'Star Wars': A Guide to 'The Force Awakens' Tie-In Novels, Comics

The who, where and when of the prequels to this winter's big movie.
Phil Noto/Marvel Entertainment/Lucasfilm

There's about to be an awakening — and, if Disney and Lucasfilm have any say in it, you'll definitely feel it. The first releases in the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens line of prose novels and comic books will be released in the first week of September, giving fans their first canonical glimpse of what happened after 1983's Return of the Jedi — as well as some earlier adventures, as well. But with five novels and two comic book series announced to date, audiences could be forgiven for wondering what goes where, and which story should be read first.

"At least" 20 books will be released as part of the Journey line, across multiple publishers, according to Lucasfilm. Not all of them will be canonical additions to the core storyline of Star Wars, however; research books like Star Wars: Ships of the Galaxy and Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know are part of the line, in addition to those filling in gaps in the mythology.

Despite the title, not every release in the Journey line all lead directly to the new movie in terms of plot; indeed, three of the prose books are young adult releases set between the first and second movies made, intended to introduce some of the important players to potential newcomers to the franchise (as well as provide new adventures for longtime fans). As such, they take place in the same timeframe as Marvel's ongoing Star Wars and Darth Vader comic book series, although those do not bear the Journey branding. Yes, it's confusing. Don't worry about it.

Of the seven announced narrative titles to date, only two seem to act directly as lead-ins to the new movie, with another YA prose novel appearing to be a summary of the events of the original trilogy from new characters' points of view, and one comic book's contents being a mystery so far. Here's where the first narrative pieces of the puzzle fit together, however:

Lost Stars
Format: YA Prose
Era: Original Trilogy
Release Date: Sept. 4

Written by Claudia Gray, this book follows the relationship between two pilots on opposite sides of the war as seen in the original trilogy. Both trained with the Empire, but one of them abandoned the cause when he saw the extremes to which Imperial forces would go to in order to achieve their aims. Reportedly spanning the era of the original trilogy, this might be a good primer for those looking to revisit the political landscape of a galaxy far, far away ahead of the new movie.

The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure
Format: YA Prose
Era: Between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back
Release Date: Sept. 4

Jason Fry's novel takes place after the first movie, and sees a Luke Skywalker trying to learn how to become a better Jedi in the wake of the destruction of the original Death Star, while also rescuing a young girl and facing off against a mysterious new villain.

Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo & Chewbacca Adventure
Format: YA Prose
Era: Between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back
Release Date: Sept. 4

Pretty much the Han Solo story fans have longed for, this book by Greg Rucka — who also writes one of the comic books tying into the line — offers up the smuggler and his trusty co-pilot running a secret mission for the Rebellion while avoiding bounty hunters and Imperial forces alike. Really, who could resist?

Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure
Format: YA Prose
Era: Between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back
Release Date: Sept. 4

With Han, Chewie and Luke off on their own missions, what is Leia getting up to? According to the collaboration between Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry, she's leading a decoy mission to distract Imperial forces — but from what? That remains a secret, although Return of the Jedi fans should note that Nien-Nunb, Lando Calrissian's co-pilot from the Death Star raid, appears on the cover of this book.

Shattered Empire
Format: Comic Book
Era: Immediately following Return of the Jedi
Release Date: Sept. 2

Rucka's second writing credit in the line is a four-issue comic book series that chronicles the aftermath of the death of the Emperor, as seen by two rebel soldiers (Art is by Marco Checchetto). For those wondering whether the Empire went quietly after Return of the Jedi, here's your chance to find out the answer. Spoiler: No, they didn't. For those who'd rather read the whole story in one sitting, the collected edition is due to be released in November.

Aftermath
Format: Prose
Era: Immediately following Return of the Jedi
Release Date: Sept. 4

Arguably the centerpiece of the Journey line, Aftermath is the first book in a trilogy by Chuck Wendig that lays out the political status quo following events in the original trilogy, as seen through the eyes of a number of characters, including rebel pilot Wedge Antilles (AKA Denis Lawson from the original movie trilogy).

C-3PO
Format: Comic Book
Era: TBA
Release Date: TBA

The mystery title of the group; despite Marvel having released details of its output all the way through November, nothing is known about C-3PO beyond its title, announced when the Journey line was initially revealed. Marvel has released a number of stand-alone Star Wars series to this point, including Princess Leia, Lando and Chewbacca, showcasing fan-favorite characters without tying tightly into the core storyline of the two monthly titles. Whether or not this is another series in that vein remains to be seen, but expect a December release, just days before the Dec. 18 release date of the movie.

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