George Lucas on Star Wars: Staying Together

***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 pop cultural staples. This space is dedicated to just that. This is “George Lucas on Star Wars.”***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Scene: Like the various groups throughout the Star Wars saga, the heroes of The Phantom Menace are a diverse lot. We have two Jedi, a young queen, a gungan fool, a liberated slave, among others.

George Lucas Says: “One of the difficulties in writing a script with lots and lots of characters is you have to be able to rationalize why everybody is along. If you have a film like Dirty Dozen, where you sort of establish they’re all going out on a mission together, and you gather them all up and they go, it’s pretty easy. But when you have a situation like this where there isn’t any mandate that they stay together, and they’re there for transitory reasons that are constantly having to be renewed as the plot progresses, it becomes much more difficult to be able to get all the characters in on the act and take them along…”

I Say: I can appreciate what he’s saying here, and I appreciate its value. But I’m only half joking when I say it still doesn’t explain why Qui-Gon brought eight-year-old Anakin into a war zone.

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

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.

George Lucas on Star Wars: Anakin and C-3PO

***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

The Scene: Anakin introduces Padme to C-3PO, the protocol droid he’s building to help his mother. Moments later, Threepio meets R2-D2 for the first time.

George Lucas Says (Via the Phantom Menace Commentary Track): “Not only is Darth Vader Luke and Leia’s father, but he’s also Threepio’s father. I thought that was kind of amusing irony in all of this. And I couldn’t resist it. It gives us the opportunity for Threepio to meet Artoo for the first time, and start what will ultimately become a very long and arduous friendship of sorts.”

I Say: Like a lot of people, my initial reaction to the revelation that Anakin built C-3PO was: “Bullsh*t.” Even in a world with laser swords and slug people, it was far-fetched.

But…when you hear George explain it like this, it actually makes sense. So much of Threepio’s character is based on him trying to relate to human beings. (“Sometimes I just don’t understand human behavior!”) So there’s fantastic comedic irony in the idea that like our main hero Luke Skywalker, Threepio is also Darth Vader’s son. It even casts an interesting new light on the “He’s more machine now than man” line from Return of the Jedi.

But that’s all subtext. To the average moviegoer, this Anakin connection is just a contrivance to shoehorn Threepio into the movie. And for no real reason, as there’s not much for him to do other than be introduced to Artoo. So while I very much like what George was going for with this, I don’t know that it was worth it in the end.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

A Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review – Spoiler-Free For Your Protection

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, posterTITLE: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
STARRING: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Oscar Issaac
DIRECTOR: J.J. Abrams
STUDIOS: Walt Disney Pictures, Lucasfilm Ltd, Bad Robot Productions
RATED: PG-13
RUN-TIME: 135 min
RELEASED: December 18, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This week, The Los Angeles Times ran article about John Williams composing the music for The Force Awakens. The famous film score composer said he felt “a renewed energy, and a vitality, and a freshness that did not estrange any of the characters or material from the texture and fabric of [George] Lucas’ creation — but revivified it.”

That’s pretty much been the energy surrounding The Force Awakens as a whole. We’ve all felt it. This film represents a new dawn for the Star Wars franchise. And the box office figures indicate, we’re ready to greet the day.

The plot for this movie has been delightfully shrouded in mystery from the get-go, and I see no reason to go into detail now. But here are the basics. Thirty years after Return of the Jedi, the First Order has risen from the ashes of the Empire. Near the top of their ranks is Kylo Ren, a mysterious warrior following in the footsteps of Darth Vader. But new heroes will rise, such as Rey, a scavenger on the planet Jakku. At her side is Finn, a defected stormtrooper whose conscious led him away from the violent First Order. This duo will fight alongside none other than Han Solo and Chewbacca, heroes of the Galactic Civil War. All the while, the Resistance, led by General Leia Organa, searches for the one hero missing amidst the conflict: Luke Skywalker.

Rey, Finn, BB-8, Star Wars: The Force AwakensAs a life-long Star Wars fan, I can indeed confirm that The Force Awakens is good. But it’s a different kind of Star Wars movie. Not drastically so, but Star Wars die-hards may notice. Certain portions have dimmer lighting, which leads to a darker vibe. There’s also a little more blood than we’re used to seeing from Star Wars. It’s still a scarce amount in the grand scheme of things, but it’s noticeable. I attribute this to the absence of George Lucas, who wasn’t there to micromanage things in his own…ehem…unique way.

I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m a George Lucas fan. But if The Force Awakens proves anything, it’s that Star Wars needed to get away from him. The man who wrote and directed the prequels could not have created a movie like this. This movie gives us new heroes we can invest in and care about. While it doesn’t shy away from nostalgiac winks here and there, it doesn’t need to be propped up by original trilogy elements the way the prequels did. It’s a thrill ride very much worthy of the Star Wars legacy.

Kylo Ren, Star Wars: The Force AwakensThe original trilogy character we spend the most time with is Han Solo, who is as charming and witty as ever. Harrison Ford essentially gives us exactly what we wanted to see from that character. He’s not necessarily the same daring rogue. But he’s still Han Solo. We also see a good amount of Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa. It’s especially cathartic to see her in the role again. It’s such an iconic character, and she deserved that renewed spotlight. As for Mark Hamill’s portrayal of Luke Skywalker…that would be a spoiler.

Most of the new characters we meet are intriguing. But for my money, none are more interesting than Kylo Ren. It’s encouraging that he’s not simply a Darth Vader clone. He’s very much his own man, with his own demons. Some may argue that makes him less threatening than Vader, or other Star Wars villains. But without saying too much, there’s a level of instability there that should make for an entertaining journey.

Captain Phasma, Star Wars: The Force AwakensA fair complaint about The Force Awakens is that it’s simply the original Star Wars film done over again. The similarities are undeniable. We have our hero on a desert planet who gets a call-to-action from a droid, and is quickly swept into a galactic war against a Nazi-like organization with a base that has the power to destroy planets. Sound familiar? At one point, they even do a side-by-side comparison of Starkiller Base and the Death Star. The inside of the base is also clearly modeled after the Death Star!

Given what we’d seen from our most recent Star Wars movies, I’d argue a throwback isn’t the worst thing in the world. This movie gives people the Star Wars they want to see. Good and evil, the Rebellion and the Empire, Jedi and Sith. Some of the names have changed, but at their core, they’re the same. As a bonus, we even get to see some of the faces we fell in love with from the original trilogy.

131416_ori The Force Awakens is designed to jump-start the Star Wars franchise, getting us to remember what we loved about the originals while introducing new faces to carry the brand into the future. It accomplishes that goal, easily giving us the best installment in the series since Return of the Jedi. Lingering questions do remain, but I expect they’ll be resolved in future films. It’s fun to watch The Force Awakens, and if there’s anything that’s been missing from Star Wars in recent years, it’s that sense of fun and adventure. J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and everybody else involved with this movie deserve credit for living up to the hype, and restoring something that was lost.

So rejoice Jedi, wookies, droids, and even you damn gungans! Star Wars is fun again!

RATING: 9/10

Images from rottentomatoes.com.

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

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.

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

A Darth Vader #4 Review – Robot Insect Wasteland

Darth Vader #4, coverTITLE: Star Wars: Darth Vader #4
AUTHOR: Kieron Gillen
PENCILLER: Salvador Larroca
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: April 8, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Hey kids! It’s Star Wars prequel stuff! Only this time, without the horrific dialogue and bad acting! And as a bonus: Evil C-3PO and R2-D2! We! Are! Winning!

Darth Vader #4 continues to be Marvel’s most compelling Star Wars title, as our protagonist continues to hunt for the Force-strong pilot who destroyed the Death Star, and investigate the identity of The Emperor’s mysterious co-conspirator. In his efforts, he has enlisted the aid of droid archaeologist Aphra, who has led him to Geonosis, the planet that sparked the Clone Wars. Once there, Vader hopes to use the long dormant battle droids for his own bidding.

The concept of Vader traveling to Geonosis and using the battle droids seems a little convenient as far as strategic use of familiar prequel-era imagery is concerned. Look no further than the cover to see this strategy in action. However, I won’t go as far as to call it cheap. The series has established that Vader trusts robots more than humans. Obviously he needs this army sooner rather than later, and given Anakin Skywalker’s experience in the Clone Wars, he has an understanding of how these droids work. So it does make a sort of sense that he’d use them. And let’s be honest, the prequel-meets-classic Star Wars element is usually pretty cool to see, as is the case here.

Darth Vader #4, Geonosis, queenI really enjoy the Doctor Aphra character. Obviously she fulfills a functional purpose in giving Vader someone to talk to, and saying expositional stuff. But what’s really interesting is her reverence of Vader. She’s not simply afraid of him. She is his humble servant. My question is…does she have bizarre romantic feelings for him? That’s a very interesting premise. What kind of woman loves Darth Vader? And can Darth Vader somehow find room amongst all his anger and hate to feel something resembling love again? A plotline like this could be an interesting foreshadowing to the events of Return of the Jedi. But romance or not, Aphra clearly doesn’t have a long life expectancy at this point. Either Vader kills her off when he has no use for her anymore, or her choice in men becomes her undoing.

Gillen, Larroca, and the creative team have also given this series a really fun resource for comedy: Triple-Zero and BT-1. Essentially, they’re evil versions of C-3PO and R2-D2. Zero’s dialogue is hysterical. He’s every bit the cordial, frittish butler C-3PO is. But the evil and sadistic is mixed in with the prim and proper. In this issue alone, he gives us these little gems…

Darth Vader #4, Triple-Zero– “Hello! I’m Triple-Zero and I’m looking forward immensely to torturing you today.”

– “Actually, a few words do spring to mind… Hahaha! You are on fire and also dead.”

Seeing Geonosis as a sterilized, depopulated wasteland so many years after the Clone Wars very much answers a “Whatever happened to…?” question left over from the prequels. It certainly seems in character for our buddies at the galactic Empire to eliminate a resource that is no longer of use. Though apparently they didn’t do as thorough a job as they should have. Larroca really gets to show off when we meet a surviving Geonosian queen who has taken on the remaining battle droids as her “children.” It’s an image that’s both very fitting of the Star Wars universe, and also extremely creepy.

I’m very much hoping Gillen and Larroca keep rolling here. This book’s writing is compelling on a number of levels, and its art is top notch. Truly, this is a Star Wars title worthy of the franchise’s legacy.

Image 1 from idigitaltimes.com. Image 2 from adventuresinpoortaste.com.

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