Beth Revis had a tough job in writing Rebel Rising, the YA novel chronicling the life of Jyn Erso prior to the main narrative of Rogue One. She not only needed to craft an engaging and exciting story, one that fit into the ever-widening new canon of the Star Wars universe, but she also needed to create a character arc for Jyn herself which both ended with Jyn being an angry, sullen, bitter person who wanted nothing to do with the Rebel Alliance (or, really, anyone or anything), but which at the same time was narratively satisfying. How do you craft a character arc that ends with the Jyn Erso we meet at the beginning of Rogue One and not have the entire thing feel like a let-down and a bummer, or like anything more than an extended prologue to the film? Can you even do such a thing?
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.
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.
Adaptations from films are always a really weird beast. They tend to fall into two categories: forgettable or excellent with very little in between. In all honesty, I didn’t even bother picking up The Force Awakens Marvel adaptation because the art wasn’t my cup of tea. However, when the Rogue One comic adaptation was announced, we were told that it would include bits not in the film and I was instantly intrigued. Is it worth a read though? (Especially given the already stellar novelization by Alexander Freed.)
So far, I’m inclined to say yes. The prologue feels a little rushed but otherwise, Jody Houser does a great job of taking us through the story (up through departing Yavin) and seamlessly weaving in brand new scenes and bits we’ve already seen in the novelization into the film’s narrative. Without a doubt, Bodhi and Galen have benefitted the most from this and Houser’s Bodhi voice is actually spot on. It’s also nice to get a little more of Jyn’s point of view and feel like we’re inside her head, especially during the Yavin scenes.
Where I suspect people will have problems with this book is in regards to the art. Emilio Laiso and Oscar Bazaldua had an unenviable task before them as readers tend to be far harsher when it comes to adaptations than other comics. I wouldn’t call any of the likenesses uncanny but I didn’t find it to be an issue. The only one I wasn’t fond of was Cassian. There’s something off about his moustache. Mostly, the art made me draw favorable comparisons between this issue and Jorge Molina’s work on the main Star Wars book with the SCAR troopers.
Rogue One #1 is definitely worth picking up if you’re even a little bit interested. Time (and the next few issues) will tell whether this adaptation reaches the heights of the novelization.
Rogue One #1: Writer/Jody Houser, Artists/Emilio Laiso & Oscar Bazaldua, Colorist/Rachelle Rosenberg, Letterer/Clayton Cowles, Editor/Heather Antos, Supervising Editor/Jordan D. White.
Lots of news this week! New books! New The Last Jedi details! New hair! Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Though rumored as early as December 2015, it’s now official; following the death of original Star Wars actor Kenny Baker, going forward (beginning with this December’s The Last Jedi) the adorable astromech will be portrayed by Doctor Who veteran Jimmy Vee. I guess this makes him R2-D2-2. (source)
Film novelizations are, in their own way, just as tricky a needle to thread as film adaptations of novels. You’re taking someone else’s words and ideas, meant for one medium, and transposing them to another, hopefully doing them justice while at the same time adjusting and adapting them to fit the new medium. At their best, film novelizations can open up the world of the movie considerably, adding more scenes and characters and background information which couldn’t possibly be crammed into a two or even three-hour movie. At their worst, they’re a limp, lifeless transposition of the screenplay, lacking any of the energy or vitality which made the film entertaining. The Vonda N. McIntyre novelizations of Star Trek 2 – 4, or Peter David’s adaptation of The Rocketeer, are examples of the former; the Alan Dean Foster adaptation of The Force Awakens, the latter.
So where does Rogue One’s novelization fall? Somewhere in between. It doesn’t wildly expand the scope of the film, but it fills in just enough gaps in characterization and plot to make it, I’m shocked to report, the first novelization I’ve ever read that I enjoyed more than the film it was based on. Continue reading
There’s no way anyone can prove that I sat on my couch, clutching my ‘This is Fine’ Dog to me as I read the last few chapters of Rogue One. That would be ridiculous if I’d done that. Absolutely… okay, fine. I did.
Novelizations can be so hit or miss that it’s often tempting to skip them all together. After all, you saw the movie, right? For the most part, they tend to be fine but nothing to write home about. Star Wars, however, has already been blessed with the absolute gem that is Matthew Stover’s Revenge of the Sith. It’s a very high bar to meet and while Rogue One doesn’t quite meet it, it comes pretty damn close.
Alexander Freed’s novelization works so harmoniously with Garth Edward’s film that they feel like two halves of a whole. Where as the movie can revel in the action and magnificent space battles, the book allows readers into the characters’ heads and to get to know them far more intimately than before. I have no doubt that the film will have even more of an emotional impact the next time I see it. Continue reading
We saw Rogue One! It had X-wings! And Rebels stealing the Death Star plans! And sweet capes!
What did we think of the story? Did it live up to expectations? Find out after the jump!
There’s a hell of a lot riding on Rogue One just like there was for The Force Awakens. The good news? Rogue One soars and sets a high (but not perfect) standard for any following Star Wars Stories.
The story is fairly straightforward especially if you’re even vaguely familiar with A New Hope. Galen Erso has been forced to work on the Death Star by his old friend Orson Krennic. Whispers of this weapon convince the Rebel Alliance to pull his unwilling daughter Jyn Erso into their fight. She finds herself on a mission to rescue the father she hasn’t seen in over a decade and suddenly a part of something far bigger. Oh. And they’re going to have to steal the Death Star plans. Continue reading
We’re less than a month out from Rogue One and discovering just what a non-Saga, “anthology” Star Wars film looks like. Lucasfilm seems to be dipping its toe in the non-Saga pool gently, giving us a story — the theft of the plans to the first Death Star — separate from but still intrinsically linked to the original Star Wars film. In the meantime, to whet our appetites and give us some backstory for the characters we’ll meet in the film, Legends and Tarkin alum James Luceno has brought us Catalyst, the story of Galen Erso and Orson Krennic (Mads Mikkelsen and Ben Mendelsohn in the film, respectively) and how their unlikely friendship led to the development of the galaxy’s most powerful weapon.
Random House has consistently released audiobook versions of the novels in the new canon, and Catalyst is no exception. Catalyst is performed by Jonathan Davis — not the lead singer of Korn, but the veteran of more than four hundred(!) audiobook recordings, over of thirty of which were under the Star Wars banner.
So, how does Catalyst work — as a stand-alone novel, as a film prelude, and as an audiobook production? Read on to find out! Continue reading