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Star Wars - the new canon


Darren
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This is the final title in Marvel's ongoing quartet of series running in parallel, set immediately after the end of The Empire Strikes Back, and while it's not at all bad, it's definitely the weak link. As the title suggests, this is all about the criminal underworld and in particular, an ongoing war between two rival syndicates. It's a decent story with some nice twists but it suffers from having a large cast of (mostly) new characters, and lots of flashbacks, so it gets quite confusing not just who's who but also who's side they're on (which changes often). Having said that, by the end of this volume the battle lines seem to have settled so hopefully the next book won't have the same issues.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 01/04/2021 at 08:47, Matt Defis said:

Yeah I  went through it in a few days and really enjoyed it, the 2 biggest problems it has is a huge cast that takes a long while to settle into and it just ends, feels like it has no real ending. 

 

I really like Marchion Ro though. 

 

I finished it today myself, and loved it. I get what you mean about the cast, and the ending, but it worked for me as what's essentially an introduction to a whole setting rather than a purely self contained story. That said, I still think it was somehow a satisfying read at the same time.

 

I was impressed at how well written it was actually, particularly when it came to describing the Jedi interacting with the force in their own ways. There was a passage towards the end of the first part which was just a joy to read.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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Volume 2 of the post-Empire Strikes Back series is, if anything, even better than the first. The main thing it's getting right is the characters - Leia and Lando in particular are very well portrayed in this, and in Lando's case the story does a great job of keeping his relationship with the Rebels at the mutual benefit/mutual distrust stage. There's also a new Imperial antagonist (pictured on the cover) who has a very personal grudge against the Rebels in general and Leia in particular - there are echoes of Lost Stars here, and that's praise indeed in this thread. There are even callbacks to events in both Lando's and Vader's own comics, which help to give the impression that these stories are all pieces in a much larger jigsaw puzzle, and that it actually fits together. But you don't need to have read them all, or even the first volume of this series, for this story to make sense.

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The new Darth Vader series, set in parallel with the other Marvel Star Wars comics running at the moment immediately after The Empire Strikes Back, is progressing very nicely. This follows directly on from the previous volume in which Vader took it upon himself to embark on a mission of personal revenge rather than the one assigned to him by his boss. Needless to say, Old Man Palpatine is not best pleased by his underling's insubordination and decides that his apprentice is in need of some Sith top-up training, which means multiple runs through the trusty fear-anger-hate-suffering cycle. As ever, Vader is forced to confront his feelings about his past and present, and as ever this is brilliantly done with some utterly fantastic juxtapositions of people and events from throughout the saga recontextualised in Vader's mind. It even includes some explicit links to The Rise of Skywalker and in one case to a scene that was in the concept art but not in the final film. It all hangs together really well, and is the kind of thing that makes Star Wars nerds like me very happy indeed.

 

While this isn't quite as good as the previous volume, that's because the previous book was possibly the best Star Wars comic ever, and this one isn't far off. It revisits many of the themes of the also excellent novel Lords of the Sith, and in some ways is a kind of seventeen-years-later sequel to that story, exploring the relationship between Sidious and Vader which is still uneasy and untrusting on both sides.

 

Marvel are on top form at the moment with these loosely interlinked titles (helpfully identifiable by the consistent cover design on the collected versions, reminiscent of the old Palitoy/Kenner packaging) and I really can't recommend them highly enough.

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Just like the previous volume, this isn't up to the same standard as the other three titles running in parallel, but it's still good fun especially if you like seeing lots of different kinds of aliens fighting each other. It's still quite confusing though as it has a huge cast of characters, many of whom keep changing alliances based on who double-crossed/shot/punched them last. It also ties in very explicitly with Valance's shared history with Han which was previously covered in Han Solo: Imperial Cadet, which is definitely leading somewhere. Definitely not a must-read but a good action romp.

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  • 4 weeks later...

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The High Republic - Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule

 

Here we go then - the first 'new' Star Wars since I first fired up KOTOR nearly 20 years ago.  I've been pretty excited about this new Star Wars project since it was first announced - the fact that the legendary Claudia Gray is one of the authors who is contributing makes it all the more exciting...  But anyway - onto the very first instalment - Light of the Jedi...

 

So.... to start off with, I really wasn't impressed for a very good reason - so many characters are introduced all at the same time, and it really is absolute chaos.  Just as soon as you get used to a character, the chapter ends and you have to work really hard to get to the same stage with yet another new character by the end of the next one, repeat to fade etc etc.  HOWEVER - after the first part of LotJ, I realised that this chaos is pitched exactly right.  This opening section is pivitol to the story, and I'm sure will be a very important moment in the whole of this High Republic saga.  It's called 'The Great Disaster' and is a way of introducing the dastardly Nihil - the new antagonists of the galaxy, as well as showing just how bloody ace the Jedi really are - heroic bastards, the lot of them.  Anyway, the Great Disaster - a seemingly impossible natural phenomenon - has seen a transport vessel somehow break apart during a hyperspace voyage.  Most of the debris threatens all life in the key Outer Rim system called Hetzal.  Other parts of the doomed craft have spiralled past this system and instead threaten other Outer World planets - Chancellor Lina Soh therefore has to close all hyperspace routes in this section of the Outer Rim, resulting in devastating ecomic ruin for billions of Republic citizens.

 

So yes, loads and loads happens and it's hard to take it all in to begin with, but we also get to meet some characters who I feel will become key in this saga, such as Avar Kriss, Bell Zettifar, Loden Greatstorm, Burryaga and Elzar Mann.

 

After this opening section, the action moves to separate locations, and this is when LotJ starts to deliver.  Once the Nihil - and their excellently written leader, Marchion Ro (we'll be seeing and hearing a LOT about this chap...) appear, it becomes a proper page turner.  The hierarchy of the Nihil is really interesting - they're a sort of mish mash of pirates, Belters from The Expanse mixed together with a dose of heavy metal and cyberpunk - they're as different from the stealthy, sleuth Sith as it's possible to be.  These guys are horrible - but I like them!

 

The action which unfolds focusses on far fewer characters (almost all of whom we have already met during the Great Disaster in the Hetzel system) during the aftermath and it's all really very interesting, chockablock full of action - it's proper Star Wars, and not some bullshit Merchant Ivory spin off that heavily blighted Queen's Shadow.

 

Something that happens a lot in LotJ is the clever twists on Staple Star Wars - we see new ways of Force manipulation, the way hyperspace works is also excellent - this isn't just more of the same and crucially, The High Republic isn't weakened by the restraints of novels set in and around the movies - it's shaping up to be a very interesting, exciting instalment of tales set in that galaxy far, far away we all love and it's definitely a saga I'll be following with great interest if it can carry on like this.

 

Top stuff - get it read.

 

8/10

 

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Ooh, sounds good. It’s already on my pile but I’ve just started Black Spire instead. I’m only a few chapters in but it’s basically a direct sequel to the excellent Phasma novel (by the same author) so I’m enjoying it very much.

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I think you'll like it - the new setting/characters etc are so refreshing, probably more than I realised it would be.

 

Ever since I finished it, I've been thinking that Disney perhaps made a mistake doing the sequel trilogy rather than exploring a brand new era such as this, and I say that as a fan of the new films who often defends them in the Star Wars films threads! 

 

I've ordered 2 more books - Claudia Gray's Into the Dark (which I think takes place at the same time as LotJ) and the proper follow up to this - Cavan Scott's The Rising Storm. 

 

I'm really looking forward to finding out what happens next - it's got so much promise. 

 

I found this before I started reading which was useful to work out which Jedi was which, particularly in that potentially confusing first act. I already really like Porter Engle in particular. (Not all of these appear in LotJ by the way!)

 

 

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Yep, I loved Light of the Jedi. I thought it was really quite well written too, with some brilliant descriptions of the force and how it's perceived by the various Jedi. The climax of the first act was a highlight for me.

 

I've been reading some other stuff since, but I'm just about to start the second book. Hopefully it won't drop in quality with a new writer.

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  • 1 month later...

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I'd say this is the first slight disappointment in the new run of comics. It's not at all bad, it's just not as good as all the previous Aphras. It's fine, and for a series this good that really is damning with faint praise. It feels a bit by the numbers but without as much humour as previous instalments. However, the art is as great as ever and Aphra continues to be a fantastic character even when the story isn't firing on all cylinders.

 

Next for Aphra is a crossover with the Bounty Hunters series, and crossovers haven't traditionally been great, so fingers crossed this is the exception...

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3 minutes ago, womblingfree said:

@Darren I can’t get on board with the non  Gillen Aphra at all. It just seems very formulaic and nothing special.

 

Gillen’s run is so perfect and complete, and actually adds to the universe. Likewise his Vader, although somehow they’ve managed to maintain the quality there over three different writers.

 

It’s definitely never been as good as Gillen’s but up until this latest volume I thought it was pretty close. It is a bit formulaic though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Started reading War of the Bounty Hunters on Marvel Unlimited. They’re only two issues in as Unlimited’s three, months behind print release. It’s had the side-effect I’ve been catching up on all the Star Wars titles which crossover with it. Which is pretty much all them.

 

They’re a mixed bag. Vader continues to be brilliant, Aphra is not as good as it used to be but ok, Star Wars is on a bit of a lull after a brilliant few episodes previously, and Bounty Hunters is average.

 

Love War of the Bounty Hunters itself though. Great artwork and a fun take on Boba Fett.

 

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I'm a bit behind you as I'm reading the floppy collections when they come out, but Vader is definitely the best of the current series. Previously the crossovers have been a bit of a let down (Vader Down and Screaming Citadel) so my expectations are lowered this time.

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@Darren As with most crossovers there’s no need to read the other stuff realy. Actually thinking about it though, I think the Bounty Hunter/War of the Bounty Hunters might be my favourite because it has three of the old skool bounty hunters in it. I just find the new cyborg guy who’s the star of that series pretty generic.

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The High Republic: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray

 

Huzzah! A new Star Wars book by Claudia Gray! Always something to look out for. With the High Republic series still in its infancy, I'm very pleased that she has been given the opportunity to introduce and flesh out some really interesting characters. Step forward the main cast of Into the Dark:

 

Reath Silas - a padawan Jedi

Cohmac Vitus - a seasoned, wise Jedi Master

Orla Jareni - a 'wayseeker' Jedi

Leox Gyasi - captain of The Vessel (a charter ship in the service of the Byne Corporation who the Jedi use to investigate a mysterious space station) - a bit of Han Solo 'scoundrel' about him, a loveable rogue

Affie Hollow - the young first mate of The Vessel

Geode - basically a rock and the 3rd member of The Vessel's crew!

 

All of these characters are excellent. Really well written, I really hope we see more of all of them as this series continues. So much more to them than the standard Skywalker Saga Jedi, with the supporting cast balancing things out brilliantly.

 

This book is set during the same time period as Light of the Jedi, with the aforementioned 'Great Disaster' being the catalyst that makes the Jedi take refuge at a mysterious Amaxine space station. But this station has a very dark past, and the Jedi sense the darkness as soon as they dock.

 

As with LotJ, Into the Dark explores more about the way Jedi use the force, and it's a lot more complicated that the original films have us believe. This is a good thing because it opens up so many possibilities. The story aligns well with LotJ, but I dont think its imperative to read that first. It probably helps but Into the Dark holds up well on it's own.

 

The action takes some time to get going but by the end, its enthralling with the introduction of some tremendous new bad guys, and a neat back story into a past incident shared by Orla and Cohmac, when they were padawans. 

 

The real star of this though is Reath - such a good character. I shall follow his progress with great interest....

 

This is a very good continuation of the High Republic saga and as with Light of the Jedi, I was entertained throughout and excited about the new characters, new antagonists and new adventures.

 

Very good overall.

 

8/10

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