Fangirl Loves Star Wars Comics: Darth Vader By Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca & Edgar Delgado

Darth Vader is cool.

Like, he’s a very cool villain. There’s no getting around it. Dude’s awesome.

Darth Vader the comics series from 2015-2016 takes huge advantage of the fact that Darth Vader is really cool. Also, magically, Kieron Gillen manages to make this Vader, purely Vader at this point, the series takes place between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, feel of a piece with the Anakin Skywalker we’ve come to know from the prequels and The Clone Wars, without betraying how cool and scary Darth Vader is.

Gillen’s Vader is impulsive, single minded (he wants Luke Skywalker. That’s it.), cruel and charismatic. He’s also, oddly compassionate, in his totally and completely evil way. Like, I don’t know how to quite describe it, this is just a wonderfully written series and I was glad to have read it. (Even if I got it my mistake thinking it was Darth Vader: Lord Of The Sith, which we’ll do soon.) There are fun new characters too. The mercenary Doctor Aphra, a sassy rogue archeologist (There’s a particularly fun moment where she fights Han and they are foiled by some snakes…), two evil murderbots, 000 and B2, and a host of cyborgs who have been trained in the Jedi Arts, including two twins who make Vader want to Force Choke things even more (The Force is mysterious that way.)

I was genuinely overwhelmed with glee reading this series. Seriously, it’s a must do for a Star Wars fan digging deeper, if only because it balances fun and adventure in a way that the series does not always do well, and is always a joy to see.

Next time we’re going to take on Resistance Season 2, and I MEAN IT THIS TIME.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 11 “Shattered”

“Execute Order 66,” I actually cannot hear those words without taking a big ass inhale of breath. It begins a long slide into weepiness that last for the next half hour of movie in Revenge Of The Sith, rivaled only by Return of The King and Avengers: Endgame for absurd blockbuster blubbering for me.

So I held my breath as Ahsoka sensed what happened between Mace Windu, Anakin and Palpatine, leading to the execution of Order 66. It’s devastation and also important to note that Ahsoka might be the most powerful force user in the series, before Rey? She’s not fully in her powers yet, that doesn’t come until she passes through time with Ezra but she’s still strong here. Strong enough to connect while looking for Anakin, something we’ve only ever seen Yoda do with such specificity.

Anyway, after this moment of darkness, she turns to Rex, who is shaking, talking to himself, refusing to follow his programming and kill Ahsoka. Unfortunately the rest of the Troopers don’t have will and try to fight her. Of course she wins and gets away, taking Rex’s warning, “Find Fives” to heart and searching for a file on Fives, learning that his malfunctioning inhibitor chip caused his death. Rex sent himself a message in this file, which is why he was able to resist.

Ahsoka practices some “cogninative recalibration” on Rex, and also, to get the two of them away, releases Darth Maul, to spectacular effect. She reminds him that she doesn’t trust him and also that she kind of hopes the clones kill him which is great. I know I talked about it last week but it bears reiterating, Ashley Eckstein and Sam Witwer are doing unbelievable work here.

OK, we’ll finish up tomorrow. I’m not sure I’m ready. How far will we go into Episode III, where will we end?

I don’t know, but I bet I’ll be crying, and crying a whole lot.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7: Episode 10: “Phantom Apprentice”

It’s kind of crazy how sometimes two things I’m working on can dovetail nicely, or maybe it’s just my liberal arts brain trying to make less reading for myself that connects things that way, but the fact that this episode aired the same week that I was reading Erik Larson’s truly brilliant history book In The Garden Of Beasts, about the American Ambassador to Berlin during the years leading up to World War II, William Dodd.

The book is mostly about how Dodd kept saying, “HEY HITLER IS DANGEROUS AND WE CAN’T TRUST THE NAZIS,” and everyone in the American state department and establishment kept saying, “ehh, Dodd’s overreacting, I’m sure it will be fine.” (Narrator: It was not fine)

How does this connect to “Phantom Apprentice,” you might ask?

This is all about how Darth Maul has been shouting that, “HEY I KNOW WHO DARTH SIDIOUS IS AND YOU’RE ALL JUST PAWNS!” and everyone reacts by saying, “Boy, that Darth Maul sure is crazy, huh? Anyway,” and moves on. It’s even more present in this episode, where he and Ahsoka have several beautifully animated confrontations and he tries to convince her to join him and stop Sidious, because he knows this is all about to fall down on their heads.

What’s really fascinating in this run of episodes is that they are running parallel to Revenge Of The Sith, and that’s all the more chilling. Everytime Ahsoka checks in with Obi-Wan and Anakin we know exactly what’s going on with them and how horrible the next steps are. I keep holding my breath waiting for the moment that the clones turn on her. We know Rex helped get her out, but Order 66 has broken my heart every single time I’ve watched the movie, all the way back to high school when I first watched it. I don’t think whenever this hits in the next two weeks will be different.

The real showcase of this episode were those fights between Maul and Ahsoka, and frankly, they were some of the most stunning visual moments the show has ever had. Ray Park, who played Maul originally did the motion capture for them, so the physicality is perfect, and while the fight is exceptional there are also a pair of excellent performances from Sam Witwer and Ashley Eckstein here. Ashley has done incredible work all season showing Ahsoka’s growth and Witwer is always a joy, but this particular “We’re not so different, you and I,” “I’m nothing like you!” back and forth was a true joy to hear. (Granted, I’m a sucker for the trope)

This was my favorite episode of the season so far and I can’t believe we’re only two out from the finale. I’m going to miss this show so much. (Although, let’s face it, I’ll probably just watch ROTS and then Rebels again as soon as it ends.)

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 7, Episode 9 “Old Friends Not Forgotten”

This is going to be a very difficult month when it comes to Clone Wars (and you know, other things too…)

But man, the reunion of Ahsoka, Rex, Anakin and Obi-Wan was wrenching. Not to mention Boe Kattan bringing Satine up every five seconds and pointing fingers at Obi-Wan about her death.

What is nice is that even after having seen how she’s grown and changed how quickly old rhythms established themselves. Anakin finding a middle path between his master and apprentice, the great politician, Obi-Wan trying to hew to ideals that are clearly dying, Ahsoka embracing a new ideal. The Clones establishing their own loyalty rallying beside their old commander.

And then there’s the moment where Anakin returns Ahsoka’s sabers to her. It killed me. Anyway, after Anakin and Obi-Wan find a loophole compromise (divide the 501st) that allows Ahsoka a command, Ahsoka and Bo head to Mandalore with Rex to catch Darth Maul. Obi-Wan warns them that capturing him is a better plan than trying to kill him because he’s hard to kill. (I’LL SAY!)

While laying siege to, Bo goes after the Prime Minister and Ahsoka and Rex hunt Maul. They find him, and he’s waiting, but not for Ahsoka, she’s the wrong Jedi. He wanted Obi-Wan (I mean, obviously.)

It was all building the this, the previous two arcs were meant to remind us who Rex and Ahsoka were, what they’re made of, why they fight, and show us how far they’ve come in the past few years.

It’s going to be quite a ride.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 7: Episode 4: “Unfinished Business”

Hi everyone! Sorry this is a day late, like everyone pretty much, I spent the weekend spiraling a little bit about COVID-19, so I completely forgot to write this post. I hope everyone is doing OK, practicing social distancing, and taking lots of deep breaths. If you want to talk about what you’re reading, watching and eating in these super weird times, please reach out to me on any social media. (I’m hanging out on Instagram a lot these days! @thefangirlsdilemma)

Moving on! “Unfinished Business,” is the end of The Bad Batch arc, which as I noted, I’m not crazy about, but I liked this episode a little bit more. There’s a really great Mace Windu moment that really seals the deal, but overall I enjoyed it.

Echo has to prove to the others that he can get back in the game, and that The Separatists aren’t in control of him. He does so, through a series of very cool action sequences. Also Anakin has a BIG Dark Side moment in his reactions to Spider-Monster Admiral Trench, Obi-Wan does some in command stuff and I mentioned Mace right?

The moment that made me fall in love with this episode is when he steps in front a batallion of battle droids and recites his stats, reminding them, and us all that HE IS A BADASS.

Next week apparently we’re going to be finally getting some Ahsoka stuff, which means I will probably have a lot more to write about. But here’s the thing, theses episodes have been very action heavy, which is GREAT for watching, and not so much for writing, which is why these recaps have been so short.

Anyway, I hope everyone is healthy and safe, I love you all as much as I love Star Wars, maybe even more! I’ll be doing a bunch of reading, watching of Disney movies and other stuff as I’m stuck home, I’m hoping to get back to a regular 5 post a week schedule. So something good can come out of all of this.

 

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 7 Episode 3: “On The Wings Of Keeradaks”

First, a correction, I thought Echo died last week, he didn’t! He was liberated, A LA Jean-Luc Picard from the Borg! (We’ll get to ol’Jean-Luc soon! I’ve been selectively binging Picard.) Now, Anakin, Rex, The Bad Batch and Echo have to escape from the Techno Syndicate, with some help from the natives of the planet that they’re on.

The Tecno Syndicate are furious, obviously that their “experiment” has been stolen. That experiment is of course, Poor Echo, who is in really bad shape.

Not going to lie, I’m not overly enamored of this arc. It’s visually interesting but it isn’t doing much for me story wise and not really deepening any of the characters. We already know Rex would do anything for his brothers, that Anakin recklessly dives into danger heedless of the consequences and that the council is basically useless. There’s nothing new here. Except the bad batch, who really are pretty great, just not super compelling to write about.

It’s emotionally satisfying to do more with the clones. Clone episodes have always been among my favorites, but this arc, until I see how it plays out just has not delivered so far. It may also just be my impatience to get to the SIEGE OF MANDALORE FOR GOD’S SAKE.

I wish I was more engaged and had more to say here, but I really just don’t. The show is as ever visually stunning with compelling action and decent character work, this arc just seems a little repetitive from a story and development standpoint.

Anyway, another week without any Ahsoka. This is getting tiresome and I do not care for it at all.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Season 7 Episode 2 “A Distant Echo”

The forking show man.

After returning to base, with no proof of Echo’s actually being alive, Rex is more determined than ever to figure out what’s going on here. He pleads with Anakin to continue the mission, and Anakin is like, “OK bud, sure, but first, I gotta call me wife…I mean Senator Amidala, for REASONS, that have nothing to do with us being in love or married. This is definitely a secret and no one knows about it at all.”

Of course everyone knows, including Obi-Wan who is basically catches Anakin in the Holo-call act, and calls him out on it.

This strengthens my very strong belief that LITERALLY EVERYONE KNEW about Anakin and Padme it’s just with all the war and fascist regime rising and Anakin being the chosen one, decided it wasn’t worth the confrontation.

Moving on from the not a secret love of Anakin and Padme, we get to Rex and The Bad Batch hunting for Echo. They track the signal they found, beat the crap out of some droids. (I am not doing the action of these episodes justice because I am bad about writing and talking about action sequences, but they are very very good.)

Eventually, Rex does indeed find Echo, who is alive, but barely. His brain has been hacked and it’s really bad and he dies in Rex’s arms. It is rough, but Ooh, boy, it’s good stuff.

I think the Bad Batch might be the most interesting invention of these shows for a while. They’re incredibly designed a fun concept and great for complicated the Clone narrative. Remember, when we first meet them, Yoda is the one tells the clones themselves that they are individuals, not a collective, that this is a good a true thing. This takes that even further, and it rules, it’s so good.

I’m so happy this show is back.

Still no Ahsoka, but Ashley’s been instagramming some interesting shit.

I’m hoping this week.

We’ll see.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

It was kind of a relief to fall into one of the Star Wars movies even if it was one that’s kind of garbage but that I also love a lot.

Unlike when I watched Episode II nearly a month ago, where I had to really zero in on the elements of the movie that I liked because I love so many things about Episode III, it’s a mess of a film but it’s a damn fun mess, and it’s my mess, and I love it very much and will defend it until I die.

It’s overwrought, poorly plotted and for the most part indifferently acted. Though Ian McDirmind and Ewan McGregor excepted, they are both CHEWING SCENERY UP RIGHT AND LEFT and that makes the whole thing a worthy endeavor to me. But especially McGregor who has to sell the breaking of a man as his world comes crashing around him.

Coming to this so soon after finishing Clone Wars also adds a lot of Pathos to Yoda’s stuff too. I mentioned how what’s interesting about the last arc there is it lends a sadness and resignation to his plot. He knows the Jedi have to fall, but he’s also not ready to let the Sith take over. There’s a lot more weight to his decisions when you know that he knows they’re inevitable.

What strikes me everytime I watch this movie though is how quickly it moves. It’s not short. It’s not like MCU long either, but it’s not short. It does move though, and I really love all of the action sequences. If the acting were better and someone fixed the horrible, horrible George Lucas dialog, it would be a really really good movie. Instead it’s kind of a trash fire but I love it so, so so much.

Next week we talk about Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is an actually good movie that people think is a bad one and I want to fight those people.

In Other Star Wars News: 

There wasn’t a lot of Star Wars stuff out of San Deigo at least not that tracked with me. But Natalie Portman’s back in Thor: Love And Thunder, and Jane’s picking up the hammer like she did in the comics, so that’ll be fun.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Lost Missions

The Clone Wars’ belated final season, released on Netflix, rather than the series original home of Cartoon Network is kind of an odd duck. It’s painfully brief. (13 episodes) It only covers 4 stories (though they’re all pretty strong) and resolves nothing.

To be fair, it’s hard to offer resolution in Clone Wars it’s meant to be a bridge, the resolution comes in Revenge Of The Sith, but there are seeds planted here that don’t even reach full fruit until The Last Jedi, whether that was “that plan,” (I doubt it, Kathy Kennedy, for all her brilliance is not Kevin Feige, she’s more adaptable than he.) or just some thematic resonance that makes sense because narrative is inherently structured no matter how hard you try to deconstruct it Rian Johnson, (I have many many critical thoughts about The Last Jedi, but we’re still a few months away from that discussion!) I’m interested in the question.

The first arc revolves around Tup and Fives discovering that there’s extra programming in the clones, that could make them turn on their commanders. Their advanced knowledge of Order 66 gets them killed, and leads to Rex deprogramming himself. (We don’t know this yet, of course.)

The second is Padme discovering that her shitty ex boyfriend is playing both sides because he’s shitty. Also she and Anakin discuss divorce. I don’t really care for this arc, but that’s because I have limited emotional investment in Padme and Anakin’s relationship and even less in her ambivalence to her shitty ex boyfriend.

The third arc involves Jar-Jar and Mace Windu fighting an evil force cult and it’s awesome which you would never expect to say about a Jar-Jar arc, but it explores the nature of the force and what it means to those again, outside The Jedi/Sith binary. I can’t believe how central this idea has become to the franchise but I sort of love the work out it gets in this series.

The final arc was the one I remembered, which is Yoda talks to ghosts. This is the one that I think really comes through in Last Jedi. After learning that Jedi Master Sipho Dios isn’t dead, or is he? Yoda goes on a vision quest to learn how to commune with the dead. He does so by talking to some embodiments of emotions in kabuki masks and Darth Bane, the first Sith, voiced by Mark Hamill. Hearing Hamill bring the menace he’s perfected in his voice over the years to an argument with Frank Oz’s Yoda is delightful.

But overall, it becomes clear that Yoda knows the order has lost it’s way. That he continues to fight is out of habit, he knows he has to destroy the Sith, but the old was have to go with that destruction. It’s resignation.

I’m glad I rewatched Clone Wars even if it felt overwhelming at times. Revisiting isn’t a think I do as much lately (the point of Nerd Homework after all was to break me out of the cycle of rewatching I’d found) especially not critically, and I was glad to do it here. The show is a wonder of writing and action. (Even if the animation is not to my taste, exactly) It deepens the lore and scope of this world, and, probably, as I watch Revenge Of The Sith later, it will make me feel deeper about that movie too.

Next week we’ll talk about Revenge Of The Sith, yes, we’re back to movies at least for a few weeks. Which is a relief for the rest of my watch schedule to be frank.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 5

I have to admit I put off watching this season for a few reasons but mainly because I didn’t want to go through it’s ending. But the other arcs leading up the devastation are good too, so let’s talk about them first!

Ahsoka and Yoda and a Droid voiced by David Tennant teach a bunch of adorable Younglings to build lightsabers. Also Hondo is there and there’s a circus? I dunno, the Younglings are real cute though.

Maul and Savage team up with Death Watch to take over Mandalore, which is great on a few levels, because it gives Sam Witwer a lot to do, and isn’t he just the best? (We’ll talk even more about Witwer tomorrow friends, don’t you worry!) There’s also the small matter of Satine, and Maul’s vendetta against Obi-Wan, which of course, ends in the Duchess’s death. (The woman I love…)

The next step comes when a suicide bomber goes after the Jedi temple and Anakin and Ahsoka investigate the crime. Once the case is solved, Ahsoka gets wrapped up in the conspiracy and winds up thrown out of the Jedi order, and even when her name’s been cleared she decides to walk away.

That walking away is the fulcrum (HAH GET IT) of Ahsoka’s character. My favorite thing in all of clone wars is the way it plays with the people around Anakin being presented with similar situations to him, emotionally and choosing the more ethical and healthy paths. Obi-Wan chooses the order and his vows and commitment over Satine, Ahsoka leaves the Jedi behind rather than compromise her ideals. Anakin can’t do either of those things. He’s limited by his attachments, and can’t see beyond them.

I know this post was late, but I really was just not up for the emotions of Ahsoka’s walking away from Anakin, especially knowing what comes for them.

Next week we’ll cover “The Lost Missions,” which if I remember is mostly Yoda talking to ghosts? I mean, that’s super rad, so I’m looking forward to it.