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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Funko Pop! Vinyl Review #28 – A Change to the Scheduled Programming

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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#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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