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 12: “Victory And Blood”

The Clone Wars is over. It’s end is bleak and terrible and sad, unbelievably poignant and conclusive. Of course having watched Rebels, we know how this ends for these characters and because of Star Wars we know how this ends generally.

But, I’ve never really bought into “The Prequel Problem,” a tale well told is worth it regardless of if you can guess the ending, and The Clone Wars is, if nothing else, a tale well told. And this final chapter, where Rex and Ahsoka save one another, after everything they’ve been through and more importantly those final images.

Despite the betrayal of Order 66, Ahsoka and Rex bury each of the clones that died on their ship, marking their graves with their helmets, and leaving her light sabers behind. When Vader finds the scene he picks up the saber and looks to the sky walking away.

It’s over, and as far as anyone knows, Ahsoka Tano is dead, the only Jedi who truly understood Anakin Skywalker, (Not a Jedi) and Anakin himself is about as gone as possible right now.

This show has come to mean so much to me over these past few years. It’s deepened my love for this world and these stories that have always been with me, that will always be with me.

And so much of that comes from Ahsoka. From this girl who learned her own code and morality, who will help people when they need it, no matter what. I’m so grateful for her, thank you to Dave Filoni and Ashley Eckstein for her. Seriously, watching her story unfold has been the greatest pleasure, and seeing this chapter close properly was wonderful.

Star Wars will always be my favorite fandom. It is home, even when it’s at it’s worst I love it so much. These past eleven weeks have been such a gift, and I’m tremendously happy to have had them.

Next week we talk about the Darth Vader comics. Which I very much enjoyed.

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: Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi

The thing about Return Of The Jedi is that I really love it a lot. I like endings, and I particularly like happy endings of the fairy tale variety. Where good triumphs, and evil retreats defeated.

So, I really like Return Of The Jedi that has that in spades, plus a strong theme of family and legacy and the things we need to take. It includes some pretty strong bullshit, (from a certain point of view) and it’s certainly a more clumsy movie than either of it’s predecessors, but I love that ending. I love Luke redeeming his father. I love the rescue sequence in Jabba’s palace.

The main thing though, that again, this project has given me is perspective on the series as an organic whole, and you can really start to see the clunkiness that is Lucas’s style take shape. Luke and Leia’s conversation where he reveals their sibling relationship is about as bad as “I hate sand.” It’s better because Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are better than Hayden Christiansen, but the dialog itself is bad, bad, bad.

Luckily, it’s just the one scene, the rest of the movie feels more natural, clearer and is really lovely. Frank Oz is probably my favorite part of both Empire and Jedi. 

Yoda’s role in the saga is kind of ridiculously great and one of my favorite, “go by the seat of your pants” legacies of Star Wars, his prominence in the saga is something of a fluke because of the great performance in Empire. People love Yoda, so Lucas gave the people what they wanted. (You know, kind of.)

Overall it’s hard to describe what exactly made the original Star Wars trilogy work. It really, really shouldn’t. It’s hokey, and strange and  lovely, and I’m so glad it exists.

Next week we talk about Star Wars: Resistance, which I have already finished as of this writing and that I love with all of my heart.

Like My Father Before Me

I think it’s just my slight contrarion nature that makes me dig my heels in about Empire. I get that it’s objectively from a filmmaking perspective the best movie. But it doesn’t move my heart the way Return of The Jedi does. (I realize that after tomorrow, we can no longer just call it Jedi…that’s kind of weird…)

Anyway, here’s some stuff we get:

  • Jabba The Hutt and his weirdly psycho sexual den of inequity. This also leads to Twi’lek slave girls, and of course, Leia in that damn bikini. (But also Leia the Hutt Slayer)
  • Han and Leia are an official couple! YAY!
  • Luke is a Jedi (almost) though Yoda and Obi-Wan’s ghost claim that he can’t be a real Jedi until he kills his dad. I mean, I love them and all, but that’s a real dick move. (Turns out that in order to be a real Jedi, all Luke has to actually do is stand up and declare it.)
  • Obi-Wan reveals that Luke has a sister. Luke thinks about it and notes that he only knows like one girl, so it’s probably her.
  • We meet the Emperor. So that’s pretty cool. He’s a huge asshole. He no longer controls everyone around him, but he still thinks he does.
  • Yoda dies. After the rebels win, Luke sees his ghost standing alongside Obi-Wan’s, and suddenly, Ooooh, his father, who appears as his sexy-pants, 20-something self. (This is controversial, a lot of people are made very angry by it. I think it’s sort of dumb, but eh.)
  • Vader straight up refers to Luke as “My son” the whole movie. This is because he is awakening to his true self.
  • Luke never attacks in that light saber fight. It’s not the Jedi way.
  • Everytime that I see Luke burn Vader’s body now, I think about how weird it is that Kylo Ren went to Endor and took the helmet all melty like so that he could mope in front of it begging for guidance to the dark side.

That’s it for the original triology! Tomorrow we’ll  talk about The Force Awakens, and then OMG YOU GUYS! The Last Jedi, comes out tomorrow! WHO’S EXCITED!

Do Or Do Not, I Know, I am Your Father

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back is largely regarded as the best of all the Star Wars movies. I quibble with that. (I have very strong feelings about A New Hope) But it’s a very good movie, and I always enjoy watching it.

Let’s dive in!

  • Luke is a Commander now. Way to get promoted Luke. He’s also been continuing his Jedi training somehow…instinct? Those holograms that Kanaan and Ahsoka used to teach Ezra? Kanaan or Ezra themselves???? (SHUT UP THIS IS MY HEADCANON!)
  • Obi-Wan’s force ghost shows up. Hello first Force-Ghost!
  • Han and Leia have a thing going on. It develops into a full on love affair. She finally says she loves him as he’s about to be frozen in carbonite. He responds with “I know.” Women everywhere fall on the floor.
  • Speaking of swooning, we meet Lando Calrissian, smoothest opperator in the whole dang galaxy.
  • Luke goes to Dagobah to train with Yoda. Yoda has, kind of lost in seventeen years of exile. He’s still a badass, but he’s on the bonkers side. He and Obi-Wan have some force ghost chats.
  • Luke faces a phantom version of Darth Vader in a cave. When he strikes it down, his own face is revealed inside the mask. FORESHADOWING!
  • Vader is looking for Luke, and decides the best way to find him is by torturing his friends. I assume he comes up with this plan because you know, it’s what he, Anakin Skywalker would do.
  • Luke goes to Cloud City to save Leia and Han, thus falling into Vader’s trap. Vader cut’s off his hand, reveals that he’s his father, and that he has a plan to overthrow the emperor together. (Anakin is BAD AT PLANS. Vader is SLIGHTLY BETTER AT THEM, but this one seems not so great.)
  • Yoda eludes to another who could help with the whole restarting the Jedi bussiness. (This means Leia.)
  • While Leia and Han are on the run, they are pursued by bounty hunters, including one Boba Fett. I wonder, does Vader recognize Boba as the brother clone of his former troops?
  • This is also the first instance of Wedge Antilles! (WEDGE!) And the use of the “Rogue” call sign (ROGUE!)

 

Our most desperate hour, final confrontation and ALL THE SEXY

Hey guys! We’re into Star Wars: Episide IV: A New Hope (also three posts today, whaaaatttt…) also know as simply Star Wars.

This is the one that started it all…and what a start it is!

Here’s what we get:

  • It’s been 17 years of Imperial rule. Luke Skywalker intends to enroll in the Imperial Academy, to get the eff off Tatooine.
  • Princess Leia is also a senator (badass) she’s also a spy! (Awesome!) She also sends the Death Star Plans to Obi-Wan in R2-D2! (She’s the best) unfortunately her badassery leads to her planet being blown up.
  • Alderaan blows up
  • Han Solo (he of all the sexy) transports Luke and Obi-Wan to blown up Alderaan in order to circumvent the bounty Jabba The Hutt has placed on him.
  • Obi-Wan gives Luke Anakin’s Light Saber. Also tells him a big ol lie about Darth Vader murdering Anakin
  • Speaking of, Obi-Wan and Vader face off. Vader kills him, he becomes One With The Force.
  • Luke blows up the Death Star (with a defensive assist from Han) Vader proves that he’s still a great pilot.

So that’s that! I wish I had more to say but most of what we’re told in this movie gets laid out in the prequels.

The Dark Side Rises, Anakin makes some weird decisions, and TWINS!

Look, you know how you can really love something but know deep down in your heart of hearts that it’s complete and total garbage?

That’s how I feel about Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of The Sith. It’s objectively an awful awful film, but I love every illogical twist and bit of scenery chewing in it.

However, as I watched it last night, with a fever of at least 100, and barely able to breath through my nose (also why this post is so late tonight…I slept rather than write it last night or this morning.) I didn’t find it as charming as usual. (Check out my twitter for more on that.

Anyway! On to the mythology:

  • Palpatine tells Anakin the story of Darth Plagieous, who was able to create and destroy life through mastery of the force. Sidious was Plagious’s apprentice, who evetnually killed him. It is also believed that Plagieous’s experiments caused Anakin’s conception. He’s an important figure who we’ve never met. (There are several theories that Snoke is Plagieous…I’m less than convinced on that one.)
  • Anakin embraces the darkside again, killing Dooku while the older man is unarmed (And at Palpatine’s behest), and then you know, slaughtering a temple full of children…
  • We learn that the clones have had a secret order in their programming, “Order 66” meant to turn them on their Jedi commanders. As far as we know, only Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda survive the order, and Anakin’s purge of the temple. (If you’re a Clone Wars and Rebels person you know that Ahsoka Tano, having left the Jedi order also gets away and Kanaan Jarris, a padowan, escapes the temple) (If you’re a normal fan, those names mean nothing to you BUT THEY SHOULD! Watch Clone Wars and Rebels they are amazing)
  •  Obi-Wan, Yoda and Bail Organa basically start the rebellion because you wanna know who doesn’t mess around? Bail Organa! You know who raised the greatest badass the galaxy’s ever seen? Bail Organa! You know what? I think we can all be grateful to Rogue One for finally giving Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa a good movie to be in at long last.
  • After dueling on Mustafar, Obi-Wan leaves Anakin for dead, picking up his light saber on the way out. He later gives it to Luke. Luke loses it when Darth Vader cuts off his hand (before revealing that he’s in fact Anakin) Somehow, Maz Kanata got it, and Rey found it. But this is the first time it passes hands.
  • Padme gives birth to Luke and Leia and then promptly dies. This is a HUGE BUMMER and as a character she deserved better. However, it gives us a hint to Leia’s force sensitivity, as she notes to Luke later that she remembers her birth mother.
  • Leia is sent to Alderaan to be raised by Bail Organa and be a princess and a badass. Luke is sent to Tatooine to grow up with Owen and Baru Lars, living a brutal and boring life as a moisture farmer. This feels like it’s a rough deal for Luke.
  • Oh, also Yoda was fighting on Kashyyk, the Wookie planet, during order 66, and Chewbacca was there! HOORAY!
  • Once he’s fully transformed, black helmet and all, Vader begins supervising the construction of the Death Star. Somewhere, tiny little Jyn Erso is crying for her daddy.

So that’s Episode III, it’s a trash fire, but it’s my beloved trash fire.

 

Impressive, Most Impressive

Movie Post Season: Round 5

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story inspires Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

empire

I barely had to pay attention, I have watched this movie so many times. But what to focus on, when comparing it to it’s new younger brother. (Which, I now hold as like, my fifth favorite Star Wars movie.) And while there are lots of things in Empire that I think could directly correlate with Rogue One, I think that main one is the legacy of fathers and children.

Both Luke and Jyn are out to outrun and live up to their father’s legacies simultaneously, and both wind up learning about something that they didn’t expect about said father. A) That he’s alive, and B) that he’s not on the side that they initially thought he was.

In Rogue One, Jyn has convinced herself that her father is dead, but in fact he’s alive and working for the empire, but then, twist! Turns out he’s trying his best to be a good guy. Luke, has always believed his father was a great hero, a powerful Jedi, and of course, that he’s dead. His father, like Jyn’s, not dead, and is in fact the villain to end all villains.

While Jyn gets half the movie to deal with this information, Luke gets, well, a whole movie, but it’s not this one. Both are huge bombshells that matter in not only the hero’s relationship with their father, but in their entire identity. Jyn becomes a hero because her father wanted to save the universe for her. Luke, on the other hand, considers himself the son of Anakin Skywalker, the hero, the greatest Jedi to ever live, or whatever, and instead, he learns that his father is Darth Vader and that his mentor lied to him.

That’s a lot of disillusionment for one little farm boy and one badass space pirate? (What was her deal exactly? Seriously, I was less into that movie than others…) But either way.

The Bard And The Wars

So for Christmas I was given a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy by Ian Doescher.

It is probably the greatest gift I’ve ever been given and over the past few weeks has given me oodles of enjoyment, as a Star Wars fan, as a casual Shakespeare scholar, and just a general nerd.

By rewriting George Lucas’s saga in iambic pentameter (For the most part, Yoda, for example, speaks in Haiku…for reasons…) Doescher has done an excellent job of capturing the epic themes of the series and just, I mean, it’s delightful.

With his wallowing and inspirational speeches, Luke Skywalker becomes Henry V, all young fire and heart and heading off to war.

Their bantering love story taken out of naturalism and into poetry, Han Solo and Princess Leia become Beatrice and Benedick, snapping at one another with instant regretful asides.

Darth Vader is Iago, all menacing and brooding and tragic, becoming later something closer to Caliban, a slave to every baser instinct provided him by the emperor rather than a free creature.

But my favorite invention of Doescher’s is the path he created for the droids. To be fair, R2-D2 and C-3PO are for sure the most Shakespearean characters in Star Wars, the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of it all. But Doescher even further complicates it. (As it would be in any of the comedies.) R2 is actually a deeply intelligent and eloquent being but is playing a “prank” on 3PO with his beeps and boops.

This is a prank only in the Shakespearean way, in that, the audience and the character know a thing, and it’s very disruptive and is not even vaguely funny, just sort of odd.

I found it delightful.

In fact I found the whole trilogy a great deal of fun, and since I still can’t get enough Star Wars these days, I’m happy to have another outlet for it. (Still haven’t seen Force Awakens again, but that’s more me needing to watch X-Files and nothing but in order to be done in time for the new episodes than not wanting to. I wanted to go last night, but instead, well, I watched X-Files.)

Anyway, check out William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, they’re quick reads a good deal of fun!

That and I’m so so so so so close to finishing X-Files and then I can unclench and actually enjoy things again.  22 episode and I Want To Believe, and then obviously the 6 new episodes. My eye is on the prize here people, and yes, I am watching four episodes a day at this point. It’s a lot. But I’ll finish DAMNIT!