Archive for Guest Editorials

“For a Thousand Generations…” – Evolving Jedi Philosophy from Star Wars to The Last Jedi

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On April 15th, 2017, the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released to the thunderous roar of a thousand live attendees at Celebration Orlando and the individual cheers of viewers at home. The trailer closed with a line from Luke Skywalker, uttered in a gravelly voice and tinged with foreboding, “I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.” Cue the launching of a thousand speculations as people wondered what exactly those words meant for the Jedi and the overall philosophy of the Force in the Star Wars universe.

When Star Wars came out in 1977 the concept of the Jedi, as explained by Ben Kenobi, was relatively simple – the Jedi were space-age knights, chivalrous and inherently good, wielding a mystical energy field that was ever-present but relatively unexamined and mysterious. Juxtaposed against the evil of the fallen Jedi Knight Darth Vader in a space-fantasy play, it seemed their position as the relative “good guys” was pretty much sealed.

Over the course of the original trilogy we got to explore aspects of the Jedi and their relationship with the Force. I’ve always felt that Star Wars was conceived as an adventurous morality play with the dynamic of the light side versus the dark side as the center theme of the classic films. Although it can be argued that Jedi believe in the yin and the yang of the Force where the light and dark comprise a whole that ties the galaxy together, they are firm believers that the “yang” or “light” side of the Force is morally right. Their actions and philosophies reflect this attitude and are not challenged within the original trilogy itself. » Read more..

All Wings Report In: The Roots of Rebel Fleet Strategy

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The sight of the ragtag Rebel fleet dropping out of hyperspace into battle is enough to capture the heart of any five- or 55-year-old Star Wars fan. From Rebels to Return of the Jedi, the Alliance’s motley assortment of ships is a striking visual embodiment of their struggle against the Empire. There is real substance behind those amazing on-screen moments, as the Rebel fleet employs tactics that have deep roots in real world conflict.

Lacking the sledgehammer might of the Imperial Navy, the Alliance was forced to develop tactics tailored to their limited resources. Their strategy placed an emphasis on a force built around a backbone of starfighter superiority. The Rebels’ heavy reliance on starfighters echoes the U.S. Navy’s development of aircraft carrier task forces in World War II, which ushered in a new era of combined arms naval warfare.

I. Breaking Tradition

The Rebel Alliance’s starfighter-centric strategy represented a shift in space warfare. At the time of the Alliance’s formation, the prevailing galactic military strategy prized the power of capital ships over snub fighters. This sentiment traces back to the Clone Wars, where space combat was dominated by large-scale engagements between Republic and Separatist capital ships. Although the Republic made strides in developing effective starfighters like the ARC-170 and the V-wing, capital ships remained the central focus of combat and tactics throughout the war. The mentality that pervaded the Clone Wars is exemplified during the Battle of Coruscant, in which a massive number of capital ships slugged it out toe-to-toe. » Read more..

I Rebel, Like My Mother Before Me: On Jyn and Lyra

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Rogue One is a story about family; on the surface, it seems to be more the story of a father and daughter, Galen and Jyn. It is the story of a broken relationship, of a failed hero, of forgiveness, and strife. Under the surface, and thanks in part to James Luceno’s Catalyst, we can find another family story: that of Jyn and Lyra. Though Lyra dies at the very beginning of the film, echoes of her reverberate throughout the story.

The primary lens through which Jyn sees the world is through that of a prison. Not hard to imagine, after all she was born in a prison on Vallt. Even her life on Coruscant was, as her mother described it, more compulsory than by choice. After Krennic comes to Lah’mu, taking Galen and killing Lyra, Jyn is forced to hide in a cave. This becomes Jyn’s defining reality for everything that happens later, including her capture on Corulag and her release on Wobani. Even her “rescuers” don’t seem to stay for very long: Krennic becomes overbearing, directly threatening her mother; her mother dies and she hates Galen for going with Krennic; Saw abandons her in the field; and now the Alliance simply wants to use her as a means of getting Galen to the senate. It’s easy to see how being taken forcibly from Wobani (despite the levity K-2 provides), almost coerced into a mission to find Galen, and promised a vague premise of freedom after the mission, would sound less and less desirable (and even comparable to what Krennic offered the Ersos before).

This is where we hear the first echo of Lyra in the film. When Lyra was brought to Coruscant with Galen, she was quick to make her hesitations about working for the Empire known. In order to remove Lyra from Coruscant, Krennic arranges an expedition for her so that she might get out of Galen’s mind and let him continue to work. She takes up the expedition, more for Galen’s sake than for her own. She told Galen how she felt, and she had the opportunity to say something to Has Obitt and Nari Sable as they discover the damage done to legacy worlds. Only seeing the vast damage that the Empire has caused to worlds earmarked for environmental protection could make a neutralist in the Clone Wars into a staunch opponent of the new regime. Lyra is so outspoken about the damage that she attracts the negative attention of Director Krennic, who blatantly threatens her and Jyn. » Read more..

Knowledge and Defense: The Ways of the Force

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“A Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense; never for attack” – Yoda

The above quote by Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back is one of the foundational quotes for understanding how the Jedi were supposed to operate. Gifted with their connection to the Force, which they honed through discipline and training, they were to confine their actions to gaining knowledge and to defending others. If they go on the offensive, they fall prey to the temptations of the dark side.

This idea was a major theme of Return of the Jedi. We see Luke throughout that film wavering between light and dark. While walking into Jabba’s palace and Force choking a couple of guards is a badass move, it’s not the job of a Jedi to be cool and powerful. There’s a reason Luke enters the palace in shadow with a big black cape flowing behind him – will he fall like his father?

Before the Emperor, the times when Luke comes close to falling are when he goes on the attack, goaded by his love of his friends. The Emperor says that his friends will die, and Luke attacks. Note, this is not defending his friends – it won’t stop what is going out there. It is an attempt at revenge. It is simply attack. Likewise, when Vader goads him into attacking, he’s not doing anything to actually protect Leia. Instead, he is acting on his passion. That is why the Emperor cackles, “good” when Luke defeats Vader. Luke hasn’t been acting as a Jedi; he has been on the attack, following his passion, acting without knowledge.

Contrast this with the redemption of Vader, who is returned to the light side of the Force when he acts simply and solely to defend Luke. Vader gains no power by this act. In fact, he suffers. It doesn’t placate his passions (especially as originally scripted without the “noooooo”). He simply is defending Luke. That is the way of a Jedi. » Read more..

Doctor Aphra Goes Solo: Marvel Changes it Up and Why it Matters

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With the release of its December 2016 solicitations, Marvel ignited a firestorm of speculation. Among its usual Star Wars titles was Star Wars: Classified, a new ongoing series. Given its December launch and the secrecy surrounding the project, fans guessed it could be one of two things: a Rogue One tie-in or a series featuring Darth Vader’s Doctor Aphra.

Now that Darth Vader has concluded, the speculation has been laid to rest.  Doctor Aphra, penned by Darth Vader scribe Kieron Gillen, will focus on the not-so-good doctor’s exploits after escaping death at the hands of her former boss.

The news that Aphra will be headlining her own series marks a number of firsts, both for Marvel’s line of Star Wars comics and for the Star Wars franchise as a whole. It’s also a welcome addition to Marvel and Star Wars’ growing number of stories centering on women and people of color.

Aphra’s status as the leading woman of her own series is an exciting prospect, not just for her fans, but also for fans of a growing new expanded universe. Doctor Aphra will be the first ongoing comic series since the reboot to focus on a homegrown comics hero (one not first appearing in the films or TV shows). For fans who cut their teeth on Dark Horse’s stable of original characters, her new series is the first sign that Marvel is willing to step away from the on-screen playground. » Read more..

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