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What Star Wars Can Learn From Mad Max: Fury Road

furyroad2Pop quiz, hotshot: which great science fantasy franchise is returning to the world in 2015 after many years of absence? Why, Mad Max, of course! George Miller’s post-apocalyptic series has returned to us, and it appears to be in better shape than ever. Critics and audiences appear to be in love with this movie, so it would seem like it’s time to take a good look at it. So get your driving wheel from the pile, spray your face so you can enter Valhalla, and come with us to see the lessons Star Wars could learn from Mad Max: Fury Road!

Stand by your franchise’s style

Desert wastelands. Ridiculous character names like Rictus Erectus or Toast the Knowing. Punk aesthetics and ridiculously souped-up vehicles. Extreme close ups before crashes. Low camera angles during chase scenes. These are the aesthetic choices Miller and Byron Kennedy applied to The Road Warrior back in 1981 and turned it into a global phenomenon. These are exactly the same choices Miller applied to Fury Road in 2015. And why wouldn’t he?

You don’t even need to see the main character driving his Pursuit Special to know you are watching a Mad Max movie: it’s obvious from the first minute that you are back to the universe you left thirty years before. The movie uses some CGI here and there, when practical effects just won’t do it, but it manages to feel as genuine and gritty as The Road Warrior felt. It goes without saying, but the same thinking could easily apply to Star Wars: there’s nothing wrong with Star Wars just as it is. We love the way it is, with its simple plotlines, its black and white characters, and its cheesy names. There’s no need to “bring Star Wars to the twenty-first century”. It’s still great! Don’t mess with it! Read More

Continuity, or Why You Are a Bad Person and Should Feel Bad

This picture will make sense soon, I promise.
This picture will make sense soon, I promise.

Here I am, writing a column telling you to stop buying Star Wars novels if you don’t like them. “Why would you waste your time saying something this elementary? Do you think we are stupid?”, I hear some of you grumbling (especially you, the dork in the Robotech shirt: I can see you). No, I don’t think you’re stupid. I think you are smart enough to still read books in the era of the iTwitterbook, and you are obviously intelligent enough to choose this website as your place to go for Star Wars discussion (we are on your bookmarks, right? Right?). I know you are a smart person. I’m assuming you also have disposable income and that you regularly spend a chunk of it, no matter how large or small, on material that will make Lucasfilm’s coffers fill up. That’s good! What I’m trying to tell you is that if you are buying part of that material just because of a completist need, then you are part of the problem, this problem being that a lot of crap is getting released.

“But I like collecting figures!”, you say. Yeah, sorry, I should have explained myself: I’m talking about fiction, not about collectibles. If you collect fiction, you are making it worse for the rest of us. What a bold claim! How do I dare? Well, I dare because I have a keyboard, that should be obvious, but also because I love Star Wars and I’ve seen our relationship (mine and Star Wars’) become an abusive one for years, all because of that terrible c-word, the one that rhymes with “Mitch Buchanan”. It’s such an awful word (and so often misused!) that for this piece I will use the “continuity” euphemism in its place. But let me explain what I mean, and I’ll do it using my favorite conversation topic: myself. Hi, I’m David, and I used to be a completist.

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Meet the Marvels: Mark Waid

Daredevil_Vol_3_1In past entries of Meet the Marvels we spotlighted the works of Jason Aaron and Kieron Gillen, writers of the new Star Wars and Darth Vader comics respectively. We are not going to discuss Kanan‘s Greg Weisman in this series, as Ben Wahrman already took a good look at his career, so we are going to finish this feature (for now) looking at Mark Waid, writer of the Princess Leia miniseries.

And boy, what a daunting task. While Aaron and Gillen are both excellent writers, their careers started relatively recently. But Waid is a real veteran. No, I’d even go beyond that label and say he’s a legend. Several comic book scholars (and this author) consider his seminal Kingdom Come series to be the dividing line between the Iron Age of Comics and the Modern Age. Yes: to some, he defined a whole era of comic book publishing, one marked by the marriage of the Silver Age’s sense of wonder and the Iron Age’s modern sensibilities. He’s written for extended periods almost every single iconic superhero, from Superman (co-writing the fantastic Superman 2000 proposal) and Batman, to the X-Men or Captain America, leaving his mark in all these well loved properties. He’s also very active in the community, never shying away from controversy and often offering a clear point of view on many polemical subjects. Some would call him larger than life. So how to choose just one issue to spotlight here? Read More

Base Delta Fulcrum: The Lothal Conspiracy Theory

bdz

It’s always fun to speculate about what our favorite TV shows have ready for us. Shows like Twin Peaks or Lost turned the art of teasing and fueling fan speculation into an art, and why wouldn’t Star Wars Rebels get a piece of that cake, as small as it might be? The serial nature of Rebels, unlike the anthology structure of The Clone Wars, lets Dave Filoni and company drop hints and seed future storylines in a very organic and natural way. The traitor Senator Trayvis appears twice in the background before the episode that features him, for example, and these appearances hint towards his eventually revealed Imperial allegiance. Most serious fan speculation so far has been directed towards the identity of the mysterious Fulcrum, the main intelligence source of the Ghost crew and apparently also the hand directing Hera Syndulla’s actions, probably the main mystery of this season. Although recent spoilers appear to be strongly pointing in one direction, we prefer to wait until we see it with our own eyes, so we are all here awaiting the official reveal of Fulcrum’s identity in the season finale. But there’s another really interesting theory that’s been gaining adepts among fans because of how intriguing and macabre it is. Let’s call it the Base Delta Zero theory.

Most of the audience probably missed the first mention of Base Delta Zero in Rebels, as it’s a pretty hard one to spot unless you already know what to be looking for. In episode 1×03, “Rise of the Old Masters”, our heroes are watching Holonet News when Senator Gall Trayvis interrupts the signal to broadcast the news that Master Luminara Unduli is alive and in the hands of the Empire, the main focus of the episode. When the pirated signal goes out and Holonet News returns, we can hear a brief fragment of a sentence before Sabine turns off the holoprojector: “–and another successful planetary liberation utilizing the Base Delta Zero initiative.” The regular fan probably didn’t think anything of it, considering the fragment just some random mumble jumble and promptly forgetting all about it. The old timer? Well, let’s say my wife had to elbow me a couple of times to get me to stop laughing. Read More

Meet the Marvels: Kieron Gillen

marvels-gillencoverWe continue with our look back at representative works penned by the new writers of the Marvel Star Wars comics. Last time we looked at Jason Aaron, and now we are going to take a look at Kieron Gillen, writer of this week’s Darth Vader. Given that he’s writing one of the largest villains in the history of fiction, we’ll take a look at one of his most villainous series: the critically-acclaimed Journey Into Mystery.

In 2011, Gillen was already a popular author and was slowly becoming one of Marvel’s staples. Coming from the world of media journalism, his New Games Journalism manifesto had tried to adapt the new journalism model to the world of video games. His first real comic, outside of comic strips for video game magazines, was called Phonogram, a delicious mish-mash of pop sorcery, britpop and true love for anything pop that he authored alongside long-time collaborator Jamie McKelvie and that turned him into someone to keep an eye on. After writing some one-shots for Marvel, he co-authored comic books with well-established writers like Warren Ellis or Matt Fraction and eventually took the reins of the Thor comic book for ten issues. After a long and well-received stint in Uncanny X-Men, Gillen returned to Thor, but to everyone’s surprise the book was renamed to Journey Into Mystery (the name of the comic where Thor and the Asgardians first appeared) and, well, stopped being a Thor comic. Read More