The saga of Star Wars: The Last Jedi continues this week with a new one-shot focusing on DJ, Benicio Del Toro's mysterious splicer whom Finn and Rose hired in the film. Writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker are heading up this exploration of the life of the man Acker calls the "most brazen, unapologetic scoundrel ever."
Teaming up with artist Kev Walker, Acker and Blacker continue to build on the world of Star Wars: The Last Jedi with a closer look at Canto Bight, and revealing some of DJ's secrets in the process. Newsarama spoke with Acker and Blacker ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi - DJ's release this week to learn what's in store as the one-shot examines a day in the life of one of Star Wars' most morally gray characters.
Newsarama: Ben and Ben, Star Wars: The Last Jedi – DJ is the second Star Wars one-shot tying into The Last Jedi for the two of you. What can you tell us about the story here?
Ben Acker: We're on Canto Bight, which in some ways is a hive of scum and villainy, but not a wretched one. It's a fancy hive, elegant and sophisticated. DJ is gunning for some of the money that changes hands here, despite many, many people here gunning for DJ.
Ben Blacker: You're going to get a story that well illustrates DJ's worldview. I think it goes to answering some questions viewers of The Last Jedi might have about why he acts as he does.
Nrama: We didn’t learn much about DJ in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Who is this guy, and what’s he doing in this one-shot?
Acker: He's a scoundrel in the rich Star Wars tradition of scoundrels! Probably the most brazen, unapologetic scoundrel ever in the series. He's charming and morally ambiguous and absolutely cool. If he has a heart of gold, he probably stole it. In this one shot he's cheating, stealing, manipulating, and trying to stay a step ahead.
Blacker: It's interesting new territory, I think, that Rian Johnson works in in The Last Jedi. He introduces many shades of gray to the Star Wars universe. DJ is the biggest example of that. Who knows if his name is even DJ! (Rian probably knows).
Nrama: This one-shot deals with a “day in the life” of DJ – what does that consist of, generally?
Acker: It's just a normal day in DJ's life. He's just minding his own business ripping off a handful of casinos, when the police come around. They want DJ's help finding an old friend/accomplice of his who is settling scores.
Blacker: Initially this was our pitch: DJ wakes up and has some coffee. Maybe a scone. He showers and then packs a briefcase. He mostly has a lot of meetings. Space-meetings. Then he goes home and watches a few episodes of The Great British Bake Off and then goes to sleep. Maybe he reads for a few pages before going to sleep. But our editors and the folks at Lucasfilm said they didn't want to show DJ in the shower (sorry, everyone!), so we said, "what if we see his day leading up to the events in The Last Jedi," and they were cool with that.
Nrama: What homework do you do when you set out to add to a mythos like Star Wars by defining a new character, such as DJ?
Acker: First we read a version of the The Last Jedi script to get an introduction to the character. Then we went back and forth with Jordan D. White and Heather Antos, our amazing editor and assistant editor at Marvel, as well as the fine folks in the Lucasfilm Story Group. The whole thing is a collaboration to make sure the story we're all telling is truly defining the character as established by Rian Johnson, by showing off DJ's different aspects, as well as different neighborhoods of Canto Bight. We get into more areas of that world than you get to see in the movie.
Blacker: We also had to take care of a Fathier for a week. But we got to split it between us. The week, not the Fathier.
Nrama: You’ve got Kev Walker on art for Star Wars: The Last Jedi – DJ. His inky, gritty style seems like a perfect fit for a book like this. What’s your favorite thing he drew in this book?
Acker: I'm going to tell you two things, but I have literally a hundred favorite details. I love the cards he designed for the card game. I hope that they start making toys from the comics, because I want those cards. They're beautiful. Kev is fantastic. We were lucky to get him on this book.
Blacker: I love Kev's characters. The acting he brings to them is so expressive. I especially like this new character called Jorka Edy. Great design, amazing attitude, such smarm. Really fun.
Nrama: In the film, DJ’s arc puts him in direct contact with Finn and Rose. Will any surprise Star Wars guest stars pop up in the one-shot?
Acker: We feature a protocol droid, a pod racer, and a Rodian but not any of the ones you know. That's as close as it gets, I'm afraid.
Blacker: Chewy's son Lumpy, all grown up, had a scene but Lucasfilm has denied his existence, so it was cut. You'll have to buy the trade to see the deleted scenes!
Nrama: You’re now getting some real mileage with the Star Wars universe under your belts. Which Star Wars characters would be your dream project to take on?
Acker: After having Wedge fight all those Stormtrooprs in Storms of Crait, I want to write some two-fisted Wedge Antilles adventures!
Blacker: Yeah, a Wedge and Rogue Squadron series would be a blast. I also love all of the new characters. I'd love to do a series about Paige Tico and her life leading up to The Force Awakens, why she joins the Resistance, and how she becomes someone Po counts on. Unless Charles Soule is already covering that? I'm behind on the Po book, though I love it so much.
Nrama: What’s next for you as a team after Star Wars: The Last Jedi – DJ?
Acker: More Star Wars! The third of our Star Wars: Join the Resistance trilogy of young adult novels comes out later this year. It takes place during the events of The Force Awakens. It's action-packed and really fun. I can't wait for you to see it.
Blacker: That, and I'm going to watch some Great British Bake Off, maybe read some, then go to sleep.