A Case for Starting Over, Part V: Passing the Torch


When we think of Star Wars, our minds usually leap first to the likes of Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo. It’s a natural enough reaction. They’re Our Heroes, the iconic trio, the protagonists of the Original Trilogy, and more or less the defining figures of the entire saga given how most people view the prequels. But they do not stand entirely alone in the galaxy’s pantheon of heroes.

There were many who came before them, and there are many still to follow, for the tales we see on the screen are but a brief glimpse at the history of a much larger universe. What we will concern ourselves with here today, however, is the generation immediately succeeding the Big Three; their children, their friends, and those who would continue their work to ensure peace and justice in a galaxy that does not see enough of either.

Read More

Maul: Lockdown Review: Not For The Faint Of Heart


maul-lockdownDespite the considerable number of appearances his conspicuously-tattooed visage has made in the Expanded Universe in addition to his role in The Phantom Menace, it is not often that one thinks of Darth Maul in terms of his character. His existence is primarily that of an instrument that provides conflict and advances the plot as the author required, a pure and driven killing machine rendered virtually invulnerable by his predetermined parting of ways with his lower half in a certain plasma refinery complex on Naboo. Though his limited time on-screen has not exactly provided prospective authors with a wealth of characterization to draw from, there still remain a few interesting elements of his personality that could be explored.

Raised from childhood to be the perfect weapon of a secret order dating back thousands of years, how did he perceive the rest of the universe? In the course of his training and missions, did he often encounter behavior that appeared bizarre or foreign to him, having been brought up in isolation? In his eagerness to face the Jedi, did he study those he hoped one day to face afar? His obedience to his master was undoubtedly absolute, but was it entirely unquestioning? Did he perhaps harbor his own opinions about his master’s mysterious plans, and how the Sith should go about carrying out their return to power?

Read More

A Case for Starting Over, Part IV: Guardians of Peace and Justice


In the first three installments of this series, we looked at how a reborn Expanded Universe might take advantage of the opportunity for a fresh start offered by the announcement of the Sequel Trilogy to build on its various strengths, improving the treatment of certain elements and elevating others from being merely good to potential greatness. That is not to make the claim, however, that the existing post-Return of the Jedi continuity is entirely without its flaws. Quite the opposite, in fact, as more than a few readers are likely willing to attest.

For the latter half of the series, we’ll be taking a somewhat more critical approach, turning an examining eye upon the structural weaknesses of the universe in the decades following the Battle of Endor, and looking at how a new beginning might enable us to improve what we find to be less than ideal and set what has gone astray back on the right path in addition to reinforcing that which is already fundamentally sound.

Read More

What Star Wars Can Learn From Mass Effect

You can fight like a krogan, run like a leopard, but you'll never be better than Commander Shepard.
You can fight like a krogan, run like a leopard, but you’ll never be better than Commander Shepard.

In the previous incarnations of this series examining what Star Wars could stand to take a few lessons from, Mike Cooper examined the Avatar franchise (no, not that one) and Lucas Jackson took a long look at the exquisitely-executed pseudohistorical freerunning-with-a-side-of-murder simulators that comprise Assassin’s Creed. In today’s article, we’ll be probing another series of popular video games: BioWare’s Mass Effect, unhelpfully defined by Wikipedia as “a series of science fiction action role-playing third person shooter video games.”

For those whose knowledge of the franchise begins and ends with that vague, kitchen sink-esque description, we’ll take a few moments to elaborate on the nature of the games and the overarching story before we move on to the meat of the article. In Mass Effect, players take on the role of Commander [insert name here] Shepard, a highly-trained marine in the military of the Systems Alliance (the interstellar arm of humanity) in the year 2183, serving aboard the SSV Normandy, a state-of-the-art prototype stealth reconnaissance frigate.

Read More

Abandoned Universe: What Could Have Been


The Star Wars Expanded Universe has grown quite large over the years, containing everything from comics to novels to video games. Most of these entries exist within the same continuity, a notable few do not, and some linger somewhere between the two in a sort of state of canon limbo, waiting for day that executive judgment comes and their fate is decided one way or the other. All of these stories share at least one thing in common, however: they were published.

They were released and distributed to, paid for, and read by legions of eager (and occasionally less-than-eager) fans. But what of those tales that never quite made it into circulation for public consumption? Those that made the leap off the drawing board, but still fell short of the printing press in the end? It’s true that there are likely countless proposed and discarded concepts of which we will never hear, but a rare few proved sufficiently promising to be formally announced and yet still failed to see fruition.

In today’s feature, we will examine several of these uncommon cases in which stories were revealed and dangled in front of our eyes before being suddenly snatched away and left as mere obscure historical curiosities.

Read More