The New (Star Wars) Expanded Universe

Before we begin, let me clarify that the reason the old Expanded Universe or EU, was more to my liking is because Ben is the name of Luke’s and Mara’s son, who is not a complete tool like Kylo Ren. Although I love Rey, BB8 and Finn, I resent having to play Disney’s and LucasFilms’s fiddle but like Elsa, I must let it go if I want to enjoy this phase of the Star Wars saga.

After my galactic discontent with Disney’s The Force Awakens subsided, -which was greatly fueled by my complete hatred of disavowing the Expanded Universe- I did the only logical thing a hardcore fan could do: Find out what the new EU titles were. Because of my love of comic books, I already knew that Princess Leia and Star Wars had been turned into serials by Marvel (I see what you did there Mr. Mouse) but I didn’t know what else was out there. Blame bad marketing or my inability to care for anything new that replaced my beloved stories of Remnants of the Empire and The New Jedi Order, but I had no clue there had been attempts to appeal to the obsessive nerds that must know, read and discuss every detail of the story.

After a trip to Powell’s Books in Portland, OR and a few run ins with info on the web, I was able to track down the books and comics I needed to read to learn about the new timeline, which will be comprised of 20 written or printed projects by the time the next movie rolls around. Although that’s a lot of resources to peruse, I’m willing to give it the good old Kessel Run try.

Having watched Star Wars Rebels (animated series) on Disney X D, I realized the new additions to the family couldn’t be so bad. To my knowledge, Rebels is the only official story that occurs after the events of Episode 3 and before A New Hope and its goal is to fill up some of the plot holes of the next episodes. Expect appearances of these characters on future books, shows and movies.

I highly recommend that you periodically search the web for new content and release dates. Why? Because the entries below are just a start. If the new universe resembles the old EU, even a little bit, lots of excellent (and hopefully not awful) books and side stories developing secondary and background characters will follow. Pace yourself though, cause after all Disney, LucasFilm and Marvel are after your hard earned cash!

1. Shattered Empire, Marvel’s Graphic Novel

This series starts or rather supplements the Battle of Endor and the destruction of the 2nd Death Star. It introduces Poe’s parents and places them in important roles during the attack and for the Rebellion. Throughout the story main characters from Episodes 4 through 6 make an appearance and by the end, Luke and Poe’s mom have acquired important Jedi artifacts and intel on the Empire Remnant. Read this before watching The Force Awakens and the movie will make a little more sense.

2. Star Wars Rebels (animated series)

The series starts by introducing a young boy named Ezra who inadvertently crosses paths with the Rebel Alliance. He joins the crew of the Ghost and soon discovers he is force sensitive. Kanan, who is now known as The Last Padawan (graphic novel, below), trains Ezra and leads a ragtag group of mercenaries on their quest to aid the Rebellion. Since it is still ongoing there is not much more info on the direction they will take with the story. Check local listings for show times. (Leia makes an appearance during Season 2, as Princess of Alderaan and aide to her father Viceroy Bail Organa.)

3. Kanan, The Last Padawan

Marvel is penning a story about Kanan, our Star Wars Rebels Jedi hero, who is apparently the last Padawan under the old Jedi order. The comic book series is still in print. According to Marvel’s website the arc covers his story up until Rebels and starts when Kanan is still a. young boy. Contact your local comic book store to reserve or track issues.

4. Princess Leia, Darth Vader and Star Wars Comic Book Series

Marvel is doing for Leia, Darth Vader and Star Wars what it has done for many superheroes; tell their expanded universe story in graphic format. The run started in 2015 and so far is still producing issues. Leave it to Disney to capitalize on owning both brands. Hopefully kids will be drawn to the comic books. If not, at least the adults/current fans can follow the story in a different medium and quench their thirst of knowing what happened to Luke, Leia, Han and others after the Battle of Endor.

5. Aftermath, by Chuck Wendig

Written as a continuation of the events of Return of the Jedi, this book introduces some of the key players in the Empire Remnant, whose mission is to overthrow the New Republic. The first of its namesake trilogy, these books are categorized under the “Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens” which applies to the comic books/graphic novels as well. (Expect a review to be linked to this article once I finish reading it.) The next installment, Life Debt, is scheduled for July 19, 2016.

6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Just in case you didn’t know, there is a book format of the movie. Back when Episode 3 was released, I read the book based on the movie contents and wasn’t terribly surprised by its contents or movie spoilers. Good read if you are interested in comparing both mediums.

I can only speculate or assume that these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to selling the public on the new Star Wars heroes and supporting characters. Expect more information to be released prior to 2017’s Episode 8 and as a follow up to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

May the Force be with you!

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