With the upcoming "Star Wars: Legacy" issue #50, writer John Ostrander and artist Jan Duursema depower their lightsabers, holster their blasters and bring an end to their long-running epic that began almost exactly four years ago. But the force will be with them, always, because although the title ends, the legacy lives on.
Launched by Dark Horse Comics in June 2006, "Legacy" held the unique distinction of taking place further into the Star Wars timeline than anything else previously published—well over 100 years after the events of "Return of the Jedi." The title mainly centers on Cade Skywalker, a descendant of the legendary Luke Skywalker, who prior to the start of the series renounced his Jedi heritage. However, Cade quickly finds himself force pulled into an intergalactic conflict between the Sith and rebel forces for the literal future of the Star Wars Universe. As the series went on, it featured numerous ties to past events and characters while still keeping its own individuality, quickly making "Legacy" one of the most well-received and popular entries in the Expanded Universe. The final arc, whose second chapter hits stores in June, not only pits Cade and his allies against immeasurable Sith forces, but also forces Cade to finally confront his past and embrace his destiny once and for all—whether for the betterment or detriment of the entire galaxy.
Both Ostrander and Duursema spoke with CBR News about the coming end, what it was like creating their own version of a galaxy far, far away and leaving their own legacy in one of the most popular sci fi/fantasy series of all time.
CBR News: Starting off, for both you of, what's it like finally reaching this point—the end of this series you've been working on for so long? What are your feelings coming into the final arc?
John Ostrander: I'm like a lot of the fans; I don't want it to end. It's been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. When you're having fun, you don't want it to quit. However, all things have an ending and this one is ours.
Jan Duursema: Although I know it is the nature of comics that series must end, I feel there was not enough time to tell all the stories I wanted to tell or draw all the pictures I wanted to draw for "Legacy." But then, I always feel like there is never enough time. I lose myself in my work. My work defines me—I live and breathe this stuff, so separation is tough.
What can you say about what readers can expect to see in these final issues? Can you tease some of what we'll be seeing both in terms of character interactions and the battles?
Ostrander: The Sith are poisoning planets they don't like or to teach people a lesson. Cade's been hunting down all the Sith that he can find. Darth Krayt's not dead, and that promises to be trouble. We got a Princess in peril and a desperate rescue—and not everyone may walk away. Everything and the kitchen sink. You know, the usual.
Duursema: The final issue is going to reveal something important about two of the major characters. There's a nasty Sith v. Imperial Knight battle to look forward to in issue #50 as well.
What's it like planning those final battles? What's the process like for you two when choreographing these moments?
Duursema: In planning out a battle there is, of course, the end goal of bringing the fight from start to finish, but each battle is a story in itself and each fighter has a character arc within that battle. When I'm planning the visual aspect of a fight it is always a matter of balancing choreography and capturing those visceral moments that make a battle brutal. By their nature Jedi battles can be complex and a bit over the top. A real lightsaber battle would most likely be a "one strike—one kill" scenario, probably leaving both opponents dead or severely wounded. But Jedi are epic heroes and need to fight epic battles. It's always fun to consider the extraordinary nature of what they can do when designing a these fights.
Emotionally, who is the hardest character to say farewell to, and why?
Ostrander: They're all tough. We invest a lot of ourselves into the characters. If we don't, the reader doesn't respond. We're going to miss them as much as, hopefully, the fans will.
Duursema: That would be Cade. We've been through a lot with the guy, seen what motivates him—seen him at his weakest when dealing with addiction and at his strongest, when he decides to become a one man Sith-wrecking machine. He's been the brat, he's been the hero, living a flawed existence and fighting against a greater destiny. Flawed characters are the most fun because they allow us to explore the worst aspects of humanity as well as the reasons we try to rise above our baser selves. Cade has been a great character in which to explore the idea of the hero as someone whose most difficult battle is against their own self. His story has also been one of that questions the theme of free will versus destiny and ultimately, how we understand what the Galaxy wants for us.
How did you originally come up with the character of Cade? Why was it important to have a character with the Skywalker name in this series?
Ostrander: We felt that "Legacy" was going to be a somewhat hard sell—we were doing it without the Big Three. Would people be willing to try it? So we wanted a Skywalker, but someone unlike any Skywalker you had seen before. The original concept was more like Han with a lightsaber—a scoundrel, a rogue. He also is the center point for the whole theme of "legacy"—his legacy as a Skywalker, his legacy as a Jedi, and what all that meant.
Looking back, when you came up with this book, you decided to set it the farther in the future than any other Star Wars series. Why did you decide to make that choice?
Ostrander: Any good story makes you ask, "And then what happened?" Certainly, the novels are doing this as well, but they're doing it with the Big Three—Luke, Leia and Han. We wanted to go beyond them—to make the galaxy "new" again, to make Star Wars new again. We wanted to give everyone that excitement when the original trilogy was coming out, when it was all new and you had no idea of what was going to happen next, or how it was going to end. It also gave us more freedom—continuity was there, but we wouldn't trip over it as much. The galaxy would still be familiar, but at the same time it would be different.
Duursema: We set this series so far into the future of the Star Wars galaxy because it was an era that had not be explored at all. It was a time wide open to new characters and stories. Designing and developing this era was fun because there were no expectations of what was going to happen next and the possibilities were limitless.
Part of that design involved coming up with mostly new characters, with a few surprises here and there about familial connections. What was it like coming up with this cast who have become such a big part of the Star Wars Universe?
Ostrander: Lots of fun and, in my opinion, part of the real draw of the series. Any good supporting character draws things out of the main character and/or adds richness to the overall narrative tapestry. Some, like Gar Stazi, were originally meant as more or less one-off characters to answer questions about some aspect of our version of the Star Wars galaxy of the "Legacy" Era. In Stazi's case, "Is there anything left of the Galactic Alliance?" He has become extremely popular. There are minor characters, like the informant Naxy Screeger, who are just a lot of fun to play with and that the reader enjoys. Some—like Roan Fel, Shado, Rav, Queen Jool—were there from the start of the series, and some—like Treis Sinde or Gar Stazi—we discovered along the way. I think the supporting cast has really been part of the success of the series. So many of them could support a series or miniseries of their own. And all have their own backstory.
Duursema: Coming up with the characters for this series was a lot of fun. I find that most characters, once created, take on a life of their own. These characters certainly did, and some great personalities emerged during the series. Developing a look for each one of them was a challenge—the cast is pretty big—but there is not one of them who I would have designed differently. Some, like Naxy Screeger, kind of happened by accident from a quick sketch, others, like Krayt, were more challenging and had a few more phases of design. When we decided he was A'Sharad Hett, his design started to take form. Once we settled on Deliah Blue being a Zeltron, Deliah was just there in all her blue-tressed glory. I knew she should be someone who would both be unmistakable and stand out in a crowd. Talon's design was a lot of fun and creating her tattoos was work intensive, but a blast. I still feel that Nihl is the creepiest of the Sith—in fact there is a story left about his origin we never did get to tell.
Jan, you mentioned the reveal about Krayt being A'Sharad Hett, the son of a legendary Jedi Knight. Were you guys waiting since the beginning to surprise fans with that?
Ostrander: According to my memory—which is increasingly a dubious thing [laughs]—we had Hett picked out from early in our planning and certainly before the first script was written. And then we just tucked it away until there was an appropriate place to reveal it. We wanted the series to have ties back into the rest of Star Wars. Part of the fear was that we would be so many years ahead of the rest of the story that "Legacy" wouldn't really feel like it was part of Star Wars. In general, I think the fans were really surprised and, for the most part, they were really excited about it. We trumped it at the end of that particular arc by also revealing the identity of Morrigan Corde, Cade's mother. That got a lot of comment. In general, if we've ended an arc and there are still two pages left—brace yourself. We're up to something.
Duursema: Somewhere in my sketches I have a design of [Krayt] without a mask and with the tattoos he gave himself when he lived among the Tuskens. Even then, A'Sharad had difficulty in attempting to find himself. First, as a human within the tribe of the Tuskens—the reason he tattooed his face was to try to look more like them—later on, within the Jedi Order. He was trained as a Jedi by his father, but after his father was killed by Aura Sing, he was set on avenging his father's death—trying to balance his Jedi training with the training he received as a Tusken Raider. Hett was always a Jedi who questioned what his place in the Galaxy should be. As Krayt, he has been the architect of his own destiny and the destiny of the Galaxy. For the final design, it seemed more in character for him, having been raised by the Tuskens, that he would wear a mask.
You touched upon this earlier, but who was the most fun character to design physically?
Duursema: Designing Cade required a little more scratching around on the drawing board. For a while, we even talked about creating a dark haired Skywalker. Then John said something about how a blond anti-hero was harder to pull off. I love a challenge. Once he said that, I knew Cade had to be have light hair and the design for him came together quickly. I saw Cade as a scavenger so his costume is made up of pieces he either found at some Galactic Goodwill or liberated from their original owners. Everything he owns is worn—it's almost a point of pride that nothing is new. His vest looks like it might have been assembled from pieces of Mandalorian armor, his pants are "Vader" style pants—the type which Legacy Stormtroopers also wear. Cade's long coat substitutes for a Jedi Robe and conceals lightsaber and Rawk blaster. Designing a ship for Cade and crew was fun, too—the Mynock is a character herself and is still one of my favorite ships to draw.
To wrap things up, what does the future hold for the "Legacy" world? Will this be the last we'll be seeing of these guys?
Ostrander: Our plan is to wrap up the story. What happens after that depends on what Dark Horse wants to do. All this, of course, is assuming we leave "Legacy" in a position to be continued. Characters don't have to survive, you know.
Duursema: That's a question only Dark Horse and Lucasfilm can answer. I would say yes to more "Legacy" in a heartbeat. I know John and I still have a lot of stories to tell.