After the cancellation of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the stream of new stories in the Star Wars universe slowed significantly. For those of us who live and breathe Star Wars, it was a difficult proposition to deal with, but with the end of one Star Wars show on television, we were promised a new one, and boy is it a doozy.
Star Wars: Rebels debuts on the Disney Channel next month, and while it doesn't promise to tie up any loose ends from the untimely end of The Clone Wars, it is exactly the right Star Wars show to launch us forward into a whole new era of a galaxy far, far away.
Rebels sets its sights on the Dark Times, just prior to A New Hope—an era practically untouched by any other iteration of expanded Star Wars storytelling. It tells the tightly focused story of a group of rebels who travel the galaxy aboard their ship, the Ghost, and do their best to spark an organized rebellion so they can one day free the galaxy.
Having seen the premiere at a special advanced screening at San Diego Comic-Con, I can attest to the fact that the show is fantastic. It drops you in the middle of the action and doesn't let up. It looks and feels like the Star Wars envisioned by concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, mainly because they've reused many of his designs, color palates and brush patterns. The voice acting is also top notch, adding a depth to the characters that seems deeper and darker than the story so far implies.
But the thing I find most brilliant about this crack at the Star Wars universe is that they're stitching together the best of both trilogies—playing to the interests of every Star Wars fan—as opposed to pandering to one set or the other. Freddie Prinze Jr. voices Kanan Jarrus, who leads the team we follow. He was a padawan at the time of Order 66, as documented in Revenge of the Sith. He turned his back on being a Jedi and became the sort of rogue who would make Han Solo proud. Through the course of the premiere, he decides to come out of hiding as a Jedi when he finds the Empire getting more evil by the day and encounters a young boy adept at the force. Indeed, the best of both trilogies.
The show is fast-paced and funny, truly feeling like Star Wars—and I can't wait to see more episodes.
When I spoke to Simon Kinberg, who wrote the pilot (and is a creative consultant on Episode VII), he seemed to agree that they were moving back to a time when Star Wars was more fun.
"We wanted [Rebels] to be as loyal to the feel of the original films, and that's true in the dialogue and it's true in the direction," Kinberg says. "Because Rebels takes place right up against A New Hope, it was an opportunity to use a lot of the same designs—and, like I said, ideally the same tone and texture from the original films."
If you can't wait till the show hits TV screens Oct. 3, there's an answer for you. The first book in this new era, A New Dawn, was just released. It tells the story of how the two main characters in the cartoon, Hera Syndulla and Kanan, met for the first time. It sets Kanan down his path back to hero after years as a drunk, and shows us a bit about what drives Hera. It's a very fun, classic-feeling read, masterfully written by John Jackson Miller, and a good place to rekindle your love of Star Wars.
Search your feelings; you know you want to get back into a galaxy far, far away. This new cartoon (and accompanying novel) is your destiny.
Bryan Young is the editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com