It seems every week the internet goes wild for news and rumors on the future of Star Wars, but truth be told the future’s happening every month in the pages of Star Wars: Legacy. The recently relaunched series follows the struggles of Ania Solo, a descendant of Han and Leia, just 100 years after the events of Return Of The Jedi. And if you thought times were tough then, well… Imagine dealing with a female Emperor, a restructured Jedi Order and a new breed of force-users called Imperial Knights. Despite Ania’s fabled blood however, she’s just the humble junk dealer on a backwater planet in the Outer Rim… that is, until she finds a lightsaber and and a wayward communications droid. Sound familiar?
Written by Corinne Bechko and Gabriel Hardman with Hardman illustrating, Star Wars: Legacy bring fans back to the roots of the Star Wars mythos and what made us fans in the first place: working-class characters drawn into an epic science-fiction adventure with a load of swashbuckling and intrigue. With two issues on stands and a third coming on May 22, we spoke with the Star Wars: Legacy creators about this new (NEW) hope in the Star Wars mythos.
Newsarama: This new series kicked off with a bang with that first issue. How did this story come together for you two?
Gabriel Hardman: We love Star Wars and set out to tell a story that could capture that epic, fun, pulpy feel that the first trilogy did so well. That said, we have no intention of dressing up Luke Skywalker’s story in different clothes and retelling it. The key is to give the reader something familiar and fresh at the same time, and we’re doing our best to pull that off. Honestly, we’re also just trying to tell a Star Wars story that we would want to read.
Nrama: Leading this story is Ania Solo, a descendent of Han and Leia. How’d you two go about developing her to be more than just someone’s grand-grandkid?
Corinna Bechko:From the start we knew that she had to be her own character. We didn’t really go into it thinking of her as anyone’s grandkid. After all, if your family tree is the most interesting thing about you, you’re probably a pretty boring person. Both Han and Leia were very strong personalities as were their descendants. We wanted to capture something of that bravado in Ania without crushing her under the baggage of her heritage.
Nrama: I know we’re still extremely early in the series, but could you see yourself exploring some of her backstory and how she ended up in a backwater planet as a junk dealer?
Bechko: Absolutely. I think Ania’s maybe not proud of some of the things she’s done in the past, so she’s not anxious to bring them up. But that doesn’t mean that some of them won’t come back to haunt her in upcoming arcs.
Nrama: This series picks up in a very different time than the Star Wars movies and cartoons people remember most. How would you describe the landscape of the universe for this new series?
Bechko: A lot has happened to the galaxy in the 140 or so years since the first film but I think it’s very recognizably the same place. There are still force wielders and a dark side, big stakes and loyal friends. Instead of an Empire we now have a Triumvirate, a power sharing government comprised of a benevolent Empress, the Jedi, and the fleet commander. This government is still new and fragile, so a lot of the galaxy is in chaos after years of war. The biggest difference for readers new to our series is probably the Imperial Knights. These force-using warriors are pledged to the Empress’s service, a concept that was introduced during the first epic Star Wars: Legacy run.
Nrama: You covered a lot of ground in the first issue – what can readers expect coming up in future issues?
Hardman: We’ll be introducing more elements in the first arc that will come together to provide the main thrust of the series such as: a world weary assassin droid, a young heroic Imperial Knight, space battles, intrigue, alien creatures, and general epic science fantasy fun stuff.
Nrama: For this you’re carrying on the title and tradition of the previous series that carried the name “Legacy.” What do you feel is the key theme of your series, outside of just the characters and story you have now?
Bechko: An important element of Star Wars has always been the working class side of things. Sure, there’s royalty and galaxy-wide schemes, but there’s also farm boys and smugglers who don’t know their own worth until they’re tested. In the original Star Wars: Legacy we had Cade Skywalker who turned his back on his lustrous heritage. In Ania Solo we wanted a character who didn’t really connect with hers. Sure, she’s got famous ancestors, but that doesn’t really get anyone anywhere if they haven’t got the money to back it up. Ania’s story is all about self-reliance, and getting by with some help from your friends.
Nrama: I’ve noticed that this new series really gives a ground level perspective on the Star Wars universe, much in the same way Luke Skywalker saw it as a Tattoine farmboy. Why do you think it’s so important?
Bechko: I think it keeps things relatable. Very few people know what it’s like to be raised in a palace. But most know what it feels like to have your dreams deferred because of family finances, as is happening to Luke when we first meet him. One of the best things about Star Wars is the way it shows us that regular people can make a difference whether they are destined to as Luke and Leia are, or whether they choose to, like Han and Chewie.
Nrama: I read that to get yourself up to speed for this series you not only researched Star Wars, but also the things George Lucas was influenced by in the 70s when he first developed the story. Are there any influences here people might find surprising?
Hardman: One of the big influences for this series was Douglas Fairbanks’ 1929 silent film The Iron Mask. Readers may have noticed a pretty direct homage to The Man in the Iron Mask that we put in the first issue. In a lot of ways it came about by coincidence. I’ve worked in movies as a storyboard artist for many years and we were invited to a screening of the movie held by the Art Directors Guild (of which I’m a member. Local 800!). We saw the film right when the prospect of writing Star Wars: Legacy first came up and realized that the tone and themes of The Iron Mask were very much what we wanted to do in the Star Wars Universe. Particularly the way Fairbanks and director Alan Dwan adapted the Alexandre Dumas novel. That level of epic swashbuckling, loyalty and emotion were exactly what we wanted. Our Star Wars: Legacy story obviously isn’t adapting The Iron Mask in any way but the tone of that movie was definitely a big inspiration.
Nrama: Ania’s not the only descendant of the heroes of the original trilogy who’s running around in the time period of Star Wars: Legacy; the person I’m thinking of is Cade Skywalker from the previous Star Wars: Legacy series. Could you foresee bringing him or any other descendants of well-known characters coming around in your work here?
Bechko: That’s a distinct possibility, but it won’t be our focus. The previous Star Wars: Legacy was epic and Cade was instrumental in galaxy-wide events over the course of the series. I don’t think we could ever come close to topping what John and Jan did with his character, and we’re not eager to try. Instead, we hope to introduce readers to a different patch of the galaxy and give our characters enough breathing room that they don’t have to keep tripping over places and events that have already been explored.
Nrama: Gabriel, I have to ask about the design for Ania – it’s not just a new character, but I see a lot of her legacy in her outfit. From the loose clothing recalling Leia’s outfit in A New Hope to the trademark gunbelt of Han Solo she wears. How’d you zero in on what Ania would look like?
Hardman: I certainly drew inspiration from many of the designs for Han and Leia but my main jumping off point was an early, unused Ralph McQuarrie design for Han. But many of the specific elements of the costume (gunbelt aside) are drawn from contemporary fashion that I researched and adapted, much the way costume designers in films work.
Nrama: In addition to that, I also see various new ships in your work here. I know Jan Duursema did a lot of work during her time on Star Wars: Legacy, but what’s it like designing things like the new Shuttle?
Hardman: I used Jan’s designs as a starting point because our book is definitely taking place in the world of the first Legacy series. But our script also called for new designs since we’re telling a story with different characters, planets and situations. Jumping off from what Jan had done, I also looked back at the work McQuarrie, Joe Johnston and Nilo Rodis did for the first trilogy. I wanted to tap into that feel without aping it. The hallmark for me of the Star Wars universe is that it’s used, scuffed, and even grimy at times. If something is slick and clean, it’s the outlier in this world. All of this is about capturing a tone and a feel. Those are vague words but essential for telling Star Wars stories.