A First Look At The Brand New Comic Star Wars (With Darth Vader Illustrated By Alex Ross!)S

Scads of new comic books will be announced at the San Diego Comic-Con this week, but here's a doozy with a pedigree. In January, Dark Horse Comics will publish Star Wars (full stop), an ongoing comic set during the original Star Wars trilogy by prolific author Brian Wood (DMZ, Channel Zero, Northlanders, The Massive),

More will be revealed about Star Wars at Comic-Con, but in the meantime, here's an exclusive sneak peek at this comic. Check out our interview with Dark Horse editor Randy Stradley, some interior artwork by Carlos D'Anda (who designed characters for the video games Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City), and a massive cover to the first issue by none other than Kingdom Come artist Alex Ross.

A First Look At The Brand New Comic Star Wars (With Darth Vader Illustrated By Alex Ross!)S

First off, what differentiates Star Wars from previous stories we've seen in the Expanded Universe? And why now for this series?

Randy Stradley: We — the Dark Horse editorial team and the folks at Lucas Books — felt that the time was right to rack focus back on the core characters of the Original Trilogy. It has been a few years since there had been any comics stories set in the era of the OT, as it's called, and the time was just right. Both we and Lucasfilm had ideas for how to return to the classic characters, and all told it took us about a year to work out a plan with which everyone was happy.

As for how this series is "different" from past entries in this time period, I guess the answer would be that we're trying very had to keep everything fresh — as if Episode IV had just come out in theaters. This is the Star Wars series for everyone who has loved the films, but has never delved into any of the comics or novels. There is no vast continuity that a reader needs to know beyond the events in A New Hope. This is the beginning of the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie.

Would you characterize this as a back-to-basics approach to the Original Trilogy, or a different beast entirely?

RS: It's back-to-basics in the sense that we're going back to the beginning, but Brian Wood is exploring aspects of the characters and their relationships that have, in many ways, been glossed over in the past, or shoved aside in favor of big action set pieces. Don't get me wrong, this series has plenty of action, but all of it is informed by, or springs out of, the characters' reactions to events in A New Hope. Remember, Luke is, quite literally, a farm boy thrust into the front lines of a galactic war. He may be the guy who blew up the Death Star, but that doesn't immediately prepare him for his new situation. And Leia, well, she's been so busy running the Rebellion, has she even had a moment to grieve for the loss of her family or her homeworld? And what does holding in all that emotion do to a person? Brian is using those emotions to propel his story, which makes reading this series a more satisfying experience than simply dogfights in space.

Can you give us any sort of hints about what characters and story lines fans can expect?

RS: I hesitate to say too much, especially as this series doesn't debut until January. But let me drop just a few hints: Vader gets a special assignment, the Rebels suspect a traitor in their ranks, and one more thing...stealth squadron.

A First Look At The Brand New Comic Star Wars (With Darth Vader Illustrated By Alex Ross!)S

What sort of new perspective to the Expanded Universe does Brian Wood bring?

RS: Brian is the kind of writer I welcome on Star Wars. He's a longtime fan of the films, but he's not steeped in the continuity or the minutiae of the Expanded Universe. He's not afraid to do his research, but he's also not driven to draw connecting lines between between everything he's writing and some previously established piece of Star Wars history. An approach like that, in my opinion, leads to the kind of impenetrable continuity that scares new readers away from Star Wars. Brian, I'm happy to say, is more interested in telling good stories.

A First Look At The Brand New Comic Star Wars (With Darth Vader Illustrated By Alex Ross!)S

What sort of input has the Lucas camp had on this project?

RS: As with every Star Wars project we do, there are editors and continuity experts at Lucasfilm who vet the scripts and art to make sure we're not contradicting established continuity or characterizations. But I've been overseeing Dark Horse's Star Wars line for over a decade now, so I have a pretty good idea of what pitfalls to avoid. And Brian has been a quick study. It helps that he's more concerned about telling good stories than with putting his fingerprints all over the franchise.