BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
Just how experienced is Luke Skywalker when Star Wars Rebellion begins? What is the focus of this new Dark Horse series going to be about? Writer Rob Williams reveals a few key details about this place from long ago and a galaxy far, far away. THE PULSE: The Star Wars universe seems like a tough, complicated beast with more sub-sections, species, and situations than World History. How do you even know where to begin when you find out about the chance to work on something like Star Wars Rebellion?
I wisely defer to the very experienced and knowledgeable Star Wars editors at Dark Horse and they beat me with bricks and sticks if I come up with something that smells continuity-wise. To be honest, Iím not the most up-to-speed guy when it comes to the goings on of the expanded Star Wars universe, but I know the classic trilogy movies like the back of my hand as I almost literally grew up on them. There was a period between í77 and í85 when I loved Star Wars more than itís healthy, and thatís the time-scale where REBELLION occurs, between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. I think my lack of knowledge kind of helps Rebellion, because itís not an Infinite Crisis-style continuity-fest. You donít need a PHD in Star Wars lore to read this comic, which should hopefully make it accessible to new readers.
Having said that, the SW guys at Dark Horse sent me some back issues of their EMPIRE series, and there were some very cool characters there that excited me. One of them Ė Lt Janek Sunber, an Imperial Officer who was Lukeís childhood friend Tank on Tattooine Ė is really the heart and sole of my first Rebellion arc.
Expanded universe characters can be a lot more interesting to write than the old favourites. I loved writing Luke and Vader, but letís face it, Iím not spoiling the book by telling you that theyíre still breathing at the close of our story (although not very well in Vaderís case, obviously). But the expanded uni characters? Thatís not necessarily the case. So there can be more dramatic opportunities. THE PULSE: When in terms of the Star Wars films or history does this Rebellion take place?
Approximately nine months after the Battle Of Yavin, so the official chronology guide tells me. Itís a period between A New Hope and Empire, for the layman. The Death Starís been blown up, the Rebel fleet is on the run and rumours are starting to swirl around the galaxy about the new Rebel hero Ė Luke Skywalker. THE PULSE: How experienced is Luke here? What, aside from a mad-on for the Empire, is his driving ... force?
Lukeís in something of a post-high comedown here. He wandered into the Battle Of Yavin and fired the shot that blew up the Death Star. Suddenly heís a hero and his myth is bigger than his reality. The thing is, he still feels like a Tattooine farm boy Ė because thatís exactly what he is. He canít shake that sand off his feet in an instant, it takes time. Suddenly heís conversing with a Princess and being asked to make big military decisions. In the adrenaline of a battle thatís fine, but at the start of our story heís at a lull and has enough time to ask himself ďhang on, what the hell am I doing here? Do I deserve to be here?Ē Heís not accepted his path yet. Heís not even sure that there is a path. And so, when an old friend from Tattooine contacts him, Luke is desperate to see a familiar face, and thatís not necessarily a wise move.
And he can be an angry, impulsive little mutt, as we know. Heís capable of that here, heís not totally in control of his emotions, and thatís whatíll eventually get him into trouble with the Dark Side down the line.
I like to think that this storyline is an important little part of Lukeís life. By the end of the first arc heís in a different place from when heís started Ė heís left Tattooine behind. THE PULSE: When you're working on a character that you know of from many different incarnations, how do you portray him so he's true to the way he's supposed to be at this time and isn't too "skilled" or "experienced" as he was at his peak? How do you make sure it's "real" - even in terms of comics and not forget yourself that Luke can't do that yet or anything like that?
I think that, as with all writing, you need to look at yourself and ask how this story relates to you, and if you can find a connection then that anchors it. For example, Lukeís effectively from a small town, has moved away and is suddenly in a far different, less parochial environment from what he grew up knowing. Exactly the same is true of me. The town Iím from isnít exactly the center of the universe. So I put some of my feelings towards Luke. Once you have that empathy with a character you can write them pretty easily, I think. The rest is just common sense, imagination and knowing your subject matter. Itís pointless me writing Luke jumping 20 foot gaps using the Force as, at this point in his life, he canít do that yet. But if I ever did overstep the mark slightly, Jeremy Barlow at Dark Horse would reign me in. THE PULSE: Brandon said there was a lot of editing being done on his part of things based on feedback from Lucas' side. Have you experienced a lot of editing of your work or had to change things you'd written because the powers that be didn't want the story to go in that direction?
Very little with this story. The previous four-parter I did for Star Wars Tales Ė Nomad Ė there was a pretty integral plot point there that Lucasfilm initially had reservations about which wouldíve seriously altered the entire point of the story, but I argued my side and eventually they agreed and the story wound up unchanged. My Star Wars experience has been very positive so far. Thereís little things here and there that Iím asked to change, of course, but itís really been no different from working under other editorial systems. THE PULSE: What - aside from killing any of the established characters outright - is forbidden to do in these pages? What would be the top three biggest "no-nos"?
The first thing I wrote for Dark Horse Ė a nice little eight pager called Ghosts Of Hoth that Cary Nord drew Ė I had a Rebel trooper having a pee in the snow. Word came back that that was a no-no. ďNo bodily fluids in the Star Wars universeĒ I think was the line. Which is fair enough.
Other than that, incest is probably going to be frowned upon as a major plot point. Of course, thereís that kiss between Luke and Leia in Empire, butÖ
Any scenes featuring council-men discussing the incremental rise of tax levels. Thatís probably best avoided too, if you want to keep being paid to write Star Wars, that is.
Seriously though, you just have to use your common sense. You can push the envelope sometimes, and with Rebellion I think Brandon Badeaux and I are coming at Star Wars from a slightly more adult perspective, but ultimately this is a PG universe weíre playing with. You have to respect that. Youíre talking about work-for-hire here. Itís pointless getting a job writing Spider Man and writing a William Burroughs-type bit of insect-related psychedelia. You have to write to your intended market.
Actually, that William Burroughs Spider Man doesnít sound like a bad idea. THE PULSE: What do you find the most intriguing about this particular era in Star Wars lore? What really sets it apart from the pack?
Weíre coming out of the freshest period of Star Wars Ė A New Hope Ė when everything wasÖ new and moving into the darkest act Ė Empire. For me, Empire Strikes Back is by far the best of the Star Wars movies. The universe is already set-up at that point so you had room for some nice little character stuff, before Return Of The Jedi, which was a headlong rush to a third act climax.
Thereís more drama at this juncture, too. The Rebels are on the run, still fighting a vastly superior force, and they really have very little chance of winning. So, the more pressure on them, the more dramatic the story.
And, as I said, I love the classic trilogy characters. Of all the Star Wars eras, this is the one I know best. When Dark Horse asked me to write this period I was delighted. It gave me a real thrill to be writing Vader, Luke and co. It took me back to being a kid and making up my own stories with my Star Wars figures. Lucky for me, Brandon Badeaux makes Rebellion look far better than my parentsí living room carpet. THE PULSE: What's your story pacing like - are you working in longer arcs or doing more done-in-ones? Why?
The first arc of Rebellion Ė My Brother, My Enemy - is five issues. I tried to make issue one feel a little more like a prologue standalone, hopefully to grab new readers. From that point on weíre into the core story, and each issue has a major cliffhanger.
The idea with Rebellion is to pace it like BPRD. So thereís be a five issue enclosed story arc, then a gap of a few months, and then the next arc will start. I guess you could call it a Ďsort of ongoingí series. THE PULSE: So what happens next after these five issues?
Iím working on the second arc now. I donít want to say too much at the moment but weíll be delving into the underworld aspect of the Star Wars universe, the murky spy world too. Iím interested in the duality of these people. Itís not just good vs evil, thereís battles going on inside al the cast. The way I see it, the Rebellion of the title doesnít necessarily just refer to the battle against the Empire, itís also talking about the conflict within certain characters. Even Vaderís got all this shit going on inside him, thatís what makes him interesting.
And lots of big spectacle, space romance and great looking action. Considering that Brandon Badeaux has this amazing ability to make the Star Wars Universe look so gorgeous, and so widescreen, Iíd be pretty stupid not to write to his strengths. THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?
Iím currently writing the second arc of Rebellion, as well as something for Marvel, which Iím really excited about as itís always been an ambition of mine to work for them. And Iím just starting up the second series of The Ten-Seconders for 2000AD in the UK. I had a great time writing the first run of that Ė itís basically British underground soldiers fighting a war against American superheroes - and Iíve got some ideas for the new story that Iím really excited about. Iíve just finished a new Low Life story too, again for 2000AD. Itís called Con Artist and sees Aimee Nixon, our ĎWally Squadí undercover Judge, going into the worldís biggest hitmen convention, where hilarity, and lots of bloodshed, ensues.
The second part of Star Wars Rebellion is due in stores this month from Dark Horse Comics. You can read an interview with the artist of this series, Brandon Badeaux here: