Future's End: Creators Talk STAR WARS LEGACY Finale

Creators Talk STAR WARS LEGACY Finale

Legacy is a heavy word. It suggests a prized possession handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor to maintain the good deeds of someone before you. Filling the shoes of George Lucas’ amazing imagination is a huge task – Lucas can vouch for that himself. But over the course of the past four years, the creators of Dark Horse's Star Wars: Legacy have done just that.

When the book was originally announced, writer John Ostrander described it as “rooted in Star Wars tradition… but a whole new era”, and that’s exactly what he and principal artist Jan Duursema provided over the course of the series.  

Set over 100 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Legacy chronicles Cade Skywalker, a descendant of Luke who has cast aside his Jedi heritage and all that goes with it. But just as most Star Wars stories have told, there’s always a need for a good Jedi – and in this series, now more than ever. There’s a Sith lord on the Imperial throne, and the galaxy is mired in a new civil war with a myriad of forces — with their own selfish goals — out to claim dominance.  

Star Wars: Legacy holds a unique place in the property's history for being the first to tell the far future of the Star Wars saga. Originally decried by some fans, it has become one of the best-selling Star Wars titles that Dark Horse publishes. But like all good things, the title is coming to a close, and Star Wars: Legacy is two issues away from July's issue #50 series finale. We talked with Ostrander and artist Jan Duursema about the end, and everything that led up to it.

Newsarama: What can readers look forward to in these final issues of Star Wars: Legacy?

John Ostrander: Well, let’s see. Her Imperial Highness (or Hotness) Princess Mariasiah Fel is a prisoner of the Sith. The Sith scientist, Vul Isen, is planning to poison another planet (or two). He’s already killed off the Mon Calamari’s home planet, Dac. Darth Krayt’s body has gone missing. So that needs to be addressed. An assassin is stalking Gar Stazi, the leader of what’s left of the Galactic Alliance. And Cade and Company are killing as many Sith as they can lay their hands on. Other than that, nothing much.

Jan Duursema: Being a Sith Hunter is not an easy job, but Cade is someone who really gets into his work. Beyond that, there's at least one crazy Sith v. Imperial Knight battle. I'm not going to tell you who wins.

Nrama: John, you really had the opportunity to create and fully flesh out Cade in this series. Looking back at your principal creation, how do you think he’s evolved over time and what’s your appraisal of him now?

Ostrander: He’s hit some highs and lows and really resisted any sort of destiny or legacy — and he can’t do that. Story is about the choices that the protagonist makes and the repercussions of those choices. Cade’s not exactly who he is and he’s not who he’s going to become.

Nrama: In recent issues, Cade has reclaimed his legacy and his last name of Skywalker, really putting it to the Sith. Can you tell us about the build-up – seemingly 46 issues in the making -- of Cade to finally come around?

Ostrander: Cade’s a young guy and he’s had a difficult set of teen years. I mean, he went from Jedi apprentice to seeing everyone around him getting killed (including his father), to becoming a space pirate. And that was all before the story actually began! Yeah, his overall story arc was about him coping with who he is, the legacy (and burden) of the Skywalker name, and coming to grips with it. It’s about choosing who he is, who he was meant to be, what he wants to become. His legacy not only includes Luke Skywalker; it includes Darth Vader. Cade hasn’t made his final choice yet.

Duursema: Cade has been slowly coming around since he challenged Darth Krayt in “Claws of the Dragon” when his father taught him more about his power to heal in the Force and he refused the temptation to go over to the dark side. We never wanted to make it easy for Cade--and it looks like we didn't. It would have been far too hollow a victory for Cade to simply embrace his destiny within the first 12 issues. Given the circumstances of Cade's life, it just would not have felt right. It's been a far more interesting journey to put him through a psychological twister and see what happens.  

Nrama: In this, you really pull together the Skywalker line into a legacy—going back to Shmi and Anakin’s virgin birth. What do you think the Skywalker line holds for the Star Wars universe at large?

Ostrander: That’s a tough one. The Skywalker line certainly is at the center of the films. I think you can certainly tell Star Wars stories without a Skywalker nearby; KotOR — the games, the comic, the novels—has proven that. As to the fate of the Skywalker line after the Legacy series? That remains to be seen — including the possibility of there even being a Skywalker. I’m making no promises about Cade’s surviving past the end of Legacy, boys and girls.

Nrama: And how does Cade stack up to his predecessors?

Ostrander: I don’t think I can really judge that. I’m too close, too in the middle of it. Among the fans are those who hate him and those who want to have his baby. (Cade Brigade, I’m looking at you.) Certainly, he’s strong in the Force and, when the chips are down, I think you’ll see he comes through. He sure isn’t as nice a guy as Luke but he’s not as bad a guy as Anakin became. I think is something each Legacy reader will have to answer for him or her self. And I don’t think there are any wrong answers.

Nrama: In this series, you really brought the political history and intrigue of Star Wars to the fore — at time this was like The West Wing in space, with guns! Can you tell us about trading off between writing one-on-one lightsaber battles to these more epic machinations behind the scenes as these politicos vie for power?

Ostrander: Well, I’m from Chicago and grew up under the first Mayor Daley, so politics is like a great spectator sport for me. We’re dealing with some folks with either tremendous power, or desire for power — Veed, Stazi, Roan Fel, Nyna Calixte, Krayt, Maladi, Nihl and others. Politics can be great theater, great drama, so I just think it’s a natural outgrowth of the characters we have involved here.

Duursema: Star Wars: Legacy hasn't been just about Cade's legacy. Everyone in the series has a legacy they are trying hard to own or refuse. We've touched on other character's arcs throughout Legacy; Nyna Calixte/Morrigan Corde (Cade's mother) who gave up her life and love for husband and son in order to gain power, Bantha Rawk (Uncle Nat Skywalker) who found another way to refuse the legacy connected with the name Skywalker, Roan Fel, who feels his destiny is to defeat the Sith and rule the Galactic Empire once more;  Princess Sia, Draco, Jariah Syn and Darth Krayt himself. All of their arcs, and many more, have been woven throughout Legacy. All of these characters lives have intersected with Cade's life and he has affected their lives — just as in life so many people affect the lives we lead and what kind of people we become.   
All of this has been leading to something big for Cade. A big revelation is coming.

Nrama: For this series Jan, you really pulled out the stops with your artwork — giving it a real detailed and dark look, evoking to me shades of some classic European comics masters. What were you going for when you established the look and feel of the series?

Duursema: One of the aspects of Star Wars that attracted me from A New Hope onward is the dark, dirty grunge of the costumes and surroundings. The other was the dismal mood of the Imperial Star Destroyers and foreboding places such as Sidious' throne room. I wanted to capture the kind of kind of feeling I got from those place in Legacy. Set in the future of Star Wars, the Legacy era is one that has geared its technology toward war. It seemed to me that would have left a lot of other areas of culture and civilization neglected. A space pirate like Cade wouldn't wear new clothes or captain a shiny new ship. He's had to make due with whatever is available, fixing what is broken to make his way in a galaxy that has been broken by the Darth Krayt. Because of the Sith, the galaxy itself is a much darker place. Still, even in a dark galaxy, we've shown fun times as well. Would anyone say no if they were invited to Queen Jool's cantina on Zeltros? I didn't think so.

Nrama: You illustrated almost every single issue of Star Wars: Legacy what’s it like to create that big of stamp on this side of the SW universe?

Duursema: I haven't had the opportunity to be a part of a series from issue 0 since I first began my career, so it felt great.  With Legacy, John Ostrander and I developed  an amazing new future for the Star Wars galaxy--one that I hope has left a lasting impression and was as memorable for the readers as it has been for me. I believe we created the kind of characters that are not easily forgotten and who will stand the test of time. It's always gratifying when readers tell me that these characters speak to them and that reading the comic feels like they are watching a film. The cast of Legacy has certainly felt like that to me.  We've been to hell and back with most of them, had some fun times, waged a war on evil. Can't ask for much more than that — except more of that! So I'd have to say that Legacy has been an awesome place to be. That it's part of the G.F.F.A. ["galaxy far far away," a fan term for the continuity of Star Wars] is just a huge and wonderful bonus. 

Nrama: Have you drawn the last scene and page yet? If so, can you tell us about that? And if not, can you tell us what you’ve thought about it?

Duursema: I haven't gotten to that page yet, but I have given it — and the last scene in issue 50 — a lot of thought. Can't say much more than that right now, but it is intense. The title of this arc is “Extremes” and Cade and others prove how far they ware willing to go.

Nrama: John, have you finished off the last page, and if so, can you tell us about that?

Ostrander: No, I can’t tell you about it! Well, I could but then I’d have to kill you. Or kill myself. Or Randy gets to kill me. I forget what rules Randy has set. [laughs] 

Nrama: That’s Randy Stradley, editor of the book. Let’s try to avoid Randy killing you guys, and go in another direction. I don’t think Star Wars has time travel, but luckily we do. What do you think you two would have said back in 2006 if you would have known how much you were able to do in this 50 issue series?

Duursema: I think I'd be pretty amazed. But as much ground as we've covered in Legacy, I'd like to have covered even more territory. There are still themes left to explore, characters who have so much more story left to tell that it makes it hard for me to say goodbye.

Ostrander: We always had plans. and we knew that if the readers gave it a chance, we’d bring most of them into the story. So we’d probably have said pretty much what we said back then: “Trust us. Give it a chance. We’re taking you on an amazing journey.” I think that’s what we’ve done.

Nrama: The two of you have forged a real creative collaboration, first in Star Wars: Republic and now with the long-running Star Wars: Legacy series. Why has it lasted so long. and do you have plans to continue on after the end of Legacy?

Ostrander: I don’t think I’ve worked with any artist longer than I have with Jan. Every collaboration is a relationship and, like any other relationship, evolves and grows with time — otherwise it dies. I don’t collaborate on story with any other artist the way I do with Jan. That collaboration is necessary to make what we do alive and vibrant, to really tell the story.

Duursema: I've been part of such a long collaboration mainly because it's been fun working with John. Plotting sessions can get pretty crazy. We don't always start a story in the same frame of mind, but it's the diversity we both bring to a story and the discussions we have when plotting it that hammer the story into existence. Agreements are great, but disagreements can spark an idea that is far better than either initial idea was. A true collaboration is a meld of thought and most times we can't recall who came up with what — but it doesn't matter.
When we are plotting, we talk about the action and the adventure of the issue at hand along with the nuts and bolts stuff — the ships, the worlds, the aliens, the characters, but the best part is that the stories always become more than just an adventure for adventure's sake. With both Legacy and Republic we were able to explore the larger literary themes of the heroes journey; life and death, love and hate, good and evil and the question of destiny versus free will. Beyond the ships and the lightsabers, it is those themes that make the GFFA an awe inspiring and sometimes treacherous place — and a place I would like to visit again very soon.

Ostrander: Jan and I do have plans to work together post-Legacy. When we can talk about it, you can be sure we will. Well, I certainly will. Hard to keep me quiet a lot of the time! That’s always been a problem with

Legacy. Jan and I knew what cool stuff was coming up, and sometimes you really want to blab about it, but you can’t. I always want the reader to encounter the story for the first time by reading the story. As a writer, that’s really important to me. So I dummy up. Like now. 

Twitter activity