SDCC: Star Wars vs. Serenity

Two universes collided at Comic-Con International in San Diego as Dark Horse Comics editors shared information about upcoming projects involving both the Star Wars and Serenity franchises.

In spite of the enticing title, the panel did not include a battle between Browncoats and Jedi.

"This isn't so much a Star Wars vs. Serenity panel, as it was described, but more a panel about celebrating both and trying to tell Serenity fans what's awesome about Star Wars and vise versa," said panel moderator and Dark Horse director of public relations, Jeremy Atkins.

Representing the Serenity line of comics was Dark Horse editor-in-chief Scott Allie, who edits the various books based on Joss Whedon's work. Over in the Star Wars corner was Dark Horse VP of Publishing Randy Stradley, who oversees the Star Wars comic book line. The panel also featured Lucasfilm executive editor John Rinzler, who is adapting George Lucas' original draft of "Star Wars" into a new comic, "The Star Wars."

"The genesis of the comic is interesting," said Rinzler. "I wrote a book called 'The Making of Star Wars' and doing it I had to read all of George's different drafts, including the first one he wrote in 1974. It's an amazing story. It's the first complete Star Wars story George told in the universe he was creating."

Believing that the first draft would work well as a comic series, Rinzler approached Lucas about creating an adaptation. Lucas was dubious about the project for a long time, but Rinzler and Stradley collaborated to convince him by adapting a few pages.

"Randy organized it and I wrote up a couple things and showed it to George -- he gave us the green light," said Rinzler. "We were all pretty excited."

"The Star Wars" features a world very similar and yet very different from the universe fans of the franchise have come to know over the years. Luke Skywalker is a veteran Jedi Warrior, Anakin Starkiller is the young protagonist and Han Solo is a green alien that speaks Wookie.

"When I first read the rough draft one of the things that initially struck me was it was like turning my brain inside out," Stradley said.

"Almost all the elements are there," Rinzler said. "There is a Darth Vader, but he's not the Darth Vader of the films." He confirmed Obi-Wan Kenobi is not in "The Star Wars." "His character early on is really kind of the Luke Skywalker character. He's the older Jedi. He's the master and the general."

Rinzler noted that Lucas himself was very involved with the comic when the adaptation process began, however his presence has lessoned since his retirement.

"It's amazing the first thing George did with Star Wars and these characters also ended up being one of the last things he worked on before retiring," said Atkins. "It's come full circle."

Moving on to Serenity, which hasn't seen many releases in recent years, Scott Allie informed the audience Dark Horse is working on new stories set after the film written by Zack Whedon.

"'Shepherd's Tale' was the first comic we did that really looked at the world from the point of time that the movie ended and afterward," Allie said. "It showed us Zack could capture the style of that world in a way nobody except for his brother has been able to do, so we said we've got to do more Serenity comics with Zack."

After a few rounds of Star Wars and Serenity trivia, the panelists opened up the floor to a Q&A session. The first audience member asked if Dark Horse has any plans to dive into the history of the Serenity universe.

"For a while we thought we were stuck in that limbo between the TV series and the film," Allie said. "Then when Whedon opened the doors and said 'Let's see what happens next' we turned all of our attention toward that."

Allie also noted Serenity won't be getting a monthly book, but will instead be continued with self-contained stories. "Joss felt that 'Buffy' makes sense to publish regularly but with Serenity he wants to keep it special," he said.

"We did 'Float Out' with Patton Oswalt, where we saw Zoe was pregnant. We did a short story with Zack where Zoe was still pregnant. We're not leaping too far forward," Allie confirmed in relation to where the new stories take place in the timeline.

An optimistic audience member asked if success of the comics may lead Whedon to push for a revival of the television show.

"He would always want to do more with Serenity. If he could get that cast back together, if he could get all that money, if he could do it right, he loves all those characters," Allie said. "He'd always want to do it but Hollywood's a complicated place so he hasn't been able to.

"I always thought the 'Avengers' movie may create the situation where he could do it, but what 'Avengers' did was make him super super busy."

Two alternate versions of a trailer for "The Star Wars" were played for the crowd, featuring a look at the characters as they were originally conceived and a sneak peek of Anakin Starkiller's quest to take down "The Space Fortress," as it was called before it was the Death Star.

"Our VP of marketing told us we can't show this," Stradley said.

"But he's not here," Allie stated.

"The Star Wars" goes on sale September 4 from Dark Horse Comics

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