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Michael Bitton: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Primer

By Michael Bitton on December 14, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Primer

Can you believe it? We’re only a couple of days from the release of the first film in a new Star Wars trilogy. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel the need to pinch myself to make sure it’s real. Like the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, there’s a lot of time (30 years, to be exact) to cover between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Not one to miss an opportunity, Disney put together an initiative called “Journey to The Force Awakens”, which is a collection of over 20 books and comics that will help fill in the gaps. Today, we’ll highlight the stuff worth reading, playing, and watching to get you up to speed before the film releases later this week. Keep in mind that, unlike the way things worked in the past, all new Star Wars media is canon, so you can rest assured that whatever you learn won’t be contradicted elsewhere.

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READ

AFTERMATH

Aftermath is a novel by author Chuck Wendig. The novel focuses on the events just after the Battle of Endor, as the Empire struggles to reassert itself after a terrible defeat, and the Rebel Alliance, now the New Republic, seeks to solidify its victory by eliminating what’s left of the Empire before it can strike back. Aftermath features characters both new and old, including Wedge Antilles, and probably the highlight of the novel, Admiral Rae Sloane. This isn’t the first noteworthy appearance for Sloane. She was a standout character in John Jackson Miller’s A New Dawn, which served as a prequel to the Disney XD show, Star Wars Rebels. Sloane was a capable, ambitious, and impressive Captain in A New Dawn, and it comes as no surprise that she rose through the ranks during the Galactic Civil War. The novel has received mixed reviews, with many ultimately describing it as mediocre. It’s not the best Star Wars novel out there, but it’s worth reading if you’re looking to absorb everything there is to know about the time period.

SHATTERED EMPIRE

Shattered Empire is a limited, four-part comic book miniseries by the always wonderful Greg Rucka, with cover art by my absolute favorite comic book artist, Phil Noto. Shattered Empire starts during the Battle of Endor and follows the adventures of Rebel Alliance starfighter pilot Lieutenant Shara Bey and Pathfinder sergeant Kes Dameron. Yes, that Dameron. I don’t want to spoil anything here, but if you can put two and two together you should be able to quickly surmise the significance of this series. It’s a great little story, with fun appearances from the original trilogy cast and some truly epic space battles all throughout.

MOVING TARGET, SMUGGLER’S RUN, and THE WEAPON OF A JEDI

I’m only including these for the sake of completion, but these three are all young adult novels each focusing on different primary characters from the original trilogy (Leia, Han & Chewie, and Luke). I haven’t read any of these, but if you’re truly a completionist, you may want to pick them up. It’s worth mentioning that a couple of characters in these novels make appearances elsewhere. For one, Alecia Beck (Smuggler’s Run) is referenced in Shattered Empire, and both Ematt (Smuggler’s Run) and Sarco Plank (The Weapon of a Jedi) actually appear in The Force Awakens itself!

PLAY

BATTLEFRONT

The Battle of Jakku is the first piece of DLC for EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront. We see the planet of Jakku numerous times in the various trailers for The Force Awakens. You may have noticed a couple of crashed Star Destroyers on Jakku in those trailers and imagined the sort of epic battle that must have taken place to have resulted in that. Well, if you’re a fan of shooter games, you can relive that battle over and over with this free piece of DLC, which includes two new maps (and the new Turning Point mode) set on the planet of Jakku.

UPRISING

There’s a lot of trash out there in the mobile space, so when we found out Kabam RPG sought to create an AAA Star Wars RPG experience on mobile, many of us here perked right up. What we got can be best described as a narrative driven Star Wars ARPG (written by the talented Alexander Freed) and it’s actually quite fun (if a bit repetitive). In terms of story significance, Uprising takes place in the Anoat sector (where you’ll find Bespin, Hoth, and new planet Burnin Konn) and is set just after the events of Return of the Jedi. The sector is completely shut down by its governor once news of the Emperor’s death goes out. No one goes in, no one comes out. The Rebels don’t have much of a presence here, and so it’s up to the criminal underworld to push back against the might of The Empire. It’s a story that focuses on that oft neglected, but super interesting side of Star Wars, and less on The Force, which is a refreshing and welcomed change of pace for me.

If you’ve ever wanted to play deep in that seedy underworld space of Star Wars, Uprising is a great place to jump in. However, if you’re one of those types who will immediately wonder when you can get your lightsaber, you’ll be happy to know that Kabam RPG recently deployed an update that adds both lightsabers and The Force to the game. Though last I checked, players are still trying to figure out how to unlock all of that, so don’t expect to jump in and run into a bunch of players swinging lightsabers everywhere (yet!).

WATCH

REBELS

Truth be told, there isn’t a whole lot to watch in terms of getting ready for The Force Awakens (aside from re-watching the films, of course!). Rebels is an animated TV show on Disney XD that focuses on the early beginnings of the Rebel Alliance. This doesn’t seem like a great place to try and fill in the gaps between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, but characters and events here are referenced in other Journey to The Force Awakens media we mentioned earlier, and you never really know how things may play into the film. The bonus is that it’s a great show that you should be watching anyway if you’re a true Star Wars fan.

SMUGGLER’S RUN  & WEAPON OF A JEDI ANIMATED VIDEOS

If you don’t have plans to read the aforementioned young adult novels, you might want to check out these animated videos of Smuggler’s Run and Weapon of a Jedi, presented by Nestlé. They’re both pretty neat.

 

Did we leave anything out? Let us know in the comments below!

Michael Bitton / Michael began his career at the WarCry Network in 2005 as the site manager for several different WarCry fansite portals. In 2008, Michael worked for the startup magazine Massive Gamer as a columnist and online news editor. In June of 2009, Michael joined MMORPG.com as the site''s Community Manager.