The Worthiness of Being Called Canon in Star Wars: Doctor Aphra 8

by Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

When Disney acquired the rights to Star Wars, a decree was sent forth from the Magic Kingdom proclaiming that the extended universe portrayed in various books, comics, and TV shows is no longer canon. The reasoning behind this is clear. Disney will be making Star Wars stories until the end of time and they want the creative (see: commercial) freedom to write their own version of the Star Wars universe without conflicting accounts of what happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Whether this is a good idea or not, it places the impetus on Disney to faithfully convey stories from Star Wars, which can be problematic when issues like Doctor Aphra 8 feel out of joint with their source material.

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Star Wars 31

Today, Taylor and Mark are discussing Star Wars 31, originally released May 17th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: The movie Crimson Peak, directed by the well-known and visually gifted Guillermo del Toro, received lukewarm reviews when it first came out. Its lackluster reception is understandable because the movie never truly reaches the heights of horror everyone was expecting it too. That, paired with a story that never truly paid off, doomed it to mediocrity. However, the movie does look impressive, and it nails the pace of a true Gothic horror story quite well, making it all the more disappointing that it didn’t pan out in the end — del Toro had the hard part complete already. Setting a pace for a Gothic story is difficult because it requires a delicate control to the narrative forward, almost at an achingly slow pace to build tension. If only del Toro had paired with Jason Aaron on writing Star Wars 31, we might have the perfect Gothic inspired issue.

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Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel 1

Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel 1, originally released May 10th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Michael: Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel 1 kicks off Marvel’s latest Star Wars crossover starring Luke Skywalker and Doctor Aphra. The extra-long one-shot issue has an ominous ending that definitely earns its horror genre-inspired title. In short, Kieron Gillen and Marco Checchetto seem to be prepping us for what could arguably be called “The Star Wars Vampire Diaries.” Maybe not — I’ve never watched that show — but it has vampires in it, right?

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Star Wars 27

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Today, Patrick and Mark are discussing Star Wars 27, originally released January 25th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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“I’m very conscious of the environments. I try to have at least three environments in a movie and I try to have them as different as possible. And then from movie to movie I try to have them as different as possible. Y’know, in the first movie, we were on a sand thing — it was all a brown kinda color— and in the second one we were in the snow and it was all kinda white, and a green, swampy kinda thing. And third one… what can you do in terms of environments? You have to shoot it somewhere on this earth. Unfortunately, you can’t go somewhere else. So a forest was really the only thing I had left.”

-George Lucas, on Return of the Jedi

Patrick: George Lucas spends a lot of time, energy and imagination developing the settings for his stories. This is actually one of the qualities that — no matter what else slipped in his filmmaking — never suffered in either of his trilogies. Say what you want about The Phantom Menacethe planet Naboo is stunningly realized and presents two completely separate environments and cultures. He’s a designer with a strong sense of place and history. That quality of passive storytelling doesn’t always trickle down into Star Wars games, comics and TV shows (or arguably, into the newer movies), but it’s interesting to see Jason Aaron and Salvador Larroca try to capture that same sense of place in Star Wars 27. Continue reading

Star Wars: Han Solo 1

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Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Star Wars: Han Solo 1, originally released June 15th, 2016.

Taylor: Towards the end of A New Hope, it seems like Han is going to abandon the rebels in their time of need, choosing instead to take his money and run. We all know how the rest of the movie plays out, but what we don’t know is how and why he endears himself to the rebels thereafter. By the time we see Han again in the Empire Strikes Back, he’s a general, and it’s clear he has both the admiration and trust of everyone in the rebellion. But how did this happen? How does Han go from a gallant rogue to a respected general? Why does he join the rebellion instead of paying off the price on his head? Issue one of the Han Solo miniseries has the answers.

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Star Wars 18

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Today, Patrick and Spencer discuss Star Wars 18, originally released April 27th, 2016.

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Patrick: I’d never really considered it before, but the women of the Star Wars universe — even when they’re the heroes — tend to have the most boring and stressful possible existences. Anakin gets to jump around with a magical laser sword while Amidala has to serve in an Orwellian uber-government. And even when they split up the Skywalker twins, little Luke is sent to his ancestral home world, guarded over by a Jedi Knight, practically guaranteeing him a life of swashbuckling adventure, whereas little Leia is handed off to a political ally so she can spend her days pretending to like her Alderaanian vegetables. While The Force Awakens has started to take steps in the right direction by making Rey adventure incarnate, sometimes it’s not enough to simply fix the problem. With Star Wars 18, Jason Aaron and Leinil Francis Yu go out of their way to put this problem in clear view: the boys goof around and fuck up until the very last second, while the girls take charge and eat shit for 20 pages. The result is an oddly empowering book, that highlights just how badass the ladies the ladies of Star Wars are by emphasizing how inconsequential (and how celebrated) Han and Luke’s adventure are.

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Star Wars: Poe Dameron 1

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Today, Michael and Taylor are discussing Star Wars: Poe Dameron 1, originally released April 6th, 2016.

Michael: Poe Dameron is in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens just long enough for us to know that he’s cool and that we want to know more about him. There is no denying that Oscar Isaac’s brief (but memorable) role as Poe was a joy to watch. With his charm, wit, and optimism, Poe Dameron was a combination of Luke, Han and Lando. It’s no surprise then that Marvel chose Lando scribe Charles Soule to tackle another smooth talker in Poe Dameron. Does this first issue lay a foundation for further understanding the elusive cool guy Poe? Does this feel like a necessary addition to the strong Star Wars line? Continue reading

Star Wars Round-Up: Issues Released 1/6/16

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Vader Down is comes to an explosive conclusion! If they can publish two at once, we can discuss two at once… or, you know, one immediately after the other. Today, Taylor and Patrick discuss Star Wars 14 and Darth Vader 15.
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Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Shattered Empire 1

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

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“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