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Lucasfilm reveals how secretive Project Luminous will write new Star Wars history

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A new storytelling picks up the Jedi in the High Republic era

a photo of a slide showing Star Wars: High Republic concept art by Phil Noto Photo: Matt Patches/Polygon

This May, Lucasfilm delayed the rollout of Star Wars: The High Republic to January 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the story plans haven’t changed — read on for a massive preview of the launch titles.

At the 2019 Star Wars Celebration last April, Lucasfilm and Disney Publishing announced an ambitious-sounding plan: to tell one cohesive story over a series of books, comics, and, if later rumors were to be believed, maybe more.

Authors Cavan Scott (Star Wars: Adventures in Wild Space, IDW’s Star Wars Adventures), Claudia Gray (Master & Apprentice, Bloodline), Justina Ireland (Spark of the Resistance, Lando’s Luck), Daniel José Older (Last Shot, “Born in the Storm”), and Charles Soule (Marvel’s Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren, Star Wars: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith) were all involved in “Project Luminous,” the stories would begin launching in 2020, and ... that’s where the opening scroll ended. No one knew what the story was about, when it was set, how it might thread through the Skywalker Saga, or anything pertinent about what was in the works.

But we do now.

On Monday night, the five Project Luminous authors and Mike Siglain, creative director at Lucasfilm, gathered at Walt Disney Studios to pull back the curtain on the cross-media event. Siglain said he first pitched the concept of an interconnected, historical Star Wars story back in 2014. Now, after many creative meetings at Skywalker Ranch, pages of concept art, and Kathleen Kennedy’s stamp of approval to go wild and experiment, Lucasfilm and its publishing partners have begat the High Republic era.

Set 200 years prior to the events of The Phantom Menace, during a Pax Romana in the Star Wars universe, the High Republic stories find the Jedi serving as a kind of Knights of the Round Table for the galaxy — with a new threat, the punk-apocalyptic Nihil, pushing them to the brink. The Jedi closer to the familiar system have an air of Greek glamour to their looks. Protectors who dwell on the fringe bring a Wild West aesthetic to the new epoch. Anything seems possible — the whiteboard wish list seen in the trailer includes relic hunters, Sith Empire, chaos agents, splinter group Force-users, rival houses, and “Dinosaurs!” — but as Siglain puts it, the premise of the uber-story boils down to a simple question: “What scares the Jedi?”

Here’s the first concept art from the stories, featuring the new Jedi, the Mad Max-ian villains, some terrifying monsters, and a new space station, where most of Scott’s Marvel comic takes place.

Star Wars: The High Republic concept art by Iain McCaig of costumes, Jedi, and scoundrels Photo: Matt Patches/Polygon
Star Wars: The High Republic concept art by Iain McCaig of various creatures Photo: Matt Patches/Polygon
Star Wars: The High Republic concept art by Grant Griffin of citizens and droids of the Republic Photo: Matt Patches/Polygon
Star Wars: The High Republic concept art by Grant Griffin, Pascal Bianche, and Gonzalo Kenny of the Nihil Photo: Matt Patches/Polygon
Star Wars: The High Republic concept art by Giorgio Baroin and Elisa Serio of Jedi mission attire Photo: Matt Patches/Polygon
Star Wars: The High Republic concept art by Elisa Serio of Jedi temple attire Photo: Matt Patches/Polygon
star wars: the high republic space station - the starlight beacon concept art by Grant Griffin, Pascal Bianche, and Gonzalo Kenny Photo: Matt Patches/Polygon

In Phase 1, the stories include Ireland’s middle-grade novel A Test of Courage, Scott’s The High Republic Marvel comic, Gray’s Into the Dark novel, and Older’s IDW book The High Republic Adventures. Soule’s novel Light of the Jedi kicks off the new wave, depicting the “great disaster” that brings together Jedi from Coruscant to the Outer Rim in order to deal with the aftermath. The book debuts in August, just before Star Wars Celebration 2020. In the months to come, The High Republic will add additional content published by partners including Abrams, Becker & Mayer, DK, Insight Editions, Titan Publishing, and Viz Media.

Here’s a look at the covers for Phase 1:

star wars: the high republic: light of the jedi cover by charles soule Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.
star wars: the high republic: a test of courage cover Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.
star wars: the high republic marvel comic cover featuring two members of the villainous nihil clan Image: Lucasfilm Ltd./Marvel Comics
star wars: the high republic: into the dark featuring a dashing jedi with a green saber Image: Lucasfilm Ltd.
star wars: the high republic adventures comic from IDW Image: Lucasfilm Ltd./IDW

Could Project Luminous extend beyond the slated novels and comic books? Word continues to spill that EA is working on a video game that either reboots or summons the spirit of Knights of the Old Republic, while MakingStarWars.net, which has published reputable plot specifics in the past, suggested earlier this year that the effort would dovetail directly into the next Star Wars film saga. Reportedly, everyone from Kevin Feige to Sleight director J.D. Dillard is developing a feature for Lucasfilm, but there’s nothing officially on the slate — except for release dates. A new set of films is scheduled to kick off in December 2022.

MakingStarWars.net suggests that the future movies would also take place during the High Republic era, which the report notes as a time when the Sith’s “Rule of Two” has been established by Darth Bane and Yoda would be a young(er) Jedi. (The era was also recently namechecked in Charles Soule’s Kylo Ren comic.) Still, at this time, Disney Publishing insists that “this period on the Star Wars timeline will not overlap any of the films or series currently planned for production, giving creators and partners space to tell Star Wars stories in a never-before-explored timeline.”

But maybe in the future? Anything seems possible. The High Republic is a real part of canon. Don’t underestimate the power of five literary luminaries with the keys to Star Wars to come up with something worthy of the big screen.