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.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: 10 Lingering Questions

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I might have been the last die-hard Star Wars geek to see The Rise of Skywalker. Such things are the case when you’ve got a six-month-old. You can’t very well bring an infant with you to a movie with this many pew-pews and explosions. Although you just know that somebody, somewhere, totally did.

At this juncture, a traditional review is essentially pointless. So I thought I’d try something a little different, and just ask some questions. Some you’ve probably heard by now. But certain others, perhaps not…

In case it needs to be said at this point, ***SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!***

1. Why so much?
The most common complaint I’ve heard about The Rise of Skywalker is how overstuffed it is. It seemed like J.J. Abrams and his co-writer Chris Terrio were trying to make up for lost time, i.e. The Last Jedi. They had to straighten everything out with Palpatine, Snoke, Kylo Ren, the Sith, etc. We had to send our heroes on a bunch of different quests, then deal with Rey’s parentage, have Leia die, and then have the biggest space battle ever you guyz.

As such, the pacing is way too fast. We barely have time to digest anything. You can call that a non-stop, rip roarin’ action adventure if you like. But those quieter character moments are every bit as important, if not more. Rey and Kylo had their share. C-3PO did too. But we didn’t have time for anyone else.

My question is, why overstuff it so much? For instance, going to the planets Kijmi and Pasana. For me, the most interesting planet in this movie was Kijmi, where we met Kerri Russell’s character. Why not just have Rey and the others take the Falcon straight there, find out where the Sith McGuffin thing is, and skip Pasana all together? Did we really need yet another desert planet in the Star Wars universe? They could have found Lando, done the TIE Fighter stunt, and faked Chewie’s death just as easily on Kijmi, and it would have saved us some time.

2. Has Disney learned its lesson about planning this stuff out in advance?
It’s amazing to me that the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its dozens of movies featuring different characters and settings, exists under the same umbrella as this new Star Wars trilogy, which couldn’t stay consistent through three consecutive films.

We learned from The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson that by the time he signed on, the Disney/Lucasfilm brain trust hadn’t figured anything out beyond The Force Awakens. To this day, that’s staggering to me. They had access to Lawrence Kasdan, who co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Not to mention George Lucas himself. And yet they couldn’t be bothered to at least come up with some basic bullet points? If you need to change course at some point, then do so. But at least draw a friggin’ map before you start the trip…

3. Was Chewie really that upset over the whole medal thing? Both The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker go out of their way to “fix” something with Chewbacca.

In The Force Awakens, fans called foul when, upon their return from Starkiller Base, Rey got a hug from Leia, while Chewie seemingly walked by unnoticed. Remember, Han Solo, Leia’s former husband and Chewie’s BFF, had just been killed. By his own son no less. So in The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson had Leia exclaim, “Chewie!” and then give him a big hug. A cute little wink. Harmless.

Since the original film, it’s been a running joke that while Luke and Han got medals for destroying the Death Star, Chewie was left empty-handed. Kind of funny, but again, harmless.

And yet in this movie, after the battle is won, Maz Kanata gives our fuzzy friend one of those Death Star medals. (Presumably Han’s?) I get the gesture. But in a movie that’s already so long…why? After more than three decades, was Chewie still sore that he didn’t get a trinket? It’s not like they made him sit in the audience. He was standing up there with them! He ain’t easy to miss, either.

Also, where does Maz Kanata get her original trilogy collectibles? We never did find out how she got her hands on Luke’s lightsaber…

4. Is there a “cutesy character quota” in every Star Wars project now?
Everybody seemed to like Babu Frik, the little puppet who worked on C-3PO. With a fanbase as divisive as this one can be, something universally praised is a pretty big deal.

Between Babu Frik and Baby Yoda in The Mandalorian, I’m starting to wonder if there’s going to be a “cutesy character quota” every Star Wars project has to meet from here on out.

“Well Mr. Feige, I like what you’ve turned in here. But let me ask you this: How would you feel about adding a baby Ewok?”

5. What’s the deal with Palpatine’s body?
I don’t have an issue with them bringing Palpatine back. They shouldn’t have needed to, but that’s another story. If the Jedi can come back as “Force Ghosts,” then there’s no reason Palpatine couldn’t have used some kind of Sith alchemy to preserve himself after death. It fits with all that talk about cheating death in Revenge of the Sith.

And yes, there is a comic book that uses a similar concept with Palpatine transferring his consciousness into different bodies. Dark Empire, circa 1992. There’s even a similar line that we hear in The Rise of Skywalker about how, “It was not the first time I died…Nor will it be the last.” (Shown above.)

However, the movie doesn’t get into specifics about what exactly is going on with Palpatine. Is it a cloning thing? Is that somehow his original body? I’m hoping the novelization clears up the specifics of what exactly it is.

6. Really? Palpatine’s entire throne room survived the second Death Star explosion?
Because this movie, like the prequels, relies way too heavily on original trilogy nostalgia, Rey and Kylo Ren wind up fighting inside the remains of the second Death Star, which crashed on Endor. Including the Emperor’s throne room.

Point blank: This was stupid. Not just that we had to go back to Endor, but that so much of the second Death Star survived at all, much less the Emperor’s damn chair. We were going to see Palpatine later on anyway. There was no reason to have it in there other than a lazy play at nostalgia. Ditto for when Wicket made that cameo for no real reason.

To quote Luke, “That was a cheap move.”

7. Couldn’t R2-D2 have gotten in on the fun? Artoo has never been a main character. But he always had a prominent supporting role in both the original and prequel trilogies. George Lucas had a soft spot for him. He could be an unlikely hero, while also providing some comic relief.

But in this sequel trilogy, Artoo really only serves one purpose: Plot convenience. In The Force Awakens, he completes the map to Luke. In The Last Jedi, he convinces Luke to talk to Rey about the Jedi. In The Rise of Skywalker, he’s there to restore Threepio’s memories. Yes, he flies in Poe’s X-Wing during the end battle. But that’s supposed to be BB-8’s job, isn’t it? What’s more, it really should have been Artoo at the Lars Homestead with Rey. Assuming she’s setting up her own little Jedi Academy there, he’d be a great source of information, having spent all those years with Anakin and Luke. Instead, she brings BB-8.

It is indeed BB-8 we have to thank for Artoo sitting on the sidelines like this. I like the little guy and all, but he essentially took Artoo’s job as the resident hero droid. With BB-8 around, Artoo had nothing to do. That’s a damn shame. As one of the more iconic Star Wars characters, he deserved better.

8. What was with all the dead Jedi voices Rey heard?
Yes, the prequels turned out pretty rough. Even so, hearing the voices of Liam Neeson (Qui-Gon Jinn), Samuel L. Jackson (Mace Windu), and yes, even Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) during Rey’s big crowning moment was awesome. Like much of the film, it was hard to digest it all. But apparently, in addition to Luke, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda, we also heard TV characters like Ahsoka Tano and Kanan Jarrus.

But while I loved it, I have to ask…how?

In the prequels, the first one to learn how to retain your consciousness in the Force, i.e. become a Force Ghost, was Qui-Gon. In the years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, a spectral Qui-Gon taught both Yoda and Obi-Wan how to do it. I think it’s fair to assume Luke learned how to do it at some point after the fall of the Empire. But what’s the story with everybody else? Presumably, none of those other characters had the chance to learn that ability.

And as long as we’re on the subject, how did Anakin appear as a Force Ghost in Return of the Jedi? It was less than a day after he died!

The only explanation I can come up with is that Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, and the others are somehow able to reach out to whatever spectral trace remains of their fallen comrades, and allow them to briefly speak. Or in certain special cases, even grant them the ability in the moments after their death, i.e. Anakin in Jedi. Given this is the Star Wars Universe we’re talking about, it’s about as plausible as anything else…

Would this whole trilogy have been better if Poe had died in the The Force Awakens?
According to a documentary among the special features on The Force Awakens Blu-ray, the Poe Dameron character was originally supposed to be killed off. I can only assume it would have been in the TIE Fighter crash on Jakku. But Oscar Isaac had been killed off early in some other movies, and didn’t want to do that again. The filmmakers obliged.

So, if I’m understanding this correctly, the only reason Poe made it through the movie is because Oscar Isaac would have declined the role otherwise? Um…what? He’s a great actor, but did Star Wars really need Oscar Issac that badly? If he wasn’t up for the role, I’ve got a hunch there might have been other actors willing to step in. I mean, y’know, maybe a few?

It makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What could The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker have been like if they hadn’t had to balance Poe’s plotlines along with everyone else’s? Imagine how much more time they could have devoted to Finn’s development. We could have skipped all that Canto Bight stuff, and maybe had Finn be the one in conflict with Holdo. They might not have felt the need to cram so much stuff in. We could have gotten a little more breathing room…

10. What happens now?
The interesting thing about The Rise of Skywalker compared to both Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith, is that despite being the final chapter of the trilogy, there’s so much more meat on the bone from a storytelling perspective.

Just off the top of my head…

– Rey attempting to succeed where Luke failed, starting her own low key Jedi Academy based out of the Lars Homestead on Tatooine. She’s now in a position to redefine what it means to be a Jedi. There’s probably two or three movies worth of content there alone. Especially if Finn is Force sensitive, as the film seemed to suggest. Maybe weave in a potential romance between the two? That obviously contrasts with the old Jedi ways.

– Assuming the 82-year-old Billy Dee Williams is willing and able to do it, a follow-up on the question of Jannah’s lineage, and whether Lando is her father. Bring Threepio and Artoo along. Why the hell not?

– What happens with the government now? Is the New Republic gone? Do they have to start from scratch? If so, how? Almost everybody died when Starkiller Base blew up the Hosnian system. Maybe look at it from Poe’s perspective? As one of the de-facto leaders of the Resistance, he’d undoubtedly get looped into things. Finn too.

– After Order 66, Darth Vader, the Inquisitors, and the Empire at large hunted and killed the surviving Jedi. The Resistance can do the same thing here with surviving Palpatine loyalists and First Order figureheads. Is the First Order even completely gone?

Granted, much of this depends on whether they can get the actors back. Neither Daisy Ridley or John Boyega seem anxious to come back. I can’t imagine Oscar Isaac is, either.

In the end, I think the reason there’s so much uncharted territory here is because, sadly, there’ve been so many missed storytelling opportunities with these new movies. I didn’t necessarily dislike The Rise of Skywalker. I didn’t totally hate The Last Jedi either.

But by the Force, imagine what those movies could have been…

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars Finale, Batman/Superman, The Question

*”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Star Wars #75
AUTHOR:Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Phil Noto, Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 20, 2019

A fine way to end the series. Great pacing, mixed with good character work and some nice action scenes. Once again, Greg Pak and Phil Noto shine a glowing spotlight on Chewbacca and C-3PO. What’s more, they find a way to subtly weave the tragedy of Darth Vader into everything. (See the closing page.)

In particular, I’m sad to see Pak go. He’s proven here that he knows how to tell a good Star Wars story. And as we’ve learned through a couple of the recent movies, that’s not something everyone can do.

TITLE: Batman/Superman #4
AUTHOR: Joshua Williamson
PENCILLER:
David Marquez, Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), John J. Hill (Letterer)
RELEASED:
November 20, 2019

In this issue we learn the identities of the six “Jokerized” heroes, a.k.a. the “Secret Six.” They didn’t play it up as a mystery the way I hoped they would. It was essentially reveal after reveal after reveal. A disappointing execution for what is still a compelling story concept.

Can we come up with a nickname for the Batman Who Laughs? Saying the whole thing every time makes for awkward dialogue. (“Don’t listen to the Batman Who Laughs, Donna!”) If this guy’s sticking around for the long haul, that’s something that needs to be fixed.

TITLE: Batman #83
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Mikel Janin, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 20, 2019

This is the issue where Bruce finally discovers what’s happened to Alfred. Keep in mind it happened back in August. That tells you all you need to know about whether they’re padding this thing out…

As a framing device, the issue uses a recording of Alfred. I always like when writers use Alfred’s journal like that, so King’s twist on it was cool. Janin has the unenviable, yet in the end quite successful task of showing us Batman grieving for several pages.

I’ve been ready for this climactic battle for awhile now. So let’s get on with it, shall we?

TITLE: Something is Killing the Children #3
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Werther Dell-edera, Miquel Muerto (Colorist), Andworld Design (Lettering)
RELEASED: November 20, 2019

After a very strong opening page, and our longest scene yet with one of the monsters, we spend the bulk of the issue with our heroine, the bad-ass Erica Slaughter. There’s an eight-page sequence with her in a police station that’s a lot of fun.

We still don’t know much about…anything. What these monsters are, who Erica is, who she’s working for, etc. Sometimes that sort of mystery works, sometimes it doesn’t. It works here. The nervous dynamic James has with Erica doesn’t hurt in that regard. It’s not romantic. But it’s cute in its own way.

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

Weekly Comic 100s: Event Leviathan, Family Tree, Power Rangers

*”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Event Leviathan #6
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Alex Maleev, Josh Reed (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

So Leviathan turns out to be [name redacted for spoilers’ sake]…

Who the @#$% is that?

I’m always annoyed when big mystery comics do this. They build the bad guy’s identity up for weeks and weeks and weeks…and then it’s somebody we have to go to Wikipedia to learn about. *head on table*

Event Leviathan was a fun, suspenseful read, with some fun ideas. All the secret organizations (A.R.G.U.S., Task Force X, etc) being shut down, detectives from across the DC Universe coming together. But they really needed to stick the landing here. They didn’t.

TITLE: Superman #17
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: Kevin Maguire, Paul Mounts (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer). Cover by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Alex Sinclair.
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

I’m always happy to find a Kevin Maguire book in my weekly stack. Though some of the sillier expressions we get here don’t necessarily mesh with the foreboding tone the issue seems to be going for.

The issue is titled “The Truth: Prologue.” They never specifically learn what said truth is. But I’m hoping it’s not what it looks like. If it is, we may be headed toward a rehash of the New Krypton storyline they did about a decade ago. If that’s the case, then I’m leaving Superman on the stands for awhile.

TITLE: Family Tree #1
AUTHOR:
Jeff Lemire
ARTISTS: Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur (Inker), Ryan Cody (Colorist)
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

I imagine the pitch for this must have been simply, “Girl becomes tree.” In the end, that’s all you need, isn’t it? Like “Weekly Comic 100s,” it’s straight and to the point.

But to their credit, Jeff Lemire, Phil Hester, and the Family Tree team got me to care about these characters. I consider that a pretty big achievement, as this premise could have come off comical. I’m not sure if it was enough to hook me for issue #2. But I’m definitely curious…

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #25
AUTHORS: Ryan Parrott, Sina Grace
ARTISTS: Francesco Mortarino, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by J Lou.
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

This “Necessary Evil” storyline between Go Go and the main MMPR book is essentially the BOOM! crew’s take on why Jason, Zack, and Trini really left during season two, and what they were doing. It’s obviously a better story than the show could tell us at that time.

I love the respect this book shows for the show. It takes place during the events of “White Light, Part I.” At one point, it briefly depicts a scene from that episode, and makes a point of using the actual dialogue that’s in the show. Those little details mean so much sometimes…

TITLE: Detective Comics #1015
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
ARTISTS: Doug Mahnke, Jose Luis, Christian Alamy (Co-Inker), Keith Champagne (Co-Inker), Mark Irwin (Co-Inker), Matt Santorelli (Co-Inker), David Baron (Colorist), Rob Leigh (Letterer). Cover by Paul Pantalena and Arif Prianto
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

I’m a huge Peter Tomasi fan. But he and Doug Mahnke have had far better outings.

This “Nora Fries becomes evil” story has been done before. All in all, this may be a better story when it comes to the Mr. Freeze/Nora dynamic. But Batman spends most of this issue in the cave with Alfred and Lucius Fox standing in front of computers talking comic book science. Not exactly thrilling reading.

Later, we get a Batman trope that I absolutely loathe: The Dark Knight in some kind of armored/robot suit. Better luck next time, gentlemen.

TITLE: Star Wars #74
AUTHOR:
Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Phil Noto, Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: November 13, 2019

This issue has Stormtroopers riding dinosaurs. That alone might be worth the cover price.

You’d think a Vader vs. Chewbacca fight wouldn’t actually last that long. (Remember the first level in The Force Unleashed?) But this issue actually does a great job selling it. It’s only two pages, mind you. But the right guy wins, and it’s a great character moment for Chewie.

Someone else who gets a character moment? C-3PO. And you can argue his is actually the better of the two. No joke.

TITLE: Collapser #5
AUTHORS:
Mikey Way, Shaun Simon
ARTIST
S: Ilias Kyriazis, Cris Peter (Colorist), Simon Bowland (Letterer)
RELEASED:
November 13, 2019

Firstly, love the hat-tip to Superman #1.

I was contemplating dropping Collapser, as it seemed to be getting away from the main character’s ongoing struggle with anxiety. But in this issue, it re-asserts itself in a big way. So once again, Collapser has my full attention.

One element that’s been consistent, however, is Ilias Kyriazis’ art. This stuff is gloriously trippy and bizarre. I’m always anxious to see what he’s going to pull out of the hat next.

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

George Lucas on Star Wars: Anakin and C-3PO

***Think what you will about George Lucas, but in terms of Star Wars, it can all be traced back to him. That’s why I always find it so interesting to listen to him talk about it. His creative process, the reason certain decisions were made, and how these movies became the pop cultural staples they are. This space is dedicated to just that. This is “George Lucas on Star Wars.”***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Scene: Anakin introduces Padme to C-3PO, the protocol droid he’s building to help his mother. Moments later, Threepio meets R2-D2 for the first time.

George Lucas Says (Via the Phantom Menace Commentary Track): “Not only is Darth Vader Luke and Leia’s father, but he’s also Threepio’s father. I thought that was kind of amusing irony in all of this. And I couldn’t resist it. It gives us the opportunity for Threepio to meet Artoo for the first time, and start what will ultimately become a very long and arduous friendship of sorts.”

I Say: Like a lot of people, my initial reaction to the revelation that Anakin built C-3PO was: “Bullsh*t.” Even in a world with laser swords and slug people, it was far-fetched.

But…when you hear George explain it like this, it actually makes sense. So much of Threepio’s character is based on him trying to relate to human beings. (“Sometimes I just don’t understand human behavior!”) So there’s fantastic comedic irony in the idea that like our main hero Luke Skywalker, Threepio is also Darth Vader’s son. It even casts an interesting new light on the “He’s more machine now than man” line from Return of the Jedi.

But that’s all subtext. To the average moviegoer, this Anakin connection is just a contrivance to shoehorn Threepio into the movie. And for no real reason, as there’s not much for him to do other than be introduced to Artoo. So while I very much like what George was going for with this, I don’t know that it was worth it in the end.

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

Toy Photography: C-3PO in the Snow

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This is what happens when you have writer’s block on your day off. You wind up trying your hand at toy photography. Whaddaya think? Not bad for a first-timer, right?

To an extent, I’m trying to mimic the shot from The Empire Strikes Back where Luke is lost in the snowstorm and the camera pulls back. As the landscape expands, we see just how alone he truly is. This shot doesn’t have the same effect, obviously. But there’s a certain cuteness to it that I enjoy.

Oddly enough, I originally just plopped Threepio into the snow and took the shot. But of course, the best action figure photos are the ones that allow you to forget you’re looking at little plastic toys. So I made some little footprints next to him so he didn’t simply look like a toy someone left outside. Now he’s impacting his environment. It actually turned out to be my favorite part of the image.

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

Toy Chest Theater: Raph, Leo, and a Hell of a Crowd!

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The TMNT are back in this second edition of “Toy Chest Theater.” I didn’t necessarily want to do a double dose of Turtle Power. But after seeing this beauty from Jax Navarro at Plastic Action, how could I resist?

I’m a sucker for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. Almost 30 years later, it’s still my favorite take on the concept. So any toy photographer that can find something creative to do with those NECA figures gets points with me automatically.

But what puts this one over the top is that it’s so beautifully random. The Ninja Turtles playing street ball? Pretty damn cool. But the Ninja Turtles playing street ball in front of such a…wide assortment of characters? Awesomeness, personified in plastic!

What’s more, the way some of the background figures are posed is not only very natural, but very in-character. The best example? Han Solo leaning against the wall with his forearm on C-3PO’s shoulder. Even the way Threepio’s body is leaned looks perfect. Harley looks great too. The combination of her behind Thor is odd, but somehow pleasing.

Also, the detail on the background is incredible. It actually looks like a real place. There’s something about that red lighting. It actually serves as a camouflage of sorts for Spider-Man, Red Skull, Superman, and the other characters Navarro has up on that ledge. I actually missed most of them at first look.

For plenty more from Plastic Action, check Jax Navarro out on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

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

Talking Star Wars: Looking Back at The Force Awakens

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Mrs. Primary Ignition and I are going to see The Last Jedi tonight. So naturally, last night we sat down to watch The Force Awakens. It was her idea, actually. Ladies, if you’re husband is a geek, ask him if he’s up for sitting down with some chili and a Star Wars movie. See what happens.

Obviously I’ve seen it a number of times already. In addition to officially reviewing it two years ago, I’ve discussed numerous elements here and there. The Force Awakens rightfully got a lot of flack for mimicking the original film. But I still love it. I can’t help it. There’s just something about Star Wars that brings out the inner child in so many of us. The Force Awakens did that in a way the prequels didn’t.

Moreso, The Force Awakens was a hell of an accomplishment. It breathed so much new life into the franchise, by introducing new faces and telling new stories. It restored some of the magic of the original trilogy by incorporating more practical effects, and not leaning so heavily on CGI. We had yet another epic score from the incomparable John Williams. In the end, it set the bar pretty damn high for Disney’s foray into the Star Wars universe.

What follows are a some notes I jotted down during the movie. This was my last stop on the road to The Last Jedi. Sometimes in order to appreciate where we’re going, you must first remember where you’ve been…

Mere minutes into the movie, Mrs. Primary Ignition asks: “Who built BB-8?” A fair question, I suppose. It’s sometimes tough to wrap your head around the idea that these robots, who play such pivotal roles in these movies, were mass produced in a factory somewhere. Unless you’re C-3PO, of course.

What The Force Awakens suffers from more than anything is a lack of exposition. When we were last in this universe, the Empire was being dealt a fatal blow. The implication was that they were gone for good. Then in the opening title crawl we’re told the First Order has “risen from the ashes of the Empire.” So where did they come from, and when? How did they acquire all their resources? Has there been relative peace in the three decades since Return of the Jedi? I understand certain things had to be kept a mystery. But little tidbits here and there to fill in the gaps would have been helpful.

Captain Phasma has a great look. Her armor is a nice extension of the stormtrooper get-up, and works as a symbol of the unwavering strength of the First Order. It’s also perfect to base toys off of. That always helps.

On a similar note, I’ve never liked the blasters the First Order troopers use. The mix of white and black makes them look like toy guns.

You can pinpoint the moment the audience is supposed to understand Rey is a good guy. When she’s sitting there cleaning off the parts she found in the old Star Destroyer, she looks at a frail old lady across from her doing some cleaning of her own. We see sympathy and compassion on her face. Thus, we make a positive connection with her. Remember, t this point in the film Rey hasn’t spoken yet. So it’s a nice subtle move.

The Empire’s last stand took place on Jakku. That’s why we see the crashed Star Destroyer, the downed AT-AT that Rey lives in, etc. But no one else us this. Again, lack of exposition. It doesn’t make or break the film either way, but it would have helped.

There are a lot of little details that are meant to make your brain associate The Force Awakens with the original trilogy. The noise the mouse droids make. The placement of the gas masks on the Millennium Falcon. The belch noise from the rathtar monster. That’s to say nothing of the more overt stuff, like the chess board and remote on the Falcon.

The Mos Eisley Cantina has to be one of the most imitated settings in cinematic history. Even within in the Star Wars universe, creators can’t help but put their spin on the idea. We obviously get that here with Maz Kanata’s cantina. It was fine. But it was pretty obvious what they were doing.

Should Kylo Ren/Ben Solo have had a pale, worn face that hadn’t seen light in awhile? When he takes his helmet off, he just looks like a normal guy. But I picture him never wanting to be seen without it, much like Darth Vader.

There’s a great little moment with Leia that was cut from the movie. Now that Carrie Fisher is gone, I really wish they’d kept it in. Leia is talking to someone about contacting the Senate and insisting action be taking against the First Order.

“Not all the senators think I’m insane. Or maybe they do. I don’t care.”

That line, and the way she delivers it, are so great. Considering how open Carrie Fisher was about her own mental illness, I bet she loved that line. I don’t think the line between Carrie and Leia was ever thinner than during those three sentences.

My favorite exchange in the movie happens between Han and Finn while they’re trying to infiltrate the Starkiller Base.

“Solo, we’ll figure it out. We’ll use the Force!”

“That’s not how the Force works!”

Han’s death scene is still hard to watch. Even when you know it’s coming, it doesn’t help. That horrified roar from Chewie might be the worst part of it all.

There’s a fan theory that Han actually pointed the lightsaber at himself, allowing Ben to turn it on and kill him. The idea being that he knew Snoke would kill Ben if he failed to carry out the deed. It doesn’t make the most sense. But stranger things have happened.

I love the fight between Kylo Ren and Rey. There’s very little fancy fight choreography, and neither look like extremely polished fighters. They’re just wailing on each other. It’s also a different environment than we’ve ever seen a lightsaber fight, which is accentuated when Rey uses the snow to extinguish Ren’s weapon.

The music callback from A New Hope when Rey catches the lightsaber is a touching moment. We heard it when Luke accepted his call to adventure, and now Rey is accepting hers. A hero is born.

On paper, you’d think the ending to this movie would be infuriating. We finally find Luke Skywalker, and then the movie ends. But it works.

Despite only appearing on camera for a matter of seconds, Mark Hamill did not have an easy job. He had so much to covey in so little time. This is the first time we’ve seen the character in so many years, and so much has happened. So the audience is just staring at him, taking in all the details.

I’ve heard that Hamill steals the show in The Last Jedi. I hope that’s the case. It’s time for mainstream moviegoers to see what we in the geek community have known for a long time: This man is a gem.

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Blatant Insubordination: “What’s Star Wars About?”

Captain Kirk, You haven't seen Star Wars?By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

“What’s Star Wars about?”

A young lady asked me this at work the other day without a hint of snark. She’s an outdoorsy girl without much use for movies. But still, it’s easy to just assume everybody knows what Star Wars is. You’d think people would inevitably see the original simply by virtue of being alive.

But I think that’s a geek bias seeping through. After I got this question I put the above meme (Get it?) on my Facebook. One of the comments I got read: “I’ve never seen a Star Wars movie. Thought about getting the DVD and starting from the beginning, but I’m not sure where it starts.”

I don’t push Star Wars, or anything else I love, on other people. But if people are curious about this kind of thing, I’m happy to offer my opinions. And this idea of explaining what Star Wars is about intrigues me. How do you offer a simple explanation of something that’s come to encompass so much?

Star Wars, trioFor whatever reason, when I got this question I thought of Kyle Gnepper over at Unshaven Comics. I’ve seen Kyle and the Unshaven crew a bunch of times at Chicago area comic conventions over the years. When he’s hyping a new comic series, he’s always got a one-sentence pitch to hook you in. Something to catch your interest and intrigue you. I won’t try to directly quote him for fear of butchering his words. But for instance, he might hype Unshaven’s The Samurnauts by saying: “It’s about a group of samurai astronauts led by an immortal Kung Fu warrior monkey.”

At that point you’ve got to at least look, right?

So what would a similar pitch be for Star Wars? And by Star Wars, I mean the original 1977 film. The young lady I spoke to was shocked to hear there were seven movies in all, with more on the way. But Episode IV: A New Hope is how the world at large was introduced to this strange universe, and it obviously served as the basis for everything else. That’s where newbs should start.

Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Star Wars: A New HopeI figure simplicity and conciseness is important when you begin to explain something like this. Don’t start by trying to explain who Darth Vader is, or what a Jedi is, or how the Skywalkers are all related to each other. You’ll lose them if you try to explain all that stuff.

Here’s the “Gnepperfied” Star Wars synopsis that I came up with: “It’s about a galactic dictatorship with a weapon that can destroy a planet, and the rebel heroes fighting against them.”

Some might argue it’s too simple or generic. But that’s the point, isn’t it? You lure them in with the broad strokes, and then explore the intricacies as you get closer. Once you’re past the simple explanations, you can get into how the Empire works, who the iconic characters are, etc.

On the subject of those iconic characters, I’ve recently started wearing character socks to work. Star Wars, superheroes, etc. Because, you know, that’s what cool people do. One such pair features little images of C-3PO. This girl in question sees the socks, her eyes pop and she asks: “Are those Minions on your socks?”

We can only do so much.

Click here for more Blatant Insubordination.

Image 2 from usatoday.com. Image 3 from digitalspy.com.

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A Star Wars: C-3PO #1 Review – Ghosts in the Machine

Star Wars: C-3PO #1, 2016, James Robinson, Tony HarrisTITLE: Star Wars: C-3PO #1
AUTHOR: James Robinson
PENCILLER: Tony Harris
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 13, 2016

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Like many a moviegoer, I enjoyed the hell out of The Force Awakens. But one of the more bizarre choices made in that film was C-3PO inexplicably having a red arm. It was never even explained, despite Threepio pointing it out mere seconds after he first appears on camera. Because they didn’t tell us how he got it, it became a distraction. What’s more, this issue, which finally tells us how he got the arm, was supposed to come out in December. After numerous delays, it’s finally hit comic shops four months after it was originally solicited.

On the plus side, it’s a pretty cool story. I’m not sure I buy one of the central concepts James Robinson presents. But the core idea is definitely worthy of the iconic character on the page.

Set shortly before The Force Awakens, our story finds C-3PO stranded in the wild with a group of droids. One of them, a First Order protocol droid named OMRI, is their prisoner. OMRI contains information vital to the rescue of Admiral Ackbar, who has been captured and may soon be executed. But Threepio, OMRI, and their companions are more than vulnerable to the elements. It’s not just Ackbar’s life that’s at stake in all of this.

Star Wars: C-3PO #1, Tony Harris, image 1Fans of Robinson and Harris’ acclaimed Starman series are obviously in for a treat here, as the band is back together. Visually, this issue is unlike anything Marvel has put out since re-aquiring the Star Wars license. Everything here is much darker, with a lot of heavy inks. On the upside, this issue definitely stands out. Threepio and his robots comrades look great. On the downside, Harris’ style doesn’t lend itself to the richly detailed environments one often sees in a Star Wars comic. Granted, this world looks pretty barren. But I’d still like to be able to see where the robots are.

The theme of the issue revolves around the place droids occupy at the bottom of the galaxy’s pecking order. One of the reasons C-3PO and R2-D2 are such prominent characters in A New Hope is so the conflict between the Rebellion and the Empire could be seen from that unusual perspective. The galaxy’s underclass, so to speak. The move was inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s work in The Hidden Fortress.

This issue suggests that protocol droids, like Threepio and OMRI, have an extra degree of sentience compared to other robots. As such they can question things, such as the actions of their human masters. Though his memory was erased at the end of Revenge of the Sith, Threepio can vaguely remember some of the events of the prequels (see the image above). Such memories are described by OMRI as “a phantom limb inside my memory banks.”

The idea of droids having sentience, personalities, and even referring to having a “life” isn’t new. But the notion of robots being able to remember things prior to a memory wipe is, at least to yours truly. Granted, this is all sci-fi logic. But there’s something I find hard to process about Threepio still having traces of his old memories. If you wipe a computer’s memory, there aren’t select files left over, are there? Unless you have them backed up somewhere…but that’s not what they said!

Star Wars: C-3PO #1, 2016, image 2Perhaps I’m reading too deeply into this…

Oh, and Threepio loses his arm to an underwater tentacle creature of sorts. Don’t worry though, he’s not too broken up about it: “This isn’t the first time I’ve lost that old thing.”

The red arm we see in the movie belongs to OMRI. He sacrifices himself to acid rain (which reveals red a red coat of primer) to save Threepio. While the two droids are on opposite sides, OMRI opts to choose his own destiny. It’s very much a fitting end to a story about robot existentialism. Still, it seems like Threepio and OMRI became friends awfully fast. Especially considering the whole prisoner dynamic.

Some of Threepio’s dialogue is also a little irritating, as he has to repeat (i.e. translate for the reader) what some of the other droids say. Lots of stuff in the vein of: “Yes Peewee-Ninety-Nine, I know you’re a military-grade class four security droid. You were quite vocal on the matter earlier.” But it’s very much in character for ol’ Goldenrod. So I can’t fault Robinson for that.

While not flawless by any means, Star Wars: C-3PO #1 is unique. Compared to everything else we’ve been getting from Marvel, it looks and feels very different. Plus, as it answers a pressing question from The Force Awakens, it’s also proven worthy of mainstream press. I can’t say I loved it, but if you’re a Star Wars fan it’s worth picking up.

Images from author’s collection.

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