Gillen's Star Wars Ushers in a Dark Time for the Rebellion


One of the reasons the original Star Wars films are so resonant is they're ultimately a story about a ragtag group of underdog heroes who band together to rebel against the tyrannical rule of the Galactic Empire. In films like Star Wars: A New Hope and the recent Rogue One: A Star Wars Story we saw the Rebellion take shape and the ultimate sacrifices many of it's members made to score it's initial victory against the Empire; the destruction of the Death Star.

Of course, the victory at the end of A New Hope eventually led to the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back, where fans learned Luke Skywalker and the other Rebels had been hounded by the Empire to the remote, icy world of Hoth. Plenty of pivotal events happened in between those two films, as Marvel Comics Star Wars series is currently illustrating.

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This fall, a major chapter begins as new writer Kieron Gillen reunites with artist Salvador Larroca with Issue #38 for a long form story about the journey to Hoth, how heroes like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia shaped the Rebellion -- and how the Rebellion shaped them.

CBR: From your work on Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra it's clear that you love telling tales set in the world of Star Wars, but I imagine you wouldn't take on such a big assignment as Marvel's flagship Star Wars book if you didn't have a story to tell that's different from what we've seen so far. So what can you tell us about your larger themes and approach to the series?

Kieron Gillen: A lot of the book will be similar to my approach with Vader only with the cast from A New Hope in that I looked at where they were at the end of that first movie, and then where they were at the start of The Empire Strikes Back. I then removed everything that Jason Aaron had already done and saw what was left there.

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In the case of A New Hope they're kind of in the complete opposite of where Vader was. Vader starts really low because the Death Star had just blown up and he was kind of responsible. [Laughs] And his series ends with him in charge of his own fleet at the start of Empire. That's clearly a fall and rise story. With the Rebels, they've just had an enormous victory. They've blown up the Death Star, which was literally 20 years of work from the Empire, and it's an enormous propaganda victory. So they're on the upswing.

Jason has been touching on that a bit. By the time we see them in Empire, they're cornered at a remote base, and they've been on the run for ages. They're quite low. The Empire has struck back before The Empire Strikes Back starts. [Laughs] That's kind of the core thing, and that's what I want to do. We start high with the rise of the Rebellion and then there must be some awful tragedy at some point.

At the same time, this is just as much about the rise of Luke, Han, and to a slightly different degree Leia. By the time we meet up with Han in Empire you've got Leia saying that he's a born leader of men. That means he's been leading men! [Laughs] He's called Han Solo, Solo being the key word, but he's been in a position of authority at some point.

With Jason, we've seen a lot about the Jedi. The primary narrative of that run was about Luke trying to develop his powers and become a Jedi. Luke has become about as good as he can be -- we saw how good he was in Empire, so we can't make much more progress there. What we can explore is Luke's relationship with the Rebellion. We can show him within the ranks and doing things like assembling squadrons.

We'll see Leia increasingly as a military leader. So we'll have her exploring the responsibility that she's been positioned in. A lot of this period was about Luke deciding to become a Jedi, but mirroring that is the fact that Leia, as we realize by the time of Return of the Jedi, is Force sensitive too. You see that in The Force Awakens, but she hasn't done much with it. Her interests are practical. In that film she's General Leia.

So my run will be kind of the time period where she goes this other way. Dovetailing the two unknowing twins and their lives seemed really interesting to me.

So we'll see how these individuals push against and grow into the roles they play in the larger organization of the Rebel Alliance.

Yes, and how they shape it. That's the thing. They're member of pretty significant ranking by the time of Empire. How did that end up happening? [Laughs] My answer to that question is probably one of my favorite things about the run.

So the idea of this is almost Shakespearean. The Rebellion must have a solid tactic. The idea of the Death Star was so unfathomably mind boggling. Everyone is like, “The Empire tried to do what? The Empire did what?” So for the Rebellion it's like, “What do we do next?” That's the great irony. The Death Star was A) built and B) blown up. So after that they have more people than ever trying to resist the Empire, which means it's a really optimistic time for Rebellion.

We'll be charting that and dealing with the diplomacy. The Rebel forces will be looking to make new allies. So we'll take the cast to these great places and then something goes wrong.

We know the story because we've seen Star Wars, but to me, the specifics are really interesting. I like doing these important and necessary scenes for the characters and the lives they're living and going to live.

Because the run has more of a military tone than Jason's run I thought the best way to start that was by coming off the back of Rogue One which was more of a war movie take on the Star Wars universe. So we're kind of starting with a smaller story explicitly integrating with and exposing the New Hope characters to everything that happened in Rogue One. We're going to the post apocalyptic wasteland that was left after the Empire blew a hole in Jedha and removed one of the holiest sites there. That's great for all of our characters.

We're taking Leia to a planet that was shot by the Death Star. For a survivor of Alderaan that's everything. Then Luke is searching for the spirituality of the Jedi and he's taken to a big hole where their holiest site used to be. That's an enormous visual that expresses the problem that Luke is facing. [Laughs] What he's looking for isn't there anymore.

So there's that juicy, meaty, thematic stuff and then you've got really good visuals. [Laughs] The idea of dropping, Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, and the droids into a post-apocalyptic wasteland is pretty fun.

What will your cast find when they arrive on Jedha? Did anyone survive the Death Star attack on Jedha City?

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