Tag Archives: Chewbacca

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.

A Solo Bullet-Point Review – “Unnecessary” Excellence

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

***WARNING: The following contains some minor, fairly harmless spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story.***

I loved this movie. No, seriously. I loved it. It surpassed my expectations in almost every conceivable way. The characters (yes, even the new ones) were fun and engaging. The thrilling Star Wars action component was on point. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover nailed the Han and Lando characters, while at the same time adding a little something themselves. It had he obligatory scenes you expected to see, i.e. Han meeting Chewie, winning the Milennium Falcon, etc. But it didn’t pile on the nostalgia the way Rogue One did. I left Solo with a smile on my face, which is more than I can say for either Rogue One or The Last Jedi.

So let’s do this. Punch it!

– Ron Howard. The production of Solo was mired in controversy. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller departed during filming, citing “creative differences.” Word broke of Lucasfilm bringing in an acting coach for Alden Ahrenreich, the actor who plays Han. That didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Toss in the polarizing reaction The Last Jedi received, and it was looking like it was going to be a disaster.

I’d be very curious to learn what exactly Ron Howard changed about this movie. Because I don’t think we can deny just how vital his touch was to the creative success of Solo. Not just because he’s directed movies like Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, and Frost/Nixon. But because he’s got such a long-lasting friendship with George Lucas. He’s had direct access to the mind that sparked the creation of this whole phenomenon. So I would imagine few filmmakers are more qualified to create something faithful to his vision.

– “Unnecessary.” I don’t understand the critique that Solo is unnecessary, or adds nothing new to the franchise. Yes, the movie largely plays into pre-established exposition. But if you go by that logic, what was the point of even attempting to make the prequels? Or Rogue One? What exactly qualifies one of these movies “necessary?” What does that even mean?

Furthermore, Solo is hardly devoid of fresh ideas. But we also learn new information about Han, Chewie, and Lando. We’re also introduced to new faces, like Qi’ra, L3-37, Tobias Beckett, Enfys Nest, and Crimson Dawn. Hell, I was even partial to Rio Durant.

In the end, Solo is fun. That’s what matters. It’s certainly all the “necessity” I require.

– When Han met Chewie. Laying the groundwork for the Han Solo/Chewbacca friendship was a vital component here. Their relationship is one of the most important in the entire Star Wars saga. I was struck by the believably and downright simplicity of how Solo sets that up. They save each other’s asses a few times and build up trust to the point that a genuine friendship forms.

Actually, I was surprised with how well Solo handled most of the pre-established stuff. Lando owning the Falcon, the card game, the Kessel Run. It all pretty much worked. At least it did for me. Consider how fickle fanboys like me can get about this stuff, that’s nothing to sneeze at.

– No Jabba. No Mos Eisley. No Luke or Ben. Solo has no shortage of references, winks, or nods. The folks over at Red Letter Media speculated that the movie would end somewhere during the events of A New Hope, much like Rogue One did. Specifically, with Han in the Mos Eisley Cantina. It could very well have ended with Han sitting at the table, and a shot of Obi-Wan and Luke walking over. I was very pleased they restrained themselves in that respect. For that matter, while he’s referenced, we don’t see Jabba the Hutt in Solo. There isn’t even a mention of Boba Fett or Greedo.

But I imagine one of the reasons they were a little more conservative with this one is because they’re saving those tricks for later…

– Sequels. Solo leaves a lot of room or sequels, and even spin-offs. There’s already been talk of a Lando movie. There’s also a surprise return that comes about as far out of left field as you can get. If you’ve seen it, you know who I’m talking about. They can go in that direction for another Solo movie, but the returning character would also make for a heck of a box office draw in their own right.

In the end, Solo wound up being the best case scenario for one of these  “anthology” movies. It’s a hell of a lot of fun, stands up on its own, and paved the way for continued storytelling.

To put it another way, “Great shot, kid! That was one in a million!”

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

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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A Star Wars: Han Solo #1 Review – The Panel Duplication Effect

Star Wars: Han Solo #1, 2016TITLE: Star Wars: Han Solo #1
AUTHOR: Marjorie Liu
PENCILLER: Mark Brooks. Cover by Lee Bermejo.
PUBLISHER: 
Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: June 15, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Why it took so long for us to get a Han Solo miniseries from Marvel is a mystery to me. You’d think he’d have been one of the first characters they took a swing at. It seems like a lay-up. They could do a whole series on Han if they wanted to. Hell, I’d buy it.

In any event, here we are. In an attempt to flush out a mole in the Rebel Alliance, Princess Leia recruits Han and Chewbacca to fly the Millennium Falcon in a race that would put him into contact with the turncoat. But the race takes an unexpected and deadly turn…

Lee Bermejo’s covers are a nice selling point for this title. It’s fun to see him playing in this universe again. Though it must be said: His Han Solo doesn’t look much like Harrison Ford. His work on issue #2 isn’t much better, though it looks like by issue #3 he starts to get the hang of it. His Princess Leia, however, is spot on.

Han Solo #1, panel duplicateMark Brooks, however, does a pretty good Han Solo. The presentation we get here is very clean, and the colors by Sonia Oback pop in a way that really fits this universe.

Let’s talk about what I’ll call panel duplication, i.e. the process of using the exact same image Han Solo #1, panel duplication #2for two consecutive panels. Full disclosure: I’m not an artist. And I understand what deadlines are. But as a reader, this trick always feels cheap to me. By no means is Brooks the only perpetrator in the industry, and I don’t want to take anything away from his talent. But he did it twice in this issue. So I’m going to call him on it.

Typically, this trick is done to indicate the passing of a beat or two for comedic effect. But in the first instance, in which Han is talking to another bounty hunter, there’s no pay off for it. It’s just an image of Han and the alien dude staring off into space. At least in the second case, we get Han leaning into frame. But look at the renderings of Leia and General Cracken (Unleash the Cracken!). They’re the same as the ones in the previous panel. I can’t help but be jerked right out of the story.

We also see Han with a pretty bad case of puppy dog eyes (shown below). Brooks got a little too animated on that one. He even looks right into the camera.

Han and Leia, Han Solo #1Our story looks promising. Han and Chewie flying around in the Falcon, meeting different aliens and getting into trouble. It’s tough to ask for more than that. This issue is essentially a big pointer scene, where we find out where our heroes are going, what their goals are, etc. But it looks like the action will pick up next issue.

I’m hopeful this is the first of several Han Solo stories we have coming our way. I’m sure there are no shortage of creators looking for a crack at the galaxy’s most notorious smuggler. This one has its ups and downs thus far. But it’s a decent read, and will be worthwhile for Star Wars fans.

Images from author’s collection.

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A Star Wars, Vol. 2 Review – Mrs. Han Solo???

Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler's MoonTITLE: Star Wars, Vol. 2: Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLERS: Stuart Immonen, SImon Bianchi.
COLLECTS: Star Wars #7-12
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $19.99
RELEASE DATE: January 9, 2016

For further reading, check out our reviews of issue 7 and issue 8

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Since getting the keys to Marvel’s Star Wars ongoing series, Jason Aaron’s writing has been fairly inconsistent in terms of quality. He’ll be great for an issue or two, then suddenly give us an eye-roller. Still, Aaron has definitely put together a book that delivers on the trademark Star Wars action and adventure that we love. So despite the eye-rollers, we still come back for more.

After a glimpse into the journal of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker sets out for the smuggler’s moon of Nar Shaddaa, hoping he’ll find someone who can get him on Coruscant and into the Jedi Temple discreetly. Unfortunately, Luke becomes the prisoner of a Hutt who fancies himself a collector of all things Jedi. Meanwhile, Sana Solo, the alleged wife of Han Solo, intends to collect the bounty on Princess Leia’s head. But first, they must survive a bombardment from the Empire. Plus, who’s going to rescue Luke?

STar Wars #7, Simone Bianchi, Ben KenobiThis book has a really strong start, as Aaron and Simone Bianchi give us a glimpse of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s maddening seclusion on Tatooine. Put plainly, it’s the best issue the Star Wars team has put out thus far. I’ve talked extensively about issue #7 before, but it bears a little repetition. Simone Bianchi’s art is haunting at times. Particularly memorable is a sequence in which Obi-Wan is meditating, and in his frustration, ends up lifting the bones of a long-dead creature out of the sand. There’s also a lone panel in which he’s sitting in his home alone in the dark, with nothing but agonizing time on his hands. I’m hoping we get more issues like this down the road.

We then get into the main story, which deals largely with Sana Solo, Han’s alleged wife. Han spends much of the story in a state of fluster, saying things like: “Sana. Where did you…how…how did you…?” and ““Leia, don’t listen to her. It was never like that…She’s not my wife!” That gets old after awhile. But on the plus side, it is interesting to see Han get the tables turned on him like that.

Han Solo, Sana Solo, Stuart ImmonenThe downside of a story like this is that the end is fairly obvious. From her reveal in issue #6, we knew the chances of her actually being Han’s wife were pretty slim. Even if she was his wife, shenanigans were likely involved. So we knew that by the end of the story she’d be gone. As such, it’s tough to fully get invested in her. But it is interesting when we finally hear her backstory. Her ship is also pretty cool. It looks like a cousin of sorts to the Millennium Falcon.

This book plays the lightsaber card pretty heavily. I’ve talked about the downside of what I call Frequent Lightsaber Activation (FLA) before, and it’s present in this book. It’s not entirely unjustified, because Luke does spend a lot of time in a combat scenario. But there’s a scene where Luke goes into a cantina on Nar Shaddaa, and his lightsaber makes him a target. The story then starts to revolve around Luke protecting the weapon, then retrieving it, then being confronted by a Hutt with a bunch of lightsabers strung around his neck. Then at the end, we get a stunt involving our main characters and a bunch of lightsabers. It’s all a bit much for my tastes. I don’t doubt there’s some sort of editorial mandate to play up Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, as it will appear in The Force Awakens. But there’s something to be said for not overdoing it.

Star Wars #11, Chewbacca, Dengar, C-3POOn the plus side, Aaron writes an excellent C-3PO. In Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon, Threepio travels with Chewbacca to Nar Shaddaa in an attempt to rescue Luke. But the duo go on a hunt for information before runing into Dengar, one of the bounty hunters seen in The Empire Strikes Back. Threepio’s dialogue in issues #10 and #11 is fantastic. I loved the line, “Oh, why do I always have to be the hero?” Aaron’s portrayal of Threepio is one thing he’s been consistent with from the start. The fact that I’m a sucker for ol’ goldenrod doesn’t hurt either.

Stuart Immonen does fantastic work here. The passion he’s putting into these pages is evident. He’s got the faces and mannerisms of the characters down pretty well. Immonen, inker Wade Von Grawbadger, and colorist Justin Ponsor do an excellent job with Nar Shaddaa as a whole. The sky is a gorgeous (relatively speaking) mix of browns, yellows, greens, and even light oranges to portray the pollution. They also give us a really good Chewbacca. A lot of artists forget that Chewie’s arms are relatively skinny. He wasn’t this big, muscled up gorilla, so much as he was really tall. Kudos to this team for giving us a pretty fair representation of Peter Mayhew in that costume.

Star Wars #9, 2015, Grakkus the HuttThis crew also does most of the covers, and give us a fantastic one for issue #12.

Our artists have definitely proven their worth as far as the Star Wars universe is concerned. As for Aaron, this volume shows definite improvement. He’ll be spending his next few issues on the Vader Down crossover. But he’s managed to keep my interest, and I’ll be sticking around to see what he does next.

RATING: 7/10

For more from Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger, and Justin Ponsor, check out Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vol. 1: The World According to Peter Parker.

Images from author’s collection.

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