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Star Wars - the new canon


Darren
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  • 4 weeks later...

I've read only good things about Bloodlines (whilst trying to avoid spoilers) but I've got a long wait until the paperback comes out in December. I'm not surprised everyone likes it as it's by Claudia Gray who wrote the brilliant Lost Stars, which is still my pick of the new novels so far.

 

Anyway...

 

3300857.jpg

 

I really can't see the point of bothering to produce a story like this, other than to fleece idiots like me who will buy it anyway. It's not that it's particularly bad, it's just very very dull. Ben 'n' Annie crash land on a planet where they've been sent to investigate a mysterious distress signal, and get caught up in an ongoing war. We know they're going to survive so the story has to be about their character development, and about events that shape their attitudes or foreshadow their fates. But it doesn't do any of that. It's all utterly superfluous. Don't bother with this, unless you're an idiot like me.

 

You can probably tell I'm getting a bit fed up with Marvel now they seem to have settled into a fairly mediocre rut, after an excellent start to both main series and the first few miniseries. But next week Darth Vader Volume 3 is out, so they have a chance to redeem themselves after Vader Down.

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On 8/2/2016 at 12:41, Darren said:

I've read only good things about Bloodlines (whilst trying to avoid spoilers) but I've got a long wait until the paperback comes out in December. I'm not surprised everyone likes it as it's by Claudia Gray who wrote the brilliant Lost Stars, which is still my pick of the new novels so far.

 

Anyway...

 

I really can't see the point of bothering to produce a story like this, other than to fleece idiots like me who will buy it anyway. It's not that it's particularly bad, it's just very very dull. Ben 'n' Annie crash land on a planet where they've been sent to investigate a mysterious distress signal, and get caught up in an ongoing war. We know they're going to survive so the story has to be about their character development, and about events that shape their attitudes or foreshadow their fates. But it doesn't do any of that. It's all utterly superfluous. Don't bother with this, unless you're an idiot like me.

 

You can probably tell I'm getting a bit fed up with Marvel now they seem to have settled into a fairly mediocre rut, after an excellent start to both main series and the first few miniseries. But next week Darth Vader Volume 3 is out, so they have a chance to redeem themselves after Vader Down.

 

Yeah, I think this was the worst of the mini-series so far. It had its good parts, mostly just the planet it was set on, which was a change from the more usual Star Wars-y planets. but the fact that I've already forgotten almost everything else about it would count against it.

 

Vader Vol 3 is good, but suffers a bit because Aphra's off doing other stuff.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Vader #24 (the penultimate issue) was brilliant.

 



Gillen, once again, managing to use fragments of the prequels in a way that only improved the comic and look at the character of Vader, but also managing to, in a minor way, redeem them (well up to a point. there's only so much you can do with certain bits of canon dialogue

 

One of very few where, on reaching the last page, I went straight back to the start to re-read it.

 

only downside was - no beetee or triple-zero.

 

Shame it's ending, but better to end on a high.

 

Perhaps in a couple of years Gillen could be persuaded to come back to Star Wars. Maybe a Thrawn comic, now the Grand Admiral's back in Canon...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm not reading that spoiler but I'm glad it's ending well after a great start but a mediocre mid-run. Speaking of which... it's time for "what I read on my holidays!"

 

51QHj268zaL.jpg

 

After the very disappointing Vader Down I was hoping for better things from the next Darth Vader collection. It is better than Vader Down but that's not a very high bar to clear, and even then it rattled the bar a bit on the way over. (I also spent a lot of my holidays watching the Olympics). As with the last few Marvel collections, it's another inconsequential story which adds nothing to our understanding of the characters. There are a few nice set pieces in the underground war between rival mining factions, and Vader's voice is captured perfectly as it always is in this series - you can almost hear James Earl Jones as you read - but none of it matters a jot in the wider Star Wars story. I'm glad things improve again for the final volume, as it would be a shame for a series that started so well to end in mediocrity.

 

413590._SX312_QL80_TTD_.jpg

 

But this is much better. At last someone at Marvel has remembered that a story about characters we all know will survive has no inherent peril, and so must find other ways to engage the reader. In this case, Princess Leia being challenged and forced to consider her moral and strategic code by an ally who has had their own views shifted, even radicalised, after a disastrous encounter with the Emperor. Because that thread is handled so well, it allows the comic to get away with all sorts of other daft fluff around it. Luke and Han, despite being the cover stars, spend most of the story on a totally separate mission which is played almost entirely for laughs and which finally gives us an answer to the question none of us have ever asked - why did Leia call Han a nerf-herder? And their eventual arrival in the main story - the flyboys swooping in again to save the day, and the girls - is brilliantly subverted. As I Iike this collection I'll be charitable and assume that their appearance on the cover of a book they do virtually nothing in is all part of this deliberate bait and switch. It's still a pity that one of the striking Leia covers from the series couldn't have been used for the collection. Any of these would have been much more representative of the contents, and simply inherently better than the insipid Luke & Han image actually used:

 

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But enough judging a book by its cover! Because this is an excellent book, and for me it's put Marvel Star Wars firmly back on track.

 

And on the subject of excellent books, I also read this (again)...

 

Lost_Stars.png

 

I've been going on about Lost Stars since the first post in this thread, and I've probably mentioned it in almost every post since, and with good reason. This is everything a Star Wars novel should be, and it's the best Star Wars novel I've ever read. I think anything else I write about it would come across either as gushing fanboyism, or damning with faint praise, and neither would be fair. I would just say that if you only read one Star Wars novel, read this one.

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Don't ever bother with Heir to the Jedi, it's absolutely awful! Definitely try Lost Stars. I'm looking forward to Bloodlines purely because Claudia Gray did such a great job with that one.

 

It will be interesting to see how Thrawn and other things from the old EU get handled. After all, the official line on the new canon isn't that the old stories definitely didn't happen, only that they're legends which could have some truth in them. So for some characters a few story details might change, but otherwise they could be pretty much the same. I don't expect those creatures that create force-proof zones to appear though. (I've forgotten what they're called but it's over twenty years since I read the Thrawn trilogy!)

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9781784750046.jpg

 

Now this was a surprise. A spin-off novel loosely based on a spin-off videogame doesn't set expectations very high. I was braced for a poorly written plod through the various locations in the game, with little to no characterisation and a focus on the specs of all the different types of guns used. What I found was a well-written novel with interesting and engaging characters in a gripping story, easily up there with the best of the new canon. It might even be the best so far. Yes that's right - I am prepared to consider that this might be even better than Lost Stars. :o

 

In some ways it's similar to Lost Stars - both focus on brand new characters in stories that take place around (and occasionally intersect with) the events of the films. I remain convinced that this is a much better approach for spin-off fiction than "the further adventures of the main goodies and baddies". The original trilogy told us the central story from the galactic civil war, but precious little about the experience of that war for everyone else. This book gives us the perspectives of ordinary soldiers fighting an unwinnable guerrilla war against an overwhelming enemy, and the ordinary people of the worlds they fight for, not all of whom see them as a liberating force for good. While most of the book focuses on a sergeant in the company and his squad, some chapters are from Imperial perspectives, and some are flashbacks to an apparently unrelated character in unrelated conflicts (whose identity is telegraphed way before it is revealed - this is not trying to perplex the reader Use of Weapons-style). Together they add up to a compelling war story - and as it's a war story, there is a lot of death. There is a sense of dread before every engagement, and the expectation, repeatedly fulfilled, that not everybody will make it back. Everyone is constantly at risk: there is no red-jumpered cannon-fodder. Uniquely (in the new canon, so far), this is a Star Wars story that focuses on the Wars.

 

All of which means I can no longer say "if you only read one Star Wars book, read Lost Stars." I could say "if you only read two, read Lost Stars and Twilight Company," and I'd mean it, but it's not as snappy, is it? Just read them both.

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  • 2 weeks later...

woop-woop!

 

It's been confirmed that Kieron Gillen will be writing a new Star Wars ongoing comic series, currently only known as "Star Wars: Classified". It's not clear if that's the actual title, or just a placeholder title before a proper announcement.

 

Speculation is that it might be Aphra-based but I'm not so sure.

 

http://io9.gizmodo.com/thank-the-maker-keiron-gillen-is-going-to-write-a-new-1786818965

 

 

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Good grief guys, how have I missed this thread lurking here for months? I'm so out of touch that I didn't realize these new canon books existed, and I say that as someone who owns most of the (now) legends novels. Dammit!

 

For what it's worth, I've been reading the Vader series, in the paperback collections. There's been 4 so far, the Sho-Torun War volume being the latest. I love the little holes plugged in the overall story, like who created Vader's prosthetics, etc. It must be hard to write Vader, because he's hardly loquacious, but they've nailed it. Can't say this last volume developed the characters like the first two volumes did, but it's still excellent. First graphic novel series I've bought into, need to find another, I think.

 

Thanks for putting together the thread, @Darren. Will definitely start getting the novels. I'll be one of those tedious die-hards that Disney must froth over, picking them all up regardless of quality.

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On 21/09/2016 at 04:15, TehStu said:

I'll be one of those tedious die-hards that Disney must froth over, picking them all up regardless of quality.

 

Completely off-topic, and yet wholly related: I've just started playing Force Collection again.

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51jr7a09qkL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

Now before you say anything, I know this is a kids' book, but I'm in a bit of a lull waiting for new SW paperbacks or comics to come out, and I wanted something light to read to cleanse the palate between a couple of Ian M Banks novels, and we already had a copy belonging to my boys.

 

And guess what? It's actually really good! It's obviously a very quick and easy read but there's nothing wrong with that. It's a collection of three short stories, one each for Finn, Rey and Poe about their lives before the events of the Force Awakens. They're all decent little stories (if a bit predictable, but again they're aimed at kids a quarter of my age and less) but best of all for those of us nerds who care about such things, they fill in a lot of background details about things that were either confusing or seemed too convenient or too good to be true in TFA. So for example, this book includes:

 

- the background to Finn's growing disillusionment with the First Order

- his relationship with Phasma and the fact that she was already keeping a beady eye on him

- his relationship with other members of his squad, one of whom is signposted as the trooper who calls him Traitor in TFA

- how Rey came to be such a good pilot, mechanic and fighter

- the relationship between the Resistance, the Republic and the First Order

 

And none of this background seems forced or far fetched. It all works, and it's made me appreciate TFA even more as a result. Yes I am giving the film a free pass for missing out information that really should have been clear to the audience without having to read up on it. At least it's clear that there are coherent answers to all those questions, just not ones that they bothered to cover in the film, and not for the first time I find myself glad that Star Wars is now in the Story Group's capable hands.

 

So this is yet another surprising recommendation from me.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Vader #25



I found that a bit anticlimactic, with the real dramatic climax having been at the end of #24.

 

perhaps the experience was spoiled somewhat by the announcement of the new ongiong Doctor Aphra series the picosecond that the book hit shelves. I mean if marvel were that worried about spoiling Aphra's fate they didn't want to announce it before the publication, then they could have held off until at least people had some sort of chance to actually read it.

 

In the end, I guess the vader series only occasionally hit the same highs after the blistering first 6 issues, though that was a high mark to match, and even when it wasn;t hitting those heights it was variously exciting, intriguing and darkly humourous. 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Hmm.

 

51BNKPX9IeL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

Hmm.

 

I'm really not sure about this. Yes it's better than volume 3 (which in turn was better than Vader Down) but it's still not a patch on that glorious first volume. There are some excellent passages - the kind-of-flashback in the penultimate issue being the best of the lot - but overall I can't help feeling it's nowhere near as good as it should be. This could be partly or entirely down to my own taste though. I must admit I just don't like Cylo and his band of Evil Space X Men, who just don't seem Star Wars-y to me, although as a comic reader from the 70s I know full well that Marvel filling the Star Wars universe with incongruous characters is nothing new.

 

@RFT's right though. And I found the Coda at the very end utterly baffling:

 

Tusken Raider Wicker Man Vader Worship? OK then...

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  • 4 weeks later...

Poe_Dameron_Volume_1.jpg

 

This is much more like it!

 

For me, this is what a Star Wars comic should be - a story that complements the films, that seamlessly ties into them and the wider canon without feeling constrained but free to tell its own excellent tale. There's a genuinely interesting antagonist who has his own mysterious background, there's an ongoing mystery to solve in volume 2 (how are the baddies getting information out of the Resistance to stay one step ahead?) and there's even a strange space cult worshipping a giant egg. And best of all, it absolutely nails the character of Poe. Like in the best scenes in the Darth Vader comics, here you can hear Oscar Isaacs delivering Poe's lines as you read them.

 

For new canon nerds like myself it includes callbacks to the novels Before The Awakening and (surprisingly, tangentially) Tarkin, but you don't need to have read them to enjoy this - they're really just easter eggs for those of us who have. This is Star Wars comics done well, and I'd recommend it to anyone.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

5628452-01.jpg

 

Oh dear, we're back to mediocre again. Now we're a couple of year's into Marvel's new run at Star Wars, I think it's safe to say that they're consistently inconsistent. Some (like Poe above) are properly excellent, some (like Obi Wan & Anakin) are just plain poor, and some (like the later volumes of Darth Vader) are frustratingly short of fulfilling their potential. I think Han Solo falls into the last camp. It starts promisingly, is going quite well halfway through, but falls apart before the end and kind of splutters over the finish line in a pile of wreckage. Which is ironic for a story based on a kind of space-Cannonball-run which, you come to realise, doesn't even make sense as a race on its own terms. Oh well. Like all the Marvel comics, a lot of the art is very good even when the story isn't, so if you like looking at pictures of Star Wars-y stuff (and I do) you can still enjoy it, but really it's another one I'd only recommend to completists.

 

I do like the way my impression of this comic makes that review quote on the cover seem very passive-aggressive, though. We get what we deserve!

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Yeah, I'd agree with that review.

 

I had high hopes for a sort of swashbucking derring-do caper like Lando (which I think has been my favourite of the mini-series) and it didn;t deliver. I think it suffered from trying to pile too much into the story, with two things that didn;t really tie together. A straight noir-ish spy/smuggler story (Han goes back into the smuggler world to clandestinely extract a rebel agent. He's the contacts, but also a price on his head!) or even an old-school outright fun race story (Han and chewie Enter the galaxy's biggest race, officially for the cash, but also for the thrills!) would have been better.

 

 

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Not only that, but the race itself was rubbish. There was absolutely no rivalry or competitiveness between the teams, who all made friends early on and then helped each other all the way. And nothing about the race made sense. Why did they all take off at the same time from each fuelling stop? Why would the losers be stranded at the end? Not to mention the bizarre extra-dimensional aliens using it as a way to reunite with their prodigal daughter. I'm getting annoyed just thinking about it so I'll stop now. (It does have nice pictures.)

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