Brian Wood, writer of Dark Horse Comics' "Star Wars" sat down with Gabriel Hardman, the writing team behind the re-launch of "Star Wars: Legacy," Dark Horse Editor and "Star Wars: Dark Times" writer Randy Stradley and Dark Horse PR Director Jeremy Atkins at Emerald City Comicon 2013 to discuss the future of the publisher's "Star Wars" franchise. The writers introduced the storylines they'll be working with as they develop their series and hinted at things to come.
Atkins introduced Wood with a round of applause and accolades, mentioning that his "Star Wars" #1 is returning to stands in a third printing.
"This book takes place, literally, like a week after the events of the original film," said Wood. "It's sort of about that period of time when the rebel alliance is reeling from their losses -- I mean, despite having blown up the Death Star they did suffer quite a bit. They're trying to regroup, and Vader and the empire are trying to deal with their loss, as well ... The rebels think that they have a spy in their ranks that's foiling their efforts to find a new planet to establish a base on. Everybody's dealing with their own personal losses -- Leia, obviously, Luke, even Vader, having to answer for the loss of the Death Star."
Wood later acknowledged some trepidation, just as his first issue of the new series was hitting stands.
"At the beginning, all I was trying to do was make this guy happy," Wood said, nodding to Stradley. "That's my job, really, to write for the editor ... It didn't really hit me, what I was doing, while I was writing, until like a week before it came out ... I'm either going to be loved or hated by everyone."
Much of Wood's "Star Wars" centers on the development of Leia Organa as she struggles with the sudden burden of responsibility the Rebel Alliance has thrust upon her. Wood found her character taking a natural focal point, as if her story was buried in his subconscious, waiting to come out. As Wood continues his series, he'll be further exploring other characters as well. Wood said he'd be broadening Han Solo and Chewbacca's story arc, and hinted at future appearances of Bossk and Fett. He'll also be further exploring the role of fan-favorite pilot, Wedge Antilles.
"As far as I'm concerned Wedge is a top-tier guy," said Wood. "He's going to stay in the story. There's not a whole lot I can say without giving away too much stuff in advance -- I think though, that his conflict is sort of dealing with this upstart Luke that's this farm-boy pilot that's stealing a lot of attention. So, Wedge is -- he's not an older guy, but he's been through a lot more in service of the Alliance, so there's a bit of tension there you can look forward to seeing."
While Wood tackles the period of time between the earliest films, Hardman and Bechko's "Star Wars: Legacy" takes place in the distant future of the "Star Wars" universe, following the life and trials of Ania Solo, a descendant of Han Solo and Leia Organa.
"Ania Solo is ... not some big-wheel important person," said Hardman. "She's living out in the middle of nowhere; she's starting from a place that's a relatable, down-to-Earth place. If Abraham Lincoln was your great-great-great-grandfather, this isn't really gonna do you much good, you know? So, she's just trying to get by. She's running a junk-yard moon, but comes into the possession of a light-saber, which she hopes is her ticket out of there but is mostly just a doorway to trouble."
"We're not stepping on the old 'Legacy,'" Bechko was quick to add. "These are new characters. That was such a rich, textured world built up with those characters -- we're really starting from a little-bit different place, even though they're in the same general time period."
When asked about their goals with the series, Hardman and Bechko described not simply wanting to tell an exciting story, but to tap into the emotional core of the "Star Wars" franchise.
"I think that the biggest thing was that it felt like a huge opportunity to be able to tell exciting science-fantasy pulpy stories that we wouldn't be able to tell any place else," said Hardman. "You get to follow up a run that built up that era so much, but take that and go in a new direction -- see a different part of the galaxy ... The core things in 'Star Wars' are about, you know, friends, and loyalty -- those are the core things -- beyond all the genre trappings -- that make us love the movies to this day."
"The thing we talked about the most when we were first starting to do this was what would feel the most like 'Star Wars,'" said Bechko. "Not to ape or mimic the films, but what would tap into the feeling that that gave us when we first saw it."
Stradley's "Dark Times: Fire Carrier" will look at yet another pocket of the "Star Wars" universe, following the adventures of Jedi Master K'Kruhk and fills in some gaps in the character's story.
"The current series picks up with K'Kruhk and the band of young padawans that he was kind of stuck with when we last saw him," said Stradley. "A lot of people have asked how come K'Kruhk didn't show up in the rebellion period -- he was in the Clone Wars and then he disappears, and shows back up during Legacy. Well, this will answer that question. This will establish what he was doing all that time. But it's really about the fact that he's trying to come to terms with the new reality, and the fact that he's got all these young charges that he has to take care of, and he still hasn't come to terms with the worst thing he's ever done in his life.
"It's probably the darkest of the 'Dark Times' that we've done," Stradley added.
Atkins also mentioned the upcoming release of "Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Prisoner of Bogan," a series set 25,000 years in the "Star Wars" past. The star-system in which the story takes place and the birthplace of the Jedi order has not yet seen the invention of the hyper-drive.
"The Force Wars are going to happen," said Stradley. "It'll shake out so that you'll clearly be able to see that this is where the Jedi came from -- this is why they believe what they do."
Before the end of the panel, Atkins made sure to address fan concern about the future of Dark Horse's "Star Wars" license in the wake of Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm, prompting Stradley to explain the current status of those publishing rights.
"The truth of the matter is, so far, at this point, Disney buying Lucasfilm has been business as usual," said Stradley. "What we've been told is that thus far there hasn't been a single discussion between Disney and Lucasfilm as to what, if anything, might happen with Lucas licensing publishing programs, and the best they're able to tell us is that we'll hear something this year. That's how much I know. There are a lot of reasons I think that Disney would be smart not to fix the machine that is already working."