Tag Archives: Marvel

Updated Star Wars: The New Canon Reviews

starwarsnewnovels

For those of you who may be new to the Star Wars expanded universe scene, here is a VERY simplistic run down of what’s going on: When Disney purchased Lucasfilm they formed a Story Group. The job of this Story Group was to manage the story of Star Wars and make sure that everything- from the movies to the T.V. shows, books, comics, & games- all told a cohesive story. One of the first decisions that this Story Group made was to make all previous expanded universe stuff (the books, comics, games, etc. from the last 20+ years) “Legends” and start over with a fresh slate. Everything released under the Star Wars banner from that point on would be considered “canon”- the official history of Star Wars and it’s characters. That means that anything you read in the books or comics, see in the TV shows or movies, or play in the games, really “happened” in that galaxy far, far away that we all love. The following is my review of each of the books & comics that have been released in this new canon. The following reviews will be short, to the point, and won’t contain any spoilers.

The Novels:

ANewDawn

A New Dawn was the first of the new canon to be released and it serves as a prequel to the TV show Rebels (which if you haven’t been watching, you should). It introduces us to Kanan Jarrus, former Jedi padawan turned scoundrel, and Hera Syndulla, ace pilot and freedom fighter.

What I Liked:
The book does an excellent job of giving readers insight into who Kanan and Hera are and what makes them tick. It is an excellent primer for Rebels and is something that any fan of that series will enjoy for that reason alone. The book also introduces readers to Rae Sloan, a female Imperial Commander who goes on to play a major role in Aftermath.

What I Didn’t Like:
Unfortunately, that’s about the only thing that the book has going for it. It’s well written, but the plot is  rather uninteresting and the pacing is on the slow side. Readers looking for swashbuckling Jedi action, shootouts, and starfighter dogfights will be disappointed. In fact, a year after reading the book I’m having a hard time even remembering the major plot points and I had to look up the publisher’s summery to refresh my memory. That’s a bad sign.

Conclusion:
A New Dawn wasn’t a bad book, and fans of the Rebels series will enjoy learning more about Kanan & Herra, but the plot is forgettable and the pacing is on the slow side.  It’s worth a read for fans, but there are better Star Wars offerings to tackle first.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Rent

Who Will Like It: Fans of Rebels.

Heir_to_the_Jedi

Ever since I, Jedi by Micheal Stackpole I’ve longed for someone else to write a book in first person; so when this new slate of canonical books was announced and I saw that not only were we going to get a book written in first person from Luke’s point of view, but that it was being written by one of my favorite authors, Kevin Hearne, I was beyond excited. My wife and I are both HUGE Iron Druid fans, so for me this was like a match made in heaven. I’ve had both the e-book and the audiobook preordered for over a month and I had both downloaded to my phone as soon as they became available. I devoured the entire thing over the course of a day.

I’m not going to go into details about the story because I always hate it when reviews do that. If you’re reading this to see if the book is worth buying before you read it you don’t want some yahoo ruining the experience with an outline of the whole story; and if you’ve already read the book and you’re just here to see what I thought then you’re not going to want a rehash of a story you already know. So here’s all you need to know about the book for the purposes of the review: the book is set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back and it’s told from Luke’s point of view. Admiral Ackbar and Leia send Luke off on a mission along side a new potential love interest. Hijinks ensue.

What I Liked
It was exactly what I expected Kevin Hearne to deliver- a fun, entertaining, quick read. This is not a thick, 400+ page novel with an intricate plot and a massive cast; and that’s not a bad thing. The story Hearne weaves here is a more contained, personal story for Luke. He’s not saving the galaxy. There’s no huge threat. It’s Luke completing a series of connected missions for the Alliance while he tries to figure out more about the Force and how he’s supposed to learn to be a Jedi without a teacher. Hearne’s light, often humorous, style fits Luke perfectly at this stage of his life, and is a great lead in to Jason Arron and John Cassaday’s Star Wars ongoing comic from Marvel (which if you’re not reading, you should be).  It’s a smaller, more intimate story, but it isn’t just a fun throw-away tale. Through the course of the novel it helps to answer the question that most fans had when they watched Luke call his lightsaber to his hand while he was hanging upside down in the wampa cave during The Empire Strikes Back – when did he learn to do that? Hearne helps to fill in some of those gaps between the movies with important development for Luke’s character. It was also a really great idea to tell this story from a first person perspective, as it helps the reader to really connect with Luke as a person as opposed to him just being some overly powerful hero archetype as he’s been so often portrayed in the past.The new character that Hearne introduces, Nakari Kelen, could have easily been a one dimensional stereotype but over the course of the novel Hearne fleshes out a fun, kick-ass female character that has great chemistry with Luke.

What I Didn’t Like
The pacing was a little too quick and uneven in some places. Events early in the novel are often easily completed and then glossed over to get to the next set-piece. I’m glad that Hearne didn’t drag out unnecessary transitions, but I wouldn’t have minded if he took a little more time fleshing things out. Also, there was one instance where a “reward” for Luke’s help is a little too convenient for the plot, as it becomes needed just a few pages later. Originally this book was set to be part of a trilogy of Legends books, but when the change over happened it was decided that this story could fit in the new canon. I don’t know how much of the book got changed because of that transition, but I wonder if some of the pacing issues might be a result.

Conclusion

Heir to the Jedi was an enjoyable read for me and I’m hoping that Kevin Hearne will come back to that galaxy far, far away again some time with a story that might not be as hindered due to circumstances. Reviews have been pretty mixed on this one, so your mileage may vary. The best advice I can give is manage expectations and go into it understanding that this isn’t Luke the Jedi Knight facing some galaxy-level threat. It’s a smaller story of a post-ANH Luke that would be at home as a few issue run in the comics.

Buy, Rent, Or Pass: Buy

Who Will Like It: Anyone Who’s Seen the Star Wars Movies/ Star Wars Fans/ Any Fan of The Iron Druid Chronicles

Tarkin-Cover

Tarkin is exactly what you’d expect from the title- a novel about Grand Moff Tarkin and how he came into power.

What I Liked:
James Luceno is a very talented writer and it was interesting to see the history of this influential character and how he came to be the man we see in A New Hope. Luceno writes Tarkin as a fully realized, three dimensional human being where he could have easily been a one note villain stereotype. The highlight of the novel is seeing Tarkin and his interactions with Vader.

What I Didn’t Like:

I have to admit that Tarkin is my least favorite of the new canon novels so far, but that is purely due to personal preference. As I said, Luceno is an excellent writer, I just had very little interest in the subject matter. I honestly didn’t need a book about Tarkin. I never cared about where he came from or how he came into power. I was perfectly content with him being used as a secondary character, with his history being given to us in snippets through the stories he shows up in, such as his role in Rebels and in Lost Stars. I found the main plot of Tarkin hunting down Rebels that stole his ship to be pretty boring, and it took me several weeks to get through the whole novel because I just didn’t have much motivation to read it.

Conclusion:
While I didn’t care for the novel, I know many other Star Wars fans that LOVED this novel and couldn’t put it down. The novel is well written and my experience with it was purely due to my own personal preferences.

Buy, Rent, Or Pass: Rent/Buy depending on personal preference.

Who Will Like It:  Fans of the Empire. People interested in learning about Tarkin.

dark disciple

Dark Disciple is a novel adaptation of a series of unused scripts from The Clone Wars TV series. It follows rebel Jedi Quinlan Vos (best known from the Dark Horse comics) and former Sith Apprentice, now bounty hunter, Asajj Ventress as they’re sent on a mission to assassinate Count Dooku.

What I Liked:
The Clone Wars DNA is obvious to anyone who is a fan of the show. Golden does a great job personifying Ventress and Vos, and the evolution of their relationship. It’s also a great look at how the Jedi aren’t infallible and the impact that the war has had on both the Order and individual Jedi. It’s a solid, fun story and my third favorite novel of the new canon.

What I Didn’t Like:
The story would have been even more effective if the Dark Horse comics had been officially brought into canon, fleshing out Quinlan’s history and previous struggles with the dark side. That’s a minor quibble, given that the novel does a good job of establishing who Vos is on it’s own.

Conclusion:
This is, by far, one of the best novels in the new canon. It’s fun, well paced, and tells a great story. While you don’t have to have seen The Clone Wars to enjoy this novel, fans of that series will get even more more out of it.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy

Who Will Like It: Fans of the Clone Wars, Fans of Jedi/Sith tales, casual Star Wars fans looking for a fun story.

Lords_of_the_Sith

Take Vader at the height of his power and the Emperor showing off just how badass he really is, and then strand them both in a hostile environment where a group of rebels are hunting them. Interested? Damn right you are!

What I Liked:
This is Vader as we always wanted to see him. This is the Vader we see in the season two premier of Rebels. This is Vader being the boogyman, the urban legend, that rebels whisper about like they’re telling campfire tales. Then there’s the Emperor finally cutting loose and showing us all why Yoda was unable to beat him. This is the Emperor from the Clone Wars season five finale as he took on Maul and Savage at the same time and whooped their monkey asses. These are the Sith Lords we always wanted to see. The Rebel side is well represented too. What could have easily been just stereotypes and canon fodder like they were in Tarkin, here we get Cham Syndulla (Hera’s father) leading the Free Ryloth Movement on their biggest mission ever: to take out the Emperor and Vader. Their plan is interesting. The characters are well written and three dimensional. The novel is not only one of the very best of the new canon, but would rank up as one of the very best of the Legends as well.

What I didn’t Like:
I have to say, there really isn’t anything I didn’t like. This book was great from beginning to end and anything I’d say here would be complete nit-picking.

Conclusion:
This is Vader and the Emperor being complete badasses. In fact, that should be the blurb on the cover: Sith Badassery. There is no reason to not read this book.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy. Duh.

Who Will Like It: Star Wars Fans, Sith fans, Vader worshipers, Fans of badassery.

aftermath

Aftermath has been incredibly divisive among the Star Wars fandom. It’s the first novel to take place post-ROTJ and the anticipation for this novel has been through the roof ever since it was announced. Unfortunately, that anticipation and hype has worked against it, and a combination of pre-conceived expectations and an eclectic writing style has left many fans disappointed. Is it really as bad as Amazon would have you believe?

What I Liked:
Wendig did a great job of giving readers a good feel for what the galaxy is like in a post-Empire setting. Occasionally Wendig places interludes set on various planets across the galaxy to give a snapshot of what things are like. While some fans weren’t thrilled with the interludes and how they broke up the main story, they actually ended up being my favorite parts of the novel. They were filled with the most interesting, and often teasing, tidbits and stories. In particular, the moment with Han and Chewie was a lot of fun. Wendig did a great job nailing the characterizations and it left me wishing that the novel was following that story instead of the main one that we were given.  Speaking of the main story, my favorite aspects were those that followed now Admiral Sloan, first introduced in A New Dawn, Sinjir Rath Velus, a former Imperial Loyalty Officer (and possibly a character from The Force Awakens?), and Mr. Bones, the homicidal battle droid reprogrammed to be a deadly bodyguard. They were all great characters with the best parts of the story surrounding them. The book itself starts slow, and all the seemingly disparate stories, along with the interludes, can be a bit confusing, but by about the half way point everything begins to gel together and the pacing of the book picks up quite a bit. From there on the book is a fairly fun read.
Update: Author Chuck Wendig confirmed on Twitter that the character of Temmin Wexely grows up to be Resistance pilot “Snap” Wexely played by Greg Grunberg in The Force Awakens.

What I Didn’t Like:
Wendig has a writing style that takes a little getting used to. Personally, it didn’t bother me, but I know a lot of other fans that just didn’t care for it. It’s very much a matter of personal taste.  As for the story itself, I, like many other fans, was disappointed that not only was the story not being headlined by the “big three,” but even Wedge ended up being pretty much a glorified cameo. The story itself wasn’t bad, and Wendig is a good writer, it just didn’t meet the expectations fans had for a novel that was touted as the first novel on the path to The Force Awakens and our first look at a post-ROTJ galaxy. Personally, I would have preferred a larger-scoped novel, or even a collection of smaller stories- longer versions of the interludes. I’ve heard that Wendig only had a short amount of time to do the novel, and I would assume that exactly what Wendig could do was hindered by the need for secrecy around the story aspects for the new movie and the “big three.” I like to call it “Agents of Shield Syndrome,” given the first season of Shield suffered in a similar fashion until Winter Soldier came out and they were able to move into the meat of their content. With all of those things being taken into consideration, Wendig didn’t do a bad job, and I look forward to seeing what he does with the following two novels post-TFA release, where he may not be as hindered.

Conclusion:
My advice to any fan is this: manage expectations. Judge the novel on it’s own merits, not against what you think it should be. If you can let go of what you wanted and instead take the novel for what it is, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Buy, Rent, Or Pass: Buy if you’re a hardcore fan. Rent if you’re a casual fan or just want to skim over it for the highlights. While this novel won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, there is enough great moments and very interesting tidbits of information/teases that make this something that all hardcore fans should check out.

Who Will Like It: Hardcore fans, fans of Chuck Wendig’s other novels.

Lost-Stars_DBG1

I’ll be honest, when I first heard about Lost Stars my initial reaction was: pass!  A YA novel touted as a Star Wars Romeo and Juliet? No, thank you. Then Kristian Harloff raved about how great it was and I decided to give it a shot. I have never been so glad to have been so wrong. Lost Stars is my favorite of the new canon novels and it is a book that everyone can enjoy.

What I Liked:
Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree are real people…at least Claudia Gray writes them as though they are. I know that’s the goal of any author, but Claudia Gray does it so well that I found myself drawn into their story and not wanting to put the book down. The story of Lost Stars begins roughly a decade before ANH and runs through ROTJ, ending with the Battle of Jakku (the battle where that Star Destroyer crash in the trailer happens). Miss Gray does a masterful job of weaving  Thane and Ciena’s tales with those of the movies, and involving them in such a way that is believable as opposed to turning it into an eye-rolling Star Wars Forrest Gump. In the end, you’ll see the familiar stories of the Original Trilogy in a new light and have a deeper appreciation for them. Lost Stars is a spiritual successor to the “Legends” X-Wing series by Mike Stackpole and Aaron Allston, following the two ace pilots as they join the Imperial Starfleet Academy and rise through the ranks, until eventually one becomes disillusioned with the Empire and joins the Rebellion. Thane in particular reminds me of Corran Horn (my favorite EU character), but not in a way where it feels like a rip-off. He’s just a really great character, as is Ciena, and I found myself at the end of the novel hoping fervently that we’ll get at least a sequel, if not an entire series, following these two. As for the romance aspect- don’t let the “YA” fool you. This isn’t Star Wars Twilight. The evolution of their relationship is natural and well written. At no point does it feel heavy handed or like you’re reading one of your mother’s romance novels.

What I Didn’t Like:
The novel ended with an obvious set up for a sequel, and now I have to wait for it!

Conclusion:
Ignore the fact that this novel is technically YA and has been promoted as a romance- this is Star Wars at it’s best and can be read and enjoyed by any fan.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy!

Who Will Like It: Star Wars fans new and old, fans of the X-Wing series of novels by Mike Stackpole and Aaron Allston.

Battlefront_Twilight_Company_cover

Battlefront: Twilight Company is obviously meant to be a tie-in to the new video game of the same name, but what Alexander Freed has actually done is given fans a war story told from the point of view of the grunts on the ground set in that galaxy far, far away that we all love. Most of the novel takes place around the time of The Empire Strikes Back and centers around Twilight Company, the Sixty First Mobile Infantry that’s sent in to do the difficult missions others can’t in the heart of enemy territory.

What I Liked:

It’d be easy to write this one off as a money grab, given it’s a tie in to a video game and those tend to be about as good as video game movies are. i was pleasantly surprised with this one, because it’s actually one of the best written novels we’ve gotten so far in the new canon. Freed manages to deliver a legit war story that reads as serious and brutal as such things should be, while at the same time managing to still feel like Star Wars. The characters are great. The story is solid. This one is a win all around.

What I Didn’t Like:

The serious and heavy nature of the content made this one a slow read for me. That’s not a knock on the quality of the storytelling at all. It’s just a heavy book with a heavy subject matter right around the crazy timing of the holidays, so this wasn’t one I could just fly through in a day or two. That’s more of a personal problem as opposed to a criticism of the book itself.

Conclusion: 

Battlefront: Twilight Company is a solid read and gives fans a perspective that we’ve not really gotten from a Star Wars novel before. The gritty subject matter and heavy tone might not be everyone’s cup of tea, however.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy

Who Will Like It:  Fans looking for a more serious war story, fans looking forward to Rogue One, fans of war movies like Black Hawk Down.

TFA

Alan Dean Foster, the author that ghost wrote the original Star Wars novelization and the first ever expanded universe novel, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, returns to Star Wars over thirty years later to pen the novelization for the new blockbuster movie. (He even begins the novel with a quote from the Journal of the Whills. *Fanboy squee!*) Given the fact that The Force Awakens has become the largest grossing domestic movie of all time and has broken just about every box office record there is, chances are you’ve probably seen the movie by now. If you haven’t, why the hell not? So, if you already know the story should you bother to read the novel? Yes, yes you should.

What I Liked: 

Alan Dean Foster is a well respected and accomplished author, and as such he’s managed to take the script from the film and weave a wonderful novel from it that gives fans a look inside the characters heads, revealing a more in depth look at motivations and feelings that are just impossible to do on screen. It also gives fans additional information and scenes that they just didn’t have time to put in the movie. The novel fills in a lot of the gaps that many fans felt were missing from the movie, such as a better understanding of the 30 years post-Return of the Jedi political climate. Who is the New Republic? What happened to the Empire and how did they become the First Order? Why is Leia running a resistance? Who was that old guy at the beginning and why did he have a piece of the map? What happened to Poe on Jakku? All of these questions, often glossed over in the movie for the sake of pacing, are answered in much greater detail here. We get a much better look at Han and Leia’s relationship, what went wrong, and why Han ran. We gain a deeper understanding of the internal struggle Kylo Ren is experiencing throughout the story.  We also get a few more clues as to who Rey is and why she can do the things she can do. Basically, if you loved the movie but found yourself not quite getting as much information as you wanted, this is the book (or audiobook) for you.

What I Didn’t Like:

Novelizations, canonically speaking, are tricky things. The novel is often written based on a script, and generally there are things in that script that either don’t make it into the movie at all, or may end up looking or sounding different in the final product. Thankfully this novelization doesn’t contain anything that contradicts what we see on screen. Some dialogue is different, in that the conversations may contain more lines, but the meaning and intent of the dialogue remains the same. Pablo Hidalgo, the grand high poo-bah of Star Wars canon from the Story Group, has officially said that any additional information or scenes in the novel are official canon, but the actual dialogue of the movies supersedes any differences in the book. Basically, what you saw on screen is what happened, but if you run across new scenes in the book that didn’t make it into the movie, those things “happened” too. Like I said, it can be a little confusing. Luckily, there’s not a whole lot that fans need to worry about here.

Conclusion:

Foster delivers a well written novelization that any fan of the movie should check out, if only for the additional background information that may help to clarify the political context of the movie.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Definite Buy

Who Will Like It: Fans of the movie who want to know more, or who just want to relive the movie again as they wait for the BluRay release.

 

Novellas:

The_Weapon_of_a_Jedi

Jason Fry writes one of four novellas released as part of the “Journey to the Force Awakens” set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, with bookends set during The Force Awakens. C3PO tells a tale of Luke Skywalker finding a lost Jedi temple and learning more about the Force after his fighter is damaged and he is forced to land for repairs.

What I Liked:

This is a fun little story featuring Luke as he struggles to learn about the Force and the Jedi without a master. It serves to fill in some blanks between the movies and it’s entertaining for what it is.

What I Didn’t Like:

The story is pretty basic. There’s nothing here that fans just *have* to know.

Conclusion:

Weapon of a Jedi was an entertaining, if not short, read. The story isn’t anything major or need to know, but it does serve to fill in some gaps of what went on in Luke’s life between the movies and his struggle to live up to the legacy of being the last Jedi without a master.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy or Rent.  It’s nothing that fans just *have* to own, but for me it was worth the money.

Who Will Like It: Luke fans & younger readers.

 

JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS: SMUGGLER'S RUN: A HAN SOLO ADVENTURE.By Greg Rucka.Illustrated by Phil Noto.Disney LucasFilm Press.On sale: September, 4, 2015.Price: $12.99 US/$13.99 CAN.ISBN: 978-1-4847-2495-8/eBook: 978-1-4847-2499-6.Ages: 10 – 14.Available: Wherever books and eBooks are sold.Short Description: In this story, set between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Han and Chewie must fly the Millennium Falcon on a top-secret mission for the Rebellion, while evading ruthless bounty hunters and a relentless imperial agent..Long Description: It is a period of civil war. The heroic freedom fighters of the REBEL ALLIANCE have won their most important victory thus far with the destruction of the Empire’s ultimate weapon, the DEATH STAR. But the Rebellion has no time to savor its victory. The evil Galactic Empire has recognized the threat the rebels pose, and is now searching the galaxy for any and all information that will lead to the final destruction of the freedom fighters. For the MILLENNIUM FALCON’s crew, who saved the life of Luke Skywalker during the Battle of Yavin, their involvement with the rebels is at an end. Now HAN SOLO and CHEWBACCA hope to take their reward and settle some old debts…

Novella written by comic writer Greg Rucka that tells a tale of Han and Chewie getting roped into rescuing a rebel spy.

What I Liked:

Greg Rucka “gets” Star Wars. From beginning to end this fun little story felt like watching a Star Wars movie. Rucka’s “voice” for Han was perfect.

What I Didn’t Like:

This is a novella and not a full novel. I wanted more!

Conclusion: 

This was a really fun Han & Chewie story and a must read for fans.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy!

Who Will Like It: Any Star Wars fan. Perfect for younger readers.

 

star-wars-moving-target

General Leia Organa tells a tale of the hard choices and sacrifices that leaders must make in a time of war.

What I Liked: 

The general idea behind the story was interesting, as was the look at Leia and her headspace during the time of the Force Awakens.

What I Didn’t Like:

This was my least favorite of the four novellas. Pacing-wise it was a bit slow and the most interesting thing about it was the book ends of General Leia.

Conclusion:

The book ends were really interesting while the core story was just okay.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Rent. It’s worth the (quick) read as a fan, but it’s not something that you’ll likely re-read or needs to be owned unless you’re just a completionist (like me).

Who Will Like It: Fans of Leia that want more stories from her point of view.

 

before the awakening

A collection of three short stories by Greg Rucka that follows Poe, Rey, and Finn in the months, days, and hours before the events of The Force Awakens.

What I Liked:

Like I said above, Greg Rucka just “gets” Star Wars. Each short story gives fans a glimpse into the lives and history of our three new heroes.  The backstory and characterization on display here leads perfectly into The Force Awakens.

What I Didn’t Like:

Again, the fact that this wasn’t a full novel. I really love how Rucka writes Star Wars and this was, by far, my favorite of these little novellas.

Conclusion:

Greg Rucka introduces us to the three new protagonists for the new trilogy in a way that sets the stage perfectly for The Force Awakens, and gives fans fun tidbits of information that may answer some questions about our new heroes. How did Finn know how to use a lightsaber, and was there more to his defection than just what we saw in the movie? How did Rey learn to fly? How did Poe join the Resistance?

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy it!

Who Will Like It: Any Star Wars Fan. Anyone wanting to know more backstory for our new heroes. Perfect for younger readers.

 

Short Stories (Quick Reviews):

d45d36f2d9e86eaf9e06253234381516

Tales From the Galaxy Far, Far, Away: Aliens  is 4 short stories written by Landry Q. Walker, each with a different genre theme, and each focusing on a background character seen in The Force Awakens.  You have a western, a tall tale, a pirate tale, and a “horror” story.

What I Liked:

They were cheap, relatively fun reads. It was fun to get a different genre with each story, but all set in the Star Wars galaxy.

What I Didn’t Like:

The stories were kind of hit or miss, quality-wise. While I enjoyed all four, the western and the “horror” stories were definitely the most entertaining.

Conclusion: 

4 short stories. Four different genres. A fun way to kill an hour or two.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: For the price, you might as well buy.

Who Will Like It: Star Wars fans with an hour or two to kill.

3-Perfect-Weapon-300x456

That weird looking lady that sold out Han, Finn, and Rey at Maz Kanata’s Castle gets her own short story.

What I Liked:

It was generally well written, and the McGuffin she acquires might be something central to the new movie? Maybe? We never find out for sure.

What I Didn’t Like:

The story itself was just “meh”. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it.

Conclusion:

If you have half an hour or so to kill and have nothing else to read, here you go.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Rent, if you can.

Who Will Like It: Bored fans looking for something to do.

 

Comics:

maul

Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir continues the story of Maul from The Clone Wars TV show, adapted from unused scripts when the series was cancelled.

What I Liked:

We find out what happened to Maul after the cliffhanger at the end of season 5. The story feels like episodes of The Clone Wars and they were entertaining to read.

What I Didn’t Like:

The ending was open ended, so we never get any closure for the character and his story. That’s a good thing if it means we’ll find out what happened to him later down the line. It’s a bad thing in that it feels incomplete, because it was obviously a story arc setting up another story arc for later in the series.

Conclusion:

This is the last Star Wars comic to come from Dark Horse before the license moved to Marvel, and it is currently the only Dark Horse title to remain “canon”. It was a very entertaining read, and any fan of the Clone Wars TV series should check it out.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy

Who Will Like It: Fans of the Clone Wars TV series.

star wars

Set between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back, Jason Aaron brings us further adventures from our favorite original trilogy characters and fills in the gaps between the movies.

What I Like:

While there’ve been one or two stumbles along the way, for the most part Jason Aaron has delivered a really entertaining title that further fleshes out our favorite characters and fills in the gaps between when we see them at the end of the first movie and the beginning of Empire. My favorite aspect of the series so far has been following Luke as he struggles to learn more about the Force, the Jedi, and just what he’s supposed to be doing with his life without a master to train him. The series does a great job of telling some really great adventures that adds to the mythology of the series as a whole without contradicting or taking away from what we’ve seen in the movies. The art has been really great overall and ranks up there with the best of Dark Horses previous high bar. I also like that this series gels great with the Darth Vader comics, even culminating in a crossover recently that was just fun as hell.

What I Don’t Like:

Not a lot to say here. There’s some cheesy moments every once in a while, and some story points that are obvious gimmicks, predictable, and don’t quite work, but those are few.

Conclusion:

Star Wars has been an excellently written and drawn comic that has been a must buy for me from day one.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy!

Who Will Like It: Any Star Wars fan looking to break into the world of comics.

 

vader

This series goes hand in hand with Star Wars, and they even cross over from time to time. We follow Darth Vader in the wake of his failure to protect the Death Star. He’s obsessed with finding the young pilot who was so strong in the Force, all the while dodging the machinations of the Emperor and the potential replacements he’s pitted against his apprentice to test him.

What I Like:

For the most part this series has been every bit as excellent and entertaining as Star Wars. The crossovers between the two titles feel organic, not forced, and are very complimentary. Some of the new characters we’re introduced to appear to be rather goofy at first, but quickly become insanely fun to read. The art has been solid throughout the series thus far.

What I Don’t Like:

There have been times that the story-line hasn’t been as interesting as others, and you find yourself wishing they’d move along and get back to something fun.  It’s only happened for a few issues here and there.

Conclusion:

Darth Vader is an excellent title in it’s own right, but it works really well as a companion to Star Wars. While there have been a few story bumps along the way, overall the title is very entertaining.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy

Who Will Like It: Vader fans, fans of the Empire, fans already reading Star Wars.

kanan

Written by one of the original creators of Rebels, Greg Weisman, Kanan: The Last Padawan delves into the backstory of the fan favorite character and tells the tale of how he went from Jedi padawan to rogue.

What I Like:

This is just great. The art, the writing, everything is just quality through and through. The story Weisman weaves is interesting in it’s own right, and it really helps to add additional characterization to the Rogue Jedi that we’ve come to know and love on the show. It also helps to add just that much more weight when you watch the show and see Kanan struggle with his past and his feelings, particularly with things that have happened in the most recent episodes.

What I Don’t Like:

I don’t like that this title is a limited run, because it’s one of my favorites.

Conclusion:

Any fan of the Rebels TV show should pick this title up. You won’t be disappointed.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy!

Who Will Like It: Fans of Rebels.

lando

I really wasn’t sure about this limited run story when it was first announced. It follows pre-Cloud City Lando and Lobot as they form their own Oceans Eleven-style crew to steal a luxury ship that’ll make them all rich. Wat they don’t know is that the ship they’ve stolen is the Emperor’s personal transport. Hijinks ensue.

What I Liked:

This ended up to be a really entertaining read. Lando is incredibly well written and you hear Billy Dee in your head as you read the dialogue. The story itself is limited to 5 issues, so it’s not a huge investment of time or money, and you definitely get a return on your investment. The art is gorgeously done and is a departure from the styles used in the other series.

What I Didn’t Like:

I would have preferred a longer story, with time to go into more detail about certain aspects pertaining to Sith lore introduced here.

Conclusion:

A fun, entertaining story following everyone’s favorite scoundrel. A must buy for any fan.

Buy, Rent, Pass: Buy

Who Will Like It: Fans of Lando & fans of heist stories.

leia

I’m a huge fan of writer Mark Waid, so I was really interested to see what he’d do with a Leia comic. Unfortunately, this was not his greatest work. Set just after ANH, Leia sets out to find a new world for the few surviving Alderaanians in the wake of her planet’s destruction.

What I Like:

The art is pretty…

What I Don’t Like:

Just about everything else. Waid is a great writer, but this story just didn’t interest me. At all. I honestly didn’t make it past the first few issues.

Conclusion:

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Pass. There’s better Star Wars limited runs to spend your money on, like Lando.

Who Will Like It: Leia fans who just HAVE to have more. I guess.

 

chewie

Why this got grenlit, I have no idea. Hey, lets make a comic focused on a character that doesn’t speak! Let’s get the guy that writes Deadpool (horribly) to write it! *Rolls Eyes*

What I Liked:

Not a thing. This is incredibly boring.

What I Didn’t Like:

That this thing got made in the first place.

Conclusion:

*waves hand* This is not the comic you’re looking for.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Pass

Who Will Like It: Masochists?

shattered empire

Jiggity jig! More of Greg Rucka writing Star Wars! Set immediately after Return of the Jedi, we get our first look at a post OT Star Wars universe. Each issue follows Poe Dameron’s parents as they help Han, Leia, and Luke on various missions in the wake of the destruction of the second Death Star.

What I Liked:

Greg Rucka, ladies and gentleman! He needs to write more Star Wars. Comics, novels, I don’t care. Each issue is a different mission with one of the original trilogy heroes post-ROTJ, and it mostly follows  Poe Dameron’s mom, an ace A-Wing pilot ready to retire from service and settle down with her family. Each issue is entertaining and gives fans a great, if not brief, look at what happened to our heroes after the ewok celebration.  The art is beautifully done, and each tale is entertaining to read.

What I Didn’t Like:

The plot for Luke’s adventure could have been better. It was still fun as hell to read, but the McGuffin was kind of weak.

Conclusion:

Fans clamoring to know more about the post-ROTJ universe that were disappointed by Aftermath, this is the comic you’re looking for! This is a perfect starting point for fans who are looking to dip their toe into the comics world without a lot of commitment.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy

Who Will Like It: Any Star Wars fan.

vader down

Vader Down is a crossover event between Star Wars and Vader that starts with it’s own self-titled #1, where Vader, in persuit of Luke Skywalker, is shot down and crashes on a planet full of Rebels. But who’s the hunter and who’s really the hunted?

What I Liked:

This story is the culmination of several story-lines across Star Wars and Vader coming to a head. Here we see a post-ANH Vader being a complete badass just like he is in Rebels and Lords of the Sith. This series is nothing but fun from start to finish and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

What I Didn’t Like:

Being a crossover between two other titles may make it more difficult for fans who aren’t following both already. This may be something that fans who aren’t following the comics regularly may want to pick up as a trade later down the line.

Conclusion:

A great crossover event that sets both Star Wars and Vader up for their next respective stories. This is Vader at his most badass.

Buy, Rent, or Pass: Buy, but fans who aren’t already following Star Wars and Vader may want to wait for the trade.

Who Will Like It: Vader fans. Fans of the current comics.

 

 

 

 

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the urban fantasy novels The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions are all available for $0.99.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews

Spider-Man Joins the MCU: Why He Won’t Be Miles Morales & Why That’s a Good Thing

4153606-9547097623-spide

Spider-Man and His Avenging Friends

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week you’ve probably heard by now that Sony Pictures and Marvel have stuck a deal that allows Spider-Man to come into the Marvel cinematic universe. According to the press release, Spidey will make a cameo appearance in a future MCU film, will get a solo film made and distributed by Sony but with the “help” of Marvel, and then he’ll appear in other Marvel films afterwards, almost assuredly the two part Avengers: Infinity War. Under this new deal, Sony will be able to also be able to use MCU characters like Cap and Iron Man in their solo Spidey films. So basically, Sony’s Spidey universe is going to be an extension of the MCU proper. This deal has been rumored ever since the Sony e-mail leaks, and it’s been no secret that Sony’s Amazing Spider-Man films didn’t do as amazing at the box office or with fan and critic reception as everyone hoped. Sony’s movie studio has been on the ropes financially for a while now, and this new deal with Marvel is very obviously an attempt to save themselves. While the announcement maintains that Sony will have creative control, the safe assumption is it’ll be Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige that’ll be the real brains behind the new Spidey and the rest was just Sony saving face.

spider-men_vol_1_2_pichelli_variant_textless2

Who Will Be Behind The Mask?

Now the question is: who will play Spidey since it’s been confirmed that Andrew Garfield will not return? To answer that question we have to know which Spider-Man Marvel is going to bring to the party. Ever since the announcement social media has exploded into a virtual war over who should be Spider-Man. More specifically, over whether it’ll be Peter Parker again, or if Marvel will go a fresh route and bring in Mile Morales, the half African American/half Latino Ultimate Spider-Man. Because it’s the internet it’ll come as no surprise that these debates have often been…heated. Some of these- ahem– “discussions” have been between fans that really want to see Peter Parker and his rogues gallery given the Marvel Cinematic Treatment because Sony’s previous two attempts, while they each had their pros and cons, never quite fully brought to the screen an adaptation that really captured the full essence of the comics; while others are tired of seeing Peter’s story and want to see something fresh and more diverse by doing Miles’ story instead. The Twitter wars that have erupted around this debate is, ultimately, pointless. Why? Because the initial press release already put the speculation to rest. The Spider-Man that will be swinging into the MCU, at least initially, will be Peter Parker:

“Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of working together. This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future.”
-Doug Belgrad, president, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group

hqdefault

Why Not Miles?

The business reason:
Neither Marvel nor Sony is going to pass over the opportunity to cash in on 20+ Spider-Man appearances. It’s very likely that whoever they sign to play Peter Parker will be signed to a 9-10 picture contract much like everyone else in the MCU has. History has also shown us how expensive it can be to extend that contract once it’s up. So why shoot themselves in the foot when they can do 9-10 pictures with Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, and then have a fresh Spider-Man story and a fresh 10 picture contract waiting for whoever they get to play Miles Morales, all without having to reboot?
The storytelling reason:
After fighting as long and as hard as they have to be able to use Spider-Man, Marvel isn’t going to throw away the rich well of storytelling potential that Peter Parker brings to the table that has yet to be tapped. While both iterations of Pater Parker/Spider-Man were good in their own right, neither ever fully captured the comic character that fans have known and loved for decades. More importantly, it could be argued that none of the movies have done justice to the villains. Yes, the first Green Goblin and Doc Ock were both pretty good, but they weren’t as good as they could have been, and they certainly weren’t quite like their comics counterparts. For example: Norman Osborn has the potential to be a Marvel Phase-Level threat if done right, even without ever having to actually be the Green Goblin (especially if they loosely follow the post-Civil War comics story lines).  Likewise, while Doctor Octopus was done beautifully in Spider-Man 2, that version of the character was nothing like his comics counterpart, who is an egocentric megalomaniac. Let’s not even discuss the butchering of fan favorite Venom. Marvel has the opportunity to develop a MCU version of their flagship character while at the same time enriching the MCU with a much-needed injection of great villains. This isn’t only a great opportunity for Peter Parker fans, it’s ultimately great for Miles Morales fans (like me).
Marvel-Captain-America-Saves-Spider-Man

Passing the Torch

A large part of Miles’ story centers around living up to the legacy of Peter Parker. It is central to the character and his journey in accepting the mantle, and the responsibility, of being Spider-Man. While Marvel/Sony could certainly skip Peter and go straight to Miles, and even do it well, it would be ultimately short changing the character and themselves. Right now they have the opportunity to bring to life the amazing (see what I did there?) and rich tapestry of Peter’s legacy as a hero in a way that they haven’t been able to in the past. This is their chance to really make the MCU a living incarnation of the comics we have loved for decades and then to pass that torch to the next generation of characters. Miles Morales is a great character. I enjoy reading about him just as much as I did Peter, but a large part of that enjoyment has been rooted in seeing this new kid with amazing powers struggling to adapt to his new life while at the same time honoring the legacy that Peter left behind.
Civil_War_67677
Civil War?

Right now the odds are good that Spidey’s first major appearance in the MCU will be in Captain America 3: Civil War, since Spider-Man played such a key role in the comics. I think that is probably a safe bet, but I’m pretty sure things won’t be done in the way that everyone is expecting. The biggest moment that everyone pictures when they think about Civil War is this:
_1413247202Spider-Man unmasks on live T.V. and tells the world he’s Peter Parker in support of Tony Stark and the Registration Act. While that may still happen in the movie versions, I don’t think it’s likely for two key reasons. One, it wouldn’t have near the impact that it did in the comics because right now no one in the MCU knows anything about Spider-Man. He hasn’t been swinging around New York for decades like he had been in the comics by that point, so who cares if he unmasks? Two, because this version of Civil War isn’t going to be about protecting identity as much as the comics. Kevin Feige already said as much. In the current MCU secret identities are largely not a big deal. Everyone already knows who the Avengers are. With the exception of Daredevil by that point, no one has one. Registration will be about control and freedom, so having Spider-Man unmask just won’t be as big a deal as having him register and show support for government oversight. My guess will be that Black Panther and Spidey will be the two new kids on the block being courted by Tony and Cap and they each pick a side. I guess we’ll find out soon.What do you think about all of this? Are you happy that Spidey has “come home”? Do you agree that they should start with Peter and work towards Miles, or are you tired of Peter’s story? Let me know in the comments.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novels The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions are all available for $0.99.

Leave a comment

Filed under Rant Alert

Rant Alert: Star Wars, Marvel Comics, & Reboots

vadernooooo

Okay, so the last six months or so have been pretty traumatic for fan-nerds. First, to pave the way for the upcoming new Star Wars movies, comics, shows, etc. it was decided by Disney’s Star Wars story group that all previous Star Wars Expanded Universe content would be labeled “legends” while everything produced by Disney from now on would be officially canon. Many understood the reasoning and were okay with it. A very vocal group of the fan community, on the other hand, started their own version of a digital rebel alliance and declared war on Disney’s Empire. Then, last week Marvel announced that their upcoming Secret Wars event would lead into Battleworld, where various incarnations of the Marvel characters would duke it out for survival resulting in a “new” main Marvel comics universe.  Speculation has since run rampant and the word “reboot” has been bandied about enthusiastically ever since. The problem is both announcements have lead to a lot of confusion and misunderstandings about what, exactly, is happening. Some of this confusion is due to the original announcements not being very clear or detailed about what is going to happen. A lot more is due to people completely losing their shit over what amounts to a reading comprehension failure. The following will attempt to clear some things up:

jjabramsstarwars

Let’s start with Star Wars. Disney bought Lucasfilm and with it came the rights to Star Wars. Disney has since announced that both a new trilogy and a series of stand alone movies have gone into production. They have also released, or are currently developing, several TV shows, a new comics line from Marvel, video games, and novels. The problem is there’s a good 30 years worth of Expanded Universe content already floating out there in the form of novels and comics that have already exhaustively covered the events after Return of the Jedi all the way through a century after the battle of Yavin from A New Hope. That’s one hundred years worth of EU continuity. Some of those novels, and particularly the comics, were extremely well done, well loved by fans, and helped to keep Star Wars alive before, and even more so after the lackluster-downright hatred of, the prequels. The rest was mediocre to downright horrible. In fact, if most fans (and I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I own pretty much all of the EU content available) are honest with themselves, for every great novel there have been a good five not so great ones. This is especially true in the last decade when Star Wars moved away from one shots and trilogies and tried to do long form stories that lasted for years.

So if you’re Disney, what do you do with all of that if you want to move forward with new material?  You start fresh.

stawarslegends

All of the pre-existing Star Wars EU has been re-branded “Legends” and is no longer considered to be canon (even though George Lucas was always very clear that as far as he was concerned, it was never canon). It’s now just considered fun “what if” stories or, as the name implies, tales from the Star Wars universe that may have nuggets of truth to them. The term they chose, “Legends”, is significant, and we’ll discuss why in a moment. So what is officially canon now?

star wars moviesThe Original Movie Saga

epsevenThe New Movies

clonewarsThe Clone Wars TV Series

starwarsrebelsStar Wars Rebels TV Series

61nnfCs+IFL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Marvel’s Star Wars Comics

starwarsnewnovelsAll Star Wars Novels Moving Forward (Starting with A New Dawn)

So why was it significant that they branded the old EU “Legends”? As John Jackson Miller, author of A New Dawn, pointed out “Legends” doesn’t mean it never happened or that elements of those tales might not be true.  Both he and Dave Filoni (Clone Wars, Rebels) have openly stated that the previous EU material is not off limits to any of the creators of future Star Wars content. They’re free to use or adapt any of it into this new continuity. The movies, themselves, have already borrowed elements from the EU. The capital world of Coruscant was first introduced in Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire novel. The double bladed lightsaber Maul used in The Phantom Menace was first seen in Star Wars comics done by Dark Horse.  Both Clone Wars and Rebels have brought in elements from the EU as well: Holocrons, Darth Bane, Republic Commandos. In James Lucado’s new novel, Tarkin, he references events from his previous two Star Wars novels that were published under the old banner, Dark Lord and Darth Plagueis, thus bringing them both into canon.

So the old EU is not dead, and there’s still a possibility that elements, characters, or even story-lines that fans loved could still be brought into official canon through future content.

secret-wars-header

Marvel’s upcoming Secret Wars is supposed to bring the Marvel Universe as we know it to a close. The main Marvel universe (616) collides with the Ultimate universe, and the result of the “Secret Wars” between the two universes will be Battleworld, where incarnations of the characters from major stories throughout Marvel history (Age of Apocalypse, Planet Hulk, Civil War, Pre-OMD Spidey, Ultimate Spidey,. etc.) will exist in different parts of the planet, with everyone duking it out for survival.

SW Map.jpg

…Yeah, it’s kind of confusing.

What it isn’t is a reboot.

Everywhere I look online people keep calling it a reboot.

princessbride

It’s not. A reboot, in comic terms, implies that they’re starting over fresh with a new continuity. That’s just not what is going to happen. The past, for any of the universes that collide, will still have happened. The characters that survive and end up in whatever the new Marvel universe looks like will still remember what happened, will still be the same characters they were before. Their history happened and affected them. It all still matters. This isn’t a New 52. They aren’t wiping anything out, they’re just blowing everything up. What we’ll be left with, from everything they’ve released, is a new Marvel universe made up of versions of characters from the 616, Ultimate, Age of Apocalypse, and whatever all thrown together. For example, the Wolverine of the 616 may be dead, but when this is over we could have the Wolverine from AoA or Old Man Logan alive and kicking. Miles Morales from Ultimate comics Spider-Man may be swinging around with a still-married Peter Parker. We don’t know for sure, but we’ll see.

But it’s not a reboot so please stop saying it.

I hope this clears some things up for those of you who have been wondering just what the hell has been going on.

Leave a comment

Filed under Rant Alert

Rant Alert: Superman/Batman Movie

Superman_Batman_Logo

So SDCC is over for another year and there was a lot of great stuff announced that has me really excited: Amazing Spider-Man 2 is looking great, Black Canary will be in season two of Arrow, all of Marvel’s movie stuff- Cap 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Age of Ultron. It was a great weekend. By far, however, for me the biggest announcement was that Man of Steel 2 will actually be Superman/Batman (I’m betting they’ll title it World’s Finest before it’s over).

Yep, that happened. Now I’m going to tell you why I think it’s a brilliant move on their part. It’s not quite how Marvel did it. Marvel built their world up by giving the major players all their own solo movies and then bringing them together for Avengers, and I still think that’s the best way to do it. However, in this case I think doing a Superman/Batman movie first is the right way to go.

First, we don’t need another Batman origin movie. Everyone knows that story. Everyone is familiar with who Batman is. No matter what interpretation of the character you look at, be it the comics, the Bruce Timm animated series (or any of the other 3-4 since), or the Burton or Nolan films that is the one consistent thing- Bruce was a rich kid who watched his parents get gunned down in front of him and he dedicates his life and fortune to making sure that doesn’t happen to anyone else. By introducing Batman in a Superman film it allows them to do a few things that we haven’t really seen before in a Batman movie- Batman as the criminals see him, the urban legend. If the movie, at least the first half, is from Clark’s perspective then we get to be introduced to this version of Batman in the same way that Clark is, and I think that’s a pretty cool way to do it.

Second, if a Justice League movie is going to work, it’s going to have to be built on a foundation and that foundation is Superman and Batman (and Wonder Woman). If you can’t get a Supes/Bats film to work, then Justice League isn’t going to happen. If it does work, then they could do a “Trinity” movie as a follow up to introduce Wonder Woman, and from there do a Justice League. I don’t know if that’s how they’re planning it, I’m just throwing it out there.

Third, it allows them to establish/address a few things that need to be addressed. This version of Batman needs to be the worlds greatest detective. He needs to be the guy that has a plan for everything, and then a back up plan if that plan doesn’t work, and then a backup for the backup. That’s who the Justice League Batman is and it’s the reason why he works as a “normal” man surrounded by a bunch of gods. He’s the smartest guy in the room. He’s the tactician. He’s the guy that found out a way to neutralize not just Superman, but every single member of the Justice League “just in case”. It’s the reason why the Nolan/Bale version of Batman just wouldn’t work. I love those films and I loved Bale as Batman, but that version of the character just wasn’t “that guy”.  Also, they’ve already said they’re going to address *spoilers, but if you haven’t seen the movie by now and you’re reading this you probably already know because it’s been harped on so much all over the internet for a month* Superman killing Zod. Who better than to throw that in Superman’s face than Batman? Superman comes down on him about how he operates, how he uses fear and intimidation, and Batman responds with “But I don’t kill.” That needs to happen.

The version of Batman that they really should be looking to for inspiration is the Bruce Timm version of the character from Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. For me, that is the very best interpretation of the character from any medium, comics included. That is Batman, and he works solo and as a part of the Justice League. In fact, if I could get everyone involved for this movie and the future ones to just sit down in a room I’d force them to watch Batman/Superman: World’s Finest and the entire Justice League/JLU series and then simply say: “Do that.” Seriously, Timm, Dini, McDuffy, etc. already did all the heavy lifting. They’ve already adapted the comics into a damn near perfect interpretation of the characters that works for all ages. JLU in  particular struck the perfect balance between light/dark, kid-friendly and mature storytelling. If DC really wants to have a franchise that can stand toe to toe with what Marvel has been doing they need to use what Timm  and company did on those animated series as their guiding star. Of course this is jut my opinion. Feel free to share what you think in the comments below.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1 & 2, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Kindle editions are all available for $0.99.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Rant Alert

Rant Alert: Iron Man 3 & Star Trek Into Darkness

ironman3startrek

I have the best girlfriend on the planet, and last night we went and saw Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness back to back in a mini geek movie marathon. Now you get to hear me rant about both of them! I’m going to do a short spoiler-free review of each for those who haven’t seen them, followed by a spoiler-filled rant on both for those who have and would maybe like to discuss. So, reviews ahoy!

Spoiler Free

Iron_Man_3_theatrical_poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iron Man 3 has been doing freaking awesome at the box office but has been taking some heat from the fan community, which has affected some reviews. Personally, I liked the story and how everything played out. It was probably the most “comic-booky” of the three movies, story-wise. However, it also felt slower paced and more of a character drama than the previous two, which I think has a lot to do with the disappointment that many have felt. This is very much a Tony Stark story, not Iron Man; just as it is very much a Shane Black movie, not Jon Favreau. I saw one commenter compare this to Skyfall, and I think that is a pretty apt comparison. Iron Man 3 is for Tony Stark what Skyfall was for Bond. It was better than the last one, but the original Iron Man is still my favorite.

StarTrekIntoDarkness_FinalUSPoster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek Into Darkness was just fun. From beginning to end, it was a blast to watch. I felt it was a much stronger story this time around, and it was fun to see the cast play off of each other now that they have a foundation. It’s not as cerebral as Old-Trek, but it’s not meant to be, and it certainly isn’t as brainless as a lot of other summer blockbusters either.  I think they’ve found a good middle ground between appealing to the fan base of the previous incarnation and casual audiences that might not have cared for Trek before (like my girlfriend). Basically, if you liked the first one, you’ll enjoy this.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movies, turn away now!

Iron_Man_3_theatrical_poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, so a lot of the fan-bitching has been aimed at the Mandarin and the “plot twist” regarding his character. I understand fans wanting to see the hardcore villain from the comics on screen, but lets be realistic- that was never ever going to happen. One, because he’s a racist stereotype that just wouldn’t play. Two, because as cool as the ten magic alien rings are, it just doesn’t fit in the cinematic Marvel world…yet. That said, I didn’t have a problem at all with the “twist”. I felt like Sir Ben Kingsley was freaking amazing both as Mandarin and Trevor (which was hilarious). I thought it was a smart plot, well executed. I loved the comic easter eggs, like AIM and Roxxon. I caught the Fin Fang Foom deal with the “real Mandarin,” though I thought the breathing fire thing was a little goofy. I think the problem is people are going in expecting one thing and they’re getting another. This wasn’t as fast paced and fun as the first, and to a lesser extent, the second. Like I said in the spoiler free section, this was very much a character drama focused on Tony Stark, where Iron Man was more a background aspect. It had a totally different feel than the previous two and Avengers. Hell, they didn’t even play ACDC, unless I missed it. But it was still a good movie. I still enjoyed it. To be honest, my biggest gripe with the movie was the ending, as I wanted to know more about what was going on with Pepper after he “fixed” her, and I was really disappointed that they didn’t show signs of extremis in Tony after his surgery (because you KNOW he had to play with it, like in the comics). I even would have been happy with a little blue glow in his eye at the end when he says “I am Iron Man.” But they didn’t go there, which disappointed me. I also thought the stinger at the end, showing that he’d been telling the whole story to Banner the entire time, was fun. Overall, it was a good movie, just different.

StarTrekIntoDarkness_FinalUSPoster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek was fun, plain and simple. If you approach this as the “ultimate” version of the Trek we all know and love, you’ll enjoy it a hell of a lot more, because that’s exactly what this was. This was their “Ultimate” version of Wrath of Khan. (For those who have no idea what I mean by “Ultimate”- Marvel has a line of comics, the Ultimate Line, which is basically an alternate version of the mainstream Marvel universe, where characters can be portrayed in different, more modern, takes; popular or classic storylines are re-imagined and told differently, etc.) We all knew John Harrison was Khan. It was a given. I mean, how could they not use Khan? A lot of comments sections on fan sites have enraged fans frothing at the mouth because “they lied to us!” People, get a fuggin grip. Why the hell would they ruin their own movie by telling you everything about it? If you had stayed away from fan speculation and had no idea that Harrison might be Khan, the revelation would have been great. Plus, the cameo by Old-Spock was great. The plot and how they incorporated Khan was well done. Is it as good as the original? Of course not. Does it feel like a more dumbed down, action-focused version of Trek? Yep! But it’s still fun as hell! At the end of the day, I had a lot of fun watching it, and that’s what’s really important. I am a huge Trek fan. Always have been. I was raised on it. My dad used to record the original run of the original series on cassette tapes as a kid so he could listen to them again later like a radio show. I still have those tapes, and used to listen to them myself as a kid. I grew up on TNG and DS9. I own all the movies and have seen them each countless times. But it’s time to face it kiddos, old-Trek had to evolve or die. It just wasn’t putting butts in the seats, or in the case of the TV shows, getting the ratings it needed. I think this new alternate universe was a smart, fun way to reboot without throwing away everything that came before. The 2009 movie had it’s issues, but I think they vastly improved on those issues with this one.

Okay, lets address it: Lens flare. yes, it was a problem on the first one. They obviously dialed it down a ton on this one, except for one scene. That one scene with Carol talking to her father had a lens flare covering the entire shot, blinding everyone where you could hardly see a thing. It was ridiculous and I have to believe it was done on purpose as a “screw you!” to all the folks that ragged on the lens flare in the first one. It was just so gratuitous it had to have been purposeful.

However, the movie was really entertaining and I can’t wait until I can see it again. Like I said before, if you had fun with the first, you’ll enjoy this one.

Agree? Disagree? Just want to geek out about these movies? Feel free in the comments section.
J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Digital copies on sale for a limited time for $0.99. Check back each Sunday for a new chapter in the ongoing serial Moving On!

Leave a comment

Filed under Rant Alert

Rant Alert: “A New Star Wars Movie Every Year?!” Why “Fans” Need to Chill Out

Star Wars Episode 7 Movie

A lot of “fans” on entertainment websites annoy me. They annoy me so much that sometimes I wish I could pull a Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back on them. I have never seen such soul-crushing negativity as I have found on comments sections coming from people who supposedly love the franchises they’re freaking out over. The most recent victim is Star Wars, after it was confirmed that Disney plans to release a new Star Wars movie each year. In the comment section for multiple fan sites commentators proceeded to wig out. From some of the posts you’d think Disney was Nazi Germany. They got so ridiculous I did what I swore I would never do and actually posted a comment that amounts to basically what I’m about to say here. It was a flower buried under a landslide of stupid, but a few people actually responded and applauded.

It gave me a little hope for humanity.

First, I believe what is actually going to take place needs to be clarified: There is not going to be a new Star Wars episode every year. The “episodes” are the main entries in the storyline, IE Episode 4 was the original Star Wars: A New Hope. The “main” episode movies will be once every 2-3 years, starting with Episode 7 in 2015, just like most major franchise movies. What Disney is planning to do is release stand alone movies in the “off” years, that will focus on different timelines, characters, and probably even storytelling styles. The Star Wars universe is a freaking huge playground. The last 25 years worth of expanded universe material in all the games, novels, and comics proves that there’s a TON of room to play without peeing in the cheerios of the main story.

Second, what Disney is planning to do with Star Wars is no different than what they’ve been doing with the Marvel Universe since 2008; which a majority of the movie going public, the aforementioned functionally retarded “fan” trolls included, generally like-love. Since the first Iron Man there has been at least one, often more than one, Marvel movie released every year. From a franchise perspective, why should Star Wars be any different? The argument could be made that they have even more room to tell different types of stories/do different types of movies with the Star Wars universe than they can with Marvel.

Third, Disney hasn’t given us any reason to think these movies won’t be quality products….yet. They’ve done a great job with Marvel and Pixar so far. If this means we get a new, quality Star Wars movie every summer, what’s the problem?

Fourth, I think we all need to start living by the wisdom of our geek prophet Wil Wheaton:

wilwheaton

Seriously, it’s one thing to discuss things you like/dislike about this stuff with other fans of the genres. It’s another to be a complete douchnozzle troll just because the internet is anonymous and you can. It’s hard to have fun and share about all the awesome (and sometimes not-so-awesome) stuff that’s coming down the pipe when a small, but very vocal, minority of jerkwads make those conversations horrible to even look at. For instance, the Man of Steel trailer last night was freaking beautiful. I was stoked, as was just about all my friends. I go to these fan sites and amidst the praise is the inevitable negative douchebaggery that just lets some of the air out of the geek tires. I don’t mind people having different opinions or not liking something I thought was amazing. That’s fine. Different strokes and all that. But there’s no reason to be just an offensive @$$hole about it. I get it: people love to troll because they’re pathetic individuals with nothing better to do with their time, but I can’t be the only person sick to death of this crap. Not to mention the negative effect it can and does have on the things we love. You may not think that people with the money/decision making power pays any attention to this crap, but you’d be very wrong. They do, or at the very least they pay people to pay attention to it for them. Basically, you’re part of the reason we can’t have nice things. So, for myself and the rest of my fellow geeky fans I have only this to say: STOP IT!

You never know. The next time your doorbell rings…

jay_and_silent_bob

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective, the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here. Digital copies on sale for a limited time for $0.99.

2 Comments

Filed under Rant Alert

Rant Alert: Why DC & Marvel Are Royally Screwing Up and How They Could Easily Fix It

bigtwo

I love comics. I’m a huge fan of both Marvel and DC characters, as they fill different storytelling needs I may crave at any given moment. If I want more character-driven drama I look to Marvel. When I feel like just watching super people beat the snot out of each other while looking badass, I go to DC.

Except for lately. Both companies have been really hit or miss for a while now, particularly in the past few years.

Marvel

With Marvel, we have event after event that just ends up not meaning much or having any lasting consequences in the long run. Often they’re not even finished with one event before they’re already hyping the next. That’s not even counting the deaths, which mean absolutely nothing at this point because everyone knows it’s not going to last more than a few months at most (DC does this too). It’s exhausting, pointless, and by Fear Itself I’d completely lost interest and stopped bothering to follow much of anything… except for Amazing Spidey, but then they went and did it there too. Don’t get me wrong, they do have some solid books. I love Waid’s Daredevil. I was totally on board for Slott’s ASM until this whole Superior thing happened, and while I read the first few issues and understand where Slott was going with it, I just didn’t care much.

The movies are awesome. All of the MCU movies have been just pure joy for me, even the ones that didn’t execute as well as they could have. *cough*IronMan2*cough*. I’m thrilled that Whedon pulled off Avengers as well as he did and that it became a redonkulous success.  They deserved a big win. It was an amazing accomplishment. The problem, now, is that Marvel is trying so hard to bank on that that it’s affecting, in my opinion, all their books. How many Avengers teams are there now? How many members? Why is being an Avenger special if EVERYONE is an Avenger?

Now they’re doing their Marvel Now! thing, which they insist isn’t a reboot, and that’s fine. But let’s be honest: it really is only going to be same crap, different day in the end. There’ll be big events back to back to back. People will die, only to be brought back in a few months. Nothing will really change.

DC

Yep, New 52. Pretty much says it all for most fans. I have to admit when they first announced it I was completely on board. I loved the concept and I was ready for them to make a change and make things fresh again. I bought just about all 52 first issues, and followed at least a majority of them for their first story arcs. Wonder Woman was great. Batman was amazing. Green Lantern was virtually the same as it’s always been. But something became apparent very early: they, as a company, had no freaking idea what they were doing. They had no long term plan. They didn’t think things through. A reboot like they were talking about is something that has to be meticulously planned, mapped out, and then replanned. You need to know EXACTLY how the timeline works for everyone. Especially with the half-assed way they cherry picked continuity because they were too afraid to pull the trigger on a full reboot. As a result we got an even bigger mess than what we started with, and books like Batman and Green Lantern (whose continuity was basically untouched) adopted problems because now 40+ years worth of stories were expected to be fit into 5 years of continuity. That means Bruce was running through Robins faster than a fat kid goes through gummy bears. Then there’s Superman, who needed a solid reboot more than anyone else. They can’t get a decent foundation for that character for anything, which is sad because Superman is THE superhero. But everything they’ve done with him solo has just been a hot mess. I’m really hoping that Snyder/Lee can pull off a good book because Superman deserves one, and I desperately want one.

Ultimate Multiverse

This is entirely subjective. It’s just my opinion. But this is so freaking obvious to me, and it has been for years, that I’m amazed that the “big two” hasn’t realized it yet. Marvel has already set the stage for how they can fix a lot of this mess, but even there I don’t think they fully grasp just what they have.

I’m referring to the Ultimate line of books.

I love the Ultimate Universe. That’s not to say that I think it’s solid gold all the time or that I’ve loved everything they’ve done. Far from it. I love it because everything matters. They have fresh takes on the characters and storylines we all love. Some work. Some don’t. But everything matters. Everything they’ve done, regardless in what book, has a lasting consequence for everything else. It is very much a shared universe. Peter Parker dies (in a very beautifully written way, I might add). Two years later and he’s still dead. There’s a new Spidey and I love reading him as much as I did Peter. It’s just a well written story. Reed Richards….well I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t been following, but they do a complete 180 with his character. It was unexpected, creative, and I loved it.

There are no reboots. Events actually have weight and consequence. Deaths stick and have meaning. This is they way comics should be, because I actually care. Even when the story itself is utter crap *cough*Ultimatum*cough* I still care because what happens will have lasting repercussions, and ten years worth of continuity without a ton of reboots is a hell of a lot easier to get into and follow than 40+ years of whacked out resetting.

DC has set the stage for the same damn thing with the Multiverse but they haven’t utilized it the way they could/should probably out of some stupid schoolyard bullcrap of not wanting to follow suit on what the other company is doing that works. They do the same thing with the movies and it’s shot them in the foot. I find all of this hilarious since both companies have been blatantly ripping off each other’s character ideas since the beginning, but now when it matters, they refuse. Instead of doing a half-assed not-quite-reboot with the New 52, they could have trimmed off 4-5 of the 15 Bat books, books that aren’t selling well, etc. and just started doing their own “Ultimate” DC universe set in one of the other 52 Earths. New versions of the characters. New Stories. Fresh takes. Relevant issues. No reboot required.

But they didn’t. Instead they made a bad situation much worse.

My Answer

This is going to be controversial, and many fans, particularly old-school comic fans, will probably call me a moron. But this is my answer to the constant rebooting, meaningless deaths, and pointless events- A 30 year continuity for each “generation”. Period.

15 years in you introduce an “alternate” universe (think Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, for example). At the end of the 30 year time frame you phase out the “main” universe, the former “alternate” universe becomes the main, and a new alternate universe is introduced.

This accomplishes a few things:

  • Each generation gets a fresh take on the characters. They become “their” versions of the character. This allows both companies to make sure their characters, stories, etc. all remain relevant and tailored to new audiences each generation without having to do silly reboots or death/resurrections. They’d still have the archives of past “generations” or Earths, or whatever that readers could go back and read to get alternate takes.
  • Everything matters. Deaths are permanent. Events have consequence. There’s no rebooting or backtracking two months later. Readers will be invested in the characters and stories being told.
  • Good storytelling and creativity becomes the focus. When everything matters quality control will have to be much more stringent. Crap that gets through now does so because if it doesn’t work it doesn’t matter. They’ll just retcon it or whatever later. In this way editors, writers, artists, etc. will have to be much more conscious of what they’re doing. That’s not to hinder the storytelling, it just means they actually have to think before they act and it cuts down on doing the money grab crappy stories just to go along with the flavor of the month. It also fosters trying new things with the characters, because there’s no reason to retread on something that’s already been done, unless you can do it differently/better (Ultimate accomplished this with the Clone Saga, for instance).
  • The universe doesn’t have to end, but there can be resolution to characters and stories. More to the point, there can now be a beginning, middle, and end for that version of a character’s story without destroying a franchise. Phasing out doesn’t have to mean nuking, however. The companies would still have the option to go back and visit past universes with new stories through miniseries, specials, events, etc.  But they can try new things with this system without having to throw the baby out with the bathwater and utterly mucking up continuity.
  • More choice. As the cycle progresses readers will have an abundance of choice. They can go back and follow an entire generation’s worth of stories without having to worry about confusing continuity. Don’t like this current version of Spider-Man? You’ll have several other versions to choose from that you might identify with more.

It certainly not a perfect solution, but it’s a solution that I think makes the most sense. it’s certainly better than the constant rebooting and retconning that’s currently going on. But that’s just my opinion. Feel free to sound off in the comments and discuss.

J.R. Broadwater is the author of the non-fiction book Down with the Thickness: Viewing the World From a Fat Guy’s Perspective,  the sci-fi detective novel You Only Die Twice, the fantasy novel The Chosen: Rebirthing Part 1-, and the superhero tale Just Super, all available now in digital and paperback formats. Sample chapters and more information about these books can be found here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Rant Alert