Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire 1

Shattered empire 1

Today, Patrick and Andy are discussing Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire 1, originally released September 9th, 2015

star wars div

“Star Wars is the saga of good vs. evil, divided into nine parts.”

-George Lucas, 1994

“It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.”

-George Lucas, 2012

Patrick: George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy is heavily influenced by just about every archetype-establishing institution in the book: westerns, serials, samurai stories, myths. They are clear stories of good vs. evil, strictly adhering to tenants of Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces. In 1977, that made those films the sum total of popular fiction to that point – a perfect distillation of the hero triumphing over forces of darkness. That’s an over simplification, of course: Taxi Driver came out the year before A New Hope, after all. But what Lucas did so well in his original film was channeling the simple, clear morality of popular fiction. Almost 40 years later and morality in popular fiction isn’t so clear – neither is the morality of war. Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Mad Men, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, two different Gulf Wars – today’s storytellers have a different responsibility to their audience than Lucas did. Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto’s Shattered Empire embraces this shift, focusing more on the insane fog of war surrounding the bit-players that supported the main heroes of the original trilogy. Continue reading

Lando 2

lando 2

Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Andy are discussing Lando 2, originally released August 12, 2015.

Patrick: When you think about Lando’s role in the original trilogy, it’s hard to see him as an active player in the drama. His pivotal turn in The Empire Strikes Back boils down to him sending Lobot a text. Think about his role freeing Han from Jabba’s Palace – he infiltrates Jabba’s guard and then… does what? The man is a maestro at seizing opportunity, just so long as that “seizing” doesn’t really look like anything. But damn it all: be basically thwarts the will of the Emperor to Darth Vader’s face and lives to tell the tale. Charles Soule and Alex Maleev translate that effective inaction to the comic book page in Lando 2, using trappings two separate genres to their advantage, and then punctuate the whole thing with Lando’s opposite: an agent that never stops being active. Nearly every single element of this issue, from the pacing, to the coloring, to the dialogue, to the antagonist, serve to highlight what exactly makes Lando so damn special.
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Lando 1

lando 1

Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing Lando 1, originally released July 8th, 2015.

Spencer: Maybe it’s just because of the way superheroes dominate the medium, but when I think of comic books, my mind immediately turns to fighting. It’s almost unheard of to find a superhero who doesn’t fight in some capacity, and even in the indie books I read, most of the characters are spies, soldiers, robots wielding built-in weaponry, or kids struggling to survive in the wild — the one thing they have in common is that they all fight. Lando Calrissian, however, does not. Throughout Lando 1, Charles Soule and Alex Maleev depict Lando as someone who may know the value of a good warrior, but prefers to win his battles with cunning. It’s a compelling take on the character, one that helps set him apart from his good buddy (and fellow smuggler) Han Solo, and one which also establishes this mini-series as a heist story through and through. Sure, there’s action, but the twists and turns of Lando’s high-stakes schemes (as well as the schemes hatched against him) are what this series is really all about, and that’s a fun new direction for the Marvel Star Wars books to explore. Continue reading

Star Wars 4

star wars 4

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Star Wars 4, originally released April 22nd, 2015.

Taylor: There’s a been a lot of Star Wars news lately thanks to the release of the second trailer for the upcoming The Force Awakens. Aiding the hype of this trailer has been a number of costumes and props that recently went on display at the “Star Wars Celebration. Additionally, there’s a new Star Wars Battlefront game that’s about to be released, the first in a number of years, which has gamers truly excited. Lost among all of this fanfare has been the teaser trailer for the spin-off Star Wars movie, Rogue One. Like the Star Wars comic, this movie takes place between famous episodes of the primary trilogies and like the the comics it offers a behind the scenes, gritty look at the rebellion. This aspect, more than anything else, is what makes the comic interesting and what makes issue four of the series so fun to read. Continue reading

Princess Leia 2

princess leia 2

Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Princess Leia 2, originally released March 18th, 2015.

Michael: Having just started its sixth season, Community is a completely different show from what it was in its first three seasons. Series creator Dan Harmon was fired after season 3, but returned for a 5th and now 6th season. The show has wisely tip-toed around most developments from Season 4, which, for it’s Harmon-less-ness, is universally considered to be the worst season of the series. While Harmon has salvaged some ideas from that season, it is probably best to leave Season 4 alone for the most part, not having its particular stink effect the future storylines too heavily. I’d argue that Disney and Marvel should take the same approach to the dreaded Star Wars prequels. I’m not gonna go on a huge diatribe about why the prequels were bad, the internet is full of such litanies. Listen, I get it. I was 10 years old in 1999; The Phantom Menace was my jam and I played ridiculously hard Star Wars games on PS1 like Jedi Power Battles. But let’s call a spade a spade: the prequel trilogy = not so great. So when examining a book like Princess Leia 2, where our heroine visits her birthmother’s home planet of Naboo, it’s hard not to think of less pleasant experiences in a galaxy far, far away.

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Star Wars 3

Alternating Currents: Star Wars 3, Drew and Patrick

Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Star Wars 3, originally released March 11th, 2015.

the treachery of images

Drew: Ah, The Treachery of Images. I remember chuckling mildly at Magritte’s pedanthood when he insisted that it really isn’t a pipe — it’s a picture of a pipe — but I think the painting is actually much more clever than it initially seems. That anyone would be given pause by a painting of a pipe insisting it is not a pipe speaks to some of our most basic assumptions about art. Indeed, that we’re confronted with the fact that a picture of a pipe is not a pipe forces us to question what it means for something to be a pipe. Clearly, it’s not just a matter of looking like a pipe, so some element of pipe-iness is lost in the translation. As Marvel’s new Star Wars series marches on, I find myself wondering if some piece of what makes Star Wars Star Wars isn’t also lost in the translation to comics. Continue reading

Princess Leia 1

princess leia 1

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Princess Leia 1, originally released March 4th, 2015.

Taylor: The Empire Strikes Back features a memorable scene where Han and Leia share their first kiss. The scene is a gem, with both of them behaving in such a manner so essential to their characters that they (and the audience) can’t resist each other. Han is charming, smooth talking, and a little sleazy. Leia, on the other hand, is cool, distant, and fiercely independent. Looking at this scene, you can’t help but recognize that this is who Leia is. Even though we know passion burns hotly underneath her cool exterior, she’s never one to give away her true feelings. Princess Leia 1 picks up on these characteristics and fleshes out not only one of cinema’s most famous heroines, but also fleshes out Star Wars at the same time. Continue reading

Retcon Punch is for Lovers; Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14th is about three things: socks with hearts on them, discount chocolates on the 15th, and corny Valentines cards for your friends. We can’t really share the first two with you, our loyal readers, but boy can we share the third! A couple years ago we made a bunch of corny Valentine’s Day cards, and we had so much fun we did it again last year. Because we’re once, twice, three times a lady, we’ve done it again and made a new batch of Valentines for you all. Feel free to print and pass them out to the nerds you love the most, just keep our name on them, huh? More after the break.

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Star Wars 2

star wars 2

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Star Wars 2, originally released February 4th, 2015.

Taylor: When do you officially become too old to play with action figures? I’ve often wondered this because I suspect I played with my action figures longer than most. Was it too long? I have fond memories of having adventures with my Star Wars toys well into sixth grade. However, when I made the transition to middle school in 7th grade (that’s Kansas for you) I felt I had reached the age where it wasn’t socially acceptable to play with them anymore. This was a sad time for me.What made it painful then, as it does now, is that it signaled a loss of creativity for me. No longer would I be able to create my own Star Wars adventures. I’d have to take them as they were handed to me in video games and books. Marvel’s Star Wars, while still feeding me a Star Wars story, and captures the wild imagination of someone creating their own adventures, and that’s damn fun. Continue reading

Star Wars 1

Alternating Currents: Star Wars 1, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Star Wars 1, originally released January 14th, 2015.

Drew: I was eight years old when Michael Crichton’s The Lost World was published. I hadn’t read Jurassic Park (reminder: I was eight), but I LOVED the movie. Nothing, not even my reading level, could stop me from consuming this new tale of genetically resurrected dinos, so I convinced my parents to get me the book on tape. When the film adaptation came out in 1997, it was my first experience seeing a movie based on a text I was already familiar with. There were substantial changes to the plot, but I didn’t care — the draw for me was dinosaurs, and the movie definitely delivered. I was similarly undaunted by the streamlining of the plot in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptations — the draw here was a heroes journey set in a lushly detailed fantasy world.

It wasn’t until Zack Snyder’s Watchmen that I was first apprehensive about a film adaptation — the draw for me was no longer the plot or specific characters, but the medium of the story itself. A film couldn’t hope to capture the formal elements specific to comics that makes Watchmen such an achievement. I find myself confronted with these questions as I think about Marvel’s new Star Wars series (my first foray into any non-film explorations of the universe) — what is the draw for Star Wars? Is it the space operatics? The characters? The actors that play them? The thrilling John Williams score? It turns out, my answer may be “all of the above,” but that doesn’t stop this issue from being a largely successful translation of the Star Wars universe onto the page. Continue reading