Rebels Review: Legacy of Mandalore

Listen. I know that I have a Mandalorian bias and an even stronger Sabine Wren bias but “Legacy of Mandalore’” is an incredibly solid follow up to “Trials of the Darksaber” and it’s a damn shame they were split up by the break. It’s also a damn shame that we won’t be seeing much of Sabine for the foreseeable future while she tries to help clean up Mandalore and help free her people from the Empire’s choke hold.

It’s not a very happy homecoming for Sabine as her clan initially starts shooting at her when the Phantom appears in Clan Wren space. The episode goes pretty much how you’d expect from there including an awesome duel between Sabine and Gar Saxon. It doesn’t matter if the plot is predictable though because this is a continuation of Sabine’s story as she confronts both her past and her family and finds a new way forward. Continue reading

Review: Aftermath: Empire’s End

It’s been one hell of a ride since we first got the first Aftermath book almost a year and a half ago and wow does Chuck Wendig bring us to an explosive yet satisfying finale with Aftermath: Empire’s End.

Warning: This book will almost definitely take you on a face journey so beware reading in public. Learn from my experiences. But on to the book!

The Battle of Jakku. That’s it. That’s the entire book. (Okay not really but mostly.)

Empire’s End emphasizes that it’s not the overarching end result that matters most but rather how the individual characters get there. While readers already know that Jakku is the Empire’s last stand, they only know part of the battle and they certainly don’t know the fates of the characters they’ve grown to know so well over the last year and a half. Good news: it’s one hell of a ride. All of the hallmarks of the trilogy remain present: Mister Bones is hilarious and homicidal, Norra Wexley is one of the most focused and driven individuals in the galaxy, the interludes take us to surprising places, and Gallius Rax and Brendol Hux are the worst while Rae Sloane is the best. (Okay maybe that last one’s just reviewer bias slipping in…) All of that to say: if you’ve enjoyed the roller coaster thus far, you’re going to get a huge kick out this last fast drop and loop-de-loop. Continue reading

Review: Poe Dameron #11

Okay can we please start by discussing how drop dead gorgeous this cover is? Phil Noto is rarely anything but excellent but this is another level. I want this framed on my wall.

But about the actual content of the issue… Oh Terex. You’re certainly not going to win First Order Officer of the year and frankly, I’m increasingly concerned about your contining existence. (It’s shocking that Phasma hasn’t broken his spine already.) That said, Charles Soule is presenting us with an interesting comparison with our two sides. Leia formed the Resistance because the New Republic was blind to the threat and now Terex is using his own private army to strike against the Resistance because the First Order can’t. It’s a thought-provoking contrast especially since the First Order is so focused on….uhhh…order. It’s surprising that they’d bring Terex in at all and now that he’s in and pushing back so strongly against Phasma… how long will he stay a part of the First Order especially if he loses to Poe?

We still don’t know who the spy is for sure and it’s driving me insane! While Poe comes to the same conclusion that I did several issues ago, I have a feeling that there’s going to be a twist. This is comics: there’s always a twist and I can’t wait to read what it is.

Sidebar: If someone doesn’t pull together a Lord-General of the Rancs of Kaddak cotsume soon, I’m going to be very disappointed.

Poe Dameron #11: Charles Soule/Writer, Phil Noto/Artist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #4

My favorite new comic continues today and uhhh yeah. It’s not looking great for Team Aphra. (It’ll be fine! It’s only issue #4 of an ongoing series, after all.)

Surprisingly, while Aphra continues to be awesome, she wasn’t my favorite part of this issue. That honor goes instead to our antagonist. Despite debuting so recently, Captain Tolvan is already turning out to be a lovely surprise and seems to be a character who’ll be sticking around for a little while. She’s good but she’s not perfect and, were this her story, she’d be working through a personal redemption arc. On a related note, it seems that Marvel’s previous references to events in Rogue One weren’t throwaway lines and I sincerely hope we get more of this.

I mentioned this during the last review but I sincerely love that this is first and foremost the story of a rogue archaeologist that just happens to be set in the Star Wars universe. It gives the book such a distinct feel from any other Star Wars stories we’ve gotten in recent memory. There are familiar locations and characters of course but it all just feels so fresh. I’m almost as invested in finding the Ordu Aspectu as Papa Aphra is. (Side Note: Does anyone else think of Wesley the Rogue Demon Hunter from Buffy the Vampire Slayer every time they read the opening scroll? No? Just Me? Okay never mind.)

Actually, I take back what I said earlier. My favorite part of the issue is a panel of the murderbots a few pages in because it made me laugh so damn hard. I won’t spoil it for you but I promise you’ll know it when you see it.

Doctor Aphra continues to get a “hell yeah!” from me and I would really like Issue #5 in my hands already, please and thank you.

Doctor Aphra #4: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Pencils, Marc Deering/Inks Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Darth Maul #1

Maul is one of those characters where it seems like most people either love him or can’t stand him anymore. I personally fall into the second category mostly because I don’t know why he keeps not dying. But hey! A pre-TPM story about him? Count me as intrigued.

Darth Maul #1 is a lot of character building and plot set up. There’s a lot of time spent in Maul’s head and uhhh… spoilers: he’s kinda violent. At times, it felt like a little bit too much especially given that we don’t even hear about this padawan from the solicits until the last few pages but bigger fans of the character will likely really dig it. Personally, I loved getting to see Maul take on a rathtar. It’s a nice blending of the eras and besides, it’s not like Maul doesn’t have a fine tradition of taking on aliens who originally hail from much further down the timeline. One of the places where the issue fell short for me was with Palpatine. That’s not really a mark against the book and Cullen Bunn though. It’s more that I don’t think we’ll see anyone else write as great of a Palpatine as Charles Soule in our comics any time soon.

On the art front, the combination of Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard is a good one for this book. Their combined style fits nicely with the vibe Bunn seems to be going for. I definitely prefer to this to Ross’s prior Star Wars work on The Force Awakens comic adaptation.

As a side note, Marvel has continued its tradition of giving us a little something extra to go with the first issues and honestly, I could read an entire graphic novel that’s nothing but cute little droids getting into trouble if Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire write and draw it.

But back to the main Maul story… is it worth it? If you’re a fan of the character than definitely yes it is. While I liked the issue well enough, I’m inclined to hold off from telling those more of the fence to run off and buy it just yet. Ask me again after the next issue.

Darth Maul #1: Cullen Bunn/Writer, Luke Ross/Artist, Nolan Woodard/Colorist, Joe Caramagnas/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Star Wars #28

Don’t ask me to make sense of comic publishing schedules but apparently we get back-to-back issues of the main Star Wars book this month.  Which is… fine?  I guess?

It wasn’t as noticeable last issue since we basically just stayed with Yoda except for a panel or two but we’re literally getting a story within a story within a story with this arc. I don’t have a problem with using a Kenobi journal to tell other stories within this main book but man is it starting a feel a little clunky. Just tell the Yoda story that you want to tell and skip all the hoops.

Honestly, just like with the previous issue, there’s not much to say here. This Yoda book just is not my cup of tea. That said, there were definitely some moments within this issue where Jason Aaron completely nailed Yoda’s character. Several of his lines felt like they could have been right out of Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. (For those of you not as familiar with Legends, that’s a high compliment.) I am also interested to see how this story gets wrapped up given how the issue ends but… It’s just another shrug from me. I’m ready for the next story arc.

Star Wars #28: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Chris Eliopoulos/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Star Wars #27

The adventures of Master Yoda on the planet full of children continue and… well… honestly, it’s not my thing. While Star Wars #27 doesn’t have the little bits with Threepio and Luke that distracted from the main story in the previous issue, they were actually missed here. I could have used a little bit of Threepio levity in this issue.

It’s not that the issue is bad. It’s just not my cup of tea. Yoda has really only been a character who caught my attention once in the past although interestingly enough, that story also heavily featured children. Getting more Larroca/Delgado art is always delightful and they’ve definitely put a lot of care into getting Yoda right especially for the larger panels. The story just has yet to draw me in and I honestly don’t have much else to say about the issue.

So the verdict? Go for it if you’re a Yoda fan or a big fan of the Jedi. Pick it up if you’re a completionist but maybe skip if you’re not. That said, the arc’s not done yet. Who knows where this might go?

Star Wars #27: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Chris Eliopoulos/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Rebels Review: Warhead

“Warhead” is one of those episodes that, after first viewing, some fans might call “filler”. It’s mostly character focused and doesn’t make huge advancements in the season’s overall plot. However, to dismiss this episode as unimportant would be doing it a disservice. While it’s not my favorite episode of the season so far, I really enjoyed spending more time with Zeb and loved his interplay with AP-5 and Chopper.

The plot of the episode is fairly straightforward. The Ghost crew, minus Zeb, leave Chopper base for some exercises. Zeb stays behind to keep watch over the base, and he’s forced to spend time with two droids that drive him bonkers. Meanwhile, the Empire has been sending spy droids to find the rebel bases. One of these droids lands on Atollon, is attacked by the giant spider creatures, and picked up by Zeb, who thinks it’s just an old protocol droid. Once back at the base, the droid impresses AP-5 with his inventory skills and is put to work…and then AP-5 mentions this is a rebel base. Once that revelation happens, the droid morphs into attack mode. Zeb, AP-5, and Chopper are forced to work together to defeat the droid and figure out a way to keep the Empire from finding their base.

Despite the fact that this is a mostly a character focused episode, important things happen that are definitely going to have a payoff later in the season. First, we learn that Thrawn is going to desperate measures to find the Rebels. Although he’s defeated at the end of the episode, he’s narrowed the search down to 94 possible planets and knows that finding Chopper Base is inevitable. I, for one, cannot wait to see Thrawn’s master plan finally take shape.

We also get another appearance of Kallus. He’s passing information to the rebels about the droid program right under Thrawn’s nose. Judging by the last scene of the episode, I can’t help but think that not only is Thrawn narrowing down the locations of the various rebel bases, but also the identity (or identities?) of Fulcrum. (Although I’m not convinced he doesn’t already know Kallus is Fulcrum.) I find myself waiting with bated breath for Kallus to be revealed as a spy. Whenever that happens…well, I don’t feel very confident for Kallus’s future in the Empire.

We learn more about Zeb, but also AP-5 and the rest of the rebel cells. Many viewers, myself included, have wondered where AP-5 has been all season. Especially in the Geonosis episodes, where having a protocol droid would have been very useful to communicate with the surviving Geonosian, Klik Klak. We learn in “Warhead” that AP-5 is in charge of inventory on Chopper Base, so it makes sense that he’s not been in the field. We also see Hera and the rest of the crew going off to run exercises. I’d love to see what these entail! Do they join with other cells? What does the rebel fleet look like at this time? (To no surprise, the Wedge and Hobbie cameos made me very happy. I’m glad they’re involved with Phoenix Squadron and hope they get more screen time in later episodes. Especially episodes involving X-wings.)

This episode was written by Gary Whitta. His humor and character work really shine, and I hope he continues to write additional episodes. “Warhead” wasn’t the best episode of the season, but it was solid, raised a lot of questions for future episodes, and shed much-needed light on some characters who aren’t in the spotlight as much. I can definitely use more of that in Rebels.

 

Review: Doctor Aphra #3

Usually, I prefer to start these off a little differently but I’ve got such crazy news that I think you all deserve to know right away. Are you sitting? You might want to sit down for this. Okay. Ready? Star Wars has now given us TWO ranking female Imperial officers within the same month. T W O. Captain Tolvan, let me be the first to say that it is very nice to meet you and that I hope you don’t end this book blown up, shot, or otherwise dead.

You know what I love about Star Wars almost as much as I love this book? That sweet, sweet brand synergy. I adore the shout out to the events of Rogue One and I especially love that it’s tied in because a character was literally too obsessed with his own project to notice that a city and entire planet got blown up. Never change, Papa Aphra. (Except no wait, your daughter would probably prefer that you did.) (Also, you need a name.)

Doctor Aphra #3 has the distinction of being very funny without being filled to the brim with jokes. BeeTee and Triple Zero have their entertaining exchanges as usual but there’s just something hilarious about watching Black Krrsantan go up against the Empire even if it doesn’t do the scout troopers’ reputation any favors. A lot of the credit for this goes to the art by Kev Walker so kudos on that front.

It delights me (though hardly surprises me) that this book is following up on the promise of its first issue. It feels both very Star Wars-y and very distinctly Aphra. We’re getting that archaeological story so many of us have hoped for that’s showing us other parts of the galaxy. It’s just so neat and so fun and… okay seriously, why are people not reading this book? All Star Wars fans should be.

Doctor Aphra #3: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Kev Walker/Artist, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Poe Dameron #10

Another month, another issue of the ever delightful Poe Dameron book by Charles Soule and Phil Noto! This is the arc of the droids and the backstory and we keep getting more each time so let’s get right to it.

It’s been said before on Tosche Station (probably by me multiple times) but having the Story Group around is going a long way towards Star Wars stealing the “it’s all connected!” tagline from the MCU. (It’s cool. They’re all in the Disney family.) Getting to see the Carrion Spike in this book and having its backstory from Tarkin acknowledged in this issue is just really cool and feels like a neat little reward for fans who read everything. At the same time, fans who only read the comics won’t be left feeling lost.

This issue is, per Charles Soule’s Twiter, the last of the Terex backstory and I have to say that I’ve been enjoying every minute of it. We’ve not only been getting insight to Terex’s earlier days but also the First Order. It makes me curious as to how many other people like Terex (ie: those who are not Imperials who didn’t go into immediate exile together) are a part of the First Order.

Finally, we arrive at the droid part of the plot. (You know… the one that also includes Poe… who this book is about.) Nunzix the droid is hilarious if you’re a fan of droids with sass. I still don’t know how to feel about Threepio the Spymaster because it seems like a spymaster should be better at being subtle but hey! As long as the Resistance gets the information, right?

On the art front, I’d like to publicly thank Phil Noto for drawing that First Order lieutenant with his code cylinders further to the side and upright like back in the days of the Empire instead of in the middle and diagonal like they were in the film. This is much less offensive to the eyes.

Can we have issue #11 yet? I NEED TO KNOW WHO’S THE SPY.

Poe Dameron #10: Charles Soule/Writer, Phil Noto/Artist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor