Archive for Guest Editorials

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


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


“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


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..

What the New Republic Should Have Learned From the Old Republic


Any good government should learn from the mistakes and the successes of its forebears: in this case, after the defeat of the Empire, the New Republic should have copied the successes of the Old Republic without copying the mistakes that allowed Palpatine to take control so easily. The Old Republic, mired in controversy and stalemates, was easily manipulatable and powerless to stop its own corrosion, even though it was easily seen by every party involved.  When all of the supplementary material for The Force Awakens was launched, I was shocked to see that the story of the New Republic was closely mirroring the story of the Old Republic. Stuck in a stalemate, the New Republic couldn’t decide how to move forward in terms of dealing with a shadowy organization that posed a pretty clear threat to it. I was afraid that we were seeing that the New Republic hadn’t learned the lessons it should have from the Old Republic and might prove itself to be in just as bad a place as the Old Republic. Bloodline seemed to explore the New Republic more critically, from Leia’s point of view, asking: what can a stagnant governing body do? For Leia, the answer was rebel against her own government…again. Which lessons did the New Republic not learn, and fail to learn so disastrously that Leia had to leave that which she helped create? And did their failure to learn these lessons make the New Republic worse from the start?

It may not come as a shock, but the biggest issue to address in the New Republic is its view of the military: what should the role of the military be in the new government? Should it be as large as it was under the Republic? An idealistic Mon Mothma begins demilitarization efforts on Chandrila only a few months after the Battle of Endor! I don’t think that this type of thinking can save the galaxy. Eventually, the fighting must stop and some sort of treaty has to be formed—you can’t kill an ideology just by killing a lot of people (something Leia has learned by 34 ABY). It is my opinion, though, that the New Republic reduced their military far too soon. Remember: this effort started before the Galactic Concordance was signed, so the Imperial Army and Navy was still intact! Between Endor and Jakku, you’ve got at least the four invasions of Naboo, the heavy blockade of the Anoat sector and Kashyyyk, and the continued plight of Ryloth. With these as just a few examples of Imperial aggression, it’s hard to figure out what made Mothma confident in de-escalating the war so early. » Read more..

Torn Apart: The Predictable Downfall of Ben Solo


“Darth Vader is your grandfather.”

There’s no easy way to tell someone that they’re related to one of the most evil men in history, no pleasant way to share information that will shake them to the core. The best thing to do is be upfront, be honest and be willing to talk about it, but Han and Leia did none of these things with their son, Ben Solo. Leia waited for years hoping that the opportunity to tell Ben of his lineage would present itself, undoubtedly keeping it a secret to protect him from the pain it would cause. Unfortunately there’s no such thing as the right time to tell someone their grandfather slaughtered little children and became a monster.

However, Leia’s efforts to find the perfect moment were taken away when her political opponents publicly exposed her relationship to Darth Vader in an effort to ruin her chances of overseeing the New Republic. While they succeeded in preventing her from taking power, what they could not predict was the side effect the news would have on her son. This revelation was potentially the moment that started Ben down the path to fill the void left by Vader’s death.

To understand why Ben was willing to join Snoke we need to look back at a few factors of his life prior to The Force Awakens, some which have been revealed and others we need to deduce from common human behavior. The first thing to examine is Ben’s relationship with the Force. Pablo Hidalgo states in The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary that there is something about Ben that makes Snoke believe he is “the ideal embodiment of the Force, a focal point of both light and dark side ability”. This is not some sort of prophecy like with Anakin Skywalker, but the natural way Ben is connected to the Force. Snoke was able to feel this power in Ben from a very young age and as a result started to pull him towards the dark side early on.
» Read more..

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