Knights of the Old Replay: Malachor V

Everything ties back to Malachor V. (No but actually… almost literally everything in this game.) This was one of the planets where the addition of the restored material was most evident and most appreciated. The planet’s always felt so… abrupt. You’re dumped on its surface by yourself and while the restored content still does that, it does ease you in a little with the Exile hearing the thoughts of her companions that lead them all to Malachor.

In a way, it makes you feel a little more like the Exile. The game’s told us how she forms bonds with others and grows strong from those bonds. Being painfully separated from other party members feels like a deliberate choice by the game creators. Or maybe I’m just a sucker who loves my crew. You can’t get back on the Ebon Hawk and none of your crew is anywhere to be seen so you have no choice but to fight your way into the depths of Malachor V where Sion and Kreia are waiting. Continue reading

Review: Star Wars #33

As far as self-contained stories go, Star Wars #33 is actually a really nice one even taking into account a painfully awkward looking panel of Luke Skywalker. The mission is supposed to be a routine one and it is until the Empire catches them and now Luke and Leia are stranded on an island on a planet within a nebula.

This issue was surprisingly more poignant than expected. At one point, Leia and Luke talk about how they’re both orphans in the galaxy now because of the Empire but they’re not alone. It’s within those same few pages where Leia mentions how sometimes, when she looks up at the stars, Alderaan is still there. As a reader, that bit felt particularly painful. One can only imagine how Leia must feel weeks, months, years after her entire planet was destroyed only to occasionally look up and still see it in the sky above.

Jason Aaron’s writing for this entire issue really is spot on. It’s a nice insight into both of the twins and really follows up on the friendship between them. Most people wouldn’t be able to handle being stranded like that for so many weeks. Plus? The level up in badass skills for Leia certainly doesn’t hurt.

In the wake of the less than great Yoda arc and the far more enjoyable Screaming Citadel story, Star Wars #33 serves as both a good place for new readers to jump on and as a nice way for existing readers to readapt to the usual feel of the series.

Star Wars #33: Jason Aaron/Writer, Salvador Larroca/Artist, Edgar Delgado/Colorist, Clayton Cowles/Letterer, Jordan D. White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Rogue One #4

First things first: shout out to Phil Noto for yet another drop dead gorgeous cover. It’s a damn shame that Noto/Marvel doesn’t sell prints of these.

Much like the issues before it, Rogue One #4 does a great job of telling the film’s story without doing so verbatim. The key lines that everyone’s remembers are there but it’s not like you’re reading an illustrated version of the script. Also like the issues before it, this one has two lovely little added scenes that weren’t in the film. One features a conversation between K-2SO and Bodhi where he tells the droid that they’re the same because they were both Imperial but then Cassian and Galen reprogrammed them to help the Rebellion. The second is a brief one for Mon Mothma and Jyn. Mon Mothma, by the way, is a character who seems to routinely benefit from these adaptations. She’s becoming more and more of a fleshed out character beyond the woman we first saw before the Battle of Endor. On the downside, poor Chirrut and Baze do get the short end of the stick in this particular issue.

On the art front, Rachelle Rosenberg’s more muted coloring for the flashback panels on the first few pages is particularly effective and helps the memories really pop. There’s also a particularly lovely backlit shot of Jyn and Cassian towards the end of the issue that really stands out. The artist change ups over the book have felt a little strange at times but Rosenberg’s colors have been a nice consistency.

Rogue One #4 continues to be a great adaptation that will likely read even better in trade form.

Rogue One #4: Writer/Jody Houser, Artist/Emilio Laiso, Colorist/Rachelle Rosenberg, Letterer/Clayton Cowles, Editor/Heather Antos, Supervising Editor/Jordan D. White.

Knights of the Old Replay: Battle of Telos

YEP ABSOLUTELY NOTHING BAD HAPPENS AT ALL ON DANTOOINE.

First things first though. HK-47 is sadistic as heck and tortures one of the HK-50 droids to learn the location of the droid factory on Telos. He’ll be dealing with it sooner or later. (Apparently not sooner because the game makes you wait for it a little.)

It’s back to Dantooine and the Jedi Enclave which looks considerably nicer than it did the last time you visited and Masters Vrook, Kavar, and Zez-Kai Ell are all waiting for you. The more you talk to them, the more messed up everything gets especially as it intercuts with Kreia’s own commentary from a courtyard slightly further away. Turns out that the Jedi Council didn’t cut you off from the Force and that you did that yourself as a sort of survival/coping mechanism after everything that happened at Malachor because the screams of everyone dying were just too much to handle. While you always did form bonds with others and inspire them to follow you rather easily, the Masters are convinced that you’re actually just some sort of black hole in the Force now and feed off of other Force Sensitives and grow stronger the more people you kill and the more you convince to follow you. It’s really messed up. Continue reading

Holonet Blast #17

It was a much quieter week on the news front than last week but that’s uhhh good right? Right.

What’s really important right now is that we look at this beautiful SDCC Convention Exclusive version of Inferno Squad by Christie Golden. It’s the same book but with a pretty new cover, endpapers, and the squad logo stamped onto the cover. They’ll also all be signed by the author.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be making grabby hands in the convention’s general direction for the next few weeks. I have an Inferno Squad problem and I don’t care who knows it.

Oh and there were some other SDCC Star Wars exclusives announced including items from Her Universe, Bioworld, ANOVOS, and more. But this is the best one.

Speaking of SDCC, Star Wars won’t have a Hall H panel but they will be present at D23. Expect a behind-the-scenes sort of video instead of a full trailer. (Thanks TFA for giving us a great model to guess by!)

Starting today at 10am Pacific Time, you can watch the new Forces of Destiny series on YouTube. They’ll be releasing a new episode every day until they all air on DisneyXD on Sunday, July 10th. (One day will have double episodes.)

Star Wars also recently announced that Star Wars Rebels Season 3 will be available on Blu-Ray and DVD on August 29th. Our own Matthew Bowers has been doing the Dance of Joy ever since he read the features list and it included five episode commentaries.

And finally, we’d like to extend our congratulations to Rogue One and Star Wars Rebels for their wins at the Saturn Awards!

Review: Poe Dameron #16

As Poe Dameron #16 kicks off, Poe’s still on a freighter that’s about to blow up and the rest of his squadron are in ships with very little fuel. Oh yeah and they’ve still got to get that fuel ship back from the First Order. No biggie.

Something that Charles Soule has done a good job with is something that’s been in the background of the entire book but that this issue really drives home. The Resistance isn’t that well off. It’s almost like they’re back in the early days of the Alliance where every ship, every shipment, and every life matters. In the grand scheme of the Star Wars saga, a mission like this doesn’t seem that important but in the context of the Resistance? It’s vital. It also makes the Resistance feel that much more real.

What this particular issue does very well is highlight the team aspect of Black Squadron. Poe is great and it’s his name on the front of the book but more than a few readers are here for Jess, Karé, and Snap too. More and more, they’re starting to feel like characters who just might have some staying power like the Rogues of old. I can’t decide what’s funnier: Jess’s reputation with he droids or Snap calling Poe Space Crazy multiple times.

Assorted Musings:

  • There’s something about the coloring that’s just very… shiny?
  • Nice to see more women in the First Order
  • Cyborg Terex is disturbing
  • Commander Malarus’ eyebrows are a work of art
  • BB-8 continues to be the real MVP but you all knew that

Poe Dameron #16 is a win both for readers and for Black Squadron but… I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Commander Malarus quite yet. (Good for us. Not so good for Poe.)

Poe Dameron #16: Charles Soule/Writer, Angel Unzueta/Artist, Arif Prianto/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor

Review: Doctor Aphra #8

Doctor Aphra #8 brings Screaming Citadel to its end as our heroes defeat the Queen but everyone doesn’t made it out entirely unscathed.

Sometimes, it’s in a good way. Despite being betrayed, Luke seems to emerge from the Screaming Citadel stronger and more sure of his path as a Jedi. He didn’t learn what he thought he would but it’s been a worthwhile experience for him nonetheless. Plus… it’s unlikely he’ll be naively trusting someone like Aphra any time soon. (Sadly, there go my hopes for a Luke/Aphra buddy comedy book and hopefully, there go the ridiculous Luke+Aphra=Rey theories.)

One of the recurring bits of this crossover has been Triple Zero laying down some disturbingly accurate psychoanalysis on some of the ladies. Seriously though… who knew a droid could be obsessed with murder and still have psychoanalysis protocols? This time, it’s Aphra that he’s turned his sights on and she’s not exactly pleased by what he has to say. Can’t really blame her but I also can’t say she’s wrong.

On the art front, this was a book that had three very distinct artistic styles in it and I have to wonder if it would have felt more cohesive if Checchetto had drawn the entire crossover. His style just felt more right for the gothic tone of the story. That said, I certainly enjoyed Andrea Broccardo’s work and I hope he sticks around the Doctor Aphra comics in the future.

Assorted Musings:

  • I doubt the Courtship of Princess Leia shout out was intentional but when you read it, you’ll know it
  • The friendship between Leia, Luke, and Han is pure and we need more of it
  • Sana felt a little inconsistent over the course of the arc but I like how things were left between her and Aphra
  • If anyone still doubts Aphra/Sana were an item after this… I dunno what to tell them.
  • Even when he’s mad, Luke Skywalker is still adorable

While Screaming Citadel didn’t have quite the punch that the previous crossover Vader Down did, it was nevertheless a fun and quirky ride that Doctor Aphra #8 wraps up nicely.

Doctor Aphra #8: Kieron Gillen/Writer, Andrea Broccardo/Art, Antonio Fabela/Colors, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor, Jordan D. White/Editor

Knights of the Old Replay: Dxun and Onderon II

When Kavar calls, the Exile comes running apparently and so we’re on our way back to Dxun so we can then go off to Onderon again. First though, we must *gasp* split the party. Unsurprisingly, the Sith are partially behind General Vaklu’s attempted coup although his own ambitions are certainly helping there. The Exile is left with a decision to make: choose a squad mate to lead some of the crew to deal with the Sith base on Dxun while she leads the attack on Vaklu’s forces on Onderon.

For some reason, I always choose Visas to lead them. I don’t know why but it just feels right. With her this time, I send Mandalore (Kreia approves) and Mira (Kreia seems unimpressed.) Oddly enough, Mira might be the best choice given her ability to walk through mines so she can sneak through there and disable the sensors. The more I think about it, the more Mira seems like one of the only choices to deal with those stupid mines. (So shut it, Kreia.) Once we’re past the sensors, it’s a matter of just cutting through the waves of Sith troops to battle our way into the heart of the base which oh so conveniently happens to be the tomb of Freedon Nadd. Visas gets to continue her light side journey by not falling prey to any of the three dark side temptations within the tomb and also kick some ass along the way. Chalk one up in the success column for Team Dxun. Continue reading

Review: Poe Dameron Annual

Poe Dameron: not having a great day. Or week. Or month. Or however much time it’s been since the last mission. Conversations like this with Leia Organa cannot be fun.

In the Annual, Poe is somehow both Wedge Antilles and also the person that Wedge Antilles is dressing down. It’s really quite admirable and (honestly) probably why so many of us love him. There were even a few panels where Poe looked like a hybrid of Wedge and Janson from the old X-Wing comics. There aren’t many people in the galaxy who have quite the same luck as Poe and Wedge nor who also have the same skill in a starfighter.

The Annual is mostly a solo adventure for Poe and BB-8 as they end up in trouble they didn’t expect. Mostly, the issue feels like an excuse for Poe to learn A Thing and for Nik Virella to draw some truly fantastic facial expressions for both Poe and Leia. You’ve never before seen such an unimpressed eyebrow raise. That alone is worth the price of admission.

In a way, this issue feels like a bit of a callback to The Force Awakens in terms of Poe’s mission. It’s difficult to describe how without spoiling the plot but the vibe is there nonetheless.

The Poe Dameron Annual is a perfectly acceptable story with fun art that makes it worth it.

Poe Dameron Annual: Robbie Thompson/Writer, Nik Virella/Artist, Jordan Boyd/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Heather Antos/Editor, Jordan D. White/Supervising Editor

Review: Darth Maul #4

First things first: the cover for this issue by Rafae Albuquerque is drop dead gorgeous especially since the colors of the title complement it.

The tricky thing about a book like this is that it feels like we know how this story must end and the result is that the issues creep towards it as the inevitable doom looms. How else could this possibly go for Jedi Padawan Eldra Kaitis? Darth Maul #4 takes us right up to that moment, leaving it for the final issue but there’s still plenty that happens here. After all, Maul and his bounty hunters have to survive the droves of angry criminals who Xrexus has sent to hunt them down for sport since they stole her Jedi.

The story is split between Cad Bane, Aurra Sing, and the rest attempting to survive and Maul and Eldra doing the same. The former is a good excuse to see Cad and Aurra be badass. The latter is… interesting. It certainly makes you appreciate the doomed Eldra. She’s far braver than many of us would be in what seems like a hopeless situation. Even Maul appears to be impressed. It’s enough to make you dread the (likely) inevitable conclusion next month.

Darth Maul #4 brings the action in its penultimate issue and along with some more Maul food for thought.

Darth Maul #4: Cullen Bunn/Writer, Luke Ross/Artist, Nolan Woodard/Colorist, Joe Caramagna/Letterer, Jordan White/Editor, Heather Antos/Assistant Editor