The new issue of Empire has a really fascinating quote on Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Says J.J. Abrams:
He was critical in the seduction of Ren to the dark side. He is a hugely important part of the story and will continue to be.
So whatever Kylo Ren’s backstory ends up being, Snoke was the guy that tempted him over to the dark side of the Force. (Yeah, it was sort of a given, but at the same time, there could have been more to it.) Kylo Ren is brought over by Snoke. That’s cool we know that.
In other news, Maz Kanata’s castle is festooned with flags that chart a history of Star Wars tribes and factions. Abrams says:
She has been a smuggler for a long time and has been running this watering hole for a thousand years. She is the sort of barkeep you go to for help.
We have heard similar things about Maz officially. But it also confirms a little about why the heroes go to her specifically. It is also noted that Han reveals he believes in the Force at the same place he tried to debunk its existence as a young man.
The new Empire features a couple of new cool covers, too.