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The Achievements of 2017 Star Wars Storytelling

The Achievements of 2017 Star Wars Storytelling

Fans didn’t need to look far for Star Wars content in 2017. From television to books, comics, and movies, Star Wars adventures were found in abundance. Plus, Star Wars debuted new ways to engage with the galaxy far, far away with the introduction of Star Wars Destinies and Battle Front II. Indeed, Star Wars provided fans with an embarrassment of riches when it came to content this year. Here is some of the content and developments in Star Wars that impressed me the most from the past year.

 Television – The Countdown to the Conclusion of Rebels

In the realm of television, 2017 brought Star Wars fans the conclusion to season three of Rebels and the beginning of season four. Grand Admiral Thrawn continued his quest to extinguish the spark of Rebellion lit by the crew of the Ghost. Unfortunately, fans learned that season four, the current season, would also be the last season of the show at Star Wars Celebration Orlando. The silver lining is that Dave Filoni and the creative team behind Rebels get to finish the show on their own terms. However, this news also brought a little anxiety for fans: what happens to our heroes? Rogue One already teased that at least Hera, Chopper, and the Ghost survive whatever the conclusion of season four brings, but what about the Jedi, Manadlorian, and Lasat members of the crew? What are their fates?

Despite the open questions, Rebels continues to tell fantastic stories in the vein of George Lucas. Whether it is the Mandalorian Civil War, the mysteries of the Force with the Bendu, or the mystique of the white Loth-cat and the Loth-wolves, Rebels always leaves fans with something to ponder.

Saw Gerrera - 2017

Integrating Storytelling Across Media

One of the greatest successes of Rebels was its tie-ins to 2016’s Rogue One. To be fair, Rogue One can almost be considered a 2017 movie given its December release. Through the conclusion of season three and the early episodes of season four, the creative team added Rogue One references to Rebels, including Saw Gerrera, Imperial tanks (the TX-225 GAV or “Occupier”), and Death Troopers. Rebels and Rogue One achieved a coherent level of storytelling that Clone Wars and the prequels achieved only after the fact.

The Final Collapse of the Empire and The Rise of Phasma

In addition to television, Star Wars welcomed many new editions to its literary canon. The 2017 batch of novels included such gems as Rebel Rising (Beth Revis), Leia: Princess of Alderaan (written by fan favorite Claudia Gray), and Guardians of the Whills (Greg Rucka). Two other novels achieved notable distinction.

First, Chuck Wendig concluded the Aftermath trilogy with Empire’s End. As the title suggests, this novel detailed the final battle between the remnants of the Galactic Empire and the Republic resulting in the ultimate death of the Empire. However, this novel also told the story of a birth – that of the First Order. Plus, it included the further rise to power of Admiral Rae Sloane. Novels in the current canon rarely include galaxy spawning consequences such as those seen in Empire’s End. Fans curious about the transition between the Empire and First Order need to read this book if they haven’t done so already.

The other novel is Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson. Much like Boba Fett from the original trilogy, Phasma got by in The Force Awakens on the strength of her menacing presence and mysterious background. Phasma sought to answer some of the questions about the mysterious Captain of the First Order. Some of the answers are surprising. Most importantly, fans looking for an answer to the question why Phasma would bring down the shields of Starkiller Base, and how would she survive a vengeful First Order get some clues. Plus, those questions are fully answered in a comic.

Captain Phasma Cover - 2017

Star Wars Comics – Captain Phasma

Speaking of comics, Marvel contributed some amazing stories to the legacy of Star Wars in 2017. Phasma, written by Kelly Thompson and illustrated by Marco Checcchetto, is an excellent supplement to Dawson’s Phasma. The success of this comic is not only in the story of how Phasma escaped the trash compactor and Starkiller Base, but her motivations and character traits that allowed her to succeed in the First Order. Phasma plays a minor role in the movies, but of all the sequel trilogy characters, she receives some of the best development from other canon sources.

Doctor Aphra

Marvel also shined with Kieron Gillen’s Doctor Aphra. This series tells the story of an archaeologist in the Star Wars universe that might be thought of as the dark side of Indiana Jones. Why is she important? She is important for several reasons. First, she is a brand-new character that originated in the comics. The events of Doctor Aphra occur between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Unlike Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker, her fate is a mystery. Everyone knows that when they read about Luke, Leia, and Han in Star Wars, they will survive their adventure. They must. It is required. They all appear in The Empire Strikes Back. Some of the suspense from these stories is gone.

On the other hand, Doctor Aphra has no such assurances. In fact, much of the galaxy is gunning for her. She served with Darth Vader for a time, and now he would prefer she weren’t a loose end. In addition, the Rebels have no love for her.

Another  reason Doctor Aphra is important is the sheer uniqueness of the character. As mentioned earlier, Aphra is morally ambiguous. She often has to let her conscience catch up to her, but she wants to do the right thing. In addition, Aphra is gay. While she isn’t the only gay character to ever appear in the Star Wars galaxy, she is the only openly gay lead of a Star Wars title. Regardless, while this is an aspect of her character, it doesn’t solely define her. Aphra is just as capable of handling an adventure as Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, or Princess Leia.

Finally, Doctor Aphra proves that not every Star Wars must have galaxy changing consequences to tell a good story. Aphra’s adventures sometimes impact events with the potential to alter the galaxy, but many of her quests and plots are far more personal. Doctor Aphra demonstrates a well written story with a smaller scale can be just as engaging as an epic battle or galactic threat.

Doctor Aphra - 2017

Concluding Thoughts on 2017

Stars Wars storytelling achieved a great many things in 2017. This article didn’t even touch on the Star Wars event of the year: The Last Jedi. In addition, this article didn’t even mention the achievements of Charles Soule with Poe Dameron and Darth Vader. Both of those comics 2018 has a tough act to follow. Can Star Wars introduce more new characters outside of their film that expand their galaxy the way Doctor Aphra does? Can Lucasfilm thoroughly develop another supporting character they way they did Captain Phasma? The potential is there, but 2017 raised the bar on Star Wars content.

Thanks for reading. Contact me at dkeithly@coffeewithkenobi.com or on Twitter @DJKver2. You can also find me on my podcast: Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels.

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