A pivotal moment in Star Wars: The Last Jedi revolved around the planet Crait - a salt-covered desert world that once housed a Rebel base. Though the film doesn't go into detail about Crait's history, writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and artist Mike Mayhew are filling in the blanks with their one-shot Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Storms Of Crait due out December 27..
Acker and Blacker have written for the franchise before, but adding to the lore of a totally new Star Wars film is a cut above. Newsarama spoke to the pair ahead of Storms Of Crait's release next week, discussing where the one-shot sits in the Star Wars canon, how they developed the planet at the heart of the story, and their secret Greedo film plans.
Newsarama: Ben and Ben, you’ve worked on Star Wars before, but tying directly into The Last Jedi is pretty huge. How did this project develop?
Ben Blacker: We got a call from our favorite editor, Jordan White, who asked if we were available to work on a couple of one-shots that tie into The Last Jedi. We pretended to think about it for a millisecond, then we told him we did. Storms of Crait was the first undertaking, and a second one-shot that revolves around Benicio del Toro's character is coming in January.
Ben Acker: Yes, as huge as tying in to The Last Jedi is, this was our first opportunity to write something that takes place during the original trilogy. So it was double huge for us.
Nrama: When exactly does this story take place in the Star Wars timeline?
Blacker: Our story picks up after the events of A New Hope. So, May 26, 1977.
Acker: 1977. A long, long time ago. The space 70s are our favorite!
Nrama: Crait is a new setting introduced in the film that’s getting a spotlight here, so you’re helping define a new aspect of Star Wars lore. What can you tell us about Crait, and how you arrived at your collective vision of it?
Blacker: As with anything Star Wars related, we depended a great deal on Lucasfilm's Story Group. They have the big picture and know everything about everything. And, of course, both Jordan and his assistant editor Heather Antos were tremendously helpful in gathering information from both story-group and some of the other books they've put together.
By now you've seen The Last Jedi, so you know that Crait is a red planet that's covered by salt. This, and the fact that it was once a rebel base, was pretty much all of the information we had to start. Once we landed on the time-frame for the story, the character arcs made sense to us. Luke has something to prove, and that Crait was a base established by Leia's father gave her great stakes in this mission being successful. And of course, the visuals of the salt-covered planet were an opportunity for something really cool - but I don't want to spoil too much of the story for you.
Nrama: At the same time, you’re working with just about the two most essential Star Wars characters, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa. What’s their relationship like at the time of Storms of Crait?
Blacker: They're brother and sister, but they don't know it yet. Have you never seen Star Wars?
Acker: They've been through A New Hope together, so there's the respect and friendship forged there, but Luke is new to war and a hero his first time at bat, while Leia has seen Alderaan destroyed. They're in different places in their journey and that affects their relationship.
Nrama: What’s waiting for Luke and Leia on Crait, when they scout it out?
Blacker: Danger! Excitement! A chance to prove themselves! Creatures that come out of the ground! Digging trenches!
Acker: They don't get to hang out with the cute little foxes in this one!
Nrama:You’re working with Mike Mayhew on this one-shot. He’s no stranger to Star Wars himself. What’s your favorite thing he drew for Storms of Crait?
Blacker: Mike Mayhew wound up taking the art duties for this book after the original artist Marco Checchetto had a conflict. (He's a Sith). And we love Marco, but we were equally thrilled that Mike could come on board. We're big fans of his from the other Star Wars work he'd done for Marvel. There are a couple of brilliant pages Mike created for this book, but my favorite (spoiler-free) pages are the first three which are an incredible space-chase featuring the Millennium Falcon, TIE fighters, X-Wings, and transport ships. It's stunning and feels like watching the movies.
Acker: Mike kills it in the space chase, but for me, it's all about the small character moments. They say acting is reacting. Mike's reaction shots, particularly of Luke and Han, are just amazing.
Nrama: How do the two of you develop a script for a story like this, working as a team?
Blacker: As I mentioned, there was a lot of back in forth with the editors and story-group just to get the facts of the planet, what Rian Johnson had in his script, any imagery that was available. After that, Acker and I just talked about how to make this story important to the characters. We knew Luke and Leia would be our emotional ways into the story.
I think we did more drafts of this script than we usually do, as we kept getting new information about Crait. But every draft strengthened the emotional arc going on, even as more action and cool visuals were added.
Acker: Some teams sit together at a computer and one looks over the other's shoulder and they both work out every word. That's not us. We outline together and then pass drafts back and forth. We take turns like gentlemen.
Nrama: After Storms of Crait, what are your next plans to visit other systems in the “Galaxy Far, Far Away?”
Blacker: Well, obviously I'm going to see The Last Jedi again. But in addition to that, our one-shot about DJ, Benicio del Toro's character, is released in January. Kev Walker illustrated that, and I think it's going to knock people out. And of course, our "Join the Resistance" trilogy of young adult novels continues! The first two books about a group of kids who join the Resistance in the time leading up to The Force Awakens are now available, and the third will be released next year. When we finish writing it.
Oh, and this seems like the right time and place to announce that we're writing a Greedo movie.
Acker: I'm hoping that when people read Storms of Crait it will cause a giant demand for a Wedge Antilles ongoing comic in the spirit of the current Poe Dameron book, but set in the space 70s.