Earlier this spring Lucasfilm addressed one of the biggest unanswered questions about the state of the Star Wars universe going forward. All those piles of spin-off Star Wars books, comics, games, and so on — would they be considered canon? The short answer is “no,” or at least “not necessarily.” While they may pull elements or characters from the Expanded Universe, they won’t be limited or beholden to it. As we head toward the release of Episode VII in 2015, the official Star Wars canon includes the six “Episode” films, the Clone Wars and upcoming Star Wars Rebels animated series…and one short story you probably didn’t know anything about.
Star Wars Insider Magazine issue #149, which released this past April, included the first part of a story entitled “Blade Squadron,” written by David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams. Set during Return of the Jedi’s Battle of Endor, the story focuses on a group of B-wing starfighter pilots on a suicide mission. It is also the first story outside the films and The Clone Wars to be given the Official Canon Stamp of Approval. So, the events of “Blade Squadron” are a part of the newly streamlined official Star Wars timeline, rather than existing as part of the Star Wars Legends brand under which the bulk of the Expanded Universe material now falls.
“Blade Squadron” was actually inspired by the artwork up top, which was created for Return of the Jedi and which depicts “a battle that was never seen in the film.” Here’s part of the official blurb from the Star Wars Books Facebook page:
The events of the tale were written as if they were deleted scenes from the original film, and are rife with knuckle-whitening action and compelling new characters, while the inimitable Chris Trevas will be providing all-new art for the tale. Here’s a little taste of what’s to come:
‘How was this possible? How had the mightiest space force ever assembled been bested by a bunch of misfits, rejects, and malcontents?’
The first part of “Blade Squadron” actually came out before Lucasfilm’s announcement about how they’d be handling the Expanded Universe material, so I have to wonder if it was just grandfathered in at the last minute. It’s sort of a strange, low-key way to officially kick off the new canon, especially when you’ve got the high-profile Rebels launching this fall, as well as the first new in-canon novels. The second part of “Blade Squadron” appeared in Star Wars Insider #150, which hit shelves last week. All other future stories published in the magazine will be canon as well.