Thursday, December 17, 2015

Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1: Vader (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1: Vader
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Recent Release Date: October 20, 2015

Synopsis: The original Dark Lord of the Sith stars in his first ongoing series! Ever since Darth Vader's first on-screen appearance, he has become one of pop-culture's most popular villains. Now, follow Vader straight from the ending of A NEW HOPE (and the pages of the new STAR WARS comic book) into his own solo adventures — showing the Empire's war with the Rebel Alliance from the other side! But when a Dark Lord needs help, who can he turn to? As Vader pursues a very personal vengeance against the Rebels and investigates the Emperor's secret machinations, he clashes with weapons scavenger Aphra and deadly Battle Droids, and returns to Geonosis to build an army. But some very powerful people don't want him to learn the truths he seeks! Guest-starring Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett and more!


Review: This trade paperback opens wonderfully. The first issue of this ongoing series is fantastic. Darth Vader, shortly after the loss of the Death Star, goes to Jabba the Hutt looking for aid in getting back into the Emperor's favor. 

By the end of this first volume though, I didn't feel the same energy and momentum. Some very cool things happen, like a return to Geonosis, but I was definitely more impressed with how this ongoing series started than where it left off.

I will continue with this series, but I am hoping for more interesting stories coming up. I liked how new characters were introduced in this series pretty early on. I'm excited to read the big Vader Down crossover event.

I give this first volume a 4/5. A very strong start, but hopefully it didn't peak too early. 


Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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Star Wars, Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes
Author: Ryan Graudin
Recent Release Date: October 6, 2015

Synopsis: The greatest space adventure of all returns to Marvel! Luke Skywalker and the ragtag rebels opposing the Galactic Empire are fresh off their biggest victory so far — the destruction of the massive Death Star. But the Empire’s not toppled yet! Join Luke, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2 and the rest of the Rebel Alliance as they fight for freedom against Darth Vader and his evil master, the Emperor! But when a Rebel assault goes wrong, Han and Leia must think fast to make their escape — while Luke comes face-to-face with Darth Vader! In the explosive aftermath, a humbled Luke returns to Tatooine to learn more about his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Meanwhile, Leia and Han undertake a vital — and dangerous — secret mission. But can they succeed without Luke? Plus: the menace of Boba Fett! 


Review: This trade paperback collects the first six issues of the ongoing Marvel Star Wars series. Since this is an ongoing series, there isn't any finality to the end of the story. It is cool to see Imperial equipment and characters form later in the trilogy come into play early as this book takes place shortly after A New Hope. 

The artwork is fantastic and the comic overall does an excellent job of getting that Star Wars feel, but it definitely is just the start of the comic. I'm excited to see where it goes. I want independent arcs that introduce new and interesting characters, places, and creatures. 

I give this trade paperback a 4/5. I will continue reading this series as it releases in trade paperback. I do enjoy the miniseries Marvel has done more. I like having a complete story tied up. 


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Star Wars: Kanan, Vol. 1: The Last Padawan (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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Title: Kanan

Author: Greg Weisman
Artists: Pepe Larraz & Jacopo Camagni
Recent Release Date: November 3, 2015

Synopsis: In Star Wars: Rebels, Kanan Jarrus is a cocky, sarcastic renegade fighting the Galactic Empire alongside the ragtag crew of the Ghost. But years before, during the Clone Wars, he was known as Caleb Dume, a Jedi Padawan training under Master Depa Billaba. Neither master nor apprentice ever suspected that their “loyal” Clone Troopers would turn on them upon the issuing of Order 66 — the Emperor's directive to execute all Jedi. How did Caleb Dume escape the Jedi purge? How did he learn to survive on his own after his master fell? And how did he become the man we know as Kanan Jarrus? What can a Padawan do when being a Jedi makes him a target? Join young Caleb for a tale that bridges the years between the Clone Wars and Rebels! Collecting KANAN: THE LAST PADAWAN #1-5.


Review: Kanan is a new character to Rebels, but he was around during the Clone Wars. We've already had an origin story of him meeting Hera in A New Dawn, but this story goes back farther to the moment that ended the Clone Wars, Order 66. This is the first in-depth account of Order 66 in the new canon, other than the film. 

The relationship between Kanan and the clone troopers is very interesting. I'm very interested to see that relationship more if its origin is explored in Volume 2. 

This graphic novel reminded me of some of the Dark Times dark horse comics. It was cool to see the events that made Kanan the way he is. It was also very cool to see the Rebels crew drawn in a different style.

I give this graphic novel a 5/5. I look forward to the next volume.


Star Wars: Princess Leia (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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Title: Princess Leia

Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Terry Dodson
Recent Release Date: November 3, 2015

Synopsis: When Princess Leia Organa was captured by the Empire, she never betrayed her convictions - even after the complete destruction of her home world, Alderaan. When her rescue came, Leia grabbed a blaster and joined the fight, escaping back to the Rebel Alliance and helping strike the biggest blow against the Empire - the destruction of the Death Star! But in the aftermath of that victory, the question remains...what is a princess without a world? As Leia comes to grips with her loss, a new mission leads her to the underground world of Sullust. The Empire is rounding up fugitive Alderaanians, and that doesn't sit well with their Princess! But what can one woman do against the Galactic Empire? They're about to find out! Join the galaxy's toughest Princess on a quest to save her people and rebuild her life!


Review: In Star Wars: A New Hope, Leia's homeworld is destroyed. Her family is gone. This graphic novel covers Leia's journey directly after the film closes. As many see her as an ice princess, she finds a way to lead her people while still fighting against the Empire. 

Evaan is first introduced in this comic. She is an interesting counter to Leia. I like how the new canon keeps taking Leia to Naboo. The stained glass Queen Amidala was very cool to see. 

I enjoyed this graphic novel. I hope Marvel continues making miniseries like this. I give this graphic novel a 5/5


Star Wars: Shattered Empire (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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Title: Star Wars: Shattered Empire

Writer: Greg Rucka
Artists: Marco Checchetto, Angel Unzueta, & Emilio Laiso
Recent Release Date: November 17, 2015

Synopsis: For the first time in the new Star Wars canon, journey with us into the time after the end of Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi! Writer Greg Rucka (PUNISHER, WOLVERINE, Gotham Central) and artist Marco Checchetto (AVENGERS WORLD, PUNISHER) take us past the destruction of the second Death Star — and into the chaos of a Shattered Empire. It's the explosive lead-in to this winter's blockbuster big-screen Star Wars revival, and everything you need to know is right here! Collecting JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - SHATTERED EMPIRE #1-4, PRINCESS LEIA #1 and STAR WARS (1977) #1


Review: This is one of the few stories set after Return of the Jedi. The first panels take place at the end of the Battle of Endor. Poe Dameron's parents are the focus of this book, primarily his mother. Though the main cast does make cameos. 

I like the groundwork this places for the post-ROTJ universe. The red messengers from Palpatine were really cool. I also really liked seeing Naboo and Leia's force sensitivity come into play again in a subtle way. I'm very interested in what happens to the things Luke recovered at the end of this short graphic novel.

I felt like this was a cool beginning, but I wish it had been longer. The trade paperback includes the first volume of two other comics because Shattered Empire itself is so short. I'm hoping we get more stories that pick up on these threads. I give this graphic novel a 5/5.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

STAR WARS: Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away ALIENS by Landry Q. Walker - Paul's REVIEW

Title: Star Wars Journey to the Force Awakens: Tales From a Galaxy Far, Far Away Aliens
Author: Landry Q. Walker
Recent Release Date: November 30, 2015

I am LOVING the new Star Wars canon. I've been devouring as much as I can before the release of The Force Awakens. These 4 short stories, all written by Landry Q. Walker, as well as more stories will be compiled into a printed collection next year. These 4 stories are available now in digital form. Each story follows a character that will be featured, most likely in the background, of the upcoming film. Each story is written in a different style. Below I'll review each story, but overall I extremely enjoyed these stories. I HIGHLY recommend them all!


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The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku

Author: Landry Q. Walker

Synopsis: Every pirate in the sector is after the lost treasure of Count Dooku! Will Captain Ithano and his crew beat his rivals to the prize?

Review: This was my favorite of these 4 short stories. Ever since I first saw the Crimson Corsair in the Vanity Fair spread, I thought he looked cool. I wanted to know more about him. This story follows him and his crew in a race across a desert planet against other pirates searching for a lost treasure. Captain Sidon Ithano, as he is also known, is an awesome character. There's a toy coming out of him and his first mate that I think will be one of the few The Force Awakens figures I actually buy. 

This story has it all. Like a lot of the new canon, it takes inspiration from all the Star Wars films and tv shows. It even starts with a Hondo quote! Fans of The Clone Wars tv series MUST read this! 

I found myself using wookiepedia to get accurate ideas of what the characters looked like. The Ortolan pirate known as One-Eye is such a cool image. 

The chapters are very small, which made it very easy to read. This story is full of adventure as well as comedy. I love when Star Wars stories make allusions to classic lines and such in creative ways. I never had a bad feeling about this book while I was reading it.

I give this short story a 5/5. I want more! I am so much more intrigued by the character of the Crimson Corsair. I want to follow his crew on many more adventures. I really hope Walker gets to continue writing their stories.


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High Noon on Jakku

Author: Landry Q. Walker

Synopsis: A renegade droid causes problems for Constable Zuvio on Jakku.

Review: I have not yet seen The Force Awakens, but from promotional material it seems like Constable Zuvio is the character most featured in the film out of these four stories. In this story he is the good guy, keeping the law in order. I'm interested to see what his role will be in the film. 

This short story is a great introduction to Jakku. It sets up how the planet works and the minimal law enforcement that is present. 

The design of Constable Zuvio is really cool and I've seen the action figure, but I didn't realize him and his cousins are members of an already existing Star Wars specis. They are Kyuzo, which is the same species as Embo the bounty hunter from The Clone Wars

This is a crime story with a bit of heist. I really enjoyed the way it played out. I give it a 5/5.


The Face of Evil
Author: Landry Q. Walker

Synopsis: A notorious thief learns to be careful what she wishes for on Takodana.

Review: With this story, we get our first look inside the castle of Maz Kanata on Takodana. There is an Edgar Allan Poe feel. It is a dark and stormy night. There's something in the basement. There's also a Frankenstein-like feel to the science. 

When I first saw the fluffy yellow creatures featured in this story, I thought they were ridiculous even for Star Wars. But, I like their characterization. I want to explore Maz Kanata's castle more. 

I give this short story a 5/5. It is a fun and creepy read. 


All Creatures Great and Small
Author: Landry Q. Walker

Synopsis: A storyteller uses his captivating skills to calm frightened villagers on Jakku.

Review: This was the first creature we were introduced to in the Force for Change promotional video. And again, at Comic-Con. In this story we get to meet this unusual storyteller.

I like how uncertainty and believing in the implausible is at the heart of this story. Although it does get kind of outrageous. I'd be interested to learn more about how he is aware of such details. 

The story told within this short story is a tale of the unsung heroes of Yavin who aided in the destruction of the Death Star. 

This story was fun and interesting. It's a story that makes you wonder about stories. I give it a 5/5.



The Perfect Weapon (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) by Delilah S. Dawson (Audiobook) - Paul's REVIEW

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Title: The Perfect Weapon (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Author: Delilah S. Dawson
Year Published: 2015

Narrator: January LaVoy
Audiobook Length: 1 hour 57 minutes

Synopsis: There are plenty of mercenaries, spies, and guns for hire in the galaxy. But probably none as dangerous and determined as Bazine Netal. A master of disguise—and lethal with a blade, a blaster, or bare handed—she learned from the best. Now it’s her turn to be the teacher—even if schooling an eager but inexperienced recruit in the tricks of her trade is the last thing she wants to do. But it’s the only way to score the ship she needs to pull off her latest job.

An anonymous client has hired Bazine to track down an ex-stormtrooper and recover the mysterious package he’s safeguarding. Payment for the mission promises to be astronomical, but the obstacles facing Bazine will prove to be formidable. And though her eager new sidekick has cyber skills crucial to the mission, only Bazine’s razor-sharp talents will mean the difference between success or failure—and life or death.


Review: : "You can't hide bombs in flat shoes."

I have been devouring all things "Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens." This short story is less than 2 dollars in either audiobook or digital format. The story follows a background character from the upcoming movie. 

I liked how Dawson fledged out the character from what will most likely only be a brief glimpse we see in the film. There is an explanation for her choice of clothing, accessories, and make-up. Bazine Netal is one badass gun for hire. 

An added benefit of listening to the audiobook is the production of it. There's music. There's sound effects. It has been arranged very nicely. 

The story was a thrilling adventure, but I didn't find anything extra special about it. It was enjoyable, but I wouldn't classify this one as a must-read like some of the other new canon books. I give this short story audiobook a 3.5/5.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens) by Claudia Gray - Paul's REVIEW

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Lost Stars (Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Author: Claudia Gray
Recent Release Date: September 4th 2015

Synopsis: Star Wars meets Romeo and Juliet in this epic YA novel that follows two best friends who find themselves on opposite sides of the war between the Empire and the Rebellion.

This thrilling YA novel gives readers a macro view of some of the most important events in the Star Wars universe: from the purge of the Jedi in Episode III, to the beginnings of the rebellion in Star Wars Rebels, and through the fall of the Empire in Episodes IV-IV. Readers will experience these major moments through the eyes of two best friends who grow up in these troubling times, and find themselves on opposite sides of the war.


Star-crossed lovers begin the story from two separate groups on the same planet and end up on two separate sides of a galactic war. Their journey takes them through the events of the original Star Wars trilogy. I absolutely loved the way the Empire, the Rebellion, and just the overall political and social scene of the Star Wars universe was portrayed. The grayness is so much more evident. 

The impact of the large scale events that occur during the original trilogy is shown in depth. The Empire destroyed a planet. The Rebellion demolished a space station full of people. The characters in this book react to these events in realistic ways. 

There were so many great characters introduced in this novel that I am so happy are now canon. I want to see them pop up everywhere! Lohgarra, a white female wookie captain of a transport vessel, was one of my favorite introductions. The Corona Squadron needs to have its own comic book. There were so many characters that are only briefly featured that I want to know more about, which is such a Star Wars thing. The countess intrigues me so much. 

Another wonderful thing about this book is that it surpasses Return of the Jedi and portrays a world post-Death Star II Destruction. The Battle of Jakku takes place in this book. And it is splendid. The ending gave me all the feels. 

I have been fully enjoying the new Star Wars canon books, but this book was AMAZING! I think it even surpassed Dark Disciple, which was my previous favorite. This book is practically tailor-made for me. It's YA. It's Star Wars. It is written beautifully. There is diversity. The main story is part of a bigger picture. The characters have great depth and growth throughout the novel. The only thing that could have catered more to me specifically is if there had been a gay protagonist. 

Many people in the Star Wars community didn't expect much from a YA book, but I already read primarily YA so I was most looking forward to this one. It exceeded all my expectations. And from what I've heard from Star Wars fans who don't regularly read YA, it has exceeded theirs as well. 

At the heart of this novel, there is a wonderful story of a relationship. Yes, there are points where it is romantic, but overall it is a wonderful friendship. A long-term connection between two people. And that's what a romantic relationship really is and should be anyway. This book takes place over a large span of time, which allows for the romance to seem genuine and authentic.

I think the biggest take away from this novel was that there is beard suppressant in the Star Wars universe. All joking aside, I loved this book. Claudia Gray's YA books have been way bumped up on my TBR list. And she has another Star Wars book coming out next year!!!

I give this book a well-deserving 5/5. I HIGHLY recommend it to superfans of Star Wars as well as the casual fan just slightly familiar with the franchise. I think this book can stand on its own. I will be recommending this to all my friends as they tell me their views on The Force Awakens later this week.