Weekly Comic Star Wars 100s: Novel Edition

By Rob Siebert
Herf Nerder

For the past few years, I’ve been setting reading quotas for myself. In this instance, “reading” refers to traditional prose books and audiobooks rather than comics. Not because of the antiquated notion that comics and graphic novels don’t count as reading. I just think it’s healthy to have a balance of both. I use Goodreads to track and gamify it.

For better or worse, I’ve been reading Star Wars novels since the fifth grade. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but yeah…it’s been a matter of decades, not years. While I’ve tried to phase them out at various times, they always come back. They’re like the Sith in that sense.

After all this time, instead of fighting the impulse to dive back into that galaxy far, far away, I’ve simply accepted that they’re a guilty pleasure of mine. Thus, of the 15 books I’ve read this year, eight are from the Star Wars Universe. That’s fair right? A roughly 50/50 balance.

Thanks to this lovely pandemic we’re experiencing, I’m one of the many whose had a chance to do quite a bit of reading. And so, in my standard Weekly Comic 100s format, I present to you a set of mini-reviews from my Star Wars selections in 2020. As you’ll see, I’ve made a point to differentiate between prose and audiobooks. I’ve also left out the Rise of Skywalker novelization, as I’ve said quite a bit about that already. (1, 2, 3, 4.)

TITLE: Resistance Reborn
AUTHOR: Rebecca Roanhorse
PAGE COUNT:
PUBLISHED: November 5, 2019

I don’t know that I would call this a thrilling read, nor would I say it enhances the Rise of Skywalker viewing experience very much. The most notable thing it does is bring Wedge Antilles back into the fold for his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the movie.

Still, Resistance Rising is well-written and provides a little bit of context for where the galaxy is at heading into Episode XI. No harm, no foul.

TITLE: Thrawn: Treason
AUTHOR: Timothy Zahn
READ BY: Marc Thompson
DURATION:

RELEASED: July 23, 2019

This wasn’t at all what I expected. The title and cover lead you to believe Thrawn commits all-out treason, pitting he and the Chiss against the Empire. That is not what we get. The “treason” in question is very subdued. You can barely even refer to it as that.

Timothy Zahn is one of the godfathers of the Star Wars novel, and will be returning to Thrawn with a new book later this year. While there’s no one more qualified to write the character than him, I can’t say I’ll be rushing to pick that one up.

TITLE: Canto Bight
AUTHORS: Saladin Ahmed, Rae Carson, Mira Grant, John Jackson Miller
READ BY: Sean Kenin, Saskia Maarleveld, Marc Thompson, Jonathan Davis
RELEASED: December 5, 2017

Kedpin Shoklop. That’s what I think of when somebody says this title. It’s the name of the main character in the first of the four novellas in this book. You can’t have a more Star Wars name than that.

My expectations weren’t particularly high or low for this one. But I’d call Canto Bight an overachiever. Especially because it’s based on The Last Jedi, which obviously wasn’t received in the friendliest of ways. It peaks early, but it’s still very much a worthwhile read.

TITLE: Force Collector
AUTHOR: Kevin Shinick
PAGE COUNT:
RELEASED: November 19, 2019

Definitely one of the more enjoyable stories leading up to The Rise of Skywalker, as we meet a young Force-sensitive in the years prior to The Force Awakens. As you might have gathered, his abilities manifest in a very specific way.

While this is supposedly a one-and-done, Shinick manages to create enough intrigue with the that I wouldn’t mind at all seeing what happens to Kaz as the events of the sequel trilogy progress.

TITLE: Ahsoka (Audiobook)
AUTHOR: E.K. Johnston
READ BY: Ashley Eckstein
RELEASED: October 3, 2017

I heard the new season of The Clone Wars nullifies something in this book. That’s a shame, as this is one of the better books to come out of the new canon. It’s got an entertaining and action-packed story.

This is one of the few instances where I can definitively recommend listening to the audiobook, as it’s narrated by the actress that voices Ahsoka in Clone Wars and Rebels.

TITLE: Queen’s Shadow (Audiobook)
AUTHOR: Rae Carson
READ BY: Catherine Taber
RELEASED: May 25, 2018

Is it a coincidence that both E.K. Johnston books are voiced by their corresponding Clone Wars actors?

Queen’s Shadow is something of an odd duck. The narrative has a strange flow to it. It’s an enjoyable listen, though. That’s an accomplishment, as Padme scenes can be famously boring. I liked it enough that I’ll be reading the prequel, Queen’s Peril, when it comes out next month.

TITLE: Most Wanted (Audiobook)
AUTHOR: Rae Carson
READ BY: Saskia Maarleveld
RELEASED: May 25, 2018

This one is more or less what you expect it to be. Which, if you picked it up for yourself, is to say it’s what you want it to be.

We’re with an 18-year-old Han not-yet-Solo. We see a couple of the formative events in his life. Namely the evolution of his relationship with Qi’ra and the first time he experiences space travel. Han also has a nice supporting cast in this book, which is cool to see. Another little oddity about this book? It takes place mostly on one planet: Corellia.

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

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.