Monday, October 31, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic Animated Series?


Star Wars fans are always hungry for more content from the galaxy far, far away, which leads me to wonder if in a few years we will see the launch of a new animated series set in The Old Republic of the  Star Wars universe.

Let us take a brief look at what is going on in terms of Star Wars television productions at this point.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

So far we have word of work being done on Season Five and Season Six, but no hints on a Season Seven.  It seems likely that they could go to a Seventh Season but I have my doubts  whether or not they will go beyond that.  The shift to larger story arcs (3-4 episodes) means that conceivably they could extend the life of the series by taking up less time in terms of months and years per season.  5-7 story arcs per season set close together takes up little time on the timeline.  Lets say TCW wraps up at the end of Season Seven in March/April of 2015. 

Star Wars: Detours/Squishies 

According to President of Lucasfilm Licensing Howard Roffman, this Seth Green run series will debut within the next two years.  Previously reported as to be geared to a younger audience, this series will have a comedic focus and may have dubious canon status.  Lets say we are looking at Detours premiering September 2013. 

Star Wars: Live Action Series

Set in the Dark Times era between Episode III and IV, this series is currently on hold with scripts (third draft) written for 50 hours of episodes.  But production costs are currently prohibitive and we are looking at 3-4 years until the show likely goes into production.  Lets be optimistic and say we get production beginning in 2014 and Fall premiere in 2015.

The Old Republic

The end of TCW would lead nicely into the Live Action Series, but I believe there would still be room and appeal to a Old Republic animated series. If a TOR animated series where attempted, I would love them to go for the realistic style employed by Blur Studios in their cinematic trailers for TOR game.  We are seeing the licensing department push TOR in the publishing line at Del Rey, as well as at Dark Horse comics.  It would make sense to produce a TV series to coincide with the game to promote subscriptions to and the long term success of the MMO.  In turn if you launch the series, say two years after the game launches you will have a hardcore built in audience that will be hooked on the story of the game and will latch onto the TV series strongly.

TCW is an animated series that works for both adults and kids, it sounds like Detours will skew younger in terms of its target audience, so it makes sense to provide an alternative Star Wars show for the more mature audience.

The success of a TOR series could also encourage Lucasfilm to pursue potential animated adaptations of EU material and stories down the road in other potential animated series or films set in the Star Wars universe,.

This Star Wars fan is all for more animated action. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Darkness on Umbara (4.07)


The seventh episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars season four finally delivers on the "Battle Lines" moniker  and gave us the best episode so far this season .  The 501st Legion of the Grand Army of the Republic gets into a full scale land battle with the native Umbarans as the local militia employs guerrilla tactics to thwart the Republic forces attempts to conquer the planet.  This episode once again proves that trooper armor is about as protective as an umbrella in a hurricane.
"The first step toward loyalty is trust."
When Anakin is forced to temporarily turn over command of his clone troopers to a new commander, the Jedi Pong Krell, tensions begin to run high as the clones are assigned with a very deadly mission to take the capital of Umbara.

REX: 
I was getting a strong Gen. James Longstreet vibe from Captain Rex in this episode.  Opposing his superiors plan for the battle but still leading his troops into As Rex says late in the episode, "Sir, if I may address your accusation, I followed your orders even in the face of a plan, that in my opinion was in my opinion  severely flawed, a plan that cost us men, no clone, Men!" During the battle of Gettysburg, Longstreet a Confederate General under the Command of Gen. Robert E. Lee, followed Lee's orders and commanded Pickett's charge even though he opposed the planed infantry assault on the Union position on Cemetery Ridge.  

Rex is a good soldier and a good commander, one of the things that I believe Rex recognizes and General Krell fails to recognize is that a commander must keep faith with his troops.  Krell's view and treatment of the Clones breaks that faith and will lead to a disastrous outcome one way or another.  

FIVES: 
Fives is really taking to his role as an ARC.  The ARCS have a reputation as loners and a cockiness born of superior skills.  Fives standing up and being very insubordinate to General Krell shows that some of these ARC traits are really taking hold in Fives and also helps make him my favorite character.  

Fives has a nifty little mine-detector on his utility belt, but that isn't the only tricks that he has up his sleeves.  Fives has a thermal detonator handy to take care of the nasty native plant life.

This episode also shows tremendous growth by Fives, the first time we met him he was still a shiny new trooper and was very deferential to Captain Rex and Commander Cody.  Now we see him really coming into his own and treated as a peer by Captain Rex.  

The scene between Krell and Fives is one of my favorite scenes of the entire series, just tremendously done. I want a Fives Gentle Giant statute and I want it now.  

ANAKIN: 
There is a really interesting little moment in the trenches between Anakin and Rex, that shows just how close to his troops Anakin feels.  As Anakin tells Padme in Episode II, "Attachment is forbidden. Possession is forbidden. Compassion, which I would define as unconditional love, is essential to a Jedi's life. So, you might say that we are encouraged to love." Throughout TCW you see moments of compassion and care for the Clones by Anakin.  You know that every Clone Trooper Anakin loses under his command he takes personally. You can see just how difficult it is for Anakin to leave his troops fighting on the front lines and return to the safety of Coruscant, this to him will feel like he is abandoning his men. 

Anakin's departure at the special request of the Supreme Chancellor has me really curious about what game Palpatine is playing here.  Is he trying to protect Anakin from a battle on Umbara that he thinks has the potential to actually kill the future Sith Apprentice?  Is Palpatine trying to eliminate Rex one of the closest things to a true friend that Anakin has?  Is Palpatine trying to eliminate General Krell by putting him in a position to die on the battle field?  I don't think this was a simple throw away line.  

The rapport that Anakin has developed with Rex is based on mutual respect and shared experiences.  Rex is a survivor, it seems like very few clones last as long as Rex and few are as good at what they do as he is.  There are many similarities between Anakin's relationship to the Clones and the EU stories of Karen Traviss with Etain Tur-Mukan and Bardan Jusik, who very much viewed the clones as individuals and recognized their individual value and humanity.  

KRELL:
This view of the Clones stands in stark contrast to General Krell, who immediately upon taking temporary command of the 501st, lets his views on the Clones become very clear, "I find it very interesting Captain that you are able to recognize the value of honor, for a Clone."  Krell came about as close to calling the Clones "Meat droids" as you can without using the word.  

While you did see Krell in battle, you didn't see him leading the infantry charge shoulder to shoulder with Captain Rex as you would have seen Anakin do in the same situation.  This combined with his attitude towards the clones lets the viewer see just how disposable Krell feels the Clones are.

Krell displays a very Sith-like philosophy, of ends justifying the means.  It is one thing as a military commander to realize an objective must be accomplished and recognize that it may result in casualties even at a high rate, but it is another thing to work your troops to exhaustion and put them in unnecessary positions that make the casualty rate skyrocket.  Exhausted Clones and poor tactics are a recipe for military disaster.  

Krell's view of Clones is not unique to this character, the obvious parallel is to Quinlan Vos who in the EU has a reputation for treating is Clones like battle droids. I think some of the problem for the Jedi is in how to view these beings that were created in a test tube in the Force.  I believe Master Yoda expresses the correct view of the Clones in the first episode of TCW, but I am not sure that all Jedi are as enlightened as the Grand Master.  Another issue that plays into it, is the war itself and the guilt over all the death that the Jedi are taking part in must be weighing heavily on all of their souls, if not pushing them towards the Dark Side, then definitely making them harder less empathetic individuals.  How does a Jedi keep perspective in this situation? Are they all doomed to lose themselves in the darkness, like Depa Billaba in Shatterpoint, even without the execution of Order 66, did participating in The Clone Wars doom the Jedi Order? 

It leads me to wonder if General Krell is broken, was he at the Battle of Geonosis (off-screen), or did the loss of his fellow Jedi at that Battle cause him to lose his way as a Jedi?  Or perhaps simply being involved in the Clone Wars for too long made the General reach his personal shatterpoint?  I am not sure which, but I am fascinated to learn the back story of Krell because I believe he is a broken Jedi.  Some viewers think that we saw a change of heart by Krell at the close of the episode, but I think they are reading too much into this, while he maybe heartless and a poor tactician, I don't think Krell is stupid and his almost compliment to Rex was more for moral and to diffuse the tension caused by his near execution of Fives, then for any change of heart.

ANIMATION:
Visually Darkness on Umbara was just oozing with greatness.  A few things I want to touch on, the AT-RT's, the Z-85 Headhunters, the Umbarans and their tech, and some character animation touches.  

The AT-RT's were just great in this episode, with their reverse articulated legs and the fluidity of their motion, they looked like frogs jumping out of the LAAT ships onto the surface on Umbara.   

Every time I saw the Z-85 Headhunters on the screen I smiled, this is awesome.  The Headhunter (usually Z-95 variety) is a common sight in the EU (Mara Jade fans) and along siw the ARC-170 is a precursor to the X-Wing line of starfighters.  This is one of the continuity weaving touches that I love to see in my Star Wars both in TCW and in the EU.  

The Umbaran's had a fairly simple design, but I am very curious about the helmets they were wearing and the gas the helmets contained.  Clearly Umbara has enough oxygen in it's atmosphere for the Clones and the Jedi to breath it without their helmets or masks on.  Previously I don't believe we have seen Umbaran's having to wear any such contraption.  Are they being retconned as having to breath a special gas mixture like the Kel Dor, or methane breathing species?  

I enjoyed the Umbaran Hover Tanks, which reminded me of paired tuning forks, and their electric discharge had a resonating musical feel to it.  They also had a fairly strong resemblance to Tie-Interceptors.  

But that wasn't the Umbaran's only piece of interesting tech, the Millicreep droids, looked like some kind of insect/crustacean hybrid that could creep around and electrocute Clones with its tendrils.  A thoroughly icky looking droid for those of us that don't like bugs(that means you Han).  

There was also the Sarlacc Pit's little cousin, the Vixus.  Cue the chorus, "little shop, little shop of horrors, little shop.."

Finally on the animation front, we had some interesting touches on the characters.  Different paint schemes on some of the Clones, new armor for Rex and Fives, we also had some interesting touches to General Krell.  The bullfrog like chin on General Krell was an interesting touch and shows how are the facial animations of the show have come from its early wooden days.

Ratings:  Darkness on Umbara gets 8.5 kick butt ARC Troopers.  As much as Jedi always symbolize Star Wars, the Clone Troopers and their story is why I love this show and what really engages me as a fan.  Plus they get all that nifty kit.  


Next Time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The General (4.08)

"The path of ignorance is guided by fear."
General Krell orders Captain Rex and the clone troopers of the 501st Legion to conquer a heavily fortified Umbaran airbase, and will not accept anything less than victory. It is an almost certain suicide mission, unless the clones can use their ingenuity to defeat their new enemy.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Haynes Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual Sneak Peak and Giveaway by Bookdepository.com


The website Bookdepository.com is hosting a giveaway for the forthcoming book, Haynes Millennium Falcon: Owner's Workshop Manual by Ryder Windham and artists Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas.

To enter the giveaway all you have to do is enter visit the Book Depository website and answer one simple question.  The terms and conditions of their giveaway are available on the website.

The real cool thing is that they have a preview of the book in the form of 10 PDF pages excerpted from various portions of the book. 

Haynes Millennium Falcon: Owner's Workshop Manual looks to be a much more adult look at the structure and functioning of everyone's favorite freighter then last years Millennium Falcon: A 3-D Owner's Guide which was written by the same author.

The book is broken down into nine sections:

1)The history of Corellian engineering & the YT-Series
YT -1000 6
YT -1300p Transport 8
YT -1300f Transport 10
YT -1300fp Transport 12
YT -1300 configurations 14
YT -1300 optional extras 18
YT -1200/1210/1250 transport 22
YT -1760 small transport 24
YT -1930 transport 25
YT -2000 transport 26
YT -2400 light freighter 27
2) The Millennium Falcon
Operational history 30
Views 32
Cutaway 36
Floor plan 38
Lando calrissian 40
Han solo and Chewbacca 42
3) Piloting a YT-1300
Cockpit controls 48
Navigation / nav computer 52
Hyperspace travel 54
How to fly the falcon 56
Combat techniques 58
Special maneuvers 60
Evasive maneuvers 61
4) YT-1300 Propulsion
Hyperdrive 66
Sublight drives 68
Repulsor lifts & landing jets 70
Fuel systems 72
5) Weapons & Defensive Systems
Quad laser cannons 76
Retractable ‘ground buzzer’ 78
Concussion missiles 79
Shield generators 80
Projectors 82
Armored hull 84
6) YT-1300 Engineering Systems
Engine room / aft cargo hold 88
Technical station & circuitry bays 90
Hanx-Wargel computer 92
Power core & Power converter 94
7) YT-1300 Sensors
Passive sensor / scan-mode transceiver 98
Main sensor rectenna 100
Topographic sensors 102
IFF Transponder 104
8) Crew Facilities
Crew quarters 108
Emergency equipment 110
Recreation 112
Docking rings & hatches 114
Boarding ramp    116
Escape pods 118
Spacesuits 120
9) Size Comparison Chart

Amazon.com's description of the new book:
The Millennium Falcon is a legendary spaceship, made famous by its adventures under the command of smugglers Han Solo and Chewbacca, who made numerous special modifications to transform the beat-up Corellian light freighter into one of the fastest ships in the galaxy.

This Haynes Manual traces the model history of the Corellian Engineering Corporation’s YT series of spaceships and the development of the YT-1300 model line before focusing on the Millennium Falcon, itself a modified YT-1300. Onboard systems, controls, and their operation are described in detail and supported by a host of photographs, line art, floor plans, exploded diagrams, and stunning computer-generated artwork, all newly created by acknowledged Falcon experts Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas. Text is by Ryder Windham, author of more than fifty Star Wars books.

Covering operational history, piloting, propulsion, weapons, engineering systems, sensors, and crew facilities, this is the most thorough technical guide to the Millennium Falcon available.

This Haynes Manual is fully authorized and approved by Lucasfilm.

Book Depository has a great 10 page PDF excerpt to give us a first look at the book. 










SOURCE: Bookdepository.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Invisible Jedi: Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4?

"I sense something; a presence I've not felt since...Season 3?"

I am beginning to wonder if James Arnold Taylor insulted Plo Koon or accidentally hit a wolf with his car, because there has been a noticeable absence of Obi-Wan Kenobi from this season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The season started off with the Mon Cala arc where we got a heavy dose of Anakin, Ahsoka, Padme, and Ackbar.  Then we moved on to Shadow Warrior which was a heavy Jar Jar, Anakin, Padme episode.  Following that up with two droid episodes starring R2 and C-3PO.  Up next we are getting a four part Umbara arc which looks to feature Captain Rex and the new General Krell mainly. 

Obi-Wan has had a few minor cameos, but its pretty strange to be 6 episodes in and potentially 10 episodes in after the Umbara arc and one of the three main characters of the series hasn't made a real impact. 

I hope we get a lot more Obi-Wan in the second half of Season Four. 


Enter Jennifer Heddle: New Senior Editor for Star Wars Adult Publishing at Lucas Books

Jennifer Heddle's image from her Twitter (@jenheddle), Someone might want to tell Bonnie Burton what R2 is up to...

We have a new Senior Editor at Lucasfilm's publishing arm, Lucas Books with the announcement by Suvudu today that former Simon & Schuster editor Jennifer Heddle has been tapped to lead the adult publishing line from Lucasfilm's side of things.


Lucas Books, the publishing division of Lucasfilm, Ltd., has hired former Simon & Schuster editor Jennifer Heddle as Senior Editor to oversee the adult fiction portion of its Star Wars publishing program. Bringing a strong pedigree of publishing experience, enthusiasm, and fresh sensibilities to Star Wars, Heddle is working with publishers Random House and Dark Horse Comics on Star Wars novels, comic books, and graphic novels. “I’m thrilled to be working with Random House and Dark Horse on the adventures of these characters I’ve cherished for my entire life,” says Heddle, who replaces former Lucas Books Executive Editor Sue Rostoni.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled by Lucasfilm’s choice of Jen Heddle to take over the reins,” says Random House Editor-at-Large Shelly Shapiro, who edits Del Rey’s line of Star Wars novels. “She is going to be a valuable player who brings a lot of passion to the table.  With Jen joining the Star Wars team, I can stop being mad at Sue for retiring!”


SOURCES: SUVUDU.com and Clubjade.net

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Check out The Sarlacc Pit's new Fan Days 2011 Vidcast


My friends Matt Krienke and Chris "Hothiceplanet" Smith the hosts of The Sarlacc Pit podcast have posted their first video podcast this week that they recorded from Star Wars Fan Days 2011.  

Head over to Galactic Binder and check out the vidcast.  

TCW Weekly Roundup Posted at Star Wars Report

I go in depth this week over at Starwarsreport.com on this weeks The Clone Wars news.


On tap this week we will take a look at the latest TCW news, some thoughts on the new TCW Season 3 Blu-ray release, a sale going on for some TCW comics, and a preview of the next story arc on TCW.
The biggest news this week is TCW casting news comes hot on the heels of last week’s formal announcement that Darth Maul will be coming to the show.  According to the website Nuke the Fridge, they have an unnamed source that claims actor Sam Witwer will voice Darth Maul in the series...
To read the rest of the article please head over to Starwarsreport.com

Friday, October 21, 2011

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Darkness on Umbara Preview


To paraphrase Metallica, Exit light, enter night, take my hand we're off to Umbara-land.

After taking a one week hiatus, TCW returns next Friday with the first part of a four part story arc set on the perpetual twilight planet of Umbara.  Episode 4.07 "Darkness on Umbara" looks like a ton of fun and we get a full scale cavalry attack by the GAR.

"The first step toward loyalty is trust."

When Anakin is forced to temporarily turn over command of his clone troopers to a new commander, the Jedi Pong Krell, tensions begin to run high as the clones are assigned with a very deadly mission to take the capital of Umbara. 
 StarWars.com has a high quality version of the preview for the episode.





Thursday, October 20, 2011

Review: Star Wars: Riptide by Paul S. Kemp


I have a little advice for you, run don't walk to your local bookseller and pick up Star Wars: Riptide on Tuesday, October 25th.  The third Star Wars novel by author Paul S. Kemp is a page turning tale that has the pacing of an episode of '24'.  Does that make Jaden Korr the Star Wars equivalent of Jack Bauer with a lightsaber?

Publisher's Synopsis:

Anyone can escape danger. No one can escape the truth.

When a ship full of Sith warriors arrived in Galactic Alliance space, the fight to destroy it accidentally uncovered a hidden menace: a long-hidden group of clones, secretly created as insidious weapons capable of wielding the Force and heedless of the differences between light side and dark side. Now the clones have escaped—and evidence suggests that they are flawed by genetic disease and violent madness.

Jedi Knight Jaden Korr pursues the clones, hoping to heal them but prepared to destroy them. What he doesn’t know is that Sith agents are hot on his heels, determined not only to recover the clones for their Master but to capture Jaden for their own dark-side purposes. In a life-or-death battle, Jaden will confront a shocking reality that will rock him to his core and bring him face-to-face with the question of what makes a man . . . and a Jedi.

Riptide picks up immediately after the events of Crosscurrent as The Three Junkerteers, Jaden, Marr, and Khedryn, are chasing down a group of crazy Force-using clones.   

Kemp sets the stage in chapter one with the use of descriptions and details that lets you know this is going to be a story with some dark overtones and some violent action.  One of the thing I enjoy most about Kemp's writing is that it is a melting pot of horror, fantasy, hard science fiction, space opera, and philosophy that creates a Star Wars novel that is both entertaining and thought provoking. This book will trigger some arguments and debates, which is always a good thing among EU fans. 

The inclusion of dark horror elements into a Star Wars story has been tried most notably in Deathtroopers and Red Harvest, but to a lessor extent those same elements are ever present in both Crosscurrent and Riptide.  In Riptide, Kemp uses midi-chlorians in a way that I would never have imagined and could serve as a metaphor for how some fans feel about their introduction into the Star Wars saga.  There are other elements in the story that have a Lovecraftian feel and also had me wondering about how it might relate to a certain villain in the Fate of the Jedi series. 

Kemp marches over to the Star Wars fiefdom that Timothy Zahn has carved out in his numerous novels and short stories and firmly plants the Kempland flag onto the territory of Grand Admiral Thrawn's cloning program.  Cloning played a central role in both the Thrawn Trilogy and the Hand of Thrawn Duology, and Kemp resurrects the idea of Thrawn's cloning program for Crosscurrent and Riptide. The clones introduce the age old debate about what shapes a person, is it their biology or their life experiences? 

Riptide sees the return to the novel universe of the One Sith, the order of Sith created by Darth Krayt (A'Sharad Hett) in the Dark Horse Comic series, Legacy which takes place roughly 90 years after the events of Riptide.  By including the One Sith it helps integrate the two major EU licensees' and opens up some intriguing story telling possibilities to span the gap between the Fate of the Jedi novel series and the Legacy comic series.  

Kemp also ventures into the ancient EU history and the land of PC games to bring the Rakata and their Dark Side infused technology into play.  This is a very interesting move, but it is necessary for certain story telling purposes and also is a solid step in exploring a civilization that I would love to learn more about.

There is an inclusion of a species in this book that makes me wonder about potential continuity issues down the road. Debuting on the same week we have Riptide and Star Wars: The Clone Wars four part Umbara arc.  The use of Umbarans and the imputing of them with certain abilities has me wondering whether or not it is unique to the character(s) that Kemp created or if it is a general trait of the mysterious Umbaran species. 

In the Harry Potter universe there is the concept of wandlore, an ancient branch of magic that governs just about everything surrounding the construction and use of magic wands.  In Riptide, Kemp gives us lots and lots of Lightsaberlore.  The last novel that really went this in depth with lightsabers, is Mike Stackpole's I, Jedi in a series of scenes we get two different lightsaber contruction techniques (normal and fast/emergency construction), a special meditation designed to fuse the components of the lightsaber and the Jedi together, and a run down of all the components necessary to construct the blade.  In Riptide, we get a tremendous amount of detail of lightsaberlore that is different take then what I have read before and is beyond to create some message board and Facebook discussions regarding the Force, Jedi, and lightsabers.

Lightsaberlore isn't the only Jedi related issue that Kemp delves into.  In the expanded Universe we have seen that Jedi all perceive the Force in different ways, in Riptide are presented a curious scientific way of approaching the mystical energy field.  

There are two types of endings that I hate to see in a novel, when the author either ties up all the loose ends and leaves very little room for future storytelling, and on the other extreme when the author leaves the ending so open ended that you are reliant on a subsequent story to feel any sense of closure to the characters and their story arcs.  Riptide strikes that delicate balance where you get resolution to the this particular tale, but a new story telling possibility is opened up and sets up the potential for another story to be told either now or later on in the timeline. 

At 278 pages Riptide is a very quick read, but unlike some shorter novels I have read it feels like a complete story.  As a result of the setting of the story and the pacing, there isn't a lot of plot fat and dead pages to wade through.  I predict that Jaden Korr will quickly become an EU fan favorite much like Corran Horn became after his starring role in the novel I, Jedi.  I can heartily endorse Riptide for any Star Wars fan.

Check back to Lightsaber Rattling after Riptide is released as I have some spoiler filled thoughts on what ripples it could send out into the larger Expanded Universe.  

Star Wars: Riptide by Paul S. Kemp is available in paperback and ebook formats for $7.99.  To read excerpts of the book you can visit Suvudu.com and Paulskemp.com.



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Review: Dark Horse Comics: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Strange Allies


It is a busy week in the Star Wars universe for author Ryder Windham.  Hot on the heels of the reference book Star Wars: The Complete Vader  co-authored with Peter Vilmur, he has a new trade paperback (TPB) release from Dark Horse Comics.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Strange Allies  is a continuation of the story of Jedi Padawan Nuru Kungurama and his rough around the edges sidekick Gizz that begin in Windham's young reader book series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars:  Secret Missions.

Publisher's Summary:
With so many Jedi Generals occupied with the Clone Wars, assignments that would usually go to Knights or Masters are falling to Jedi in training--in this case, masterless Padawan Nuru Kungurama. Accompanied by his squad of clone troopers and a hulking swoop biker named Gizz, Nuru's job begins as a routine protection detail but soon evolves to include a mystery massacre, the hijacking of a space freighter, and the kidnapping of a group of orphaned younglings!
* Ryder Windham’s Breakout Squad from the prose series The Clone Wars: Secret Missions come to comics.
While I haven't read the Secret Missions series but this comic picks up after those tales and finds Nuru back at the Jedi Temple awaiting his next mission or possible even a new Jedi Master (apparently Nuru's first two Masters are deceased).

At the heart of the story we have two independent operators a Hutt named Noggox and a Neimoidian Pirate Dool Pundar.  Noggox is selling droid brains to the Republic for use in its Starships, while Pundar is attempting to abscond with these shipments.  In order to continue its war efforts the Republic dispatches Nuru, the Clones of the Breakout Squad and Nuru's two strange sidekicks, Gizz and a droid that wants to become a Jedi, in Cleaver.  Along the way we get to see Gizz' difficulties making a love connection and the struggles of the young Nuru to be a leader and his compassion as a Jedi in trying to help orphans.

The comic features some interesting cameos from Yoda, Dexter, Palpatine, Kit Fisto, Count Dooku and Savage Opress.  In fact this comic actually contains the story that was released on Free Comic Book Day, Opress Unleashed.

The comic itself is targeted at a younger audience (@8 year old reading level) and is reasonably priced at $7.99.  If you are used to reading the adult novels or even reading other Dark Horse Star Wars titles, then this book will probably leave you wanting.

The art in the book is by Ben Dewey and its a rough style, it lacks some of the realism and fine detail that I like to see in comic art.  But it isn't really a postiive or a negative, it just is what it is.

My favorite part of the comic is one of the orphans, a young Trandoshan named Charky.  He basically carried this book for me and was very amusing and very rude.  There is also a fun little scene in  swamp when one of the villains gets their just deserts.

While it is cool to see a Chiss Jedi and it is always fun to see some of Savage Opress in action, this story was just a little to straight forward and lacked the real emotional depth a mature audience expects.  If you are younger or have young kids that are fans of The Clone Wars animated series, then I would recommend this comic as a way for them to slip there toes into the Expanded Universe.  There are enough connections to TCW series that it will fit conceptually for kids.

I really like the idea of this Chiss Jedi and would be interested to see Nuru integrated into TCW series, after all after they start building Chiss character models, how far away can Captain Thrawn be from making an appearance?

In the end, Strange Allies is a solid comic for the kids, but will probably disappoint adult readers.  Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Strange Allies is on-sale now, you can order it for $7.19 on TFAW.com.  For more on Strange Allies and to see some preview panels visit Dark Horse's website.


Star Wars: Darth Plagueis Mini-Excerpt #1 Sith Apprentices


I have one piece of advice for aspiring Sith Lords, choose your apprentices wisely.

STAR WARS: DARTH PLAGUEIS mini-excerpt #1 (ES):

"For the past five hundred years, the Sith of the Bane line had eschewed selecting children as apprentices, finding it more advantageous to discover beings who had already been hardened or scarred by life.
Plagueis, though, had been an exception."

Monday, October 17, 2011

New York Comic-Con: Del Rey Star Wars Book News

Del Rey made a few really exciting Star Wars publishing announcements on the final day of New York Comic-Con (NYCC).

Del Rey Editor Erich Schoeneweiss posted the following on Facebook regarding the announcement:

"Just announced at our Del Rey Star Wars books panel: Drew Karpyshyn will write a fourth novel that will tie into The Old Republic for Fall 2012 and Tim Zahn will write a new novel starring Han Solo set in the classic films era. More details to come on both as they develop. (ES)"

I am very interested in what the new The Old Republic novel will be, but my bet would be that it is a Bastila Shan novel.

While we know the new Timothy Zahn novel is set in the OT era, we don't have any more definitive information. Deductively we can reason that the novel can't be set between Episodes V and VI. So we have three options; (1) immediately preceding Ep. IV, (2) between Ep. IV and V, (3) immediately after the Battle of Endor between the events of Truce at Bakura and the X-Wing novels/Courtship of Princess Leia. Hunt for Warlord Zsinj novel?

We also got a snazzy new cover for the paperback cover of Timothy Zahn's latest novel, Choices of One.

MONDAY 10/17 UPDATE:

Suvudu.com has posted a break down of the rest of the tidbits released at NYCC the biggest tidbit of which is a great little excerpt from the final book in the Fate of the Jedi series, Apocalypse by Troy Denning.


“Perhaps they feared Luke Skywalker just that much.
And that was a mistake.
Luke Skywalker was not the Sword of the Jedi. Jaina was, and now the Sith had trapped themselves inside a locked Temple with her.”

Why do I get the mental picture of Luke sitting on a lawn chair sipping a drink with an umbrella and tellling Jaina to take care of the Lost Tribe?  Jaina is a kick butt character, hopefully she will be elevated to the rank of Master soon.

SOURCES: Star Wars Books on Facebook and SUVUDU.com

First Look: Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse Back Cover Art: Love Birds

Art by Ian Keltie
Could there be some nuptials involved in the final book of the Fate of the Jedi arc?  This cover puts the spotlight on the lovebirds.  The image of Jag seems fitting with portrayals we have seen of him in the past, thought the coloring of the cover makes me wonder what color uniform he is wearing, it looks grey or tan.  The face on Jaina looks different then I imagine her, so I am not sure whether I like this image or not.

Fate of the Jedi: Apocalypse is due out on April 3, 2012 and is due to be a monster of a book.

First Look: Darth Plagueis Back Cover Art

Art by Torstein Nordstrand
This reminds me of the Mortal Kombat babalities.  It's a young Maul doing what Maul does best.  Gorgeous cover art and it fits in with this years Maul focused marketing push.  Though there are two characters in the book I would love to have seen on the back cover.

You guys are going to either love or hate how Maul fits into the novel, but I thought it was perfectly done.


Darth Plagueis will go on sale January 10, 2012.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 4 Ratings



Time to catch up on ratings news for Cartoon Network and The Clone Wars. Ratings information is from TV by the Numbers.   Last season TV by the Numbers had great updated TCW ratings information just about every week, this week its been a little tougher to find the information.

September 20th:

And Friday night (7-9 p.m.), Cartoon Network was television’s #1 destination among boys 9-14.

October 4th:
On Friday night, the animated action-adventure series BEN 10: ULTIMATE ALIEN (7:30 p.m.) ranked #1 in its time period among boys 9-14, and earned significant growth (2% - 21%) across all kids and boys demos. STAR WARS:The Clone Wars (8:30 p.m.) also achieved delivery increases among kids 9-14, boys 2-11 and boys 9-14 vs. the 2010 time period.

Battle Mediation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Nomad Droids (4.06)


If you want to lead a calm and uneventful life, do not associate with R2 and C-3PO they can't seem to escape the gravitational pull of trouble.  Nomad Droids sees the shenanigans of the droids continue as we go on a planet and ship hoping adventure that features some cool cameos and delivers a much more satisfying episode then last week's Mercy Mission.

"Who's the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?"
C-3PO and R2-D2's bizarre caper continues. Forced to escape a Separatist attack in a Y-wing fighter, the droids visit the world of the Patitites, the odd planet Balnab, and the inside of a pirate warship where they are forced to fight in a gladiatorial arena.

This episode could have been titled Grand Theft Y-Wing.  It appears that R2 has been around Anakin too long because he has picked up the Jedi proclivity of not respecting personal property and stealing speeder or ships as needed.   Seriously did some clone pilot die because R2 jacked his ride.  Well I guess this episode establishes that an astromech can not only pilot a ship through basic maneuvers but can also be skilled enough to dog-fight a spacecraft.  Once again R2 proves he is the most capable droid in the galaxy and causes me to reflect on C-3PO.

Looking back C-3PO is basically a robotic Jar-Jar Binks.  Kind hearted but clumsy, can occasionally contribute, but generally just along for the ride.  R2 seems much more indispensable to getting things done.  This realization by me makes it even the more curious why this type of character worked well with C-3PO but didn't work as well with Jar-Jar and fueled much of the early Prequel hatred.  Don't get me wrong I love C-3PO in the movies, he is a little more hit and miss in the cartoon.

"Congratulations, you are now a democracy."

From the Episode gallery:
The Patitites are thrilled that their dictator has been killed! They are now free. The Patitites helpfully fix the droids' Y-wing fighter, and propose that C-3PO become their new leader. Threepio declines, and instead teaches the Patitites the concept of democracy. He tells the tiny aliens to choose from among the three most intelligent, compassionate, and understanding among them. Unable to choose, the Patitites erupt into civil war as the droids leave the planet.
So the droids killed the native Patitite leader, sparked a civil war and then left, not bad for 5 minutes work.  General Grievous should offer these two a job sowing rebellion across the Republic.  On a serious note I really loved this scene because it provides a different perspective on democracy then we usually get in the Star Wars universe.  In the original trilogy we see the complete eradication of democracy as the Emperor dissolves the Senate permanently.  In the Prequel trilogy we see democracy on a grand galactic scale with the massive Senate rotunda.  We hear Padme bemoan the death of democracy in Episode III, but overall the portrayal of democracy is far from positive focusing on a bloated and corrupted political system.

There are obvious parallels between Hitler's rise to power through democratic processes and Palpatine's own ascension.   This is a more nuanced critique of democracy then we see in this episode, this is a more simplistic critique based on the mob rule and anarchy that can result in a democracy.

I loved the mini-tech of the Patitites, the mini-electrostaffs, mini-repulsorchair, mini-arc welders.  At under 30-centimeters tall the Patitites were cool looking little aliens, but the voice of the male and female versions of the characters were a little to similar for my tastes.

By far the funniest thing in this episode is something I didn't notice until looking through the concept art gallery on SW.com.  If you look at the splatter design on R2-D2, you can see the squished body of Hay-Zu on R2.


Pay no attention to the man behind the holo-projector.  

Then we go into our Wizard of Oz omage.  Beginning with the Patitites celebrating the death of Hay-Zu much like the Winkie guards celebrated the death of the Wicked Witch.  Following that we get a group of pit droids holographically playing the role of the great and powerful Albee Dewa and controlling the natives of Balnab.

It was a cool little touch that these crash landed Pit droids took it upon themselves to rule the developing planet of Balnab.


Lets talk about Space Pirates:

Is it just me or are the pirates extra piratey this episode. "wee be taken off." It also raises the question, are all Weequays pirates? Are we being speciesist again?

I really liked the gladiator droid K0-5D, though he seemed to be all casings and no internal parts a rather interesting design.

The pirate marauder ship is very cool looking.  I just wish we got to see more of it, I love the design that is basically all engines to make a quick get away.

A few random tangents: 

I love the stupid battle droid humor.  "They must be pirate droids"

I really hope that at some episode in TCW they show R2's fling jets being damaged because its a pretty big ability that he doesn't display at all in the original trilogy.

I love the running battle between Grievous and Adi Gallia.  It was very well shot to show this from the Droids perspective.

Poor Commander Wolffe, he gets the worst baby sitting assignments.  Why doesn't he just flip C-3PO's deactivation switch and be done with it?

What did we learn this week?  Our favorite droids hate the Prime Directive, changing the fate of two civilizations in a 22 minute episode.  No wonder the Ewoks treated them like gods, they must have heard about Belnab and Patitite Pattuna.

Rating:  This episode gets 7.0 squished potentates.  I actually enjoyed Nomad Droids a great deal, and appreciated it more after re-watching it.  There was great pacing to this episode that kept it from getting boring and kept you engaged with what was happening.

Direct Link to watch Episode 4.06 Nomad Droids on Starwars.com

Next time on Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Episode 4.07: Darkness on Umbara

The first episode of the four part Umbara arc will air October 28th, that means TCW is taking a one week break.  Look for repeats on Cartoon Network this Friday.  We will post a video preview and the synopsis episode when they become available.


SOURCES: Starwars.com and Wookieepedia

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episodes 4.07-4.13 Titles and Speculation


I haven't yet received this months Star Wars Insider Magazine (Issue 129) but according to Wookieepedia, the magazine gives us some of the upcoming TCW episode titles.

Lets take a look at the titles, the arcs and what we may be able to infer from this.
Episodes  4.07-4.10: Umbara arc

4.07:  Darkness on Umbara
4.08:  The General
4.09:  Plan of Dissent
4.10: Carnage of Krall (sp?)

What can we infer from the titles? Well it looks like the first episode on Umbara will focus on the planet and battles there.  The second episode looks to be the introduction of General Krell.  It sounds like the good General may either be breaking with the Jedi Order or Republic, or perhaps he is sowing the seeds of dissent among the Clones.  The final episode of the four part arc has a very ominous title.  It looks like there was a misspelling of Krell's name as Krall.  Is the Carnage of Krell going to be an episode reminiscent of Anakin's slaughter of the Sand People?  Or perhaps we are going to see a Jedi lose his way similar to what happened to Depa Billaba in Matthew Stover's novel Shatterpoint.  Is this arc going to be Rex heavy?  I hope so.

Episodes 4.11-4.13 Slaves of the Republic arc

4.11 Kidnapped
4.12: Slaves of the Republic
4.13: Escape from Kadavo

I believe that episode 4.11 Kidnapped is the first part of the 3 part Slaves of the Republic arc, but the title could also refer to the Ahsoka/Deathwatch episode.   The second episode is a nice shout out in the title to the comic story that inspired this TCW storyline.  The third episode makes me think our heroes may be making a rapid exit from the clutches of slavers. 


Episodes 4.14-4.22: TBD, Ahsoka/Deathwatch, Savage Opress/Darth Maul. 

Season Four is going to go out with a bang. I will have more thoughts on these arcs as the season develops further. 



SOURCE: Wookieepedia
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