NOTE: This article contains minor SPOILERS for Star Wars #32
The Star Wars fans may have scoffed when audiences hoped for a Rogue One sequel, but the prequel movie's story will continue thanks to Marvel Comics - this time starring Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Leia Organa. The classic Star Wars heroes will take the spotlight for obvious reasons (the entire main cast of Rogue One had their fates sealed), as an adventure leading the Rebel Alliance in the wake of the Death Star's destruction sees them retrace the footsteps of Jyn Erso, Cassian Andor, and more.
It's a story being told by writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca in Marvel's main, in-canon Star Wars comic series. So far the comics have filled in the gaps in the movie series' prequels and sequels, offering new twists to characters like Darth Vader and the Emperor. But now, the movie trio of heroes have found their way back to Jedha to witness the destruction caused by Orson Krennic's superweapon.
Which means Star Wars fans who thought Rogue One's story was over are in for a treat.
The Destruction of Jedha, as Seen in Rogue One
At first, some believed that Rogue One would be limited creatively - telling a story that everyone already knew the cause and result of - but those feelings changed with the introduction of Jedha. A small desert moon far off the beaten trail of the galaxy far, far away that held one of the universe's greatest secrets. The small rock wasn't just the source of the mystical Kyber Crystals that power the lightsabers of the Jedi Knights... it was held as the spiritual birthplace of the Jedi Order. Which is what made it such a tragedy when Grand Moff Tarkin and Orson Krennic used Jedha as the first demonstration of the Death Star, long before the obliteration of Alderaan served its political purpose.
That's what viewers of Rogue One got to witness, as the Imperial battle station unloaded a shot intended specifically for Jedha City, also known as NiJedha. The superlaser wound up being far more powerful than they predicted, apparently, as the explosion didn't just eject a massive blast of matter well beyond Jedha's atmoshpere, but spread tens, hundreds of miles out from the Holy City. The ancient and revered Temple of the Kyber was disintegrated first, before devastation spread to the base of Saw Gerrera, an important resistance figure who had been driven to... 'extreme' methods. All was erased, all was reduced to dust, with no reason to think that Jedha would continue as anything but a dead rock - and a reminder of its role in a famous galactic adventure.
Until the arrival of Star Wars #38, which shows Jedha after the events of Rogue One -still functioning as a moon and an important resource for the Galactic Empire... and Rebels.
Luke, Leia & Han Return To Jedha
The events of Rogue One and knowledge of what comes next in the Star Wars story may make the future of Jedha seem irrelevant. After all, the Empire's plan to erase record of their presence succeeded when they destroyed Jedha City. The Kyber Crystals needed to create the Death Star have been gathered. And there's no need for more, since the Jedi have been purged. But the Issue reveals - through the eyes of Luke, Leia, and Han - that Jedha yet lives. Though permanently marked by the devastation wrought by even a single-reactor shot from the Death Star. If Jedha was hostile to life before, then those who remain living on the moon while it vents toxic gases through spreading rifts are even easier to admire.
Gillen and Larroca don't just reveal the real fate of Jedha, but the members of the ramshackle resistance fleeing Imperial forces on the scorched surface of the moon. Among them is Chulco Gi, an aspiring Disciple of the Whills, keepers of the ancient, almost pre-Jedi students of The Force. Also, Ubin Des, a Rebel who fought at the Battle of Yavin but missed being wiped out on Scariff (also shown in Rogue One). And... that's about it. Still, two new characters in the Star Wars mythology that get a lot more significant when they're gathered up by Han Solo, Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker - aboard the Millennium Falcon, no less. The trio of heroes have come in search of the remains of Saw Gerrera's 'Partisans,' motivated to make sure that all sides of Imperial rebels can be united into a true alliance. And from the start, it's obvious that the Rebel Alliance is better off once Leia becomes a leading member (and once Saw Gerrera himself is removed from the equation).
Even though her plan to get herself, Luke, and Han into contact with the Partisans who survived Rogue One has them at a disadvantage almost immediately. Thank goodness it's a familiar face they meet.
Saw Gerrera's Resistance Isn't Finished Yet
It's Leia's plan to have Chulco and Ubin, both familiar with Jedha's ongoing resistance, transport the three heroes to the Partisan leadership in the same way they would have for those seeking to meet Saw. In short: on their knees, shackled, with bags over their heads. That is where Issue #38 leaves them, hoping that the new leader of the Partisans is a bit more understanding (or ambitious) than his former master. That figure would be Benthic, the Tognath mercenary affectionately referred to as "Two Tubes" by Star Wars fans ahead of Rogue One's release, and who made an unforgettable appearance in the movie's first act. Here's hoping that Leia will be a bit more effective in her mission than Bodhi Rook.
Time isn't on Luke, Leia, and Han's side, despite the impression that things on Jedha couldn't get much worse. The moon's story within the Empire's grasp isn't over yet, either. The "Ashes of Jedha" narrative will include new characters and mythology for the villains' side of things, as the Empire is still very much in need of the priceless Kyber Crystals found only on the now burned-out husk of Jedha. It's an impossible operation to create and run, but one which falls to two new players in the main story of Star Wars: Commander Kanchar, an Imperial Officer who announces his takeover of the Jedha operation by crushing the skull of his predecessor with his robot arm. And Queen Trios of the planet Shu-Torun, a character recently introduced in Gillen's Darth Vader series who makes Princess Amidala seem like a pushover.
What's next for Jedha and the surviving Rogue One characters? Whatever it is, it seems intimately tied to the original film's heroes. If we can't get a movie follow-up, then that's one heck of a consolation prize.
Star Wars #38 is available now.