#CollectionCorner Episode 2 – The Black Series Empire Strikes Back Luke Skywalker

This is the second episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog, this week I take a look at The Black Series ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 40th Anniversary Luke Skywalker figure.

This was originally released as a Patreon Exclusive but it’s now being released for all to enjoy.

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Star Wars: Squadrons – ‘Hunted’ Short Film Review

‘Hunted’ is a short CG film that ties in with the upcoming ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ game, and it’s bloody brilliant.

Set in the Var-Shaa system, it follows Captain Varko Grey as Titan Squadron and others from the Star Destroyer Overseer as they fail to protect an Imperial Shipyard.

Grey reluctantly starts to retreat when Titan 3 calls for assistance whilst the Overseer prepares to go to Lightspeed.

Titan 3 is destroyed and Grey’s TIE Interceptor is damaged as the Destroyer leaves the system and Grey behind.

As the New Republic forces get closer, Grey shuts down his fighter, hoping to to go unnoticed but is found by a nosy New Republic X-Wing Pilot who chases Grey onto a nearby planet where Grey races against time to defeat his enemy before his ship shuts down completely.

The animation is wonderful, I hope the graphics in the game are remotely similar to these. The pacing and editing are great, I actually ended up caring about Grey, and hoping he made it. Not that I would be sympathetic towards the Imperial Remnant as a whole but this film is crafted for us to actually like this Imperial Pilot. His attempt to save one member of his Squadron show us that he’s not your average TIE Pilot and I want to learn more about him once the game is released.

The New Republic forces are shown in great numbers. They have a large number of Mon Cala ships in their fleet now, there are three in this film alone, all ones we have seen in the films, but it shows that The New Republic Fleet is getting bigger and the Imperial Remnant are essentially on the run, as Grey says “Another retreat.”

I was already looking forward to ‘Squadrons’ but now I’m chomping at the bit, and I’m gutted we have to wait another couple of weeks.

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Speculation: The Mandalorian Season 2 and The Child

In the words of ‘Blue Harvest Podcast’, I’ve been doing some cockadoody speculating about season 2 of ‘The Mandalorian’, the reason for Moff Gideon’s obsession with The Child and perhaps even Ahsoka.

Let me paint you a picture, at the end of Season 4 of ‘Rebels’, Thrawn and Ezra we’re blasted not Hyperspace, most likely into The Unknown Regions.

As we have found out in the recent ‘Thrawn Trilogy’ and in the recent ‘Thrawn Ascendency’ book, The Unknown Regions are very difficult to navigate through Hyperspace and most ships use Force Sensitive navigators to help guide the ships through The Chaos.

As we have learned in other material, such as ‘The Aftermath Trilogy’, the Imperial Remnant went into The Unknown Regions where they eventually became The First Order.

What if…

Moff Gideon is actually looking for The Child to use to navigate his forces to the Imperial Remnant our in The Unknown Regions, rather than spend untold years searching the Region using smaller jumps to navigate. He may well already know about this method through Thrawn or perhaps has already attempted to navigate but wasn’t able but learned about Navigators from others.

This could explain why Gideon is seemingly desperate to get his hands on The Child, to finally reunite with The Empire. We’ve already been told by Faverau that we will see some of the origins of The First Order, where better to see that than where the organisation starts, out hiding in the far reaches of the Galaxy.

“But Jonny, what does this have to do with Ahsoka ?”

Good question. What if Ahsoka is interested in The Child for the same reason, except not to find The First Order, but to finally find Ezra, leaving Mando on his own for a while before The Child returns to him. That could tie into some of things said in the recent EW article that we were told that we would get some stories about other characters, but still giving us a character we are heavily invested in. Which would still allow any series focused on the search of Ezra to have a story to tell but also progresses the search.

We have already seen Mando before having The Child with him in the first episode of Season 1 and having some time with him alone would make for a great way to see how the character has changed during that time and how he copes on his own now.

Like I said, it’s all speculation and I’m probably completely wrong but it’s something to do until we get to 30th October.

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Darth Vader: Dark Heart of the Sith Part 5

Words can’t describe how much I am enjoying this Darth Vader run, so far it’s my favourite of all the Vader comics I have read, and that’s only five issues in.

Vader visits Padmé’s tomb and is followed by Sabé and the other Amidalians. She begs Vader not to exhume her body, but the droid scans the corpse and reveals a medical device that leads them to Polis Massa. Vader tells Sabé to lead her Amidalians there and meet him.

Once at Polis Massa, Vader learns that Obi-Wan brought her there to save her life after Anakin was defeated on Mustafasr. Before he is able to learn anything else the Amidalian Army arrives and are thoroughly vanquished by Vader and his Troops.

Once in the Medical Facility, the Droid finds footage of Padmé talking to Obi-Wan before her death, saying there is still good in Anakin. Upon hearing this Vader destroys the Droid.

He returns to The Emperor, claiming his business is over, but the Emperor isn’t fooled, sensing no fear, anger or hate in his Apprentice, only grief, with Palpatine preparing to retrain Vader in the ways of the Sith.

This issue feels somewhat reminiscent of some parts of ‘Vader Down’, with Vader facing off against an army. Granted this time he has a group of Death Troopers as well but that just makes it even more exciting. Vader is so hell bent on learning the truth about Luke’s birth that he’s ready to face down anything in his path, even an army. It’s almost like seeing Anakin the strategist coming back from The Clone Wars for one last hurrah.

Having Vader going back to Palpatine and essentially going to be going back to Sith School really helps build the idea of conflict within him that Luke senses in ‘Return of the Jedi’. There is a part of me that hopes that this run doesn’t end right before ‘Return of the Jedi’ but actually tells Vader’s story from the film from his perspective, I especially would love to see his thought process during the dual with Luke in Palpatine’s Throne Room and the moment he passed away.

The art and writing continues to be phenomenal, the story is gripping, the twists and turns it has taken has been a thrill ride so far and it gives no evidence of slowing down.

I’ve complained before about there being an over abundance of Darth Vader content nowadays, leaving little to the imagination about the Dark Lord of the Sith who up until recent years was shrouded in mystery, but I regret complaining that we were getting this series because it’s been so good so far. I hope by the time the series ends I won’t have to eat those words. Only time will tell.

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Lego VLog – Tantive IV Full Series

It’s time for you all to enjoy the Life Debt Lego VLog, formerly a Patreon Exclusive, I’m now launching it for the public. This post is ALL five parts of the Tantive IV set from 2018.

Check out the full run below and I hope you all enjoy.

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Thrawn Ascendency 1: Chaos Rising by Timothy Zahn Book Review

Thrawn’s back baby and this time he’s bringing his fellow Chiss along for the ride.

Set during The Clone Wars (for the most part), we find Mitth’raw’nuruodo during his time in the Chiss Ascendency. Brought in to investigate an attack on the Chiss Homeworld, Thrawn’s investigation takes us on an adventure throughout ‘The Chaos’ (The Unknown Regions) where we meet many new races and an intriguing new foe for our favourite Grand Admiral.

The first part of a planned Trilogy, we get to learn a great deal about the previously u known Chiss Ascendency and how it works, with nine ruling families, various roles and levels within those families and how they adopt promising young Chiss into those families, potentially granting them a high rank where their bloodline becomes an official strand of the family bloodline. It’s all very ‘Game of Thrones’ and the politics of those families can become very intertwined which is a great read, and somewhat refreshing for a ‘Star Wars’ novel.

We also get to learn more about the Sky-Walkers. Force Sensitive children who call it their ‘third sight’ who use their power to navigate ‘The Chaos’. We get to know how this roles works within the Ascendency through Che’ri, the Sky-Walker assigned to Thrawn’s ship and Thalia, a former Sky-Walker who’s admiration of Thrawn drives her to take the role of Care-Giver to Che’ri on the mission.

With the aid of Admiral Ar’alani, whose history with Thrawn has spanned almost her entire military career and General Ba’kif who has supported Thrawn throughout his time as a member of the Mitth family, Thrawn brings the enemies of the Ascendency closer to draw out a warlord, seemingly hell bent on taking control of all worlds in ‘The Chaos’. Thrawn, of course, is the military mastermind, using art from the various races to help his tactics as well as learn and understand those he is fighting to protect.

We also get flashbacks, detailing how Thrawn became a part of the Mitth family, through his early years as a cadet where he met a young Sky-Walker, Thalia, coming to the end of her career and trying to find a. Future for herself and later, on various missions with Ar’alani. These are all told from the point-of-view of the characters whose lives that Thrawn has touched, from Generals, to Path Finders and even the high ranking members of the Mitth family, Thrawn’s influence has a far reach, and it’s not a good thing for some.

The second part of the Trilogy is set up at the end of this one, introducing a new character who seems to have a growing interest in Thrawn after his actions in ‘Chaos Rising’ and I’m hopeful we will find out more about Book 2 sometime in the next couple of months, maybe around the time NYCC would have been happening as there is usually a Star Wars Books/Authors Panel and Zahn is a regular on those things.

Speaking of Timothy Zahn, I wonder if this is a story he has been wanting to write since he created the character in the early nineties. I know that fans have been dying for a chance to learn about Thrawn’s past since ‘Heir to the Empire’ was first released. Perhaps this was brought up back when Zahn pitched his recent Thrawn Trilogy, set amidst the events of the characters appearance in ‘Rebels’, we even get a key moment from one of those novels replayed from Thrawn’s point-of-view which also allows the book to heavily focus on Thalia for a short while as she undergoes a trial of her own.

Not only did I read this book, but I also listened to the Audiobook due to the very little free time I have at the moment and I must say that Marc Thompson once again knocks it out of the park. His Thrawn voice is perfect, a great imitation of Lars Mikkelson who brought the character to life in ‘Rebels’ and the wide array of voices he lends to the group of characters is very impressive. One thing that does stick out to me however, is how the Chiss (other then Thrawn) tens to speak. I have always assumed that they spoke quite like Thrawn (not in terms of accent but how they structure their sentences and the vocabulary they use), but thinking about it, what we read is actually a ‘Basic Language’ translation of the Chiss language and various trade languages used throughout the book.

My usual gripe about using familiar Star Wars music still stands, although it’s not as ‘in-your-face’ as it has been in other Audiobooks, however, being set in a whole new part of the Galaxy, I did have a glimmer of hope that we could hear some new and different music (Lugwig Göransson anyone) to let the listener feel like they are somewhere new and vastly different.

It’s an incredibly enjoyable novel, establishing some great new characters we hopefully get to see throughout the rest of the trilogy, which I assume will lead us to the point where Thrawn is found by the Empire in ‘Thrawn’ which kicked off the previous Thrawn Trilogy.

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#CollectionCorner – SWCE 2016 Kylo Ren Unmasked Black Series Review

This is the premiere episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog, this week I take a look at ‘The Black Series’ SWCE 2016 Exclusive Unmasked Kylo Ren.

This was originally released as a Patreon Exclusive but it’s now being released for all to enjoy.

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Star Wars: The Destiny Path Part 6 Review

The final part of Charles Soule’s first arc in the main ‘Star Wars’ run has come to an end, but not with a bang, but a rather satisfying whisper.

After being rescued by R2, Luke learns more about the Jedi from Veela, including the name of his father, Anakin Skywalker. She tells him about an old Jedi Stronghold on Tempes, dating back to the High Republic where Luke finds an old lightsaber.

He sets off a trap however and a vision/spirit of the Grand Inquisitor appears and attacks him, the two battle until Luke manages to escape.

Meanwhile, Vader is told about the trap going off, once on Tempes he berates the Inquisitor who fades away.

Luke returns to the Rebellion, and after a word of encouragement from Leia he ignited his new, yellow lightsaber, bringing hope to the small group of gathered freedom fighters.

The bulk of the issue feels like exposition, leading Luke to learn more about the Force and Anakin, all things that need to be addressed given his knowledge in ‘Return of the Jedi’. The new yellow lightsaber is an interesting addition, and may give him insight to building his new one before giving it to R2.

The mentions of the ‘High Republic’ stuck out, and if I’m not mistaken, the Temple Luke visits on Tempes is the same one Luke takes Lor San Tekka and Ben Solo to in ‘The Rise of Kylo Ren’, also written by Charles Soule, and if it’s not then we are starting to learn more about the Jedi during the ‘High Republic’.

Again, the lack of storyline featuring any of the other Rebels is frustrating, but now we are moving onto a new story arc in the next issue, the focus may start to shift away from the main heroes and focus a bit more on some new characters.

As the last issue in this first arc, it puts a pin in Luke’s story for a little while at least. I won’t be surprised to see him go off on another adventure or two, but hopefully he’ll get some time to decompress a bit as he’s still got to process a lot of traumatic things and has seemingly been running on adrenaline for this arc. Charles Soule has given us a great story so far and I hope that continues for the duration of his run on this title.

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The Mandalorian Season 2 Trailer Reaction

Oh my God!

Oh my God!

Oh my God!

It’s here! It’s finally here!

And! It! Looks! Amazing!

The first half features dialogue between Din Djarin and The Armourer, from ‘Chapter 8’ of Season 1 where she tells him about the old war between the Jedi and Mandalorians and that his task is to reunite The Child with its people.

We first see a damaged Razorcrestheading towards a planet that looks a bit like Sorgan from Season 1.

We find a new location, with Mando and The Child walking through a town, we see it again later when Mando shoots a streetlight with someone hanging from it. I’m assuming this is also the location of the Fighting Ring.

There are a number of shots featuring a snowy planet. I’ve seen speculation that this could be Illum, the planet that becomes Starkiller Base. My concern with this theory is that we don’t see much in the way of the Empire (Remnant or otherwise) and seeing as the planet was being transformed during the Galactic Civil War (as seen in ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’) you’ expect a larger military presence.

There’s some shots on a water planet, first at the docks where Mando sees a mysterious character played by Pro-Wrestler Sasha Banks, there are fans speculating that she could be playing Sabine Wren but I just don’t see it I’m afraid. Mando and The Child also get on a boat which is interesting, first time we’ve seen that in ‘Star Wars’.

We get to see an Imperial Stronghold and some amazing shots of Speeder Bikes in action which are incredibly exciting as well as some Outland TIE Fighters taking off which still hasn’t gotten old. We also get to see inside and it looks very well kept, much like Gideon’s Stormtroopers in Season 1.

A couple of shots of Tatooine confirm a return to the planet, we see a Tusken Raider on a Bantha as well as Mando and The Child on a Speeder Bike.

A few shots of The Razorcrest in action, flying through atmosphere with X-Wings in pursuit. This could be a bait and switch and Mando is leading them instead of being chased, we do see a shot of an X-Wing coming up to the Razorcrest’s cockpit which doesn’t seem threatening based on Mando’s reaction. Could they be attacking Gideon’s stronghold?

Having watched it on Disney+, subtitles reveal the name of the Cyclops alien to be Gor Koresh. His goons pull blasters on Mando who activates the Whistling Birds, causing The Child to close its crib, we hear the sounds of fighting over a black screen until we get Mando throwing a knife into a Zabrak’s chest. I would love it if the scene plays out like that in the show.

There are a few shots of Mano with the Jet Pack in use, so he must have been getting some practice. A shot of Greef and Cara on Nevarro gives us a new look at the two characters, I’m intrigued by what would lead him back to Nevarro, maybe he needs a quick job to get some money in the bank?

Needless to say, I love the trailer, I’m so excited, I can’t wait for 30th October. The episode better launch before I go to work or I will be a very unhappy Womp-Rat!

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Star Wars TV: Animation or Live Action

The age of Disney+ can honestly be seen as a further renaissance in Star Wars. After three highly successful series (Mando, Clone Wars and Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian), and the upcoming Obi-Wan focused mini-series, the Cassian Andor series and the ‘Clone Wars’ spin-off ‘The Bad Batch’, the franchise is certainly picking up speed on the streaming service, which for the fanbase is great, but with more potential live action shows being rumoured the question on my mind is “Will Disney+ eventually shun the animated series and solely focus on live action?”

Honestly I really hope not. We have had three great (Canon) series with ‘The Clone Wars’, ‘Rebels’ and ‘Resistance’. The upcoming ‘The Bad Batch’ has been announced to be an animated series, which is an obvious choice given that it’s a spin-off from a previous animated series but the long rumoured and oft-clamoured for sequel series to ‘Rebels’ that would focus on Ahsoka and Sabine searching for Ezra could go the other way.

With Ahsoka and Sabine being heavily rumoured to be making their live action debut in the second series of ‘The Mandalorian’ and with that a rumour of a live action ‘Ahsoka’ series which would probably follow those characters are n that adventure given the timeline, is the animated version being put o. The chopping block? To me it certainly seems so. Why make two series set in the same part of the timeline? The whole idea makes very little sense.

Given the time it takes to make animated series, if this ‘Rebels’ sequel is animated, surely it would be in heavy development by now? Or was it put on hold to make ‘The Bad Batch’ and the scripts re-tooled to make the switch to live action? But to me it makes no sense to make a live action sequel series to an animated series. Why change the entire medium, the whole look and feel would change. Just look at the style of ‘Rebels’, the show may have looked a bit rough early on (due to lower budgets) but it’s style was very distinct, and a sequel series would look similar to keep the aesthetic, much like how rumours of the style of ‘The Bad Batch’ claim that the show will look similar to ‘The Clone Wars’.

Also, why put a whole series on hold that may already have had a lot of development for a series that might not even go ahead. The Ahsoka/Sabine episode of ‘The Mandalorian’ is supposedly meant to act like a back-door pilot and if the live action versions of the characters aren’t popular enough then would the live action series even go ahead?

My final concern is this, not only is there a rumoured ‘Ahsoka’ series, but there are a handful more series being rumoured, including a Lando series featuring both Billy Dee Williams and Donald Glover as the character. Would all of these series cause an overload of content? Would a constant stream of Star Wars series be healthy for a franchise that has been criticised for its fast release schedule over the last few years.

Of course I am in full speculation here, no inside knowledge just some thoughts and that I don’t want to see animation fall to the way side just to cram more and more live action shows onto Disney+.

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Me and My Padawan: The Empire Strikes Back

I wish I had recorded a commentary on this.

On a recent car trip with Emma, she started talking about spaceships and going into space. I told her that Star Wars is set in space with spaceships. Her growing knowledge of the characters and understanding of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ let me think that it was a good time to give it a go. Whilst flicking through the films on Disney+ she saw an image of Luke and Yoda and told me that was the one we had to watch. Fair enough. It’s my favourite and was the first one I watched so without hesitation I agreed.

Let me get started by admitting we didn’t make it through the whole film. We got to the arrival on Bespin, which for a three year old was pretty good. Also, after the first half hour she went and started playing/colouring but did continue to watch, albeit distracted.

The first half hour I had to explain who was who and what was going on, she was interested and once she found her ‘Forces of Destiny’ Leia and R2-D2 figures so she spent the whole of Hoth waving her Leia doll around every time she cane on screen.

She wasn’t all that fussed about the Battle of Hoth but once Luke was on Dagobah she payed attention to Yoda, the character she has known the longest thanks to a Bubble Bath topper I gave her for a bath toy a long time ago, but even then her interest waned somewhat.

By the time the Falcon was in the Exogorth she was completely uninterested, which wasn’t a problem, she had done very well for her first time but didn’t get me to turn it off, so I carried on watching whilst we played with her Disney Princess Lego sets.

I think we will carry on with the ‘Galaxy of Adventures’ shorts for a while, she definitely does enjoy those and her interest in my POP! Vinyl collection, The Child and more recently the Lego sets I have on display give me the feeling that another attempt at watching one of the films could be getting closer. Maybe I’ll try her on ‘The Phantom Menace’, taxation ploy aside, the bright colours alone may hold her attention a bit longer, she could even realise that Anakin is the same person as that POP! Vinyl figure she pesters me to play with a lot…

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#CollectionCorner – Lego Brick Headz The Mandalorian and The Child

My shameless need to buy products from ‘The Mandalorian’ has finally hit a moment of disappointment.

Having not gone down the Lego Brick Headz collecting route until now, I feel like this purchase was either incredibly impulsive or a much needed revelation that not all Star Wars Lego is good.

When they were first announced and revealed I made the decision to just not bother with them, essentially they are a somewhat late addition to the stylised collectables that Funko has essentially built a whole monopoly on. Except these ones you build yourself.

The set is split into two sections, ‘The Child’ and ‘The Mandalorian’. Each has its own instruction booklet.

The first to build (it doesn’t matter either way, but the booklets are labelled 1 and 2) is ‘The Child’ with its hovering pram.

The pram was an interesting build and looks incredibly accurate to the one seen in the film. At this scale, detail is important to avoid grouchy fans getting hostile online and honestly it looks really great, as does ‘The Child’.

There are no stickers, any added detail is made using printed pieces and the eyes look great with the little dot of light just off from the centre.

In terms of ‘The Child’ merchandise (that I own so far), I don’t feel like this is at the top of my list of greats. The build feels tedious, even though the final product does look good.

Based on the characters design from ‘Chapter 1’ of the series, the Mandalorian Brick Headz looks alright, if a bit messy. The amount of detail that has been put on here far outweighs the size of the build itself.

Sporting his two blasters, Mando is ready for some really blocky action.

Whilst the build was once again tedious, which at a whopping 114 pieces is not a good sign, it does have a couple of interesting building techniques, which at first seem a tad strange but the finished look is good.

Unfortunately the disappointment is much greater than my enjoyment of the finished product. I was really hopeful that I would enjoy a new type of build but in the end it really just wasn’t my thing.

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Balancing the Force 6 – The World Between Worlds Part 2

WARNING!!! SPOILERS FOR ‘STAR WARS REBELS SEASON 4’!

Thanks to Kyle, Marie and Nathan on the latest episode of the ‘Tumbling Sabers’ Podcast (listen HERE), my brain has been going over one particular concept that they discussed in regards to The World Between Worlds, which I wrote about in a previous post, Balancing the Force 4 -The World Between Words.

They posed the question that, what if Ezra uses the doorway to the World Between Worlds that Thrawn had on board The Chimera to escape whatever place that the Purgill take the ship at the end of Season 4?

I can honestly say that I had never considered that before, and so far, Ezra is the only character to actually enter the World Between Worlds. You could say that Ahsoka does, but she is pulled through by Ezra rather than actively locating a doorway and unlocking it.

Think about it for a moment. Ezra could find a way to open the door and travel back to a place he could easily be located, or use it to find Ahsoka and Sabine as they go searching for him (come in folks we all know it will happen is some form one day).

Ezra has this untapped resource at his disposal, and after learning the lesson from Ahsoka that the power to manipulate time could lead to disastrous results in the episode ‘World Between Worlds’, surely he wouldn’t abuse the power but would use it to be found by his friends.

The other side of this could actually be that Ahsoka and Sabine, the only two other characters (that we know of) who have had exposure to the World Between Worlds in some way could actually be looking for doorways into that plain of existence, as a means of locating Ezra. Ahsoka looks like she has been through some stuff at the end of Season 4 when she picks up Sabine so what if she has spent her time looking for any information she can about it and using that research, leads Sabine across the Galaxy in search of the doorways, seeing as it was Sabine who figured out how to open the doorway in the first place.

And just bear with me as I write a tin foil hat type theory that could be very much out there, but what if…

Ahsoka and Sabine locate and enter a doorway and once inside they find an older Ezra who has spent time searching for them in the doorways. They are then drawn to a single doorway that leads them to Mortis (told you it was out there) and the three of them end up becoming the Gods of Mortis, with Ahsoka as ‘The Mother’, Ezra as ‘The Brother’ and Sabine as ‘The Sister’.

Granted, Sabine is not Force Sensitive, or it hasn’t been established yet. But Mortis is a strange and blizzard place where we have seen that absolutely anything can happen. Or they end up taking on those roles but within the World Between Worlds. Acting and defenders and guides of the incredible power that realm holds?

Or, and this could be the most plausible idea, I may be just overthinking the whole thing in a sleep deprived state of mind after working what feels like a very long shift.

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Doctor Aphra: Fortune and Fate Part 3

The misadventures of the legendary Doctor Aphra continues in this third and exciting issue of the new run.

Aphra and her team are held at blaster point by the soldiers of Ronan Tagge, after Lucky, Okka and Black Krrsantan fell into an underground corridor (last issue). They hear Aphra “double cross” them by agreeing to work for Tagge and locate the Rings of Vaale.

Whilst Okka and her two companions try to find their way out, they end up in a room where one of the rings is meant to be kept and are lucky enough to find it, whilst Lucky tries to figure out who among the team is a spy for Tagge.

Meanwhile, up above, Aphra dupes Tagges crew I to setting off a number of boobs-traps that cause the right amount of mayhem, allowing Aphra to confront Detta Yao, who it seems has been quite unscrupulous and Aphra seems some of her in the young trainee archaeologist.

They enter another room where another ring is meant to be but it’s missing. Okka’s team joins them, and whilst discussing the ring that has been found, it’s determined that Lucky stoke it from Okka and he lets in the remaining members of Tagge’s crew, revealing himself to be the spy.

With a great mixture of action, archaeology and good old double crossing, the issue really continues this fun adventure for Aphra. The other characters get moments to shine, especially Okka and Yao. Yao’s conversation with Aphra really goes to show how well Aphra can read people, especially when they remind her of her. We get brief glimpses at her time in the Archaeology University, some of which were hinted at in the Aphra Audio Drama.

I am really, thoroughly enjoying this series so far. Alyssa Wong’s writing is phenomenal and her really gets how to write the character, as well as a great Star Wars story. Cresta’s art is gorgeous and I really hope the two of these creators stay together working on this series as the writing and art wonderfully complement each other.

I can’t believe we have to wait a month for the next issue, I wish it was coming out sooner. Whilst I am enjoying the three current Star Wars comics series, this and Vader are holding the top spot (despite my adoration for Charles Soule’s work on the main title).

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Alphabet Squadron: Victory’s Price Speculation

In the wake of Yrica Quell’s shocking decision—and one of the fiercest battles of their lives—the remnants of Alphabet Squadron seek answers and closure across a galaxy whose old war scars are threatening to reopen.

Soran Keize has returned to the tip of Shadow Wing’s spear. Operation Cinder, the terrifying protocol of planetary extermination which began in the twilight of the Imperial era, burns throughout the galaxy. Shadow Wing is no longer wounded prey fleeing the hunters of the New Republic. With its leader, its strength has returned, and its Star Destroyers and TIE squadrons lurk in the darkness between stars, carrying out the fallen Emperor’s final edict of destruction—as well as another, stranger mission, one Keize has championed not for the dying Empire, but for its loyal soldiers.

Alphabet Squadron’s ships are as ramshackle and damaged as their spirits, but they’ve always had each other. Now, as they face the might of Keize’s reborn juggernaut, they aren’t even sure they have that. How do you catch a shadow? How do you kill it? And when you’re finally victorious, who pays the price?

In a surprise announcement, which I suspect was meant to be at the cancelled Star Wars Celebration that would have happened in a week or so, the cover image and the blurb for the upcoming final instalment of the ‘Alphabet Squadron’ trilogy were released. The cover features Wyl Lark an the front, as well as the ships that make up the team, with a noticeable lack of an X-Wing.

From here on, ‘Alphabet Squadron: Shadow Fall’ SPOILERS will be rife.

Let’s start with the heroes first.

The noticeable lack of Yrica Quell’ X-Wing goes to show that the Squadron probably won’t be replacing her, or if they do it ‘lol be a surprise. Given the timeline, this third book could be happening close to the ‘Battle of Jakku’, meaning that the final fight between Alphabet Squadron and Shadow Wong.

Wyl Lark will still be in command of the Squadron, and will have probably settled into the role a lot more. He may still be wary of Nath after the latter caught Wyl trying to contact Shadow Wing the night before the fledgling New Republic forces were about to try to retake Troithe from the Empire.

Nath will continue being the guy who is friends with everyone, maintaining relationships with other Squadrons. Part of me considers Nath to be the heart of the group almost and it’d be very possible that he will be killed at some point, maybe about halfway through which will spur the remaining Squadron members to join the ‘Battle of Jakku’.

Chass will make it to the end, she will be disappointed that she doesn’t get the kind of meaningful death that Jon Erso had, but may possibly return to Troithe to return to ‘The Children of the Empty Sun’, probably because outside of the Squadron, which after Jakku would be disbanded, ‘The Children of the Empty Sun’ is the only place that exists that she felt like she had a place, even though she mocked it.

I hope Kairos has more to do in the next book. She was utilised brilliantly in the first book but in ‘Shadow Fall’ she was sidelined after an injury, only to return at the end, and revealing herself to Nath and Hera to be some sort of humanoid insect-like species. I imagine she would be heavily utilised during the ‘Battle of Jakku’, ferrying soldiers in her U-Wing. It would also make a nice link to Chuck Wendig’s ‘Empires End’ if she was piloting the ship that Jon Barell saved by sacrificing himself.

I’m trying not to speculate heavily on Hera Syndulla’s involvement. I assume she will remain in charge of the Squadron and act as a mentor to Wyl as he takes a heavier command role. I do wonder if we will finally get a mention of Jacen, or his whereabouts, which has been strangely ignored so far in the trilogy.

Now for the Empire.

At the end of ‘Shadow Fall’, Yrica Quell had returned to Shadow Wing and her former Squad Leader, Soren Kieze after her actions during Operation Cinder were revealed to her team. I’m interested to see how her arc plays out in ‘Victory’s Price’. I can’t see her playing double agent and bringing Shadow Wing down from the inside. I’m sure Kieze will be keeping an eye on her.

Kieze, who spent time using an alternate persona, Devon, during the first book, has taken his Squadron back under the wing of the Empire, pledging allegiance to Rae Sloane’s remnant. Their resources will feel infinitely greater than we have seen so far and their threat level will be much higher.

If Shadow Wing is involved with the ‘Battle of Jakku’, I do wonder if the survivors join Rae Sloane and the other escaped Imperials that head off into the Unknown Regions that eventually becomes The First Order, or will Kieze leave and return to his life as Devon? Leaving Quell to lead in his place, which could be a very interesting turn of events.

Needless to say, I am very much excited for this book to come out next year, I have really enjoyed the first two parts of the trilogy and I’m absolutely certain Alexander Freed will knock this one out of the park.

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Queen’s Peril by E. K. Johnston Book Review

Last year I wrote a post about how my appreciation for ‘The Phantom Menace’ grew after reading both ‘Master and Apprentice’ by Claudia Grey and ‘Queen’s Shadow’ by E. K. Johnston, which you can peruse HERE.

And then ‘Queen’s Peril’ was announced, the story of how Padmé and her Handmaidens became the really strong team we saw in ‘Shadow’, the early days of Padmé’s time as Naboo’s Queen and the events of ‘Phantom Menace’ on Naboo whilst Padmé is on Tatooine and Coruscant.

We learn about how and why each girl was recruited, a bit about their lives before entering into service and small tidbits on how they feel spending their lives in anonymity.

The book does favour one Handmaiden above others, Sabé, the one closest to Padmé, essentially best friends who work together, but Sabè’s role also creates a divide between the two, which after a sneaky escape from the Palace to see the Star Wars equivalent of One Direction.

We get some insight into another character from ‘The Phantom Menace’, before the events of the film and during. Darth Maul get a couple of moments in the spotlight, the first show him meditating and rebuilding his lightsaber, something he does quite often it seems, the second is him walking through the Theed Palace, planning his attack.

Whilst the first two thirds deal with the growing bonds between Padmé and the Handmaidens, the last portion details the events of ‘The Phantom Menace’. We get observations and conversations not seen in the film, such as after Obi-Wan tells them not to send a reply to Theed, and a touching moment between Padmé and Shmi the night before the Boonta Eve Podrace, and whilst these moments are great, it’s the story of what the Saché and Yané are doing on Naboo as prisoners of the Trade Federation, working with Tonra and Mariek Panaka to form an underground resistance. We learn more about Saché’s torture at the hands of the Federation and how they were able to get people out of the camps to fight in the Battle of Naboo.

One other character, who has a large part in the book is Captain Panaka. We get to learn more about his relationship with Palpatine as well as how he manages a group of young women and how difficult and different he finds it. He almost becomes a surrogate father to them, worrying, being over-protective and sometimes overbearing. One sequence shows is how out of his depth he is and whilst it’s amusing seeing him trying to go about his job, it’s his wife who has to be in charge for a time and puts him out of his comfort zone.

E. K. Johnston has crafted a brilliant Star Wars novel here. Her love and passion of the franchise really shine through and whilst I would have though that this would have been the obvious first choice for her two write over ‘Queen’s Shadow’, there is A part of me that likes that this came out second. I really enjoyed getting to know the Handmaidens, learning about their roles in the employ of the Queen and what measures they all go to to craft the Queen Amidala we meet for the first time in ‘The Phantom Menace’.

Now if you don’t mind I am off to watch it again with an even greater appreciation.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #34 – Darth Vader in Meditation Chamber

Thanks to my amazing wife who knew I needed a pick-me-up, I am now the proud owner of the ‘Darth Vader in Meditation Chamber’ POP! Vinyl and I’m sharing it with you wonderful folks.

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#CollectionCorner – Droid Escape Pod Lego Review

This was one of those sets that I overlooked in my early collecting days, I was more focused on the larger sets in those waves, but when it was offered at a decent price on Facebook Marketplace, along with a few other sets I went for it.

As this is a second-hand set, I can only describe what I have seen. The set comes in two numbered bags with the instructions, and (in pure speculation) the curved walls come in a separate bag altogether.

The first bag builds the core of the set, using the curved walls on hinged plates to allow the Pod to open and close.

There are a few stickers in this part of the build, adding details to the outer hull and also on the interior, with a screen showing the Pod’s trajectory and the other giving us a view port showing the Devastator in a screen accurate image from ‘A New Hope’.

Bag 1 also gives us the first two mini-figs, a Jawa and R2-D2. The Jawa comes with a blaster made up of a megaphone and transparent blue stud. R2-D2 is the same as I’ve seen over the last few years.

Bag 2 adds the seating and controls for the Pod, as well as the final details on the exterior, with the front of the ship and the engines. It also includes as console that comes out of the Pod and includes Death Star plans.

When closed, the set is a spot on representation of the vehicle in the film, and is a decent size.

The second bag also comes with a second Jawa and the required C-3PO.

Overall, this set has surprised me as to how good it actually is. The level of detail provided by the stickers is great. My favourite of course is the view of the Star Destroyer. The mini-figs are pretty obvious for the set, R2 and C-3PO are a must for the Escape Pod and the Jawas are a great addition and accurate for the Droids desert adventure. I’m going to hold strong though and not go searching for a Sandcrawler just yet.

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#CollectionCorner – Imperial Troop Transport Lego Battle Pack

This was one of those sets that I missed out on as I started collecting Lego again. Based on the vehicle from ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ which in turn is based on an original concept that Kenner produced in the 70’s and 80’s as part of a set of smaller vehicles.

It also recently made it’s live action debut in Chapter 7 of ‘The Mandalorian’ so I’m sure we’ll get an updated version at some point.

Because I picked this up as part of a deal on Facebook Marketplace, it was already built, so I have deconstructed it and given it a clean. It originally came in one bag with the instructions.

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First up, let’s talk mini-figs. Because this is an Imperial Troop Transport, having any other mini-figs other then four Stormtroopers would feel a bit off. They all include stud launcher blasters as is customary for Battle Packs. The four figures are identical and great for collectors looking to build armies.

The build itself is really well constructed and feels like a different type of build than the Battle Packs I have built over the last few years. Firstly, it’s a canon vehicle, which I have only seen once before with the Imperial Speeder Bike from the first ‘Solo’ wave. Secondly, it’s quite large for a typical Battle Pack and has room to store all four Troopers as well as a crate that slides into the middle with four studs as back-up ammo.

When completed, with all the Troopers in place this is a really good looking little set, and it’s set a very high standard for what the Battle Packs could be.

In terms of the screen accuracy, the vehicle is a little small in relation to the figures and there isn’t room in the cockpit for anyone to actually drive the vehicle, but despite that, the vehicle is actually pretty accurate to the ‘Rebels’ stye.

In terms of play features, the vehicle has two push missiles on the top in a rotating turret rather than having more stud launchers. There are two blasters on the front that don’t include play features but are there as part if the vehicles design.

Overall,, its a really nice set but, like I said before, the more recent Battle Packs feel somewhat lacking in comparison. Granted, I tend to get them more for the mini-figs than anything else.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #33 – The Ghost Crew Part 6 Zeb

The sixth and final part of ‘The Ghost Crew’ series is here, this time taking a look at the muscle of the group, formerly the last Lesaat, Zeb.

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Darth Vader: Dark Heart of the Sith Part 4 Comic Review

Thank the Maker this was released this week! Ever since the cliffhanger of the last issue I have been nigh on desperate for this issue to come out, coupled with the fact I have almost finished reading ‘Queen’s Peril’ and I am all in for the stories about Padmé and her Handmaidens.

Vader, Sabé, Tonra and Typho survive the Sandi Aqua Monster attack, with Vader and Zed 6-7 being eaten and subsequently cutting his way out of the beast once it arrives on land.

Vader leads the Droid and his Death Troopers through the fields of Naboo, heading for Padmé’s tomb but are stopped by Ric Olé and a group calling themselves the Amidalians. Vader and his troops make short work of them, with Vader killing the former Royal Pilot himself.

Vader reaches the tomb but is stopped by Sabé, Eiraté, Rabé, Saché and Dormé who are guarding the tomb. They battle Vader who momentarily chokes them but rather than kill them throws them away from the tomb before entering…

This is one action heavy issue, but rather than it be a problem, we get to see how much of a toll this is for Vader with all of the memories of his life as Anakin flooding back, more and more in this issue.

Greg Pak truly knows how to write for Vader and Sabé, it’s obvious that Pak and E.K. Johnston has been working closely to realise her characterisation and the group of Handmaidens who appear later on in the issue, each having a panel or two as well as some context to how Anakin would have known them is just great writing.

This may be blasphemy to some, but this is quickly becoming my favourite story-arc of any of the Vader comics that I have read. The writing, as I have said before is fantastic and the art is beautiful. I really hope that Pak and Ienco stay together for the duration of this run because they are doing amazing work.

For fans of E.K. Johnston’s Padmé books this is a must read, I am certainly hoping she provides us with some backstory of the Amidalians at some point in the future because I am loving the whole idea that was fleshed out in this issue.

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Speculation: The Future of Star Wars Video Games

In June, EA revealed that they will be “doubling down” their Star Wars output, which is much needed given their lacklustre approach to putting games out based on the Galaxy far, far away. Since they got the license in 2013 we have got three console games with a fourth on the way and four for mobile devices, of which there is only one still operational.

I’ll ignore the mobile games for now and focus on the console games for a moment. Out of the three games released so far, only one has come out without facing backlash. The first ‘Battlefront’ was an online only experience, with four DLC add-on’s that when you add them up, equal the amount that the initial game cost originally and the backlash against ‘Battlefront 2’ caused EA to reevaluate their pay-to-win strategy and ended up having to dramatically alter the game after release. Thankfully for EA, their free add-on content has more than made up for their initial blunder. Only ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’ came out to fanfare.

The question is, what do we want to play as Star Wars fans?

Honestly, I love story-based single player experiences, so ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’ has my full adoration, I do enjoy ‘Battlefront 2’ for both its online and offline options, it’s my go-to game (especially now I have found Co-Op mode). There we have a 3rd Person action/adventure with puzzles, secrets and an incredible story with some amazing characters. The ‘Battlefront 2’ campaign is a 1st Person shooter which is enjoyable to play and takes us on a year long adventure between the Battles of Endor and Jakku. The upcoming ‘Squadrons’ is a flight simulator where you take the controls of the Starfighters we all want to jump into the cockpits of.

But what else could we get? An open world RPG? Well I’d certainly be up for it, but at the same time, just imagine how big it would have to be. Sure, have an open world on Coruscant, but this is ‘Star Wars’, planet hopping is in the DNA of the franchise, and what planets do the creators pick, the Galaxy is vast with several iconic planets or so we get new planets? It’d be a tough choice, and what about the action in Space? Whilst the idea is good, the logistics could be a bit much for one game. Of course it has been done before with ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ which to this day is one of the top ‘Star Wars’ games ever made (and I still can’t get into it).

A 2D side scroller could be fun, but I can’t see an original story working, but I spent a great amount of time in my youth playing ‘Super Return of the Jedi’ on my Game Boy, and boy was that a fun game. Maybe some form of adaptation of all the films would be fun.

I won’t lie and say that I’ve not considered digging out my old N64 and playing ‘Episode 1: Racer’, but what’s stopping developers from making an all out remake? Throw in a feasible storyline for players to follow, throw in cameo’s from known Racers like Sebulba and Gasgano (even Ben Quadrinaros).

One game I did enjoy a lot as a kid was ‘Galactic Battlegrounds’ I spent hours just playing that on the PC. The only problem is that it would be nigh impossible to make a game like that ‘Canon’, seeing as the aim of the game is to win each level playing as whichever army you have chosen. Of course you could have a stand-alone campaign and then have a ‘Free-For-All’ mode which isn’t story driven.

What I’m essentially trying to get at here is that when it comes to ‘Star Wars’ games, the type of game doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, it’s not the franchise to do that in my opinion. What the games need is a solid story, that fits into the Galaxy and makes a solid use of the medium then I’m all in.

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#CollectionCorner – Lego Millennium Falcon (2019 Version)

When it was initially rumoured that we were getting a third Falcon in five years I did wonder if Lego were just putting some placeholder sets out for ‘Triple Force Friday’. That first wave of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ sets were pretty much a bunch of updated/upgraded sets (other than the Pasaana Speeder Chase).

When the first images came out however I was surprised by the Falcon and how the design felt so much better that the previous versions.

Don’t get me wrong, I love both the 2015 and 2018 versions, but they are not without their design flaws and for the most part the new version fixes them nicely.

As always, the Falcon comes in ten numbered bags with a separate bag for those larger parts, a decent sized instruction manual and a sticker sheet.

The first bag, always the dullest but equally important, the Technic built structure with large plates to make up the base of the ship.

The first difference between this and the previous versions is that the space for the cargo hold is now situated in the middle of the back half of the ship rather than the opposite side to the boarding ramp.

The first mini-fig we get is Boolio, the spy who delivers a message from a First Order traitor to Finn and Poe at the beginning of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ and voiced by none other than Mark Hamill.

Bag two gives us some interior decoration of the ship, with a nice little kitchenette, a crate and some pipes as well as the cockpit interior (including D-O) and portion of the side and engines which are now brick built rather than a long transparent blue tube and the effect is much better.

And what Millennium Falcon set would be complete without the best co-pilot in the Galaxy? Yes it’s the obligatory Chewie mini-fig complete with stud launching Bowcaster. Not much can be said about this figure as it’s not changed in the past five years (not including the ‘Solo’ versions of course).

Bag number three finishes off the back half of the sides, including a third section of the engines. On the interior we get a hyperdrive as well as two beds which we also got in the 2015 version but these have also been updated, using more pieces to add details that weren’t there in the previous version.

The fourth bag builds the central hub of the ship, with details all around but the big different from before is the computer console, using three stickers pieces, it feels much more screen accurate and streamlined than before.

The upper part of the ship starts to get some detail as well, building up the mid-section in either side and bridging them to the centre which will house the gunners controls.

And returning to our screen and the Millennium Falcon is the former Baron Administrator of Bespin, Lando Calrissian, complete with cane and mini-bowcaster that he uses on Pasaana. Wonderfully accurate with the character in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, this figure was a big draw for me to getting this set. The cape is made out of two parts, the collar and the cape itself. The product images show Lando with the collar up but in the film it’s down, so I’ve fiddled with it to stay that way.

Bag five adds a new and very well detailed, brick built chair to go with the console in the central hub as well as the ‘corridor’ leading the the cockpit.

Bag six adds the Dejarik table, the seating area and the exterior for this part of the ship. Rather than having all three seats connected, this time the designers have made them separate, the two on either side are stuck in place whilst the middle is on a rotating plate which causes it to wobble. Out of the new design additions I feel that this is the most pointless when the previous iterations had a solid seating area.

The seventh bag adds the two blaster turrets as well as the landing gears and completes the storage compartment, which unlike the 2015 version, is properly secured using a Technic pin rather then being flimsy and easily removed.

This bag also gives us C-3PO. Lego have used this version for every iteration of the character, which is understandable because the design doesn’t really change, except of course the red arm which is quickly replaced, but the printed design needs an update because he no longer has the silver leg which was only used in ‘A New Hope’.

The eighth bag builds the two forward mandibles. Not a lot can be said about these really, the design hasn’t been updated other than which parts have which colour plates on them. The flick missiles are the same and their firing mechanism is the same.

Speaking of the same, we get R2-D2 and like the C-3PO mini-fig it’s the same as the one we’ve gotten over the last few years.

Bag 9 puts the upper hull on at the back. Most of the detail is through greenling with the exception of the six stickers to represent the six heat exhaust vents. The central panel lifts up on its own but each of the other two panels lift independently. These are the biggest change to the design, as the three previous iterations had separate panels that opened all around the ship, which left gaps between them. Now this way doesn’t have those gaps.

The tenth and final bag finished off the outer hull and the cockpit. Again some fantasy greebling here and only one sticker to show blaster damage. Like previous iterations, the middle part of the hull folds down towards the mandibles whilst the hull on either side open. The radar dish is present and now uses a Battle Droid arm as an added detail that hold the dis steady.

The final mini-fig is Finn. It’s the same version as the one available in the ‘Sith TIE Fighter. The detail is great and the addition of his bag is a nice touch.

Fully built this is an impressive set (as are the 2015 and 2018 versions). When the ship is closed, the new design works beautifully, those unsightly gaps are no more. The drawback however is that when you open up the segments they feel flimsy, like they could break apart if you held them too hard. Maybe if they had a few more pieces on each one just to strengthen them that problem would be eliminated.

The interior looks good and feels more spacious than before. The new little details like the beds, the kitchenette and the upgraded console in the centre just add more to the set.

I don’t understand why we have a D-O figure in the cockpit. Perhaps it was a previous idea that was planned when Lego started designing the sets that ultimately changed throughout the making of the film.

The mini-fig selection is a mixed bag, with only two that are exclusive to this set, and one of those only appears for a minutes. Luckily the new design of the set is a big draw for collectors so that’s a plus.

Overall, this set is great. It’s fun to build because the new design has changed the order that parts are put together so it feels fresh, which was a bit of a problem for me when I built the 2018 version because for the most part (aside from the interior and a few design elements) it felt just like building the 2015 version in a different colour.

Hopefully now that The Skywalker Saga is over, we won’t get so many Millennium Falcon sets is so short a time. Give it a few years, see what needs redesigning or upgrading, but please, give us five years without a new one.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #32 – The Ghost Crew Part 5 Hera Syndulla

The fifth part of ‘The Ghost Crew’ series is here, this time taking a look at the pilot extraordinaire, the mum of the gang, Hera Syndulla.

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Star Wars: The Destiny Path Part 5 – Comic Review

Well hello there, I feel like I’ve been waiting for this issue for months… oh wait, we have.

But now it’s back and it’s more than welcome. Yes folks, Soule has done it again.

The issue focuses mainly on Luke as he searches for the mysterious woman from his vision in the previous issue.

Based on his description of the planet, R2 takes him to Serelia where he finds the woman working on a fishing boat. He tries to talk to her but she escapes on her boat and Luke follows by commandeering another.

Luke and R2 are thrown overboard whilst the fleeing woman runs into a cave. The two make it to shore and follow her in.

The cave is filled with booby-traps so Luke carries on alone, telling R2 to get a message to Leia if he doesn’t make it back.

Luke ends up captured in a cage which is filling up with water. The woman reveals herself to be Verla, a Force Sensitive woman who may or may not have been a Jedi. She gives Luke a history lesson on Order 66, the Inquisitors and Darth Vader. She senses a shift in Luke at the mention of Vader and probes his mind, revealing Vader’s paternal revelation. Without hesitation she forces more water into the cage, filling it.

Meanwhile, Vader is brought to a cantina where someone is using the name Luke Skywalker to get pilot work. Vader kills him, decreeing that anyone using the name Skywalker will be killed.

Like I said, Soule has done it again, a fun, action packed jaunt through the Galaxy Far, Far Away, adding mystery and lore to the saga we already know and love whilst also developing Luke’s character arc between ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ in a much more satisfying way than we got in the nineties with ‘Shadows of the Empire’.

I do hope, however, that the next story arc will start to focus more on the Kes Dameron and Shara Bey storyline which was introduced in the first couple of issues of this series, whilst I do want to see the Luke, Leia and Lando story line develop I would like to see some focus on newer characters and see more of how the Rebellion grows in that time period.

I have been looking forward to the continuation of this story for months and now that it’s arrived I am far from disappointed, the next issue cannot come soon enough.

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Doctor Aphra Audio Drama by Sarah Kuhn

Emily Woo Zeller as Aphra
Jonathan Davis as Boba Fett
Sean Patrick Hopkins as Luke Skywalker
Sean Kenin as Triple-Zero
Nicole Lewis as Sana Starros
Carol Monda as Maz Kanata
Euan Morton as The Emperor
Catherine Taber as Leia Organa
Marc Thompson as Darth Vader

When it was announced, I was so excited to be getting new ‘Doctor Aphra’ content. The previous audio drama, ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ was a great listen so I had the utmost faith that this would be just as good.

Even when we found out it was going to essentially be a retelling of Kieron Gillen’s ‘Darth Vader’ series that excitement still held. Why? Because it’s ‘Doctor Aphra’ and she’s a phenomenal character!

Firstly, it’s not a straight up retelling of Gillen’s series. It’s told from Aphra’s perspective. We get her thoughts, her insights, her excitement and her fears of being Vader’s attaché. We also get a considerable amount of back story into her and Sana Starros’ character. Readers of the ‘Rebel Jail’ story arc from Jason Aaron will be familiar with one section of the story too.

Sarah Kuhn has translated Aphra’s story arc into this medium brilliantly and given us some great insight into Aphra’s character and her past before becoming the rogue archaeologist we all know and love.

I really enjoyed the writing more in this audio drama, the narration didn’t feel quite as obvious as it did with ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ and even though it was a story I already knew, it always felt fresh.

I loved Emily Woo Zeller as Aphra. She brings so much life to the character and I would love to get an ‘Aphra’ animated series with Zeller voicing the character.

The rest of the cast were good. It took me a while to warm up to Sean Kenin’s 000, as I had always thought that he would have sounded more like C-3PO, probably with a slightly darker tone to the voice like in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

Marc Thompson nails Darth Vader. That’s all I have to say about that really. It’s Marc Thompson, we already know he’s amazing.

Nicole Lewis does a great job bringing Sana Starros to life. It was easy to picture Sana from the comics with Lewis’s voice and it was really fun finding out what had happened between Sana and Aphra when they were younger.

I really hope this is just the start of more Aphra content. I’d be all over a Disney+ series, live action or animated. I’d happily take more audio dramas, especially if the creative team behind this one we’re to return, but I’d like more original stories than any more adaptations. This works as an introduction but I think if they produced original adventures, they could be onto a real winner, more so than they already are with this.

Definitely worth a listen, and it’s a quick one too, at just under 6 hours it’s easy to get through, and worth every second.

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Alphabet Squadron: Shadow Fall by Alexander Freed Book Review

Like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Freed has managed to tell a wonderfully personal story for all of his characters amidst a seemingly impossible campaign.

George Lucas has often talked about how ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ has to bring the heroes to a dark place at the end, their victories from the first part almost forgotten due to the heavy losses in the second act, and that is exactly what ‘Shadow Fall’ accomplishes in spades.

Months after Alphabet Squadron’s victory at Pandem Nai, the working group, along with General Syndulla are working to liberate the planet Troithe from the Empire.

Alphabet Squadron use this as an opportunity to lure Shadow Wing into a trap but when Caern Adan is captured, a series of events occurs that splinters Alphabet Squadron, with one member taken away to a medical facility, another disgraced and on a journey of self-discovery, leaving three to pick up the pieces and fight battles both for the New Republic and within themselves.

Freed changes the spotlight in this novel, where ‘Alphabet Squadron’ focused mainly on Yrica Quell, Caern Adan and Nath Tensent, this book changes the focus to Wyl Lark and Chass Na Chadic who both have to step up in their own way once the team is split. Wyl becomes a leader, not a position he ever thought he would be in, and despite some teething problems and some mistakes, he takes to the role well. Chass has to go on her own journey of self-discovery and ends up being taken in by a local cult called ‘The Children of the Empty Sun’ before finding her way back to the fight.

Quell does go on her own journey of self-discovery and ends up on a very different path to her comrades.

We also get to spend a lot of time with Soran Keize, Yrica Quell’s former Commander in Shadow Wing who spent time away from the Empire under the alias ‘Devon’ but returned to duty after Shadow Wings defeat over Pandem Nai. He undergoes a swift rise to power through this novel and in the end is the leader of the 204th Fighter Wing. Whilst he is the main antagonist of the novel, he never comes across as evil, he’s just a man with a vendetta against the ones who shamed his people. He doesn’t fight for the Emperor’s memory, nor the fledgling Empire, but he fights for his people, which is quite a noble trait for an Imperial Officer.

Like the first book in the trilogy, Hera Syndulla plays a minor role, but spends most of the book on another mission, working with Vanguard Squadron, who are the New Republic protagonists of the upcoming game ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’. We’ve seen Hera in one of the trailers for the game so it’s safe to assume that the story for ‘Squadrons’ will take place concurrently with the events of this book. Just a little tidbit that makes me even more excited for the game. I also wonder if part of the game will actually depict part of the book. Now that would be amazing.

Once again, Alexander Freed has delivered a great story. Not bogged down with getting to know the characters and the world they are living in like the previous instalment of the trilogy, this truly feels like a strong middle chapter, much like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and I honestly cannot wait for the third part, especially after the cliffhanger of this one. It better be out next year is all I’m saying.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #31 – The Ghost Crew Part 4 The Sabines

The fourth part of ‘The Ghost Crew’ series is here, this time taking a look at not one, but two versions of everyone’s favourite Mandalorian explosive artist, Sabine Wren.

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Darth Vader Issue 3 – Dark Heart of the Sith Part 3

The Dark Lord returns in the first issue of Greg Pak’s series to be released since March, and I feel that it deserves a very, very warm welcome.

Sabé and Vader have reached Naboo and Vader’s memories of Padmé are coming back thick and fast as he remembers their time on Naboo during ‘Attack of the Clones’.

They go to the lake house and are attacked by two men who we find out are the former Captain Typho and Captain Tonra (from ‘Queen’s Shadow’). They reveal they they have been working with Sabé to find Padme’s killer and avenge her death. Vader asks them to take him to where the lost recordings from Padme’s apartment are hidden.

Vader, the three Padmé loyalists and Vader’s Droid get into a Gungan sub and are soon attacked by a Colo Claw Fish which Vader injures. They find an underwater structure, made to be a shrine to the former Naboo Senator and Tonra gives Vader the recordings.

The recording is of Sabé, Typho, Tonalra and a handful of others pledging themselves to find justice for Padmé and Anakin’s deaths on Mustafar. The group have deduced that Vader murdered them both, which he agrees about. Tonra activates a beacon which lures a Sando Aqua Monster to their location…

I am so pleased this series is back, the first two issues were so good that I have missed it during the Pandemic and leapt at the chance to read it as soon as it arrived on my Kindle App.

I’ll be honest, I had no idea where this series was going, with Vader teaming up with Sabé but by the end of this issue it all makes sense, it was a trap for Vader all along.

I love the connections with E.K. Johnston’s novel ‘Queen’s Shadow’ by including Tonra and referencing the mission he and Sabé were sent on by Padmé to find Shmi Skywalker, it’s little connections like that that make me appreciate the Story Group even more.

Of course, the writing and the art are brilliant, I think I can say I loved every frame and found it hard to pick one part to showcase in this post, Pak and Ienco are absolutely killing it with this run so far and long may it continue.

An amazing addition to an already amazing series. The canon connections are a treat and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next in a month’s time (of course Vader survives but what about everyone else?).

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Doctor Aphra: Fortune and Fate Part 2 – Haunted

The new adventures of everyone’s favourite rogue archeologist continue after over two months since the first issue of this new series came out, Aphra and her new crew are back and are on the hunt for The Lost City of Vaale, and a collection of rings that contain miraculous powers.

You could easily call the past week ‘Aphra Week’, with this comic coming out and the new ‘Doctor Aphra’ Audio Drama, the character couldn’t be more in the spotlight (unless we get an announcement about an ‘Aphra’ Disney+ series) and it’s well deserved.

The issue focus’ on Aphra and her team arriving at the Lost City of Vaale, where the spoils of their mission await them, but all is not as it seems when strange things start to happen. The buildings are made out of petrified corpses, one of the team sees the bodies moving (creepy), another hears an awful sound (strange) and as they reach a large door, behind which is a workshop where the Rings of Vaale may be hidden, a strange corpse like creature tells them to leave whilst they can. But as the team are trying to find a way through the door, the floor crumbles, creating a sinkhole and half of e team fall in whilst the ones still standing are ambushed by Roman Tagge’s thugs.

Now, granted I have only read Volumes 1 – 4 of the first ‘Doctor Aphra’ series and this may change as I make my way through the remaining stories in that series, but this new series feels a lot more like Indiana Jones, with the great mixture of adventure and horror (yeah, we’re getting a horror story) and it feels fun. The rogue archaeologist aspect is played up more here (as far as I can tell) and a quick flashback shows us that Aphra and Eustacia had a romantic connection during their time in the Archaeology School, which of course means that Eustacia got hurt by Aphra which has resulted in some less than pleasant feelings on the Professors part.

I am thoroughly impressed with the direction this series is causing, the horror aspect is something we haven’t had in the Marvel series’ without the ‘Doctor Aphra’/’Star Wars’ crossover where Luke and Aphra get caught up in a gothic horror tale.

The creative team are onto a winner here without a doubt, the characters are enjoyable and the art looks great, the creepy factor is on great display here in this issue without being over the top and overall the issue is great fun to read and what’s even better, we only have a month to wait for the next issue!

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The Calrissian Chronicles – Lando on Disney+

According to Corey and Noah from KESSEL RUN TRANSMISSIONS, the bigwigs at Disney and Lucasfilm are developing a new series that focus’ on Lando Calrissian and will be played by…

Donald Glover AND Billy Dee Williams!!!

This isn’t the first time that a Lando project has been rumoured. Way back in May 2018 there was a rumour that there was going to be a Lando film. Then as Disney was getting ready to launch Disney+ there was rumour of a Lando and Qi’Ra series (amidst rumours for just about any other character from the franchise getting a series), and as I feel with any rumour of this type I’ll reserve my excitement for when Lucasfilm make an official announcement.

Of course, the believability of the source is key, and so far, the guys at Kessel Run Transmissions have put out a couple of rumours in the last few months which have been quite exciting. Firstly the sequel series to ‘Rebels’ was rumoured to be in development which they broke and then the second which was recently verified and announced by Lucasfilm being the spin-off to ‘The Clone Wars’ called ‘The Bad Batch’, so they are seemingly reliable on the rumour front.

Of course, now is the time for us to start gearing up for some announcements as we are fast approaching the weekend we were meant to get ‘Star Wars Celebration’ before it was postponed by COVID-19, and I wonder if Lucasfilm will be putting out announcements over the next few weeks to cash-in on the original time-slot for the convention (and hopefully some trailers for upcoming projects).

In terms of the ‘Lando’ series, it could have vast potential, especially if both Glover and Williams are playing the character, we could be in for a whole range of stories about the character. I’m hoping we get L3-3T in the younger Lando stories in his pre-Solo days and even some adventures after the events of that film. In the older Lando tales, I wonder if they will include Jannah as they search for answers about her identity, and if they will be helping any more of the deserters in her group of ex-Stormtroopers.

I do hope that this is announced officially in the coming weeks as it has great potential and, I think would be great to see on Disney+, and maybe, just maybe, it could pave the way for a return of Alden Ehrenreich as Han Solo and a sequel series to ‘Solo’.

Come on, a guy can hope.

Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #30 – The Ghost Crew Part 3 Chopper

The third part of ‘The Ghost Crew’ series is here, this time focusing on everyone’s favourite Dave Filoni voiced cantankerous Droid, Chopper (C1 – 10P).

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#CollectionCorner – The Clone Wars Season 7 Black Series Figures

Hasbro recently announced, via IO9 a new batch of ‘Black Series’ figures, all of which are based on characters from ‘The Clone Wars’ Season 7 story arc, ‘The Siege of Mandalore’, and as this is the first announcement of new figures since I started collecting them, I’m pretty excited, and I can safely say that I will be adding a couple to my wish-list.

First up is the Ahsoka Tano figure, wearing her Mandalorian inspired outfit and wielding the two blue lightsabers given to her by Anakin. The figure captures her character perfectly, this isn’t the younger Ahsoka we saw in Season 5 of ‘Clone Wars’ or from ‘Rebels’, this version is completely new and it looks great.

Next up is a 332nd Clone Trooper with Ahsoka decals on the helmet. I’m not a big fan of buying helmeted characters much (it’s why I only have one helmeted Kylo Ren and of course I have the Mandalorian, I’m not an animal) so I’ve not got a lot of interest in collecting the different troopers, but I have to make an exception here because I have loved the design of these guys ever since the first art was released back at Celebration London in 2016. The overall design looks great and the weathered paint on the armour looks lovely. Add another to the wish-list.

The Loyalist Mandalorian is up next. A member of Bo Katan’s forces, this one to me is one I’ll stay away from. Honestly it looks like a repainted Jango Fett (which was recently released) with a pair of different blasters. Now, we’re this a Bo Katan figure my opinion would be vastly different but I’m really not after having Background Mandalorian #5 on my wall.

And talking of paint jobs, the Mandalorian Super Commando looks to be another repaint with some added horns on the helmet. Again, this could have been a named character, I’m sure the fans would go nuts over a Gar Saxon figure at this point.

As with any wave of toys, be it Black Series or Lego, there are hits and misses and this wave is half and half for me. However, I love the box art, like the upcoming wave featuring the Ghost Crew, the art is phenomenal, the design is great and they will look damned fine on my wall.

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#CollectionCorner Episode 1 – The Black Series Kylo Ren SWCE 2016 Exclusive (Patreon Exclusive)

Fancy a sneak peek at the new Patreon Exclusive VLog series?

This is the premiere episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog, this week I take a look at ‘The Black Series’ SWCE 2016 Exclusive Unmasked Kylo Ren to share with you great folks who have signed up to the ‘Journey to Life Debt @ Celebration’ and higher on Patreon.

Thank you for you amazing contributions, they are hugely appreciated and will be going towards new equipment to ensure top quality content from ‘Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2022’.

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The Bad Batch aka The A-Team of Star Wars

The next animated Star Wars series has just been officially announced after a few weeks of rumours and speculation and rather than the news about a ‘Rebels’ Sequel Series, we’re getting a spin-off of ‘The Clone Wars’.

The series will follow the exploits of Clone Force 99, otherwise known as ‘The Bad Batch’, a group of mutated clones with different specialties who were first introduced to audiences in ‘The Clone Wars’ Season 7 earlier this year, and focus on them finding where they belong in a rapidly changing Galaxy under the new Imperial regime.

Between this and the rumoured ‘Rebels’ series I would rather get the latter. Whilst ‘The Bad Batch’ premise sounds like it could be the Star Wars equivalent of ‘The A-Team’ with a mission of the week type feel, I can’t see it having much longevity, of course I’m not on their writing staff so I have no actual idea what Filoni and Co. have got planned for them, but I do wonder if this show has a planned end much like what we got with ‘Resistance’. I do have my fingers crossed that if that is the case, that ‘Bad Batch’ fairs better than the lacklustre second season of ‘Resistance’.

But who am I kidding? My lifelong pre-disposition of loving Star Wars already has me looking forward to this series, will it be my favourite? At this point I doubt it. Will I do my very best to enjoy it? I sure will. Will I just end up watching it regardless? Of course.

And the biggest question of all…

Will I buy a Lego set based on their ship?

Do I really need to answer that?

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #29 – The Ghost Crew Part 2 Ezra Bridger (SPECIAL EDITION)

 

The (re-release WITH AUDIO) second part of ‘The Ghost Crew’ series is here, this time focusing on Ezra Bridger.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #28 – A Change to the Scheduled Programming (SPECIAL EDITION)

(Re-Release WITH AUDIO) What should have been the second part of The Ghost Crew Series has been hijacked by a very welcome new addition to the collection, check it out.

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Star Wars: Age of Resistance – Heroes Comic Review

 

The ‘Star Wars: Age of…’ comics was an ongoing series of comics, every two weeks we go a one-shot comics dedicated to a hero or villain. It started early in the year with ‘Age of Republic’ and moved to ‘Age of Rebellion’ and finally ‘Age of Resistance’ and each series was split in two, Heroes and Villains.

This post is dedicated to the ‘Age of Resistance – Heroes’ graphic novel and I’ll be taking a quick look at each issue for this post.

Finn

Set before the events of ‘The Force Awakens’, this issue lets us get to know Finn (or FN-2187 as he was known at the time) whilst still a part of the ‘First Order’ whilst operating as a sanitation worker. He encounters Kylo Ren before being ordered to suit up (into his armour) and join a squad on a mission. The mission is to get rid of an infestation of animals in a series of sewer tunnels.

During the mission, the squad are attacked by these bat-like creatures and injure the squad leader. Angry he orders FN-2187 to dispatch the creatures.

Finn doesn’t want to kill them so he manages to get a group of them onto a transport ship heading for a nearby moon that the ‘First Order’ are using as a rubbish dump.

Once on the moon, it tujrns out he isnt the first one to smuggle them off planet and the Transport Worker is happy to turn a blind eye to the creatures being brought over.

Its a pretty decent story, however, having Finn being a compassionate character at this point doesnt seem to gel with ou#ther material we have had in the past. In Greg Rucka’s ‘Before the Awakening’, FN-2187 is a model Stormtrooper, highly praised by Phasma and staunchly dedicated to the cause.

We find out in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ that it wasnt until he was ordered to fire on innocents that his programming failed because of ‘a feeling’ (The Force) and so I do feel that this story, whilst it fit with the narrative pre-TROS has become a bit redundant recently.

Poe Dameron

 After an over-dramatic start, which initially put me off reading this story, the Poe issue is great.

Set before he joins the Resistance, Poe and his New Republic Squadron (including Karé from the Poe Dameron series) go after a mysterious ship that has stolen the head off of a New Republic Official’s Droid which may contain secrets pertaining to the First Order.

After the ship enters a rather dangerous Asteroid Field, Poe commands his squad to stay back whilst he pursues the enemy, who as they traverse the deadly terrain(?) they begin to help each other.

In the end, we learn that Poe has been talking with Vice-Admiral Holdo, who tells the hot-shot pilot about the Resistance.

The canon connections alone make this issue fun, with Poe and Karé worming together, knowing that down the line they will be fighting side-by-side on Black Squadron. We also get to see them in the T-85 X-Wings that we first saw in ‘Resistance’, and his time around they look a lot better than in the cartoon (the wings don’t open so wide here).

A well written piece on one of my favourite characters from the Sequel Trilogy and well worth the read.

Rose Tico

Rose’s issue is essentially her life story, starting when her and Paige are kids living on Hays Minor, they spend time in their Grandmother’s flight simulator, Rose has an affinity for the mechanics side of things whilst Paige is a great pilot.

We see the First Order’s invasion of their home world and their futile attempts to thwart their Mining operation by sabotaging their Bombers, the shit down lasts for three days when the First Order returns with more Bombers.

Eventually, the sisters leave their home and join the Resistance when word of the destruction of Hays Minor reaches them. Hell bent on revenge, Leia meets them in the hanger bay and talks to them, calming them and they decide to stay and fight with the Resistance rather than go alone.

What you don’t realise until the end is that it’s told from Paige’s perspective rather than Rose’s which is what we are led to believe at first and it was a nice little twist.

I do have one issue though, I feel like I have read this story somewhere before, a lot of the events felt very familiar to me as I was reading and I wondered if Tom Taylor had co-written this with Elizabeth Wein who wrote the YA book ‘Cobalt Squadron’ that told the story of Rose and Paige before ‘The Last Jedi’, but what I think is quite likely is that he had considerable input for the Story Group on this one.

Nonetheless, it’s a lovely story and shines a spotlight on a great character.

Rey

There are parts of this one that I really liked. There are parts that I really didn’t.

The first third or so, with Rey and Leia talking about Han’s death was really well written and the art was great, showing us another perspective of that traumatic scene and seeing Leia’s reaction to the events.

Once Rey and Chewie are on the Falcon, the banter works well, they are struggling to keep the ship working and end up coming g out of hyperspace, conveniently near a scrapyard planet called Necropolis where they meet a freaky looking character who lets Rey go and find the parts she needs whilst the Falcon is locked down, with Chewie and R2 on board.

A giant snake-like monster attacks Rey once she finds the part, she gets into a ship that looks like Slave 1 (blatant fan service) and she confronts the creature after she figures out that it uses a beacon to disrupt hyperspace which draws ships to try e planet where the snake feeds and the creature feeds and there are more ships.

Once they leave Necropolis, we meet them again on Ahch-To, Rey climbs the steps and holds out the lightsaber to Luke.

Rey’s narration throughout saves the issue for sure, the Necropolis sequence feels like Tom Taylor needed to throw in some action to fill the pages, but I would have loved more Rey and Leia talking or even Rey, Chewie and R2 talking about Luke, building up Rey’s expectations before meeting the Jedi Master.

Ah well, I enjoyed some of it, thats worth something.

Age of Resistance Special

This book contains three short stories, the first is about Maz Kanata and is incredibly fun. Maz has hired Han and Chewie to take her to a self-splinted Baron on a far out ice planet who has stolen something from her. They reach his castle, Han and Chewie fight off the goons whilst Maz confronts her for, until Chewie arrives after smelling the Wookiee pelt the guy is wearing, all hell breaks loose with blasters until Maz gets her item (a helmet work by someone serving a Sith Lord) and the three return to the Falcon.

The second story is all about Amilyn Holdo during the Rebellion. She is disregarded by the crew because of her dying her hair and non-military background but when the ship is attacked by a Star Destroyer and the Captain killed she takes control of the crew. Following her orders to fire into the attacking ships Docking Bay whilst being pulled in by the Tractor Beam they destroy the Imperial Ship. Holdo is promoted to the rank of Captain.

The final part focuses on BB-8 who is on a mission to infiltrate a First Order base and download some information whilst Poe waits outside. BB-8 gets distracted when he sees a Stormtrooper electrocuting some Droids. BB-8 shocks the Trooper and with the help of the rescued Droids manages to get in information and blow up the facility.

Outside, Poe thinks his little buddy is destroyed and is relieved when he arrives at the ship.

Back at the Resistance base on D’Qar, Poe returns with BB-8 and the rescued Droids.

Honestly, this one is my favourite from the whole collection. I wish the whole series had been more like this, with a couple of shorter stories rather than some that we got. The Finn and Rey stories had some good moments but could have easily been shorter. Maybe if those two were cut down and put in one book we could have had a couple of other stories.

The Maz story was easily the most fun, whilst driven by action the banter between Maz, Han and Chewie was great writing.

The Holdo issue just gave us a great look at Holdo’s military ability, and makes me wonder why her exploits like this weren’t greater knowledge. I’m also curious if this is the Battle of Kyron Belt that Poe mentions in ‘The Lat Jedi’.

The BB-8 story doesn’t add much to his character but is a fun adventure that the C-3PO one-shot from a couple of years could have been.

I’m pleased I bought this in the Kindle Sale. For me the book has two great issues one good and two mediocre and not worth full price to me.

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The High Republic – Some Thoughts

As fans, when we get new content we inevitably have tonnes of questions on how the new stuff relates to the old stuff and relish the various connections and Easter Eggs, it’s part of the territory.

So when we got the ‘High Republic’ announcement and teases, set 200 years before the Skywalker Saga. A period of expansion. Exploring the Outer Rim. All these things that we had assumed, probably because of things like ‘The Old Republic’ which, before the EU became Legends, detailed the history of the Galaxy around 4000 years prior to ‘The Phantom Menace’ where there was already Hyperspace technology and the Galaxy seemed to be well explored.

Well of course, I have had some through a on this, and with the release of the first chapter I thought I’d put them down onto digital paper and see what you lovely folks think too.

Why Only 200 Years?

We already know that, by the time of The Prequel Trilogy, the Republic has been the central power of the Galaxy for a thousand years, roughly the same amount of time that the Sith were believed to be extinct.

But given the added history we have heard about, the Jedi/Mandalorian war being one that is believed to have happened before that, means that given the time of the High Republic is a time of expansion, that the Galaxy must be pretty small in comparison to what we have been used to.

Why is this expansion only happening at this time? Or do they mean an expansion of the Senate?

Is the Galaxy in fact already mapped out but the Outer Rim worlds have yet to join with the Senate? Are the peace keeping Jedi posted to make sure that any unscrupulous characters from the Outer Rim stay away from the Galactic Core?

The first excerpt talks about the ship, Legacy’s Run taking settlers to the Outer Rim to carve new lives for themselves, are we looking at a Galactic scale gold rush? Have the Outer Rim worlds already been settled by those looking for a new life?

Also, the hyperspace lanes in the area are relatively new, but are they only new to the citizens of the Republic?

Hyperspace?

The excerpt makes the notion of hyperspace travel seem perilous, when we have seen it so many times on TV and Film that it really looks like a walk in the park, get the co-ordinates from the Navi-Computer, lock on and off you go and the travel time doesn’t seem to last very long, or really just at the speed-of-plot.

But why is it that only 200 years prior the whole thing comes across as a terrifying venture? Could it be because of the location and the pilots of these ships struggle to navigate them.

Also the technology seems dated (which is good) and so perhaps because of this, we get the explanation of the inherent dangers of travelling through Hyperspace. Perhaps the trips take longer because of the tech, but that may be the norm for the High Republic citizens.

The Jedi Order

We don’t know a lot about the state of the Jedi Order during the High Republic, other than Jedi Knights patrolled the borders of the Galaxy, keeping the inner regions safe from those unscrupulous types from the Outer Rim.

They have a very different look to the Jedi we know from the Skywalker Saga, and from what we learned in Charles Soule’s interview with IGN that Jedi are stationed on various outposts and work independently from the Jedi Council on Coruscant. Part of me is wondering if this will lead to some problems along the way which would end with the Council consolidating its power and starting a new era for the Jedi Order which we see in the Prequel Era.

These are just some of the thoughts that I have had, but the ones that seem to be being asked on various podcasts I have listened to since the excerpt was released, and I’m sure as we get more information more questions will be asked.

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Light of the Jedi by Charles Soule Excerpt Thoughts

I generally avoid any excerpts from upcoming novels, I usually struggle to get through them because they are usually from some point into the book where the story is established and you have zero context.

But, Charles Soule and IGN have dropped the opening chapter of the upcoming and sadly delayed ‘Light of the Jedi’, the first book in the ‘High Republic’ publishing initiative.

The chapter sets the whole series up, it details the build up to a Hyperspace event that has been mentioned in previous promotional material where the ship ‘Legacy’s Run’ crashes into an unknown object which is going to cause problems across the Galaxy that the Jedi are called in to help with.

We get the equivalent of the opening crawl, setting the scene, the Outer Rim is unexplored, the Jedi Knights are the great protectors that we heard about in An New Hope’. The Galaxy is at peace and Chancellor Lena Soh has promised to bring those Outer Rim worlds into the Galactic Republic with the aid of the Jedi and various outposts such as the Starlight Beacon.,

We meet a great character, Captain Hedda Casset, who we get to know so brilliantly in such a short space of time, Soule perfectly establishes her character, her personality and her experience as a pilot and when the ship comes across the anomaly her reaction is so on point, I actually found myself caring greatly for Hedda and her crew, despite the very short amount of time we had to get to know them.

This is a true credit to Soule’s writing. Whilst he is a novelist, his career has been predominantly comics and I feel that his experience in comics has really given him the ability to write these kinds of characters who are fully fleshed out in the short time frame. Just look at some of his work in Star Wars, he really let us get to know and care about a lot of different characters through lol of his different runs, and whilst I may not have been a fan of all of his work, I can still appreciate the craft and his talent.

What this excerpt has really done is made me want to read ‘Light of the Jedi’ even more. I was truly gutted when they announced that ‘The High Republic’ was delayed until next year, and it’s obvious that this is down to the global pandemic and not a problem with writing or editing. I imagine that Lucasfilm and Del Rey are planning some sort of big launch that COVID-19 got in the way of. The original release was due to be just before SWCA this year, and as that’s been cancelled (a decision made a while ago I reckon and only released recently) where that big launch could have taken place they had to change the plan. And honestly, January 5th cannot come fast enough.

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Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Comic Review

I was lucky enough to pick this up on Kindle Unlimited before my trial period ran out, I was hesitant at first, really because part of me was worried it would just end up being a literary advert for the Galaxy’s Edge attraction.

What I found was that I was mostly wrong. Of course we get to see Oga’s Cantina, Savi’s Workshop and quite prominently Dok Ondar’s Den of Antiquities. All big attractions at the theme parks. But the story, once we get into the meat of it that is, is great fun.

The first couple of issues lay the groundwork for the series, the main timeline where a Bounty Hunter crew led by Kendoh (last seen in the pages of ‘Star Wars: Allegiance’) are searching for a rare object which Dok Ondar has in his collection. They notice his baby Sarlacc and he tells them the story of how Han Solo and Chewbacca procured it for him followed by Dok Ondar telling the story of how Greedo acquired the lightsaber of Ki-Adi Mundi to a group of Stormtroopers.

It’s not until Issue 3 where the plot really picks up. Starting with how Hondo and Ondar steal a Kyber Statue from the Temple of the Whills on Jedha (and encounter Chirrut Imwue) which leads to a story about Aphra working with Dok Ondar to steal a Sith artefact from the Sith home world of Moraband, a pair of swords that connect to make one big sword. Ondar manages to get one half, the other half was kept by Aphra then sold and it made its way to Kendoh who wants both halves, but Ondar also wants both halves. Of course shenanigans ensue, the First Order are around causing their own brand of mayhem.

Overall the books is good fun, it was absolutely fantastic to get Hondo in the pages of a comic, Greg Pak wrote him wonderfully and it’s so easy to hear Jim Cummings’ voice in all of the dialogue.

Seeing as I recently decided to blitz the first Aphra series but took a break to read this, it was fun to get Aphra in the fourth part along with Bee Tee and 000 getting up to their old tricks, I can only assume that this part of the story is set sometime around the first two volumes of the Aphra series as the Murder-Droids are still working for Aphra.

The connections to the films are pretty on the nose, the fact that Han and Chewie do a job for Ondar as does Greedo, who gets a serious action pose moment which doesn’t fit with the character we have seen before, but I suppose if it was Boba Fett as the main character would have just been gratuitous fan service.

However, I did find myself becoming rather bored by the Batuu plot. Kendoh and her team spend so much time spying on Dok Ondar it’s almost a surprise when they finally pull off their heist.

The addition of the First Order is also used as a set up for the events that occur in the ‘Rise of the Resistance’ ride, where we see a First Order Fleet led by Kylo Ren on The Finalizer, a nice touch for people who get to experience the ride but in the end I just wanted to see the Battle of Batuu unfold rather than what we got.

Whilst a fun read, this is definitely one of those books that I could easily put on one side and not revisit it anytime soon. Pak treads the line between welcome and gratuitous fan service with a few steps to either side. I would have liked to have seen some of the roles filled by legacy characters filled with new canon characters from books and comics and the McGuffin leaves a lot to be desired.

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Me and My Padawan: Galaxy of Adventures

Over the last few weeks I have noticed an increased interest in Star Wars from my 3 year old Daughter, which has been at times, amazing and others almost stress inducing.

One of the biggest things she has enjoyed has been the ‘Galaxy of Adventures’ short animations on the ‘Star Wars Kids’ Youtube Channel.

As most parents of toddlers will know, is that there is a lot of repetition in what you watch, and I swear that I have watched the HAN AND CHEWIE episode at least 30 times. In close second place is GENERAL LEIA which tells a very quick life story of our favourite Princess turned General.

What has been great in watching these with her is seeing her pick up names for the characters, until recently she knew ‘Baby Yoda’, ‘Yoda’ ‘BB-8’ ‘Kylo’ and ‘Leia’ by sight but now talks about Darth Vader, Rey Chewie and Luke and with more watching I’ve got a feeling we’ll be starting the films in no time.

Who I really do feel sorry for is my wife, who enjoys Star Wars to a degree but one day on my week off we went through almost the whole ‘Galaxy of Adventures’ playlist… twice.

The episodes themselves, I find to be quite enjoyable for the most part, and as I am finding out, a great introduction to the franchise for youngsters as well as providing bite sized entertainment for all ages. The other great thing about this series is that my daughter has been introduced to some of the more scary aspects of the franchise such as The Wampa, which comes across much scarier in the series than in the film, the Sarlacc and Vader himself, I don’t know if I should be worried that she didn’t bat an eye when she saw the animated Vader do his corridor massacre from ‘Rogue One’.

In the past I have seen quite a few calls for Lucasfilm to make an animated feature in the same style, and whilst I think it would be great for them to branch out in that way, I feel like the heart of the series would be lost.

I can safely say that Lucasfilm has hit the jackpot with ‘Galaxy of Adventures’ (in my house at least) and I really hope that they keep churning them out, especially if I have to watch them repeatedly.

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Star Wars: The New Jedi Order Review Series – Vector Prime by R. A. Salvatore

In the mid to late nineties I tried to follow the Expanded Universe as much as a kid could, but I had a lot of gaps in the collection, so when I found out about the ‘New Jedi Order’ I ended up starting with the second book in the series (it was the only one available in the bookshop at the time).

Needless to say I was incredibly confused by a lot of what was going on and what I had missed but not long after I was able to dive into this one.

Going in, there were a few things that still confused me, mainly the wedding of Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker. Having been mentioned in Timothy Zahn’s ‘Hand of Thrawn’ duology, which I hadn’t read at the time, and my lack of knowledge about Comic Shops (my knowledge on the subject was based on a rack in the local book store which had a limited selection of Graphic Novels) had kept the ‘Union’ storyline a well kept secret, as well as the terminal illness she had mysteriously contracted, but this time around, the second time I have read it in fact I was ready.

The first thing that I realised as I was reading this, was how easy it was to envision Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in their roles of Luke, Leia and Han, something that had been a bit hit-and-miss in some of the Expanded Universe books, of course I’m not sitting there wishing that the Sequel Trilogy had been based on the EU, I still firmly believe that Star Wars needed to have a reset of the ancillary materials.

R. A. Salvatore really makes us feel like we are with the main heroes, as well as Chewbacca and the Droids, R2-D2 and C-3PO and even Lando, his characterisations of our favourite characters really shine.

And then there are the Legends characters, Jacen, Jaina and Anakin Solo, Han and Leia’s three children really get to take centre stage. This series really lets the three of them step out of the YA series they had populated and come into the main EU timeline as fully fledged Jedi Knights. All three have very distinctive personalities and they quickly steal the show from the old guard.

We are introduced to Danni Quee, a scientist who is captured by the invading Yuuzhan Vong as well as Jedi Apprentice Miko Reglia through whose eyes we learn about the invaders as well as Nom Anor, a Yuuzhan Vong who has planted himself into the low level politics of the Galaxy, going from planet to planet stirring trouble to distract the New Republic from the Praetorite Vong invasion that starts at Helska 4 where the Yammosk, a Great War Coordinator arrives with Prefect Da’gara in command. Meanwhile, on the planet Belkadan, a disguised Vong warrior, Yomin Carr terraforms the planet to allow the Vong to grow the coral that makes up their ships.

The third planet on the Vong’s hit list is Sernpidal, where they use their gravity generators called Dovin Basals to pull one of the planets moons down to crash into the planet. It is here that Han, Anakin and. Chewie find themselves after agreeing to do a delivery for Lando, it is also here that Chewbacca is killed after saving Anakin as the moon and planet are about to collide, Han saw his friend stand and roar at the moon before the Falcon escaped, piloted by Anakin.

But the adventure doesn’t stop there, with two more high stakes battles, one at Lando’s facility on Dubrillion and the second where the Yammosk is defeated and Helska 4 is destroyed, the threat of invasion is seemingly over.

I’m going to take a moment to address the Wookiee in the room, the death of Chewbacca.

The idea of killing off a major character to give the Yuuzhan Vong threat a real sense of danger after countless books where the main characters were seemingly invincible, something that is even mentioned in the book as Han looks back at their time together and the countless adventures they had been on and survived.

George Lucas himself had a hand in the choice, vetoing Han, Luke, Leia and the Droids as the potential victims but finally agreeing on Chewbacca, who at the end of the day, in the literary sense is an obvious choice when it comes to dialogue, how many ways can you describe Chewie vocalising without being repetitive or just forgetting about him in the background to avoid mention him growling/roaring/bellowing for the umpteenth time.

I won’t lie though, reading his death and the emotional aftermath in this novel does tug on the old heartstrings, Salvatore wrote his death in such a way that gives him a fitting send off, but at the same time he doesn’t linger on the moment, it’s almost a blink-and-you-miss it sentence that takes a couple of re-reads to really hit you.

What I loved about it (a comment on the structure, not the death) was that it happened about two-thirds of the way through the book which gave us time to feels the pain that Han goes through and his reaction to Anakin, who essentially saved their lives and the lives of the refugees on board the Falcon at the time. Han is distraught, angry, sad and in a state of shock, he spends the rest of the book frantically trying to make sure no one else is killed, and when Anakin has to jump blindly into Hyperspace it almost drives him over the edge (Anakin is fine by the way). It’s a side of Han that we never get to see in the films which makes it very interesting to read and I look forward to delving more into Han’s character as the series progresses.

Overall, this is a fun book and a great start to the series. I enjoyed going back to it more than I thought I would when I decided to do the New Jedi Order re-read (a year ago but only getting to it now). I’m really looking forward to reading the next in the series.

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Doctor Aphra Vol. 4 – The Catastrophe Con

I am really enjoying this series, it’s quickly becoming my favourite of all the Star Wars comics from Marvel right now. The character of Aphra is one of my favourite original characters from the new expanded materials. I am so pleased that I made the decision to go back and read the whole of her series because it’s been an utter delight so far.

Set a short span of time after the events of Volume 3, we find Aphra on a travelling Imperial Prison where the inmates are tasked with searching ships that are left after space battles.

Aphra makes an acquaintance called Lopset and he soon becomes an ally as they work together.

Aphra is also being interrogated by the Imperials in charge of the facility and she is afraid that she will soon reveal her true identity as well as the information she has on Vader and other Imperial secrets that Hera Syndulla is wanting to find out as well.

Meanwhile, General Hera Syndulla reaches out to Sana Starros, Smuggler and ex-partner of Aphra to get Aphra off of the Prison.

Aphra contacts Tolvan and tells her everything she knows about Vader and his plot to overthrow the Emperor in an effort to get the Inspectorate to rescue her.

On top of all of that, 000 is trying to find Aphra to unlock his memories that she had locked away for a price.

Everything comes together with various parties arriving to take Aphra, and during the escape attempt with Tolvan, Aphra locates a downed Jedi ship and inside is a lightsaber and a fungus spore cloud which has been granted a mild level on sentience through the Kyber Crystal in the saber.

Insanity ensues, Aphra gets the lightsaber, alters Tolvan’s memories to make her believe that she killed Aphra so that when Vader arrives (oh yes) she has deniability and is found by 000 who is blasted by Lopset who turns out to actually be Dr. Evazan who has connected Aphra’s detonator implant used by the Prison to keep inmates in check to his chip that he had implanted into 000, tying the two together.

What I have learned from the Aphra series is that you never know what’s going to happen or what situations the character will get herself into and it continues to be a refreshing series to read.

The ongoing storyline of Vader and Aphra feels like a terrifying game of cat and mouse, and of course it will all come to a head in a later volume, of course I know it will all turn out alright for Aphra (she did get a second series after all) but I’m really looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in the end.

This run is Si Spurrier’s first solo run on the series, having co-written the previous volume with Kieron Gillen and honestly I didn’t even notice the change, the character remains consistent and the writing is solid. The art looks great and Java Tartaglia’s colours are amazing, and now Volume 5, here I come.

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#CollectionCorner – Summer 2020 Sets REVEALED!

Lego have finally revealed their full Summer 2020 Star Wars wave, and thanks to THE BROTHERS BRICK I’ve got some pictures and info on the upcoming sets.

AT-AT

With six mini-figs, a Snow Speeder Bike, an E-Web Blaster and plenty of play functions, this 1267 piece work of art is going to take a huge chunk of display space and my wallet. It will be totally worth it to finally have this set in my collection and will definitely look amazing on display.

501st Legion Set

501st

Essentially a doubled up Battle Pack, the 501st Legion set is one that fans and collectors have been asking for for a while. It includes three 501st Clones, one of which has a Jet Pack and two Battle Droids.

When it was announced I had some disappointment, I would rather have had the set come with just the BARC Speeder an mini-figs because didn’t we get an AT-RT only last year as part of the 20th Anniversary Wave (HERE)? But this one is Blue, so of course its different (well the blaster is built differently on the front). Needless to say, I will probably be buying it, but not in any kind of rush.

Anakin’s Starfighter

To complement Anakin’s Jedi Starfighter from a year or so ago, we are getting an updated version of his Jedi Interceptor from the Battle of Coruscant.

I’ve been looking forward to a remake of this set as it was one of the two I got in 2005 when ‘Revenge of the Sith’ was released and it’s gone through some changes over the years but not since I started collecting so I am looking forward to this one.

Armoured Assault Tank (AAT)

Not going to lie, this is near the top of my list. I’ve never owned one of these before, so that makes me really excited for a new build.

Then there is one of Ahsoka’s Clone Trooper’s with the beautifully designed helmets and of course, Ahsoka herself in her ‘Siege of Mandalore’ attire.

The Knights of Ren Transport Ship

I’m just putting it out there, I was expecting more from this one. I would really have expected this to be much bigger with more mini-figs, and with a lot more features that a couple of opening hatches.

Don’t get me wrong, this will be a great set to add to the collection, but I will definitely be waiting for a price drop.

General Grievous‘s Starfighter

I’m not sure how many versions of this have been made, but what I do know is that this will be my first, and my first Grievous mini-fig since 2005, which at the time looked great but in retrospect was pretty uninspired by its design, but that just goes to show how much Lego has evolved in the 15 years since the character’s first mini-fig incarnation.

This will go nicely with Anakin’s Starfighter on display and having a pair of Anakin and Obi-Wan mini-digs that don’t want to kill each other will be great on display.

Death Star Final Duel

That was a surprise when the images first leaked a couple of weeks ago, but a very, very pleasant one. An upgraded version from the 2015 set, this one looks infinitely better, with incredible detail and a seemingly heftier price tag and piece count.

This is going to taking a place next to the Death Star set on the front room windowsill it looks that good.

Resistance I-TS Transport

The second surprise set, the Resistance I-TS Transport comes from the ‘Rise of the Resistance’ ride at Galaxy’s Edge and whilst I haven’t ridden said ride, I’m looking forward to this set as it’s a completely new vehicle, with an interesting design and it comes with one of my favourite characters from the books, Vi Moradi who stars in the ‘Phasma’ and ‘Black Spire’ by Delilah S. Dawson.

Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar 2020

And where would we be without a Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar? From the images released it looks like we will be getting a decent selection of mini-figs and mini-builds again this year and I look forward to writing about each one.

Of course, we are also getting The Razorcrest in September which, for me, is the top priority set but I’ll definitely be grabbing a few of these as soon as possible.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #27 – The Ghost Crew Part 1 Kanan Jarrus

This episode marks the beginning of a new Character Series, The Ghost Crew, starting with Kanan Jarrus.

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#CollectionCorner – The Black Series Expansion

As followers of the Blog will know, I am a big collector of Star Wars Lego and Funko POP! Figures, and for a time that was enough.

In my collecting past, I used to get the ‘Power of the Force 2’ action figures in the 90’s, and those are stashed away in the shed, buried under a load of boxes, but one day I’ll fish them out. I dabbled in the 3.75 inch figures from ‘The Force Awakens’ and ‘Rogue One’ but due to space and my growing interest in the Lego and Funko collections I decided to knock those on the head.

I did make the decision back at Celebration 2016 to buy the exclusive Kylo Ren Black Series figure.

I mean, you can see why, it’s a gorgeous set right there and I put it up on the wall and it looked great.

Fast forward almost a year, I was on paternity leave after my daughter was born and a friend of mine found a bunch of Black Series on sale, including a ‘The Force Awakens’ Rey and BB-8 reissue with the lightsaber for a quarter of the usual price.

Thinking that it would look good next to the Kylo Ren I took him up on the offer to pick one up for me.

I added Rey and Kylo Black Series from both ‘The Last Jedi’ and ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ to my Amazon Wish List, thinking that one day I would get them when the price had dropped enough but was in no rush to get them.

Until…

For my birthday this year, my wife got these for me. Amazing, I was really pleased with them and I thought to myself that in time I would pick up the two from ‘The Last Jedi’ and that would be that.

Nope!

Of course, Hasbro have decided to take those plans and throw them to the curb. I caught The Black Series bug, and after seeing all of the new figures they are releasing later this year, the whole crew from ‘Rebels’, the Beskar Armour Mandalorian, Snowspeeder Luke and Darth Vader from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and that beautiful packaging!

I had to buy more!

Top of the list were these two, finishing off my original wish list of Black Series figures, but I ended up getting a good look at some of the others, which has led to me getting this…

And it didn’t stop there either. My Wish List has grown, with a handful of the new ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ 40th Anniversary wave (I just ordered the Bespin Luke figure).

I have already made the decision to keep them in the boxes, I really don’t have the space to display them unboxed and I’ve got a pretty good plan of how to display them which should show them off quite nicely and keep them out of reach of my daughter’s hands who has taken a liking to the Rey figures.

Needless to say, I’m now a Black Series collector, I feel that I did well in holding off for this long.

If you want to get a closer look at some of these figures and other items in my collection, then head on over to THE PATREON PAGE where the first episode of the #CollectionCorner VLog will premiere this Friday for members of the $3 and $5 tiers.

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Doctor Aphra Vol. 3 – Remastered Review

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the previous two Aphra books, ‘Remastered’ takes what we have loved about the series and upped the greatness to 11.

Some time has passed and Aphra is now working for 000 who has taken over the Son-Tuul Crime Syndicate and is using Aphra’s expertise to locate his original memory disc.

The adventure takes her to an Imperial Facility on Siomeilk, to Skako Minor and a hidden Imperial Research Facility in a true Indiana Jones, country hopping fashion.

Aphra is pursued by Imperial Inspectorate Magna Tolvan, and throughout their game of cat and mouse the sexual tension can be cut with a very dull spoon and their fleeting encounters are brilliant, each time the two get closer but end up being pulled away by their respective missions.

The switch in the respective status of both Aphra and 000 leads to some great conversations, 000 relishes his power over Aphra and continues to push her to realise how evil she is after her decisions on the mission lead to multiple deaths, not only of Stormtroopers but of her team as well.

The story also includes a welcome guest star with Hera Syndulla who is leading a training centre for Rebel Pilots, she is kidnapped and used as bait to get the crew into the secret Imperial Research facility which is brilliant, and what works so well is that even though we have a legacy character the story doesn’t revolve around Hera and the character yet could have been easily swapped for someone else but her inclusion is a fun addition for the fans of ‘Rebels’ to get to see her after the series has finished and seeing some of the things she is doing after the liberation of Lothal.

What really works for me is the fact that Kieron Gillen and Si Spurrier have flipped the status quo of the characters and are exploring the new dynamic, it really gives us the sense that anything could happen, that the safe territory we have in most of the other comic runs we have had doesn’t exist here for the characters. We know that no matter what, Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie and the Droids are going to make it through the whole run of the Star Wars title. Vader will still be evil for the duration of his series and that no matter what the Empire throws at them, in the end the Rebellion will win the Battle of Endor. But with Aphra, the Galaxy is our oyster.

My favourite outing of the rogue archaeologist so far (remember I am very behind) and I’ve got the next volume ready and waiting for me to dive right in.

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Star Wars: The New Jedi Order Review Series

Coming Soon!

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Why Does Anakin Die in ‘Return of the Jedi’?

On a recent re-watch of ‘Return of the Jedi’ something occurred to me about Anakin’s death.

Originally I had always just assumed that he died because his suit got blasted by Palpatine’s lightning, but as we have seen in the Charles Soule ‘Darth Vader’ series, Vader has survived such attacks by his Master before after he was freed from the operating table wher he was put in the suit.

Then something just clicked in my head (so this could just be head-canon).

As Palpatine ones said, “The Dark Side of the Force is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” Of course, the body-hopping spirit of Palpatine is evidence of this, but there has been long believed speculation that, as well as frequent trips to the Bacta Tanks, Vader also used the Dark Side to keep himself alive.

Recent speculations have also come out where it is believed that Palpatine intentionally gave Vader outdated technology in the suit so that he would be in constant pain, which would fuel his hate and anger.

When Vader turns on Palpatine, becoming Anakin once again, his anger and hate would have disippated, his Light Side outlook being one of love for his son in that moment. In doing so, his ability to maintain his healing and ease the pain of the suit would become overwhelming, an, theoreticaal

Anakin knows that he is going to die, he has been stuck in the suit long enough to know that without his use of the Force to keep his pain in check, there would be no way to survive, long enough even to transfer into another, more modern life support system, the unbearable pain that he would be in, on top of injuries sustained by Palpatine (I’m not saying this didn’t play into Anakin’s death, just not the direct cause).

As well as his physical deteroiration, once he returned to the Light Side, I imagine that once he had fulfilled the Prophecy, that the Force was calling to him, pulling him away from the physical realm which would explain why he was able to become a Force Ghost without the training that Yoda and Obi-Wan had to go through in their respective exiles.

I think we all knew that his death was inevitable, much like Ben Solo’s. They may have been redeemed in the eyes of those most important to them and the audience, but had they attempted to return to normal life, their actions during their time on the Dark Side would have meant that they would have been incarcerated for the rest of their lives, because I doubt that any ruling body would allow either of them to go into exile.

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Poe Dameron: Free Fall by Alex Segura Book Review

I really need to loosen up when it comes to YA Star Wars novels. I’ll hold my hands up and own the fact that I always roll my eyes or, even just think to myself that I’ll get around to reading it at some point.

And when I do, I usually kick myself because I have enjoyed all of them so far.

This is the first one I have actively gone for and was lucky enough to get a chance to read a review copy courtesy of the Disney Book Group (thank you).

I was initially excited for this book, the same as I was a few years ago when the ‘Poe Dameron’ series by Charles Soule was announced because I love the character, I always have from the moment he asked Kylo Ren, “Who talks first?” I was hooked.

I have enjoyed him all the way through the Sequel Trilogy, his wit, his character arc and every time his theme comes on in the soundtrack I just love it.

So to get some more backstory about his younger years that ties into his relationship with Zorii Bliss AND his time as a Spice Runner was a thrill for me.

Without going into heavy spoilers, here is a very, very brief rundown of the story.

We meet a 16 year old Poe Dameron who is a bit stir crazy and reckless, he ends up joining with some less than legitimate people, including Zorii with whom Poe develops a close relationship.

They go on a number of adventures, get hunted by the New Republic and after a while end up on Kijimi where everything comes to a head.

What I really loved about the book was how well Segura writes Star Wars. He really knows how to craft a story in the universe and truly gets the characters he writes. I had no difficulty in picturing a young Oscar Isaac whilst reading the book and the same with a younger Keri Russell as Zorii.

The secondary characters are well written and enjoyable, the gang Poe ends up with really feel like a team, even though some don’t get a lot of action they all have their place. One notable new character is the Droid called Eevee who once introduced becomes a welcome member of the team and a great source of comic relief. Even though we know Poe and Zorii will make it out alive, the majority of the characters are fair game.

Segura also gives us to time with a couple of characters introduced in the ‘Shattered Empire’ comics, Poe’s father Kes Dameron and his family friend, L’ulo L’ampar in supporting roles, which help connect all of the Po Dameron stories we have had so far.

I really hope Alex Segura continues to write Star Wars books, he has proven he k led ow to write a great Star Wars book and understands the existing characters and add great new dimensions to them.

The book really flows well, the story is fun and engaging. The adventures the characters go on are thrilling and tense at times, the quieter moments also shine and the interactions between Zorii and Poe all help build up the relationship they had in their youth and gives us an insight to their relationship in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

‘Free Fall’ is definitely worth a read, it’s fast paced, thoroughly enjoyable and adds some great content to the Star Wars canon.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #26 – The Mandalorian

This episode I get to take a look at a POP! I have been hunting for a few months and now it’s finally in the collection, the one and only, Mandalorian.

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Rey’s Parents. Did We Ask the Wrong Questions?

I was listening to to latest episode of TATOOINE SONS the other day where they were discussing Rey and something clicked in my head, granted, I could just be really slow in thinking this and folks reason this are now thinking “Well duh!” but when has that stopped me in my search for new content?

Through the Sequel Trilogy, the topic of Rey’s parents has been a hot one to say the least. From clutching at any available straw in the aftermath of ‘The Force Awakens’, vehemently proclaiming Kylo to be a liar in ‘The Last Jedi’ to flat out disbelief and scoffing in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ (not me, but there have been many).

But in the run up to the revelation in ‘TROS’ were we asking the wrong question? Rather than ‘who’, shouldn’t we have been asking ‘where’ and ‘why’?

I remember after ‘The Force Awakens’ came out and the speculation was rife on who her parents were, wondering if Rey was a secret daughter of any of the main three heroes, even going as far as having either Han or Leia having an affair. I even read one absurd theory saying that Rey was the child of Luke and Leia (some wierd Force conception).

But taking a look at our main heroes, would Han or Leia ever commit adultery, or even abandon their child? Would Luke be that dead-beat Dad, leaving his daughter on Jakku? No! We know these characters and, if I may be brutally honest here, these theories are utterly ridiculous and the situations we find them in ‘The Force Awakens’ feel completely logical (don’t @ me).

What I rarely seemed to see at the time were the speculations on why she was left, or where her parents had gone? There were some, that she was hidden to keep her safe from Kylo Ren was a popular theory for a while, but of course we found it to be false when we saw ‘The Last Jedi’ and Kylo tells her that her parents are nobodies, that she isn’t connected to the big story.

But in the interim between the second and third installments of the Sequel Trilogy, the speculation continued, the belief that she was the daughter someone important to the Saga (technically she isn’t, and Kylo only saw what she knew).

The fans did seem to realise that, given her age when she is left on Jakku that she should still remember her parents, and her last name, but was she ever really given a last name? Would her parents have burdened her with the name Palpatine? Of course not. And as Kylo says in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, she remebers more than she is letting on, but what exactly was that? We see her remember her parents saying goodbye and flying away on Ochi’s ship.

But why were we so obsessed with who her parents are? Shouldn’t we have been focusing on why she was left and where her parents were? Or even why hadn’t they come back? Of course now we know why and it seems incredibly obvious that they would have been killed, but the why of it all would have still been lingering.

We will always speculate, we will always want answers to our questions, but did was put too much stock in the identities of Rey’s parents too early? I mean the whole set up in ‘The Force Awakens’ meant that the plot thread would be revisited and the overall mystery continue through the trilogy, and i really think we spent too much time focusing on it as a collective fandom, we will always get answers and that was a question too important to ignore.

Perhaps we should have been asking where Snoke got his wardrobe?

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Solo: A Star Wars Story by Mur Lafferty Audiobook Review

Firstly, yes, it has taken me this long to get around to reading/listening to this book. I just never really got around to it, I got it on Kindle a while back but I sometimes struggle with E-Books, I prefer the actual thing than holding a device when I’m reading. But hey, we all have our foibles and when my wife offered me an audiobook I went straight for ‘Solo’.

I am going to break this review in two. First I will tackle the story itself and second I will talk about the audio aspect.

I’m not going to pull any punches here, this is not my favourite novelisation we have had in the Disney era. In fact it’s almost at the bottom of the list (the bottom rank is held by Alan Dean Foster’s ‘The Force Awakens’).

The writing is good, but Lafferty never seems to feel comfortable in the Galaxy far, far away.

The book has the ‘Expanded Edition’ subtitle, which started with ‘The Last Jedi’ and we do get some extra material, starting with the job Han was sent on by Lady Proxima to sell the Coaxium which goes south. Right out of the gate I really didn’t enjoy this part, and whilst we are meant to feel sympathetic towards Han for getting double crossed, after reading this I think he deserves it, turning up late to the meeting because he wanted to play some Sabacc? Really? The fact he stopped to play a game of Sabacc feels like a very heavy handed introduction to the game early on and basically makes me want to punch Han because now I lack the sympathy I have for him when watching the film.

The added scenes of Qi’Ra after her and Han’s attempted escape give us a quick look at her life, first sold to a slaver who “trained” her. She later got sold to Dryden Vos and after a number of escape attempts, her and Dryden come to an understanding and she is allowed to rise in the ranks of his inner circle as his trained assassin and later his right hand in all his dealings.

We get a nice scene between Lando and L3 after the Falcon leaves Savareen, with the two of them having a brief farewell conversation as L3 becomes fully integrated into the Falcon itself. It really shows how deeply Lando cares for his co-pilot and how much the Falcon meant to him. You just know that he never would have gambled his ship had he known that Han had taken the ace up his sleeve.

The big addition, and my favourite has got to be the epilogue where Enfys Nest and the Cloud Riders meet with Saw Gurerra and a young Jyn Erso to hand over the Coaxium that Han gave them. It’s a really nice bit of connective tissue between the two stand-alone Star Wars Stories that I wish had been included in the film.

The characters are well written, the dialogue flows as well as it does in the film and the novel adequately tells the films story, but it just feels lacking, the added material feels almost like fan service, as if Lafferty had searched for the most asked questions on Social Media about the film and gave us some answers.

The audiobook however is a different beast. Having attempted to read the book and failed, getting the audiobook, narrated by the legendary Marc Thompson made it much more digestible.

Thompson plays the character perfectly, his ‘Beckett’ is so spot on to Woody Harrelson’s portrayal that you could almost mistake the two.

My only issue with the audiobook is the music. We get music from the Prequel era films rather than the actual soundtrack from the film, and given the release schedule, surely the producers could have used some of John Powell’s amazing score.

Definitely not my favourite by a long shot, but still not terrible. Problems during the production of the film and the fact they were doing reshoots a couple of months prior to release could have led to a rushed writing schedule, but the end product lacks something that had made other novelisations shine. The audiobook is fun and enjoyable and well acted and makes up for the books shortcomings.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #25 – Mystery Unboxing 4

This month’s mystery POP! has arrived from Pop in a Box, so let’s take a look.

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My Top Star Wars Moments 8

cantideforeverluke

This scene in ‘Return of the Jedi’ is so tense.

Vader searching the shadows for Luke, taunting him, trying to lure him to the Dark Side.

And when he finally touches that nerve after learning about Luke’s sister and threatening to turn her and Luke loses himself to his anger.

The way James Earl Jones perfoms the dialogue here is just perfect, especially the line, “Sister. So, you have a twin Sister?” is pure perfection.

The lighint really sets the tone of the scene, Luke half in the shadows and half lit really shows the audiemce how close he is to turning and as soon as he ignites his lightsaber and attacks his father, we all know what’s happened.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #24 – The Rey Series Part 7

In today’s episode is the seventh part in the Rey series, this time looking at Dark Rey from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

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#CollectionCorner – Poe Dameron’s X-Wing Starfighter (2020)

Another year, another X-Wing.

It’s the fourth variation of the same ship since the first Force Friday back in 2015, which was the previous incarnation of Poe’s X-Wing (the black and orange one).

When this was announced/leaked I was disappointed, the majority of the Winter 2020 Wave felt like a bunch of updates with very few new builds.

But, once I build the Sith TIE Dagger, which, at the end of the day is a modified TIE Fighter set, and thoroughly enjoyed building it, I decided to carry on that nostalgia trip and got the new X-Wing.

The box contains six numbered bags, instruction booklet and a small sticker sheet.

The first bag builds the base of the rear end of the ship where he wings and engines connect to, as well as the wing opening mechanics. The front part is the cockpit area and Astromech slot where R2 will sit later.

Bag 1 also includes a Poe Dameron mini-fig with his flight helmet and also his infamous hair which can be swapped with the helmet. The mini-fig is the same version that came with the original Poe’s X-Wing from 2015.

We also get R2-D2 which is the same version that we go with Obi-Wan’s Hut.

Bag 2 adds the nose cone of the ship as well as the landing gears, the cockpit is built and decorated and the rear end has more added to build it all up. It’s here that you start to get a look at the vibrancy of the colour scheme.

Bag 3 completes the build on the main body of the X-Wing as well as adding the final parts to the wing opening mechanism.

Bag 3 also gives us the final two mini-figs. Firstly we get Jannah, the former Stormtrooper who joins with Finn to lead the ‘ground assault’ on the Star Destroyer during the Battle of Exogol. She has amazing printed detailing on the torso, a custom moulded hairpiece that includes her goggles, a bow and arrow weapon and a quiver attached to her back.

The second figure is one of the Knights of Ren which is unique to this set, this one is Vicrul who comes with a buildable scythe and a blaster. Once again it has great printed detailing and the mask looks great.

Bags 4 and 5 construct the four wings and the engine housings. The two lower wings also have missile launchers attached, leaving to top wings without them, a very nice aesthetic choice as those launchers can often look out of place.

The wings open using the lever in the centre of the back and close using the push lever underneath, four rubber bands help keep the wings in the open position and this time they are added to the sides of the wings, one at the front and one at the back on each side.

Bag six finishes the set nicely, adding the blaster cannons, engine details at the front and back and some small greebles on the wings.

Overall, it’s a great set. Visually it’s very striking and stands out against most other Star Wars sets which generally come in black/grey/white so the orange and blue really help it stand out in the crowd.

I feel like this is a much sleeker looking version of the T-70 X-Wing then the previous two versions (which was the same set just different colours) and once again Lego has pushed the X-Wong design forward just a little bit more.

Whilst it is still another X-Wing set, it does look good, it has a decent selection of mini-figs, Vicrul is only available here and adding Jannah gives collectors the chance to get her mini-fig without paying the £150 for a Millennium Falcon.

The set had an RRP of £89.99, I was able to get £10 using Lego VIP codes which made the price a bit more bearable for me, but if you’re after the set then its an ok price but it won’t be long before Amazon starts dropping the prices of the Winter wave in time for the new sets for Summer.

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The Rumour Mill

The rumours coming out in the last few weeks have been almost overwhelming.

And at this point I’m getting sick of hearing them.

Lets go back a few weeks when the news was suddenly dropped that Rosario Dawson was playing Ahsoka in ‘The Mandalorian’ Season Two and the internet exploded, and rightfully so.

Dawson has spoken about wanting to play the character, and she would be a great fit. Her acting range is phenominal, I cant say that I have disliked her in anything I have seen her in and, in all honesty, there is just something about Rosario Dawson that you just know that she would always be the right choice for a live action adult Ahsoka.

But if this is true, and this was meanto to be a big reveal for the second season, boom, it’s gone.

There is a second part to this rumour, that her appearance in the show could be used as a back-door pilot for an Ahsoka spin-off show. Now allow me a moment to be blunt, but no thanks! Ahsoka lives in animation, any series featuring her as a main character should be animation. I know that I’m sounding like a gatekeeper here, and I don’t like the fact that I do, and as great as a live action version of the character would be, there is something almost sacred and her long-term story, I feel should remain in animation.

Then over the last couple of weeks we have been inundated with rumoured casting news for the new season of ‘The Mandalorian’ (I say rumoured because until I see an official announcement from Lucasfilm I’m holding back the excitement). First we have heard that Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica) will be playing the live action version of her character Bo Katan who appeared in ‘The Clone Wars’ and ‘Rebels’.

This rumour has been going around for a while after Sackhoff tweeted last year about working on something she was excited about, right around the time ‘The Mandalorian’ was shooting, but now it seems to be all but confirmed.

It wouldn’t be out of place for the character to show up, when we see her in ‘Rebels’ she is given the Darksaber by Sabine and the Mandalorian clans rallied behind her to fight the Empire, and of course we see Moff Gideon with the Darksaber in the last shot of ‘The Mandalorian’ Season 1.

Her character nicely ties with where the story of the series could be heading, with a focus on Mandalore and maybe, hopefully we could learn more about ‘The Night of a Thousand Tears’ that Gideon mentioned.

And then, to top it all off, we got the “news” that Temura Morrison was returning to play Boba Fett.

Let’s pause for a second.

Yes, Boba is supposedly coming back after his stint in the Sarlaac pit. It only seems right to have Morrison in the role. Boba is a Clone of Jango Fett and Morrison did re-record Boba’s dialogue for the DVD release of the Original Trilogy for their release in 2004. It doesn’t end there though, because after that, a new rumour started to circulate that said that Disney are now considering a Boba Fett series on Disney+.

The Temura Morrison rumours got a bit more traction and other outlets started to say that he was also going to be playing the role of Captain Rex, and will be appearing with Ahsoka in ‘Mandalorian’ as well as Sabine Wren.

I mean, come on folks!

Can we have something to surprise us somewhere?

And I’m not asking for a Baby Yoda type reveal here, just something we aren’t waiting to see happen.

Whenever we get a trailer, it’s basically going to just be a bunch of confirmations rather than big reveals that make fans go wild, I don’t want to sit watching it and ticking a whole bunch of boxes as we see all these rumours become reality.

A lot of these rumours could be legit and their trickle out to the press could very well be more to do with the (as of now still unconfirmed) cancellation/postponement of Celebration in August. Although surely they would want to put something out before then seeing as it would only be a month or so before the series is released.

Of course, we will find out all of this when the series comes out, but I hope that we will get some surprises.

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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #23 – The Child

In today’s episode I acquire the most precious asset, The Child.

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