While everyone eagerly awaits to meet an all-new cast of heroes and villains in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" this December, completist Star Wars fans have already met dozens of new characters from a galaxy far, far away in the various other mediums that regularly deliver Star Wars action. No, it's no surprise that there are Star Wars comics, cartoons and novels out there -- that's been the case ever since the late '70s. What's different this time around, though, is that everything is new.
Yep, the reset button was pushed on massive continuity built outside of the six "Star Wars" movies and the "Clone Wars" cartoon. Now, a new canon is being built outside of the upcoming slate of films. After just over a year with this rapidly expanding canon, there are already characters worthy of standing alongside pre-reset fan favorites like Mara Jade and the Solo children. In case you've missed the novels, comics and cartoon series that constitute this new continuity, here are the 13 best new additions to the Star Wars canon.
Novels: "A New Dawn" & "Aftermath"When Rae Sloane first entered "Star Wars" canon in John Jackson Miller's "A New Dawn," set before "A New Hope," she was an Imperial captain. In her most recent appearance in Chuck Wendig's "Aftermath," she introduced herself as an admiral. Sloane rose through the ranks, and in a post-"Return of the Jedi" world, she's ready to climb even higher.
Sloane was born on an industrial planet called Ganthel. She left home to attend the Imperial Academy because she saw it as a better option than staying put. Her intelligence and ambition served her well and, after a stint as an Executive Officer on Grand Moff Tarkin's Star Destroyer, she gained control of her own ship -- the Ultimatum. This no-nonsense Imperial is cautious, thorough and always looks for an angle that will benefit her and help the Empire. Though they're always in the back of her mind, she doesn't allow her personal goals to get in the way. She's hard-edged and admirably devoted to her career -- yes, even if she's fighting for the Empire. (Amy Ratcliffe)
TV: "Star Wars Rebels"There's no one in the Star Wars Universe like Sabine. Yes, this list is stacked with wisecracking hotshots, but Sabine is one of the few characters who literally wears her distinct personality on her sleeve. Whereas most characters in the SW universe wear uniforms or nondescript clothing, Sabine customizes everything she comes into contact with. That's because in addition to being a demolitions expert, she's also an artist with a unique, neon-colored patchwork punk rock style. Basically everything she comes into contact with, she'll either tag with a sprayer or make it go boom. Characters with an artistic side as well as an interest outside of the era-defining war are hard to come by in Star Wars, and that makes Sabine all the more special. (Brett White)
Novel: "Lords of the Sith"Who walks the streets of Ryloth's capital city to hunt Imperial Officers preying on Twi'lek slaves in her free time and then gives those slaves a hideout and path to freedom? That would be Isval. A former slave herself, the Twil'lek Isval worked side by side with Cham Syndulla (father of "Star Wars Rebels'" Hera Syndulla) to lead the Free Ryloth Movement during and after the Clone Wars. Introduced in Paul S. Kemp's "Lords of the Sith," Isval is tough, resourceful, and often merciless towards Imperials. She'll defend her people at any cost -- even if it means sacrificing herself. She's more likely to shoot first and ask questions later, and her hotheaded take on the Empire balances out Cham's more methodical, diplomatic nature. (AR)
Comic: "Darth Vader"You gotta have a lot of guts to both stand up to Darth Vader and command his respect. The rogue archaeologist Aphra from Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca's "Darth Vader" ongoing has accomplished both of those tasks. Okay, maybe respect is too strong a word, but Vader relies on Aphra to help him in his personal and intensely private mission to uncover the truth about the mysterious Skywalker boy that destroyed the Death Star. Aphra's impressive (most impressive) because she holds her own against Vader in the Sith Lord's own book. Appearing in nearly every issue, Aphra often feels like "Darth Vader's" co-lead, as she moves throughout the universe gathering info for Vader by any means necessary. She's a resourceful pilot, cunning strategist and master technician; Aphra could hold down her own series, easily. (BW)
Sinjir Rath Velus
Novel: "Aftermath"He's scruffy, witty, gay, most likely a little tipsy and he knows his way around a good ol' bar fight. He's Sinjir Rath Velus, an ex-Imperial loyalty officer that undergoes a massive morality crisis following his involvement in the battle on Endor's moon. When we meet Sinjir in "Aftermath," he's simultaneously entertaining and heartbreaking, a rugged Han Solo-type coming to terms with the unspeakable cruelties he performed on behalf of the Empire while drowning his sorrows in glasses of sashin-leaf mead. Sinjir's character arc is one of many featured in Chuck Wendig's "Star Wars: Aftermath," an ensemble adventure that resonates in a very "A New Hope" way. And as one of Star Wars' first ever gay leads, the complex and compelling Sinjir Rath Velus has played a major role in bringing Star Wars into modern times. (BW)
Novel: "Aftermath"â€¨The Separatists manufactured countless battle droids for skirmishes in the Clone Wars, so it only makes sense that their various parts found their way to various corners around the galaxy. That's how Temmin Wexley discovered the pieces he needed to make Mister Bones. Temmin assembled his personal bodyguard from battle droid parts scavenged on Akiva in "Aftermath." He modified the B1 droid, giving Bones a vibroblade arm -- but Mister Bones is more than a servant. He's Temmin's loyal companion.
The best part about Mister Bones is indeed his fierce protectiveness over Temmin, but don't overlook his overall murderous and comedic personality. He regularly says things such as, "I performed violence," at the best/weirdest times. He takes care of business while making you laugh with a raised eyebrow. It's an entertaining combination. (AR)
TV: "Star Wars Rebels"Droids are supposed to be cute, helpful and friendly -- and maybe just a little rascally. Chopper defies all of those labels; to cut to the chase, this droid's a jerk. He's grumpy, irritable, disinterested and generally puts his own well-being ahead of the Ghost's crew. While it's a bit odd that any droid would be programmed with such a major attitude, Chopper's meddling is so endlessly entertaining that it makes up for any logical inconsistencies. This guy's a scene-stealer. And no, he's not always a spanner in the works; he does help out and has saved his crewmates on a number of occasions, albeit begrudgingly and while spouting off borks and barks in his chainsmoker-R2-D2 voice. (BW)
Triple Zero & BT-1
Comic: "Darth Vader"Who would have ever guessed that the Star Wars canon really needed evil twins of C-3PO and R2-D2? It's such a devilishly simple idea, yet it remained unused until "Darth Vader" writer Kieron Gillen had Aphra hotwire 0-0-0 and BT-1 back into service. As a protocol droid programmed for both etiquette and torture, Triple Zero is a perfect vehicle for Gillen's black humor. This droid electrocutes humans to death and then thanks them for their cooperation. Like Artoo, the BT-1 Blastomech droid speaks in beeps and whistles. Unlike Artoo, Bee Tee is loaded up with blasters, missile launchers and other weaponry. Along with Aphra and Vader, these two round out one of the most offbeat -- and entertaining -- casts in comics. (BW)
Comic: "Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens - Shattered Empire"The first phrase usually used to describe Shara Bey is "Poe Dameron's mother." It's true, and it ties her to "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" in an intriguing way, but it's not all that defines her. We first see Shara in "Shattered Empire" #1, in a panel depicting her in action. She was a Green Squadron pilot and helped protect the Millennium Falcon during the run against the second Death Star. After the battle, we met her husband, fellow Rebel Kes Dameron.
Seeing those two facets of her personality so early set expectations and made her worth paying attention to. She jumps into the thick of battle whenever duty calls and she's devoted to her family. Her being a maternal figure is important but to just say "she's Poe Dameron's mom" without a second thought diminishes the character. She gets into her ship, kicks the Empire's ass, and has victory sex with her husband. Shara's admirable because she's a skilled pilot unintimidated by working with Leia and later Luke. She's compassionate, she's real and she's relatable. (AR)
Comic: "Princess Leia"Leia Organa no longer bears the full responsibility of keeping Alderaan's memory alive. Star Wars fans get to see more of the culture that was obliterated by the Death Star in "A New Hope" through Evaan Verlaine, a fellow surviving Alderaanian. Introduced in Mark Waid and Terry Dodson's "Princess Leia" miniseries from Marvel, Verlaine served as Leia's pilot and confidant during a mission to protect the last remaining Alderaanians from the Empire. Evaan was mentored by Leia's mother Breha and learned much about her planet's history. Following Breha's death, Verlaine swore allegiance to Leia -- but Evaan also provided the princess with plenty of counter arguments, as well. In addition to shedding more light on Alderaan pre-destruction, Verlaine also provided the comic with plenty of action. She's a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and an even more skilled pilot; she outflew both Luke Skywalker and Wedge Antilles in order to sneak Leia out of the Rebel headquarters on Yavin. (BW)
Novel: "Lost Stars"Claudia Gray's "Lost Stars" brought a new aspect of the "Star Wars" universe into focus. She took two hopeful young friends, put them in the Imperial Academy, and showed how one of them bought into the Empire's propaganda and how the other -- Thane Kyrell -- defected to the Rebel Alliance. Kyrell was from a sleepy planet called Jelucan and was excited to become a pilot at the Royal Imperial Academy. He threw himself into training, eager as can be, until the destruction of Alderaan set him on a path away from the Imperial lifestyle.
Thane never has it easy. Despite coming from an aristocratic family, nothing is handed to him. He worked hard to get into the Imperial Academy and earn top marks once he was there; his devotion to success made his turn to the Rebellion much more fascinating. He's continually forced to make impossible decisions, and those decisions showed the audience why leaving the Empire wasn't as simple as choosing between black and white. (AR)
Novel: "Lost Stars"The other part of the story in "Lost Stars" belongs to Ciena Ree. Whereas Thane was from a wealthier part of Jelucan, she grew up in Jelucan's version of the sticks. This led her to follow different traditions and beliefs, which she tried to find a way to adhere to even while trying to conform to the Empire's standards -- standards that tried to erase a person's origins rather than celebrate diversity. Ciena opted to stay with the Empire after witnessing the destruction of Alderaan and countless other injustices.
With Ciena, the "Star Wars" galaxy expanded. Her struggles and ambition illustrate how a seemingly good person can not only serve the Empire, but believe in his or her actions. She undoubtedly committed harmful acts on the Empire's behalf, but it's hard to see her as a villain. Like Thane, she constantly faces wrenching decisions and she never has it easy. Her layers and choices make her one of the best parts of the new "Star Wars" canon. (AR)