The Essential Clone Wars: “Eminence”

***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
EPISODE:
S5:E14 – “Eminence”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Sam Witwer, Jon Favreau, Clancy Brown, Katee Sackhoff, Kevin Michael Richardson
WRITER:
Chris Collins
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
January 19, 2013
SYNOPSIS:
Maul and Savage Opress team with the Death Watch against Obi-Wan Kenobi.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

My stance on Jon Favreau voicing Pre Vizsla has softened a bit. He doesn’t necessarily sound like a warrior belongs in a group with Darth Maul and Savage Opress. But maybe that’s the idea. Vizsla is more of a conniving scheming, after all. Maybe it works in a subtle sense…

When Savage gets up from the operating table after Maul comes to retrieve him, he bumps his horns on the lamp above the table. That’s obviously meant to be funny. But it’s oddly timed. Kind of like the stormtrooper bumping his head in A New Hope. Only that was an accident on the set, and they just left it in. From an animation standpoint, this was obviously intentional. It’s an interesting choice.

Jabba the Hutt, as well as the Black Sun leaders, are voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. Richardson has worked on a litany of Star Wars projects, as well as shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, Teen Titans, and the 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. He also got two Daytime Emmy nominations for voicing the Joker in The Batman.

I was pleased to see that the Black Sun leaders were falleens, the same species as Prince Xizor, who ruled Black Sun when we first saw them back in the ’90s in in Shadows of the Empire. Nice continuity there.

Was that Dengar I briefly saw with the bounty hunters that fought Maul’s group (shown above)? That’s a cool little cameo. Dengar, of course, being one of the bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back. He had maybe a couple of seconds of screen time as a background character. But still, die-hard Star Wars nuts like me recognized him.

It’s almost always cool to see Jabba’s palace, as it’s a classic location from Return of the Jedi. Especially when we get to see it from different sides and vantage points.

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

George Lucas on Star Wars: Boba Fett’s “Death”

***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

Boba Fett, Return of the Jedi

The Scene: Han Solo accidentally smacks Boba Fett’s jet pack with a weapon, jump-starting his jet pack and sending him falling into the sarlaac pit below, presumably to his demise.

George Lucas Says (via the Return of the Jedi commentary track): “In the case of Boba Fett’s death, had I known he was going to turn into such a popular character I probably would have made it a little more exciting. Boba Fett was just another one of the minions. Another one of the bounty hunters and bad guys. But he became such a favorite … for having such a small part, he had a very large presence. And now that his history has been told in the [prequel] trilogy, it makes it even more of a misstep that we wouldn’t make more out of the event of his defeat. Because most people don’t believe he died anyway. I had contemplated putting that extra shot in where he climbs out of the hole. But I figured it doesn’t quite fit. The main character that ultimately dies in this scene is Jabba the Hutt.”

I Say: “It’s a little refreshing to hear George admit a mistake here. He’s a guy that usually sticks to his guns. But with almost 40 years of hindsight, it’s pretty tough to deny that Fett went out like a chump. Years after the fact, Lucas would make a similar admission about his decision to kill off Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace.

It’s even more interesting that George acknowledges that the fans didn’t buy that as his death. It makes you wonder if he’d have made Fett part of the sequel trilogy, had he gone forward with his version of the movies.

Fett was, of course, brought back for various novels and comic books in the old “Legends” canon. And now, Disney has made his return official with The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. So I guess he didn’t go out like a chump after all…

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

Rob Watches Boba Fett – Emerging From the Pit…

The Book of Boba Fett, posterSERIES: The Book of Boba Fett
EPISODE:
S1:E1. “Chapter 1: Stranger in a Strange Land”
STARRING:
Temuera Morrison, Ming-Na Wen, David Pasquesi
WRITER:
Jon Favreau
DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez
PREMIERE DATE:
December 29, 2021
SYNOPSIS:
Years after escaping certain death, Boba Fett takes over Jabba the Hutt’s criminal empire.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Disney kind of screwed Boba Fett over. I mean, think about it. They took the basic concept of the character, costume and all, and repackaged it into The Mandalorian. And obviously, that repackaging paid off. The Mandalorian is the best Star Wars content to come along in years. But it didn’t leave much for them to work with as far as a Boba Fett TV show is concerned. He couldn’t be a lone gunslinger traveling the galaxy and having adventures. Mando was/is already doing that.

So what does Boba Fett do if he’s not a bounty hunter anymore? That question could have been the thesis for an entire season. But coming into The Book of Boba Fett, we already knew what the character’s new goal was: To take over Jabba the Hutt’s criminal empire.

But why? Why does he want to be the head of a crime family? That’s my big question coming out of the first episode, and that’s what I hope The Book of Boba Fett tells us. At this point, Boba has either been a bounty hunter or been around bounty hunting for most of his life. To an extent, it’s all he knows. So why the change? And why now?

As they’re both overseen by Jon Favreau, and their main characters are so similar, it’s difficult not to compare The Book of Boba Fett to The Mandalorian. Especially at first.

I loved the first episode of The Mandalorian, particularly the opening scene in the cantina. It captured our intrigue, set the tone for the show beautifully, and is generally just a fun scene. This episode doesn’t give us a scene quite like that, but it does show fans something they’ve always wanted to see: Boba Fett escaping from the sarlaac pit.

Even George Lucas didn’t believe Boba Fett died in the pit. He said so on the Return of the Jedi DVD commentary track. So this escape scene was a long time coming. I feel like that image of Fett’s hand bursting out of the sand has been in the fandom’s collective consciousness for decades.

So Fett’s armor (mostly) protected him from the sarlaac’s stomach acid, and he was able to breathe thanks to some leftover oxygen from a doomed Imperial stormtrooper’s helmet. The question, of course, is what a stormtrooper was doing at Jabba’s palace to begin with. It’s not a pressing question, though. We saw stormtroopers walking around on Tatooine. One could have easily gotten on Jabba’s bad side.

Jawas proceed to steal the armor off Fett’s unconscious body. To make matters worse, that white body suit he was wearing isn’t exactly dignified.

So how old is Boba Fett supposed to be at this point? Let’s say he was about 8 when we saw him in Attack of the Clones. And that movie takes places 22 years before A New Hope. So, factoring in the four years between A New Hope and Return of the Jedi, that would make him…about 34 years old when he crawls out of the sarlaac pit, and 39 during the events of The Book of Boba Fett.

I’ll say this much: I don’t necessarily envy Temuera Morrison. He’s over 60 years old, and has to play someone 20 years younger. He manages to pull it off, though.

After being captured and enslaved by Tusken Raiders, Fett is able to loosen his bonds, and offers to free a fellow prisoner. Said prisoner then screams for his captors, foiling Fett’s escape attempt.

Something about Fett offering to free that prisoner rubs me the wrong way. The man is supposed to be a mercenary. What does he care about what happens to anyone else? Particularly in that scenario.

On a geographical note, I never knew Jabba’s palace was in Mos Espa, a city we originally saw in The Phantom Menace. We saw him pop up in that movie during the podrace. But I had no idea he lived there. From exterior shots, the palace always appeared to be in a fairly remote location. Maybe it’s just outside city limits…?

The referral to Boba Fett as the new daimyo is interesting. The word daimyo refers to a lord or leader in feudal Japan. A nod to George Lucas’ appreciation for Akira Kurosawa films, perhaps?

The blue pianist in the cantina is indeed Max Rebo, who we saw in Jabba’s palace in Return of the Jedi. A random choice. But not an unwelcome one.

After the fight with the assassins, Fett tells his gamorrean guards to get him to his bacta tank. Bacta, of course, being the universal stand-in for medicine in the Star Wars universe.

As he’s moving a bit slow in the fight against the assassins, we see Fett is still feeling the effects of the sarlaac pit even five years later. Presumably he’d be fully healed if he’d started bacta treatments sooner. I’m wondering how long he’s supposed to have been doing bacta treatments. Since he installed himself as daimyo, perhaps? That might make sense, as Jabba would have had the resources to come up with a personal bacta tank like that. Except his would have been much bigger. His would have been, like…a bacta vat.

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

A Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #2 Micro-Review – The Importance of Han Solo

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Star Wars War of the Bounty Hunters 2, cover, 2021, Steve McNivenTITLE: Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #2
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Luke Ross, Neeraj Menon (Colorist), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Steve McNiven & Frank D’Armata.
RELEASED: July 14, 2021

Is it just me, or does this story inflate Han Solo’s importance to the Star Wars Universe? Early on, we see just how many beings have gathered at the behest of Crimson Dawn to try and gain possession of Han’s frozen body. It seems highly overblown. Even for a smuggler as renowned as the great Han Solo.

Hell, even the Empire wants him, and they were the ones who froze him and shipped him off in the first place!

Still, the art here is on point. Ross seems to be having fun. That’s a gorgeous cover by McNiven and D’Armata.

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

A Star Wars #4 Review – The Unlikely Alliance

Star Wars #4 (2015)TITLE: Star Wars #1
AUTHOR:
Jason Aaron
PENCILLER:
John Cassaday
PUBLISHER:
Marvel
PRICE:
$3.99
RELEASED:
April 22, 2015

***WARNING: Minor spoilers for Star Wars #4 ahead.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Jason Aaron and John Cassaday’s Star Wars is finally starting to pick up a bit of steam. And go figure, it’s the issue that’s most interwoven with the far superior Darth Vader title that made it happen.

When we open issue #4, Luke Skywalker and the others have escaped the clutches of the Empire yet again. But where does either side go from here? Oddly enough, the answer for both Luke and Darth Vader is Tatooine. With some of the Empire’s resources depleted, Vader seeks help from none other than Jabba the Hutt. Meanwhile, Luke realizes that to become the warrior the Rebel Alliance needs him to be, he’ll need to find some answers at home.

I’ve picked on this book previously for relying too heavily on classic Star Wars imagery and dialogue to carry it. Granted, it’s almost impossible to have a Star Wars comic book without that factor being there to some extent. Thankfully, we see less of that here. But there are still needless pieces of it here. Hell, this issue’s biggest offense is right on the opening page via dialogue from Darth Vader and Jabba’s lackey, Bib Fortuna…

Star Wars #4, Darth Vader, John Cassaday– “The Illustrious Jabba bids you welcome to the humble sands of Tattooine…”

– “You may dispense with the pleasantries.”

Those are two lines plucked directly from Return of the Jedi. And why? What’s the point? You’ve got an iconic Star Wars character standing in an iconic Star Wars setting. Even if you’re not a Star Wars junkie like so many of us are, the visuals are enough to take you where you need to be. Peppering in dialogue like that only cheapens things, especially when you’ve already been pretty cheap thus far.

On the flip side, the SW junkie in me did highly appreciate one piece of dialogue in this issue very much. During a scene where Han Solo and Chewbacca are working on the Millennium Falcon (as Han has a somewhat comedic bandage wrapped around his head), Solo references Darth Vader using his lightsaber. The exact line is: “It was Vader. Him and his…whatever you call it. Laser sword.” I loved that. It’s very much fitting with Han’s irreverence for the Jedi culture, which we saw in A New Hope.

Star Wars #4, Luke Skywalker, John CassadayOn the subject of Jedi culture, we see a frustrated Luke trying to do the blind remote exercise again, this time with two robots instead of one. Cassaday strikes an interesting balance between pre and post-plastic surgery Mark Hamill here. The character’s frustration feels very natural. Why exactly he feels the need to go back to Tatooine is unclear, though based on the cover I assume it’s to go back to Obi-Wan’s home and look for clues. What kind of clues those might be, I’m not sure. But given what we’ve seen so far in this book, I’d be very surprised if we didn’t get a bunch of verbal and artistic references to A New Hope and Return of the Jedi.

While Cassaday draws a great Ralph McQuarrie-inspired Darth Vader, the sequences between Jabba and Vader in this book draw inevitable comparisons to the ones in the Kieron Gillen/Salvador Larroca Vader book. For this issue’s sake, that’s not a good comparison. Obviously Cassaday’s no slouch, but Larroca’s got him beat here. On the plus side, he and colorist Laura Martin are a solid combination. Their renderings of the Tatooine landscape reflecting off the Darth Vader death mask are really nice.

Still, I continue to be underwhelmed with this title at best. I’m willing to hang on for at least another month, as I still enjoy Cassaday’s art. Plus I’ve got some money to spare, as DC’s Convergence stunt has left a huge hole in my pull list. But c’mon, guys. You’re doing a Star Wars comic for Marvel! You HAVE to do better than this!

Image 1 from comicbook.com. Image 2 from kotaku.com.

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A Darth Vader #1 Review – He Doesn’t Like Sand…

385431TITLE: Star Wars: Darth Vader #1
AUTHOR: Kieron Gillen
PUBLISHER: Salvador Larroca
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: February 11, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 made me understand what it’s like to be a Sith Lord.

Or at least, it gave me a pretty powerful glimpse into what it’s like to be Anakin Skywalker inside that black suit. To say the very least, it’s not fun.

Following the events of Star Wars #1 and 2, Vader must once again face The Emperor as a failure. Palpatine blames him for the destruction of the Death Star, and also for allowing the Rebels to escape on Cymoon. Now, to find Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance, Vader must ally himself with the likes of Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett. Naturally, this brings him back to Tatooine, Anakin Skywalker’s home planet.

1508_darth_vader_1_artThe idea of Vader returning to Tatooine has been an intriguing one as far back as The Phantom Menace. But to my knowledge this is the first time we’ve actually seen it. It doesn’t disappoint, especially when we reach the end of the issue.

However, much like Jason Aaron and John Cassaday in Star Wars #1, this issue relies quite a bit on the nostalgia factor to draw readers in. But while Star Wars #1 picked both lines and certain imagery from the original trilogy, this issue plays with actual shots and sets from both A New Hope and Return of the Jedi. The image of Darth Vader entering Jabba’s palace, dealing with the guards and Bib Fortuna, and then standing there amongst his cronies is obviously an alternate take on Luke’s entrance from Jedi. Later, Larroca essentially pencils screen caps from A New Hope to provide us with a flashback page. One can argue than in terms of relying on nostalgia appeal to cheaply hook readers in, Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 is an even bigger offender than Star Wars #1.

So with that in mind, why is the former a good issue, while the latter is a bad one? For my money, it’s all in the way the issue was written.

54661fbff3030Darth Vader #1 draws you in with the notion that Vader will be journeying into Jabba’s lair, just as Luke will later do, using very specific images and shot from Jedi. But the real hook comes when Vader and Jabba start talking. Vader refuses to address Jabba by name, simply calling him “Hutt,” like he’s merely vermin. When Jabba tries to exercise his own power, Vader retaliates, at one point choking Jabba with the Force. Through this scene, we not only get a sense of how little regard Vader has for life, but how his hatred and anger are always with him. They are not a temporary state of being. They are his very existence.

We also get a scene with Palpatine, where we see that despite Vader’s ever-present anger, it still hasn’t brought him the power he seeks. He is still a servant of the Emperor. Or as Palpatine says: “A blunt instrument far better to be wielded than to wield.” He then places Vader under the thumb of one of the Imperial commanders we briefly saw in A New Hope (prompting one of those screen cap flashbacks), and deliberately hides the identity of a new ally. We later close on a familiar, yet ever so dramatic two-page spread.

darth-vader-1-easter-egg-chosen-one-122394Star Wars: Darth Vader #1 is essentially a look at what Vader’s life is like in the aftermath of the original film. He is still a man that has lost everything but his hate and his lust for power, which he will presumably never have so long as he is under Palpatine’s influence. Thus, he takes that hate out on the terrified life forms around him. That’s the message we’re meant to take away from this issue. And it’s an important one about our main character. We got there using plenty of flash and flare from the original trilogy, but in this instance the end justified the means.

Star Wars #1, on the other hand, used that same nostalgia, flash, and flare as the destination. Cassaday’s art was fantastic, as always. But despite the cool escape story, which is very Star Wars, the issue lacked soul, and felt largely empty. That’s the difference between the Aaron/Cassaday issue, and the Gillen/Larroca issue.

img_20150212_181212I’m very interested to see how much the prequel material is acknowledged, not just in this book, but in all of Marvel’s Star Wars comics. The ending of this issue is a pretty heavy callback to Attack of the Clones. The Force Awakens gets closer every day, and the Disney/Lucasfilm strategy seems to be getting us to refocus on classic Star Wars stuff. This makes sense, as we’re getting ready for Luke, Leia, and Han to return. It also seems like they’re trying to gloss over the prequels, which also makes sense, given how poorly they were received by many. It’s something to keep an eye on as we move closer to December.

Star Wars: Darth Vader was one of the best single issues of a Star Wars series that I’ve read in quite some time. It’s definitely an issue worthy of its iconic title character.

Image 1 from popmatters.com. Image 2 from marvel.com. Image 3 from comicbook.com. Image 4 from page45.com.

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