The comics scribe discusses the climax of his Qi'ra trilogy, coming this November.
The return of Qi’ra has been one of the biggest -- and most impactful -- surprises in Marvel’s Star Wars line. As leader of the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, not to mention one of Han Solo’s first true loves, her presence and actions have forever changed the post-Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back landscape.
The Solo: A Star Wars Story fan favorite first reemerged in the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover, orchestrating the theft of a still frozen-in-carbonite Han from Boba Fett. This led to the follow-up event Crimson Reign, in which Qi’ra makes a move against the Empire, gaining the ire of Palpatine himself. But this being Star Wars, Qi’ra’s saga is no two-parter.
Star Wars: Hidden Empire, a five-issue miniseries starting in November, will be the third and final installment in writer Charles Soule’s unofficial Qi’ra trilogy, StarWars.com can reveal. The series, illustrated by Steven Cummings, will find Qi’ra and the Emperor on a collision course. “This is my hidden empire,” she defiantly declares in Crimson Reign #5, in a tease of what's to come. “Choke on it.” For Soule, who just saw the release of his 100th Star Wars comic, Hidden Empire is the culmination of years of work. “This new story is designed to deliver the big finale to Qi'ra's story -- at least this phase of it,” he tells StarWars.com. “She emerged from years of hiding with an elaborate, incredible plan to bring down the Sith, and Hidden Empire is the endgame. It brings in players from all over the Star Wars universe, from Darth Vader to Doctor Aphra to the Knights of Ren, and I think it'll be really satisfying -- but tragic. As I had a character say in the very first issue of Crimson Reign, Qi'ra's story is a tragedy. But… in a good way.”
One of those good ways, Soule hopes, will be how Hidden Empire further informs Qi’ra’s motivations from his previous stories. At the same time, he wants this tale to be additive to what we know comes after. “Hidden Empire is set between Episodes V and VI. So, there are things this story can do and things it can't. That said, I think it will deliver a deeply satisfying conclusion to Qi'ra's arc here, and readers will understand how her choices in this story impacted events all across the Star Wars galaxy at this time. As with many of the comics and novels and ancillary stories beyond the films, the idea is to deepen the experience and understanding of the characters,” he says. “There are direct connections here to both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi -- and beyond -- and I think the fans will be very happy.”
As the mastermind behind Qi’ra’s return, telling this story has been surprisingly personal for Soule. Reflecting on the experience, he’s both appreciative and excited. “This whole storyline's been a gift, honestly,” he says. “It's given me a chance to write some deeply resonant stories that connect with the particular moment in the Star Wars timeline in which they are set, as well as prominent characters across the galaxy. It's been a very rich experience for me as a writer, and I'll be sad to say goodbye to Crimson Dawn, Qi'ra, and the rest of this corner of Star Wars once I'm done. This kind of story doesn't come around that often, and I'm glad I've been able to build it alongside Steven Cummings, Luke Ross, and the other amazing writers and artists working in Star Wars right now. I think the fans are in for a treat.”
Even as his trilogy reaches its climax, Soule’s enthusiasm for Qi’ra remains. To him, it’s no mystery as to why she continues to resonate with fans.
“Qi'ra's awesome! She's brilliant and driven and skilled, and has a worldview that's deeply relatable. She just wants things to be more fair. More even. She wants everyone, no matter where they start in life, to have a chance to improve things for themselves and the people they care about,” he says. “Now, the methods she uses to achieve that goal are maybe a little... questionable. But you can't argue with the endgame. Qi'ra's amazing, and it's been great to help bring her back to the spotlight for fans.”