Comics: Star Wars – Obi-Wan and Anakin

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A little late with this review, so I apologize. But here are my thoughts on the Marvel Comics: Obi-Wan and Anakin mini-series. This was a five-issue event that ran from January to May of this year. The story focuses on an adventure shared between both Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi and is set during the early days of Anakin’s apprenticeship.

In the story, our heroes find themselves stranded on an alien planet in the midst of a civil war between two semi-primitive factions. Anakin and Obi-Wan must work together to unite the warring groups and secure their escape.

Hidden amidst the main plot, are some very interesting glimpses into the nature of Obi-Wan’s relationship with Anakin in the early days of his training. It also sheds some light on the origins of Anakin’s relationship with Palpatine, a subject that is a huge fascination with many fans. Despite what initially appears to be a fairly generic storyline, Marvel did a fine job weaving in details that hardcore fans will be eager to soak up.

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Artwork: This book has a very modern art style. Similar to that of the main Star Wars series. Crisp and clean with good use of color.

Story: Set between Episodes I and II, that’s a surprising amount of information packed into this series. Hints are given into Obi-Wan’s private thoughts on the state of the Jedi Order and well as a surprising reveal regarding Anakin’s intentions in the early days of this training.

Recommended:  Yes. This is a great mini-series and a prime example of the new canon done right. Fans of the prequel trilogy will really enjoy this title, but in truth is appeals to nearly any Star Wars fan.

Star Wars: Battlefront – Twilight Company

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I know I’ve been slacking in my Star Wars canon reviews lately. I’ve been reading, but not posting. That means this entry for Battlefront: Twilight Company is a little behind schedule. – Sorry.

What we have here is an interesting entry into the new Star Wars line-up. Battlefront: Twilight Company is a novel intended to tie-in with the Star Wars Battlefront video game. But in reality, has little to do with the game itself. Instead, we have what is essentially a war novel that goes behind the scenes of many of the battles we’ve seen in the Star Wars series. Now, that’s not a bad thing at all. But to me, the way the story is presented didn’t really have that “Star Wars” feel. I felt like the guts of the story could have easily been inserted into any war of the author’s choosing with little work.

The book follows a number of rebel grunt-soldiers during various battles in the war against the Empire. The action is fast paced, and the dark and gritty presentation is very well done. But there’s really nothing in the novel that makes it required reading for casual fan. In my opinion, this novel would be best enjoyed by fans of other war novels and the hardcore Star Wars fanbase.

Story: The book is well written, albeit a little confusing at times. The characters are interesting, but plentiful. Almost to the point of detracting from the plot.

Recommended:  FOR HARDCORE FANS. – Again, this is a sci-fi war novel first, a subplot to Star Wars second. If you’re on the fence, this is certainly a skip-able entry in the new canon, but don’t misunderstand – the story is certainly enjoyable.

Comics: Star Wars -C3PO

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So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that there was a new Star Wars movie recently. In this film, we see one of our favorite robotic Star Wars characters, C3PO, sporting a strange looking red arm. The arm is mentioned in the film as a bit of a side note, but no explanation was given regarding its origins… until now.

Marvel has produced a one-shot C3PO comic book that provides a bit of backstory on the mysterious origins of the scarlet appendage. The books is fairly short, and is centered upon a scenario in which C3PO and a number of other droids embark on a bit of an adventure. I don’t want to say much more or I risk giving away a bit of the story. But I will tell you that there’s actually a lot more insight into the inner workings of droids provided here than one might expect. I found the story to be both entertaining and touching.

So if you were on the fence, wondering just how entertaining a comic featuring a handful or robots might be, you can place your fears to rest. This comic is surprisingly well done.

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Artwork: The art in this book has a dark and gritty feel to it, which seemed a bit off to me. But, it is well done.

Story: Set shortly before the events of EP VII, this story focuses on the working relationship between droids, and serves as an explanation for C3POs strange red arm.

Recommended:  Yes. For $4.00, this book is worth the price. There’s really nothing groundbreaking here, so I can’t really call it a must-read. But fans should find something enjoyable here.

Star Wars: Before the Awakening

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By now, I’m sure that everyone who wants to has seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As far as the film goes, I’m waiting for the home release next month before talking about the movie itself, but in keeping with my tradition of reviewing Star Wars novels, I wanted to take a moment to discuss “Before the Awakening”.

Marketed towards young adults, Before the Awakening is truly a must read for any Star Wars fan. This book is actually a collection of three short stories. Each story focusing on the characters of Finn, Rey, and Poe – just before the events of the Force Awakens. The stories do a wonderful job of providing just enough backstory on the characters to flesh them out a bit without ruining any of the real mystery behind the characters themselves.

I burned through this book in the course of one evening and I was thoroughly entertained the entire time. If you can’t enough of this new generation of Star Wars, do yourself a favor and grab this collection. It can be found for under $10 on Amazon and at most retailers.

Story: All three tales are fantastic. I found Rey’s story to be my favorite. But I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes insights on both Finn and Poe’s origins as well. Great stuff.

Recommended:  FOR ALL FANS. – If you enjoyed the Force Awakens, this book is for you. If you want more of a Star Wars fix, don’t hesitate. This book is well worth your time.

Comics: Star Wars – Chewbacca (Mini Series)

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I know I’m a bit late on this post. But with the flurry of Star Wars posts coming to a head back in December, I thought it would be best to give things in the Star Wars universe a bit of breathing room. Happily, we’ve all had a few months to decompress, so I’m finally ready to share my thoughts on Marvel’s Chewbacca mini-series.

When this comic was announced, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I like Chewbacca just as much as any other Star Wars fan, but it seems awfully difficult to center an entire 5-part mini-series around the character. Then when I learned that Chewy’s dialogue would remain un-translated (when he roars, it literally just says “Roooaaaaar!”) – I began to wonder even harder how they would manage to pull this off.  —  It wasn’t pretty.

The story in this book takes place shortly after the events of Episode IV. It features Chewbacca running a solo errand when he gets caught up in an Imperial situation on a remote planet. Teaming up with a young local girl, Chewy puts in some pro-bono work by helping a group of citizens strike at their Imperial oppressors. The problem is, the story itself is only mildly interesting and the characters introduced in the book are forgettable at best.

I can’t say that this series is particularly bad. But, it really seems unimportant in the overall scheme of things. In a nutshell, it’s just not very interesting and the execution feels flawed. This might be the first real dud in the new Marvel Star Wars lineup.

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Artwork: Good. The art here is well done, but nothing spectacular.

Story: Besides a little bit of fan service in the final issue, there’s little here that I actually found interesting. The Empire is still evil and oppressive, Chewbacca’s actions reflect his good nature, etc. All things we’ve seen before. I would have liked to see Marvel take this opportunity to explore more about the Wookiee homeworld or reflect a bit on Chewbacca’s relationship with Han Solo instead of what seems like shoe-horning him into this brief adventure.

Recommended:  No. I can’t really recommend spending your money on this title unless you’re a hardcore Star Wars collector.

Star Wars: Journey to The Force Awakens (Young Adult Trilogy)

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Amidst the madness that is the holiday season, home repairs and everything else I finally managed to read all three of the “Young Adult” Star Wars novels that were released last month. These books, unlike Lost Stars, are truly aimed towards younger readers both in size and content/vocabulary. But I’m happy to report that this fact doesn’t make them any less worthy of a read. The writing and content of all three of these books are surprisingly excellent.

These novels are truly companions to each other in more ways than one. First, each book starts with a short prologue, which actually takes place in between Episode VI and VII. This is usually done a vehicle in which to look back at a “tale of yesteryear” which is where the actual story of the novel takes place. During this prologue (and  epilogue) we are given some hints and glimpses as to the state of our favorite heroes in a post-RotJ setting. This is very well done, and extremely exciting for any Star Wars fan who is eagerly awaiting the upcoming movie.

The first book I read was “Weapon of a Jedi”. This is an adventure that focuses on Luke Skywalker and is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes back. In it, we see a version of Luke that is just beginning to emerge from his phase as a naïve farm boy into a more inquisitive adult who is desperate to learn anything he can about the legacy of the Jedi. This book seems to take place sometime around the events of the Star Wars comic book by Marvel and the Heir to the Jedi novel. In my opinion, despite being aimed at younger readers, this book  is actually a much better portrayal of Luke in this time period than Heir to the Jedi. There’s no noodle scooting to be found here.

The second I picked up was “Smuggler’s Run”. This novel focuses on Han Solo and Chewbacca. It is also set around the same timeframe, between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes back. This book is fantastic. It captures the persona of Han Solo from this time period perfectly and has a surprising amount of action and storytelling packed into such a short book. This is easily my favorite of the three.

Finally, I read “Moving Target”. This book, unlike the others, is set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. This novel focuses largely on Princess Leia. It provides some really good insight into just what role she played in the rebellion as well as gives some backstory on the events directly leading up to RotJ. There’s also a small appearance here by Luke Skywalker that I found quite interesting. This book is probably my second favorite of the trilogy.

All in all, these books are worth reading even if you’re an adult. They may be aimed at a younger audience, but they are not watered down in any way. Aside from their size, they read just like any adult Star Wars fiction. You can tell just how much dedication and though the authors put behind these novels. In my opinion, they really make a great lead in to the new film, which is now less than ten days away.

Due to their size and simultaneous release, I’m reviewing these together.

Story: Surprisingly thoughtful and well written. Great for old fans of the series and anyone looking forward to the new film. Each book focuses on a specific character from the original trilogy.

Recommended:  FOR ALL FANS

Star Wars: Lost Stars

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Just the other day, I finally finished the next book on my Star Wars “to-read” list; Lost Stars.  This book was marketed as a young adult novel, but it is anything but. If you’ve been on the fence about this one for that reason, cast aside all doubt and dive in. Lost Stars is eloquently written and it’s actually one of the more “adult” Star Wars novels I’ve ever read.

The book starts between Episode III and IV, and follows the lives of two childhood friends who meet in the early days of the Empire. Throughout the story, you see as they grow and mature, eventually enlisting in Imperial service. Essentially, this ends up becoming a romance story that takes place during the time of the Original Trilogy. We get to see key events such as the Battle of Yavin, Hoth, Endor, and even the new famed Battle of Jakku – all through the eyes of these two characters. While this could easily end up feeling forced, the author does a wonderful job of making this work. The characters of Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree are WONDERFUL additions to the Star Wars universe.

When I say this novel is “adult”, I mean that all aspects of the relationship between these characters is explored. Even the subject of sexual activity is covered here, but it very tastefully done. Regardless, this was not something I expected from a novel being marketed as “young adult”. For many, the subject matter and sheer size of the book itself may seem a little off-putting. Romance is not a subject one typically thinks of when picking up a Star Wars novel, but it works very well here. Don’t let this fool you. This is a fantastic read.  All that aside, a lot of this book features behind-the-scenes detail of already familiar events, from an Imperial perspective. This alone ends up being a very interesting part of the novel. I can’t recommend this one enough. In many ways, this book serves as a better set up to Episode VII than even “Aftermath”.

I can only hope that we will see more of the lead characters presented here in future works, maybe even Episode VII…

Story: Excellent plotline. The author does a great job of introducing two new characters and actually make you care about them. Not to mention, the storytelling is second-to-none.

Recommended:  FOR ALL FANS (Guys, if your wife/girlfriend typically only reads “girly-books” – this might make a good launching point into Star Wars fiction for her.)

Comics: Star Wars – Shattered Empire (mini-series)

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In one month Star Wars: The Force Awakens will hit theaters worldwide. The hype is real. So now is the time to catch up on all the Star Wars media you can. A great place to start is right here with the Shattered Empire mini-series from Marvel.

Shattered Empire picks up during the final scenes of Return of the Jedi and follows our heroes on their adventures immediately after. Of course, all of the expected faces are seen during the four-issues that make up Shattered Empire; Han Solo, Luke Sky Walker, etc. But we’re also introduced to two new characters; Shara Bey and her husband, Kes Dameron.  If you’ve been paying attention to the character bios from the upcoming movie, you may recognize the name “Dameron”. Episode VII features a character by name of Poe Dameron. So, it’s a logical conclusion that these new characters are his parents. But, who knows for sure. We’ll have to wait and see.

There’s so much packed into the four issues that I’d love to dive into, but discussing them here would be a disservice. It’s killing me not to talk about the hologram of the….  nevermind….   or how Leia seems to have a….   nevermind.  I’d better stop now. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, this mini-series is a MUST READ. So many new questions are ignited just through this book alone. I’m eager to see how much of what is presented here ties in to the new movie. So if that’s your cup of tea, Shattered Empire makes for a great read.

The four issues are combined into a trade paperback that goes on sale tomorrow.

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Artwork: Excellent. The art in this book is very modern and standard for today’s books. Some of the best in the Marvel Star Wars prints so far.

Story: This story serves as both a finishing touch to the original trilogy, while also planting some of the basic seeds for what may be coming with Episode VII. How much remains to be seen. But I have feeling revisiting this mini-series after the movie is released will be very enlightening.

Recommended:  Yes. This book is a must read for any Star Wars fan. Those who are fans of the original trilogy and are looking forward to the new film should not hesitate to make this purchase.

Comics: Star Wars – Lando (miniseries)

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As we draw ever closer to the release of the new Star Wars movie, another Star Wars/Marvel miniseries has come to a close. This month saw the final issue of the Lando short-run, and I must say, this was a really great book.

At first, I wasn’t too sure just how good a comic featuring a character such as Lando Calrissian would be. I mean, I like Lando. He’s a great character. But I wasn’t sure if he’d be able to headline his own title. Years ago I read a few of the EU Lando novels and I felt that they left a bit to be desired. I’m happy to say that my fears were completely unfounded. This miniseries was absolutely fantastic. The team at Marvel have done a great job at capturing the persona of Lando. His wit and slick persona are perfectly represented here. On top of that, we have an excellent story that reels you in completely. I found myself waiting impatiently each month for the new issue to drop.

As usual, I don’t want to risk spoiling any of the story here. But we do get to see and learn a bit more about Lando’s sidekick, Lobot. We also get a bit of insight into Lando’s real personality and moral compass. (Moreso than we we see in the films.) Of course, there’s still plenty of smooth-talking scoundrel to go around.

All in all, this is really a great book from Lucasfilm and Marvel.

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Artwork: The art here is a very “paintish”, cell-shaded type style. Not my favorite type of comic book art, but it’s well done and fit’s the content nicely.

Story: The storyline is great! No spoilers, but the plot centers on Lando and his team taking on a heist that ends up being way more than they bargained for. Surprisingly, quite a bit of good lore here as well.

Recommended:  Yes. This is a book that’s very accessible to almost anyone, but OT and Lando fans especially will find a lot of enjoyment.