Friday, December 11, 2015

Legends and Infinities: A Wish List of Star Wars Stories

It's the last Friday before The Force Awakens opens, and I wanted to make this Force Friday post something different. I had a couple ideas, and they're things I'll do someday but none were different enough. And then it dawned on me: everyone has a story they wish they had seen from A Galaxy Far, Far Away. So I reached out to some of my friends who are Star Wars fans, and asked what stories that had never been told they'd like to see. Continuity be damned, these are wild ideas, some that might work in the current canon, some Legends, some that would be considered Infinities (those stories that could never be in continuity, usually What If? or comedy).

We'll start out with my list, because it's my blog and I get to go first. I focused on stories tied into the Legends continuity, the old EU. I know it's a pipe dream to expect any of this to pop up again, but I hold out some hope...

Thrawn: Into the Unkown
Timothy Zahn and Nick Dragotta

If there's one character in all the Expanded Universe I wish would show up again in any way, it is the Grand Admiral Thrawn, the honorable Imperial Grand Admiral who is a mix between Irwin Rommel and Sherlock Holmes, a brilliant military leader who is the opposite of the bullying, narcissistic Imperials of the classic trilogy. Readers know that sometime around Empire Strikes Back, Thrawn traveled into the Unknown Regions, the vast quadrant of space unexplored by the Empire, populated by his own people, the Chiss, and countless other species, and spent the next few years fighting threats and establishing his beachhead, The Empire of the Hand. But other than a few scattered stories, very little is known of this time. A comic would be a great place for Thrawn's creator, Timothy Zahn, to tell stories of Thrawn battling new alien threats and setting up his undertaking. It would also feature the characters established as Thrawn's subordinates, like his right hand man,Voss Parck, the stormtroopers known as The Hand of Judgement, and eventually Baron Soontir Fel. For art, I picked Nick Dragotta, whose work on East of West shows he has a great sense of design that he could let run wild in creating the alien vistas of a part of space little explored anywhere in Star Wars literature. It's hard to write a story where the Empire is the good guy, but if any writer could do it, it's Zahn, and Thrawn and his crew are ideal for rehabilitating the image of the Empire as a monolithic force for evil.

Wraith Squadron
Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto

Created by the late, great Aaron Allston, Wraith Squadron was a group of misfits who were gathered by legendary X-Wing pilot Wedge Antilles to serve as a combination of X-Wing squadron and Republic Intelligence squad. Yes, they're spies who flew X-Wings, and that's a combination I just love. Appearing as one of the sub-series within the X-Wing novels and popping up in the New Jedi Order and a solo novel set towards the end of the period covered in the Del Rey novels, there are massive gaps in the Wraiths history that a writer could exploit to tell stories of starfighters and espionage. And if there's one writer in comics who has proven his mettle on spy stories, it's Greg Rucka, whose Queen & Country and Whiteout are some of the best spy stories in any format. And his recent Shattered Empire mini-series with Marco Checchetto shows the two of them sure now how to portray a great space battle. And while Rucka isn't known for his humorous stories, he has a biting sense of humor that should work with the Wraiths patented pranks. Let him fill in gaps or create some new Wraiths to go on undercover missions against the Empire and other threats to galactic peace, and you'll get a Star Wars thriller without compare.

Agent of the Empire: Behind Enemy Lines
John Ostrander and Carlos D'Anda

When I wrote a post about series that I felt ended prematurely, the Star Wars series I picked was Agent of the Empire, another espionage book, this one about the James Bond of Imperial Intelligence, Jahan Cross. A lot of what I'm going to write here I talked about in a briefer form there, but my idea for a new Jahan Cross story would flash forward a few years from the end of the previous series, Hard Targets, to shortly after the battle of Yavin. With the Death Star destroyed, Cross would be sent undercover into the Rebel Alliance to find and capture Leia Organa; usually in that post-Yavin world, we're seeing people hunting Luke Skywalker for Vader, or Han Solo for Jabba the Hutt, but Leia is, from a political standpoint, the more important target, as she is the face of the destruction of Alderaan and a rallying symbol for disaffected populations, as well as an able military leader. Cross, who has been doing his job but growing more and more disillusioned with the missions hos boss,Armand Isard, is sending him on, now has even more of a reason to hate the Empire, as he is Alderaanian, which gives him a perfect cover to go to meet Leia. The story would see Cross deal with his doubts about the Empire, and decide whether to join the Alliance, remain loyal to an Empire that destroyed his homeworld, or stay within Imperial Intelligence and try to fix things from within. Readers would also see the beginnings of Ysanne Isard, Armand's daughter and eventual replacement, rising to power within the intelligence community. After the great job he did capturing the classic Star Wars cast on his run with Brian Wood, I think Carlos D'Anda would be a great choice to draw a series where Leia is a central character; fill out the cast with other Alderaanian survivors, like Winter, Leia's best friend and right hand woman, and future Rogue Squadron pilot Tycho Celchu, and you have a series that could wrap up Jahan Cross's story, or set him in a different direction.

That might not be a Jedi, but tell me that Ewok isn't adorable

Itty Bitty Jedi
Art Baltzar & Franco

Kids love Star Wars. And while I wish I could share all my Star Wars comics with my nieces, godson, and other kids I know, I realize many aren't exactly appropriate. So what do you do? You call in Art and Franco, masters of the comics that kids of all ages, from five to fifty-five love. You can have all the Jedi from the prequels, who many kids love thanks to Clone Wars, as younglings at the Jedi Academy, with Yoda as their teacher, and just have them go on fun little adventures. Between Tiny Titans and Itty Bitty Hellboy, you know these guys can make it work. The kids could play games with the Force, compete against other schools, just basically do the kind of things that kids in Art and Franco comics do. I just want to see Yoda, Mace, Qui-Gon, and a baby Obi-Wan in the patented Itty Bitty style.

Legacy: A Tale of Two Solos
Corinna Bechko & Gabriel Hardman

The end of the second volume of Star Wars: Legacy did a good job of wrapping up the dangling plot threads of a series that clearly could have gone on for considerably longer, but any ending that comes down from corporate is going to leave some stories untold. The plot that I most wanted to know more about from the run that was never fleshed out was the connection between the long-lived assassin droid AG-37 and Han Solo, something hinted at in a few panels but never fully explained. I would love to see creators Bechko and Hardman get to come back and tell that story in an oversized one-shot that tells a parallel narrative: in one, we see whatever happened that put AG in Han's debt, and in the other, we see AG working with Ania Solo, Han's descendant and the principal character of Legacy Vol. 2. It would be a fun adventure comic set on the fringe, with plenty of scum and villainy to go around.

Ben Skywalker: Heir to the Force
Christopher Yost and Marcus To

At the end of the Del Rey Legends novel era, Ben Skywalker, the son of Luke and Mara Jade, was in his late teens and was beginning to make his own way, as his father had retired to a more monastic life, but Ben was not ready to take up the mantle as Grand Master of the Jedi. This would be a star-hopping teen adventure comic, with lots of action and teen angst in the classic New Mutants sense. We would see Ben grow as a character, from the pretty together but still young Jedi that he is now to a man who would be able to take up the Skywalker mantle and head the Jedi order. He could get a new master, a new character who would be a no-nonsense Jedi who doesn't take any crap from him, Skywalker or no. His cousin Jaina, who would be starting the order that would become the Imperial Knights in Legacy would appear, as would Ben's love interest/enemy from the Fate of the Jedi series, Vestara Khai. Christopher Yost knows his teen heroes, having written for X-Men: Evolution (where he created X-23) and New X-Men, but the book that makes me think he's dead right for this is his year on Red Robin. I feel like Ben and Tim Drake have a lot in common: they're both serious kids with a legacy at their backs, and they're both detectives. And Yost's partner on the back half of that run, Marcus To, has a kinetic art style that did great stuff with acrobatic superheroes, so it's just another step to get him drawing Jedi.

The New Sith Wars
Joshua Williamson and Riley Rossmo

The main antagonist of the Legacy comics was the One Sith, an order of Sith Lords who put the order before their personal gains, thus making one Sith who would not destroy itself through in fighting. Del Rey's novels, the final ones still taking place decades before the Legacy comics, had started hinting at the One Sith, with small appearances by members of the order in the Legacy of the Force and Fate of the Jedi series, as well as in Paul Kemp's Crosscurrent and Riptide. But in the Fate of the Jedi series, we also met the Lost Tribe, a group of Sith who had been separated from galactic culture for centuries and had just found a way back. While many of the Lost Tribe were killed at the end of the series, their homeworld was still out there with many members. So the question is: what became of them in between the end of the novels and the Legacy comics? Were they absorbed or destroyed by, or did they remain hidden from, the One Sith? This comic would answer that in a comic about bad people doing bad things to each other. Narrated by a Chagrian Sith who is destined by series end to become Darth Wyyrlok, adviser to Darth Krayt (and mother to the Darth Wyyrlok of the Legacy comics), the series would feature battles on disparate worlds between different Sith, and see each of them playing complex games that featured both political manipulation and physical force to make their sect come out on top. Joshua Williamson is writing some of my favorite comics on the market now, and between Ghosted, Nailbiter, Birthright, and Red Skull, he's proven he can write villains and sociopaths in a way that might not make you sympathize with them, but does make you understand and like them a bit, which is important in a book that is populated by Sith. Riley Rossmo draws both creatures of hideous horror and people of immaculate beauty, important to draw the distinction between the hodge podge of tattooed aliens that make up the One Sith and the human beauty and genetic purity obsessed Lost Tribe. The Jedi are usually the lead of Star Wars comics, but there have been notable exceptions where the Sith take center stage; this would be a string addition to those books. And yes, it's really just an excuse to see lots of red lightsabers and people using the force for creative mayhem; sue me, that sounds fun.

Untitled Frontier Jedi Buddy Comedy/Action
Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry

OK, so this one is actually more built around concept and creator than it is on characters, hence the title, or lack thereof. I've been watching some old episodes of Clone Wars recently (there may or may not be an Advent Calendar entry coming up), and realized how much I love the dynamic between Obi-Wan & Anakin and Obi-Wan & Quinlan Vos, and how Star Wars can lend itself really well to two mismatched heroes working together to fight for right. And when it comes to buddy comedies in comics, I can't think of anybody better than Fred Van Lente, who co-wrote Incredible Hercules with Greg Pak, a book that featured blowhard demi-god Hercules and the world's seventh smartest person, young Amadeus Cho, and who wrote Archer and Armstrong, featuring reprobate immortal Aram Ani-Padda and naive martial artist Obadiah Archer. So I'm thinking set the series around the Knights of the Old Republic/Old Republic era, when there was still a wild galactic frontier, and toss in a young impetuous Jedi and her Barabel partner. I'd love the book to have two female leads, as Star Wars has a history of strong female characters and this would be a great place to not only spotlight that, but also give readers another major non-human protagonist. Barabel, a lizard race that are nearly as big and fearsome as Wookiees, and Jedi have a long history of respect together, so the partnership makes sense, and if you make the Jedi the reckless one and the Barabel soldier the more reserved character, you toss the usual expectation on its head, which is right in Van Lente's wheelhouse. Partner him with Clayton Henry, one of his regular collaborators with a bright, energetic style, and you'd have a Star Wars Western for the ages.

Regular Star Wars guest contributor Brandon Borzelli brings you his own list, with tales of prequel era Jedi, Hutts, and a heroic little droid...

Grant Morrison and Humberto Ramos

There simply aren't enough stories (books or comics) dealing with Obi-Wan as a young master to Anakin and there are barely any stories that include Qui-Gon at all. This would be a series that would parallel both sets. Humor, frustration, adventure, anger, attachments, maybe even some dark side - all of it could be covered. We would see where Obi-Wan learned as a padawan, but where he failed as a master. At the same time this would cover how Qui-Gon's teachings set Obi-Wan up for failure later. After all, the Anakin story includes Qui-Gon as well. Who better to capture the relationship than someone that mastered Batman and Robin?

Ben Kenobi
John Jackson Miller and Jordi Bernet

The novel, Kenobi is among the very best the Star Wars line has ever produced. The western genre fits with Kenobi on Tatooine and the man-with-no-name fits Obi-Wan well. Luke's life may have been very boring on Tatooine but Obi-Wan's probably wasn't. This doesn't have to circle around Jabba, Fett, and the other well-known characters. This would be a chance to tangle with different gangs and sets of trouble as Obi-Wan looks to make sure the environment around Luke is relatively safe.

Jedi Purge
Randy Stradley and Doug Wheatley

Another comic focused during the Dark Times. This comic would be similar to the Dark Times but jump around a bit more. Darth Vader continues his two-fold quest of 1) Hunting Jedi (against his master's wishes) and 2) Attempting to recruit an apprentice. He would eventually come across a Jedi he knew from the past and potentially admired to the point that he would want this Jedi to turn to the dark side. The comic could potentially touch on Ahsoka, but she would probably need to stay in the shadows when it comes to Vader so as not to conflict with the Rebels TV shows. Dass Jennir and K'Kruhk could make appearances but it seems like this might focus more on Vader and not the Jedi. Although, he would seem a fitting end to Jennir's story would be death at the hands of Vader.

The Hutts
Jeff Lemire

A couple of the Han Solo novels painted an intriguing web of Hutt power and gang warfare between clans. Lemire seems to deal with the "weird" really well and he might be able to pull off the more gruesome aspects of the Hutts in a unique way. Of course, the comic could have some appearances from the known Bounty Hunters and maybe even Han and Chewie. The book could be brutal and fun at the same time.

R2-D2: Hero to the Galaxy
Roger Langridge

How many times has R2 saved the day? Just from the films, six, seven, more? This could be a comic that keeps the focus on R2 and how he works behind the scenes to save the day. The settings could go back as far as the palace on Naboo and work his way through the rebellion years. It would be a more lighthearted book, but it would have real Star Wars-like situations.

Aurra Sing may be a bounty hunter, not a smuggler, but I think this shows Robertson would do well with those Star Wars characters in the fringe.

The Smugglers
Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson

Han and Chewie and a cast of scum and villainy. Star Wars at its best - adventure. With the mix of dog-fighting and complex plots, this kind of story is right up Ennis' alley.

Scott Snyder and R.M. Guera

This is a story that is begging to be told. We don't need constant political drama and manipulation from the character. Some apprentice scenes with Plaguies, some one-off killing of some rivals (maybe even Jedi). It needs to be faster moving than the Prequels but it will be a dark look at a character that is always a supporting role, but such an important one.

The Jedi Masters
Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

Who better to explore a cosmic force than the mastermind behind the resurgence of Green Lantern? Why is Mace Windu so angry? Where did Yoda come from? How did all the other Jedi Masters come to the council and why are they so weak in comparison? The series would need action, but balanced with character studies. Johns can juggle a large cast like no one else. This would be a great book.

Count Dooku
Rick Remender andTony Moore

If you have ever read Fear Agent then you know where I'm going with this. Remender wrote a time-traveling epic where the lead is an alcoholic with a stubborn attitude to bend things to his will. If Anakin's story is a tragedy then so is Dooku's, except he was replaced and not redeemed as Vader was.

The Sith
John Ostrander and Jan Duursema

Last but not least a comic from the Star Wars team that brought some of the best Clone Wars comics and the epic Legacy tale. Who better to re-write the history of the Sith than this pair? It's all a blank slate to get the universe up to Darth Sidious. This pair knows how to universe-build and present the Sith as a complex set of characters rather than one dimensional as Darth Maul has been depicted.

My partner in crime for my Dewey's days, John Bush, has a reunion from one of the '00s seminal books on a project, along with an irreverent mash-up of a favorite Image series and everyone's favorite Wookiee...

The Rise of Palpatine
Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim

Palpatine didn't get to where he was overnight. He came from humble beginnings to shake the galaxy to its core. Who better to tell the tale of the man who had to beg, borrow, steal, bribe, blackmail, murder, torture, lie, and pretend to be friends with Jar-Jar in order to bring the galaxy to its knees than Hickman? Think of all the opportunities for complex political shenanigans for Hickman to exploit. For art chores, Hickman's frequent partner-in-crime Ryan Bodenheim has shown he can bring some sinister personality to his characters, and that's really what you need when you're talking Palpatine.

A panel from the Eic Powell drawn Star Wars story, "The Hovel on Terk Street" from Star Wars Tales #6

Tales From the Mos Eisley Cantina
Jason Aaron and Eric Powell

I think it's been pretty well established that you don't end up in the cantina if your life is in a good place. Rogues, scoundrels, and smugglers from all over litter the place and they've all got their own hard-luck stories. I'm all in for Southern Bastards in a galaxy far, far away, is what I'm saying. As for art, who draws better violent, down-on-their-luck freaks than Eric Powell?

Imperial Engineering Authority 
Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch

So Death Stars and star destroyers don't just appear out of nowhere, yeah? Someone's got to build them, but then before that someone's got to design them. Welcome to the world of the IEA, a collection of geniuses put together by Palpatine to keep his empire supplied with war machines. Some of them are very excited to be there, some just don't want their families jettisoned out of the nearest airlock. The series would have something of an anthology feel, with each arc following a different team of engineers working on a specific project, connected by a troubleshooting team that would travel from site to site whenever a project hits a snag. And, frankly, a series of stories focused on one bizarre scientific theory after another sounds like exactly what Ellis likes doing right now - and I'm on board with that. He'd reunite with his Authority co-creator Hitch because if you're going to need lots of sweeping shots of under-construction super weapons, Hitch has shown an almost unparalleled aptitude with that.

John Layman and Rob Guillory

On an assignment gone wrong for the Galactic Rebellion, Chewbacca finds himself forced to go undercover as T'Onee Chu-Bacca, completely normal human being and agent of the Imperial Food and Drug Administration. Using a little-known but completely plausible ancient Wookiee hunting technique to absorb the history of anything he tastes, Agent Chu-Bacca and his droid partner K0L-B are tasked with investigating the appearance of a strange new fruit called Gallsaberries recently discovered on Coruscant.

And finally, my friend Nancy Kindraka, whose collection of Star Wars books exceeds anyone else I have ever met, adds in some indy creators, and has a pick for a Wraith Squadron book I wish I had thought of first...

If I could have any wish it would be to have the late Edvin Biuković back and drawing anything Star Wars. (Or possibly just anything.) His work on X-Wing Rogue Squadron and the adaptation of The Last Command was amazing.

Short of that, here's what I'd love to see:

Jedi adventure one-shot or mini 
Stan Sakai

I've been a fan of the long-running adventures of Sakai's samurai rabbit Usagi Yojimbo since forever. Sakai tells excellent stories and backs them up with elegantly paced visuals. And he does great sword fights!

Mara Jade, Mirax Terrik, and Winter solve the galaxy's problems 
Chuck Wendig and Fiona Staples

Mara, Mirax, and Winter are fantastic characters from the Legends expanded universe, and I desperately want to see them reintroduced. (We need more female characters in Star Wars in general.) I think they'd make a shrewd, dangerous, and highly resourceful team à la Leverage. You need a problem solved and a bad guy taken down? They can do that. I have no idea if Wendig is suited to writing for comics but I would trust him to try.

Wraith Squadron
Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener

A squadron full of highly intelligent misfits tasked with impossible missions for the greater good? That's Wraith Squadon, and it's also one way to describe Clevinger and Wegener's Atomic Robo. I'd love to see the Robo brand of kinetic energy and wacky hijinks applied to Wedge Antilles's commando squadron.

Princess Leia ongoing 
Greg Weisman and Pepe Larraz

Leia is amazing. She's a princess, a senator, a freedom fighter, a leader, a diplomat, a decent pilot, a great shot, and we need more stories about her. Weisman and Larraz's first volume of Kanan: The Last Padawan was excellent. I'm glad we're getting more from them with more Kanan but I think they'd be similarly excellent with Leia.

If Noelle Stevenson could work this drawing into her story, I know it would make the top of my read list

Zam Wessell one-shot or mini 
Noelle Stevenson

Stevenson has a collection of Zam figures and has written odes to her on Twitter. IT WOULD BE AMAZING.

Anything that floats their boat by female creators

Star Wars is not just for boys (and has never been just for boys) and I'm all for things that bring the ratio of male to female authors and artists to parity.

Resurrect the Star Wars Tales anthology

Some canon stories, some decidedly non-canon stories, a wide swath of writers and artists, a little something for everyone, and each one a slice of Star Wars. I thought they were great.

So that's our picks. Do you have a story you'd like to see? Reply here, on The Matt Signal Facebook page, or on twitter @mattlaz1013. I'd love to hear your suggestions.

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