The Essential Clone Wars: “Destiny”

***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:
S6:E12 – “Destiny”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Tom Kane, Jaime King, Ashley Eckstein, Corey Burton, James Arnold Taylor
WRITER:
Christian Taylor
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
 March 7, 2014
SYNOPSIS:
Yoda continues his quest for life beyond death.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Yoda opting to leave his lightsaber behind as he ventures into the unknown is a really nice callback (Or call forward?) to The Empire Strikes Back. Our little green friend wasn’t asking Luke to do anything he wouldn’t do himself.

On the subject of Luke, the line “[Yoda] is to teach one that will save the universe from great imbalance.” is obviously a reference to him. Cute. Again, a nice little nod to Empire.

“Destiny” brings us the creation of a delightful little one-off character I’ll call “Dark Yoda,” i.e. the essence of the darkness that lies within Yoda. He’s a little reminiscent of Gollum of The Lord of the Rings fame. But he’s no less delightful for it.

One thing I definitely appreciated about the Yoda/Dark Yoda confrontation: No lightsabers. It would have been easy to turn the scrap between the two of them into a lightsaber duel. But they resisted the temptation. Thus we get to see Yoda in a physical fight with no weapons, which I don’t know that Star Wars had done up to this point.

There are a lot of floating platforms on this world that Yoda has to hop to and from. Gives it a little bit of a Super Mario Bros. feeling, doesn’t it?

Yoda’s destination going into the next episode is a world called Moraband, which is referred to as “the ancient homeworld of the Sith.” What’s interesting to me about that from a creative standpoint is that if this episode had been made today, Yoda likely would have journeyed to Exegol. That’s a fun little thought…

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

George Lucas on Star Wars: The Old Man and the Machine

***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.”***

***New around here? Check out Primary Ignition‘s “George Lucas on Star Warsarchive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope, lightsaber

The Scene: Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader prepare to duel with lightsabers aboard the Death Star.

George Lucas Says (Via The Birth of the Lightsaber featurette): “In the beginning, the first film, Episode IV, it was a fight between a very old man and a man who was only partially a man, mostly a mechanical being. So it really wasn’t much of a sword fight at all. … As we went on, we wanted to have the lightsaber fights become faster and more intense as Luke became more proficient in the art of sword fighting.”

I Say: I’ve heard George talk about this a number of times over the years. It works fine as an in-story explanation of why there are no acrobatics or fancy sword fighting moves in A New Hope. But if Star Wars had been made in the prequel era, i.e. the late ’90s and early 2000s, you’ve got to know that Obi-Wan would have been doing all sorts of wild stunts. Remember that Count Dooku, who can’t be that far removed from Obi-Wan in terms of age, does a somersault off a balcony in Revenge of the Sith for no apparent reason.

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

The Essential Clone Wars: “The Lawless”

***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.”

Satine death, Star Wars the Clone Wars, The LawlessSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S5:E16 – “The Lawless”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
James Arnold Taylor, Anna Graves, Sam Witwer, Ian Abercrombie, Katee Sackhoff
WRITER:
Chris Collins
DIRECTOR:
Brian Kalin O’Connell
PREMIERE DATE:
February 2, 2013
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan travels to Mandalore to save Satine from Maul’s forces.

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

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Wait, Satine has a nephew named Korkie? Why is that funny to me?

So now we have not only have Mandalorians with red armor, but Mandalorians whose helmets have horns like Darth Maul. You just know the artists and designers had fun with that one.

Having received Duchess Satine’s desperate transmission for help, Obi-Wan travels to Mandalore to save her. Question: Did Yoda and the Jedi Council know about him going to Mandalore, or did Obi-Wan do it on his own? If so, does he face any consequences for that? Just asking…

After they are captured by Mandalorian forces, Obi-Wan is forced to watch as Satine is executed by Maul. Needless to say, this makes their feud even more personal than it already was. I wasn’t necessarily surprised to see Satine die. But I was surprised to see her simply executed the way she was. She didn’t go out in a blaze of glory or anything. They just got everybody in a room, and Maul killed her. Simple as that.

Sensing what’s happening, Darth Sidious personally travels to Mandalore to confront Maul. And again I have to ask, does anyone know where he went? He is the chancellor of the Republic, and they are in the middle of a war. He can’t just go off without telling anybody, can he?

I understand these kinds of details aren’t necessarily important in the context of telling the story. The important thing is that Obi-Wan and Palpatine ultimately end up on Mandalore. But it’s fair question, isn’t it?

I noticed that just before the two-on one duel starts with Sidious, Maul, and Savage Opress, Maul does the “Obi-Wan pose” (shown below). I can only assume that was intentional. The Obi-Wan pose wasn’t as much of a thing yet. But the show had done it before. And of course, we’d see it in Revenge of the Sith.

Ian Abercrombie, who voices Palpatine/Sidious, has the character’s evil laugh down pat. That makes his fight sequence with Maul and Opress that much more effective.

There are a lot of “echoes” in this episode. You’ve got Obi-Wan luring that Mandalorian on to his ship and stealing his uniform, much like they did in A New Hope. Then, seconds before he sees Palpatine, Maul says he senses a presence he hasn’t felt since… Again, like in A New Hope. Then, after it’s revealed that Bo-Katan is Satine’s sister, Obi-Wan says “I’m so sorry,” much like he says to Padme in Revenge of the Sith.

Star Wars does love it’s callbacks, doesn’t it?

To Maul’s shock and horror, Sidious kills Savage Opress. Thus, possibly my least favorite character in all of Star Wars is put down. Whatever shall we do without him?

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

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

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A Darth Vader, Vol. 1: Imperial Machine Review – Year One, Day One

TITLE: Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 1 – Imperial Machine
AUTHOR: 
Charles Soule
PENCILLER: Giuseppe Camuncoli. Cover by Jim Cheung and Matthew Wilson.
COLLECTS: Darth Vader #16
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASED: 
November 22, 2017

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Can we talk about the lightsaber for a minute? Because to be honest, I’m getting sick of them. Specifically, their overblown importance.

I’ve talked previously about how I subscribe to what I’ll call the Red Letter Media theory on lightsaber use. Generally, the less we see of them, the more impactful it is when someone finally ignites one. This becomes apparent when watching the prequel trilogy. But in recent years, lightsabers have been getting a strange in-universe reverence. Not just as cool or dangerous weapons, but artifacts with an increasing amount of personal and spiritual symbolism. They’re almost characters unto themselves. I understand this from a marketing standpoint, as a lightsaber is a fanboy’s wet dream. But to me it makes little sense from an in-story perspective.

Mind you, there is a certain precedent for it. Lightsabers act as an instantly recognizable symbol for the Jedi Order. Obi-Wan gives Luke his father’s lightsaber, which later plays a prominent role in The Force Awakens. Luke builds his own lightsaber, which we see in Return of the Jedi. General Grievous collected lightsabers like trophies from fallen Jedi. So let’s not go so far as to say they have no significance at all.

But while I appreciated the use of Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber in The Force Awakens as a link to the past, and a sort of symbol of for the Skywalker family, the notion that the weapon itself “calls to” Rey was a little much for me. What the weapon symbolizes is one thing. Giving it special powers is another.

Rarely will you find a better example of this strange lightsaber reverence than in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 1 – Imperial Machine. Immediately after the events of Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine sends Vader on a mission to obtain a new lightsaber for himself. “I have very high hopes for what we might achieve together,” the Emperor says. “But first…you will need your lightsaber.” Vader must take a lightsaber from a surviving Jedi and use the dark side to corrupt the kyber crystal inside. Make it “bleed.” Obtaining this new weapon won’t be easy. But it is the first trial the former Anakin Skywalker must now face as a dark lord of the Sith.

So because the kyber crystals are “alive” in their own way, Sith lords use their anger to make them “bleed,” thus the red lightsaber. The idea itself is actually pretty neat. But did it merit an entire story based around it? Did Darth Vader’s lightsaber really need an origin story?  I don’t think so.

This strikes me as the kind of thing they could have explained in a scene before Vader goes off on his first big mission. Or maybe a one-shot where Palpatine gives Vader a kyber crystal, and shows him how to corrupt it. At first Vader has trouble, but he conjures up images of Obi-Wan and Padme and gets the job done. It didn’t need to be the motivation for an entire story arc.

More interesting than Vader’s quest to steal a lightsaber is the surviving Jedi he’s tasked with taking it from. Kirak Infil’a has taken the “Barash Vow.” Under said vow, the individual in question must cut themselves off from Jedi affairs, living only for the Force. It sounds suspiciously like what Luke is doing when Rey finds him on Ahch-To. Kirak also has his hair pulled back in two braids, just as Rey’s is in the Last Jedi footage we’ve seen. Coincidence? Probably. But you never know…

It’s almost always interesting to see Vader’s agony at the loss of Padme, the state of his body, and all that’s come as a result of his actions. It’s a glimpse into the hellish reality his existence has become. We see surprisingly little of that in Imperial Machine, given how soon this is after Revenge of the Sith. It is touched on effectively, however, in issue #5. As Vader is trying to bend the crystal to his will, a scenario plays out in his mind in which he turns on Palpatine and re-unites with Obi-Wan. He’s fantasizing about making things right, and perhaps atoning for his actions. In theory, that’s a path he can take. But of course, he doesn’t. Not yet, at least.

I spent a good amount of time ragging on Salvador Larroca for some of the work he did on the previous Darth Vader book. Namely drawing certain characters based off still shots from the various movies. The upside to this approach, however, is that Larroca draws a picture-perfect Vader. For me, if you can get that mask right then half the battle is won.

Giuseppe Camuncoli gives us a different kind of Darth Vader. It’s hardly picture-perfect. For instance, I’m not a fan of the panel at left. But I nevertheless find Camuncoli’s version more artistically pure. He’s creating of his own mind, and at no point do I feel taken out of this book when I see a familiar image of Vader or Palpatine, pulled from a movie still. That’s a trade I’m willing to make.

Camuncoli, along with inker Cam Smith and colorist David Curiel, waste little time in ripping up Vader’s iconic suit. It’s already in tatters by issue #2. Things only get worse when we get into the fight with Kirak Infil’a. We end up with a partially skeletonized version of Vader’s suit, which he pieces together using droid parts after being incapacitated and effectively broken in combat. In the opening pages of issue #4 we see him using the Force to put all the little pieces into place so he can haul himself to his feet. It’s an awesome visual, and a fun callback to Anakin’s expertise with machines. It’s later followed up on in issue #6, when Vader gets to repair the suit to his liking.

Issue #6 takes us into the next arc, which will feature the Inquisitors we saw in Star Wars: Rebels. We get a confrontation between Vader and the Grand Inquisitor in the Jedi Temple, which is pretty decent. Fittingly, Vader’s next target will be someone Star Wars fans recognize as a face from the Jedi Temple…

I maintain there was no need to end the previous Darth Vader book. We all knew Marvel would come back to the character eventually. There’s no shortage of creators to work on the life and times of the dark lord. While I have a major gripe with a lightsaber being Vader’s motivation in this story, Imperial Machine is still a solid read with mostly good art. Star Wars fans who aren’t as finicky as I am will enjoy it.

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A Review of Darth Vader #24 – The End is Near

TITLE: Star Wars: Darth Vader #24Darth Vader #24, 2016, cover, Salvador Larroca
AUTHOR: 
Kieron Gillen
PENCILLER: Salvador Larroca
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: August 10, 2016

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

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The penultimate issue of Star Wars: Darth Vader invites Salvador Larroca to do something he does too much of for my taste: Draw stills from the movies. But in his defense, if there was ever an issue to do that, it’s this one.

The cybernetics in Darth Vader’s suit have been shut down by Cylo-V. His respirator having (presumably) been deactivated, Vader’s life flashes before him. His mind takes him back to Mustafar, and questions arise. What if Obi-Wan had killed him? What would Anakin Skywalker think of Darth Vader? What if he were to simply surrender and die…?

I’m a sucker for issues where Vader reminisces and agonizes about the events of the prequels. So I couldn’t help but be sucked in when Vader imagined an alternate Revenge of the Sith where Obi-Wan throws the amputee Anakin into the lava, and the man in the black suit emerges. From there, we go into pure fan service as we get an Anakin vs. Vader lightsaber fight. Larrocca gives us a striking near-full page shot of Anakin, and while brief, the fight is a thrill. Particularly poignant is the moment where Skywalker yells “I hate you!” at his future self. Less poignant, however, is the moment where Vader says he’s well-versed in killing children.

Darth Vader #24, 2016, PadmeWe then go into many a Star Wars fan’s worst nightmare: A Padme scene. Kieron Gillen keeps this one pretty simple, though. Anakin’s dead wife represents the temptation of surrender. A temptation I’d have thought would be greater. That relationship longed for depth and substance. But boy did Anakin love Padme. If the implication here is that they can be together in death, you’d think he’d just give in.

But Vader’s choice here is powerful, and telling as to just how far into the darkness he’s gone. Instead of going with his wife, Vader summons his anger and hatred to will himself into a comeback. To their credit, Gillen, Larroca, and the Darth Vader team made me believe Anakin Skywalker was dead.

HIs rendering of movie stills notwithstanding, Larroca does deliver some great imagery with Vader. Early the issue, as the dark lord is motionless and vulnerable, we get a shot of Cylo with his hand on Vader’s helmet. Someone being able to lay a hand on him like that is…unsettling. It’s certainly not something we’re used to seeing. Also, In the Mustafar sequence we see Darth Vader emerge from the lava like a black phoenix. Lightsaber in hand, of course.

This story also sets the stage for a confrontation in our final issue between Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra, which is what the ending should be. I maintain this series doesn’t have to end. For obvious reasons, a Darth Vader book will always have an audience. But 25 issues is a good run, and it’ll be good to see Gillen and Larroca finish what they started.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.