After the Lucasfilm Publishing Panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2023, we had the opportunity to sit down with Star Wars authors Cavan Scott, Justina Ireland, George Mann, and Charles Soule. Each writer delved into the emotional journeys of their characters and the themes they explore in the upcoming Phase Three of The High Republic. From loss and grief to hope and triumph, these authors shed light on the complexities of their storytelling and how it all comes together in this exciting new phase of the Star Wars saga. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
BUT WHT THO: Cavan, the upcoming Phase 3 comic, Keeve Trennis and the road to her becoming a Jedi Master is something that’s very, very intriguing to me personally. Can you give some insights into the emotional journey that she’ll be undertaking and some of the challenges that she’ll face?
Cavan Scott: For Keeve, we started this entire series with her struggling to accept the fact she had a place in the Jedi Order. Not just as purely as an imposter syndrome type thing, but could she step up? Could she stand alongside Avar Kriss? Could she stand alongside her own master? You know, as an equal. She’s obviously learned that she had to do that. But now we have a situation where she’s found herself thrown into the forefront of the Jedi. She’s now a Jedi Master.
She has to really step up. She has everyone looking to her for guidance, for advice. She’s got people, Ceret and Terec, who are peers of hers who suddenly need her in ways that she didn’t expect they would as they’re going through their own things as well. Plus, and this is something that’s really important to me and the group as we’re working on it, we’re looking at how people and heroes and everyone copes with losing, friends, loved ones, family, situations, times. So Keeve, in the middle of all this trial, a lot of our Jedi, is having to really cope with the fact that she’s missing people who she would usually turn to and ask or just be in the presence of which would be a conflict.
BUT WHY THO: George, in the panel today you described Eye of Darkness in one word, “Brutal.” Can you tell us a little bit more about the tone and the themes in the upcoming series and where those inspirations are coming from?
George Mann: As Cavan said, we’re looking at loss and what that does to people and particularly in this instance what it does to the Jedi as well. Because they’ve lost friends, they’ve lost the Starlight Beacon, they’ve lost a certain amount of their access to planets and people and friends. And what that means is they’ve lost each other even if they’re still alive in some instances.
So, it’s really a case of seeing the Jedi on the back foot and exploring how they still cling to hope, or still how they find hope in the darkness. The book’s called The Eye of Darkness, it’s obviously a play on Marchion, but there’s more to it than that. It’s a dark universe, a dark galaxy at this time. The Jedi still have to be a beacon of hope even though the Starlight’s gone. They still have to lead and find a way to help people and be the Jedi that they’re supposed to be. But that takes a toll on people when they’re dealing with grief, different circumstances, and the inability to rely on each other in the same way that have in the past.
BUT WHY THO: Charles, Shadows of the Starlight will be looking to delve into the stories of multiple characters. Can you share insights on how those different character stories you’re looking to intertwine?
Charles Soule: Hopefully, it will be well executed. I’ve written many, many, many, many comic book issues over my career. I’ve written more comics than by far anything else. And so one of the things I’ve always really enjoyed is writing what’s called a one-shot. And a one-shot is a single issue where it has a beginning, middle, and end, the story is satisfying in and of itself. And so you have to think, you don’t have to, I’m suggesting that perhaps you might want to think of each of the Starlight issues as a one-shot.
So, the Avar and Elzar issue, which is issue two, has a beginning and an end that starts just after the fall of Starlight. All four issues start right at that time. Then it moves forward to the key moments for them through that year. By the end of it, you have a very good sense of where they end up leading into Phase 3, right into Eye of Darkness but it is satisfying in and of itself.
I think anything you read in The High Republic, whether it’s these comic issues or anything else, anything should be a satisfying experience within itself. I think we all feel that way. So, that’s basically how all the issues work. You get a really cool story about what Marchion Ro is up to in issue four when he feels really, really cool about how he just blew up the space station and killed a bunch of people and then he does some other stuff.
BUT WHY THO: Justina Ireland, Defy the Storm will explore the fallout of Avon Starros learning her mother is “hooking up with” Marchion Ro. How will this revelation impact Avon’s character and the overall plot of the book?
Justina Ireland: Just like how everybody else has said, it’s really about picking up where we left off. We left our characters dealing with a terrible, terrible thing, right? And we left them in a situation that’s where it’s like, all hope is lost. Then we went and did other things [Phase Two]. So it’s mostly about Avon and Vernestra recounting where they’ve been because they’ve been apart for a year, which is a little bit of a spoiler so you’re getting the first on that. But it’s also about remembering where they’ve come from.
For Vernestra she’s got almost the opposite arc of Keeve. She was like, “I’m knighted early, I’m awesome,” and then what happens when the person who believed you the most is now gone, right? For Avon, she’s always had this fractious relationship with her mother and now to find that your mother actually is maybe the source of all evil in the galaxy is like, a lot.
I think these are things we’ve seen constantly in Star Wars, and it’s really just paying that off. Giving everybody that moment of okay, when things go wrong, how do you reset and start again, right? How do you continue to push forward? That’s what this book is really about. When things are at their worst, how do you cling to the things that matter and use that to propel you forward?
BUT WHY THO: For one last question, if there is one word that you can describe this Phase Three that’s coming up and how you’re hoping that fans will feel after?
Justina Ireland: Triumphant.
Cavan Scott: Hope.
Charles Soule: Satisfied.
George Mann: Scared.
As the galaxy enters a new phase of adventure and challenges, Star Wars fans can expect a triumphant journey filled with hope, satisfaction, and a hint of trepidation. These talented authors have woven intricate tales that delve into loss, grief, and the resilience of the Jedi. From the struggles of Jedi Master Keeve Trennis to the darkness engulfing the galaxy in The Eye of Darkness, and the personal dilemmas faced by Avon Starros in Defy the Storm, fans can expect a wide array of experiences. With these talented authors at the helm, we are sure to be captivated and transported to a galaxy far, far away.