5:30am PT by Graeme McMillan
The Best 'Star Wars' Storylines of 2016
Sure, in many ways, Rogue One dominated 2016, from much-anticipated (and dissected) trailers and promotion, through reports of reshoots and trouble, to the Dec 16. release of the finished movie. But it was far from the only story from a galaxy far, far away to get released over the past 12 months.
Indeed, with multiple prose and comic book spinoffs from the Star Wars movie franchise — not to mention animated spinoffs in the form of Star Wars: Rebels and LEGO Star Wars — there was all manner of space opera available to fans who longed for lightsabers, derring-do and space battles in whatever mix was available. With so much on offer, how can a casual observer find the best Star Wars of the year? It's easy. Just read on.
Darth Vader: End of Games
The final storyline from Marvel's Star Wars: Darth Vader comic book — set between the 1977 original movie and 1980's The Empire Strikes Back — brought events from the series to a head, as Vader seeks to restore himself as an indispensable aide to the Emperor by taking care of one traitor, and finding out what happened to his absent one-time conspirator Doctor Aphra. Smart, sneaky, political and exciting, Kieron Gillen's and Salvador Larroca's series was Vader at his best, and with this final storyline, the series went out in style.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Speaking of Vader in his prime, the final sequence of Rogue One, with the Sith Lord in action, showed the character as more dangerous (and more violent) than he'd appeared on the big screen to that point. It was a fitting capstone to a movie that emphasized just why the series would need "A New Hope" in Episode IV — the first of the Star Wars Story movies, and an opportunity taken by director Gareth Edwards to demonstrate the reality of all wars, even Star ones: people you love die, senselessly and horribly, even after doing the right thing and being a hero for one shining second.
Star Wars: Ahsoka
An underrated prose entry into the franchise, Ahsoka follows the character introduced in the Clone Wars as she tries to leave the conflict behind and go into hiding, just as the Empire is spreading across the galaxy. Needless to say, it doesn't go well — but this book arguably does the same job of delivering on the growing grimness of the pre-A New Hope galaxy as Rogue One while offering more hope that things can improve. Indeed, the book ends with a major step toward things getting better. No spoilers.
Rebels: Twilight of the Apprentice
From one of Ahsoka's finest moments to some of her last, the second-season finale of the animated Star Wars: Rebels brought the character face-to-face with her former mentor as she went toe-to-toe with Darth Vader, while the regular crew of the Ghost tried to complete their mission. Add in another unexpected villain — Darth Maul, from the prequel movies — and more than a fair share of Force-related prophecies, and the result is something that feels epic on a scale beyond what many of the movies achieved. Apparently, the origins of the Rebel Alliance were a pretty big deal, all told. Who knew?
Star Wars: Han Solo
Marjorie Liu's and Mark Brooks' flashback spotlight on everyone's favorite character from the franchise — we can all agree that's true, right? — was a departure from what was expected in all the best ways: distancing itself from the "Wars" part of the title, it's not all about the conflict with the Empire, but instead about Han's pride, his underworld (under worlds?) background and wanting to prove that the Millennium Falcon is the fastest ship out there…oh, and helping out the Rebellion along the way, of course. Fast-moving and fun, this is a great indicator of where the franchise could go in 2017 (and beyond) if it wants to break from the old routine a little more.