Are you ready for Star Wars: The Force Awakens? You better be, because we're about to get a barrage of images and footage in the final four months leading up to its release this December. And it all starts with the latest issue of Empire Magazine. They have two covers heading our way, the first of which they are sharing today. It features the long-awaited sequel's main lineup of new villains.

The dark side rises on the first of these two Empire covers. Though, as you probably already know, the vast evil army that stretches throughout the galaxy is no longer known as the Empire. After the fall of the second Death Star in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, the remaining troops spread throughout the universe regrouped to form the New Order. And while this vast dictatorship is mostly made up of Stormtroopers, someone still has to lead them.

This latest Star Wars: The Force Awakens image puts Kylo Ren at the forefront of the action. Played by franchise newcomer Adam Driver, this villain is not a Dark Lord of the Sith, as previously believed. He belongs to the Knights of Ren. He is obsessed with Darth Vader, and collects artifacts from both the Sith and Jedi. One of his most prized possessions, which he will retrieve at any cost, is Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber. This is the same lightsaber that belonged to Luke Skywalker, which was lost during the battle with his father on Bespin. The lightsaber is now in the possession of Princess Leia.

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Flanking Kylo Ren on the right is Captain Phasma, played by Gwendoline Christie, who is obsessed with hunting down and killing the AWOL Stormtrooper Finn, played by John Boyega. He has gotten his hands on Luke's old lightsaber, and will attempt to return it to its rightful owner at any cost. Though, even with the help of new Jakku friend Rey (Daisy Ridley), his mission will be nearly impossible, as he will have General Hux on his tail, trying to evade capture by the New Order. Hux is the third villain seen in this latest image, portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson.

While we only get to see this teaser at the moment, the full October issue of Empire Magazine will hit newsstands August 27, Thursday of next week. We can expect to see the second cover featuring the heroes, along with more photos and information over the next few days. The issue promises an in-depth interview with director J.J. Abrams, plus a look at several other movies heading our way this fall.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is set 30 years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, and features a new generation of swashbuckling heroes and shadowy villains, as well as the return of fan-favorite smugglers, princesses, and Jedi. Starring Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Max von Sydow, Lupita Nyong'o, Gwendoline Christie, Crystal Clarke, Pip Anderson, Christina Chong and Miltos Yerolemou, the sequel hits theaters in December 18, 2015. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will be the first spinoff, which is coming our way December 16, 2016. Then Star Wars: Episode VIII is coming on May 26, 2017, and Star Wars Anthology: Han Solo Movie debuts on May 25, 2018. Take a look at the first of Empire's two gatefold covers.

Star Wars Force Awakens Empire Cover

B. Alan Orange