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Vader’s Vilest Villainy: The Best of the Dark Lord


There is no point to underselling just how important Darth Vader has been and is to the Star Wars franchise. He gave fans someone to boo (or cheer for), an iconic villain who is instantly recognizable, formidable, effective and intimidating. Anakin Skywalker’s past gives him backstory and depth, but it is Vader, with his raspy automated breathing, melodramatic deeper-than-deep voice, and grotesque-like helmeted visage that is the face of a franchise and one of the most venerated film characters of a generation. He is the third greatest cinema villain of all time according to the American Film Institute, behind only Hannibal Lecter and Norman Bates. It is small wonder that rumors about a film or project revolving around Vader have been swirling ever since Disney purchased Lucasfilm. When you have a character with that sort of impact, reputation and familiarity, not using them in some way would be far crazier than leaving them be.

While the prospect of a Vader-centric spin-off film is neither here nor there, using him in novels and comics is far from forbidden now and was hardly restricted before (unless you wanted to bring him back to life). Before the prequel trilogy, Vader was an indomitable force who could not be corrupted, turned aside or defeated in battle, the Empire’s foremost military commander. After his past as Skywalker came into better light, searching through his inner space and figuring out his thoughts and feelings became more of the norm, while still leaving him a formidable and deadly martial threat. But which of his appearances were the best (outside of those on film, of course)? Read More

A Cynical Response: The Possibilities of “Rogue One”


When the title of the first Star Wars spin-off film, Rogue One, was announced, the conclusions jumped to by many people were so astronomically large that they could be measured in parsecs. It’s the Star Wars version of Top Gun! It’s all about Rogue Squadron’s formation! Felicity Jones is Wedge’s daughter! Denis Lawson may be coming back! There had better be a dedication to Aaron Allston!

Let’s slow that roll down and reexamine what the announcement told us. Right now, we know nothing about Rogue One except for a title, its director, the writer, one actress, and the film’s production posse. Everything that is being inferred springs from established lore, books, video games and magazine articles, 99% of which do not exist in canon anymore. The only reason people even remember the name Rogue Squadron (aside from it sounding cool) is because of these materials, it certainly is not at all emphasized or fleshed out in the movies. Read More

Musings on the Nature of Fandom


Being a fan is a curious thing. It can bring people together, it can tear them apart. It can make someone shout, laugh and jump for joy, or it can be depressing, make them scream, cry tears of sorrow or rage. A fan does not merely like something or enjoy something, they make that something a part of who they are, a part of their personality, of their identity. Being a fan takes on all sorts of shapes and sizes and people become fans for a number of different reasons, almost always reasons that are very personal to them, reasons that can be hard to explain to someone who may not be a fan as well.

Being a fan of something is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Not all fans are created equal. People naturally experience things in different ways in all aspects of life, not only in being fans. Just as not all people are fans of the same thing, people who are fans may not be fans for the same reasons, or may not enjoy things the same way, or may have become fans at different stages of life, the list goes on. Someone may be a more critical, while another person is more accepting; one might be tightly wound, another may be more laid back. The size of a given fan group does not matter; no two fans will ever be exactly alike, no matter how big or small the fandom as a whole. Read More

Escape Pod: Wedge Antilles

The coming sequel trilogy has put a lot of value on the presence of the older generation of heroes and on the impact they had. While it remains to be seen how the Rebellion/Alliance will fare in the new continuity, it’s a safe bet that a New Republic still exists even if it’s not necessarily by that name. In that new Republic the vested veterans of the Rebellion, the heroes of the original trilogy, will likely have influential positions, just as they did in the Legends stories. Leia will likely be a politician still, Han may be a military officer, and Luke a veteran Jedi Master, perhaps the head of a new Jedi Order. But they are not the only veterans of the war against the Empire.

Consider one Wedge Antilles.

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Scoring the Saga: The Music of Star Wars

What would Star Wars be without John Williams? The opening blast of horns, percussion and strings in the Star Wars theme is one of the most iconic moments in all of cinema. The music score for the film we now know as Episode IV: A New Hope has more than stood the test of time, being named #1 on the American Film Institute’s list of the all-time best movie scores, and each successive entry in the series only added to that legacy. Songs like the Cantina Theme, the Imperial March, Duel of the Fates and Battle of the Heroes are hummed across the world by hardcore fans and casual moviegoers alike. The series’ collective soundtrack ranks with the most iconic and influential film scores of all time.

You don’t have to rely on imagination to wonder what Star Wars would be without its soundtrack. If you watch the first trailer cut for the first film, you see iconic scenes from the Death Star escape and the cantina fight unfold in almost complete silence aside from a stock synthesized beat. It’s an eerie experience. John Williams gave the Star Wars films a sound that is at once classic and distinctive, filled with blaring trumpets, shouting horns, soaring violins, humming cellos, pounding drums and crashing cymbals. His work is a substantial part of what has made the films such icons of pop culture for the last four decades. Read More