When it comes to the comic book side of the Star Wars expanded universe, Dark Horse Comics has made a name for itself as the home of original, creative tales that enrich the franchise and build on existing mythology in the most fan-friendly ways.
Last year, we brought you the exclusive announcement of "Star Wars: Knight Errant," another addition to the publisher's long list of ongoing and limited Star Wars series. Today, we bring you the exclusive news of a brand new title hitting shelves in May: "Star Wars: Jedi - The Dark Side."
Featuring a story by Scott Allie and art by Mahmud Asrar (interior/cover) and Stéphane Roux (variant cover), "The Dark Side" follows Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (played by Liam Neeson in "Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace") as he's dispatched to prevent a civil war on the homeworld of Xanatos, the Padawan he trained before Obi-Wan Kenobi.
I spoke to Allie about the series, how it differs from previous Star Wars stories, and some of the familiar faces that readers will see along the way.
MTV NEWS: There are a lot of Star Wars out there, and a lot more of them are written every day. What sets "Star Wars: Jedi - The Dark Side" apart from other Star Wars stories?
SCOTT ALLIE: We wanted to tell a story with a lone hero out on the edge of space, not dealing with these big galactic concerns, but having adventures on a much more personal level.
MTV: How did you settle on Qui-Gon Jinn for the main character?
ALLIE: We were looking for a Clint Eastwood-type of character. It's always better if you can have it tie into the Star Wars films, to connect with readers, but Luke's story and so many other characters' are bound up in continuity. After discussing it for a while, Randy Stradley - our Star Wars editor here - said there's a character whose story is tied into Darth Vader's back story, which is really the backbone of the whole Star Wars mythology, that might be a good fit: Qui-Gon.
MTV: Given what we know of Qui-Gon's history already, where will this story fit in with his overall character arc?
ALLIE: Well, Qui-Gon makes sense because it's easy to look at Episode I and wonder what he was doing 10 or 15 years earlier. We're going back to an early part of his story and telling a pretty important part of the shaping of Qui-Gon as a Jedi Master.
MTV: So he'll be a Jedi Master at this point?
ALLIE: Yeah, he's already become a Jedi and a Master - he has a Padawan at this point.
MTV: How big of a story do you have planned? Is there a chance it could become an ongoing series?
ALLIE: We're doing five issues to start, and we have a longer story sketched out, but I'm not sure if we'll treat it as an ongoing or a miniseries.
MTV: I have to ask this, because I know you as the guy who handles all of the Joss Whedon books at Dark Horse, too: Was it a bit daunting to jump into another wide-reaching universe and adding to such a massively popular mythology? Are you a closet Star Wars geek and I didn't know it?
ALLIE: [Laughs] I'm not, but I have a 5-year-old son, so I watched the prequel movies way more than a lot of guys my age. My son loves them so much, and we've watched Episodes 1-3 over and over. I know them backwards and forwards. There's also a series of young adult novels called "Jedi Apprentice," about Obi-Wan when he's young and training with Qui-Gon. i've read a bunch of them to my son, and it's been both "good dad" service and research at the same time.
Still, there's so much stuff to know — even at this period when there's not many existing stories. I can't know everything, but fortunately between Randy and the folks at Lucasfilm, they're not going to miss a beat.
MTV: You mentioned the desire to tie things into the movie universe. Will we see any of the other popular staples of the movies? The Sith, perhaps?
ALLIE: No Sith, no. For the Star Wars movie stuff to be meaningful, it has to be special, and the Sith can't be popping up every story. Yoda is in the first issue, giving the mission to the Jedi who are about to set out. There are a bunch of Jedi Council members who would've been around at this time, and something you don't know from watching the movies but you find out if you dig into the expanded unverse, is that Qui-Gon was actiually trained by Count Dooku. My kid loves Count Dooku, and I love Christopher Lee, so it's cool that i'm dealing with Christopher Lee's character. He'll play into the story at some point. Mace Windu and Yoda and others were around at the time, too.
MTV: What about accessibility? Will someone like me, who likes a good Star Wars comic but hasn't read all the expanded universe novels, know what's going on?
ALLIE: A while back, I wrote the first four issues of our long-running "Star Wars: Empire" series. With that, the idea was to make it right for the Star Wars readers who know everything and will find things wrong with it anyways, but really write it for the millions of people who know the films and don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of the other stuff. It's my goal not to do anything in these books that you can't immediately get into. There's nothing I want to read that needs to have a huge bag of knowledge to get through page one, and that's not how I'm writing this, either.
Official solicit info for "Star Wars: Jedi - The Dark Side":
STAR WARS: JEDI—THE DARK SIDE #1 (of 5)
Scott Allie (W), Mahmud Asrar (A/Cover), Stéphane Roux (Variant Cover)
On sale May 18
FC, 40 pages, $2.99, Miniseries
Twenty-one years before the events in Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is dispatched to prevent the outbreak of a civil war on the homeworld of his Padawan Xanatos—whose father is king. It is a mission that will lead Qui-Gon into close contact with the dark side and start him on a quest that will have a major impact on the future of the Jedi Order!
• Here is an opportunity for readers to get onboard a new series, set in a wild and wide-open era of the Star Wars mythos!
• The story of Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn’s Padawan, before Obi-Wan Kenobi!
© 2011 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All rights reserved. Used under authorization. Text and illustrations for Jedi—The Dark Side are © 2011 Lucasfilm Ltd.