Review: Poe Dameron #15

After last issue’s emotional tribute to both L’ulo and Carrie Fisher, Black Squadron moves onward because the Resistance can never afford to remain still for too long. After all, they’re beginning to run critically low on supplies, including fuel. Leia’s gotten some smuggler names from Han but someone seems to systematically be taking them out. Unsurprisingly, she turns to Black Squadron to help protect this latest fuel vessel. Also unsurprisingly… oh yeah the First Order is totally involved.

Poe Dameron #15 feels like a soft reset for the series. While art duties may have shifted to Ange Unzueta last issue, this issue still feels more like the start of something new. Terex is still working for the First Order but he’s not quite the same threat that he once was. Meanwhile, Black Squadron has to find a way to move forward in the wake of the loss of one of their own. On the surface, supplies and logistics might not seem like the most exciting story choice but I rather like it because it helps make the Resistance feel more real. They don’t have infinite funds and people within the New Republic can only do so much to help them.

A few other notes:

  • I sincerely hope that someone nerdier than me takes the time to translate the names of all the smugglers from Aurebesh.
    I like that the smuggler captain distinctly looks not-human.
    The lack of fuel thing is totally going to turn into a plot point.
  • Poe Dameron #15 continues to live up to the feel of the series and would be a great jumping on point for anyone new to the series.

Poe Dameron #15: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Star Wars #31

Luke Skywalker keeps trying to tell everyone that he’s not really a Jedi yet but no one seems to want to listen. (He’s just Force-shy, okay?)

Star Wars #31 picks up where Screaming Citadel #1 left off with Aphra and Luke as guests of the Queen and Sana convincing Han and Leia that they definitely need to go after Luke sooner rather than later. It’s a fairly fast-paced issue even if the Queen apparently does enjoy playing with her food.

However, there’s something… off about the art in this issue. I liked Larroca’s art on the Vader book but there’s something that feels very inconsistent about his work here. It’s almost like his style changes for some of the panels and I’m fairly sure that Aphra’s outfit inexplicably changes for a few panels. I also don’t care for how he draws Sana’s hair. Honestly, I wish Checchetto was doing this entire arc.

None of that should detract from how enjoyable the story continues to be though. While we may not get anything quite as good as Luke in formalwear wearing a spavat, the dynamics between Aphra and Luke continue to be fantastic. They’re such opposites that any of their interactions can’t help but be fun especially when they’re aligned together. I could read an entire comic series that’s just Aphra taking Luke to dive bars around the galaxy.

Screaming Citadel continues to be a delightfully gothic story with Star Wars #31 leading right into what I can only assume will be an even crazier ride next issue.

Star Wars #31: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Screaming Citadel #1

The Screaming Citadel crossover kicks off today and I’ll just be referring to it as the issue in which everything is delightful and wonderful and nothing hurts. Another potential title is ‘Everything I never knew I wanted until just now’ which would be equally accurate.

The premise is fairly simple. Aphra’s got the artifact with a Force user’s consciousness from the Ordu Aspectu and she needs Luke’s help to convince the Queen of Ktath’atn to activate it. The way Aphra phrases it, it’s a win for everyone. Luke gets a Jedi instructor and Aphra gets a front row seat to history. Of course, it’s not going to be as easy as that and if you think Aphra’s in it purely for the academic knowledge…

What makes this book so darn fun is the interaction between Aphra and Luke. She’s a woman who’s been around the galaxy a few times and sees things in shades of grey while he’s still far closer to being the fluffy-haired farmboy than anything close to a Jedi Knight yet. This isn’t a combination that we got to see much of during Vader Down but it’s possibly one of the most delightful character combinations we’ve gotten in the comics thus far. I sincerely hope that Luke comparing Aphra to Han becomes a running gag.

There’s nothing about this issue that I don’t love and honestly, it’s such peak Gillen that I’m almost surprised that McKelvie’s not drawing it. (Although there’s something quite pretty about Checchetto’s art that I’m a fan of and that definitely works here.) To borrow Gillen’s own words, “it all goes None More Goth” and Aphra and Luke both have a chance to get dressed up all fancy (especially Luke.) Related: I would like to have Aphra’s jacket collection because it appears to be fantastic.

Screaming Citadel starts out strong and grabs the interest from the start. Even if you’ve fallen behind one either Doctor Aphra or Star Wars, I absolutely recommend picking up this crossover because it looks like it’s going to be a fun and wild ride.

Screaming Citadel #1: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Marco Checchetto/Art, Andres Mossa/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Kieron Gillen & Jason Aaron/Story, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Knights of the Old Replay: Peragus

Aaaaand we’re back! I know, I know: it’s been awhile. Blame Celebration even if it was a delightful time but hey! We’re here again and that’s what counts. We’re kicking things off with the final step in this KOTOR journey and playing Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. It’s not just the standard game though. Oh no. I’m playing the modded version for the first time ever! For those who don’t know, KOTOR2 was basically rushed into stores and was never properly finished but much of the unfinished content was still on the discs… or something. (Honestly, I don’t really know what I’m talking about with coding stuff.) What I do know is that people have been working pretty much ever since to build a mod that would restore that unfinished content into the game and that the mod was available when KOTOR2 was finally made available for Mac via Steam a few years ago. (That was such a great day.) I figured this project was a good time to play through the game with the cut content for the first time and, well, here we are!

The game starts with you waking up in a bacta tank on a mining station in the middle of nowhere. Oh wait and no one else is there except for all of the dead people and the homicidal droids. How could this possibly get any worse? (It gets worse.) Between the not-actually-dead creepy old lady and all the droids trying to kill you and the definitely not a protocol droid who is also trying to kill you and the Sith Lord who sleeps with vibroblades… not a great day. And this is on top of you being a former Jedi who was Exiled from the Order after the Mandalorian Wars. Continue reading

Review: Poe Dameron #14

Poe Dameron #14 just might be one of those comics where it’s advisable to read with a tissue box nearby and not just because there’s a funeral.

I mentioned last time that it’s never been more apparent that the Poe Dameron comic is a spiritual heir to the X-Wing novels from Legends and it’s even more obvious that Poe Dameron is Wedge Antilles’ spiritual successor. Poe has a gift both in the cockpit and for knowing the right thing to say as squadron leader in a time of sorrow but he also needs someone there to tell him that it’s okay to take a minute to process things and it’s not only okay but that he needs to. Charles Soule has said that this issue was his way of playing tribute to Carrie Fisher and it’s very nicely done. You can certainly see his intent but he doesn’t hit you over the head and have the artist write “IN MEMORY OF CARRIE FISHER” in giant glittery letters across every page. The issue is about Poe figuring out how to move forward in the wake of L’ulo’s death but it’s also, in its own way, about reminding us that Leia is a leader for a reason. She understands both war and people and that’s what it’s all about.

Surprisingly, Agent Terex still has his role to play in the issue. He’s now a prisoner of the First Order and… things do not go quite as you might expect. It’s a plot line that just might make you look at Captain Phasma a different way.

Angel Unzueta takes over art duties permanently from Phil Noto and it’s certainly a shift. I don’t dislike it but it’ll likely take a few issues to adjust after a dozen issues of Noto’s ever fabulous work. Unzueta does do some very neat work with his panel layouts and telling both parts of the story at once.

For oh so many reasons, this is definitely an issue you should pick up on release day.

Poe Dameron #14: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Rogue One #2

I’m not sure if this was a happy accident or if it was the result of excellent planning by Lucasfilm but releasing Rogue One #2 the same week as Rebel Rising and Guardians of the Whills feels like a stroke of genius. In fact, I’d go so far as to strongly recommend that you read through the two novels before picking up this issue if you want the full service emotional ride.

Issue #2 picks up where the last issue left off as Cassian and Jyn arrive on Jedha and takes us through her reunion with Saw. Plus, as the covers so cleverly conceal, we’re introduced to Chirrut and Baze. (Perhaps you’re beginning to see why reading the tie-in books might be relevant.) Saw might not be in the story much but Houser doesn’t throw away her shot to really emphasize the history and relationship between Jyn and Saw. There’s one panel (I won’t spoil it) that makes the entire, well-done issue worth the price of admission. You’ll know it when you see it and I have no doubt that it’ll spark some conversation.

Speaking of which, Laiso and Bazaldua may only have a page to show Saw raising Jyn but they sure do pack plenty of emotion and history into that one page that hits you all the harder if you’ve read Rebel Rising. That’s only one of the pages of very strong artwork in this book, by the way. There are some fairly significant and memorable action sequences covered in this part of the story that could have fallen flat on the page. Laiso and Bazaldua expertly use their panel layouts to make both fights feel dynamic and exciting. That said… there’s still something about Cassian’s facial hair that bothers me.

The comic adaptation continues to be very well done and (thus far) very worthy of your time.

Rogue One #2: Writer/Jody Houser, Artists/Emilio Laiso & Oscar Bazaldua, Colorist/Rachelle Rosenberg, Letterer/Clayton Cowles, Editor/Heather Antos, Supervising Editor/Jordan D. White.

Review: Rebel Rising

A common criticism from those who don’t actually read young adult fiction is that the stories are too juvenile and won’t connect with an adult audience. Star Wars is currently hellbent on proving them wrong. In the latest young adult novel in a galaxy far, far away, Rebel Rising, readers learn more about Jyn Erso’s less than ideal life from when Saw retrieves her to when we meet her again in the prison on Wobani. Beth Revis does not mess around as she takes Jyn (and readers!) through the years on an often rough yet fulfilling journey.

One of the most important things to know about this book is that it can be fairly unrelenting when it comes showing what Jyn’s life was as a child and a teenager. In a way, that’s to be expected. Rogue One tells us that she was on her own since the age of fifteen after she saw her mother murdered by Krennic and was subsequently raised by a militant rebel. In other words, we knew that Jyn didn’t have an easy life but knowing something and really seeing something are two completely different creatures. Jyn certainly has moments of happiness throughout her life but doesn’t really have a happy life. It will be impossible to watch Rogue One and ever think of Jyn Erso the same way after reading Rebel Rising and that’s definitely a good thing as Star Wars literature continues to expand upon and truly elevate what we see on screen.

Where Revis soars is with her portrayal of Saw Gerrera. Admittedly, I was biased against him because of The Clone Wars and Rogue One didn’t do enough with him to sway my opinion. The author makes him a fully realized character that feels like the logical transition between when we last saw him on Onderon and when we later see him on Geonosis.  Perhaps Revis is just hitting me in my very specific emotional weak spot of found/adopted family and gruff adopted fathers who really don’t know what they’re doing but are trying their best but she actually made me genuinely care about Saw. It wasn’t an easy task. He genuinely feels like a real human being now and clearly carries the weight of what happened to Steela with him every day even while continuing his unrelenting guerilla campaign against the Empire. We stay with Jyn’s point of view the entire book but Revis makes you want to occasionally detour with Saw and see more his fight against the Empire and his clashes with other rebels groups. It’s incredibly well done.

Revis also does a good job with her supporting cast, following up on some name drops from Alexander Freed’s Rogue One novelization. With a few exceptions, none of them quite live up to how fully realized both Jyn and Saw are but it’s a solid supporting cast nonetheless. If nothing else, it’s nice to see the supporting cast have noticeably more women present than in stories of old. Also worth noting is how seamlessly Revis handles the passage of time. Her Jyn immediately after Lah’mu feels noticeably younger than her Jyn who is now on her own but they still feel like the same character. All of this contributes to a very believable story.

Rebel Rising is another strong entry into the Star Wars canon and does a more than admirable job helping readers get to know both Jyn and Saw better. It is absolutely something that Star Wars fans should delve into when they have the chance.

Thank you to Disney/Lucasfilm Press for providing an advanced copy of the book for review purposes.

Go/No-Go: Guardians of the Whills

nasa-mission-control-3Welcome back to Go/No-Go, Tosche Station’s regular feature where we offer our spoiler-free opinion as to whether or not you should spend your hard-earned money on a book, film, or other entertainment. Today on the launch pad: Star Wars: Guardians of the Whills.  Greg Rucka’s been consistently rocking it with his Star Wars contributions which means we had high hopes for this middle grade novel focused on Chirrut and Baze. Were those hopes met? To mission control for the verdict! Continue reading

Review: Darth Maul #3

Darth Maul #3 goes about how you’d expect with a fun twist at the end. The real twist though is that Cad, Aurra, and the Jedi Padawan are the most intriguing parts of the book. It’s not what I expected. (Okay, maybe I sort of expected the Padawan part.) Honestly, it’s impressive that two issues of a comic have done what however many episodes of the TV show couldn’t. I’m genuinely interested in Cad Bane and Aurra Sing and wouldn’t mind seeing more of their adventures in this era.

There’s something that feels just a little bit strange about the pacing of this book. Things are most certainly happening in the book and yet it feels slow at times. Perhaps it has to do with how there hasn’t been a ton of action in the book and that Maul tends to internally monologue a lot. I know that I said I liked it last issue as opposed to hearing Maul talk a lot but I’m revising my opinion as it’s gotten to be a bit much. I think I would have been more intrigued by a comic that approached the main character how Chewbacca did by not putting readers inside of his head. Don’t get me wrong: Maul still feels very much like the pre-The Phantom Menace Darth Maul but, just like his later mechanical bottom half self, I want to strangle him a little bit.

As for the book as a whole, I’m still not sure how I feel about it. Issue #4 might end up being the deciding factor as to whether this is a book that everyone will like or mostly a book that fans of the character will like. In the mean time, the book’s fine and, well, I guess we’ll see where it goes.

Darth Maul #3: Cullen Bunn/Writer, Luke Ross/Artist, Nolan Woodard/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Celebration 2017: Interview with Charles Soule

He hasn’t gotten any less busy since the last time we chatted but Charles Soule was kind enough to sit down with me after the big Marvel panel at Star Wars Celebration last week. We talked about his relatively recently announced Darth Vader book and his continuing work on Poe Dameron including a very in depth look at today’s issue.

Warning! This interview contains spoilers for Poe Dameron #13 and I mean major spoilers. They are all in the back half of the interview so you can safely read until the first mention of the Poe book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

via IGN.com

Bria for Tosche Station: So you still haven’t talked them into giving you a Palpatine book then? Just a Vader one?

Charles Soule: Yeah but a Vader book is by definition almost a Palpatine book at the same time. They’re still very, very intertwined. The story that I’m telling in the Vader book has Palpatine as the only point of connection that Vader has left anymore. He’s the only person he can turn to for any sort of advice or guidance. His physicality is completely different and completely changed. He has no anchor point except Palpatine, which Palpatine of course knows and realizes and uses to manipulate Vader further in the great tragedy that is Darth Vader’s life. Continue reading