The next great villain from a galaxy far, far away is here. Fans attending Lucasfilm's Star Wars Rebels panel today at New York Comic Con got the world's first look at the Inquisitor, a black-clad, intimidating figure who will play a prominent role in the upcoming animated series. In a special video (available below) screened at the end of the panel, Star Wars Rebels executive producer Dave Filoni officially revealed the character, showing a sculpted maquette, design sketches, and disclosing that the Inquisitor is "tasked by Darth Vader to hunt down the remaining Jedi Knights."
The panel, hosted by Lucasfilm's Pablo Hidalgo, focused on the Empire and how it is central to the story of Star Wars Rebels. Hidalgo revealed that the series takes place about 14 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, a time in which the Emperor's rule is secure and the Empire is seeking to expand its power to Outer Rim territories. That leads Imperial forces to Lothal, a poor planet that initially welcomes the Empire on the promise of security and prosperity. It soon becomes obvious, however, that the Empire does not have Lothal's best interests at heart, as the Imperials exploit its people and begin recruiting young citizens to join TIE fighter and Stormtrooper academies, or to work in the Sienar Fleet Systems factory -- which builds TIE fighters -- in the planet's capital. Hidalgo showed new art focusing on Lothal, including the planet itself, a town, and alleyways, as well as an Empire recruitment poster.
The show is fully embracing the Star Wars legacy, taking direct inspiration from the original trilogy and its concept artist Ralph McQuarrie. Hidalgo displayed new Star Wars Rebels imagery and animation models for Stormtroopers, Star Destroyers, TIE fighters, and TIE fighter pilots, all of which fit seamlessly with classic Star Wars. Additionally, Hidalgo introduced several new Imperial vehicles and designs created for the series: the All Terrain Defense Pod (AT-DP), a ground attack walker based on an early Joe Johnston (the filmmaker who designed Boba Fett's armor and speeder bikes, and made other major contributions to Star Wars) illustration from 1979; the new AT-DP pilot, which blends designs of the classic AT-AT walker driver from Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and the AT-ST walker pilot from Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi; the Imperial Troop Transport, which comes from an early Kenner toy that was actually not based on designs from the films; and the Imperial freighter, a reimagining of an Imperial-style craft designed for Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace by concept artist Doug Chiang, featuring a dock to transport TIE fighters from system to system.
If anything was made clear at today's panel, it's that the Empire is back -- thanks to Star Wars Rebels.
Star Wars Rebels is scheduled to premiere in fall 2014 as a one-hour special telecast on Disney Channel and will be followed by a series on Disney XD channels around the world.