In recent weeks, as the Rogue One hype train reached full speed, a new comment from Gareth Edwards made certain longtime Star Wars fans take notice—in a short featurette for the film, Edwards stated that while the thrust of the film is the theft of the Death Star plans, “through [the heroes’] journey, we see the formation of the Rebel Alliance”. While he could very well have intended “formation” in a metaphorical sense, characters learning to work together and all that, fans wouldn’t be fans if they didn’t at least suspect that he might have been speaking literally—meaning the film will show us the official consolidation of the various lowercase-R rebel cells into the capital-R Rebel Alliance.
While Star Wars Rebels has laid much groundwork for this already, it hasn’t yet depicted such an event, so while Rogue One is situated almost three years after the most recent episodes, it’s entirely possible that a formal Alliance won’t exist until then, implying that when A New Hope begins the organization is only weeks, or even days, old. That would jive well with the most literal interpretation (there’s that word again) of the opening crawl’s statement that stealing the plans is the Rebels’ “first victory”; indeed, the mere existence of a show like Rebels requires such a literal reading—the show wouldn’t last very long if the main characters never succeed at anything, so one must draw a distinction with the Ghost crew’s small, often pyrrhic, victories and the coordinated military victory we’ll soon witness in theaters.
For the Rebel Alliance to form so late in the timeline is a deviation from the Legends version of events, but not as much of one as you might think—likewise, the continuing presence of Jedi within the organization on Rebels seems like a big deal, but it’s nothing us old Expanded Universe fans aren’t used to. So in anticipation of the new canon finally linking up the rebels and the Rebels (whether it happens in Rogue One or not), let’s take a look at how this went down the first time.
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The Expanded Universe Explains series has had an interesting evolution over the last few years; originally it was a compendium of lots of actual questions posed by my friend Pearlann; once the reboot happened I then moved on to detailing stray movie references that had been told and retold in Legends multiple times (and thus, were especially in need of a reboot). That strategy eventually led me to one of the biggest messes of all—the theft of the Death Star plans.
Perhaps not all that coincidentally, that low-hanging fruit became the seed (ha, fruit pun) of the first Star Wars spinoff film—Rogue One. As such, interest in that particular piece has remained quite steady over the last eighteen months as more and more people become curious about the story. That recently led me to the conclusion that the next spinoff film, its premise also rife in Legends, was a worthwhile topic for an EU Explains, and so here we are.
24. What is Han Solo’s pre-A New Hope backstory?
Well, for starters, there’s a whole bunch of it—two entire novel trilogies, plus any number of scattered bits and pieces. If you really want to get the full young-Han-Solo experience, you’re in luck, as both the Han Solo Adventures, a self-contained trilogy by EU VIP Brian Daley, and the much more recent (and expansive) Han Solo Trilogy by Ann C. Crispin are among the best of the Legends material out there (while managing to be very, very different kinds of stories), and unlike a lot of my recent topics here, they’re pretty damn good at consistency—Crispin’s trilogy covers effectively Han’s entire life pre-ANH, meaning that at one point Han basically takes a leave of absence from his own book and the plot continues without him while the events of Daley’s trilogy are taking place. » Read more..
While The EU Explains dates back to the earliest days of this site, and thus before the reboot actually took place, that seemed a likely enough prospect that this series was conceived less as “what are the definitive answers to these questions?” than as “how did the Expanded Universe address this?” The EU’s version(s) of the theft of the Death Star plans, certainly, isn’t going to hold up much longer, but if we don’t learn from the past we’re doomed to repeat it and all that—so I feel it’s helpful for both old fans and new to reflect on how these things were dealt with in Legends so that we might gain insight into what might happen in the new canon, and just as importantly, what we might hope to avoid.
To that end, this time around I’m going to realign my targeting computer and use The EU Explains to comment on The Force Awakens directly, and investigate one of the biggest questions that has arisen from the film—not to provide definitive answers, but simply to suggest some. After all, one of the hallmarks of the new canon is not to explain background details when the story doesn’t absolutely demand it, so knowing there are at least possible answers might be the best we can hope for anytime soon. » Read more..
After a nice long break to recover from the insanity of the Death Star plans (which I recently adapted into a short video for Star Wars Minute), we now return to our regularly-scheduled program, wherein I explicate the handful of offhand references in the original trilogy that the Expanded Universe couldn’t help but explain multiple times over. This time around:
22. What happened with the bounty hunter Han “ran into” on Ord Mantell?
By my count (and one thing I learned from the Death Star piece is that there’s a fair chance I’m missing someone), there are seven different encounters on Ord Mantell between Han and at least one bounty hunter between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. In researching this piece, one interesting thing I noticed is that, counterintuitively, about half of these weren’t even directly the result of Jabba’s bounty, but were instead brought on by Han’s position in the Rebellion. This is neat because it sort of contradicts the context of Han’s line in Empire but at the same time reinforces the idea that he’s ready to move on. Like lots of stuff in this period, some of the dating is fuzzy, but I’m going to attempt to run through them all chronologically, starting with… » Read more..
One of the frustrating things about running an op-ed blog instead of a news blog is, you occasionally have to set aside what you’re most excited to talk about in favor of the thing that’s most fully developed. In this case, I’m writing these words within hours of the announcement of the first standalone Star Wars film, Rogue One, but it’s way too soon to have anything worthwhile and intelligible to say about what’s basically just a title at this point. If you’d like to see me talk about why this appears to be great news, you can head here to see me make the case for a Red Squadron novel about a year ago, or stay tuned to Tosche Station Radio, where I’ll be a guest next week for just that reason.
Moving on—the other weird thing about this piece is that I couldn’t quite decide whether to bill it as an Expanded Universe Explains or an Escape Pod, for reasons that will become clear shortly. For starters, though, let’s talk about Taanab. Originally referred to, of course, in Return of the Jedi, the “Battle of Taanab” was a conflict that for some reason involved civilian (and scoundrel) Lando Calrissian back before he got mixed up with the Rebellion. When he was awarded the rank of General despite seemingly no military experience, he speculated that Alliance leadership must have heard about his “little maneuver” at Taanab. » Read more..