Tag Archives: Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

A Star Wars #27 Review – This Looks Familiar…

star_wars_27TITLE: Star Wars #27
AUTHOR: Jason Aaron
PENCILLER: Salvador Larroca. Cover by Stuart Immonen.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 25, 2017

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

We haven’t seen much of Yoda since Star Wars returned to Marvel. He’s been around, of course. But to my knowledge this is the first story we’ve seen that’s actually focused on him.

Framed, oddly enough, as an entry in the diary of Ob-Wan Kenobi, part two of “Yoda’s Secret War” sees Yoda travel to a planet of primitive warriors. Warriors that also happen to be children. The planet’s society revolves around it’s strange blue mountains. The ore from these mountains is somehow strong in the Force. The Jedi Master is quickly caught up in the feud between the tribe that controls the ore, and the young outsiders. As a Jedi, Yoda’s mission is to bring peace. But as he’ll soon find out, peace is not on the table.

The artist here is our old Darth Vader buddy Salvador Larroca, who I’ve criticized for making it blatantly obvious that he’s duplicating movie stills. I’ll repeat that critique here, as you can tell exactly where he hit the pause button during Attack of the Clones. You’re into what’s happening in the book, and then these familiar images of Yoda pluck you out. Larroca is a very talented artist. It’s such a shame he waters down his own work like this.

star-wars, Yoda, Salvador Larroca, 2017Putting Yoda in a story with kids is obviously fitting. Star Wars lore tells us he teaches a lot of the “younglings” (a la that scene in Clones) before they’re assigned to a master. There’s an opportunity here for insight into how Yoda relates to children, and what makes him an effective mentor for students that age. It doesn’t have to be anything big or monumental. A small moment would do. Maybe even something as short as a sentence. We don’t get anything like that in this issue. But the door is wide open for it next issue.

Jason Aaron’s handle on Yoda has impressed me. In neither this nor last issue did we see a lightsaber, or any sort of flippy moves from him. What we have here is wise Empire Strikes Back Yoda, as opposed to CGI dancing Yoda. For that, I’m thankful. What we’re getting here seems that much more authentic as a result.

Jason Aaron came across something really cool with these “Journal” stories, as it allows him to take a break for a month and tell some cool stories with Obi-Wan. This is the first time he’s gone a little more long form with it, while also journeying away from Obi-Wan’s life on Tatooine. I much prefer the single issue stories (see issues #7, #15, and #20), but what we’re getting here with Yoda is still pretty good. But with at least two more issues, most likely three, left in “Yoda’s Secret War,” I’m just hoping our little green friend doesn’t overstay his welcome.

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A Darth Vader #25 Review – “Not like this. Please not like this.”

Star Wars: Darth Vader #25, 2016, coverTITLE: Star Wars: Darth Vader #25
AUTHOR: Kieron Gillen
PENCILLERS: Salvador Larroca, Max Fiumara. Cover by Juan Gimenez.
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $5.99
RELEASED: October 12, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I maintain that this Darth Vader series doesn’t have to end simply because Kieron GIllen’s story is ending. It’s not like there’s a shortage of creators out there looking for a crack at the dark lord. Nor is there a shortage of fans that will read stories about him. Nevertheless, for now this is the end for Vader’s ongoing adventures. Thankfully, he goes out on a hell of a dramatic note.

As this series has progressed, we’ve learned it’s essentially a bridge story between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Vader goes from being in the doghouse after the destruction of the Death Star, to being in a more powerful position and obsessed with finding his son. But it’s also about Aphra, a crafty archaeologist Vader forms an uneasy alliance with. She knows Vader will kill her when she’s of no further use. In issue #4, she flat out asks him to give her a quick lightsaber through the neck when the time comes. She also asks him not to eject her into space. That scene has hung over the entire series. Like Aphra, we all knew it was coming.

I didn’t think we’d actually come back to the space ejection thing. But low and behold…

Darth Vader #25, 2016, airlock, Doctor AphraLarroca’s face work with Aphra isn’t the best here, and this isn’t the most natural looking thing in the world. But that top panel on the page at right makes the whole scene. Her body language is perfect. Then on the next page you have the simple line: “Not like this. Please, not like this.” It’s a fantastic pay off to what we saw in issue #4.

And then she lives, which was actually a disappointment. While I really dig Aphra, that’s a waste of an awesome death scene. But we’ve got a Gillen-penned Doctor Aphra book coming in December that needs its title character. That could be a great book, if for no other reason than Triple-Zero and BT-1 will be in it. Plus, after what he gave us in this series Gillen deserves to stay at the table as long as he’s hungry.

Someone I could use a break from is Salvador Larroca. He’s extremely talented, he draws an incredible Darth Vader, and he’s a very natural fit for the Star Wars universe. But it’s so obvious he draws off of stills from the movie that it pulls me out of the story. Case in point, he was obviously looking at Revenge of the Sith footage when drawing Palpatine for this issue. Perhaps the key is to put him on characters that don’t appear in the movies, a la Aphra or Sana Solo.

On the plus side, Larroca’s final two pages are very good. First, we see Vader and Luke Skywalker reaching out to each other in a dream-like scene (shown below). It’s somewhat reminiscent of the climax of the Empire duel, where Vader beckons his son to come with him. Then we cut back to reality, with a long shot of the bridge on the Super Star Destroyer. Again, much like Empire.

Darth Vader #25, 2016, Salvador Larroca, Luke SkywalkerWe get a bonus back-up story here, pencilled by Max Fiumara. It turns out the Tusken Raiders had a rather unique reaction to Vader’s slaughtering of one of their villages back in issue #1. The story is silent, which is a nice change. There are a pair of pages where Fiumara switches to a more storybookish style, which is a cool textural change.

One thing I found confusing: Someone who’s apparently meant to be an elder of sorts appears after the attack. The “storybook” part of the back-up recounts a village slaughter by a man with a lightsaber. Is this supposed to be Darth Vader’s attack, or Anakin Skywalker’s from Episode II? I’d like to think it’s the latter.

At one point, Darth Vader stood head and shoulders above every other Star Wars book Marvel was putting out. Over time it lost it’s must-read status, but remained supremely executed and mostly well drawn. I’m sad to see it end. Hopefully some of its momentum will carry over into Aphra’s series.

But seriously, what a waste of a death scene…

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A Star Wars: Obi-Wan and Anakin #1 Review – The Lost Years

Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin #1TITLE: Star Wars: Obi-Wan and Anakin #1
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
PENCILLER: Marco Checchetto
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 7, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m not necessarily surprised Marvel chose Obi-Wan & Anakin as their latest Star Wars miniseries. What’s rather curious though, is the time in which it’s set. This story comes to us just a few years after The Phantom Menace, so they’re not tapping in to any of that Clone Wars stuff. There’s a definite downside to that, but the upside might just be worth it.

When we open the issue, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (now presumably about 12) crash land on the planet Carnelian IV. Master and apprentice are responding to a distress signal requesting Jedi aid. But Carnelian IV is a world that was thought to be dead. What exactly have our heroes wandered into…?

While Obi-Wan & Anakin may not have a lot of the stuff that made The Clone Wars or portions of the prequels fun. But it does have the potential to provide. something the prequels sorely lacked: Character depth.

Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin, lightsaberOur opening crawl tells us that both characters have begun to “question their roles in the destiny of The Force.” We later learn that Anakin has apparently talked to Obi-Wan about leaving the Jedi Order. This subject has been touched on, both in Attack of the Clones and the Revenge of the Sith novelization. But this is the first time I’ve seen the subject brought up when Anakin is this young. It’s also the first time I’ve seen it used without any sort of connection to Anakin and Padme’s relationship. That enriches the concept, from where I’m sitting. It shows us Anakin actually has conviction, and his morality doesn’t completely revolve around Padme.

So what would prompt Anakin to abandon his Jedi training at such a young age? If what we see in this issue is any indication, it’s because he’s dissatisfied with the way the Republic and the Jedi Order function. But I wouldn’t be surprised to learn it also has something to do with his mother. He was obviously still thinking about her in Attack of the Clones.

Of course, it’s not an accident that they made a point to focus in on Anakin’s lightsaber (shown above). We even get a flashback to “before,” and see a scene with him practicing with other students. How and if the lightsaber will play into the story, outside of Anakin simply using it, isn’t clear. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets more special attention, given the role it played in The Force Awakens.

Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin #1, Marco ChecchettoMarco Checchetto is no stranger to Star Wars, having drawn Shattered Empire. He and colorist Andres Mossa have a knack for creating gorgeous environments, vehicles, settings you very much believe could exist in this universe. The airships in this issue would have been cool even without the big crash (shown right). We don’t often see those kind of craft in Star Wars, and will hopefully see more before the story is over.

But Checchetto can run into trouble when it comes to people. It’s not that his figure work is bad. His characters just seem a bit lifeless on the page at times. They lack a certain energy, which in turn can rob the story of energy.

The success of Obi-Wan & Anakin relies heavily on what it can tell us about the relationship between these two characters that we didn’t know before. You know what else it relies heavily on? Us not seeing Jar Jar. We’re between Episodes I and II here, people. This is Jar Jar territory. We must be cautious…

Images from author’s collection. 

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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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A Review of Star Wars: Blood Ties – Jango and Boba Fett – Father and Clone

Star Wars: Blood Ties - Jango and Boba FettTITLE: Star Wars: Blood Ties – A Tale of Jango and Boba Fett
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
PENCILLER: Chris Scalf
COLLECTS: Star Wars: Blood Ties #1-4
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
PRICE: $14.99
RELEASED: April 27, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Does EVERYONE in Star Wars have daddy issues? Luke’s got them, Boba Fett’s got them…

Blood Ties dives into some of the unseen backstory between Boba Fett and his clone/father Jango. Evidently Jango was into tough love. In this issue, he sends a massive beast after his son, telling him: “Bring back a tooth.” But things get more complicated when Jango’s next bounty turns out to be one of the clones that were created using his DNA (see Attack of the Clones). The results of this confrontation will effect Boba years later when he meets this clone’s son, whose name is Connor Freeman (Get it? Free man?).

Star Wars: Blood Ties #1, Chris ScalfFirst and foremost, I LOVE the art in this story. Chris Scalf captures the faces of Jango and Boba Fett almost perfectly, and he’s great at drawing all the weird aliens, creatures and locations in the Star Wars universe. The colors are perfect too. The art makes it seem like you’re watching supplemental material from one of the films. As far as I’m concerned, the more I see of him down the line, the better.

Blood Ties is pretty much what you’d expect, with a few nice twists. There’s a pretty nice moment where Jango Fett pulls a blaster on his prey, and sees he’s been hunting a man who looks exactly like him. There’s something you don’t see every day. The way he ends that confrontation might surprise some.

Whether a reader will like Blood Ties likely depends on whether they like their Boba Fett pre or post Attack of the Clones. George Lucas himself once said that Boba Fett is popular because he’s mysterious in that old western, man-with-no-name kind of way. That element of the character is still there, but Fett isn’t as mysterious as he used to be. We know one of his weak spots, and he’s been humanized a bit. Personally, I think this weakens the book’s ending by making Fett seem like a bit of a softy at heart. You can call Boba Fett a lot of things, but soft-hearted isn’t one of them. Though I suppose one can argue that nobody’s a hard ass ALL the time…

Star Wars: Blood Ties, A tale of Jango and Boba Fett, image 2The ending left me unsatisfied. This is one of those stories that ends simply because the action stops. I’d like to think this isn’t entirely Taylor’s fault. Creators only have a certain number of pages to work with, and it seems like they simply came up a little short. I figure two more pages would have done the trick.

The book also pulls a bit of a fast one on you by making you think Boba Fett is the narrator. When we find out he’s not, it’s something of an eye-roller. At least in my case. When you think your narrator is a bad ass bounty hunter, almost anyone else is a letdown by comparison.

For what it is, this book is okay. Just okay, though. It started out pretty hot, but cooled significantly after the second issue. You can’t deny the art is fantastic. But the story left me wanting more, and not in the “can’t wait for the sequel” kind of way.

RATING: 5.5/10

Image 1 from tomtaylormade.com. Image 2 from starwars.wikia.com.

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