Tuesday, May 10, 2016

REVIEW: Poe Dameron #1-2


The Story So Far:

30 years after the battle of Endor, General Leia Organa tasks her best pilot, the titular Poe Dameron, with the formation of a new strike team within the subset of the freedom fighting Resistance.  Poe must track down Lor San Tekka, an explorer that may help the Resistance find the missing Luke Skywalker.  Poe is led to an as yet unnamed planet, to seek out the elusive explorer with his newly formed Black Squadron. Deep within the planets natural spires and caves, Dameron comes across a mystical cult calling themselves the Crèche, whose mission is to care for an enormous blue egg said to contain their savior.  Just as Poe brokers an uneasy truce with the cult, Dameron finds he's been tracked to the planet by the First Order.
Agent Terrex of the First Order leads a squad of Stormtroopers into the egg cult's village. Terrex seeks to flush out Poe Dameron and gain whatever information he has that would lead the First Order to Luke Skywalker....

Issue 1

Artist: Phil Noto

Writer: Charles Soule

Since we're only two issues into this first arc of the series, and I had not written a review for issue number one, I figured I'd lump it in here. If that seems a bit dismissive of that first issue, well, it would deserve it.  The first issue falls flat on its face, HARD, and while both the writing and the art are good, they aren't great.
Phil Noto's lineart is solid, his likeness' of the characters is dead-on,  but his  colors do this book a big disservice. Most of the canyons and terrain look flat and one-dimensional.  Noto's renderings of the star fighters in flight feel a bit stiff as well. You don't get much sense of the tight spaces Poe's flying in, or how dynamic his maneuvers have to be in these situations. Since Poe is, you know, a pilot, it's important to be able to feel that from panel to panel.
Charles Soule's writing, particularly on issue 1, was merely, "OK". It laid the necessary groundwork that an entry into a series has to have.  The characters were introduced, they were set on their way, and danger was introduced.  The characters are true to their on-screen counterparts, and perhaps a bit too on the nose. I can distinctly hear Oscar Isaac's voice coming through in the dialogue. It's the light banter we expect the from the pilot, but it actually clouds us from Soule's tone for the series, (which I'll elaborate on below). The best scene of the book is a bit of a flashback where we get to see General Organa brief Dameron on his upcoming mission, it's serious, and straightforward.  Contrast that later in the issue where we encounter the Crèche and find out they worship a  giant, blue, floating, egg. This harsh change of gears was jarring to say the least, and left me with just one response: "Really!?!"  As the issue wound down, not even the arrival of the First Order could pull this issue out of an intentional nose dive.  I was always going to read the whole series, but definitely felt like it would be a chore. Then issue 2 came out.



Issue 2

Artist: Phil Noto

Writer: Charles Soule

While many of the problems I had with both the writing and art from the first issue, are still present, they are definitely eased by the humor in issue 2.  Right out of the gate, Soule boldly proclaims states his tone for this series, something he seemingly forgot to do in the first issue.  In the very first panel, Agent Terrex blasts his way into the series as the main antagonist.  His pencil thin mustache, and playful attitude with both underlings and prey is some classic villainy.  If that mustache could be twirled, it would have been. His reaction to the Crèche and its giant blue egg is priceless, and a highlight of the issue.  This series' strong points overall continue to be the small flashback sequence where back story is told.  This issue focuses on Terrex and how he fits in to the First Order. It is here we learn that he is a collector of sorts, not only of memorabilia, but of sentient beings as well. All of this housed on his starship, which is also a bit of memorabilia, that followers of all things canon will recognize from James Luceno's Tarkin novel. The issue sadly ends predictably, where Terrex uses Poe's sympathies for the egg cult to force him out of hiding.  Poe and Terrex then engage in a game of "Whose got better 'leverage'", and, of course, they threaten the stupid egg. Despite the telegraphed ending, it was still an enjoyable read, and worth your time. 

Final Thought

Although now halfway through the series, it seems unlikely we'll get off this world (whichever world it is, I still don't think we have a proper name for it). I really hope this blue egg has some massive payoff, either in laughs, or... well, the  best they can hope for is something silly. Which I'm OK with, the lighter tone of this issue really had me grinning while reading it, and if the flashback sequences are as solid in the next two issues, I might actually look forward to finishing out book 1, instead of feeling obligated to purchase it because, you know, Star Wars.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

WILD SPACE FOR CONJECTURE: Kenobi Lovechild?


It's Mother's Day today in the US, and while there's little doubt you've seen countless photos and memes of General Leia Organa, Padme Amidala, or Shmi Skywalker today, let me introduce you to a potential mother to go along with those. 

Satine Kryze.

What's that you say?
Satine never had a child you say?

Well, officially no.  Satine's never been confirmed to have a child; however, Satine has a nephew that is very close to her by the name of Korki Kryze. Korki's portrayed as have a strong sense of justice as well as a keen investigative mind. Much like someone Satine was very close with in her past that had a profound impact on her life.  That person? 

Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Satine and Obi-Wan spent an undetermined amount of time together while Obi-Wan was still apprenticed to Master Qui-Gon Jinn.  In The Clone Wars season 2 episode Voyage of Temptation, Satine confesses her love for Obi-Wan, and Obi-Wan then states that had Satine requested it, Kenobi would have left the Jedi Order to be with her. 

Now here's where the crazy theory comes together. Leaving the Jedi Order is a BIG DEAL, at one time (now Legends) only 20 Jedi had ever left the order.  What, besides love & forbidden attachment, would convince a Jedi Padawan, who has known nothing but the Jedi Order his entire life, to leave everything behind? 

Oh, I don't know... A baby?

OR! 

Perhaps even Satine kept a pregnancy secret, and maybe that ultimately kept Kenobi from actually leaving the Jedi Order, and that unlike Anakin and Padme, they both felt that their responsibilities to those depending on them were just too great.

So Satine, after giving birth to Korki, allows a family member to raise the child, and becomes her "Aunt", so as to keep the boy close.

Obi-Wan is kept in the dark the whole time.

So happy Mother's Day Satine, I'm on to that dirty little secret of yours.


**For the record my significant other, REALLY, REALLY hates this idea. The reason why, I think, is that there is really no way to disprove it.**

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A New Direction

Hello there,

If you're new here, welcome.  If you've been to this blog before, welcome back.  I've decided to jump start this blog once again, with a more focused approach.   I've always been a fan of comic books, and Star Wars so this blog will now focus on the comic book corner of that galaxy far, far away. More coming soon..

-Steve

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hey! the trailer's out

Yeah, I know, I've neglected this blog for a while, however I noticed two things from the trailer I need to get off my chest.  First, in the Daisy Ridley character sequence, the shots used are *not* consecutive.  In the close up, there is what at first looked to me like a sniper rifle of sorts, similar to the rifle Luke carries early on in A New Hope.  On further inspection, one end of the "gun" looks very similar to prequel era lightsabers, particularly Darth Maul's.  Intriguing...


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ding Dong the EU is Dead

I know I've been absent from the blogging scene for a while.  Personal things can really pile up.  However, in case you hadn't noticed, there has been a ton of news as of late.  The first thing that I felt strongly enough to write about was the fact that we now have definitive word on what is now canon, and what is most definitely NOT canon moving forward.  While it is sad to let go of some of the good things the EU may have brought us, make no mistake, this was sorely needed, and a long time coming.

I've let it be known that I lost interest in the EU a long time ago.  How long?  Let's see; In 1991, when Dark Horse published Dark Empire I was ecstatic.  Luke Skywalker was back in a big way, and he was all dark and brooding, and the whole series was set in this very dark version of Star Wars, much like most of the comic book landscape at that time.  I LOVED that series, and it still holds a special place in my heart.  Cam Kennedy's artwork was such a fresh punch in the gut compared to the style the American super hero artists were doing at that time.  It, like Star Wars in general, allowed me to see the commonplace become extraordinary.  I had seen the Heir to the Empire novel at my local comic shop, but I did not immediately want to buy it.  I was happy with my comic book version.  Much later however, I finally relented, and checked out all 3 "Zahn Trilogy" books from my local library.  Now, when I read these books, there were some real red flags that popped out to me.  The idea that Obi-Wan Kenobi, an immortal force ghost, was so quickly written out the story, as well as not a mention of the far more recently deceased Yoda and Anakin who could totally have stuck around and given Luke a helping hand, or at least a bit of guidance in how to continue on.  I digress, whatever small issues I had at that time were just that, small, because OMG NEW STAR WARS.  And that sentiment continued into the next series, the Jedi Academy 3 book cycle by Kevin J Anderson.  This is where the first seed of dissent really took root.  The Jedi Academy books were the first to really attempt to tie together the "Zahn Trilogy", and the comic books that Dark Horse was putting out at the time.  This first big leap, was that Luke Skywalker was now attempting to rebuild the Jedi Order by recruiting force sensitives from the galaxy all the while a new government was attempting to form.  To this day, I find the use of the word "praxeum" nauseating.  It's one of those non-sensical words that Sci-Fi writers love to use.  Which would be fine if Star Wars was Sci-Fi.  It isn't, it's Science-FANTASY, which is a big difference.  Yet the powers that be continued to give these sci-fi writers the reigns to a science-fantasy series, and throughout those years, turned something quite unique into something that looked and sounded like everything else on the market.

Remember the 90s?  Me too, I never left.
By 1996 my interest in the Star Wars EU was at its peak.  The multimedia event known as Shadows of the Empire was in full swing.  I bought into it hook, line, and sinker.  I bought the toys, the RPG book ( I've never played a tabletop RPG in my life) the trading cards, TWO copies of the book, the hardcover and the audiobook.  The comics were of course my favorite of the bunch. Covers by Hugh Fleming, and interior artwork by one of my all time favorite Star Wars artists Kilian Plunkett, and on top of that, it was focused on 90s Star Wars bad boy Boba Fett.  As much as I loved Shadows of the Empire, something just never sat quite right with me.  Dash Rendar, a really lame attempt to have a Han Solo surrogate completely missed the mark. The designs of the Imperial armor used by Lando and Luke on Coruscant just didn't give that Star Wars feel.
Cobraaaa- - oh, wait.
Shadows of the Empire might not have been the last novel or comic I bought from the EU, but it's certainly the last I remember well enough to care about.  One year later, in 1997, I pretty much set the EU aside.  Why you may be asking?  Real Star Wars was back!  The special editions and the knowledge that new films were on the horizon had me back to basics.  The FILM series that started it all.  The core Star Wars universe, with some really great, and facing facts, some not so great moments added in for good measure. See while some believed that Star Wars was almost dead until the "Zahn Trilogy" came along.  Wait. Let me address something here, by calling those books the "Zahn" books, or even the "Thrawn" books, shows the fallacy of thinking from the get go with the EU. Star Wars comes first, always.  Second is George Lucas, and everyone else is a distant third (although Dave Filoni would be my hier to that empire hurr hurr).  Anyway, many of us die hard fans were not waiting for new Star Wars novels, we were perfectly content with mere rumors that George was ready to do new Star Wars films.  The novels and comics were a bonus, pacifiers to keep those with wandering eyes a shiny thing to play with.  

In the lead up to the prequel films I dabbled a little in the comics scene to see what was being prepared for Episode I.  I saw that things were still farcical and still generally off the mark.  What did Dark Horse do right out of the gate with Episode 1 era comics?  They give a Jedi a wife and family.  See ya later EU.  I was gone again while there was pure unadulterated Star Wars to be had.  For all their warts, the prequel films, and later The Clone Wars were George's vision of Star Wars, and when all the chips were down, and lines were drawn in the sand, I stand with the man who created the damn thing.  I'll take Jar Jar Binks ANY DAY over extra galactic beings who don't exist in the Force ( the Force, which is encompasses all living beings, so therefore something like that shouldn't even exist.) 
Yuuzahn Vong, right?  The two "u's" make them clones, correct?
So, now we get to the news that Lucasfilm (not Disney, Disney owns many, many companies, in which Lucasfilm is but one) has made the decision that the new films will not be restrained by what has happened in the multitude of books that have been thrust upon Star Wars fans. It has created the Lucasfilm Story Group to help shepherd the saga into the future by staying true to what STAR WARS is, and not what some sci-fi writer thinks it should be.  Instead they will blaze a new trail, with the EU books of the past being used in much the same way that they were used in the making of The Clone Wars.  A source to draw from, much like the works of Ralph McQuarrie, or Ian McCaig.  The EU is now the equivalent of something you might find in the "Making of Star Wars" books. 

There are ideas and characters I will truly miss by the EU being relegated to its Legend status, but I'm willing to let that go.  The Force Unleashed was one of my favorite star wars works, and Starkiller one of my favorite characters.  Revan, another big loss. The old Ewok and Droids cartoons as well as the live action Ewoks TV movies are now negated, and I thought those were canon all the way up to this announcement because of George Lucas' involvement, especially in the TV movies.

 New material, beginning with a handful of novels as well as the animated series Star Wars Rebels will begin to exapand upon the true canon of the Star Wars universe that could indeed incorporate ideas from past novels, but will not be beholden to entire story lines.  I hope, from a fundamental level, that Story Group rules with an iron fist in keeping with what George laid out for the soul of Star Wars.  It would be a shame if they scrap the old EU for an equally terribly written new one. If they do, I'll ignore that one too, because at it's core, Star Wars is a visual medium.  It's best to remember that.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

"Rebels" May Help Hasbro Out of Its Action Figure Rut

Just in the nick of time, Hasbro jumped through the closing blast doors of 2013 and released a photo from its upcoming Star Wars Rebels toy line.  Not surprisingly, it is the figure of the previously announced character known enigmatically as "the Inquisitor".  Here is what Hasbro and Starwars.com had to say in their announcement on December 30th:
The Inquisitor, the Empire's Jedi hunter and a major new villain in the highly anticipated Star Wars Rebels animated series, was unveiled by Lucasfilm at this year's New York Comic Con. Today, StarWars.com is excited to present the official reveal for the character's first ever 3.75-inch action figure from Hasbro.
The figure -- the first to be seen from the upcoming Star Wars Rebels Saga Legends line -- features five points of articulation, show-accurate accessories, and is sculpted in the art style of the series. Look for the Inquisitor and the Star Wars Rebels Saga Legends line to hit store shelves in fall 2014, and stay tuned for more Star Wars Rebels toy news from Hasbro at international Toy Fairs and here at StarWars.com.

For those not up to speed with the Hasbro toy world, there are currently 3 lines of action figures to choose from.  "The Black Series" (6" at @$20 per figure), a smaller "Black Series" (3 3/4" @$10 per figure, and the "Saga Legends" (3 3/4" @$5-6 per figure).  The two "Black Series" lines are aimed at collectors, as the figures feature a higher attention to detail, multiple points of articulation, sleeker, less "kid friendly" packaging, whereas the "Saga Legends" line seems to be aimed right squarely at kids, featuring roughly 5 points of articulation, a limited amount of weapons, and a smaller variety of minute details.  

Many in the collecting world seem to despise Hasbro's direction with the "Saga Legends",  blasting any comment thread they can find about how much they dislike the 5 points of articulation, or "5POA", as they've abbreviated it.  I, for one, applaud this new direction for Hasbro and Star Wars action figures.  Many fans and collectors my age, let's just call us "OTers" that actually played with the original 70's and 80's Kenner figures, and then got pampered in the last twenty years since Hasbro brought back action figures.  Hasbro made more and more elaborate figures with ever increasing costs which got passed along to consumers, so much so that it priced out it's original, intended audience: kids!
Starting last year, it seems Hasbro has attempted to right the ship, and make these action figures into toys again.  I personally have bought more action figures from the new Saga Legends line than I have in the last 2 years.  These toys take me back to being 6 years old, where it was OK to shove one in my pocket on my way to wherever I was going.  Lucasfilm seems to be in collusion with Hasbro in regards to Star Wars Rebels and what may be in store for its toy output.  

One of the first images we had from Rebels, was that of Imperial TIE fighters.  These TIE fighters were not the same as their silver screen counterparts.  The TIE's wing panels for Rebels are much more in proportion to that of the old Kenner 1970's toy version of the space craft.


 At the New York Comic Con, Pablo Hidalgo in his Rebels presentaion announced that one of the vehicles to be featured on the show had until now only been seen in the Star Wars canon as a Kenner toy.  The Imperial troop transporter.

  


All Hasbro has to do is dust off those old molds, and put them in shiny new Rebels themed packaging and what's old is now new again.
The creative use of old molds seem to not be limited to only action figures.  Although not announced, it seems Hasbro could get some use out of an old roleplay toy used in the Clone Wars toy line.  A lightsaber toy meant to be attributed to General Grievous, yet oddly was never actually used in the Clone Wars animated series, bears a striking resemblance to the double-bladed lightsaber wielded by the Rebels villain the Inquisitor.

With only some minor tweaking and a change of blade color and, again, you have a new toy for fans of Rebels.

Now, it could be argued that Lucasfilm is not doing this with Hasbro in mind, and that could very well be, but with Toy Fair coming up soon we may find out just how much we can look forward to.  Producer Dave Filoni and many working on Rebels grew up on those toys and tying those designs into the new show might simply be a touchstone for us nostalgic folks, so we can identify with the new series.  I think the evidence is pretty compelling though, and Hasbro certainly needs the shot in the arm that a new TV show and a new cast of characters can give a toy line. Hasbro has to be happy with the fact that they can have the toys pre-designed and ready to go into kids' hands, not adult collectors. We need to remember that these are toys first, "collector value" should become a four letter word.  I really hope to see kids carrying around Rebels toys, and have their own adventures in a galaxy far, far away.