The Star Wars universe looked pretty big when Luke Skywalkerblew up the Death Star - using The Force, of course - way back in GeorgeLucas' original 1977 movie.
Now? More than 35 years of toys,games, books, comics and two trilogies of films have created a trulymassive galaxy far, far away that is very much right at our fingertips.It's just going to get larger, too: A new trio of movies begins in 2015as a result of Disney's recent $4 billion purchase of Lucasfilm.
"Ourfans stick with us whether there seems to be a large theatrical releaseor not," says Dave Filoni, supervising director of Cartoon Network's Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which is now in its fifth season and has surpassed 100 episodes.
Thosewho are already picking out their Stormtrooper armor or Jedi robe towear to midnight screenings of the seventh film installment two yearsfrom now have plenty of Star Wars product to consume in the meantime. This year alone there will be theatrical re-releases in 3-D of the prequels Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith; multiple monthly books from Dark Horse Comics; six novels; two cartoons; and a pair of games, including a new LEGO Star Wars and Star Wars 1313, which lets fans explore the underworld of the planet Coruscant.
For those needing an immediate fix, here are three things to dig into this month:
'Star Wars' comic
Many are waiting to see if the original actors who portrayed the Star Warsholy trinity of Luke, Princess Leia and Han Solo - Mark Hamill, CarrieFisher and Harrison Ford, respectively - will reprise their roles infuture movies. But the characters themselves star in Star Wars, a comic debuting Wednesday.
WriterBrian Wood catches up with the Rebel Alliance a week after thedestruction of the Death Star (in the first movie), and charactersfigure their places in life and the emotions that go with the tremendouslosses they feel.
"That's something never addressed in the films,and it doesn't have to be because the films have a very traditionalmythic structure to them," Wood says.
Luke's gone from being afarm boy to galactic hero in a matter of days; Leia's just watched herhome planet of Alderaan get annihilated; Han is wanted by the Empire andintergalactic gangster Jabba the Hutt; and the recently demoted Sithlord Darth Vader can't put a handle yet on who this Luke kid is thatjust took down his space station. (Vader hasn't figured out yet thatLuke's his son, a major moment in the 1980 filmThe Empire Strikes Back.)
Leia,a political figurehead for the rebels, plays a starring role in Wood'sseries as she's the one tapped to head up a squadron of X-Wing fighterpilots to find a new planetary home - a plot point that has met someonline opposition from male fans, says Wood.
"If Luke, a farm boyin the sticks, can be a fighter pilot, she can. It's like us getting adriver's license when you live in a galactic world," the writer says.The movies "have her established as proficient with weapons and speederbikes and surviving torture. It seemed like a no-brainer that she coulddo a lot more than wear a beautiful gown and be in a meeting."
'Star Wars: Scoundrels' novel
Timothy Zahn's 10th Star Wars novel Scoundrels,out now, explores the same era as Wood's new comic. But instead ofgoing the sci-fi route, Zahn has crafted a heist adventure starring HanSolo, Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca, gambler Lando Calrissian and a gangput together to steal millions back from a corrupt high-profile officialconnected to the Black Sun criminal syndicate.
Zahn's first book in 1991, Heir to the Empire, kick-started an expansion of the Star Wars "Expanded Universe." Set five years after the end of the Return of the Jedi film, it spurred fandom to read about a married Han and Leia and the new bad guy Admiral Thrawn.
Theauthor had started his research years prior, though, when he'd recordtapes of the audio from the movies and play them for his son on longcar trips.
"I never realized until I started writing that that hadgiven me a better ear for dialogue - how Han, Luke and Leia said things- because I had heard them without the distraction of the visuals,"Zahn says.
"The reader is going to want to be able to hearHarrison Ford delivering the lines I write in my book. If I can capturethat, I've got them."
'Star Wars: The Clone Wars' animated series
Arguably nothing has done more to keep the mythos of Star Wars thriving than The Clone Wars series, which follows young Jedi Anakin Skywalker before his turn to the dark side and transformation into Darth Vader.Airing Saturday mornings (9:30 ET/PT) and now in its fifth season, theseries taps into the Clone Wars, a long conflict pitting the Separatistsand their droid army vs. the Republic and its Clone Troopers (aprecursor to the Empire and Stormtroopers). The battle was mentioned inthe original Star Wars movie and takes place between the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
Along with featuring familiar faces such as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Chewbacca, Clone Wars hasalso brought back the left-for-dead Darth Maul and introduced severalnew and popular characters such as Maul's brother Savage Opress; coldand calculating outlaw Cad Bane; Anakin's young Jedi apprentice AhsokaTano; and Pre Vizsla, the leader of the Mandalorian Death Watch whosports armor and a jetpack much like that of the enigmatic bounty hunterBoba Fett.
Filoni says there is a certain "Boba Fett factor" when it comes to certain Clone Wars creations: "Someone can basically have four lines and they're like the greatest character."
Whenhe was a child, Filoni was saddened during the first movie when helearned that Vader killed Luke's father. But he says the movie reveal ofAnakin as Darth Vader is "pretty shocking" for today's generation offans, who are often exposed to Clone Wars first.
"That's away we accidentally put a new spin on a very old scene and in a lot ofways super-charge it for kids," Filoni says. "They get pretty upset withthis Darth Vader guy. They can't understand why Dad likes him so much."