Author Archives: swrise

A Brief Update

All,

It’s been a month-long sabbatical for me, but all will return to normal this week.  We will resume the comics and Clone Wars reviews, and although the episode of Star Wars: Rise will likely come towards the end of the month, it is still coming.  To quote one Emperor, my resolve has never been strrrrongger!

Thanks to the truly fantastic authors for keeping the lights on here, I have missed you all, but I appreciate everything.

Cheers,

Drew

Republic Sports Radio E01: No-Show Moreno (NFL Preview)

Greetings, all.  SWRISE is proud to release the first episode of Republic Sports Radio.

A few show notes, right off the bat.

1) We are aware of, and apologize for the “wind tunnel” effect during the primary interview, always a dreaded possibility in podcasting.  I am looking into the source of this, and it should be fixed by next week.  Our editing minimized it as much as possible this week.

2) Doug Martin is incorrectly called the “pocket hamster,” when in fact he is the “muscle hamster.”  I don’t know what either of these are, but I’d rather be a hamster with muscles than a hamster in a pocket.

3) Big thank you to Yak, who provided great commentary.  We look forward to producing many more episodes, with rotating show hosts to get some new voices in as well.

Enjoy week 1 of the season!

Drew

Sunday Morning Clone Wars: Rising Malevolence (S01:E02)

grievousdookumalev

 

Good morning, readers!  Welcome to our second installment of Sunday Morning Clone Wars Review, in which we will take a detailed look at each of the episodes of the recently ended Star Wars: Clone Wars 3D animated series.  This morning we find ourselves traveling with Master Plo Koon to the orbit of the Abregado system, on a mission to investigate the recent disappearance of numerous Republic battle cruisers.  It doesn’t take long for the mystery to be solved, as Grievous and Dooku’s jointly-commanded Malevolence releases that secret weapon upon the fleet, a joint ion cannon that essentially casts a disabling net across an immense area, completely wiping out the defense and weapons systems of its targets.  Soon, the Republic fleet is a mass of floating debris, and the Jedi and three fortunate clones are out amongst it in a life pod.

Meanwhile, Anakin and Ahsoka (who has a special connection to Plo Koon, which will prove useful many times throughout the series) meet with Palpatine, Mace Windu, and Yoda to discuss their findings, which lead all to believe that the CIS has decimated another fleet and left no survivors.  Rebeling against her master, Ahsoka speaks up to voice her concern that they should attempt a rescue mission, an action that is swiftly blunted by Skywalker.  However, Anakin’s common sense catches up with him, and the two launch a successful rescue of Plo Koon and his troopers, and barely escape capture from Grievous and Dooku, thanks to some help from perennial hero R2-D2 and the hyperdrive.

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There are a few themes in this episode that are worthy of examination.  First, the overarching theme of how the clones view themselves- one remarks to Plo Koon when things are looking grim that “We’re just clones, sir.  We’re made to be expendable.”  Plo Koon responds, “Not to me.”  Later, we will see that this view is not shared by all Jedi, most notably the crass Pong Krell.  However, it is this lack of self-worth that clones seem to be programmed to feel that is interesting.  Surely, they are taught to sacrifice themselves, that their one and only duty is the protection of the Republic.  My question is this-  when you can completely manipulate the mental patterns of these clones (as it is believed that the Kaminoans can) why program professional warriors that they are cannon fodder, as opposed to- well, warriors?  Was this a  specific request of Sifo-Dyas to ensure that these clones would fall in line behind Jedi leadership, was it a change in their programming that Sidious added, or is it simply a byproduct of the realization that one is a clone?  Surely, it is not a quality shared by Jango Fett.  This is a principle that I have never understood, and one that rears its head multiple times in this series.

Secondly, we have a good example of Anakin trying to put on his Obi-Wan mask to scold his young padawan for speaking out of place, but then reverting back to his own principles, which include diving headfirst into the most difficult scenario he can find.  Although he later tells Ahsoka that she will “share some blame,” for what Yoda labels a “reckless decision,” and even defies a direct message to his ship from Palpatine to turn around, Anakin’s actions are proven just, and the rigid, overcautious Jedi leadership are once again shown to be completely in the dark, and pawns of Sidious.

Rising Malevolence, the first in a three-story arc, receives an 85/100.  It is our series introduction to General Grievous and many other characters who were featured in the film, but not in Yoda’s introductory story on Toydaria.  While Ventress proves to be the “assistant” to Dooku with a much deeper and interesting story throughout the course of the series, it is rather cool to see the joint command of Dooku and Grievous, especially with the red, evil lighting that their command center provides.  Excellent voice acting as always, and neat inclusion of a minor character in Plo Koon, who will become a large part of this series.  An enjoyable start to the arc.

Our scores to date are:

Rising Malevolence (85/100), Ambush (75/100).

Saturday Morning Comics: Obsession #1

Obsession1

Not many cooler covers out there than this. But does the story live up to it?

Happy Saturday morning, readers!  Today we have the second installment of our weekly Saturday Morning Comics series, in which we been a five-part look at the comic series that leads up to ROTS, entitled “Obsession.”  Throughout the series, we’ll come into contact with a who’s who of Clone Wars villains, ranging from Durge to Grievous, but this first issue serves primarily as a lead-in to establish what drives the series.

After a year on the front lines, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker (now a Knight) have been given some respite, a bit of vacation, as ordered by the Jedi Council.  Anakin beelines straight for Naboo, where his wife awaits him.  Obi-Wan journeys to the world of Trigalis, on his own personal mission, an investigation/vendetta against the believed-dead Asajj Ventress.  The story opens with Obi-Wan on a swoop bike, decked out in Republic Commando armor, bossing a few Black Sun thugs on his way to what appears to be a palace of sorts.  Once there, he meets Aayla Secura, who is on an official mission of her own, one that Yoda has told Obi-Wan to stay away from.  After giving Kenobi some grief about not taking his leave, Obi-Wan gets some intel on the Black Sun leader, Xist (who resembles Xizor), who is masquerading as a common criminal boss, but actually feeding weapons to the CIS and Dooku.

Xist has quite the reputation as a dueler, to the point that Aayla actually warns Obi-Wan against engaging him.  Of course, that’s never our protagonist, now has it?  After Xist’s security detail is taken down, the two warriors engage, with Xist wielding what can be assumed to be a vibrowhip (although the art makes it rather unclear).

kenobiobsession1

Although getting roughed up a bit, Kenobi reveals his true intentions- finding Asajj Ventress- and overwhelms the Black Sun Commander, who relents and retreats to his palace for negotiations. Xist acknowledges that his loyalty to Dooku has a price, but Obi-Wan brushes this aside and continues to press for information on Ventress, who was believed to be killed on Coruscant by Anakin.  Meanwhile, Anakin, on Naboo, seems disturbed by the fact that Obi-Wan won’t accept the Sith assassin’s death, and tells Padme as much.

Xist informs Obi-Wan that Ventress has been contracted to take out a wealthy Corellian, Drama Korr, and is set to ambush him in the skies above Maramere in the coming days.  Kenobi contacts the Jedi Council to plead for their approval to engage, telling them that Ventress could “destroy entire armies” and “wipe out entire worlds.”

Wait, what?

Sure, she gave Anakin a nice love tap across the eye, and she’s captured Kenobi once or twice.  Other than that, Ventress is the personification of Charlie Brown with the football when it comes to accomplishing tasks for the CIS, and Sidious knows as much, when he orders Dooku to cast her aside after repeated failures.  Sure, she took down Scout and Whie’s generic masters on Vjun, and has been known to hold her own, but a destroyer of worlds?  I don’t see it.  Are we to assume that the author is overevaluating Ventress, or is it intended to show an intensity and obsession (ding!) in the notoriously even-tempered Kenobi with Ventress?  Seems a bit out of character.

Aayla offers her assistance and her starfighter, and although Kenobi asks her to stay, he does take the starfighter and assures the Twi’lek Jedi that he will call Anakin for help, before engaging Ventress out of hyperspace, and the story wraps.  I’m sure Anakin will take that well.

Next week, we head into the second episode of this series, in which we will watch our heroes face off with Durge, perhaps the strangest of the Clone Wars villains, but a fearsome one, nonetheless .

Tomorrow morning, we’ll take a look Rising Malevolence in our weekly Clone Wars review, and, as mentioned by Lazy Storm Trooper, we will release the first episode of Republic Sports Radio,

Enjoy your Saturday.  -Drew

My Journey Into Fandom, And Some Favorite Shots of the Saga

As a recommendation from a few of our writers, and following the excellent post from Nick yesterday evening, we are going to roll out some introductions for each of the staff members here at SWR, hopefully to lend some perspective into where we come from, and provide some entertainment as well.

My journey began in the summer of 1999, the summer following my 8th grade year, when I went to go see The Phantom Menace with a friend in theaters.   To be completely honest, I don’t remember much of the film sticking out to me for the first hour and a half – but then, this happened:

the-phantom-menace-darth-maul-double-bladed-lightsaber-1920x816

Yeah, I know it’s predictable.  I wasn’t much for television as a child, so I had not seen any previews, etc. for the film.  I had a vague concept of what Star Wars was, even though I had never seen the original trilogy – I knew what a lightsaber was, and who Darth Vader and Yoda were, but that’s about it.  As this furious battle between two Jedi and this demonic, acrobatic bad guy erupted across the screen, with the epic “Duel of the Fates” score to back it, I did not know at the time, but I’d never be the same.  It took a little while, though.  A few years later, I picked up Attack of the Clones on VHS, and loved it (I still do, to this day).  Then I picked up the OT, and finally became immersed.

I am a very odd Star Wars fan, in that I am a shameless defender of the prequels, and unabashedly prefer them to the Original Trilogy. I went to see Revenge of the Sith at midnight, my first experience out amongst the community, and if I were to point to one experience that really sent me “over the edge,” it would be that.  I had been participating on TFN’s Episode III board, but that began to transform into more interactive experiences, including fan audio.  In 2006, after listening to Nathan P. Butler’s Chronoradio, I ventured out on my own, and launched “Star Wars: In The Beginning,” a podcast aimed towards the PT and its EU, and debating its characters and themes.  The show lasted for about 15 episodes, after which a graduation and the sharp drop into the real world put it on hold.

But I always intended to come back.

And so we have, with Star Wars: Rise. Throughout my time in the world of fandom, I can say that the group that we have put together on this team are some of the most knowledgeable and skilled writers I’ve come into contact with, and their passion for the SW Universe matches my own- and that’s quite a bit of passion.  It is a privilege to write alongside them, and interact with them across the net. Our collective aim is that this blog, and our upcoming podcast, will reach fans in the leadup to Episode 7 and perhaps impacts them in the way I was impacted in the leadup to Revenge of the Sith, and brings them into this magnificent world, which has played a huge part in my life.  I thank you for reading, and hope that you are able to find the joy that I have in reading, viewing, and analyzing this great Saga.

And now, as the second half of this post, I would like to take a look at my five favorite visual “shots” of the saga.  The only qualifier here is that the scene was portrayed on a screen, at one time- any and all TV series, any and all films.  Let us begin.

5) The Battle of Mandalore, Star Wars Clone Wars (S05-E16) (G.Lucas)

kenobimand

While this episode may be remembered for the epic duel that breaks out between Sidious, Maul, and Savage, it is the alliance struck between Bo Katan and Obi-Wan in an effort to get him off planet that provided my favorite storyline.

4) Obi-Wan Taps the Dark Side, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (G. Lucas)

kenobimaul

While his duel with Anakin in ROTS would match this one-on-one in terms of speed and ferocity, the emotion shown by young Kenobi dueling the mysterious Sith just feet from his mortally wounded master is my favorite duel of the Saga.

3) The Return of Anakin Skywalker,  Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (R. Marquand/director, G. Lucas)

rotjghosts

A very divisive image, this is. I’m on the side of progress, I guess you could call it. As devastating as the end of ROTS, it’s nice to know that Anakin will re-appear- that he’s not gone forever.

2) The Goodbye, Clone Wars Microseries (S01-E01) (G. Tartakovsky)

anakinbye

amidalabye

I remember seeing this episode for the first time, and in among the over-the-top style was this scene. With a particularly different version of “Across The Stars” playing, we see something that we really never see again on screen- the strain of war in this young marriage.

1) The Ruminations Scene.  Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith (G. Lucas)

amidalarums

Nothing I can write can do this scene justice. It is the most powerful scene I've ever seen on screen, I recall the packed capacity theater (full of children, teens, and college students) falling completely silent, while the loud whaling track accompanied this brutally difficult scene, because even the "spoiler-free" knew what was coming. George Lucas' finest cinematographical accomplishment in the six films, as far as I am concerned.

Nothing I can write can do this scene justice. It is the most powerful scene I’ve ever seen on screen, I recall the packed capacity theater (full of children, teens, and college students) falling completely silent, while the loud whaling track accompanied this brutally difficult scene, because even the “spoiler-free” knew what was coming. George Lucas’ finest cinematographical accomplishment in the six films, as far as I am concerned.

Take A Good Look

I scream, you scream, we all scream for lightsabers!

I scream, you scream, we all scream for lightsabers!

Happy Labor Day, readers!  Today, I wanted to look into one of the most fascinating short stories ever to be published in Insider, Karen Traviss’ “A Two Edged Sword,” (mistakenly published in Insider as just “Two Edged Sword”) the follow-up to another Traviss short story entitled “In His Image.”  Both stories were subsequently published as an addendum in Aaron Allston’s Betrayal.  “In His Image” is a story of Sa Cuis, one of Palpatine’s first “hands,” and a particularly loyal one.  Cuis was sent by Palpatine to murder Vader, and although he fails, Vader extracts some of his DNA for future cloning purposes- one of the earliest stories, continuity-wise, which documents an obsession of the new Empire – cloning force users.

Vader is assisted and defended in this story by his loyal lieutenant, Erv Lakeuf, whose DNA is also extracted in the hopes of strengthening Vader’s Fist, the 501st.  We open our story as Sidious and Lakeuf observe Vader training one of the clones of Cuis, which ends abruptly upon Vader’s choosing.  Vader then engages Sidious in conversation, and we get to see some terrific insight into his character, particularly the way in which he holds on to his past.  Vader is shown to be very wary of Sidious in this story, and it is very clear that he keeps the fact that he is being used and abused in the front of his mind, constantly.  However, he also references Padme and Obi-Wan multiple times in this story, most notably when coming to terms with the fact that Sidious had ordered his execution, and likely would again, tapping into the theme that defined Anakin Skywalker: betrayal.  Vader muses “And I trusted you too, Padme. I’m practiced at handling betrayal now.”  Are we then to also assume that Vader sees his actions against his wife as justified?  That he truly believes that she brought Obi-Wan there to kill her, even though her last words to him denied this fact?  Some food for thought.

While Vader clearly has much contempt in his heart for Sidious, this story presents us with an even more interesting relationship, the fatherly one that Vader feels for Lakeuf.  While Lakeuf’s clones are being bossed by Cuis’s in a practice session being viewed by Vader and Sidious, Vader remarks that he feels and understands Lakeuf’s fear, which is that his clones will displease Sidious, and Lakeuf will have to spend another six months away from his wife and family training them.  After considering this, Vader orders that Cuis’ clones holster their lightsabers when training against Lakeuf’s clones, in favor of (non-lethal) metal staffs.  Sidious notices Vader’s behavior, identifies the root of it, and tells Vader that creating this facade of a friendship with lieutenant can be used to his advantage.  Unbeknown to Sidious, Vader appears to have a genuine fondness for his subordinate, especially after Lakeuf tells Sidious (after being prompted) that the reason for his loyalty to the Dark Lord is grounded in their understanding that Vader does not ask the 501st to do anything he would not also do himself.  This has many real world implications, surely- an effective strategy taught to leaders in our own business world is to “get in the trenches” with subordinates, and respect will be earned.  As a result of this show of loyalty, Vader tells Lakeuf to notify his wife that he would be returning home for a visit.  Vader justifies this move to Sidious as “motivation,” but a sense of wanting to live vicariously through Lakeuf is also present, as Vader is aware that he will never be able to enjoy a return to those he loved.

The team of Sidious, Vader, Lakeuf and his men, the clones, and Sheyvan (another hand of the Emperor, and trainer of Cuis’ clones) board a shuttle for the Imperial Center, presumably on Coruscant.  After only a short time in the air, Vader immediately senses treachery, and this is confirmed by his lieutenant, who notifies him that Sheyvan and the clones of Cuis have mobilized, killed all of Lakeuf’s men, and are preparing to kill Sidious and take the ship.  Lakeuf and his colleague, Pepin (named after Dany Pepin, legend of the SW Fan Audio community and creator of Star Wars En Direct) obtain a flamethrower, and cut the power to the ship.  With the assistance of the flamethrower, Vader engages and wipes out the mutineers and their leaders quickly, but Lakeuf suffers serious burns in the fallout, another distinct connection that he would now share with his commander.  Before falling to Vader’s blade, Sheyvan warns the Dark Lord about Sidious: “He will betray you too,” to which Vader utters the line of the story, “Few men will not try to betray me.”

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After learning of his friend’s injuries, Vader cradles- let me repeat that- Vader cradles his lieutenant, and calls for bacta.  In this moment, Vader’s first thoughts go to Obi-Wan, who Vader describes as the “master he trusted,” but one who had abandoned him to die- a bit of a delusional moment, given the actuality of their battle on Mustafar, but one that goes a long way into Vader’s mindset.  He later tells a scarred but healing Lakeuf, “You are too loyal for your own good, Lieutenant” to which Lakeuf replies “That’s my job, my Lord.”  Vader then tells him, “You never disappoint me.” Refreshingly, this feels like it should be an exchange between Anakin and Rex, or Obi-Wan and Cody- there is still a semblance of humanity within the mangled metal that replaced Anakin Skywalker.

We then are taken to a final scene, Vader and Sidious watching troops gather on Coruscant, in a scene that harkens back to the end of Attack of the Clones.  In this instance, however, it is the dialogue that is more important than the imagery.  Vader tells Sidious he does not want Dark Jedi in the Imperial Army, and Sidious seemingly ignores him, instead justifying that they would need to be trained by Vader himself, not a less trustworthy hand.  And right on cue, as Palpatine tells Vader in the most patronizing of manners that “the solution to having to watch your back is to have the enemy watch theirs instead,” Vader delivers just one final thought to Sidious: “I will come for you one day.”  As difficult as it is to acknowledge, especially knowing what he will be capable of down the line, Padme’s dying words are vindicated yet again- Anakin is still there, deep down, in many ways- and as this story shows, he never loses sight of himself.  The tale of Vader is truly a tragedy of staggering proportion.

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Sunday Morning Clone Wars: Ambush (S01:E01)

Eat your tanks for breakfast, I will.

Eat your tanks for breakfast, I will.

Good morning, all!  As we did yesterday with our weekly look at comics, we begin a weekly series in which I will review each of the 102 episodes of the hit Cartoon Network series, The Clone Wars.  The final episodes are rumored for a web release, after which they will also be included.

As a brief recap, we join Yoda and three clone troopers on their way Toydaria to meet with King Katuunko regarding plans to build a Republic base on the system.  As is often the case, Count Dooku has picked up “intelligence,” and cuts Yoda off at the pass by sending the bumbling, stumbling Asajj Ventress to await him, as well as an ambush fleet to divert the Republic cruiser.  What can only be described as a game ensues, and Yoda is predictably victorious, topping things off by humiliating Ventress in front of holoDooku.  Toydaria then joins the Republic effort.

As we know, this is not the first story, chronologically, in the puzzle that is TCW.  It is assumed that this story takes place shortly after the first Mandalorian plotline.  However, as the first episode that was produced, there was a remarkable amount of pressure to succeed in what was a relatively untapped medium of 3D animation.  This episode, in comparison to those that follow, is not all that memorable in terms of plot complexity and character interaction- we will see and study some of the finest contributions to the Star Wars Universe in later reviews.  Nonetheless, this episode was tremendously important, as it connected back first with Empire (in its portrayal of Yoda as a crazy old coot, in contrast to his deadly serious nature of the PT), and then with Sean Stewart’s masterful Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, through Yoda’s tense, brief interaction with Dooku.  There are no threats between them, just a simple acknowledgement, but they do still refer to each other as old “master” and “Padawan,” which always brings to mind one of the most memorable quotes from the EU, the timeless promise that Yoda once told a young Dooku:  “When you fall, be there to catch you, I will.”   They are now mortal enemies, and Dooku undoubtedly engineers multiple attempts to kill Yoda, in this episode alone.  Yoda knows what Dooku is capable of, and that the boy he trained, “gone he is.”  However, it is difficult to miss the foundation of respect that remains betwen them, even though it is a respect for what once was a powerful bond and partnership.  A rare visual example of interaction between two wise Masters who took different paths is the image I am left with from this episode.

“Ambush” receives a 75/100.  The voice acting from Tom Kane is exquisite, as always, and the imagery of Toydaria, a new visual frontier, is impressive.  Unlike most episodes that we will discuss, this was a “one-shot,” and there are no loose ends.  The story, albeit basic, is touching, particularly Yoda’s interaction with the clones, who are distinctly aware of their lack of humanity.  Feel free to leave your own grades for the episode in the comment section below!

Until next week, when we delve into the Malevolence trilogy, may the Force be with you.  Enjoy your Sunday,

Drew

Saturday Morning Comics- Republic #78: Loyalties

He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake..

He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake..

Good morning, readers, and welcome to the first installment of Saturday Morning Comics, something we’ll do weekly on the SWR blog.  This week we take a look at the first story published that gave us a look at the immediate aftermath of Revenge of The Sith.  While the story focuses primarily on wrapping up the story of the “hero of Saleucami,” Sagoro Autem (a recurring character in Republic), it is the representation of the steps that the Empire takes in this story that I’d like to look at.

First, it is refreshing to see some resistance within the ranks- in the context of ROTS, we see Vader, Sidious, and then the obedient clones (although some had, and would defect). The officers we see are mindlessly tapping away on screens leading up to the final shot of the evil triumverate looking out upon their Death Star.  Unlike the clones, though, the officers are individuals- although we see him in A New Hope, how are we to assume that Admiral Yularen and his equals would view the transformation of the Republic into the Empire, and the accompanying massacre of the Jedi, their brothers in the field just a few days before?

This comic takes a good look at that.  We see Jan Dodonna and Autem discussing the revisions being made to history as the Jedi are being marginalized in what amounts to a PR campaign by Sidious.  The public is shown videos throughout Coruscant of an un-scarred Palpatine, which perhaps was a mistake by the artists, or perhaps a calculated risk to display a strong Emperor- strong enough to defeat the rebellious Jedi Order unscathed. Upon our seeing him for the first time on his Destroyer, Sidious, who looks very ROTJ-ish (as opposed to ROTS-ish), introduces Vader to the officers officially, and gives them the ultimatum that “When he speaks, you can be sure he speaks for me.”  This is interesting, especially in the context of the new Brian Wood comic series, which makes a point of showing Sidious publicly disparaging and punishing Vader, to the point of relieving him of command following the destruction of the Death Star.  Obviously, that is a bit down the timeline, but an interesting contrast nonetheless.

Story fodder, one Imperial Captain Dallin, speaks up as the voice of the audience, essentially asking why his Jedi friends of a few days ago, the heroes of the Republic’s long war, are suddenly public enemy number one.  Vader, without hesitation, chokes, throws, and kills him in front of the other officers, to Sidious’ pleasure.  Dodonna warns his friend to watch his back, and then Autem goes home (which is not a barracks).  Vader and Sidious personally come to kill him with a legion of troopers, as he is on a cryptic “list” of potential officers thought to harbor ill will towards the Empire.  None of this is even remotely explained, but it is assumed that Vader and Sidious just sensed Autem’s moral opposition to this new Empire, which happens enough in the universe that it can be accepted.

The interesting part of this encounter is the overkill shown by Sidious and Vader going to the apartment of this one officer, to execute him before he can defect.  Of course, Autem escapes (with the help of an old rival), and then evades a few generic bounty hunters, but this instance, as well as the public execution of Dallin, suggests that Sidious was very aware of the potential for rebellion in the ranks early on, and was almost immediately obsessed with rooting it out.  We know that Leia later would tell Tarkin, “The more you tighten your grip..the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”  The Empire’s knuckles are white.

We know that Sidious, Vader, and Tarkin were faced with an uphill battle of assimilating the entire Republic military, the protectors and comrades of the Jedi, into an army designed to serve the Sith and hunt the Jedi in the briefest of time frames. Surely, we understand their aggression and lack of tolerance early on for break in the rank- however, this story makes one thing very clear- while the Empire kept its citizens in line through fear, Sidious’ PR campaign was not universally successful, even as he threw Mace Windu’s mug all over the Holonet as a scape goat.  That shows a particular depth that is common to the Universe, as we can see an example of even the most minor of minor characters having their own moral compass, and enough independent thought to call shenanigans on even the most manipulative and powerful of the Sith Lords.

RSR2

I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce the second podcast of the SWR Network, Republic Sports Radio. The show will have multiple hosts, but will take a broad look at the world of sports, from NFL and College Football to the Barclays Premier League, the WWE, and UFC.  We hope that you will join us, as we look to release our first show next weekend.  Of course, Star Wars: RISE will remain the flagship podcast of the network, and is still slated for an October premiere.  Lots of exciting things happening here, and we’d love to have you join us!  If you are interested in joining our team, contact us in the comment section or at starwarsrise@gmail.com.  Enjoy your Saturday,

Drew

Blinded, Are The Knights

Too late, you are.

Seeing as Yoda and I, the two most powerful Jedi in the known Order, could not sense the planetary defenses being switched off, yeah..we’re gonna need you guys to come clean up our mess.  Thanks.

Luceno’s Labyrinth of Evil and Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars microseries (ran from 2003-05) present the Battle of Coruscant in different lights, a continuity dilemma that has always irked me, to some degree, as they were likely in production around the same time.  While I favor Luceno’s version in terms of the gritty realism, the scope that the microseries was able to present through its trademark exaggerated visual style (i.e. Saesee Tiin leading the fighters into space, where a massive battle was already raging) also makes it one of the two to three most memorable storylines of the short-run series. Labyrinth does this event in Galactic history well in that it provides backstory for the giant, overreaching question that is not even approached in the microseries – HOW!?  Just as many would question Roosevelt’s administration following the Japanese assault on a crucial US Naval Base in 1941, or those who accuse the second Bush administration of prior knowledge of 9/11, how on earth could the capital planet be invaded without some sort of inside assistance?  Of course, we, standing outside the fourth wall, know a great deal about that “inside assistance,” but it is an assumption that the writers of the micro-series should not have presumed, I would argue.

Luceno provides the needed backdrop, albeit simplistic- the “shield generator,” as referred to by Shaak Ti, was deactivated or destroyed. Thoughtful characters such as Padme seem baffled by this, but, as is the tragedy of the Prequel Trilogy, the dots are a bit too far apart for connecting.  Windu also suggests some skepticism as to the timing of  this assault, as it came at the end of a lengthy operation intended to root out the truth about Darth Sidious.

As a practical matter, one would believe that the value of Coruscant to the Republic surely warrants some sort of backup security measures out of the hands of one single person (similar to modern-day nuclear codes), even if he is the Dark Lord of the Sith masquerading as Supreme Chancellor.  However, one would have to acknowledge that logic is seemingly defied at many points throughout the Clone Wars, the excuse for which is that everything is interwoven into the brilliantly hideous plan of its curator.  Dooku’s mark is surely on this treachery as well, as he assists Grievous in commandeering a Republic gunboat that takes him directly to 500 Republica, hoodwinking Windu and Kit Fisto long enough for Grievous to lay waste to Palpatine’s security detail, made up of nameless Jedi and his trademark red guards.

The level of coordination is absolutely flawless, and we as the reader/viewer are led to believe that this is all due to Jedi being extended to the Outer Rim sieges on Palpatine’s orders.  Perhaps we should even assume that, should Kenobi and Skywalker have been allowed back home, they could have disrupted this plot.  Yoda harps on the ability of the Dark Side to cloud everything many times throughout the films and the EU, but while this is truly Grievous’ “finest hour,” as Sidious transmits to him during Luceno’s novel, it is, first and foremost, a staggering failure for the Order.  All practical matters aside, if we as fans are to believe Yoda when he definitively tells Luke “No” when asked if the Dark Side is stronger, and are also expected to make all of these logistical leaps in assuming Palpatine could, in the blink of an eye, disable the planetary defenses for the Republic capital, the greatest leap of all is accepting that the Jedi were absolutely, totally blinded to all of this.  Mace wishes to tell the Senate in AOTC that the Order’s ability to use the force has “diminished.”  The way I see it, in this instance, Palpatine turns it completely off, as easily as he flips the switch on the planetary shield.  And that is a small detail worth exploring.

More to come this week!  And we’ll make sure to talk about Kit Fisto’s blue lightsaber.

Enjoy The Moment

Labyrith_of_Evil_art

Can you top this cover art? And unlike Jedi Trial, there’s a quality story inside too.

Each time I finish up Luceno’s cracking lead-in to ROTS, I am left with great confusion, and a feeling similar to that of watching a brilliant comeback in the first round of the NFL playoffs by a team who has no business winning (for example, the 2011 Denver Broncos)- it is enjoyment and excitement..for the moment.  But we know it won’t last.  Their friendship isn’t perfect, but it feels right, and for each of their sakes, I just want it to last a little longer.

Near the end of the novel, following the dynamic duo’s biting on Sidious and Dooku’s head-fake that led them to Tythe, we see a side of Anakin Skywalker that is rarely touched upon in the Clone Wars novelizations (or successfully often) outside of a few instances.  His hatred for Dooku, so strong that the roar of his voice results in the literal collapse of the structure in which they all stand, is tempered by his subsequent emotional outburst to Obi-Wan, once he realizes that all is not right on Coruscant.  It is well-written, genuine, human exchanges such as these that I prefer to frame young Skywalker by, not the heavy-handed hissy fits thrown on Tatooine after killing the Tuscans, or the childlike whining to Padme about “wanting more” at the beginning of ROTS.  Luceno has long been one of my favorite SW authors, I should say in full disclosure- this is why:


Anakin: “You’re my best friend.  Tell me what I should do.  Forget for a moment that you’re wearing the robes of a Jedi and tell me what I should do!”

Obi-Wan: “The Force is our ally, Anakin.  When we’re mindful of the Force, our actions are in accord with the will of the Force.  Tythe wasn’t a wrong choice.  It’s simply that we’re ignorant of its import in the greater scheme.”

Anakin: “You’re right, Master.  My mind isn’t as fast as my lightsaber.”

Obi-Wan felt as if someone had knotted his insides.  He had failed his apprentice and closest friend.  Anakin was suffering, and the only balm he offered were Jedi platitudes.

(Luceno, Labyrinth, 283-84)

We see another emotional exchange that closes the story, when Obi-Wan attempts to make up for his perceived failure in this exchange by showering Anakin with support, in another touching and memorable scene.  He does this again in ROTS, before leaving for Utapau.  However, even though we are shown through hints throughout this book and Stover’s novelization of ROTS that Obi-Wan is likely cognisant of the romantic relationship Anakin shares with Padme, he is unable to break out the tendencies shared by Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda to reply to real, human emotions with rigid, emotionless language.  And as we know, standing outside the fourth wall, it is the inability of the Order to conform itself that ultimately leaves it vulnerable to destruction.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at this novel in the context of the Clone Wars microseries, and why Kit Fisto is carrying a blue lightsaber.  Wait, what!?