Episode VII could have had a title that echoed one of the dregs of the early Expanded Universe. “It was Shadow (singular) of the Empire for a while,” Pablo Hidalgo tweeted Friday. “With so many books, it’s inevitable,” he said earlier. And that’s true enough: The Force Awakens itself is a title reminiscent of the 2008 video game The Force Unleashed.
But unlike TFU, Shadows of the Empire hails from the mid-90s, when all the franchise’s new content was in the form of books, comics and games. In fact, the 1996 Shadows storyline was used as a marketing test-run for The Phantom Menace – it had a novel, video game, comic, toys and even a soundtrack. As such, it has lingered on in fan memories to the point where it’s not unusual for some to think it’s still canon.
Having Episode VII reuse a form of that title would have muddied the well considerably, even if the two had nothing in common other than a handful of characters. The key fact: Shadows was set between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. It’s not an Expanded Universe entry anyone could ever actually mistake for an Episode VII contender.
(Shadows certainly has a following, but it has never been a personal or CJ favorite – I recommend listening to this relevant episode of Full of Sith if you need a primer on why. It’s oh so very ’90s.)
Will we see Shadow of the Empire as a title again? We might! It could certainly fit the new era, but I’m very glad Episode VII became The Force Awakens instead.
Interview. Paul S. Kemp’s Star Wars books so far have seemed to be fairly well received, but will we ever see him step up to write Luke, Han, Leia and the rest? In an interview with the Dearborn Press and Guide, Kemp says “I don’t think so.”
“Writers bring certain things to the table as part of the craft. Some are very good at plotting, some are gifted at prose, I think where I excel naturally is developing interesting, conflicted characters. To do that, I need a lot of room. It’s hard to do that with characters with so much history already behind them. It’s difficult for me to tell the kind of story I’d like to tell and have it star Luke, Han, Lando, and Leia, and their kids.”
There are no new novels this week (next up is Crosscurrent on January 26) but you may find a pair of trade collections in comic stores on Wednesday: The eighth Knights of the Old Republic collection and a Shadows of the Empire omnibus. The latter omnibus contains a reprint of Mara Jade: By The Emperor’s Hand.
The official site has the November solicitations, including the much-anticipated Purge: Seconds to Die one-shot. Also, Invasion #5, The Clone Wars #10, Knights of the Old Republic #47, and Legacy #42. There’s also the third installment of the Star Wars Adventures digests, Luke Skywalker and the Treasure of the Dragonsnakes.
And for reprints, a Shadows of the Empire omnibus and Thrawn Trilogy hardcover collecting the comic adaptions of Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command.