Audiences are less than four months away from the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and J.J. Abrams and his crew are still keeping certain things under wraps (we still haven’t seen Luke Skywalker in full Jedi Master regalia, for example). On the eve of Disney’s D23 fan convention, Entertainment Weekly has published 12 exclusive photos from the newest entry in George Lucas’ space opera series. In the accompanying interview, the notoriously tight-lipped Abrams dropped a few hints that may lead to bigger revelations, or may simply be dark side trickery.

The pictures are more than likely from the first half of the film which apparently features lots and lots of movement and very little discussions on trade routes. There’s a new shot of Finn and Rey on the move from First Order Stomtroopers that implies that this movie is probably going to literally get off to a running start. The costuming on both our heroes seems so perfectly Star Wars: earth tones and plenty of grit and grime. This is also quite visible in this shot of Rey rescuing BB-8 from a scavenger on a creature with a big ol’ helmet:

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The only new classic character reveal in this round of photos is C-3PO, who is now sporting a red left arm. (It’s only a matter of time before every character in Star Wars loses an limb, so why should a droid be any different?) It’s a nod to Star Wars fanatics sure, but also just a little detail that exemplifies that great used and abused universe that the Star Wars faithful love:

The new shots of Captain Phasma and Poe Dameron don’t really bring much to the table, even if Phasma’s cape and the sight of an X-Wing flight suit are undeniably cool. However, a black X-Wing fighter can be seen in the background of the Dameron pic, indicating that Abrams and the team at Disney have been mining old Ralph McQuarrie designs for the new film. (Perhaps they’re rifling through the Kenner archives as well: There was a tandem X-Wing planned for the Kenner Star Wars line in 1985 that never made it into production.)

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EW has also given the public their first look at General Hux, one of the big bads of the new film. The Force Awakens appears to be chock full of villains; the new First Order uniform plays on the Nazi-influenced Empire tunics, but there’s something about that long, black, coat resting on the General’s shoulders that just feels so downright smug and evil. Also, look at that set. That’s Star Wars:

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The most interesting reveal of the article is some of the insight that both Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasdan give into the character of Kylo Ren, seen here flanked by First Order Stormtroopers after destroying a Jakku village:

Apparently Kylo Ren, portrayed by Adam Driver, loves Darth Vader and loves his show: “The movie explains the organs of [Kylo’s] mask and where it’s from, but the design was meant to be a nod to the Vader mask.” Abrams says. On the subject of the name, Abrams continues, “He is a character who came to the name Kylo Ren when he joined a group called the Knights Of Ren.” So if Ren’s not his real name—simply a title like “Darth”— then what is? Solo? Skywalker? The good money is on Skywalker, because everyone seems to be related to that dysfunctional family.

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“I’ve written four Star Wars movies now,” says Kasdan who penned Empire, Jedi, Awakens, and the new young Han Solo adventure, “and there’s never been a character quite like the one that Adam plays. I think you’re going to see something that’s brand new to the saga. He’s full of emotion.”

Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens opens December 18th, and you can see the rest of EW’s exclusive photo set over on its website.