Weekly Comic Star Wars 100s: Novel Edition

By Rob Siebert
Herf Nerder

For the past few years, I’ve been setting reading quotas for myself. In this instance, “reading” refers to traditional prose books and audiobooks rather than comics. Not because of the antiquated notion that comics and graphic novels don’t count as reading. I just think it’s healthy to have a balance of both. I use Goodreads to track and gamify it.

For better or worse, I’ve been reading Star Wars novels since the fifth grade. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but yeah…it’s been a matter of decades, not years. While I’ve tried to phase them out at various times, they always come back. They’re like the Sith in that sense.

After all this time, instead of fighting the impulse to dive back into that galaxy far, far away, I’ve simply accepted that they’re a guilty pleasure of mine. Thus, of the 15 books I’ve read this year, eight are from the Star Wars Universe. That’s fair right? A roughly 50/50 balance.

Thanks to this lovely pandemic we’re experiencing, I’m one of the many whose had a chance to do quite a bit of reading. And so, in my standard Weekly Comic 100s format, I present to you a set of mini-reviews from my Star Wars selections in 2020. As you’ll see, I’ve made a point to differentiate between prose and audiobooks. I’ve also left out the Rise of Skywalker novelization, as I’ve said quite a bit about that already. (1, 2, 3, 4.)

TITLE: Resistance Reborn
AUTHOR: Rebecca Roanhorse
PAGE COUNT:
PUBLISHED: November 5, 2019

I don’t know that I would call this a thrilling read, nor would I say it enhances the Rise of Skywalker viewing experience very much. The most notable thing it does is bring Wedge Antilles back into the fold for his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the movie.

Still, Resistance Rising is well-written and provides a little bit of context for where the galaxy is at heading into Episode XI. No harm, no foul.

TITLE: Thrawn: Treason
AUTHOR: Timothy Zahn
READ BY: Marc Thompson
DURATION:

RELEASED: July 23, 2019

This wasn’t at all what I expected. The title and cover lead you to believe Thrawn commits all-out treason, pitting he and the Chiss against the Empire. That is not what we get. The “treason” in question is very subdued. You can barely even refer to it as that.

Timothy Zahn is one of the godfathers of the Star Wars novel, and will be returning to Thrawn with a new book later this year. While there’s no one more qualified to write the character than him, I can’t say I’ll be rushing to pick that one up.

TITLE: Canto Bight
AUTHORS: Saladin Ahmed, Rae Carson, Mira Grant, John Jackson Miller
READ BY: Sean Kenin, Saskia Maarleveld, Marc Thompson, Jonathan Davis
RELEASED: December 5, 2017

Kedpin Shoklop. That’s what I think of when somebody says this title. It’s the name of the main character in the first of the four novellas in this book. You can’t have a more Star Wars name than that.

My expectations weren’t particularly high or low for this one. But I’d call Canto Bight an overachiever. Especially because it’s based on The Last Jedi, which obviously wasn’t received in the friendliest of ways. It peaks early, but it’s still very much a worthwhile read.

TITLE: Force Collector
AUTHOR: Kevin Shinick
PAGE COUNT:
RELEASED: November 19, 2019

Definitely one of the more enjoyable stories leading up to The Rise of Skywalker, as we meet a young Force-sensitive in the years prior to The Force Awakens. As you might have gathered, his abilities manifest in a very specific way.

While this is supposedly a one-and-done, Shinick manages to create enough intrigue with the that I wouldn’t mind at all seeing what happens to Kaz as the events of the sequel trilogy progress.

TITLE: Ahsoka (Audiobook)
AUTHOR: E.K. Johnston
READ BY: Ashley Eckstein
RELEASED: October 3, 2017

I heard the new season of The Clone Wars nullifies something in this book. That’s a shame, as this is one of the better books to come out of the new canon. It’s got an entertaining and action-packed story.

This is one of the few instances where I can definitively recommend listening to the audiobook, as it’s narrated by the actress that voices Ahsoka in Clone Wars and Rebels.

TITLE: Queen’s Shadow (Audiobook)
AUTHOR: Rae Carson
READ BY: Catherine Taber
RELEASED: May 25, 2018

Is it a coincidence that both E.K. Johnston books are voiced by their corresponding Clone Wars actors?

Queen’s Shadow is something of an odd duck. The narrative has a strange flow to it. It’s an enjoyable listen, though. That’s an accomplishment, as Padme scenes can be famously boring. I liked it enough that I’ll be reading the prequel, Queen’s Peril, when it comes out next month.

TITLE: Most Wanted (Audiobook)
AUTHOR: Rae Carson
READ BY: Saskia Maarleveld
RELEASED: May 25, 2018

This one is more or less what you expect it to be. Which, if you picked it up for yourself, is to say it’s what you want it to be.

We’re with an 18-year-old Han not-yet-Solo. We see a couple of the formative events in his life. Namely the evolution of his relationship with Qi’ra and the first time he experiences space travel. Han also has a nice supporting cast in this book, which is cool to see. Another little oddity about this book? It takes place mostly on one planet: Corellia.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Review – Kylo Ren and Misc. Edition

***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization by Rae Carson. Naturally, as the “Expanded Edition,” it’s intended to supplement the events of the film and hopefully fill some of those gaping plotholes. Naturally as a Star Wars geek, I’ve got opinions. Too many to fit into a single review. Thus, welcome to the fourth and final of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***

By Rob Siebert
Holds the Holocron of Useless Knowledge

1. Hux Hated Kylo Ren’s Hair
Obviously Armitage Hux despised Kylo Ren. They were at odds since we first saw them in The Force Awakens. Eventually Hux would betray everything he stood for to make sure Kylo Ren was defeated. He hated him for a great many reasons…

But his hair?

There’s a line early in the book about Hux not liking Kylo Ren’s hair because it wasn’t regulation. True, obviously. Perhaps a nice little reminder of just how deep Hux’s hatred ran. But what a weird thing to mention in a Star Wars novel. Not bad. Just weird.

2. The Interrogation of Chewbacca
This has gotten plenty of press. So I won’t go on too long about it. But yes, for some bizarre, inexplicable reason this scene was cut from the film. A scene where Kylo Ren gets to interrogate his “Uncle Chewie.”

To her credit, Carson writes it very well. Complete with quick flashes to Ben Solo’s childhood. I’m not sure if they filmed it or not. But at least we get to see it here.

3. Threepio in Chewie’s gear
There was a promotional image floating around for this movie that absolutely terrified me. On numerous posters, there was an image of Threepio wearing Chewbacca’s gear and carrying his bowcaster. Naturally this sparked a lot of questions, not the least asked was, “What the hell is happening with Threepio in this movie?” We’d seen the shot of him with the red eyes, and now this? Were they turning this robotic British butler into a war machine? *cue the AC/DC song*

But, to quote Eric Bichoff, “Context is King.” During the mission to rescue Chewbacca aboard Kylo Ren’s ship, there’s a scene where Rey thrusts all of the Wookie’s things into Threepio’s arms. When we next see the droid, he’s wearing Chewie’s bandolier (THAT’s what that thing is called…) and satchel, and carrying his bowcaster. He’s not using them. He’s simply wearing them for comedic effect.

Thank God. C3PO’s an interpreter, not a fighter.

I’m assuming one of two things happened here, and both of them take place in a marketing meeting. One possibility? Some oblivious executive saw that shot of Threepio with weapons and said, “Hey, that looks kinda cool. Let’s use it.”

On the other hand, it could have been someone completely in the know, who saw that image and said, “That’ll drive the fans crazy and drum up all sorts of speculation. Let’s use it.”

Ignorance or intelligence? It’s a question we find ourselves asking far too often in more than one walk of life…

4. Poe Dameron is a secret asshole.
I’ve grown to dislike the Poe Dameron character. Hindsight being 20/20, he should have died in The Force Awakens. But that’s another story for another time. (Literally. I’m going to write something that breaks that down.)

He didn’t do himself any favors in my eyes by treating C-3PO the way he did in The Rise of Skywalker. I get the sense they were trying to establish a dynamic like the one Threepio had with Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. The problem with that is that while they’re quite alike at face value, we actually like Han Solo. He’s a charming, snarky rogue. Poe Dameron is not charming. He’s childishly impulsive and got a lot of people killed in The Last Jedi.

That’s not to say Threepio should be revered or considered a relic. But Carson establishes that Leia has told Rey about the droid’s long history. This is the third war he’s been in over the course of 50 years. If Leia told Rey, you’ve got to believe she told Poe at some point.

The final nail in the coffin is that in Empire we liked Threepio. So we forgave his endless whining and nagging. By the time we get to The Rise of Skywalker, ol’ Goldenrod has been with us for nine movies. More than that if you count the Clone Wars cartoon. So while he shouldn’t be revered in-universe, he’s very much revered by us. So picking on him excessively just makes Poe look mean.

5. Wicket W. Warrick
The Rise of Skywalker desperately wants to be Return of the Jedi. Thus, we have a cameo from Wicket. It’s implied in the movie that the little guy next to him is his son. The novel confirms that is indeed the case. Wicket has a son named Pommet. (Pommet Warrick?)

Until I saw the movie a second time, I’d forgotten they borrowed from Jedi (the special edition at least) yet again by cutting to various planets we’ve been to throughout the saga. In that context, the Wicket cameo makes much more sense.

While the novel only takes us to Endor, the movie shows us Bespin and Jakku as well. They probably went with Bespin because of Lando being in the movie. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have opted for Naboo or Coruscant, though. Heck, maybe even Canto Bight.

6. Who Came to the Rescue
While the novel doesn’t reveal the identities of the Jedi that Rey hears, it does tell us who responded to Lando’s distress call. Or at least the names we know…

– The Mon Calamari fleet, who we saw in the Allegiances comic from Marvel.
– Phantom Squadron. If I’m not mistaken, this is a reference to the old Star Wars: Legacy book Dark Horse did. It took place 130 years after the Battle of Yavin.
– The Ghost, the main ship from Rebels. Hera is likely aboard.
Alphabet Two, a callback to the Alphabet Squadron books by Alexander Freed. The first one is sitting on my nightstand. I couldn’t get into it, but am going to try the audiobook.
– Zay Versio, daughter of Iden Versio, the main character from Battlefront II.
– Kazuda Xiono, the main character from the Resistance cartoon.

I’ve also heard some buzz about Dash Rendar being among the rescuers. His ship, the Outrider, definitely appears in the movie.

7. All You Need is Love
When you get right down to it, this the main reason the book is better than the movie: It gives valuable context to Leia’s sacrifice.

When she reaches out to Ben with the Force, the former Kylo Ren realizes his mother has forgiven him. That she has continued to love him despite his turn to the dark side.

Snoke lied and manipulated him for years, convincing him that his family never cared about him. Just the New Republic. Later, the Resistance.

But Leia’s sacrifice changes all that. Kylo Ren dies when Ben Solo sees that he is loved. By both his mother and his father. Cue the Harrison Ford appearance.) I can’t even begin to say how important these details are. It explains how Han and Leia’s son turned to the dark side, broke up their family, and set about conquering the galaxy with the First Order.

More importantly, it makes sense. Imagine being the only son of two war heroes, one of whom was one of the leaders of the original Rebel Alliance. Imagine being the only Force-sensitive descendant of the Skywalker bloodline. Your uncle is Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi and the one tasked with reviving the order. Your grandmother was a beloved queen and senator, and ultimately one of the founders of the Alliance.

Your grandfather was a Jedi, a hero of the Clone Wars, and in the end the one who brought down the entire Jedi Order and bent the galaxy to the Empire’s will.

Ben Solo thought his parents saw him as a tool. A means to an end. Not a son. But something to strengthen their New Republic, their cause. This could explain part of why he was so interested in Rey. Originally, it was because of her strength in the Force. But in The Last Jedi he learned that she cared about him. The way his family supposedly never had.

But of course, they loved him all along. Had these details been explored in The Rise of Skywalker, or even better, in The Last Jedi, it would have effected the entire sequel trilogy for the better.

Anakin Skywalker’s journey was about not being able to save the people he loved and winding up alone.

Ben Solo’s journey was about identifying with Darth Vader’s loneliness to the point of idolization, only to realize he was never alone at all.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Review – Rey Edition

***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization by Rae Carson. Naturally, as the “Expanded Edition,” it’s intended to supplement the events of the film and hopefully fill some of those gaping plotholes. Naturally as a Star Wars geek, I’ve got opinions. Too many to fit into a single review. Thus, welcome to the third of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***

By Rob Siebert
A.K.A. Rob Skywalker

1. Force-Healing Powers.
Why did everybody get so bent out of shape about Rey’s Force-healing powers? Forget the fact that if you’re into Star Wars lore, you already know there were Jedi healers. But let’s say you’re not, and you’re still upset…

So the Force is a mystical energy field that binds the galaxy together, and the Jedi have access to it. What does that mean? For story purposes, it can mean whatever you want it to mean.

In the original film, it meant Obi-Wan could control people’s minds and make Stormtroopers hear things that weren’t really there. It also meant Luke could see through solid objects, hear Obi-Wan’s voice in his head, and move a proton torpedo with his mind.

Then in Empire, it also meant Luke could jump really high to avoid being frozen in carbonite, and that Darth Vader could stop blaster bolts with his hand.

In Return of the Jedi, it meant that if you were a bad guy, you could shoot lightning out of your fingers.

In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan could run super-fast like the Flash.

In The Last Jedi, it meant Luke could essentially project a hologram of himself across the galaxy. Oh, and that Snoke could link Kylo Ren’s mind with Rey’s.

Now in this movie it means Rey can heal a serpent monster, and Ben can save Rey’s life.

Folks, I know a lot of Expanded Universe stuff has been written about the Force, Jedi powers, etc. But at the end of the day, George Lucas was making this stuff up as he went along. He didn’t bend the rules of reality too far, but he used it to suit the story’s needs.

So if Force-healing has always been a thing, why didn’t Luke use it to save Vader’s life? Why didn’t Obi-Wan use it to save Qui-Gon’s? I don’t know. I just know they didn’t. That’s enough for me.

2. Rey Fixed Luke’s X-Wing
Okay, so healing someone with your magic powers? I’m okay with that. But fixing a spaceship that’s been underwater for years and is missing a wing? That’s where I draw the line, damn it!

In the movie when Luke raises his X-Wing out of the water on Ahch-To, it seems like it’s primed and set. As if he’s somehow been fixing it underwater in a translucent scuba suit or something. The book gives us further details. They don’t make the notion that Rey flew Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing into the unknown regions of space any less silly. But I’m glad they’re there.

On page 200 (of the original hardcover edition), we learn Rey didn’t just have to patch the wing that was serving as the door to Luke’s hut. She also had to use parts from Kylo Ren’s Tie Whisper, which she’d just set ablaze, and do a bunch of rewiring. The ship, might never fight againBut it was still fighter class, and its transition from vacuum to atmo was seamless.

Of course it was.

A little Wookiepedia research tells me that, assuming Luke went into exile soon after Ben destroyed his temple, that X-Wing was probably down there about six years. Jedi or not, plop my dirty Honda Civic in the ocean for six years and see how quickly you can get it running. Just sayin…

3. “Be With Me”
Like the movie, the book doesn’t specify who exactly is talking to Rey as all the Jedi of the past are rooting her on. It’s better that way, of course. After all, how would Rey know what Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, or Anakin Skywalker sound like? The only obvious tell is Yoda based on his speech patterns. And of course, she recognizes Luke.

There’s also an interesting line in here about not all these voices necessarily coming from beyond the grave…

Presences filled her awareness, some recent, some ancient, some still anchored to the living in a strange way. Rey didn’t understand. But she accepted.

I assume that’s in there not just to keep Ashoka Tano’s fate a secret, but because certain Force sensitives around the galaxy could feel what was happening and were cheering Rey on. Even if they weren’t quite aware they were doing it. “Broom boy” from The Last Jedi comes to mind. And of course there’s Finn.

4. The Lars Homestead; “Rey Skywalker”
Upon second viewing, the movie is better at covering Rey’s exploration of the Lars Homestead than I remembered. We get a lot of familiar shots, only these places are now partially buried in sand. Probably stripped for parts too.

The implication, at least the way I interpreted it, was that Rey would now be the one to train a new generation of Jedi. She’d do it from the Lars Homestead, where Luke’s journey began, and where Anakin also had strong ties.

As it turns out, that’s not the case. At the end of the book, she and BB-8 get back in the Falcon and fly off. Presumably back to Ajan Kloss.

That’s disappointing. Yes, I’m sure different Empire/First Order survivors or sympathizers across the galaxy know where Anakin and Luke were born. They’re likely more than capable of following their trail back to Tatooine.

But in terms of closing the book on the so-called “Skywalker saga,” it’s poetic not just to see it end where it began. But to see it begin there again. I understand why they closed the movie with the image of Rey and BB-8. But in terms of the book going with the whole “alone with friends” theme might have been better. Sure, BB-8 is there. But we’ve also got C-3PO to help translate old Jedi texts. R2-D2 to do astromech droid stuff, and provide anecdotes from his days with both Anakin and Luke. Then there’s Finn. Rey’s first student.

Finally, the book gives us a brief moment where Luke, as he and Leia’s spiritual presences look on at Rey, grants her permission to use his family name.

It’s yours, Rey.

And so we reach an ending. But every ending is also a beginning.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Review – Leia Edition

***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization. Naturally, as the “Expanded Edition,” it’s intended to supplement the events of the film and hopefully fill some of those gaping plotholes. Naturally as a Star Wars geek, I’ve got opinions. Too many to fit into a single review. Thus, welcome to the second of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***

By Rob Siebert
Would not be called “General Rob”

1. “General Leia”
When The Force Awakens came out, I understand why she was marketed as “General Leia.” The world had known her as Princess Leia for almost 40 years. Calling her General Organa, or even General Leia Organa, might be confusing for some. I don’t think the name Organa is said at any point in the original trilogy.

In the movies they did the right thing. She wasn’t General Leia. She was General Organa. Or just Leia. But in the Rise novelization she’s called “General Leia” a handful of times. It’s off-putting. Consider this: In Return of the Jedi we didn’t have General Han or General Lando. It was General Solo and General Calrissian.

So let’s get this down once and for all: In licensing meetings she can be General Leia. But in-story? She’s General Organa.

2. Luke Was Speaking to Leia From Beyond.
As the story begins, Leia knows she’s dying. Thanks in no small part to getting blown into space during The Last Jedi. She knew she had to maximize the time she had left. What’s more, she had a persistent voice telling her that her time to go was now.

Between helping Rey and bugging Leia, Luke was a busy Force Ghost.

Their first exchange in the book is simply…
“Leia. It’s time.”
“Not just yet.”

Brother later told sister, “There is only one thing left. Then you can rest.”

Finally, when Leia sacrificed herself reaching out to Ben and passes into the Force, she feels “a surge of welcome from Luke, who was not alone…”

I’d like to think he’s not talking about all the other Jedi we hear from later. Though that would mean she’d get to see her father, and even Obi-Wan Kenobi. To yours truly, the ideal vision is Anakin, Padme, Luke, Leia, and Han. The Skywalker family reunited in full. Sticklers will tell us that neither Padme nor Han could have preserved their consciousness in the Force.

But it’s intentionally left vague. I imagine there’s a reason for that.

3. Leia’s Jedi Training
With Luke gone, Leia was the only one left who could offer Rey anything remotely resembling Jedi training. She wasn’t a Jedi herself. But as we’d later learn, she was very much a qualified teacher.

The novel delightfully yet briefly touches on Luke’s training of Leia. Nothing too extensive. But we learn that her training, or at least much of it, took place on Ajan Kloss, the planet the Resistance is based on when the story begins. Luke would often compare Leia’s training to his with Yoda. Thus, he tended to refer to Ajan Kloss as “nice Dagobah.”

Certain things came naturally to Leia. Not long after the Battle of Endor, Luke tried to teach Leia a lesson in patience by having her stand on her head for a long period of time. Much like he did with Yoda. In response to taunts he threw her way, she used the Force floated up and on to her feet. “You’re going to make me a better teacher,” Luke said.

4. The Tantive IV
Remember the first ship we see in the original Star Wars? The blockade runner that gets captured by the Star Destroyer? Yeah, apparently that’s not only still functioning 34 years later, but it’s in this damn story. It’s even in the big space battle at the end. It goes down, though. Among the casualties aboard are Nien Nunb, Lando’s co-pilot from Return of the Jedi.

This movie and it’s original trilogy collectibles. Honestly.

5. “Leia Was Stronger Than All of Us”
Luke says that to Rey during their scene on Ach-To.

This book practically worships Leia. Which I’m actually okay with. Not because of Carrie Fisher’s death, though that does make it more poignant. It’s because in the end, Leia was the strongest person in the saga. There’s actually a line in the book

Rian Johnson touched on this in the commentary track for The Last Jedi. Over the course of her life, Leia…

– Was taken from her birth parents.
– Lost her adoptive parents when her world exploded, as she was forced to stand by and watch.
– Discovered her father was Darth Vader, who was the one to hold her in place and make her watch aforementioned explosion.
– Lost her son to the dark side, just as Vader had been lost to it.
– Lost her husband when he was murdered by aforementioned son.
– Lost her brother when he sacrificed himself to save the Resistance.
– Endured the death of so many friends. In the sequel trilogy she also lost Holdo, who’d been a childhood friend, and Admiral Ackbar, whom she’d known since the days of the Rebellion.

And yet, when the galaxy needed her to fight, she kept on fighting.

Turns out Leia, like Carrie Fisher, was as tough as they come.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Rise of Skywalker Novelization Review – Palpatine Edition

***I just recently finished the Rise of Skywalker novelization. Naturally, as the “Expanded Edition,” it’s intended to supplement the events of the film and hopefully fill some of those gaping plotholes. Naturally as a Star Wars geek, I’ve got opinions. Too many to fit into a single review. Thus, welcome to the first of my multi-part Rise of Skywalker novelization review!***

By Rob Siebert
Has a LOT of free time during quarantine.

1. After the Big Boom
The book confirms something that a lot of fans already suspected: The Palpatine we saw in The Rise of Skywalker was indeed a clone. Or rather, the real Palpatine’s consciousness in a clone’s body.

There are more than a few Darth Plagueis references in the novel, which is a nice touch. Having learned from his old master how to cheat death, the Emperor began working on his contingency plan when he sensed the conflict in Darth Vader.

Palpatine’s consciousness left his body as he fell toward the Death Star core in Return of the Jedi. It traveled “far, far away to a secret place he had been preparing.” I can only assume that secret place was Exegol. But his new body wasn’t fully prepared, and his various Sith heretics rushed to sustain him. Obviously they never fully succeeded, as he would eventually plan to take Rey’s body as his own.

I know some fans thought Palpatine’s survival essentially negated the end of Return of the Jedi. I never really got that logic. Darth Vader was redeemed, the Empire was dealt a fatal blow, and the galaxy had three decades of peace. Not a bad deal as far as I’m concerned.

2. “They turned our kids into our enemies.”
Since The Force Awakens, one concept that’s both fascinated and frustrated me is the formation of the First Order. How they came together, what they want, how they’re different from the Empire, etc.

Lando has a few lines in this book that I really wish they’d put in the movie. During the scene on Pasaana where he tells Rey and the others he’s not coming back with them, he says…

“First Order went after us – the leaders from the old wars. They took our kids. … My girl wasn’t even old enough to walk. Far as I know, she’s a stormtrooper now. … They turned our kids into our enemies. My girl. Han and Leia’s son, Ben. To kill the spirit of the Rebellion for good.”

When you take into account Palpatine was been behind the First Order from the start, and that he’s essentially the most patient villain in pop culture history, that makes all the sense in the world. What better way to not only take the galaxy back, but to exact revenge on the heroes of the Rebellion than by targeting the next generation? You turn Han and Leia’s son into your unwitting apprentice, and you get Lando’s daughter as a bonus. The movie never even indicated that Lando had a daughter…

To an extent, the whole “They took our kids” thing applies to Luke as well. Remember, all his students ended up dead. All of them.

Ultimately, Palpatine’s plan worked, didn’t it? Han and Leia’s family imploded, Luke went into exile, and Lando ran away from it all.

3. Stormtroopers and Sith Troopers
The book tells us that the Sith Troopers, a.k.a. the red stormtroopers, were pulled from the regular stormtrooper roster, and designated lost in action somehow.

While the novel never indicates this explicitly, I think putting Palpatine in charge of the First Order adds a nice little irony to the stormtroopers being taken as children and forced into training. Because, to an extent, that’s exactly what the Jedi did.

Granted, you can make that argument without Palpatine. But it’s much more poignant with him.

4. You Have One Unheard Message
The first paragraph of the opening title crawl tells us “The galaxy has heard a mysterious  broadcast, a threat of REVENGE in the sinister voice of the late EMPEROR PALPATINE.”

Gotcha. But what did he say exactly? We never hear it in the movie.

Thankfully, the book fills us in…

“At last the work of generations is complete. The great error is corrected. The day of victory is at hand. The day of revenge. The day of the Sith.”

5. More From Dark Empire
While I’m about to talk about this book yet again in relation to The Rise of Skywalker, it must be said that Dark Empire is one of the most atrociously colored books I’ve ever seen. Obviously it was a style choice. But hindsight being 20/20, a different choice would have been better.

This isn’t so much about the novelization as the story itself. In Dark Empire, Palpatine comes back in a clone body and has a fleet of “World Devastators” at his disposal. In the end, he’s defeated by Luke and Leia as they draw strength from words spoken by Yoda as he trained Luke.

Would Star Destroyers with attached Death Star lasers count as “World Devastators?” Asking for a friend…

I’m not trying to make any sort of salacious allusions here. I just find it amazing how prophetic this story from 1995 would turn out to be in terms of a movie that would come out 25 years later. And feature a much older Luke and Leia.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Mental Health Monday: Maybe Tomorrow by Charlotte Agell and Ana Ramírez González

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When it comes to crying over movies, books, TV shows, etc, I’m a tough nut to crack. Until a few days ago, only one book had the distinction of making me tear up: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. I’m sure it was read to me as a kid. But as an adult? I didn’t stand a chance…

But now, The Giving Tree has a companion this regard. Last week, Mrs. Primary Ignition showed me Maybe Tomorrow, written by Charlotte Agell and illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez.

It sounds odd to call this a “non-spoiler” write-up, as we’re talking about a kids picture book. But I want to be as vague as I can be, as it’s really worth going out and reading the book yourself.

Written for readers four to eight years old, is about a hippo and an alligator. (You know, that old trope…) Norris, the alligator, is perpetually happy. So happy that he’s always accompanied by a cloud of butterflies.

Elba, on the other hand, is very sad. She’s tethered to a big black block, which stays with her all the time. Norris makes it his mission to cheer Elba up. But it’s not as simple as it seems.

We later learn that the block represents a specific kind of grief that Elba is literally carrying around with her. But one of the reasons I adore this block metaphor so much is that it can represent virtually anything. When I saw it, it instantly came to represent anxiety, depression, and Attention Deficit Disorder. But whatever you might be living with, even if it’s not a mental illness, it’s so easy to project yourself into this story and relate to this little pink hippo.

One way or another, we all have our own “big black blocks” to drag around.

Every bit as important as the block, is how the Norris character reacts to its everlasting presence. He becomes a model for how to be a friend to someone in Elba’s situation. He does all the right things.

Maybe Tomorrow? also doesn’t have a cut and dry “happily ever after” ending. It’s not a sad ending by any means. I actually found it pretty uplifting. But the book doesn’t shy away from reality, albeit through its unique and colorful veil.

This book is meant to teach children about bad feelings, and how to help someone else when they have bad feelings. But the sad truth is, there are a lot of grown adults in this world who could learn from Norris the dancing alligator and his butterfly buddies.

That might be the best possible praise I can give to this, or any children’s book. It’s lesson is so elementary that even adults, mired in everyday callousness and cynicism, can learn from it too.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

 

A Star Wars: Bloodline Review – Descended From Darkness

Star Wars: BloodlineTITLE: Star Wars: Bloodline
AUTHOR: Claudia Gray
PUBLISHER: Del Rey Books
LIST PRICE: 
$28.00
RELEASED: May 3, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Politics have always been a part of Star Wars. After all, one usually can’t have war without politics. Such things have the spotlight at some points more than others. It’s as much at the forefront in Bloodline as any Star Wars story you’ll ever read. That works to its detriment at times. But ultimately, Bloodline reveals something that may turn out to be a very important factor in Ben Solo’s turn to the dark side.

The book takes place over two decades after Return of the Jedi. The Galactic Senate of the New Republic is divided into two parties. First are the Populists, of whom Leia is a prominent member, who believe planetary authority should be retained by the individual worlds themselves. In contrast, the Centrists believe planets should be governed by a larger government and a more powerful military. Sadly, these two groups are more divided than ever, as such leaving the Senate largely unproductive. But when representatives from the planet Ryloth alert them to the emergence of an organized criminal element, Leia stumbles on to the foundation of a new war for the fate of the galaxy. But Leia is also about to face personal adversity. A secret will be revealed that few have ever known. Even two decades after his death, the shadow of Darth Vader looms heavily.

Star Wars: Bloodlines, postersThe imagery and marketing associated with Bloodline is somewhat misleading. It leads you to believe much of the book is about Leia being nominated for First Senator, more or less the equivalent to what the Chancellor of the Republic was in the prequels. It even comes with a double-sided “Vote Leia” poster, which on the flip side is defaced with an image of Darth Vader and the word “traitor.” In truth, the book has little to do with Leia being part of an election, and more to do with the unraveling of who the criminal group is. This is frustrating, but it doesn’t necessarily tarnish the book. Once we get into the second half, and the Vader element comes into play, things really pick up.

One of the reasons many fans soured on the prequel trilogy was the emphasis on politics, and the happenings in the Senate. Such fans will want to avoid Bloodline. It’s less about the action and more about the intrigue. There’s nothing wrong with that. But as much a die-hard as I am, I had trouble staying interested at times. Mostly during the first half.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Princess LeiaThough it plays the political card pretty heavily, Bloodline is somewhat timely for those who are so inclined. The book is largely about a political body heavily divided in its beliefs as they try to elect a leader. If you pay even the most remote attention to the news, that should sound familiar. It even offers us a little ray of hope, as we see Leia learning to trust and befriend a Centrist senator. Apparently even in a galaxy far, far away, one can reach across the aisle now and then.

One of the great things about new Star Wars stories in 2016 is that there’s so much fertile ground to cover between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. In various Star Wars novels and comic books (including Claudia Gray’s other Star Wars book, Lost Stars), we’ve been getting bits and pieces of the state the galaxy is in, what happened to the Empire, etc. Bloodline offers a lot of that, including how the First Order and the Resistance were formed.

But the major event of this book involves the revelation to the galaxy that Leia is Darth Vader’s daughter. What’s more, Ben Solo, who is off training with Luke Skywalker at this point, doesn’t know the truth about his heritage. That point is understated, but it’s perhaps the most notable development in the entire book. Ben doesn’t know. Imagine learning a secret like that, not from your parents, but from the news. How angry would you be? And in time, wouldn’t you want to know more about the grandfather you never knew you had? For a certain kind of person a fixation, or even an obsession, might form…

Kylo Ren, Darth Vader helmetReportedly, Rian Johnson, the director for Episode VIII, contributed ideas for this book. I’d be floored to learn that either Johnson, or someone on the inside at that movie didn’t float that to Gray. That’s too integral a detail to Ben’s turn to the dark side.

Bloodline isn’t the most thrilling Star Wars book you’ll ever read. Readers will definitely feel its length at times. But it offers an abundance of something many fans are looking for these days: Information. Casual fans may want to leave it on the shelf, but die-hards will gobble this up like a Sarlacc Pit devouring their favorite bounty hunter.

Image 1 from stormtrooperlarry.wordpress.com. Image 2 from cinemablend.com. Image 3 from screen rant.com.

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