The Essential Clone Wars: “Voices”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
S6:E11 – “Voices”
Tom Kane, Matt Lanter, Terrence Carson, James Arnold Taylor, Catherine Taber
Liam Neeson
Christian Taylor
Danny Keller
 March 7, 2014
Guided by the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda goes on a special quest.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

First and foremost, it’s extremely cool to have Liam Neeson back. Even independently of him having played Qui-Gon in The Phantom Menace, he’s got such a great voice. He’d previously come in for the season three episode, “Ghosts of Mortis.” But his role here is obviously much more substantial in the grand scheme of things.

The prequels never suitably followed up, or even explored, the idea of Qui-Gon speaking to Yoda from beyond the grave, and how that ultimately leads to Yoda and Obi-Wan being able to come back as Force ghosts. So I’m extremely grateful that The Clone Wars explored that, and with plenty of fan service to boot.

For all the unexplored territory they venture into, these last few episodes of season six just might be the most essential of “The Essential Clone Wars.”

This episode continues on a theme we’ve seen in previous episodes, including the last one: The idea of public confidence in the Jedi being undermined. The idea being that part of how bad guys bring down a society is by diluting public confidence in its institutions. Not to get too political here, but we saw a lot of that recently during the Trump presidency.

The scenes with Yoda in the hospital bed, and then later in the isolation tank (shown above), do a nice job of reminding us just how small and seemingly vulnerable the character is. He’s not vulnerable, of course. But the visual is interesting.

Oddly enough Rig Nema, the doctor character, is voiced by Catherine Taber, who also provides the voice for Padme. Even more odd is that she doesn’t do much to differentiate between her Padme voice and her Rig Nema voice. So it essentially sounds like Yoda is being tended to by Padme.

As fun as it is to watch Yoda explore Dagobah for the first time, and walk into the same cave he’ll send Luke into decades later, you’ve got to believe it was even more fun for the animators to work on. There’s no imagery more synonymous with classic Star Wars than Yoda in the swamp.

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George Lucas on Star Wars: Palpatine and Donald Trump

***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

Palpatine, First Galactic Empire, Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith

The Scene: Palpatine announces that the Republic will be “reorganized into the first Galactic Empire!”

George Lucas Says (via the Revenge of the Sith commentary track): “When I [first began writing Star Wars], it was during the Vietnam War. It was during the period when Nixon was going for a third term, or trying to get the constitution changed to go for a third term. And it got me to thinking about how democracies turn into dictatorships. Not how they’re taken over, or how there’s a coup or anything like that. But how the democracy turns itself over to a tyrant.

So I went back and looked at how, after the senate in ancient Rome kills Caeser, they turn around and give the empire over to his nephew and make him emperor. … [In the case of the French Revolution], after they’ve gone to all this trouble to have a revolution and get rid of the king and people in power, eventually they turn the democracy over to Napoleon and make him the emperor. So it has to do more with a historical precedence, and it does happen a lot more than what we think. …

It’s more interesting when it’s actually given over to compensate for the fact that the electorate representatives can’t agree on anything and are corrupt. And therefore, in order to clean up the mess, somebody is allowed to come in and “fix” things.”

I Say: I usually don’t like to get political here. But Star Wars is inherently political. So what the hell?

What Lucas describes here, with societies turning themselves over to dictators, is largely what happened with America and Donald Trump in 2016. This notion is briefly alluded to in an interview Lucas did with James Cameron not long ago.

Donald Trump was viewed as an outsider. Someone outside the political system. He spoke to a section of the populace that felt alienated and forgotten by that system. He was democratically (from an Electoral College standpoint at least…) elected to the presidency. What followed were four years of scandal and outrage resulting from a would-be authoritarian leader being elected to a society used to being run by democratic rule. It all culminated in the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol, as Trump attempted to overthrow the 2020 election and stay in office longer. The similarities between Trump and Palpatine speak for themselves.

The scary thing? The Trump authoritarian threat hasn’t passed yet. Like Palpatine in the sequel trilogy, Trump may survive defeat and return to menace our society yet again…

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A Batman: The Adventures Continue – Season Two #6 Micro-Review – Batman vs. Trump?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

TITLE: Batman: The Adventures Continue – Season Two #6
AUTHORS: Alan Burnett, Paul Dini
ARTISTS: Rick Burchett, Monica Kubina (Colorist), Josh Reed (Letterer). Cover by Jorge Fornes.
RELEASED: November 2, 2021

Another issue into this evil mayor storyline, and it’s evident Dini and Burnett are drawing inspiration from the Donald Trump phenomenon in their portrayal of Emerson Mayfield. Particularly in how his charisma seems to entrance voters. Batman vs. Trump. Now there’s a match.

There’s a pretty cool sequence in this issue where Clayface attacks Batman from inside the Batmobile. Fittingly, it begs to be animated.

Also, in this issue Tim Drake calls Bruce “Bruised Wayne.” That’s why they’re two of the best Batman writers ever, folks…

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Rob Watches Star Trek: War and Peace

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek
S1:21. “Return of the Archons”
STARRING: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan, George Takei
GUEST-STARRING: Charles Macaulay, Harry Townes, Torin Thatcher
WRITERS: Gene Roddenberry (Story), Boris Sobelman (Teleplay)
DIRECTOR: Joseph Pevney
ORIGINAL AIR DATES: February 6, 1967
SYNOPSIS: The Enterprise discovers a planet on which all beings have been “absorbed” into the mind of a single ruler: Landru.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

What are the odds that an episode where Kirk, Spock, Bones, and Sulu get to dress up in 19th century outfits is actually about free will and humanity’s propensity for war?

Actually, on this show the odds are quite good.

Unfortunately, this is an episode where you have to work a little harder to get past the initial silliness. At first I thought we might have been introducing a new villain in Landru. Maybe a character that keeps trying to create hive mind societies based on “simpler times.” In theory, that’d be a great way to save money by recycling costumes from other productions. You could have Kirk and Spock in Victorian times, the Stone Age, or even the present (the ’60s). Frankly I’m surprised they didn’t go all out for this episode and have them just be cowboys.

Yet strangely this odd world they find themselves on isn’t Earth. Rather, an “Earth-like planet.” Pfft. Yeah, okay…

What we have is a story about a planet where individual minds have been absorbed into a single consciousness, otherwise known as “the Body.” The mind allegedly belongs to a man known only as Landru. But, SPOILER ALERT: We later find out Landru is a machine. This strange place is a computer’s logical, soulless idea of what an optimal human society should be.

MEANWHILE, IN FEBRUARY 1967: Operation Junction City is initiated by US forces in Vietnam on February 22. At 82 days, and it becomes the longest airborne operation conducted by American forces since Operation Market Garden during World War II. It is also the only major airborne operation of the Vietnam War.

As he conveniently tends to do, Kirk hits the nail on the head with these lines to a pair of rebels, who are suddenly too frightened to stand against Landru:

“You said you wanted freedom. It’s time you learned that freedom is never a gift. It has to be earned.”

It kind of makes you wonder, in a depressing sort of way, what Kirk and Spock would think of the world in 2020. Racially charged riots and protests. A pandemic. A president that is…well, what he is.

Not to mention the idea of how appealing such a hive mind might be to said president if he could be in the Landru role. And how humiliating would it be to be represented by him.

But hey! This episode is the first mention of the Prime Directive! So that’s something in the positive column, right?

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A DKIII: The Master Race #7 Review – Green Lantern’s Light

DKIII: The Master Race #7, 2016, cover, Andy KubertTITLE: Dark Knight III: The Master Race #7
AUTHOR: Brian Azzarello, Frank Miller
PENCILLER: Andy Kubert
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASED: December 28, 2016

(Need to catch up? Check out issues #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6.)

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Believe it or not, the character with the best showing in DKIII #7 is Green Lantern. It’s not even in the main story. This is the first DKIII issue where the mini-comic has been superior in terms of quality. It may represent the best storytelling in DKIII overall.

After Batman is mortally wounded in the battle against the Kryptonian army, Superman rushes to save the Dark Knight’s life. But the battle isn’t over. A far more personal blow is about to be struck. The fate of the world, and one special young life, hangs in the balance.

Of course they didn’t kill off Bruce Wayne. They went the Lazarus Pit route. So now he’s not only alive, but he’s been de-aged. We don’t see much of him once he emerges from the pit. But he’s clearly able-bodied, and he’s even got his dark hair back. I can only assume this is a set-up for future stories. Whether DKIV is actually in the works or not remains to be seen. This book has hardly been a critical success. But you can’t argue with sales, can you?


Assuming we will see more Dark Knight stories going forward, I find it odd that we apparently won’t be seeing old man Bruce Wayne any longer. That rougher, Clint Eastwood-style Batman is one of the big trademarks of this universe. Why do away with something like that?

We also get some dialogue between Commissioner Yindel and Carrie Kelley, that implies that their relationship will continue into the future. Essentially as a new Batman/Jim Gordon type pairing. The elevation and establishment of Carrie as a full-fledged hero has been an ongoing theme in DKIII. From a storytelling perspective, it would be fitting to have Carrie take over as Gotham’s protector, while Bruce goes off to do something else. But by God it bears repeating: GIVE CARRIE A NEW COSTUME!

Donald Trump returns in this issue, via a disturbingly authentic sounding tweet: “We won just like I said we would, and now we’ll make the Kryptonians pay to rebuild Gotham City. You’re gonna love it.” Some things are just a little too real…

Between Batgirl and armored Superman, DKIII has definite costume problems. But by and large, Andy Kubert, inker Klaus Janson, and colorist Brad Anderson have given this story a look that feels like great extension of Miller and Janson’s art from the original. In particular, our cliffhanger scene with Wonder Woman and Lara has a great intensity to it.

dkiii-hal-jordanWhen you get right down to it, most of what we see in DKIII #7 is filler and transitional material. That’s part of why the Strange Adventures mini-comic comes off so well. But it’s more than that. It’s also a comeback story that sees a humbled Hal Jordan reconnect to his humanity.

After losing his hand in issue #3, Hal wanders the desert hunting down his lost Green Lantern Ring. It’s in the hands of what appears to be a militant extremist group. (Oddly enough, the ring is still on Jordan’s severed hand. Maybe this is the same group that found Luke Skywalker’s hand and lightsaber after The Empire Strikes Back…) With some help from Hawkman and Hawkgirl, he gains a new perspective on his place in the universe and boldly declares: “I’m back.” In a way, it’s beautiful. Perhaps I’m biased, but Miller’s art even looks a little more polished here.

Notwithstanding the Green Lantern content, DKIII #7 is mostly missable. Right now, I’m hoping for a big finish. Something with a little more personality than we saw from the big attack on Gotham City. But between Kryptonians and Amazons, that may prove difficult.

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