Star Wars EU Reviews Going on Two Week Break

technical-difficulties-star-wars-dark-side-difficulties-demotivational-poster-12550546261

So a couple of days ago the fan on my laptop suddenly conked out on me and I took it into the shop to have it fixed. With my computer out of commission for the next two weeks I am unable to produce any content on this blog until I get paid again and retrieve my PC from the shop.

My next review should be out on March 3. Until then take care and may the Force be with you.

Advertisements

Star Wars EU Reviews Supplemental: Why Star Wars Fan Art Should Be Taken Seriously

emmanuel-shiu-xwing-eshiu-2k

One of the reasons why the mythologies of Greece, Rome, the Norse, and so on were so important was because they reflected the values and ideals of their respective cultures. The Greek way of life and their thinking on morality and spirituality can be found in their stories and tales. Mythology will always be a mirror of a culture’s identity and such things become enriched by the artists and thinkers of the time. Poets like Homer, Virgil, Hesiod, and John Milton will take their mythological and religious heritage from Europe and craft beautiful epics such as The Odyssey, The Aeneid, Metamorphoses, or even Paradise Lost and La Divina Commedia which used classical mythological imagery to weave grand spiritual stories.
And then we have painters like Botticelli who created the lovely Birth of Venus or Michelangelo who crafted many beautiful pieces of sculpture and painting that depicted images from Judaeo-Christian religion and Classical myth. The arts are a spawning ground for many creative minds to enrich their cultural heritage through music, painting, poems, and even films.

Through music Handel’s Messiah retold a longstanding spiritual message that was important to much of the religious life of Western Europe. Through poetry Ovid retold the many transformation myths of Greek and Roman mythology in his Metamorphoses.
Most cultures and nations have a strong, vivacious mythological background shaping the life and philosophy of its denizens and always the arts will revitalise it in new ways.

Sadly, however some culture’s lack a clear mythological background that distinguishes it from other cultures. England is one of these. Much of the myths stemming from natives of English soil were eradicated by invasions from intruding cultures such as the Romans and the French leaving England with some half-forgotten folk tales and Arthurian Legends which are honestly more French in origin than anything else. The mythology that lived in the native English people is now gone, forgotten, and lost. The great J. R. R. Tolkien was outspokenly upset about this and he initially contrived his Legendarium (which later evolved into the Silmarillion and its famous related stories such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) as a mythology for the English people.

Another culture that suffers from this lack is America. I am not referring to the Natives, of course, (who actually do have an enriched mythological background), but more specifically the American nation descended from colonists over two centuries ago and a host of immigrants from all over the world composing a melting pot of various types of people of various ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The American ideals found in our government, constitution, etc. have no singular mythological root like the ideals and laws of the Greeks and the Romans. We have no natural mythology to represent us.

And that is where George Lucas comes in.

Like Tolkien’s Legendarium, Lucas’s Star Wars acts as a sort of adopted mythology to represent and reflect the ideals of its respective people. Star Wars is the American mythology: a sweeping series of epics and tales that embody our ideals of freedom vs. tyranny (Alliance vs. the Empire), diversity (alien species coexisting while facing prejudice from the human-centric Empire), and democracy (The New Republic). These all-American ideals can be found in Star Wars.

So what does this have to do with fan art?

Well, establishing that Star Wars can serve as a make-shift American mythology; like the Classical and Mediaeval Europeans Star Wars is subject to enrichment from artists and writers. Many fan artists have created many beautiful images of elements from Star Wars such as ships, characters, famous battles, the Jedi, and several other things. While I would not put them on the same pedestal as Botticelli or Raphael many of these artists have created work that are worthy visual representations of the Star Wars mythos. While I am yet to see any epic poems composed set in the Star Wars universe I am still waiting.
But these fan artists in the meantime really help Star Wars expand its fandom and shows a deep appreciation for it.
Fan art tends to get a poor reputation thanks to the unfortunate advent of creepy Rule 34 pornographic content such depictions of Leia in the slave outfit with a much too generous bust size, Twi’lek burlesque dances, or some very inappropriate and unspeakable images of Ahsoka Tano.
But putting those “artists” aside there is a whole community of painters, drawers, and CG designers who have made some really top notch stuff that makes Star Wars more alive; and if snobbier types could try to take a closer look and see how Star Wars is a reflection and representation of our American heritage perhaps they would scoff less.
Now I get not all fans of Star Wars are American, but not all readers of the Elder Edda are Norse either. And like the American ideals found in our Constitution and Bill of Rights Star Wars has made a point to speak for the human race as a whole. Appreciating Star Wars as a sort of adopted American myth opens a lot of doors for continued works of art, music, and literature. And if we can respect that as more than just a silly childish hobby, but rather serious creative output then all the better.

Next week: Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel Star Wars #53-54

May the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #47 Droid World

a84lxkq_700b_v1

R2-D2 and C3PO are popular Star Wars characters and there is no shortage of adventures featuring them. In 1985 a Saturday morning cartoon series called Star Wars: Droids aired for one season. This was followed by a spinoff comic series and even Dark Horse had a Droids series of comics for awhile. And according to George Lucas himself the Original Trilogy is supposed to be told from their perspective. However fans may feel about them these two Droids are important to the Saga.
About four years before the cartoon series aired on Television issue 47 of the ongoing Marvel Star Wars comics was released making it arguably the very first story to focus entirely on these two characters. But is it any good? Here are my thoughts on it.

The story takes place shortly after Luke Skywalker’s rendezvous with the Rebel Alliance. They tell him they captured an Imperial Warbot and would like to have a schematic on it as soon as possible. As we all know the Rebels enjoy having the plans to Imperial weapons and Artoo and Threepio are soon assigned to study the damaged and inoperable war machine. This goes poorly when Artoo misunderstands an order from Threepio and ends up burning the robot’s insides to an unrecognisable mess. This upsets Luke and the Rebels greatly since the schematics (which are impossible to get now) would have been helpful in the war effort. Threepio, presumably speaking for Artoo as well, apologises and offers to make amends in any way he can. The Rebels see a final chance to retrieve the needed schematics and allow the two droids to redeem themselves by sending them with the damaged Warbot to an artificial satellite called Kligson’s Moon more popularly known as Droid World.
Kligson was a soldier from the Clone Wars who was badly injured and exists with over 90% of his body composed of cyborg parts. His injuries have left him embittered and reclusive and lives on Droid World with hundreds of droids he collected over the years as companions. He has issued a ban on all organic life to land on his moon so only Artoo, Threepio, and the damaged Warbot are allowed to meet him. It is the Rebel Alliance’s hope that Kligson will agree to repair the robot so Threepio and Artoo can download the schematic for the Rebels to use.
On the moon’s surface the two droids are introduced to Z-X3 (called Zee Exthree throughout the comic), an Imperial prototype of a droid that would be able to conduct missions in environments that Stormtroopers could not. Unfortunately for Z-X3 the project was met with unsatisfactory results and he was rejected. On Droid World Kligson took Z-X3 in and allowed him to live in harmony with his fellow mechanicals.
After agreeing to repair the Warbot Kligson suddenly orders Z-X3 to remove Artoo and Threepio’s restraining bolts so they no longer have to serve Luke and instead live with him on Droid World. This is not to Threepio’s liking and he defends his master claiming to prefer his servitude. This intrigues Kligson enough to order Artoo and Threepio to his chambers where he wants to try to talk the droids out of their loyalty to the Rebellion which he views as no better than the Empire.
While being led to Kligson Artoo sneaks off to follow Z-X3 who is taking the Warbot to a large maintenance hall. There Artoo discovers that Droid World already has another Imperial Warbot of their own which is missing only one part. The Weapon Head on the Warbot the Rebels brought is just what is needed to fix the one on Droid World. With the newly functioning Warbot Z-X3 intends to take over Droid World and kill Kligson all in service of the Empire which his programming still compels him to serve despite his previous rejection.
Artoo flees to warn Kligson, but fails to stop Z-X3 from shooting Kligson and destroying him. The traitorous droid, with an army of robots and the Warbot at his command, begin to chase Artoo and Threepio whom they perceive as a threat to the Empire. The two droids are backed into a doorway that leads only to a fire pit. Feeling like his doom is upon him Threepio begins to despair, however Artoo jumps in and Threepio falls after him only to get attached to powerful magnetic grapples which pull them up to safety to another section of the moon. There they meet Kligson alive and well. Apparently what Z-X3 destroyed was a duplicate that Kligson had made in advance when he began to suspect the droid’s treachery. Kligson hoped to use Artoo and Threepio as bait to draw Z-X3 out. Using another Warbot that Kligson happened to have on him (just go with it, OK) he extinguishes all of the rebelling robots and returns the two droids to Luke along with the needed schematics. Kligson’s last act is to operate Droid World’s built-in engines and send himself and the moon away from the Galactic war that he wants desperately to escape.

This story is entertaining enough, but I seriously question the efficacy of Kligson’s plan. So many things could have gone wrong. For one thing Artoo and Threepio were put at great risk and there is no way you can tell me that he was 100% sure they would not have been destroyed by either the angry robot mob or the molten core they almost fell into. Also with the large amount of special duties that Z-X3 was assigned to is it not conceivable that he would gather enough intelligence to reveal that Kligson was suspicious of him, had built a duplicate, and had another Warbot of his own?
Plot holes aside this story is a lot of fun to read and it has that special place as the first Star Wars: Droids story. One last comment I wish to make in light of the fire pit is that perhaps the Galaxy should start investing in hand rails.

Thank you for reading and check next week for my review of Classic Marvel Star Wars #48: The Third Law and may the Force be with you.

Star Wars EU Reviews: The Empire Strikes Back Novelization

5

Like the A New Hope novelisation this book offers just enough differences to make it an interesting curiosity, but not a necessity for EU readers who already know the film. In fact this book has less differences than the A New Hope novelisation did. For the most part Donald F. Glut’s adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back is virtually identical to the film aside from very minor differences.

Since the story of The Empire Strikes Back is known to all reading this review (or at least it should be) I feel that I have very little to review story-wise that would be beneficial. As I had pointed it is for the most part identical to the film. So in this review what I am simply going to do is point out and discuss some of the notable differences featured in the book in an organised, numbered fashion and let reader know my thoughts on them.

  1. The dialogue.Like in Alan Dean Foster’s adaptation the dialogue is the main difference. However, in this case most of the dialogue is only slightly different and is in no way as jarring as it is in A New Hope.
    That being said, I have had some sad disappointments with the differences here and there. Many classic lines that I loved in the movie are missing here or altered significantly. My favourite Darth Vader quote, “Apology accepted, Captain Needa” is completely absent and replaced with a scene where it is implied that Vader had the unlucky officer executed rather than killing him himself. Also Han Solo’s snappy and hilarious, “Chewie, take the professor and plug him into the hyperdrive!” is also missing. He doesn’t say it. I felt cheated.
    And worst of all in the carbon freezing chamber the famous “I love you; I know” dialogue is gone! Instead we get this pathetic rubbish:

    Leia: I love you. I couldn’t tell you before, but it’s true.
    Han: Just remember that, because I’ll be back.

    Effing terrible!

  2. Yoda is Blue!That’s right. Our beloved little Jedi master is blue not green. Blue is not worse than green per se, but we are so used to the iconic green skin that it is impossible to picture him in any other colour.

    a84LXKQ_700b_v1
    It’s just not doing it for me, I’m sorry.
  3. Enhanced Jedi TrainingUnder Yoda’s tutelage in the book Luke fights remote controlled orbs with his lightsaber. Lifting rocks is one thing, but this is totally different. I don’t know why this scene is not in the film, but I suppose it is for the best since the training did him little good anyway when you consider the objects Darth Vader hurled at him on Cloud City and Luke’s attempts at blocking them. I guess Luke never did comprehend Han Solo’s wisdom in pointing out that good against remotes is one thing while good against the living is something else. Maybe Han Solo should have trained Luke. He has been handier with a lightsaber than Luke has been so far.

 

There are other differences of course. But these are the ones that stood out the most. As a final statement I found this book to be an interesting and easy read, but as far as delving into the EU goes all you really need is the film. There are no exclusive references in here to my knowledge that make it necessary to read it to understand the rest of the EU books and comics. It’s an interesting curiosity, but nothing vital.

Check in next time for my review of Classic Marvel #39-44: The Empire Strikes Back comic adaptation.

Star Wars EU Reviews: Classic Marvel #24 Silent Drifting

11

Here marks the first Star Wars story set during the Clone Wars. And sadly it is nothing to write home about. While this issue of the Marvel series makes no mention of Separatists or Clone Armies there is little here to contradict the lore either. It’s just quietly and unobtrusively set during that time period. It reveals nothing of interest about the war and focuses instead on a minor incident that occurred in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s career as a Jedi Knight and general of the Republic.

The story opens with the Millennium Falcon taking damage from TIE Fighters it encounters just after leaving hyperspace. Han allows the ship to play possum and drift in space which convinces the Imperial ships they took more damage than they actually did. When the Fighters get close Han and Luke take them out with the Falcon’s turret guns.
Han Solo begins to boast about the skill of his manoeuvre when Princess Leia decides to temper his pride by letting him know that the “Silent Drifting” tactic is an old one that was employed by the Jedi Knights during the Clone Wars. She goes on to tell them a story her father, Bail Organa, told her about Obi-Wan during the Clone Wars.

While aboard a Republic pleasure cruiser on its way to Alderaan Obi-Wan is approached by a “businessman” named Augustus Tryll who wants to have Kenobi work for him. Knowing Tryll’s involvement in contraband dealing, political info leaking, and even slavery Obi-Wan politely declines. During this brief exchange Tryll offers Ben some Deltron Spice Wine that was fermented by a device that uses microwaves. Ben declines this as well citing that he doesn’t “care for addictive stimulants.” An odd thing for Obi-Wan to say since we have seen him accept alcohol from TC-14 on Trade Federation command ships and even purchase drinks at bars on Coruscant. Perhaps he was only refusing Tryll’s hospitality to take away any leverage the man hoped to gain over him.
Shortly afterward the pleasure cruiser enters the Merson Asteroid Belt on the other side of which are the Mersons who are an anti-Republic organisation that enslaves captured Republic citizens. All Republic ships that enter the belt shut down all non-essential systems and drift along the belt disguised as debris. However, for an unknown reason the Mersons do not buy the ploy this time and attack the ship. The Republic cruiser engages the Mersons in combat but it becomes apparent that a pleasure cruiser’s limited defence systems are no match for Merson slaver ships. Obi-Wan deduces that the Mersons were receiving a signal from inside the cruiser which alerted them that they was not just mere space debris. Word of this soon spreads to the passengers who immediately suspect Augustus Tryll of making a deal with the Mersons. When Obi-Wan tries to intervene with the mob they begin to turn on the Jedi Knight too believing him to be in league with Tryll. Instead of attacking the angry passengers, however, Obi-Wan destroys Tryll’s fermentation device when he realises that its microwave signals were what drew the Merson ships. The enemy vessels soon lose the cruiser in the belt after they begin “silent drifting” again. This apparently calms the mob down despite the fact that now their source of booze is gone.
By time Leia’s story is over the Millennium Falcon is fully repaired and jumps back into hyperspace.

There really isn’t much to this issue that reveals anything significant about Obi-Wan or the Clone Wars. It’s a very simple one-story issue that is mildly entertaining, but definitely no milestone in the Star Wars EU.
Fans who are more acquainted with Prequels era content like The Clone Wars TV series will find the story out of tune with the show. While there is no direct contradictions to the lore the overall look and design featured in the issue feels nothing like The Clone Wars we know. Also Obi-Wan’s appearance is out of place. While not as old as we see him in A New Hope he still has a grey beard and looks at least a decade older than he does in the show and the Prequels. A fan of the show will also see that Anakin is not with him or even mentioned at all. I suppose he must have been elsewhere at the time.
And whether or not the Mersons are a part of the Separatists or the Confederacy of Independent Systems is obviously not revealed here. As I have said before in other reviews an imaginative reader may attempt to fill the gaps and explain seeming contradictions within the EU lore if they try hard enough.

Check in next time for my review of Classic Marvel #25-26 and may the Force be with you.