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The Force…it’s calling to you. Just let it in.

I’m sure most of you flipped out as much as I did when the new Star Wars trailer was released in October. I’m sure most of you have bought your midnight release tickets. And your Friday night tickets. And your Saturday matinee tickets.

Let’s just say that House Wood is hyped up.

Just because, let’s watch the trailer again!

Luckily, Marvel has released a slew of Star Wars titles to keep us all satiated until the movie releases on December 18th. This month, we saw the ending of two series and the beginning of another. Each title has done a fantastic job thus far hitting different types of stories and characters, reminding us that Star Wars has a little bit of something for everyone. So, let’s dive in!

 

Lando #5

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Charles Soule and Alex Maleev

While the first issue of this mini-series left me totally unsatisfied and dismayed, the title wrapped up wonderfully. Aleksin and Pavol, corrupted by the Sith artifacts on board Palpatine’s luxury yacht, make their way through the ship causing trouble. Chanath Cha, the mercenary Palpatine contacted to retrieve his ship, is really a friend of Lando’s who would rather see him lose a profit than his life. She’s ready to destroy the ship and get Lando to safety. There’s just one problem: Lobot.

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Lobot was stabbed by one of the Imperial Guards hidden in the Sith chamber. His wounds are serious, and he is recovering in a bacta tank aboard the yacht. Moving him could be fatal, especially since the neural implants he has are steadily working to take over his mind and body as a way to protect him. If we think back to Empire Strikes Back, we remember that Lobot is a stoic character who carries out Lando’s commands with efficiency and discretion. We don’t see the same relationship featured in Lando, and the moments leading up to Lobot’s “death” are heartbreaking. In order to reprogram the escape pods, he must sacrifice his own personality and humanity. Lando does feel responsibility for Lobot’s current condition, and the guilt weighs on him heavily. Not the happiest of endings for a mini-series, but one filled with poignant friendship and character growth.

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Star Wars #10

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Jason Aaron and Stuart Immonen

“Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon”

Sometimes heroes make bad decisions, like heading out to a dangerous moon in search of a dead and illegal culture. Luke, for all points and purposes, is still a kid from an Outer Rim planet, one who doesn’t quite have it all together when it comes to survival in the city. Just look at what happened in the Most Eisley Cantina: Old Ben had to step in and save him. Here, on Nar Shadaa, Luke’s got no Ben and no lightsaber.

He does have the opportunity to fight for his life in an arena against monsters.

Grakkus runs the pits on Nar Shadaa, a phenomenal money making endeavor that will become even more profitable once he introduces a Jedi. Never mind that Luke is wholly unqualified to be called a Jedi at this point; if he can wield a lightsaber, he can be called a Jedi in Grakkus’s marketing.

Unfortunately, Luke’s not that great with the lightsaber. For those of you who read Weapon of the Jedi, you’ll know that Luke had some difficulty with harnessing the Force and channeling it through his lightsaber. Brother got it eventually, after many, many sessions with a few ruthless training droids. He’s still not all that fluent with his blade, and it shows in the training sessions with the Gamemaster.

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While the Alliance has more or less written off Luke for getting himself into trouble, four of his faithful friends are making their way to his rescue. Chewbacca and C-3PO land on Nar Shadaa and start asking questions about his location, Threepio in his polite and innocent way and Chewie in his not-so-subtle-or-safe way.

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Meanwhile, Leia and Han, with the help of Sana, escape the Imperials who are targeting the princess and make their way to Nar Shadaa as well. Sana is constantly goading Han, and Han just keeps to his story of them not being married. It’s time we start taking bets on whether they truly are married or not. Personally, I feel it’s akin to that episode of Firefly where Mal marries Christina Hendricks (whose character name escapes me at the moment). It’s no matter to Leia, though; she’s more interested in moving the alliance forward than in Han’s smoozing.

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Darth Vader #10

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Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca

“Shadows and Secrets”

Two main threads work their way in this issue. Vader, who is currently partnering with Inspector Thanoth to uncover what happened to the lost Imperial resources from a heist organized by Vader and Aphra. Aphra goes on a little mission to Naboo to visit the man who prepared Padmé’s body for burial.

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The more interesting of the two storylines to me is Aphra’s interrogation of Commodex Tahn. Vader questions the validity of Luke Skywalker’s supposed parentage. After all, the galaxy is huge. There could be another young man about as old as the Empire with the name Skywalker (for heaven’s sake, there are about a million people with the family name Antilles, so it isn’t a stretch of the imagination). The best way to find out? Ask Kenobi. Well, he’s dead. Second best way? Find the man who prepared your dead wife for burial and see if she was pregnant at the time of death.

Aphra is sent on this mission while Vader works side-by-side with Thanoth on Anthan Prime (while occasionally sabotaging Thanoth’s investigation). Aphra meets minimal resistance from Tahn on Naboo, and he succumbs to Triple Zero’s methods in a matter of minutes. Aphra’s only question: “Senator Amidala had given birth to a son. Right?”

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Tahn confirms Aphra’s hypothesis, claims he knows nothing else, and asks his Queen to forgive him. Triple Zero then ends his life.

Now, this is an interesting turn of events. There have always been questions about the extent of Vader’s knowledge of his children, especially with him being like half midichlorian or whatever (hate it or not, he was conceived immaculately by midichlorians). You would think he’d be incredibly tuned-into whatever is going on with Padmé and his offspring. Granted, he had some, uh, trauma at the time of their birth. Nineteen years is a long time to never, ever consider and explore the possibility of a child surviving. Even when he meets Luke and reveals his parentage, he still doesn’t pick up on Leia’s existence until much later (yeah, I know, no one knew at the time anyways during filming and writing and whatever. But it’s so unbelievable on screen!). So, even after getting confirmation from Aphra about Padmé giving birth before dying, he doesn’t show that he reaches out in the Force to find more information. Instead, he sends Aphra on more data-gathering missions.

One thing that was brought up during this issue that I honestly didn’t consider in the past: the idea that Luke is from the noble class of Naboo. Leia, sure, I always connect her and her work with that of her mother’s. But Luke, from a moisture-farming family on a desolate planet, who never would have reached his potential if not for the sudden appearance of two droids, never had that level of connection to his mother and her legacy. Aphra calling Luke an heir of Naboo warmed my heart.

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Chewbacca #1

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Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto

Ever wonder what a story about Chewbacca would be like? Well, luckily for you, you don’t have to. With September’s Smuggler’s Run book, we know that Chewbacca has the ability to carry some of the story through narration. Internal narration, that is. In this first issue of a new mini-series, we skip the internal narration and approach Chewie the same way we do in the movies: by trying to infer what he wants through nonverbal communication.

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This could go horribly wrong, but Duggan and Noto are able to pull it off. When a Zarro’s family is taken into indentured servitude due to the demands of a loan shark, she is determined to find a way to save everyone. She escapes to look for a hero, someone who at least looks scary enough to cause trouble with the slavers. She finds the mighty Chewbacca.

Chewbacca happens to find slavery one of the greatest sins of the galaxy. Through a series of gestures and grunts, he agrees to help her rescue those in the grips of the Empire.

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As far as first impressions go, Chewbacca working with a stubborn and street-smart little girl is adorable. Their interaction is obviously nowhere near as endearing as Han and Chewie’s, but it is hilarious to think of how unafraid Zarro is of the Wookiee. Wookiees are supposed to be terrifying, and we as a fandom have turned them into cuddly, huggable bears (don’t deny it! You know it to be true!). I hope that, during the course of this series, Zarro gets a translator and finds out what Chewbacca is really saying.

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Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Shattered Empire #3

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Greg Rucka and Marc Checchetto

Our only post-Return of the Jedi comic series continues to feature intense warfare and the lives of Shara Bey and Kes Dameron. Kes has been working with Han Solo to root out factions of the Empire on several worlds, and Shara takes Princess Leia to Naboo for a meeting with the Queen. I get the feeling that the majority of books from this month feature a tie to the prequels, from Gungan informants to Sith Lord cameos.

The palace on Theed brings up memories of the prequels when we saw Padmé faced with an insurmountable challenge. Queen Soruna must find a way to protect the demilitarized Naboo from Imperial forces. Luckily, Shara and Leia are around to help out.

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This is another moment on Naboo, much like the one in the Princess Leia mini-series, where we see a glimpse of Leia’s Force sensitivity. Earlier this year, we saw her connect with an image of her mother in a stained-glass window. Here, we see an abandoned wing of the palace give Leia feelings of coldness. That coldness? None other than Darth Maul.

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Leia cannot sit and dwell on his presence. The planet is under attack, and someone needs to get out in space and defend the innocent people of Naboo. Naturally, Shara steps up and volunteers her services. Leia, an accomplished pilot herself, refuses to be left to watch. Queen Soruna surprises everyone when she insists to join in the fight with a mischievous grin on her face. She makes an excellent point while she preps for flight; she could never ask anyone else to sacrifice what she is unwilling to sacrifice herself. It’s great to see another Queen of Naboo that refuses to step aside or back down when her people are in danger.

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Operation Cinder is the source of Naboo’s trouble, and the Alliance quickly learns of all the targets. Shara, Leia, and Soruna are aided by a fleet of Rebel ships helmed by Lando Calrissian and Nien Nunb. Checchetto continues to draw some of the most beautiful spaceship battles in comics, and, as far as I’m concerned, I would read this series if it was only his portrayal of the dogfights.

 

Darth Vader #11

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Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca

“Shadows and Secrets”

It’s a double dose of Darth Vader this month! Aphra is sent to find Luke Skywalker’s location. At this point, we don’t know exactly why Vader is looking so hard for Luke. I mean, yeah, he needs to punish the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, and, sure, the pilot just so happens to be his son, but what is his is primary motive? For the Empire, or for himself?

Thinking ahead to Empire Strikes Back, I believe that Vader sees Luke as his redemption, his ticket out of the service of the Emperor. There can only be two Sith, no more, no less, and Luke’s apprenticeship under Vader could be the boost he needs to destroy the Emperor. That could be why he reveals his identity and asks him to join forces with him at the end of the fourth Star Wars installment. Within this comic, it is still unknown. But that the great thing about all of these Star Wars comics: there’s plenty of room for interpretation.

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Aphra heads to visit the Ante, an Givin informant who might have the information she seeks. Problem is that Thanoth’s lead on the case of the missing resources takes him directly to the Ante. Seeing as it was Aphra who was the face of the mission under Vader’s command, you can see why he might be sweating under the mask. Aphra does manage to get her information before Vader arrives on planet, but her troubles don’t end there. She has been spotted, and Vader cannot let her get away without incriminating himself. The web these two have weaved is seriously getting pretty tangled.

 

IMG_0601As Aphra, who Thanoth has totally seen and will recognize anywhere she goes, makes it to her getaway, she runs face-to-face with Vader. The two are alone, but his presence in this area would indicate that he would have no trouble capturing her. Unable to risk her revealing any information, Vader begins to Force choke Aphra. She knew the day she signed up to work with him that she was signing a death wish. Her life expectancy while around Vader is unbelievably short, but she’s not ready to go yet. Aphra withholds the location of Luke until Vader releases her from his grasp, and he stages the scene to look like an elaborate trap. Likely, Thanoth is not tricked by it. Vader’s been acting really fishy during the entire investigation. It’s only a matter of time before Vader finds a way to kill him.

 

Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Shattered Empire #4

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Greg Rucka and Marc Checchetto

Hey look! Another Shattered Empire! I do like how quickly this mini-series rolled out. Honestly, I would love to see more mini-series on a schedule like this one, where a new issue came every 1-2 weeks. For an ongoing, that would be miserable on my wallet, but, for a mini-series, it is seriously the way to go.

Shara has dedicated her life to the Rebel Alliance for the extent of the war. During this period of clean up, she questions whether or not she is able to leave and see her family. Other Rebels have assured her that she has done more than her share of fighting for the cause, but Shara cannot shake the feelings of guilt and abandonment for leaving at this time.

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There is, however, one more mission for Shara. This time, Luke Skywalker requires assistance in a small rescue mission he is doing personally. All he needs is a co-pilot. One that can pose of Commander Beck. If that name sounds familiar to you, you might be wondering why Shara is impersonating Beck. Beck, as described in Smuggler’s Run by Greg Rucka, has a cybernetic eye and blonde hair. When Shara, Luke, and Artoo get to Vetine, her disguise quickly falls apart. Luke, who is for all points and purposes a full Jedi Knight, displays his mad sweet lightsaber skills while Shara rescues…two trees.

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Ok, let’s roll with this for a minute. These trees are all that’s left of the trees from the Jedi Temple. The Jedi Temple that was converted into the Imperial Palace on Coruscant. For the Jedi, nothing is really done without meaning. It can be inferred that these two small trees have some incredible significance to them in terms of Jedi culture. Luke has spent years trying to learn more about the Jedi, presumably to work towards bringing them back from extinction. We saw in Star Wars #10 last month that he journeyed to find Jedi artifacts. Here, Luke is still looking for ways to connect to the Jedi. Personally, I think it’s a sweet gesture, finding things that were meaningful to those who came before him.

Best in-canon picture I can find of said tree.

Best in-canon picture I can find of said tree.

Their mission is a success, and Luke brings up that he didn’t expect to see two trees. He offers one to Shara, which is a push to retire from service and concentrate on her life. For Shara, that means raising her son with her husband on what appears to be Yavin IV. I doubt she stays out for long. Shara seems like the kind of soldier that looks for reason to get involved, even if it’s on a local scale.

 

Chewbacca #2

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Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto

Zarro’s got her menacing hero, and now she’s ready to orchestrate her infiltration of the mines to save her father and neighbors. Zarro is obviously used to getting her way, and, since Chewbacca doesn’t offer much in the way of protest, her ideas run wild. Luckily, she opts to keep it simple: she’ll get captured, find an empty shaft, and Chewie will crawl through the shaft to surprise the slave drivers.

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We know very little about Chewbacca’s past at this point. From the novels in the canon, we are aware that Chewie was a slave at one point. He was hunted by Trandoshans in the Clone Wars series. He has little regard for those who take advantage of innocents. This feeling drives his desire to help Zarro despite how much the rescue is out of his way.

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Overall, not a lot going on in this particular issue, but it still moves the plot along at a nice clip.

 

Kanan The Last Padawan #7

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Greg Weisman and Pepe Larraz

“First Blood”

I cannot convey how much I absolutely love the Kanan series. It is perfection, and you really don’t need to know anything about the television shows to enjoy it. Issue 7 is the best jumping on point for this comic series.

Like the previous arc, this new one is framed by the present day. Kanan was stabbed, and his life was on the line. The issue opens with him recovering in a bacta tank, which dregs up memories of another bacta tank in his past holding the promise of his future.

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As a youngling, Caleb Dume trained hard under the tutelage of Master Yoda. He was one of the youngest Jedi to be awarded Padawan status. One day, during lightsaber training, Kanan goes to the infirmary and sees Depa Billaba in a comatose state within the confines of a bacta tank. There is a moment between the two, where Caleb feels drawn to her presence. Shortly after he leaves the medical bay, Depa wakes from her coma with no physical symptoms.

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This scene reminds me of the process of finding a kyber crystal for a lightsaber. The correct one called out to the Jedi, and that was Force channeling object that powered the lightsaber. While the issue later goes on to say that Masters and Knights chose their Padawans, it leaves me thinking if their choices are guided by the Force as much as finding the kyber crystal (though, going back to Anakin and Ahsoka, that choice was made by the Council rather than Anakin himself). Regardless, there is an immediate connection, presumably through the Force, between Caleb and Depa. And he knows it.

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Caleb becomes obsessed with Billaba, proclaiming before his fellow trainees that he wants to be her Padawan. They respond with a warning: Billaba is damaged goods. She caused over 90% of her soldiers to die in a battle with Grevious. There are implied questions, from the Padawans and the Jedi Council, regarding her mental state. All of that will be addressed in this arc, I’m sure.

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That’s it for this month’s Star Wars Round Up. Next month, more Star Wars! Plus a new novel!

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