Star Wars: Aftermath

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The first post-Return of the Jedi novel in the new Star Wars cannon is here! Star Wars Aftermath. Without spoiling too much the book, I’m going to do my best to share my thoughts on this crucial entry in the Star Wars universe.

First, let’s talk about what this book is and isn’t. While this story does take place shortly after RoTJ, it is not exactly a bridge to the upcoming Episode VII. This book is the first in what will be known as the “Aftermath Trilogy”. Part 2 and 3 will come out after the release of VII. In this entry, we get to see the state of the galaxy immediately after the fall of the Emperor. The uprising that is taking place, the political position of both the New Republic (alliance) and the fractured Imperial remnants.

The book focuses mostly on new characters, but there are some familiar faces. Wedge Antilles plays a large role in the novel, and we also get a few short insights into some other popular characters. What stands out most about this book, and also what happens to be the source of much criticism, is the writing style. I’ve never read any other works by this author, Chuck Wendig. To be honest, unless he writes more Star Wars, I probably won’t again. The pace of the writing is very odd and it reads very strange. It is unnecessarily punchy and at times feels unprofessional. The effect of this does give the book a somewhat cinematic feel, which is interesting, but overall I found it to be very distracting.

I often found myself reading the story and being very into what I was reading, only to encounter a page break followed by a brief description of new un-introduced characters involved in some other  event. Then, as soon as that is over, these characters are never heard from again. I get what the author is trying to do. Yes, there’s the main story of Aftermath, but peppered in are also insights to what is going on in other parts of the galaxy. This is actually a pretty neat idea, but I feel that it should have been structured a bit better. I don’t know. Odd.

In terms of the story itself, I found the plot of Aftermath to be quite interesting. I enjoyed the overall story-arch as well as the characters that were introduced. For the first time ever, I found myself actually liking the prequel-era Battle Droids. (If you read, you’ll see what I mean). I’m very interested to see if any of these characters will make an appearance in Episode VII. (I do have some suspicions about one of them.)

Overall, despite some flaws in the writing, this is pretty much a must read for any hardcore Star Wars fan.

Story: Great plot and lore into the final days of the Empire and the rise of the New Republic. The writing style takes some getting used to.

Recommended:  FOR ALL FANS

Star Wars: Dark Disciple

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September is nearly upon us and with it comes a torrent of new Star Wars novels. In fact, in many ways, September will herald the beginning of the official Star Wars Episode VII hype. The new novels will bear the tagline: Journey to the Force Awakens, as will a slew of new comic books. So, in preparation for the upcoming flood I have finally caught up with the latest novel in the official Star Wars canon: Dark Disciple.

Here we have a Clone Wars-era novel. In fact, the story contained in this book was based on an arc written, but never aired for the final season of the Clone Wars television show. The book focuses on character Quinlan Vos, a Jedi Master who teams up with the unlikely ally of Asajj Ventress. For those unaware, Ventress was a former sith apprentice of Count Dooku who ended up turning on her master and going rogue. In this book, the Jedi order have decided to take the rather unorthodox step of assassinating Dooku in attempts to end the war. To do so, they send Vos undercover to seek out and befriend Ventress in attempt to take out her former master.

I must say, when it comes to Star Wars, I was never very passionate of the Clone Wars television series. It certainly had its moments, but overall I felt it never really stood up well against the films themselves. As a result, I was not expecting much when I started reading this book. I’m happy to report, that I was dead wrong. I loved this book. In fact, I daresay that Dark Disciple has been my favorite out of all the new Star Wars novels released thus far. The characters of Quinlan Vos and Asajj Ventress are so well represented in this book, that it makes me want to give Clone Wars another watch just to see if perhaps I was missing something the first time around. I would love elaborate on that more, but I fear by doing so I might give away some really great plot points of the book. It is truly an amazing read.

The book started off a bit slow at first, but by around 30% of the way in, I was hooked. If you’re a fan of the Clone Wars era, this book is a no-brainer. You must read it. Even if you’re not, there is some really enjoyable content here.

Story: The final season of Clone Wars was amazing, this book, like the Darth Maul comic continues that trend. Christie Golden is an amazing author. Very readable. Classic Star Wars.

Recommended:  FOR ALL FANS

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith

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With all the Star Wars printed media flooding the market currently, I’ve found myself slow to consume all of it. But finally, I have finish this latest novel in the new Star Wars universe and I’m happy to share my thoughts on Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp.

This novel takes place shortly after the events in Episode III, but before the events in the Star Wars Rebels television series. It focuses mostly on a small rebel cell on the planet of Ryloth. This group is led by Cham Syndulla, a character from The Clone Wars television series (and father of Hera from Rebels) as he leads a small guerilla effort against the Imperial forces that occupy his planet. Through an interesting twist of events, he learns that his planet is scheduled to be visited by none other than Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader themselves. As a result, he conceives a plan to strike at the very head of the Empire.

In many ways, this book helps to bridge together several parts of Star Wars lore. It helps lay the groundwork the Rebels TV show while linking characters from that show to characters from The Clone Wars. It also shows the characters of Darth Vader and Palpatine in a post-prequel trilogy timeframe but with strong references to Anakin’s past. Again, the author does a good job of trying to bring both trilogies in one cohesive story without overdoing it. Seeing the Emperor and Vader together in a potentially dangerous situation, working as a team is quite interesting. But I would have liked to have seen more of this.The relationship between Vader and his master is explored in depth in this book and to me, was probably the most interesting part of the novel.

As far as the story goes, the book starts off a little on the slow side. We spend several chapters getting to know the Twi’leks of Ryloth and their backstory, then we are introduced to a few new Imperial characters. Eventually, the pace picks up when Vader and Palpatine enter the tale and the action doesn’t stop. Overall, I was very pleased with this book and what it contributes to the Star Wars canon. I can easily recommend this one.

Story: Very good insight on both the early days to the Rebellion as well as the relationship between our two favorite Sith Lords.

Recommended:  FOR ALL FANS

 

 

 

Comics: Star Wars – Princess Leia (miniseries)

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July first finally brought us the conclusion of Marvel’s Princess Leia mini-series. I had been waiting for all five issues to drop before diving into this one so that I could consume the whole story at one time. I’m glad I did, because, to be honest it was a very slow moving plot. I feel if I had tried to read these month to month I would have quickly became disinterested.

The comic starts immediately at the end of Episode IV, which I liked. You see the transition from the medal ceremony to the rebels already planning their evacuation of Yavin. I was immediately drawn in by this, but then the comic takes a quick turn as Princess Leia decides to play hooky from the rebellion for a moment to seek out scattered remnants of Alderaan in efforts of recruiting them into the empire. The plot sounds pretty solid, but in execution, it just didn’t feel right to me.

For a number of reasons, this book just didn’t seem to work. The dialogue was off, the writing seemed very “meh”. Not to mention, Leia’s personality in the book just didn’t really feel true to the character portrayed in the films. At least to me. So far, I’d call this the weakest entry Marvel has brought to the table so far. I’m curious to see how the new Lando mini-series will fare. (Starts next week).

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Artwork: Very good. Not as well done as some of the other SW comics out right now. A little cartoonish.

Story: A lot of potential, but I felt like it was very sloppy and unguided.

Recommended:  No. Although a must have for rabid fans and collectors, most people could skip this and not miss anything of value, in my opinion.

Comics: Star Wars – Kanan #1

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I’m a little late getting this review out. But considering all the work that has gone into the new site, I think it is forgivable.

So far, when it comes to comics and Star Wars, we have a number of things going on. First, we have the main Star Wars comic. Next, we have Darth Vader. There’s also a Princess Leia mini-series (which I plan to review upon its conclusion). Next in the ongoing category is the new title: Kanan: The Last Padawan.

This comic focuses on Kanan, one of the lead characters from the Star Wars Rebels television show. Kanan was once a young Jedi in training around the time of the Clone Wars. During the purge of the Jedi, his master was killed but Kanan managed to escape. Ever since, he’s been a scoundrel of sorts. Hiding away any trace of his Jedi heritage. This comic aims to tell the story of Kanan during the aftermath of the Clone Wars and beyond.  It’s a prequel to both Star Wars Rebels and the novel A New Dawn. So far, the title is off to a good start. The art work is well done, (matches that of the tv show to a good extent), and so far based on this debut issue, the writing is also top notch.

Being a new character in the Star Wars universe, having a whole book dedicated to Kanan may seem like a bit of a gamble.  But so far, I’m very impressed. I look forward to seeing just where Marvel plans to go with this title. If you’re interested at all in the events between the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, this book seems to be a good entry point.

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Artwork: Excellent. Very well drawn. Good use of color.

Story: Stars off strong. A solid first issue filled with suspense. Good Star Wars storytelling.

Recommended:  Yes. Especially for fans of the prequel era and Star Wars Rebels.

Star Wars: Heir to the Jedi

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Today I share my thoughts on the newest Star Wars novel, Heir to the Jedi. This is another big release that I have been eagerly awaiting since the original announcement. This novel is set between Episode IV and V, and focuses on Luke Skywalker as he works for the rebellion and learns to develop his abilities with the force. This is a topic that has always fascinated me. When we last see Luke in Episode IV, he has only the most rudimentary understanding of the force as a whole. Yet by the time we catch up with him in Episode V, he has seemingly learned the secrets of telekinesis. Finally, we have an official account of just where he learned that ability! Sadly… the way this plays out in the novel is not exactly what I and many fans were hoping for.

Before diving into that topic, I should also mention that this book is written in the first-person, which is a bit of an oddity for a Star Wars novel. But it was actually a decision that excited me quite a bit. I enjoy first-person narratives and the idea of getting into the head of Luke Skywalker seems too good to pass up. All in all, this works well for the book. The author does seem to capture a “voice” for Luke that seems fitting.

WARNING: The rest of this post may reveal some minor spoilers about the contents of the book.

The novel mostly focuses on Luke as he runs various errands for the rebellion. During the course of his adventures, he visits a few planets and even manages to obtain an old lightsaber that belonged to a late Jedi. He takes this opportunity to disassemble it and learns a bit about the construction of the weapon. He notices that the construct of the saber requires precision far beyond what most people would naturally posses. It is during this time, that Luke realizes perhaps Jedi Knights used the force to help assemble these delicate weapons.

During the book, Luke encounters a young woman who becomes a brief but important love interest. It is through her encouragement that he attempts to expand his mastery of the force through meditation and self exploration instead of searching in vain for someone to teach him. At one point, while the two of them are sharing a meal together, she slaps a noodle down on the table and suggests that Luke attempts to move it—- using the force. That’s right. Luke’s first attempt at telekinesis is laughably wasted on… a noodle.

Now, I’m not an author. But I’m sure I could have come up with at least 500 better options than scooting noodles across the table. Hell, a loose patch of rocks on the side of road seems like a better option than some slimy noodle out of a takeout box.

To add insult to injury, after Luke manages to twitch the noodle a bit using his mind, his dinner-date has the audacity to exclaim; “Oh, look at you! You little noodle-scooter!”   I shit you not.

Despite this grave offense, the book is overall well done. Which may actually make this situation even worse. I mean, I have looked at this from multiple angles and I’ve tried to be objective. I understand that one might naturally practice an ability like this using a mundane object. But for some reason using noodles just seems silly and comedic. I mean, even using trying to move his fork would have been better. I don’t know. I’ll drop it here. Maybe it’s not that big of a deal. It just struck me as stupid.

Content-wise, the book is average. There are few very interesting passages to be sure, but overall it didn’t seem to reach the level of either A New Dawn or Tarkin. This is disappointing due to the high hopes I had for the book.

Side note: before the announcement of the new canon, this book was scheduled to be the third part of a loose-trilogy called Empire and Rebellion. This series of books are all three set between Episode IV and V and each one focuses on a particular character. Razor’s Edge was the first entry in the series and is essentially a Leia novel. (I didn’t care much for this one). Honor Among Thieves is the second entry and features Han Solo and Chewbacca as the main characters. (This was a fantastic book!). Of course now, both of these are part of the “Legends” branch and are not considered part of the official Star Wars timeline. (Although its highly unlikely anything in these novels could or would ever be trumped by the new movies).

All in all. Heir to the Jedi is a decent, but flawed book. If you’re a fan, it is certainly worth your time to read despite having a few cringe-worthy moments.

Story: Interesting concept and narrative. Contains new and familiar locations and races. A bit silly at times, unnecessarily so.

Recommended:  FOR FANS

Star Wars: Rebels – Season 1

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The first season of Star Wars Rebels has come to an end. So here are my thoughts on the show thus far. Overall, I feel the show has been a success but with a few minor rough edges.

The first half of the season seemed a bit directionless. I understand the goal of the first few episodes are to establish characters and upcoming plot points, but even so, I was left feeling like it dragged by. A big point of controversy, was with the re-airing of the pilot on ABC. The ABC version was a re-cut that featured James Earl Jones reprising his role as Darth Vader. Many fans missed this awesome scene as a result. For the record, this is NOT the version of the episode that is available for purchase on DVD. So fans may want to wait for a definitive season one package to finally see this version of the first episode.

By mid-season, the show has started to pick up and we were treated to a Bill Dee Williams cameo, reprising his role of Lando. While it was nice to see Lando again, I have to admit that this felt a little forced. Thankfully, the show finished strong with the last 3 or 4 episodes being simply amazing. Since the finale is almost a week old, I’ll go ahead and post some spoilers:

In the finale, we learn that a band of “rebels” are not alone. They are but a single cell in the larger network. Ie: The Rebellion we all know and love. We find that this rebellion is indeed lead by Bail Organa and also features…. Ashoka Tano! Yes, one of our favorite characters from The Clone Wars has finally made her return and now as a full grown adult. Naturally, this leaves fans with many questions. What an excellent set up to season two. The series finale completely turned me around from feeling luke-warm on the series to being full of excitement.

I look forward to getting my hands on a complete season Blu-Ray in the future and binge watching to see if my attitude towards the first half of the season has changed any.

In the meantime, Star Wars fans have a lot to keep themselves occupied with. The third novel in the new continuity was just released, Kevin Hearne’s: Heir to the Jedi. The first issues of Marvel’s the Princess Leia mini-series just dropped, and there’s a handful of new novels scheduled for release in the coming months. December will be here before we know it.

Comics: Star Wars – Darth Vader #1

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So far we’ve had two issues of Marvel’s new Star Wars comic to digest. Now we are served the second course: Darth Vader.

This comic focuses naturally on Darth Vader himself, and is actually told with a bit of an Imperial slant. This will be an ongoing series, much like “Star Wars”. The book takes place shortly after the events of the current Star Wars comic. So it seems that the story is going to run somewhat in tandem with that book, at least at first.

In this first issue, we see Vader visiting some familiar locations. At first, this seems a bit out of place and maybe even forced, but as the story continues to unfold it all begins to make sense. We also see a very iconic character make an appearance here as well. But don’t worry, we’re also introduced to a new villain as well. One who actually seems to be quite interesting. Needless to say, I’m looking very forward to seeing where this story is going to go.

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Artwork: Excellent. Good use of color. I find this book to be much more appealing visually that the current art in the main Star Wars comic.

Story: Masterfully told so far. Of course in an episodic format like this, it can often be hard to make a call until you can read the entire arc. But so far, so good.

Recommended:  YES

Comics: Star Wars – Marvel #1

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After a long wait, it is finally here. Marvel’s Star Wars #1, and it is amazing.

After the news of the Disney acquisition, and the introduction of the official canon; it was widely expected that Marvel would once again obtain the rights to publish Star Wars comic books. Of course, this is exactly what happened. Many Star Wars fans had reservations about the news, due to Marvel’s previous forays into the Star Wars universe. Thankfully, things have really changed in the comic book world since the early 80s, and it soon became obvious that this new book was going to be handled with the attention and respect that it deserved.

I should start by mentioning that there will be several new Star Wars imprints being released by Marvel in the coming months, but right now, we’re going to focus on this one. Marvel’s “Star Wars” is the new flagship title. At this time, the story presented here covers the event between Episode IV and Episode V. The events in issue #1 seem to take place very shortly after the end of A New Hope, maybe be only a few weeks or months.

In this issue, we see Han, Luke, Leia, Chewbacca and the droids infiltrating an Imperial manufacturing facility with the intentions of causing some chaos in the name of the rebellion. Things quickly escalate and Luke ultimately has a very unexpected encounter with Darth Vader. (Who refers to him as “The rebel pilot who destroyed the Death Star”)  — so even to Vader, Luke’s identity is not yet clear.

Even though the summary above may sound a bit trivial, trust me when I say that it is flawlessly executed. I already had a good feeling about the way the new comics were going to be handled, but I was blown away at just how polished every aspect about this book felt. This doesn’t feel like some cheap marketing spin-off. This IS Star Wars. Reading this book, I truly felt like I was finally seeing the events that occurred after episode IV. The story presented here just has a “ring of truth” to it that I’ve not often found in most of the old EU materials. Of course, since all new products are approved by the Lucasarts Storygroup, that’s exactly what we are getting. This is 100% official canon and it is working.

Story aside, the artwork is also very well done. The comic has a very sleek look about it. The coloring is spot on and well done. I’m not sure how I feel about the artist’s rendition on the characters, however. For example, in some panels, Han Solo looks just like Harrison Ford. In others, he looks completely like someone else to the point where I only know it’s him due to his clothing and the context of the story. The same is true for Luke and Leia. But, in the grand scheme of things, this is a very minor gripe.

In a nutshell, if you are die hard Star Wars fan. This comic is a must-read. I can’t wait for issue #2. I’ll be posting more thoughts on this title once the first story arc has completed in a few months. Until then, I’ll be sure to review the new Darth Vader comic premiering next month.

Artwork: Very good. Good use of color. The artist manages to capture the “worn-out” feel of the original trilogy perfectly.

Story: Fantastic. The contents of the new book really feel at home with I’d expect from a post Ep IV storyline. Everything fits, nothing feels forced or hokey. I can’t wait to see more.

Recommended:  YES

Star Wars: Episode 7 Teaser and Rebels

If you’re a Star Wars fan like me, you’ve no doubt seen this already. But here it is, the first teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars movie.

Now, I’m not going to go over the contents of the teaser, picking apart every second of it frame-by-frame. If that’s what you’re interested in, there’s plenty of other sites just for that. I’m just posting the link and sharing my excitement. December 2015 is going to be epic.

To hold us over until then, we have Star Wars Rebels. This is the new animated series airing on Disney XD. It’s created by the same individuals that brought us The Clone Wars. Set a few years before Episode IV, this series follows a band on unlikely heroes as they lash against the oppression of the Empire. Currently, the series is on hiatus, as we’ve reached the mid-season but it will be back with new episodes after the holidays.

Now is a great time to catch up if you’ve not had the pleasure.