Star Wars is going through a state of transition. For twenty years, an Expanded Universe of novels, comics, and games have supplemented the films and TV shows to create an incredibly deep and detailed Star Wars universe. Soon after Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm, however, they wiped the canon slate clean, saying they would no longer adhere to the stories of the Expanded Universe in order to have the greatest creative freedom with their new Star Wars films starting with The Force Awakens.
But with the new films, so comes new books, comics, and games in a new continuity to replace the old one. So, what is canon and what isn’t anymore? After twenty years, are these the same characters and planets we’ve always known and loved? Is it even the same universe? Well, in our new column Canon Catch-Up, we’re here to answer those questions and set the record straight.
Today, we’re discussing the Death Star II.
So, what’s the deal with the Death Star II in the current continuity?
After the Rebel Alliance destroyed the first Death Star at the Battle of Yavin, the Galactic Empire began construction on a second more powerful battle station. Constructed over Endor, the project was overseen by Moff Jerjerrod, Darth Vader, then finally Emperor Palpatine himself.
The Emperor leaked the location of the second Death Star to the Rebel Alliance as part of a trap to lure their fleet into an ambush. The ensuing conflict, which became known as the Battle of Endor, resulted a costly victory for the Rebels that ended with the destruction of the second Death Star at the hands of Lando Calrissian and Rogue Squadron commander Wedge Antilles, as well as the deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. The Empire’s defeat sent them reeling, eventually leading to their reorganization as The First Order.
What about the Death Star II in the Expanded Universe?
While the original designer of the Death Star, Bevel Lemelisk, was executed for its design flaws that allowed for its destruction, construction on the second station commenced under Lemelisk’s clone created by the Emperor. The exhaust port that proved the downfall of the first Death Star was removed, replaced by thousands of micro ports scattered over the station’s hull. The superlaser was also improved, featuring a vastly increased rate of fire, upgraded targeting systems, and lower power settings for use against enemy capital ships.
Rather than the 21 years it took for the construction of the first Death Star, available research, upgraded construction techniques, and solid supply lines resulted in only a three year construction period for the second station.
The first information of the Death Star that leaked into the Alliance came from an Imperial defector. The location of the plans themselves were leaked to the Alliance via the head of the criminal organization Black Sun, Prince Xizor, with the approval of Emperor Palpatine. An operation conducted by a team of Bothans led by Luke Skywalker and Dash Rendar intercepted the Imperial Freighter Suprosa, which supposedly held computers containing the plans. The operation was a success, but led to the deaths of many of the Bothan operatives.
Another team of Bothan spies verified the location of the Death Star’s construction site as the forest moon of Endor, which prompted the Alliance to mount an offensive before the station could become operational. A covert strike team consisting of General Han Solo, Chewbacca, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Rebel commandos were send down to Endor’s surface to disable a shield protecting the Death Star, allowing for the Rebel fleet led by Admiral Ackbar and Lando Calrissian to close in and destroy the station.
The operation played right into the hands of Emperor Palpatine, who ambushed the Rebels from behind with a fleet of Star Destroyers. The resulting battle proved costly for the Rebels, but a group of fighters managed to fly into the station’s exposed superstructure and destroy its power generator. The Death Star was destroyed and the Imperial fleet retreated.
What does the Expanded Universe tell us about the Death Star II in the new continuity?
Aside from some backstory regarding construction, the second Death Star is pretty much the same in both continuities. Whether that will stay the status quo depends on what the new canon puts in the timeline between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Previously, we have Shadows of the Empire to fill the gap and provide details regarding how the Rebels heard about the Death Star, but with the restructuring of canon, we’ll have to wait and see what the new story is.
As for what happens after the second Death Star is destroyed, it seems the book Star Wars: Aftermath will be devoted to that very issue… so keep an eye out of that one on September 4th.