Marvel has revealed five connecting variant covers for its upcoming Star Wars: Hidden Empire event, which launches in November and will wrap writer Charles Soules's trilogy focusing on Lady Qi'ra, the breakout character from Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Hidden Empire will follow Qi'ra as she attempts to rid the galaxy of the Sith once and for all. The five-issue limited series follows Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters (opens in new tab) and Star Wars: Crimson Reign (opens in new tab), and is written by Soule and drawn by Steve Cummings.
Cummings's connecting variant covers, which feature Darth Vader, Emperor Palpatine, the Knights of Ren, and more key characters who will take sides in Hidden Empire, can be seen here.
In the wake of Crimson Reign, Lady Qi'ra and the Crimson Dawn syndicate have become the galaxy's most wanted criminals now that Emperor Palpatine realizes the full extent of their plans. As she attempts to wipe out the Sith, he attempts to destroy her, but she has the backing of the Knights of Ren and other allies in what's sure to be an epic fight.
"Hidden Empire is set between Episodes V and VI. So, there are things this story can do and things it can't," Soule explains. "That said, I think it will deliver a deeply satisfying conclusion to Qi'ra's arc here, and readers will understand how her choices in this story impacted events all across the Star Wars galaxy at this time.
"As with many of the comics and novels and ancillary stories beyond the films, the idea is to deepen the experience and understanding of the characters. There are direct connections here to both The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi — and beyond — and I think the fans will be very happy," Soule says.(opens in new tab)
Lucasfilm has used the name 'The Hidden Empire' before for a Star Wars project - the 1995 game Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire.
In that story (which is now non-canon), which is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Vader and the Empire develop cloaking technology and are using it for a new stealth TIE fighter, dubbed the V38 Phantom. Over the course of the game, Admiral Ackbar leads a group of pilots who manage to destroy the V38 Phantom manufacturing facility but are unable to recover the tech for the Rebellion.
Cloaking devices, although rare, have appeared in modern Star Wars canon - including, coincidentally, by Qi'Ra's former Crimson Dawn boss Darth Maul.
Star Wars: Hidden Empire will be available November 16 and follow a monthly release schedule, with the final issue hitting shelves in April.
While you wait, here's our recommended best Star Wars comics of all time.