As Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to debut, it’s clear that some time has passed since Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and not just because Finn’s hair has grown. After Rian Johnson’s 2017 movie left the Resistance decimated, the new pic opens with a Resistance that’s larger than just a gang on board the Millennium Falcon — but how did that happen?
The answer is to be found via Lucasfilm’s broad publishing program Journey to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which told a sizable bridging story between the two movies, dealing with the reconstruction of the Resistance and what was happening with the First Order at the same time. Spanning multiple comic book issues and novels aimed at different age groups, Journey fills in a number of blanks and lays the groundwork for the galaxy in which Rise takes place… and all of it happens offscreen. For those who didn’t have a chance to read everything, this is what you missed…
In the immediate wake of the events of The Last Jedi, General Leia Organa makes the decision to reach out to old allies in an attempt to keep the movement alive — and, in the process, regain the resources with which to fight a war.
This process ends up recruiting Wedge Antilles, who had flown alongside Luke Skywalker during the original trilogy, as well as a number of other former Rebellion members and supporters, who staff three important missions to varying degrees of success: While an attempt to form a new political alliance with the ruling bodies on Corellia fails as the First Order arrives as it expands across the galaxy, a second team manages to acquire a list of prisoners being held by the First Order, while a third team manages to steal a number of spacecraft intended for the scrapyard in the hopes of using them as the starting point for a new fleet.
Wedge and some others retire after these missions, even as the rebuilding of the Resistance itself gets fully underway.
Leia reaches out to the Mon Calamarians, asking them to renounce their neutrality and use their shipbuilding skills to rebuild the Resistance fleet at the same time as Finn and Poe Dameron are sent to acquire a weapon cache on the moon of Avedot. Of course, neither mission goes smoothly, with the former interrupted by both an isolationist movement that rejects any involvement with offworlders and an unfortunate appearance by the First Order and the latter by bounty hunters tasked with bringing Finn back to the First Order.
Thankfully, everything works out well on both fronts; the Resistance gains a new fleet of starships and the Dameron/Finn team manages to escape with almost all of the weaponry they came for, minus that used in order to ensure their escape in the first place.
Spark of the Resistance
While on a supply run in the Millennium Falcon, Rey, Rose Tico and Poe Dameron receive a distress call on an old Resistance frequency, leading them to the planet Minfar, where the First Order is trying to develop a mysterious new weapon under the guidance of Commander Branwayne Spiftz, an officer whose desire to gain power fails to mask his ineptitude when it comes to being a leader.
Thankfully, the three Resistance heroes have additional help in undermining the First Order in the shape of former Imperial scientist Glenna Kip, who had been working on the construction of the weapon but was secretly one of a number of spies working with the Resistance. With her help, the First Order is forced off the planet and the weapon — the “Echo Horn,” which offers the potential to control the minds of its victims — is abandoned.
Ghosts of Kashyyyk
Chewbacca returns to his home planet, where a resurgent First Order has started enslaving Wookiees to use as slave labor in mining new energy sources. He’s successful, in the end, thanks to the assistance of other Resistance pilots and soldiers, but also a couple of well-meaning Porgs. (This is, after all, a storyline that appeared in the young-reader Star Wars Adventures comic book series.)
The above stories form the primary narrative elements of the Journey publishing program, with other books released under the banner mostly falling into non-fiction or encyclopedic areas. (There is a Choose Your Own Adventure-style book featuring Finn and Poe on a small mission to infiltrate a First Order facility, as well a young-reader retelling of scenes from earlier movies, but neither contribute a significant amount to the larger mythology.)
Whether or not concepts like the Echo Horn or the occupation of Kashyyyk will appear in The Rise of Skywalker will remain unclear until the film reaches theaters. But for those wondering just where the new spaceships came from, or why the the Resistance grew significantly between the two movies, there are stories already waiting to be discovered, even before the inevitable spinoff material released after the pic…
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker bows in theaters Friday.