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

Review: Poe Dameron #13

Thirteen might be an unlucky number for some but it’s definitely a lucky one as far as the Poe Dameron comic is concerned. In fact, this just might be one of the best issues of the comics thus far. There’s action, there’s humor, there’s comradeship, and droids get stuff done. In short, it’s never been clearer that this comic book is one of the spiritual successors to the X-Wing books from Legends and around here? That’s a very high compliment.

Spoilers after the jump… Continue reading

Review: Doctor Aphra #6

Listen. I know that usually I strive to keep reviews as spoiler free as possible but in this particular situation, I am not going to bury the lead because Marvel has finally confirmed what we all strongly suspected back in Star Wars #19: Chelli Aphra is totally gay. First we came for your former Imperial Loyalty Officers and then we came for your Rogue Archaeologists and we are so very not sorry. I’m incredibly pleased that this is something Kieron Gillen and company have confirmed within the text. The more representation within Star Wars, the better.

Oh. I suppose that you want me to discuss the issue aside from Aphra’s sexuality. Doctor Aphra #6 is a great conclusion to the first arc of the book. Gillen and Walker gave us a cool mystical archaeology story mixed with Imperial conflict while also making sure to not neglect what made this book so appealing: the characters. It has a feel to it that’s distinctly its own and Aphra’s proved that she can carry a fascinating book on her own merits without the Dark Lord of the Sith. Hopefully this book is here to stay for a good long while. Who knows what other sorts of trouble Aphra could get up to in the galaxy?

The only thing that’s been bothering me on the art front is that Aphra looks way younger than she should sometimes but that could be because of Kev Walker’s art style. On the other hand, Walker’s also giving Aphra some cool new outfits, which is always a plus.

If you haven’t been picking up Doctor Aphra, I cannot recommend it enough. This book is far too much fun and delightfully Star Wars while also getting to explore other genres. Honestly, there’s no time like the present to get caught up on this book especially with the Screaming Citadel crossover with the main book coming next month. What are you doing still reading this review? Go read Doctor Aphra!

Doctor Aphra #6: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Pencils, Marc Deering/Inks, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Thrawn

It’s likely that no book in the new canon thus far has been as highly anticipated as Thrawn. The announcement at Celebration London last year rocked both the ExCel Center and the Star Wars fandom watching around the world. Not only was Grand Admiral Thrawn making his return to canon but he’d also be starring in a book written by his creator, Timothy Zahn. In short… a beloved character written once more by a beloved author. What could go wrong? Continue reading

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Holonet Blast #8

Slow news week in the lead-up to Celebration; we’ve got one bit of convention news, and one HUGE piece of publishing news!

The convention news is: Forest “SAVE THE DREAM!” Whitaker will be at Star Wars Celebration! He will be signing autographs at the Star Wars Celebration Autograph Hall. Please scream-whisper your best crazy Saw impressions at him for me. (source)

The other piece of news is a huge deal: As part of the Star Wars 40th Anniversary, Del Rey has announced From A Certain Point of View, an anthology of 40 Star Wars short stories by a murderer’s row of talent — ranging from old Star Wars hands like Jason Fry and Christie Golden, to newcomers like Meg Cabot and Paul Dini, to podcast darlings Ben Acker & Blacker and Griffith McElroy. The project sounds like the Tales From … anthologies published way back in the Bantam days, as it concerns itself with the characters filling out the background in A New Hope. The anthology is due to be published in October, and you can see a partial list of the contributing authors at the (source).

via StarWars.com

That’s it for now! Enjoy those Rogue One Blu-rays, enjoy Celebration, and we’ll see you back here in two weeks!

Review: Rogue One #1

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.

Review: Star Wars #30

It’s hardly a secret that this Yoda story arc hasn’t really been doing it for me but after finally reaching the end with this issue? I think it’s safe to call it. I did not like this story arc and find it to be very skippable. I did not care for it and honestly, it’s nice that it doesn’t really tie into the main story too much. If this sort of story was your cup of tea? That’s great and I’m very glad that you enjoyed this arc. I did not.

As I’ve said in a past issue review, the journal framing device felt clunky especially when you realize that Obi-Wan never identifies Yoda by name so we can just barely cling to Luke’s confused ‘Yoda?’ line when he’s freezing to death. I also didn’t care for how Larroca drew Luke in this issue. It felt off.

And so there you have it, folks. A Star Wars comic from Marvel’s new run that I just did not like. It was bound to happen eventually, I guess?

Star Wars #30: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Chris Eliopoulos/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor