Tag: comics

Darth Maul finally gets the Star Wars story he deserves

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Source: ScreenRant

In an entertainment franchise or fictional universe, it’s not easy being anyone but the hero. While their future and fan base is all but guaranteed, the surrounding cast faces their own added challenges. If you’re the villain, you’ve got to match the hero just to get the same attention, let alone be remembered separately. Sidekicks must be plucky and lovable, romantic interests must chart their own course, and so on. But for the villain’s henchman – the one best described as the ‘appetizer’ to the big bad – immortality is almost impossible to grasp. Except, of course, in Star Wars.

Boba Fett may be remembered as the faceless goon who became a pop culture icon against all odds, but when measuring characters whose obvious value was cast aside for the larger plot, Darth Maul takes the cake. His story is an epic journey in its own rite, and so packed with untapped potential that an animated Star Wars Rebels series needed to resurrect him just to do it justice. And thanks to the new era of Star Wars comics books from Marvel Comics, the Emperor’s first film apprentice will finally get a story worthy of his name beginning with Darth Maul #1.

maul-phantomDarth Maul in Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace.

It may only help his case for a standalone Star Wars movie of his own, but for now, the comic is tackling a story guaranteed to grab even casual fans of the Sith Apprentice. If you’ve ever wondered what Darth Maul was up to while Palpatine manipulated his way through Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, the comic gives a clear answer: in anticipation of his rise to Master of the Sith, Maul was looking to introduce himself to the Jedi in an… unforgettable way.

DARTH MAUL FEEDS HIS BLOODLUST

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The most vivid memory of Maul is likely to be the impression that he was, at all times, restraining himself in both emotion and movement. In the film, that made his eventual reveal as an incredibly gifted, athletic, and acrobatic duelist all the more impactful. But in Darth Maul #1, the effort it takes to keep his incredible rage and lust for death in check is finally revealed (with some help from a beast introduced in The Force Awakens. As a team of men are ambushed and massacred by a single Rathtar – the tentacled creatures contained in Han Solo’s hold in Episode VII – Darth Maul emerges to battle it himself… and its friends.

The story, crafted by writer Cullen Bunn and artists Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard, begins in this murder-soaked setting – the planet Twon Ketee, for the fiction sticklers out there. It’s a sign of just how determined they are to do justice to the scale, the skill, and the terror Darth Maul conjures by his appearance – growing only more terrifying when he enters combat. Accompanied by his internal dialogue, Maul demonstrates that this act of slaughter is more than just surrendering to an urge, but honing the very skills that make him an accomplished Sith.

Fear. Hate. Anger. Maul channels these emotions that make the Sith strong in ways the Jedi can never contemplate in his attacks, savoring each second that he faces death’s snapping teeth in front of his face. But always reminded that Darth Maul is much, much more than the grimacing goon The Phantom Menace may have implied, he takes little joy or satisfaction in killing creatures that kill with ease. Because even as he bests them, he knows that their freedom to attack at will is not his own – and that his hunger can’t be satisfied by just any bloodshed.

It’s as chilling as it is, strangely, endearing. Not on the surface, since Maul remains a villain in every way by casual fans. But for those who know the beginnings of his story, and the ways of the Sith, a life spent training to defeat an enemy and never given a chance is a form of insanity. Darth Maul knows his purpose, knows he is capable, and thirsts for the blood of the Jedi he is destined to kill. But for now, the leash remains tight around his throat, leaving him to slaughter ignorant beasts in the wilderness.

DARTH MAUL FEEDS HIS HATRED

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The opening hunt provides a sense of the training and physical activity Darth Maul relies on to keep his senses (and fighting skills) honed – and shows why poor Qui-Gon Jinn never stood a chance – but it doesn’t answer the question of what role he served beneath Darth Sidious/Sheev Palpatine while the latter was working his way through the politics of Naboo and the Senate. Once the story shifts to Coruscant, we’re given a fitting, if unsurprising answer: he was busy hating Jedi, same as always.

But seeing Darth Maul silently despising passing Jedi from the shadows, imagining what it would feel like to finally cut them down isn’t just the signs of a killer biding his time. Darth Maul sees the moral victory, or at least an ideological victory approaching. He notes, as have fans, that the Jedi awareness of growing darkness, complacency as protectors of the Senate, and hypocrisy have shaken their once-solid footing. To his eyes, the Jedi have strayed from their mission to keep the peace, becoming agents of the Senate who kill without a full picture, thereby enforcing the peace.

The language used by Darth Maul is a victory in itself in this scene, showing that his true motivation is not just anger, but righteous anger. In his eyes, the Jedi are failing, they are falling, and they will be the ones who make their descent into darkness possible in the first place. Once they hit bottom, he’ll be ready to end them forever… but it won’t be him who makes them fall.

THE MASTER AT THE END OF THE LEASH

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Given how much Darth Maul envied the Rathtar for their freedom and lack of obedience to another’s will, it’s no surprise to see him less than pleased when conversing with his master, Darth Sidious. But to get the most out of this dynamic (as the diehard fans craving this story will no doubt catch), it has to be remembered that throughout the history of the true Sith, there have been only two at one time. The Master, who passes his knowledge on, and the Apprentice, who learns all they can – before slaying their mentor, and taking the role for themselves. Until Sidious.

So as much as Darth Maul may wish to make that cycle complete once again, cutting down his master and launching an assault on the Jedi, he also knows that Darth Sidious has an intricate plan (since his intelligence and cunning are hard to miss for even audience members, let alone his closest allies). So he bides his time, anticipating the moment when he will see that plan reach its climax, watch as the Jedi fall onto his blade, and pave the way for his own rise to the rank of Sith Master. In the process, becoming a lot more reminiscent of another Star Wars figure of great importance.

The comparisons between Darth Maul and Anakin Skywalker in his own path to adulthood may have always been there for those looking, but Bunn deftly draws the parallel out by granting insight into Darth Maul’s own internal monologue. As the red-eyed figure cloaked in shadow at Palpatine’s heel, fueled by impatience, a lust for violence, and a desire to see his own power achieved and recognized, the scene creates a string between himself and the future ‘Chosen One,’ knotted at both ends. We may know how Darth Maul’s story ends, but seeing this chapter finally told promises even richer thematic links, reflections, and divergences.

DARTH MAUL PREPARES TO KILL HIS FIRST JEDI

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The first issue of Darth Maul spends much of its time, as mentioned above, submerging readers in the tense and strained psyche and emotions of Darth Maul (while also reminding them that he is absolutely the kind of character who deserves his own narrative in the canonical Star Wars saga). And while Darth Maul’s mission to cover up a Trade Federation hostage scenario before it can expose Palpatine’s dealings (the construction of the film’s ‘phantom menace’) seems like a common occurrence, it takes an unexpected and incredibly promising turn.

When one of his would-be victims offers to exchange valuable information – information that he, and not his master, would then hold – Maul can’t resist. The secret is worth it, too: a young Jedi Padawan is being held captive by a criminal cartel and awaiting sale to the highest bidder. Darth Maul responds by killing those who remain, and setting off for the auction… with little intention for paying, we can only assume. In his eyes, it is not a sale or tormenter that stands in this young Jedi’s future – it is liberation.

Unfortunately for the Padawan in question, that liberation likely means he intends to “free” them from the Jedi teaching at the same time he “frees” them from everything else – with his lightsaber. But picking his way through a cartel, ferreting out the young soon-to-be Jedi, and doing it all before the Jedi leadership can act will be harder said than done. But as Darth Maul travels across the galaxy in pursuit of his first Jedi to kill, fans will be guaranteed a front row seat… one they’ve likely been waiting years to occupy.

Star Wars: Darth Maul #1 is available now.

Star Wars Comics will tell untold stories from Yoda’s past

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Source: ScreenRant.Com

While Star Wars began in the movies, stories from the franchise have come in all shapes and sizes. The Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm created quite the shakeup when they announced that they would be cleaning the slate for their own upcoming lineup. All Expanded Universe materials (everything but the six live action movies and the most recent Clone Wars cartoon series) were now considered “Star Wars Legends” and officially non-canon. Fortunately, Disney has gotten straight to work on the task of creating an all new continuing legacy.

One such expansion comes from their comic collaboration with Marvel. A number of series have come to fruition, exploring the backstories of characters like Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and Lando. But one core series — simply titled Star Wars — follows the principal cast between the events of the original film and The Empire Strikes Back.

In an interview with StarWars.com, Star Wars comic series author, Jason Aaron discussed his upcoming exploration of the untold adventures of Jedi Master Yoda. Issue #26 will see Luke in the main timeline, coming across Obi-Wan’s manuscripts about Yoda’s past adventures. A flashback adventure will continue from there.

yoda-episode-5A puppet Yoda in his first apparition in Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back.

yoda-episode-iA fully digital Master Yoda is seen in Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace.

yoda-episode-2Yoda ready to action in Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones.

Check out the Star Wars #26 Cover Art by Stuart Immonen below:

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“I was always trying to figure out a way for us to use Yoda. We’re a bit hamstrung in terms of the time period of our main story because Yoda’s chilling on Dagobah. So this was kind of the only way we could kill all those birds with one stone — to do one story that connects Luke, Yoda, and Obi-Wan all at the same time, while still taking place in three different time periods.”

Aaron is also hoping to show Yoda in light unfamiliar to many fans.

“This story takes place before the Clone Wars and it’s set in a world we’ve never seen before… We’ve seen Yoda as the teacher, as the wise Jedi Master, but I wanted to see Yoda just as the Jedi. So this puts him on a very unusual adventure.

“The other big challenge with Yoda, of course, is finding something that’s a challenge for him… I think we came up with an interesting answer to that question… It’s not a matter of just him being the more powerful Jedi. It’s a bit trickier than that.”

star-wars-26-interior-artStar Wars #26 – Interior Art by Salvador Larroca.

While the story doesn’t have a precise date, it does pre-date the film series and features appearances from Qui-Gon Jinn and a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. This adventure promises to play off of the ending of the previous arc, and will be illustrated by artist Salvador Larroca who recently made waves with his work on Darth Vader.

Star Wars #26 hits retail shelves December 2016.

Marvel’s Darth Vader Comic: A deeper look into the final issue

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Source: ScreenRant.Com

Since Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm in 2012, Marvel has reclaimed the Star Wars comic book mantle from Dark Horse, one they originally held from 1977 until 1986. Since then, the House of Ideas has steadily built upon and integrated their shared universe, continuing the in-canon development of new characters like Star Wars: Rebels’ Kanan Jarrus as well as classic characters like Han Solo and Princess Leia. By far one of their hottest properties since redeveloping their line has been their Darth Vader solo series.

Starting in 2015, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca tapped into the untold tales between Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, exploring the aftermath of Vader’s ‘failure’ to protect the Empire’s first planet killer. Several months ago, Marvel announced that issue #25 would conclude the post-Battle of Yavin chronicle.

In honor of Vader’s popular run, Marvel pulled out all the stops, including variant covers from Adi Granov, Jamie McKelvie, Michael Cho, Sara Pichelli, Chris Samnee, Kamome Shirahama, John Tyler Christopher, and Cliff Chiang. Marvel CCO Joe Quesada even got in on the action (take a look at more variants here). In addition to the alternate covers, Marvel is also giving fans a sneak peek at the action-packed conclusion to this acclaimed series. Check out the synopsis and get an early look at the interiors, as well as a few more of the variants below:

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“It has all been building to this! The epic conclusion to the blockbuster ongoing series! Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca’s critically acclaimed series comes to a close on October 12th in the blockbuster DARTH VADER #25! It has all built to this! Vader’s trials against Cylo’s creations! His machinations against the Emperor! His covert missions with Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids. It all comes to a head in this cataclysmic final chapter. Plus, this oversized issue also contains a thrilling new tale from Kieron Gillen and artist Max Fiumara. Who lives? Who dies? The answers may surprise you!”

The latest round of adventures finds Darth Vader trying to get back in the Emperor’s good graces after that whole Death Star fiasco. Of course as a Sith Lord, he has a few plots cooking on the side as well, including his wheelings and dealings bounty hunter favorites, his subterfuge with Doctor Aphra, and the reveal of Cylo’s diabolical ace in the hole in Darth Vader #24. The final issue will wrap up the swirling subplots, the menacing machinations, and conclude the heady “The End of Games” mini arc with a major bang.

As one of the most fascinating characters in Star Wars mythology, it’s no wonder Marvel chose to further expand on the Jedi hero turned Sith Lord. While the Prequel Trilogy and the Clone Wars animated series explored more of the elder Skywalker’s trials and tribulations, his early and middle years (glimpsed further in Rebels) show Vader in his prime. Gillen and Larroca’s work has delved into some of the meatiest material, allowing fans to watch the Emperor’s Right Hand recover from one of his worst periods since his defeat at Mustafar by his former teacher Obi-Wan Kenobi.

While it’s always a little sad to see Vader’s latest adventures come to an end, fans only have a short wait until the Dark Lord rears his sleek mask in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story this December. The Sith Lord’s story, of course, is far from complete. Following the success of his solo arc, it wouldn’t be surprising if the fallen Jedi finds his way into another solo run.

vaderDon’t be sad, Darth Vader will be back in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, on December!

DARTH VADER #25 arrives in comic shops and on digital devices October 12, 2016. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016

Marvel Comics Announces Star Wars: Han Solo #1

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Source: ScreenRant.Com.

Han Solo has always been a special character in the Star Wars universe. An exemplar of the appeal of the films, his gritty hero with a heart was part of the glue that held the Original Trilogy together. Fans of the not-so-scruffy looking nerf herder, worried about how his role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens would affect his role in the galaxy, have little to fear. It appears there is plenty of new Solo to enjoy.

News of the smuggler’s anthology film is certainly welcome, but it also comes with a caveat. Although the standalone film will explore his early years, another actor will portray the rebel leader rather than Harrison Ford. Han Solo fans won’t have to worry about casting, though, for Marvel’s latest addition to his backstory.

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e7The four Han Solo’s participations in the Star Wars Cinematic Universe.

Well, the House of Ideas announced a five-issue story arc titled Star Wars: Han Solo. The first issue is due out this June. The new series was written by Marjorie Liu (Dark Wolverine) and features artwork by Mark Brooks (Cable & Deadpool), with cover art by Lee Bermejo (Suiciders). Apparently, the first issue will address the legendary figure’s continuing role in the rebellion, although they don’t specify exactly where in the original trilogy this takes place (it looks to be between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back). Here’s Marvel’s description:

“Han Solo has finally entered his ship into the Dragon Void Run – an infamous high-stakes race across the stars. You know, the race Han has dreamt of winning. Only there’s a catch – his entry into this legendary race is a top-secret undercover mission for Princess Leia and the Rebellion! Will he keep his mind on the mission? More importantly – can he manage to pull it off while still maintaining his lead in the race?!”

Here is the cover for issue #1 and a sneak peak at the new miniseries:

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Fans curious to find out more about Han Solo’s life will be excited for all the upcoming adventures featuring the character. With a rumored cameo in the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and his standalone, Lucasfilm is slowly filling us in on the mystery and history of our favorite scoundrel. Solo’s upcoming comic book looks as though it showcases the fascinating and somewhat unexplored period following Star Wars: A New Hope. And this adventure appears to delve into Solo’s early transition from smuggler to rebel hero, as well as his evolving relationship with Princess Leia Organa.

Since Disney and Lucasfilm officially declared the Expanded Universe (EU) non-canon, it’s been curious to see which aspects of its lore will be made canon. The EU offered a great deal of background information on the venerable General. Books like the Han Solo Adventures and Han Solo Trilogy novels detailed his younger days, including adventures with Lando and how he met Chewbacca. Works like the Legacy comic book series also explored Solo’s later life with Leia and his children. And even though aspects of the EU have been loosely adapted, such as the Jacen/Ben Solo connection, much of the smuggler’s history has now been made a blank slate. As more materials emerge involving his life, fans will either thrill at the inclusion of old material or enjoyably debate the reason certain aspects of the EU made it in or failed to.

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Of course, knowing how sneaky Lucasfilm is about releasing concurrent materials, Star Wars: Han Solo could also contain a nugget or two of information which will tie into the upcoming films. Even if it doesn’t tie in directly (which it likely will, at least to a degree), any Han Solo is good Han Solo.

Star Wars: Han Solo#1 arrives in June.

Star Wars: C-3PO’s Red Arm Explained

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Source for text: ScreenRant.Com. Animated gifs from my post Star Wars Episode VII: BB-8 meets C-3PO & R2-D2.

Even before Star Wars: The Force Awakens hit theaters, there was discussion about why C-3P0 had a red arm. Tidbits concerning the red appendage were dropped, but fans were told that they’d have to wait for an upcoming comic about Threepio to get the full story. Fortunately, that wait is over.

While it had previously been revealed that C-3P0 took his red arm in memory of a fallen comrade, the circumstances surrounding that droid’s demise (and what happened to C-3P0’s own arm) were shrouded in mystery. Now that Star Wars Special: C-3P0 is on the stands, though, the shroud has been lifted and we can finally find out where that arm came from.

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Star Wars Special: C-3P0 tells the story of C-3P0, obviously, and a First Order protocol droid named OMRI that had previously been taken prisoner by the Resistance. OMRI may know the location of Admiral Ackbar, who had been taken prisoner by the First Order, but obviously is not keen to divulge this information. The ship they are traveling on crashes at the beginning of the issue, and the pair (part of a group of droids who survived the crash) head out into the hostile alien landscape in hopes of finding the ship’s captain and crew. As you might guess, things don’t go well.

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Threepio’s original arm is ripped off by a sea creature, and he and OMRI narrowly escape as another droid sacrifices himself to fight more creatures off. The crew the droids hoped to find is dead as well. Hiding in a cave to shelter themselves from corrosive acid rain, OMRI decides to tell C-3P0 Ackbar’s location because he believes that he is facing his demise. OMRI then heads out into the rain to activate the distress beacon on a downed TIE Fighter in hopes that someone will come and rescue C-3P0; as he is pelted by the acid, the black coating painted onto him by the First Order begins dissolving to reveal a red base coat underneath.

Rescued by Poe Dameron and BB-8, C-3P0 retrieves an arm from what’s left of OMRI’s body. When Dameron comments that it looks like Threepio needs an arm, he mentions that he already has one. The arm is worn in remembrance of OMRI’s bravery and sacrifice, as we all saw in The Force Awakens when C-3P0 worried that Han Solo didn’t recognize him.

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The story makes for a good droid-centric tale, and it’s perfectly believable that C-3P0 would not only be on a ship that crashed but that he would also have his arm ripped off and somehow manage to survive all of it. Some fans may feel a bit let down by the tale after all of the build-up for it, though, especially since the mystery of the red arm was referenced multiple times by the cast and crew in addition to being pointed out on the big screen. Of course, it remains to be seen how long the red arm will last or if Threepio will go back to solid gold before the end of the current trilogy.

Star Wars: C-3P0 Comic Gallerie

Click to see in slide show