by Maria Ramos
It has been nearly 20 years since the last time a Star Wars trilogy was kicked off and on December 17, we will be treated to The Force Awakens. Despite general disappointment with the prequel trilogy, the hype for Episode VII is at a fever pitch, not least because it promises a blending of what worked about the original series and some incredible new ideas and characters—many of which (like BB-8) are already beloved.
While the old Expanded Universe is no longer considered canon, that hasn’t prevented a load of creative people from building a new universe based on J.J. Abrams’ vision. Here are some incredible spin-offs to help you get through until The Force Awakens comes out.
Lando by Charles Soule
Legendary comic writer Charles Soule brings his talent to this miniseries prequel following one of Lando’s adventures before becoming Baron Ambassador to Cloud City. Soule’s dynamic writing does a fantastic job of capturing the rogue with a heart of gold that is Lando Calrissian, as well as the titular character’s friendship with Lobot. Additionally, Alex Maleev’s art makes every smirk and close escape exciting as well as perfectly in line with one of the coolest characters in the Star Wars franchise.
William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher
What do you get for the Star Wars fan/English major in your life? How about this retelling of the Star Wars saga in beautiful iambic pentameter? Doescher carefully goes through the famous story in the style of the most famous playwright in the Western world, which is both funny and engaging. A big plus is the gorgeous artwork adorning each cover that includes famous Star Wars characters clad in Shakespearean wardrobes.
Star Wars Rebels
Taking place just before the events of A New Hope, Rebels follows the crew of the Ghost as they fight against the Empire in this spectacular adventure series, whose previous seasons can still be found on cable (more info here). Having learned from The Clone Wars, the show runners on Rebels made a series that was more cohesive from the get-go, focusing on many of the themes of Star Wars in an accessible, fun way. Success of the show also led to the spin-off comic Kanan: The Last Padawan and incorporated voice talent from many of the original series actors playing their characters, including Billy Dee Williams as Lando, Anthony Daniels as C3PO, Frank Oz as Yoda, and even James Earl Jones as the terrifying Darth Vader.
Chewbacca by Gerry Duggan
As good a warrior as he is, Chewie is known also for having a lot of heart and a habit of helping those in need. That’s what happens in this great comic miniseries written by Gerry Duggan. Our favorite Wookie crashes on a planet where a young girl enlists his help to fight an evil gangster working the locals to death in the mines in order to support the remnants of the Galactic Empire. Even though we weren’t meant to understand Chewbacca’s language, Phil Noto’s soft and expressive art perfectly captures Chewie’s reactions and emotions perfectly.
The Dark Lord Trilogy by James Luceno, Matthew Woodring Stover
Starting toward the end of the Galactic Republic, this astounding book series follows Anakin Skywalker as he takes those final fateful steps toward embracing the Dark Side and becoming Darth Vader. This series not only covers the end of Revenge of the Sith, but also goes further to see why Vader became feared throughout the galaxy as the right hand of the Emperor.
These are only some of the fantastic tie-ins and spin-offs published in anticipation of the return of Star Wars to the big screen. While there is trepidation among fans, the quality of the spin-offs and tie-ins has given many hope that this installment will bring the series back to greatness.