Comics: Star Wars – Poe Dameron #1

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As promised, I’m here with my review of Poe Dameron #1. (Better late than never!). Despite having been out for a total of eight issues now, I’ve only just gotten around to catching up with this series. Generally speaking, I usually like to collect 4-6 issues of a comic before diving into it. This way I can get a good chunk of the story before waiting a whole month for the next chapter. That works great for someone that is only reading a comic, but not so good for someone who is reviewing them.

Regardless, I’ve finally sat down with my copy of Poe Dameron #1 and I’m ready to share my thoughts. As you may have guessed, this comic is focused mainly of the character of Poe Dameron. Fans of The Force Awakens are undoubtedly familiar with this character. Poe is the star pilot of The Resistance, and personal friend of General Leia Organa. This book begins shortly before the events of The Force Awakens. This is the story of Poe on his search for Lor San Tekka (the old man from the beginning of Episode VII). So fans of the new film should feel right at home with events of story presented here.

Aside from Poe, we also see a lot of attention on the other X-Wing pilots in Poe’s “Black Squadron”. As well, receive an introduction to a new character from The First Order. One thing I’ve really enjoyed about these new Marvel comics is the introduction of new and interesting characters. Marvel’s done a great job of creating some really fantastic characters who fit wonderfully into the existing Star Wars mythology. Those found here in the Poe Dameron comic are no exception.

I found myself enjoying this book a lot more than I expected to. To be honest, I wasn’t really expecting such a deep tie-in with Episode VII. The storyline presented in this first issue serves as a great launching point for this book. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

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Artwork: The artwork in this comic is similar to that seen in the earlier issues of Marvel’s main Star Wars line. Overall well done.

Story: The story-line here is a prequel to The Force Awakens, and a sequel to Poe’s story in Before the Awakening. We are given a little insight into the event’s leading up to the opening scene of Episode VII.

Recommended:  Yes. I recommend this series to any Star Wars fan. Fans of The Force Awakens especially will find a lot to like in this premier issue. I can’t wait to see where the story goes and check back in the near future.

Comics: Star Wars – Darth Vader #25

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I’m lagging a bit behind in my Star Wars comic book reviews. But fear not! I will catch up soon with my thoughts on the Poe Dameron and Han Solo comic. I plan to do so before the release of Rogue One next month, But first, I want to discuss the final issue of Marvel’s Darth Vader.

When Marvel took over the mantle of Star Wars comics from Dark Horse, it launched with both a generic Star Wars title as well as a Darth Vader comic. For awhile, these two comics ran parallel of each other. Then, Darth Vader took a bit of a turn and veered off into it’s own story line. The Darth Vader series has now come to a close with the release of it’s 25th issue.

During the course of this excellent comic, we learned how Darth Vader discovered Luke Skywalker’s identity as well as his early plans to circumvent the Emperor and reunite with his long lost son. This comic introduced us to a number of wonderful new characters; Dr. Aphra, BeeTee, Triple 0, Cylo-IV, etc. All of which I found to be fascinating and worthy additions to the Star Wars universe.  As a result, even though this book has come to an end, I’m very excited for the upcoming Dr. Aphra comic.

Star Wars fans who are curious about the era between the fourth and fifth films will find a treasure trove of material in these twenty five issues. I can’t recommend this series enough. Marvel has proved itself to be a fantastic steward for the Star Wars universe and this comic is a prime example of why.

If you have not yet experienced this part of the Star Wars canon. Now is an excellent time to catch up. Combined with the main Star Wars books, Darth Vader makes a great starting point for anyone interested in getting into the series. I’m sad to see that it has come to an end.

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Artwork: The artwork in the course of the Darth Vader comics was top notch from beginning to end. Even across the span of twenty five issues, I found it to consistent and often times some of the best out of all the new Star Wars books. High praise here.

Story: Originally, this book mirrored the events of the main Star Wars series but from an Imperial perspective. During this time, several new characters were introduced. After a while, these characters and their relationship with Vader became the focus of the book. The Darth Vader comic did a wonderful job of bridging the character of Anakin Skywalker with the cold and ruthless Darth Vader that we know from the original trilogy. The story presented in this book was nothing short of fantastic.

Recommended:  Yes. I recommend this series to any Star Wars fan. Followers of both the prequels and the original trilogy will find a lot to enjoy here.

Comics: Star Wars – Obi-Wan and Anakin

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A little late with this review, so I apologize. But here are my thoughts on the Marvel Comics: Obi-Wan and Anakin mini-series. This was a five-issue event that ran from January to May of this year. The story focuses on an adventure shared between both Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi and is set during the early days of Anakin’s apprenticeship.

In the story, our heroes find themselves stranded on an alien planet in the midst of a civil war between two semi-primitive factions. Anakin and Obi-Wan must work together to unite the warring groups and secure their escape.

Hidden amidst the main plot, are some very interesting glimpses into the nature of Obi-Wan’s relationship with Anakin in the early days of his training. It also sheds some light on the origins of Anakin’s relationship with Palpatine, a subject that is a huge fascination with many fans. Despite what initially appears to be a fairly generic storyline, Marvel did a fine job weaving in details that hardcore fans will be eager to soak up.

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Artwork: This book has a very modern art style. Similar to that of the main Star Wars series. Crisp and clean with good use of color.

Story: Set between Episodes I and II, that’s a surprising amount of information packed into this series. Hints are given into Obi-Wan’s private thoughts on the state of the Jedi Order and well as a surprising reveal regarding Anakin’s intentions in the early days of this training.

Recommended:  Yes. This is a great mini-series and a prime example of the new canon done right. Fans of the prequel trilogy will really enjoy this title, but in truth is appeals to nearly any Star Wars fan.

Star Wars: Battlefront – Twilight Company – Alexander Freed

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I know I’ve been slacking in my Star Wars canon reviews lately. I’ve been reading, but not posting. That means this entry for Battlefront: Twilight Company is a little behind schedule. – Sorry.

What we have here is an interesting entry into the new Star Wars line-up. Battlefront: Twilight Company is a novel intended to tie-in with the Star Wars Battlefront video game. But in reality, has little to do with the game itself. Instead, we have what is essentially a war novel that goes behind the scenes of many of the battles we’ve seen in the Star Wars series. Now, that’s not a bad thing at all. But to me, the way the story is presented didn’t really have that “Star Wars” feel. I felt like the guts of the story could have easily been inserted into any war of the author’s choosing with little work.

The book follows a number of rebel grunt-soldiers during various battles in the war against the Empire. The action is fast paced, and the dark and gritty presentation is very well done. But there’s really nothing in the novel that makes it required reading for casual fan. In my opinion, this novel would be best enjoyed by fans of other war novels and the hardcore Star Wars fanbase.

Story: The book is well written, albeit a little confusing at times. The characters are interesting, but plentiful. Almost to the point of detracting from the plot.

Recommended:  FOR HARDCORE FANS. – Again, this is a sci-fi war novel first, a subplot to Star Wars second. If you’re on the fence, this is certainly a skip-able entry in the new canon, but don’t misunderstand – the story is certainly enjoyable.

Comics: Star Wars -C3PO

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So unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that there was a new Star Wars movie recently. In this film, we see one of our favorite robotic Star Wars characters, C3PO, sporting a strange looking red arm. The arm is mentioned in the film as a bit of a side note, but no explanation was given regarding its origins… until now.

Marvel has produced a one-shot C3PO comic book that provides a bit of backstory on the mysterious origins of the scarlet appendage. The books is fairly short, and is centered upon a scenario in which C3PO and a number of other droids embark on a bit of an adventure. I don’t want to say much more or I risk giving away a bit of the story. But I will tell you that there’s actually a lot more insight into the inner workings of droids provided here than one might expect. I found the story to be both entertaining and touching.

So if you were on the fence, wondering just how entertaining a comic featuring a handful or robots might be, you can place your fears to rest. This comic is surprisingly well done.

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Artwork: The art in this book has a dark and gritty feel to it, which seemed a bit off to me. But, it is well done.

Story: Set shortly before the events of EP VII, this story focuses on the working relationship between droids, and serves as an explanation for C3POs strange red arm.

Recommended:  Yes. For $4.00, this book is worth the price. There’s really nothing groundbreaking here, so I can’t really call it a must-read. But fans should find something enjoyable here.

Star Wars: Before the Awakening – Greg Rucka

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By now, I’m sure that everyone who wants to has seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens. As far as the film goes, I’m waiting for the home release next month before talking about the movie itself, but in keeping with my tradition of reviewing Star Wars novels, I wanted to take a moment to discuss Before the Awakening.

Marketed towards young adults, Before the Awakening is truly a must read for any Star Wars fan. This book is actually a collection of three short stories. Each story focusing on the characters of Finn, Rey, and Poe – just before the events of the Force Awakens. The stories do a wonderful job of providing just enough backstory on the characters to flesh them out a bit without ruining any of the real mystery behind the characters themselves.

I burned through this book in the course of one evening and I was thoroughly entertained the entire time. If you can’t enough of this new generation of Star Wars, do yourself a favor and grab this collection. It can be found for under $10 on Amazon and at most retailers.

Story: All three tales are fantastic. I found Rey’s story to be my favorite. But I really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes insights on both Finn and Poe’s origins as well. Great stuff.

Recommended:  FOR ALL FANS. – If you enjoyed The Force Awakens, this book is for you. If you want more of a Star Wars fix, don’t hesitate. This book is well worth your time.

Comics: Star Wars – Chewbacca (Mini Series)

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I know I’m a bit late on this post. But with the flurry of Star Wars posts coming to a head back in December, I thought it would be best to give things in the Star Wars universe a bit of breathing room. Happily, we’ve all had a few months to decompress, so I’m finally ready to share my thoughts on Marvel’s Chewbacca mini-series.

When this comic was announced, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I like Chewbacca just as much as any other Star Wars fan, but it seems awfully difficult to center an entire five-part mini-series around the character. Then when I learned that Chewy’s dialogue would remain un-translated (when he roars, it literally just says “Roooaaaaar!”) – I began to wonder even harder how they would manage to pull this off.  —  It wasn’t pretty.

The story in this book takes place shortly after the events of Episode IV. It features Chewbacca running a solo errand when he gets caught up in an Imperial situation on a remote planet. Teaming up with a young local girl, Chewy puts in some pro-bono work by helping a group of citizens strike at their Imperial oppressors. The problem is, the story itself is only mildly interesting and the characters introduced in the book are forgettable at best.

I can’t say that this series is particularly bad. But, it really seems unimportant in the overall scheme of things. In a nutshell, it’s just not very interesting and the execution feels flawed. This might be the first real dud in the new Marvel Star Wars lineup.

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Artwork: Good. The art here is well done, but nothing spectacular.

Story: Besides a little bit of fan service in the final issue, there’s little here that I actually found interesting. The Empire is still evil and oppressive, Chewbacca’s actions reflect his good nature, etc. All things we’ve seen before. I would have liked to see Marvel take this opportunity to explore more about the Wookiee homeworld or reflect a bit on Chewbacca’s relationship with Han Solo instead of what seems like shoe-horning him into this brief adventure.

Recommended:  No. I can’t really recommend spending your money on this title unless you’re a hardcore Star Wars collector.

Star Wars: Journey to The Force Awakens (Young Adult Trilogy)

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Amidst the madness that is the holiday season, home repairs and everything else I finally managed to read all three of the “Young Adult” Star Wars novels that were released last month. These books, unlike Lost Stars, are truly aimed towards younger readers both in size and content/vocabulary. But I’m happy to report that this fact doesn’t make them any less worthy of a read. The writing and content of all three of these books are surprisingly excellent.

These novels are truly companions to each other in more ways than one. First, each book starts with a short prologue, each takes place in between Episode VI and VII. These prologues serve as a vehicle to introduce the main story, which is always presented as a “tale of yesteryear”. During these prologues (and  epilogues) we are given some hints and glimpses as to the state of our favorite heroes in a post-RotJ setting. This is very well done, and extremely exciting for any Star Wars fan who is eagerly awaiting the upcoming movie.

The first book I read was Weapon of a Jedi. This is an adventure that focuses on Luke Skywalker and is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. In it, we see a version of Luke that is just beginning to emerge from his phase as a naïve farm boy into a more inquisitive adult who is desperate to learn anything he can about the legacy of the Jedi. This book seems to take place sometime around the events of the Star Wars comic book by Marvel and the Heir to the Jedi novel. In my opinion, despite being aimed at younger readers, this book  is actually a much better portrayal of Luke in this time period than Heir to the Jedi. (There’s no noodle scooting to be found here.)

The second of these books I picked up was Smuggler’s Run. This novel focuses on Han Solo and Chewbacca. It is also set around the same timeframe, between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. This book is fantastic. It captures the persona of Han Solo from this time period perfectly and has a surprising amount of action and storytelling packed into such a short book. This is easily my favorite of the three.

Finally, I read Moving Target. This book, unlike the others, is set between Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. This novel focuses largely on Princess Leia. It provides some really good insight into just what role she played in the rebellion as well as gives some backstory on the events directly leading up to RotJ. There’s also a small appearance here by Luke Skywalker that I found quite interesting. This book is probably my second favorite of the trilogy.

All in all, these books are worth reading even if you’re an adult. They may be aimed at a younger audience, but they are not watered down in any way. Aside from their size, they read just like any adult Star Wars fiction. You can tell just how much dedication and though the authors put behind these novels. In my opinion, they really make a great lead in to the new film, which is now less than ten days away.

Due to their size and simultaneous release, I’m reviewing these together.

Story: Surprisingly thoughtful and well written. Great for old fans of the series and anyone looking forward to the new film. Each book focuses on a specific character from the original trilogy.

Recommended:  FOR ALL FANS

Star Wars: Lost Stars – Claudia Gray

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Just the other day, I finally finished the next book on my Star Wars “to-read” list; Lost Stars.  This book was marketed as a young adult novel, but it is anything but. If you’ve been on the fence about this one for that reason, cast aside all doubt and dive in. Lost Stars is eloquently written and it’s actually one of the more “adult” Star Wars novels I’ve ever read.

The book starts between Episode III and IV, and follows the lives of two childhood friends who meet in the early days of the Empire. Throughout the story, you see as they grow and mature, eventually enlisting in Imperial service. Essentially, this ends up becoming a romance story that takes place during the time of the Original Trilogy. We get to see key events such as the Battle of Yavin, Hoth, Endor, and even the new famed Battle of Jakku – all through the eyes of these two characters. While this could easily end up feeling forced, the author does a wonderful job of making this work. The characters of Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree are WONDERFUL additions to the Star Wars universe.

When I say this novel is “adult”, I mean that all aspects of the relationship between these characters is explored. Even the subject of sexual activity is covered here, but it very tastefully done. Regardless, this was not something I expected from a novel being marketed as “young adult”. For many, the subject matter and sheer size of the book itself may seem a little off-putting. Romance is not a subject one typically thinks of when picking up a Star Wars novel, but it works very well here. Don’t let this fool you. This is a fantastic read.  All that aside, a lot of this book features behind-the-scenes detail of already familiar events, from an Imperial perspective. This alone ends up being a very interesting part of the novel. I can’t recommend this one enough. In many ways, this book serves as a better set up to Episode VII than even “Aftermath“.

I can only hope that we will see more of the lead characters presented here in future works, maybe even Episode VII

Story: Excellent plotline. The author does a great job of introducing two new characters and actually make you care about them. Not to mention, the storytelling is second-to-none.

Recommended:  FOR ALL FANS (Guys, if your wife/girlfriend typically only reads “girly-books” – this might make a good launching point into Star Wars fiction for her.)