also released.
Along the way, Soule hopes to expand on some of the stories left untold during that period. “How does the Rebellion go from this rag tag scattered group that lost at Hoth to the hugely mobilized massive fleet that takes on Death Star II?” he asks. And before our heroes reconnect on Tatooine, “How is the mission to save Han planned?” he wonders. “The idea that I get to leap into answering some of those questions… It’s not just an incredible opportunity. It’s a responsibility.” And one Soule doesn’t take lightly. “So much happens in Empire and then everyone seems to be in this totally different, reset place at the beginning of Jedi.”
Soule, who takes the helm of the flagship series in January, sat down with StarWars.com to talk about his hopes for the series and the lessons he’s learned from exploring the rise of Darth Vader in Marvel’s Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith and the heroes of Black Squadron in Marvel’s Poe Dameron.
Although he’s mum on specific plot points, Soule says the series will likely start off very dark. “And it should be dark because we’re coming up from arguably one of the darkest endings of the whole saga and you have to honor that…It starts from a place where all of our heroes are very demoralized. It’s not necessarily a story about a villain, which is what Darth Vader was. It’s a story about heroes who have to pull themselves together and that’s a cool story to tell.”
Check out art from the first few pages below, with pencils by Jesus Saiz, then read on for more insights from the writer.
The evolution of Luke and Leia
When the current run of Marvel’s Star Wars originally launched in 2015, the series elaborated on the period between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, helping to shape events and key characters from the saga. Through the new series, Soule hopes to expand on vignettes and side stories that showed these same heroes and villains evolve from the down-and-out rebels who were fleeing from defeat at the end of Empire to the return of the fully-formed Rebel Alliance. Soule has been thinking about these “what ifs” since he was a child. “I don’t think that there’s too much that would survive from my childhood headcanon,” he says with a laugh, “but the spirit of ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if…?’ That idea is very much alive.”
Soule says he’s excited to get a chance to return to writing Lando Calrissian, the subject of his comic miniseries Lando. “At the end of Empire, he’s not really a good guy. He betrayed everybody and sort of came around at the end.” Now Soule can explore how he managed to gain the Rebellion’s trust and ascend its ranks. “How did he go from there to being a general who led the Falcon into Death Star II?”
There’s also a chance the new series could revisit Lando’s friend Lobot. “There’s a deleted scene from Empire where you see Lobot getting captured by the Empire on Cloud City. It was part of the story, so he’s in Imperial hands now and who knows what he might know and what things might happen.”
And although Han won’t figure in prominently — “Han’s not in it. I mean, he’s in it but he’s like a Han-cicle,” Soule jokes — his absence will be felt through Luke and Leia as they grapple with their own decisions. “His presence is very much felt by most of the characters and the choices they’re making. There’s a lot of thought about Han.”
They’ll also have their own distinct arcs. With Luke, Soule plans to dig into the emotional turmoil of both Luke’s physical maiming and his confusion over the chilling realization that Darth Vader claims to be his father. “What is Luke going to do with that? Because as far as he knows, the person he sort of revered and thought of as his father figure, Obi-Wan Kenobi, told him ‘Well, Darth Vader killed your father.’ And now he’s hearing this other thing from the person that presumably has every reason to lie to him. But he’s searching his feelings and there’s a resonance there.”
A Star Wars Forces of Destiny short already explored how Leia procured her Boushh disguise — with a little help from Chewbacca and Maz Kanata. But beyond that, Soule says he hopes to look at the character’s approach to her own responsibilities toward the greater cause. “She had an extremely personal moment at the end of Empire Strikes Back with Han — ‘I love you.’ ‘I know.’” he says. “And she knows that she’s extremely capable and she could probably go rescue him and save him. At the same time, the Rebellion is in a place where they need their leaders and they need figureheads,” Soule says. “She’s extremely important as a survivor of Alderaan, as Bail Organa’s daughter, and all the other things that she represents. But she’s not necessarily the one who is commanding the fleet.”
Lessons from a Sith Lord
Soule will incorporate some of the lessons he gleaned through his recent work on the Poe Dameron and Darth Vader series.
With the former, Soule earned the chops to tackle the broad scope of the new Star Wars story, incorporating a multitude of characters and side plots. “It’s hard because it’s essentially a team book,” Soule says. “You have to serve every character….You just want to make sure that everybody from Artoo to Chewie to Dexter Jettster get their due.”
And although Vader will once again make an appearance, the Sith Lord is “at a vastly different point” in this story. Whereas Soule’s Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith series explored the events immediately following Vader’s transformation into the amalgam of man and machine, literally picking up as he lurched to his feet, the Vader who made the startling revelation to his son Luke Skywalker during the duel on Bespin is more refined and far more menacing. “He’s more of the nightmare that’s out there,” Soule says. “This is something I learned along the way…Vader should talk as little as possible. Because the more he talks, the less frightening he is.” Much like when he’s introduced in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a silent killing machine mercilessly cutting down rebels with his red blade. “There’s no discussion to be had. There’s no reasoning with him.”
And, of course, the Empire itself will loom large. “The Empire has struck back and they are very much ascendant at this point and the Rebellion is back on its heels. They’ve lost allies. They’ve lost material. They’ve lost ships. They’ve lost people. And what are they going to do? I guess you’ll have to read the series.”
Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them.
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