Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Clone Wars to Return with Episode 100 on January 5, 2013


You may or may not realize it, but The Clone Wars is taking almost one month off for it's mid-season break.

When it returns on January 5, 2013 the Droid (D-Squad) arc will continue and clone trooper junkies will be thrown a bone by the inclusion of a new Clone Commando named Gregor who has been previously discussed on this blog.

I guessed that Gregor would be suffering from amnesia based on his Steven Seagal like beard that we saw in the season five trailers.  On a side note, if you haven't seen Hard to Kill, you may want to rethink your life choices.

Cartoon Network has released a press release discussing it's new Saturday morning episodes kicking off in January.  Included is a more detailed description of Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode 100, Missing in Action.

"Season five of Lucasfilm Animation’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars ushers in the 100th episode of the series, “Missing in Action.” In a nearly vacant town on a strange planet, the intrepid members of D-Squad discover Gregor, a clone commando who has lost his memory, and is toiling away as a dishwasher. The all-droid squad and their gruff leader must help Gregor regain his memory so they can steal a heavily guarded shuttle and return to the Republic."

Source: ToonZone.net

No Star Wars Comics in 2014? Does Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars License Expire after 2013? A Provocative Rumor


The blog Blue Sky Disney has an interesting rumor concerning the fate of the Star Wars comic book license going forward.

The most predictable outcome of Mickey's take over of the galaxy far, far away is the return of the Star Wars franchise to Marvel Comics.

Well the wait might not be to long if this rumor has any merits.


"The Suits in the know have determined that no new contracts will be given to Dark Horse after the current ones expire. So all new projects after 2013 will be handled internally by Marvel. 
It's not known yet if titles will be worked into the regular line up, or will Marvel create a special branch of the company that deals with Star Wars. It'll take a couple of years for the old deals to work there course, but the stories that Dark Horse have coming down the pipeline will be the last. And you can expect anything new from Marvel dealing with Star Wars to arrive around 2015."

SOURCE: Blue Sky Disney

I think the Han Solo's Scoundrels are on Santa's Naughty List



This gift label is just to good not to share, courtesy of Del Rey/Random House. Han and Chewie hardly look pleased with their festive outfits, but Lando even makes that scarf look cool.

Check out an excerpt of Scoundrels at RandomHouse.com and you can also listen or download an audio clip from the audiobook release.  Star Wars: Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn is available on January 1, 2013 in hardcover, ebook and audiobook formats.



LINK: Random House


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy by Jason Fry

Are you a Clone Wars junkie? If you are than you may be impatient to know what is going to happen in Season Five of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. If you do want to know what happens and don't mind spoiling the content of the episodes, then this is a great little book to read.

Originally scheduled for a September 2012 release, Shadow Conspiracy is a novelization of four episodes from The Clone Wars. These episodes include the season premier "Revival," as well as "Eminence," "Shades of Reason" and "The Lawless." I was able to find Shadow Conspiracy in stock at Amazon.com, but it's current release date is listed as January 2013, so it may not be widely available at this point.

Each episode takes between about 40-50 pages to tell in the book with the book weighing in at 184 pages in total.

If you have watched the Season Five trailer it is clear that this is going to be the "major" arc of the season, bringing together in a dramatic brew the Sith, the Mandalorians, the criminal underworld, and of course the Jedi.

This book seems to be a pretty close adaptation of the episodes based on reading Part I: Revival after having viewed the episode. There are some parts in the book, such as some timeline and back ground on the Mandalorians that I think is an addition that probably won't end up in the actual episodes.

The weakest of the four sections is probably the one based on "Eminence." The downside of The Clone Wars' 22 minute run time is that sometimes stories are compressed and events occur too quickly. To this reader some of the events in "Eminence" need more space between them.

The sections based on "Shades of Reason" and "The Lawless" are simply awesome. The action ratchets up and many things change, many characters are tested and fates are laid.

These stories really give Obi-Wan a chance to shine and in an the midst of these dark and dramatic stories, it is Anakin who is used to bring some levity to the episode. A nice choice based on the pair's relationship even this late in the Clone Wars and so close to Anakin's fall.

I have no doubt that Mandalorian fans will be very split over these stories. I am a huge fan of the culture that was crafted around these armored warriors. When The Clone Wars introduced the New Mandalorians and their pacifist way, there was much gnashing of teeth and digital moaning and groaning. I have long suspected The Clone Wars introduction of the pacifist Mandalorians was not the big deal it seemed, I have been waiting for a Mandalorian Civil War to return the Mandalorians to something much closer to the Expanded Universe version of the culture. As much as I expected events to unfold, I was still surprised at how exactly it played out and there are two specific choices that some fans will freak out about.

If you have watched the Season Five trailer, then you have seen Darth Sidious dueling with Maul and Opress, I won't give away the story, but I will say that assuming the episodes end at the same point as this book, Season Five will be ending in a bit of a cliff hanger.

In the end this is a great book for kids because the story is pretty dynamic and will keep their attention. For the adults this will be a very quick read and enjoyable as Fry does not dumb down his writing. The only caution I would have is not to expect the kind of embellishment you get in an adult novelization such as Matthew Stover's Revenge of the Sith novel.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy is published by Scholastic with a cover price of $5.99.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher (Mild Spoilers)

Occasionally you come across a book that is frustrating not because it is bad, but because it showed so much potential and then went in a direction that felt less satisfying.

I want to love Seven Wonders, I really do, but this is a novel that's first third carries great promise, goes off the rails in the middle third and concludes with a final third that is stronger than the second, but not as good as the first.

The set up is pretty simple, the story is set in San Ventura a fiction Southern California megalopolis. This city is "protected" by The Seven Wonders and threatened by the dastardly super-villain, The Cowl and his sidekick Blackbird. The story also features a SVPD SuperCrime department Detective named Sam, as well as a big box store retail employee with emerging superpowers, named Tony.

The introduction of the characters gives us an idea of the status quo in San Ventura, The Cowl and his legions of copycat gangs terrorize the city at night. The Seven Wonders are largely detached and more concerned with appearance and ceremony than with you know rescuing cats out of trees and all that jazz. Sam is an obsessed detective running her own off the books investigations on the Cowl for her own personal reasons. Tony is what I can think you can characterize as a frustrated loser, stuck in retail sales hell.

The comparisons of Cowl and Blackbird to Batman and Robin are obvious, and I enjoyed the idea of an evil Batman. The backbone of the first third of the novel is The Cowl dealing with losing his powers and Tony dealing with his developing powers.

This section of the novel opens up some interesting idea about superpowers, how they are used, and the morality of villains and heroes. This is compelling and interesting stuff, particularly if those presented as heroes are actually the villains and vice versa.

The second section presents some pretty dramatic character changes for the cast, but often while Christopher does a good job building up to these transformations, it feels like they happen either off the page or too quickly to feel real or satisfying.

The third part of the book brings in an intergalactic threat. While this part of the story is told well, it feels somewhat disconnected from the themes dealt with in the first third which would have provided a more compelling novel if this remained the focus.

In the end while I enjoyed Seven Wonders, It felt like the story wasn't given room to breath properly and the whole alien menace plot should have been left for a sequel novel. I wanted to spend more time Tony, The Cowl and the leader of the Seven Wonders, Aurora.

If you are a fan of the superhero genre this book is worth a read, but you may end up a bit frustrated like myself.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: A Sunny Day in the Void (5.11)




This week's The Clone Wars episode certainly felt like artwork, and much like artwork opinions will vary greatly.

Episode Description:
"When all seems hopeless, a true hero gives hope."After a comet damages their shuttle, R2-D2, Colonel Gascon, and the other droids crash on a desolate planet where they must make their way across a bewildering expanse of emptiness to carry out their mission.
How many times over the years  have we heard TCW Supervising Director Dave Filoni discuss George Lucas' desire to experiment with storytelling with this series? Some times this takes the form of clear homages to other films or genres and sometimes as this week's commentary discusses we get an episode about "nothing" set in a minimalistic style inspired by the artist Moebius (Jean Giraud).

The plot is very simple for this one, D-squad's shuttle gets damaged by comets, crash lands on Abafar, and the droids and Gascon get lost on the bleak desert world.  We get some bickering that echos Artoo and Threepio on Tatooine, Gascon looses his marbles, sees a mirage, looses more of his marbles, the "mechs" leave Gascon and WAC to their own devices, lucky for them this unlikely pair is rescued by a Jurassic Park like stampede and brought to a watering hole next to a outpost of some sort. It turns out the mechs are already there and the episode ends with WAC getting a promotion and Artoo still actually leading the mission.

City of Pons Ora
While this is certainly not what we have come to expect from Star Wars or The Clone Wars in particular, if you look at this episode on it's own merits I think there is a lot to appreciate.

This was a very visually interesting episode, while the environmental designs were minimal, there are some moments for example when Gascon is reflected in WAC's "eye" and then wipes the dust off of the eye that are incredibly well done.

One interesting thing to think about is that in the episode's newsreel we get a revelation that I think is new:
"Secret weapons! The Jedi Council deploys a squad of droids on a desperate mission aboard a Separatist cruiser. Under the guidance of Colonel Meebur Gascon, the droids succeed in stealing a crucial encryption module. Now, the colonel and his droid squad must return the module to the Jedi Temple to crack a Separatist code detailing the impending terror plot against the Republic."
Does the mission succesed and the plot is averted, or does the terrorist plot have future ramifications in the season five?

The good news is if you didn't appreciate this episode, the additional of a Republic Commando to the arc should spice things up.

Rating: "A Sunny Day in the Void" gets a 6.0. Fans tastes very so greatly so that an episode like this one is no doubt going to turn off as many people as it appeals to.

Direct Link to Watch "A Sunny Day in the Void." (Episode 5.11)

Clone Wars Download: Webisode 511: Into the Void


Coming up on Star Wars: The Clone Wars:

Episode 5.12: Missing in Action

Episode 5.13: Point of No Return



SOURCE: Starwars.com

Author's Note: For more on the artist Moebius, check out this MTV Geek Tribute.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Review: Darth Vader: Together We Can Rule The Galaxy Book and Statuette

Looking for a Christmas gift for the little darksider in the family? Chronicle Books may have something right up your alley.

On August 6th, 2012, Chronicle Books released an interesting collectible for fans of the Dark Lord. "Darth Vader: Together We Can Rule The Galaxy" includes a small Darth Vader Statuette and a small booklet as well. The booklet contains images from the films as well as quotes related to Vader and the dark side.

Publisher's Summary:

"This one-of-a-kind, hand-painted Darth Vader statue in a classic Force-choke pose, complete with a customizable display stand and a booklet of the Sith Lord's most chilling and inspirational quotes, is an essential totem for Star Wars fans or anyone wishing to master the dark side of the Force."

The inside of the box provides a nice little red display stand for the Vader statuette and the booklet slides into the back of the display stand.

The book itself is pocket sized (3 3/8" x 4 1/2"), and has it's pluses and minuses. On the bright side author Pete Vilmur provides one of the most concise (four small pages) yet complete summaries of the life of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. I loved this summary. The book works well for the one page images with quotes but the two-page images are disrupted by the size and binding of the book and too many of the images lost into the binding of the book.

In the end this is a curious product, to my mind best suited to younger kids. If you want to get your kids into collecting or if they saw a Gentle Giant bust and wanted one, but you don't want to shell out the money, this is a nice gift to get them, if they really dig the Vader statute, then down the road more expensive collectible statutes may be something for them to pick up.

At $19.95 or on sale for cheaper this is certainly an affordable entry level collectible, straddling the world of Star Wars books and Star Wars statuary. Not a must have for an adult, but i do think children would get a kick out of it.

For more on this item or to purchase it, visit Chronicle Books at:

http://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/darth-vadertm.html

Author's Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher for this review.









Sunday, December 2, 2012

Battle Meditation Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Secret Weapons (5.10)

I'm on vacation so this week's review is going to be short and sweet just like Colonel Meebur Gascon, well except for the sweet part.

This week's episode "Secret Weapons" kicked off a four-part story arc centered on R2 and the droids of D-Squad (WAC-47, U9-C4, QT-KT, M5-BZ).

The episode's dialogue was carried by the pairing of Gascon and the Pit droid WAC. Evidently R2 talking to other astromechs is to much beeping and booping.

The episode itself is a play on incompetent officer story. Traditionally we see a young inexperienced junior officer and a grizzled veteran Sergeant and his squad. One of my favorites in this trope is that classic of '80s cinema "Heartbreak Ridge." If you haven't watched this film, you are missing out on American Cinema at it's zenith.

While R2 was certainly competent and interviewed at a crucial moment the addition of WAC to the mix added an interesting character that partially substituted from the competent sergeant. In WAC we had a boastful pit droid who's abilities didn't necessarily match his confidence. WAC is definitely the Gomer Pyle of this episode with his bumbling nature, but in the end he proves crucial to D-squads successful mission.

It was a bit surprising that Gascon and the droids got away seemingly successfully at the end of the episode, but I have a feeling they won't have much time to celebrate their victory. It does make sense for the characters because for Gascon and WAC in particular it gives them that accomplishment that they can build confidence on.

A few random thoughts, clearly pit droids have delusions of grandeur after this episode and last season when they enslaved a planet. Also the inclusion of QT-KT based on R2-KT was an incredibly cool touch.

"Secret Weapons" was a fun episode and if you watched Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C reruns like I did as a kid you probably got even more of a kick out of it. I can't wait until we get to Republic Commando Gregor.

Check back next week for my regular review of episode 5.11 "A Sunny Day in the Void."

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