[NEWS] Marvel and Del Rey at Celebration

It wasn’t just the glamor of Hollywood at Celebration Anaheim despite the films, TV show, and Battlefront getting the big opening panel slots. Saturday featured back-to-back panels from first the folks at Marvel Comics and then Del Rey publishing with long lines of fans waiting to get in to both. As expected, there were announcements. Obviously.

Marvel had a few announcements but they had all already made their way to the general public long before the actual panel. The creative team for Shattered Empire (part of the Journey to The Force Awakens) was announced and Greg Rucka will write the book with Marco Checchetto on art duties (as opposed to Phil Noto as some had speculated due to the teaser art.) The big announcement was the Lando limited series that will start in July after Mark Waid’s Princess Leia book wraps up. It will be written by Charles Soule and drawn by Alex Maleev and takes place after Lando loses the Falcon to Han Solo. In the anti-announcement realm, an adaptation of The Force Awakens will likely happen but not right away for security reasons.

During the panel comprised of CB Cebulski, Jordan White, Jen Heddle, and Leland Chee, it was mentioned that Princess Leia #1 had been the best selling comic book of March and there was definitely a lot of love for both Leia and the recently started Kanan book in the room. Speaking of Kanan, Greg Weisman will remain on the book for the second arc. We also learned that Jen Heddle will be moving off Marvel and Frank Parisi (a former editor over at Del Rey) will be taking over.

Then it was Del Rey’s turn. Jen Heddle took the stage again along with editor Shelly Shapiro and authors John Jackson Miller, James Luceno, and Christie Golden. The panel started with a recap of sorts of all the published novels so far (A New Dawn, Tarkin, and Heir to the Jedi) and then moved to the forthcoming (Lords of the Sith on Tuesday and Dark Disciple in July.) Those authors present got a moment to discuss their book and let listeners in on some of the behind the scenes from the books’ creations. Although Chuck Wendig was sadly not present, his book, Aftermath, was the next mentioned although we didn’t learn much else new. Good luck getting any spoilers though as it’ll be under heavy embargo until September 4, 2015 when all of the Journey to The Force Awakens tie-ins are released.

And then announcements! First, A New Dawn and Tarkin will be released together in a combined format titled Star Wars: Rise of the Empire on October 7, 2015 and will also include three brand new short stories to supplement the novels. The authors of the short stories will be announced at a later date. The much-discussed Battlefront addition to the timeline now included in books is indeed a novel. Battlefront: Twilight Company will be written by Alexander Freed and released on November 3, 2015 prior to the release of the Battlefront III game. The book will be able to stand on its own and enjoyed by both those who play the games and those who just want a good read. Finally, Alan Dean Foster was announced as returning to the Star Wars universe to novelize The Force Awakens in a cute little set-up where Foster pretended to be an audience member asking if he could write it. Rumors about the book being released prior to the film were proven firmly false as Shapiro announced that the ebook will be available on December 18th (the day the film premieres) and that the hardcover will be available sometime later in January 2016 for security reasons.

During both panels, questions were asked regarding the Legends book and characters. The answers to these are not going to change regardless of how many times people ask. The material from those books is there and available for authors to use (see references to Rise of the Dark Lord in Tarkin and Shatterpoint in Kanan) and characters could potentially make the jump to canon status but there are no current plans to continue the Legends universe. Question and Answer sessions at fantastic panels such as these are precious time and it would be great to see them filled with more questions which might give us new answers and revelations instead of retreading old ground when the answer won’t change any time soon.

As we still don’t have any official book announcements for 2016, expect to hear more on that front at either San Diego this summer or New York in the fall. The Marvel panel said that there are series they haven’t announced yet but those are a year away. I am still hopeful that sales of the Leia book will be strong enough to warrant an ongoing once the limited series wraps up.

If you’re interested in more tidbits from the panels, I’ve compiled all my live tweets from both panels below.