StarWars.com had the official reveal for Empire Ascendant #1. This issue will feature work from several veterans of Marvel’s Star Wars books, including Charles Soule, Greg Pak, Simon Spurrier and Ethan Sacks, along with art from Luke Ross, Roland Boschi and others.
Empire Ascendant #1 finds the Rebel Alliance hurriedly establishing Echo Base on Hoth, even as Darth Vader doggedly pursues the Rebels across the galaxy. This issue will also reveal the fates of several characters created specifically in Marvel’s comics, including Doctor Aphra and Beilert Valance.
Though Marvel is ending the long-running Star Wars series after four years, we see no reason they won’t have at least one new ongoing series poised to replace it in 2020.
We do know Marvel will launch a new miniseries in December called Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren. That series will explore Ben Solo’s evolution from Jedi trainee to pupil of Supreme Leader Snoke, as well as shed more light on the mysterious Knights of Ren.
But what about a new ongoing series? Read on to see three potential replacements as Marvel wraps up the current Star Wars comic.
Option 1 – An Empire Strikes Back Follow-Up
The most likely option is for Marvel to effectively pick up where the current series and Empire Ascendant #1 leave off and relaunch the Star Wars series with a new post-Empire Strikes Back status quo. This would mean removing Han Solo from the picture, obviously. The series could follow the example of its predecessor, methodically fill in that missing year in between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and return of the Jedi.
There have been numerous Expanded Universe/Legends projects that explored this period, most notably the video game, novel and comic book versions of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, but it’s not really an era that’s been explored in the current Disney timeline. The series could offer its own take on the events of Shadows of the Empire, possibly even bringing Dash Rendar into official continuity. Barring that, Marvel creations like Doctor Aphra or Sana Starros could fill the void left by Han.
A post-Empire series would almost surely focus a great deal on Luke’s Jedi training. How did he go from battle-scarred trainee to confident Jedi Knight in between movies? That’s a question worth answering in great depth.
Option 2 – The End of the Galactic Civil War
Another option is that Marvel could jump ahead in the timeline and explore the aftermath of Return of the Jedi. We’ve seen a number of stories set during this chaotic period, including Shattered Empire, author Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy and 2017’s Star Wars: Battlefront II, but there hasn’t yet been a long-form story that systematically explores the period after the Original Trilogy and follows characters like Luke, Han and Leia as they forge their new destinies.
The comic could build a cohesive story out of an era that’s only barely begun to be fleshed out. Marvel could chronicle pivotal events like the creation of the New Republic and the creation of Luke’s doomed Jedi Order. The hope being that Marvel might have more freedom to explore these events after The Rise of Skywalker completes the new trilogy. Once we learn the final fates of characters like Leia, Rey and Kylo Ren, we can finally see where these stories began.
Option 3 – A Rise of Skywalker Sequel
The third option is for Marvel to jump even farther ahead in the Star Wars timeline and pick up where Episode IX leaves off. At this point, we have no idea where the new sequel will leave characters like Rey, Poe and Kylo Ren, but we have to assume there will be plenty more stories worth telling even after the Skywalker Saga wraps up. Will Rey usher in a new era for the Jedi? Will a redeemed Ben Solo begin making amends for his crimes? Will Poe and Finn finally start dating? The potential is basically limitless with a post-Episode IX series. After all, it doesn’t sound like Lucasfilm has any immediate plans to revisit these characters in the movies.
For more on Marvel’s current Star Wars projects, find out what Kylo Ren saw in Dagobah’s Force Cave and see General Leia finally give Chewbacca that overdue hug.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.