—major Phasma spoilers ahead—
It’s interesting that both of these books have come out in close proximity to each other. Each exists to promote a different item – Phasma is a Journey to the Last Jedi book, while Battlefront II: Inferno Squad tells you exactly what it is about. Both give an Imperial viewpoint, but they do so in very different ways.
Inferno Squad puts us in the position of four highly skilled Imperials – fighter pilots, military mechanic, and intelligence officer – and shows us how they view the world. Phasma is a biographical tale of its enigmatic lead, but is wrapped up in a far more interesting story of conflict with a First Order true believer. Of the two books I found Phasma the easier read. Both books sketch a very unpleasant picture, but only Inferno Squad attempts to give the reader an inside perspective of the Empire. The equivalent picture for the First Order and Phasma’s view of it is never covered in Phasma, instead it’s a story of how others perceive her.
It comes down to brutal honesty versus salesmanship. Inferno Squad seems to want to sell the reader on the worth of Imperial ideals. Phasma does not care about that, she does not care about you. You don’t like how she does things? Phasma says fuck you. She’s too harsh? Phasma says fuck you. Can’t she look out for anyone other than number one? Phasma says fuck you. The reader still gets a very clear picture of who and what Phasma is all about, but there is a lack of justification offered. There is character in Phasma who is all about justified belief and that’s Cardinal, the red stormtrooper who wants to know her origin.
Inferno Squad gives the most extreme, hardcore Imperial viewpoint there has ever been. There have been Imperial characters before – Legends’ Jahan Cross in Agent of the Empire, Baron Fel in X-Wing, more recently Rae Sloane in A New Dawn / Aftermath, however, in all three cases, it was either very clear they did not care for superweaponry as represented by the Death Star or they were ambiguous in their support of it. Inferno Squad dispenses with this and gives us Iden Versio, who we first encounter defending the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin while she still exults in the destruction of Alderaan by it. Just to hammer the point home further, if this first impression was not sufficient, the squad later drinks a bottle of Alderaanian wine as a celebration. » Read more..
–MAJOR ROGUE ONE SPOILERS AHEAD–
I saw this early Thursday night, 2D tickets bought easily, only a handful of people in the cinema too. And then, over the course of just over two hours, I got my head kicked in, metaphorically speaking. Oh and one hell of a buzz. Why? Well, in a word: Everything.
Rogue One is far from a perfect film, it has flaws, it is a bit jumpy at the start, it does have to establish itself apart from the main films, but it gets right far more than it gets wrong. And those things it gets right? It gets gloriously right. This film lives up to being the first real Star Wars movie that shows us the war. It shows us those fighting it and it is not afraid to make a distinction between the two sides while also embracing moral complexity.
Yet, for those of us who watched the trailers, it is also a strange finished product. On the one hand the macro elements are all present – the ground battles, the worlds, the characters, but the changes in the micro aspects indicate the substantive reshoots. There are entire lines present in the earlier trailers that never appear in the film, there are shots that never turn up. It makes for a somewhat disconcerting viewing. What might have been the road not taken? Given the portraits of the Rebellion and Jyn in the trailers, I suspect it may have been a harsher picture. A more cynical and colder Jyn, a more battle-hardened Rebellion, which likely gave rise to the fear, not unwarranted, that viewers may not back both. » Read more..
Wait, I thought Rogue One was in the era of the Empire and all the good stuff, that it had nothing to do with the prequels? You may have thought that but it does not look to be so. For there is a prequel novel, Catalyst, which recently had a killer blurb come out:
War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.
Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.
After Revenge of the Sith in 2005, I thought we might get stories that drew on all six films, that the division between the trilogies might start to fade. It never happened. Oh, there were a couple of exceptions that really tried to make the most of the prequels – series like the Legacy comics, actually DHC really did try. On the whole? Nope. And we look to be heading for similar divided territory with the start of the sequel trilogy. » Read more..
It is. Really. If it wasn’t for the Rebels cartoon and its friends, the A New Dawn book and the Kanan comic, I’d still be able to not care about the Clone Wars cartoon. Well, that and someone deciding to reboot the entire line a couple of years ago…
If we go back but three years you’ll find I was quite adamantly defending the first Clone Wars run from being steamrolled by its fatter, younger brother! So, what changed? How did I end up in a position where watching the The Clone Wars’ opening movie came to be not only a good idea but a fun experience too? There hangs a tale…
I became interested in Rebels due to brilliance of John Jackson Miller’s A New Dawn, which focused on Kanan and Hera. Before then I had no reason to be interested, but those two characters got and kept my interest. Marvel also released a Kanan comic which delved into his origin tale in more detail. The first arc of that book also presented an entirely new take on the clones’ betrayal of the Jedi with Order 66. For anyone who had watched the Clone Wars cartoon, they’d likely have the full story of the chips in the clones and the sense of violation they inflicted. I did not have it but was intrigued enough by the pieces I had.
Even so, what about that animation style? I was far from an immediate fan – cartoony? Sure, but a bit too stylized. That cannot possibly work, can it? Again, all the fault of Rebels. Sure, Rebels is a few years on, the animation has advanced, it’s not quite so stylized – I can notice that only now, but nonetheless the series convinced me that Star Wars can work just fine as animation in the modern era. (Go back far enough and you’ll encounter the Droids and Ewoks cartoons which were fun as a kid, not sure how they’d hold up thirty years on.) » Read more..
Stories like Star Wars exist to take us away from the mundane reality of life, to transport us to a more wondrous place. Recent weeks have been, in real life, very sobering for those in the UK in the wake of the result of the referendum to stay or leave the European Union. So, in the style of bleak, gallows humour, what might the world of Star Wars really be like? Cue snapshots of an alternative history of the galaxy, far, far, fucking far, away….
Luke Skywalker crashed his landspeeder after being sold illicit moonshine by Wuher, who was subsequently shot by a customer who thought he was being poisoned. Investigation of Wuher’s bar showed that that accusation was not without merit. Fortunately for the galaxy, Skywalker recovered and Wuher was more attentive to merely covertly poisoning his customers from then on.
When told the Death Star was the ultimate in asteroid clearance technology – the galaxy believed it because the Coruscant Star was never wrong. The Emperor had closed meetings with the owner to discuss how to really run the galaxy. Said owner also assured the Emperor, in great detail, that the magazine’s journalists would never, ever slice Imperial communications in pursuit of a story. In similar vein, the documentary A Death Star Is Born was buried for being too accurate a representation of Imperial policy-making. » Read more..