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Reviews Archive

Click on any title below to read its review

Allegiance

Ewok Adventures

The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett

The New Essential Chronology

Animated Adventures: Droids

The Glove of Darth Vader series

Marvel: Annual #1

Pizzazz

 

Animated Adventures: Ewoks

The Golden Age of the Sith

 

Marvel Illustrated: Four New Adventures

 

Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell

Bane of the Sith

 

Graveyard of Alderaan

Marvel Illustrated: World of Fire

The Ruins of Dantooine

Classic Star Wars: A Long Time Ago

Jango Fett: Open Seasons

 

Marvel #28 (ALTA #2)

The Star Wars Holiday Special

Classic Star Wars 3

Jedi Apprentice

Marvel #35: Dark Lord's Gambit

Star Wars Kids: The Rebel Thief

Clone Wars Adventures

Jedi Quest

The Dreams of Wally Lombego: Marvel #46 vs. Marvel UK #141

Tales from Mos Eisley

Clone Wars Animated: Vol. II

Jedi vs. Sith

 

Marvel #68: The Search Begins

Tales #18

The Crystal Star

Jedi: Yoda

Marvel #78: Hoth Stuff

3D #2: Havoc on Hoth

Empire #20,21

Jedi's Honor: A Solitaire Adventure

 

Marvel #79: The Big Con

Untitled Sunday Strip

Escape from Dagu

Labyrinth of Evil

Marvel Star Wars: A Long Time Ago

Young Jedi Knights: Fall of the Diversity Alliance

 

 

 

The Dreams of Wally Lombego

How LFL Suppressed J.M. DeMatties' Pacifist Tale

... and how it was rediscovered

 

Marvel #46 vs. Marvel UK #141

 

Some interesting information came about in 2010 involving the post-TESB story published by Marvel in 1980 known as "The Dreams of Cody Sunn-Childe." For starters, it turns out that the author (noted in the U.S. issue), Wally Lombego, was actually a pseudonym for J.M. DeMatties, a well-known and well-respected comic-book writer. On his blog (see here), he notes the reason for the name change was in protest to Lucasfilm altering his story, changing key dialogue to ensure that no reader would agree with the protagonist's pacifist stance of civil disobedience.

 

According to DeMatties, "It seemed that, to them, the very idea that a character in the Star Wars universe would voice an opinion that in any way contradicted the Skywalker Worldview was offensive.  The word came down that Sunn-Childe, in rejecting violence, made their characters look bad.  In other words, their universe wasn’t big enough to contain one single person with a point of view that suggested that non-violence was a reasonable alternative to war."

 

At the time, it seemed that was the end of the story. DeMatties had long ago resigned himself to what they did, and never looked back... that is, until it was discovered his original version actually had been published -- by mistake -- in Marvel UK's monthly magazine, issue #141! See the discovery unfold here. What's shown is that LFL changed four pages (not counting the title page with DeMatties' real name), 11, 12, 13 and 22, to make Cody look like a radical, and to have Lando denounce him after his death. If you ask me, LFL's decision was a pretty damn fascist one. From now on, as far as this timeline is concerned, the original is the true story, and we are very lucky that Marvel made that mistake so that we now have it. For me, the edited version from the U.S. issue is Infinities. For those of you who don't have the UK issue, Eddie's been given permission to show the pages on his site here. For those who don't have the original issue, Dark Horse has reprinted the issue in their A Long Time Ago: Volume 2 omnibus.

 

If you want to read DeMatties' happy response to discovering that his version was not lost, check it out here!

 

Long Live Cody Sunn-Childe!

 

 

 

Allegiance

 

Review

 

      Zahn's latest effort is a mixed-bag.  As with his excellent Outbound Flight/Survivor's Quest duology and the ever-popular "Thrawn Trilogy," readers can look forward to a tightly plotted story that deftly weaves several seemingly disparate narrative strands into one exciting finale.  This time, his signature trademark storytelling style takes place in the period known as the Era of Rebellion (which designates the time frame during which the Classic Trilogy occurs) and stars the film's main protagonists (minus the droids whom Zahn admits he couldn't find a place for) six months after the Battle of Yavin (seen in Episode IV: A New Hope

 

      Fans of Zahn's prior novels will be thrilled to find eighteen year old Mara Jade in her role as Emperor's Hand.  She is smart, principled, quick on her toes and tough as nails.  It's a pleasure to revisit this character during her youth while she still naively believed the Empire stood for justice and Palpatine was a good man. 

 

      But the characters that really steal the show are the five rogue stormtroopers who come to make up the improvised squadron known as the Hand of Judgment.  Running from the Empire is doubly difficult when you can't help but take time out to save locals and investigate a deadly pirate ring!  Admittedly, there is some confusion as to who's who in this roster, and in a novel of 324 pages that includes quite a number of protagonists and antagonists, developing five new characters deep enough so that readers can delineate between them was going to be difficult at best.  In this, Zahn is far less successful than Karen Traviss who's Republic Commando squadron have earned themselves a good four books and a place in many fans' hearts.  But the guys from the Hand of Judgment are still an interesting bunch and their camaraderie and interactions are the highlight of the book.  I wouldn't mind seeing more of them in the future.

 

      The villains aren't quite as interesting as the protagonists.  Caaldra, the head of the pirate ring seems almost interchangeable from the Commodore, another pirate captain, and there's no real depth given to either of them.  But as they're foils in a larger plot, it's not noticeably distracting.  Vader's on board too, and though used sparingly, he's always fun to have around.  One of the best scenes of the book involves Mara's interactions with Vader (although there is an odd scene between the two towards the end of the book that has Vader behaving uncharacteristically bizarre.)

 

      Sadly, the book is unable to maintain the high note that Mara and the stormtroopers bring to it.  While the plot is well-realized, with just a minimum of coincidences to propel it forward, it lacks the epic scope of the "Thrawn Trilogy" and the deep sense of mystery and intrigue of his more recent duology.  But those matters are trifles next to the book's biggest failing.  Zahn stumbles in the very area long-time fans of the EU feared he might.  It's blatantly obvious that the author simply has no knowledge of the era he's writing in.  And while no real damage is done to continuity as some feared, Zahn's characterizations of Han and Luke are strikingly off, which is not to say that they don't sound like their film counterparts.  In fact, it could be argued that Han and Luke sound almost exactly like they do in Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope.  The problem is that they shouldn't. 

 

      Anyone who's been a long time fan of the EU or who's gone back and read the stories that take place in the days, weeks and months after A New Hope knows that Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewie have had a lot of adventures together.  Sadly, Zahn doesn't seem to know that and his versions of them behave like distant acquaintances.  In fact, Zahn has written a Han that is so unrelentingly bitter and resentful as to be almost unrecognizable.  Worse, for someone unknown reason, the author emasculates Luke at almost every opportunity he gets.  When I say these characters resemble their film counterparts, what I mean is that they do so in regards to their least likable traits.  Han is irascible, sarcastic and just plain unfriendly.  Luke is even worse: whiny, inexperienced, foolish and incompetent!  (One can't help but wonder if this was done on purpose to provide a contrast with Mara Jade who's shown to be the epitome of efficiency and power.)  Luke is led around by the spirit of Obi-Wan like a puppy on a leash as Obi-Wan basically tells him exactly what to do in nearly every situation.  Zahn even has Luke whine that Obi-Wan isn't doing enough for him!  Where is the Luke of Archie Goodwin's Marvel series and newspaper strips who was quick on his feet, quick to anger and full of ideas!?  See, Goodwin took the Luke from A New Hope as well, but instead of denigrating him by focusing on his lamer qualities, he built on him to show the growth and transition Luke was making to the man he would become in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, impetuous yes, but courageous and loyal; volatile, but also smart and confident.  Zahn instead takes Luke figuratively back to the farm, and apparently back in time, conceiving a version of him that behaves like a silly teenager.  The only time Luke has any kind of positive impact in the story is when he's using the Force, otherwise he proves to be an embarrassment in practically every other situation.  And there's no reason for it.  There's no crystal star in the area that's messing up the Force, no lost girlfriend in the recent past, no clone emperor testing him with the dark side.  Zahn merely doesn't have a handle on Luke, and he demonstrates that by portraying him in a pretty pathetic light.

 

       On page 129, we get this paragraph: "Stormtroopers.  Luke shivered.  He'd grown up tangling with Sand People and had some idea how to deal with them.  But Imperial stormtroopers were something else entirely.  He and the others had survived a couple of brief encounters with them aboard the Death Star, but even at the time he'd had the feeling the Imperials had been taken by surprise and weren't operating at full efficiency... Their next encounter with the Empire's elite, Luke suspected, would be very different." 

 

      The above paragraph would lead you to believe that Luke is not only frightened of stormtroopers (so much so that he actually "shivered") but hasn't had any dealings with them since the Death Star.  Anyone who's read any of the stories that take place in this period can tell you that Luke would not be shivering at stormtroopers, as he's dealt with quite a few of them and rather successfully!  The paragraph is pointless, misleading, ultimately erroneous and damaging to Luke's character.  It should have been excised.  What should have taken its place was some sense of the camaraderie that exists between Han, Luke and Leia.  But there isn't any.  Not even a little. 

 

      Luke is googly-eyed towards Leia, as is Han, which is fine at this point.  But after six-months of hair-raising adventures, they're also good friends.  One of the best things about stories set in this period is the relationship between all of them.  Yet you won't find that here.  The reader is given no sense that these guys have been risking their lives for one another on one harrowing mission after another.  In the hands of an author who knew and incorporated the history of these characters, a bout of acrimony amongst them could have been pulled off successfully as a sudden rift in their relationship would have proved interesting.  But because Zahn chose to ignore all of the stories that take place in this time-frame, his versions of Han, Luke and Leia are veritable strangers who's only connection to one another is the events depicted in A New Hope (which is constantly referred back to) six months prior.  The entire time I read their sections I was left wondering 'Who are these people and where are the real Luke, Han and Leia?!'  Clearly, not in this book.   

 

      In fairness, Leia is written well.  Zahn has a good ear for her and her dialogue is natural and fitting with the character at this stage of the game.  She's not with the rest of the group, however, choosing to go off on her own for reasons we're not exactly sure of and that are less than satisfying (other than as a plot device.)  We're likewise never clued in as to why Han's suddenly acting like a stone mite crawled up his butt.  At the end of the book, Leia utters a magic sentence or two to him basically saying that since Chewie wants to join the Rebellion Han should just relax and join the Rebels for Chewie's sake.  And just like that he's all better.  (And they said Leia's Force powers were undeveloped!)  At any rate, it might have been nice to know what triggered his bad mood in the first place.  

 

      The final third of the book draws tight all the loose strings, and the story works better here because its focus is on Zahn's strength: his own characters.  Fact is the novel would've been much stronger without Luke, Han and Leia, not because they're not wanted, but because Zahn character-assassinates the former two so badly it takes you out of the story almost every time they're "on screen."  For those who are exclusively novel readers, or exclusively Zahn readers, this may not seem as apparent.  But to anyone who knows the EU, it's a major failing and a confirmation that no matter how fine the novelist is (and Zahn is a damn fine novelist) if he doesn't familiarize himself with at least the period he's writing in, he shouldn't be writing in that period.  And at this stage of the game, SW fans rightly expect better. 

 

      The story itself is well-conceived and enjoyable in it's own right, but where it misses it misses big, and the mis-characterizations left a sour taste in my mouth.  Allegiance is ultimately a missed opportunity.  Traviss, Denning, Allston, Luceno, Stewart, and a half-dozen others would've researched this area thoroughly and crafted a fine story, giving readers not only the appropriate characterizations and relationships for the film's heroes, but nods and ties to the history presented in the older comics and tales that came before.  Zahn instead chooses to give us Stacey, the Valley-Girl pilot from the fan-film parody Pink Five.  This reader fails to be amused.  Rather than cute references to non-canon sources, I suggest it's time Tim Zahn learns the Star Wars Expanded Universe beyond his own works, or simply stops writing books that take place in eras he chooses to know nothing about. 

 

 

 

Star Wars Kids #1-5: The Rebel Thief

 

Continuity Fix

 

      Mention of the character Sprool and the planet Dennogra in Star Wars Missions #11: "Bounty Hunters vs. Battle Droids" demonstrates that this story-arch has to have a measure of validity. Many, including myself, however had rendered it Infinities due to some irreconcilable continuity errors. Upon reexamination, I see that the only real contradictory passages occur in issue #1, which has Han say that he gave his reward money back to the Rebels (which we know is not true – it was stolen by Crimson Jack in the early Marvel issues.) The scene also depicts the immediate events after A New Hope, events that have been detailed in Pizzazz and the aforementioned Marvel comics.  Removing only issue #1 from this story arch improves matters by eliminating all the contradictory elements.  And the story still works without it. 

 

 

Bane of the Sith

 

This short story from Kevin Anderson appeared in Gamer #3 detailing Darth Bane's mission to find an apprentice following the events of Jedi vs. Sith.  The events of this story, however, constitute Infinities due to the publication of Drew Karpysyn's novel Darth Bane: Path of Destruction which provides a very different explanation of Bane's actions in Jedi vs. Sith as well as demonstrating that the young Padawan Rain also became Bane's first apprentice Darth Zannah (note: the New Essential Chronology published prior to Darth Bane tries to reconcile this by having Zannah meet Bane on Onderone.) 

 

Anderson's story has Bane attempting to warn the Dark Lords from using the thought bomb (when in the novel it was he that lured them into using it) and trying to preserve the Brotherhood of Darkness (whereas in the novel Bane vehemently seeks to bring about their destruction ... and does.) 

 

The short story also has Lords Quodis and Kaan appear as spirits scolding Bane for being a coward and Bane feeling guilt over the incident that he claims he tried to prevent.  The novel, however, makes it clear that not only is Bane at this stage utterly devoid of emotions such as guilt, but that the Sith spirits could not have come back to haunt him as they were either utterly destroyed or trapped in stasis (until the time when Kyle Katarn released them years later.)

 

 

The New Essential Chronology

Review

 

Much more than a guide, The New Essential Chronology recounts the thousands of years of Star Wars history as has been told through nearly thirty-years of film, television, books, comics, videogames, roleplaying supplements and more.  Complementing the 238 pages are all new, gorgeous full-color illustrations by Mark Chiarello, Tommy Lee Edwards and John Van Fleet.  Including some of Kevin Anderson's text from the former edition, author Daniel Wallace adds all new information on the three films of the Prequel Era, the Clone Wars and the New Jedi Order, as well as supplementing quite a bit of additional information from recent titles as well as older sources that the prior guide failed to include (which was extensive).  The new text is well written and easy to follow and a new color map graces the back pages (although well done it's by no means exhaustive).  While no guide can substitute for the original materials themselves, this one does a fine job educating fans and authors with limited time on some of the more important historical information comprising the Star Wars Universe. 

 

Unfortunately, certain shortcomings from the first guide remain including a focus that is heavily weighted on modern material and scant on earlier, well-loved stories from the seventies and eighties.  Whole chapters are devoted to plots from recent video games, while the period between the Classic Trilogy – and era jam-packed with stories –  is given a few scant paragraphs (and it's not as if there wasn't room - page 129 is almost 3/4 empty!), and even then much of that material is devoted to recent sources.  Admittedly, plot synopses from video-games is great for the many non-gamers who don't have the time, money or resources needed to invest hours upon hours of gameplay (and who may be resentful of the fact that Lucasfilm accepted this medium to tell exclusive stories that were part of continuity).  But it doesn't weigh against the fact that Scholastic's Missions and Adventures series, Marvel UK (including Devilworlds), and Russ Manning's newspaper strips are absent from mention altogether. 

 

Granted, what is here is a tremendous improvement over the first Essential Chronology.  And some of the nods to older material are quite clever (eg., the indication that the Slivilith from Marvel #55 is a Yuuzhan Vong creature is brilliant), nevertheless, a few scant pages covering the Era of Rebellion (the four years constituting Episodes 4-6) is nothing short of disappointing, especially considering the wealth of material that was published for that time period.  Too many pages are spent on obscure West End Games Roleplaying sources (such as The Adventure Journal which told tales of unknown characters) than on comics and newspaper strips which focused on the main heroes of the films. 

 

One other glaring omission – which the first guide also dispensed with –  is a bibliography.  Why Del Rey/Ballantine would pass on the opportunity of presenting a complete list of their novels is beyond me.  More importantly, a bibliography would have been a service to the fans looking to track down the original source material from which all the information in the book came.  Dare I dream further, a cross-referenced index to the original source material would have been even more useful.  I notice that the Official Site saw fit to provide something of this nature, and a good job the author did of it.  But why isn't it in the book?!  Ah well, I guess we could print it out and stick it in the back. The New Essential Chronology still has a long way to go to satisfy this fan.  But despite its shortcomings, it's still a tremendous effort on the part of the author that manages to tie together an incredible amount of disparate information and provide ingenious continuity salves.  For those disappointed over the first 'essential' guide, this one is a major improvement, and one that should satisfy both the new and hardcore fan alike....at least until a later "extended" edition comes out in years to come!

 

 

Young Jedi Knights: Fall of the Diversity Alliance

 

Continuity Notes

 

As per The New Essential Chronology, the Boba Fett that appears in this series (beginning in Shards of Alderaan) is NOT Boba Fett, but his daughter Ailyn Vel, who assumed her renowned father's identity and took the bounty.  Ailyn's mother may be Sintas (last seen in Tales #7: Outbid but Never Outgunned) with whom Fett had a daughter.

 

 

Jango Fett: Open Seasons

 

Continuity Notes

 

Some of the internal dates listed in these four issues are incorrect.  The New Essential Chronology has attempted to fix some of these.  See below.

  • Issue 1 is marked at 36 years before Geonosis, placing the first attack of the Death Watch on Mandalore at 58 BBY.

  • Issue 2 details the death of Jaster Mareel at the hands of Viszla (leader of the Death Watch) and the ascent of Jango Fett as head of the Mandalorians at twenty years before the Battle of Naboo (Dooku met with Sidious just after the Naboo Conflict) at 52 BBY, six years after Jango's first encounter with the Death Watch. 

  • Issue 3 contains an erroneous dating problem listing the Battle of Galidraan (the final conflict where Viszla – through a corrupt governor –  tricks the Jedi into wiping out all the Mandalorians save Jango who is sold into slavery) at 12 years before Geonosis, or 34 BBY.  This only allows a two year span of time before Jango is recruited by Dooku, which is contradictory to the story which states that Jango was a slave for years before escaping, exacting his revenge on Viszla (in issue 4) and becoming a famed bounty hunter who was eventually recruited by Count Dooku (who had fought at Galidraan as a much younger man) in 32 BBY.  The likely answer is that the issue should have stated that events took place 12 years before Naboo, not Geonosis.  This would place the Battle of Galidraan at 44 BBY.

  • Issue 4 does not contain any internal dates (other than the erroneous tag line inside the cover of each issue stating "This story takes place 36 years prior to the Battle of Geonosis).

The New Essential Chronology attempts to fix the latter problem, but for unknown reasons alters the dates of issue 1 by two years to 60 BBY.  It then seems to arbitrarily place the Battle of Galidraan (issue 3) twenty years later at 40 BBY.  In the former case, I have stuck with the issue's internal dating.  In the latter, I have based the date on the notion that the author erroneously dated the events from Geonosis rather than Naboo.  Finally, The New Essential Chronology lists Jango's enslavement as lasting two years.  This helps to place the events of issue #4 at 42 BBY.

 

 

Marvel #68: The Search Begins

 

Continuity Notes

 

Much has been written in recent times uncovering the long and sordid history of the Mandalorians.  These issues of Marvel were the first to explore the culture beyond Donald F. Glut's novelization of The Empire Strikes Back which merely noted the Fett's armor was from a group of evil Mandalorian warriors who fought against the Jedi in the Clone Wars.  In these issues, however, we travel to Mandalore itself and meet the last of a vanquished race of Mandalorian Supercommandos, Fenn Shysa and Tobbi Dala, who as the survivors of 212 Mandalorians were more concerned with restoring their own planet and culture than with the Galactic conflict.  Later comics and roleplaying game supplements added many layers to the history of Fett and the Mandalorians, so much so that their history had begun to get murky. 

 

Then Episode II revealed shocking new information that appeared quite at odds with the earlier history.  Author Abel Peña in an article in Star Wars Insider #80 set the record straight regarding all things Mandalorian, tying in all the events including the Fetts, Clones, Jaster Mareel, Concord Dawn, Alpha 02, Fenn Shysa and Tobbi Dala in a single satisfying historical thread.  The New Essential Chronology sums up the role Fenn And Tobbi played along with the mention in The Empire Strikes Back novelization:

 

Following their decimation in the Battle of Galidraan in 44 BBY (see Jango Fett: Open Seasons), "Alpha 02, an aberrant Kaminoan clone of Jango Fett became obsessed with rebuilding the clans and recruited two hundred soldiers from police units on Mandalore... These new Supercommandos comprised the Mandalorian Protectors, and they struck against the Republic at Null, Kamino, and New Bornalex.  Following many bloody battles, only two recruits remained – Tobbi Dala and Fenn Shysa, both of whom returned to Mandalore." 

 

Evidence also indicates that Darth Sidious played a role in their deception.  When the two men returned to their home planet, they found it overrun by slavers, and spent years battling them, eventually joining the Alliance of Free Planets temporarily to aid in their crisis against the Tof, and rebuilding the supercommando Protectors.  Shysa became reigning Mandalore until his death (saving Boba Fett on the planet Shogun) when Fett took over and led them against the Yuuzhan Vong.

 

 

Marvel: Annual #1

 

Continuity Notes

 

As per The New Essential Chronology which borrowed the information from Pablo Hidalgo's Holonet News features that appeared online and in the Insider, Obi-Wan and Anakin's trip to Skye occurred in 13-14th month after the Battle of Geonosis (21 BBY) just prior to the Battle of Jabiim. During this time, many young Padawans had lost their masters and were being assigned to masters who already had apprentices.  Such was the case with an unnamed Jedi Padawan that accompanied Obi-Wan and Anakin to Skye.  This salient point, as clarified by the article written by Rich Handley and myself in Gamer #1, highlights the fact that when Anakin returned years later as Darth Vader, he sought to disguise his former identity as Anakin Skywalker by claiming he'd destroyed Anakin and Obi-Wan, leading the S'kytri to assume that Vader had been the other unnamed Padawan.  When Luke defeated the cruel despot, the Majestrix of Skye, it was this distorted version of the truth that they told him.

 

 

 

Untitled Sunday Strip

("The Kashyyyk Depths" or "Return to Kashyyyk")

Review and Continuity Notes

 

Hard to imagine that this untitled Russ Manning Sunday newspaper strip that ran from July to September 1979 detailing an adventure with Han and Chewie on Kashyyyk remains unpublished.  The strip acts as a prequel of sorts to another untitled earlier strip "The Constancia Affair" (titled and reprinted as a heavily edited – now rare –  KB Toys promo comic).  Like one or two other strips, it is in reality a flashback tale narrated by C-3PO to the tremendous Alliance computer known as Mistress Mnemos.  Like other Manning Star Wars adventures, it's loads of fun and feels appropriately retro and nostalgic; in this tale, we see Kashyyyk as we should have –  but didn't – in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.  We explore the lower depths of Kashyyyk, meet the useful Sureggis, learn that Life Day is celebrated every three years.  We also meet Gyla Petro, a scientist that Han saves from Imperials.  Gyla remains with Han through to the later adventure told in the former strip ("The Constancia Affair") where she begins to suspect that Han may be a smuggler or Rebel.  3PO indicates to Mistress Mnemos that Gyla later gave Han reason to believe she might have been an Imperial spy, but sadly the story is never told.  3PO jumps to a story about Luke on Tatooine, promising to get back to the tale.  Perhaps Russ Manning had intended to tell that tale, but he never did, passing away shortly thereafter in 1981.  Archie Goodwin took over for him on the newspaper strips with "Planet of Kadril" (finally reprinted on Starwars.com's Hyperspace) furthering his own legacy that began with the Star Wars comics in Marvel, only this time with legend Al Williamson.  Thanks to the efforts of Pablo Hidalgo and Lucasfilm, Manning's daily strips have been reprinted on Hyperspace as well, although, for some reason, they're reprinted without the color Sunday strips (neither the two separate stories nor the Sundays that were part of the daily strip), but we can hope that one day we'll finally get to see these rare Manning gems.

 

Continuity Note:

For fans wondering how both this story and the Holiday Special can be included on the timeline, I've reasoned it as follows: Only one panel of the strip shows the Wookiees celebrating, but it's not a Life Day celebration; rather it appears they are celebrating the fact that the Orga root was obtained so that they could celebrate Life Day (notice they are holding it up).  There's time for Han and Chewie to drop off Gyla and return for the actual ceremony and celebration.  En route, they drop off the droids to Luke who informs them of his latest mission and his need for the droids.  Perhaps Han spends some time with Gyla afterwards at some intergalactic watering hole, perhaps not.  Either way, before he and Chewie can return her to her home planet of  Kalgo 13 (as noted by C3PO to Mnemos), Luke contacts Han onboard the Falcon letting him know that Imperials have discovered his ship.  Luke drops off the droids as a beacon for Han to locate the hidden entrance to the Constancia Rebel base.  Han and Chewie become embroiled in Constancia's fight against the Empire and help save the day.  Here the story ends, and a missing untold tale occurs of Gyla's possible treachery (or rather seeming treachery as 3PO doesn't note that she was definitively a spy – simply that she gave Han reason to suspect she might have been).  Though we do not know the outcome, we do know that Chewie would not miss the opportunity to celebrate Life Day with his family for any reason!  Here, the events of the much maligned Holiday Special would occur.  For more information on the Holiday Special, click here.

 

 

Clone Wars: Volume II (Season 3)

 

Infinities

It is clear from even a cursory examination of the third season of Genndy Tartakovsky's Clone Wars cartoon that it is irreconcilably contradictory on numerous levels to Labyrinth of Evil, Reversal of Fortune and the Revenge of the Sith novelization, each of which were deftly woven together to form a tightly structured tapestry. Written after the publication of Labyrinth of Evil, and intended to harmonize with it, Tartakovsky and the three other writers of the cartoon chose to diverge from the book along numerous major paths beyond anything which can be reconciled, even when taking into account the nature of the stylized medium. Thus, it stands as an alternate account of events, perhaps an in-universe holocartoon, but Infinities nonetheless. Lucasfilm's Sue Rostoni has stated that from a historical perspective, Labyrinth of Evil represents the accurate source.  For a closer look at the contradictions created by third season, click here

 

 

Labyrinth of Evil

 

Review

 

 "The Board is set; the pieces are in motion."  Gandalf's line from that other final entry in a major blockbuster trilogy is apt to describe the lead-in novel to this May's final entry, Revenge of the Sith.  James Luceno's Labyrinth of Evil describes the diabolical machinations of dark lords, Darth Sidious and Darth Tyranus, aka, Count Dooku, as the final part of their plan is set into action.  Those who have been sleeping through the last two Star Wars films are unlikely to recognize these characters and probably don't even know what a Sith is.  And in fact, many may have to go back and re-watch the maligned and misunderstood Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones to fully understand what is going on and what is about to occur. 

 

Indeed, this isn't your father's Star Wars, and in many ways, that is a good thing.  Where the Classic Trilogy boasted a more loveable cast, the Prequel Trilogy is chock full of story.  Machiavellian manipulations, dark webs of deception, misguided loyalties and obscured motivations are the order of the day.  Fans have waited years for the unveiling of the Clone Wars, and it doesn't let down.  To any who have been following the comics, novels and cartoon series, the Clone Wars are, of course, a ruse, a game, a distraction used to advance the powers of the Dark Lords of the Sith, and in particular, Darth Sidious, the man who will one day rule the galaxy as Emperor.  And everyone else, including (and especially) the Jedi, are his pawns in this vast game that promises to deliver this May.  Labyrinth of Evil takes readers into the chaotic opening days before that vast conflagration unfolds...

 

Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi attempt to capture Nute Gunray, Neimoidian leader of the Trade Federation, but instead discover a more valuable item, a key that could lead them to the identity of the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Sidious. One clue unlocks another, eventually leading them to the heart of the Republic, Coruscant.  But other events are at work and a trap is laid with Dooku as bait.  Anakin and Obi-Wan are sent to Tythe to capture him, while Mace Windu and a team of experts pick up the trail of Sidious deep in the winding underbelly beneath the capitol.  The time for the penultimate plan has arrived and Sidious appoints the leader of the Droid Armies, the fearsome General Grievous, to undertake the boldest maneuver of the Separatists yet: attack Coruscant and kidnap Supreme Chancellor Palpatine!

 

Labyrinth concludes just as Episode III begins.  The action is fearsome and the pacing tight.  Here too are the answers to some mysteries, in particular, that of Sifo-Dyas and the reasons he created a clone army and was eliminated. Luceno succeeds not only in preparing fans for the final and intense events of Revenge, but in capturing Lucas' own themes of apocalyptic despair and political doom.  Labyrinth of Evil resonates because its political and sociological landscape is not all that different from our own, and as such is a biting diatribe against a jingoistic leadership plummeting headlong towards self-aggrandizement and global decay.  And that, after all, is what good science-fiction and fantasy does.

 

 

Jedi's Honor: A Solitaire Adventure

 

Continuity Notes

 

This is a Solitaire Adventure from West End Games which allows you to essentially 'choose-your-own-adventure' throughout the course of the story.  You play Luke Skywalker, who is looking for a new Rebel base, but ends up embroiled in a quest to save the son of a Jedi Knight from the clutches of an Imperial governor.  As Luke has not physically seen Darth Vader since the Battle of Yavin, the story has been placed where appropriate.  Unlike many games in this style, there is essentially one correct path which would be considered the 'historically' correct one.  For those only interested in the story aspect, and not the game, that proper path is laid out below (with acceptable main variations in brackets).  Simply follow the entry (not the page) numbers.

 

Jedi's Honor: 1- 23 - 28 - 31 - 9 - 17 - 22 (or 32 - 26) - 14 - 8 - 5 - 41 - 27 - 59 - 55 - 64 - 46 - 68 - 61 - 58 - 76 (or 49 - 65) - 90 - 72 - 82 - 57 - 99 - 86 - 104 (or 74 - 98) - 85 - 108 (or 106 - 119 (or 87) - 96) - 75 - 93 - 120 (or 111) - 100 - 112 - 97 (or 127 - 136 - 140) - 121 - 130 - 126 - 142 - 117 - 123 - 132 - 138 (or 148) - 146 - 116 - 134 - 147 - 150 The End. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ewok Adventures: Caravan of Courage/ The Battle for Endor

 

Continuity Notes

 

Timeline placement for these films have been an ongoing source of controversy.  Internal evidence may seem to suggest that these films take place prior to the events of the cartoon series.  Screenplay author Bob Carrau contributed to both the films and the cartoon series which followed it, and one might think the animated Ewok adventures were meant to be sequels to the two Ewok television shows.  One striking piece of evidence is the fact that Wicket's youngest sister Winda is a cradled Wokling in the films, whereas in the animated series she appears to be a much older Ewok, capable of independent speech and movement.  What argues against that placement is the fact that the cartoon makers saw fit to include Chukha-Truk, the woodcutter Ewok killed by the Gorax at the end of Caravan of Courage.  This would suggest that the cartoons take place before the two films (or at least some of them.)

 

That brings us back to Winda. It's obvious the cartoon takes some rather large liberties with the source material, but it's also possible Winda looks younger asleep in her cradle than she actually is. A recent re-viewing of the cartoon series convinces me that it is intended to take place before the two films.

 

There's also been controversy regarding the placement of the Ewok films due to the fact that Wicket appears to have learned Basic (in the second film) from Cindel, yet does not understand it when he meets Leia.  Some speculation suggested that he may have forgotten it over time, but the editors at LFL provide a much more plausible understanding.  As per Insider #87, the reason Wicket does not speak Basic in Return of the Jedi (and thus cannot communicate with Leia) is because in fact he never learned it.  Cindel Towani and her brother were actually speaking another language (which was translated into English for English speaking audiences much in the same way Ewokese was translated into English in the animated series.)  Other retcons have been bandied about as well.

 

Another striking piece of evidence that places the films and animated series long before the events of Return of the Jedi is the complete absence of Imperial activity on the Endor moon or in the skies above.  Death Stars are not built overnight and Death Star II was transported to the Endor system some time after the Battle of Hoth (Kyle Katarn, Shira Brie and others were known to have attempted to destroy it in passage.) 

 

In the final episode of the cartoon series, Imperials discover the Endor moon and attempt to steal the Ewok Sunstar (in a vain attempt to dethrone the Emperor.)  Several Ewoks stow away aboard the Star Destroyer, but return safely home.  The episode suggests that this event led to the Emperor's decision to use Endor as the place for the habitation of the Second Death Star.  Thus, the placement of the cartoons in between Episodes V and VI that Insider magazine's timeline indicated some years back is in error.

 

With the addition of Ewoks: Shadows of Endor, which details the first encounter with Imperials on Endor AND includes Charal from the second Ewok film The Battle for Endor, the final episode of the Ewoks second season "Battle for the Sunstar" must be moved earlier in the timeline to right before Shadows of Endor.

 

 

 

 

Animated Adventures: Droids

 

Continuity Notes

 

2004 saw the DVD release of eight episodes of the Droids animated series.  Converted into two feature-length presentations, each center on a common storyline and lack the original broadcast titles and music.  The Pirates and the Prince contain episodes 5-8 of the Mon Julpa storyline: The Lost Prince, The New King, The Pirates of Tarnoonga, and The Revenge of Kybo Ren.  Treasure of the Hidden Planet entails the Adventures of Mungo Baobab storyline, including episodes 10-13: The Tail of the Roon Comet, The Roon Games, Across the Roon Sea, and The Frozen Citadel.  Another DVD should be forthcoming containing the Trigon One storyline (episodes 1-4) and the feature-length The Great Heep.

 

 

Animated Adventures: Ewoks

 

Notes

 

The first DVD release of the Ewoks cartoons was released in 2004 and included 8 episodes combined into two full-length episodes.  The Haunted Village includes the first three episodes, The Haunted Village, The Cries of the Trees, Rampage of the Phlogs and episode 9 (which concludes the storyline involving Morag the Tulgah Witch) Sunstar vs. Shadowstone.  Tales from the Endor Woods includes miscellaneous episodes from the first season, Wicket's Wagon (ep. 10), The Traveling Jindas (ep. 5), To Save Deej (ep. 4), and Asha (ep. 13).  The original opening titles and song are absent from this release.  A later DVD release should be forthcoming containing the remaining episodes from season 1 and 2.  See Ewok Adventures above for continuity notes.

 

 

 

Tales #21

 

Review

 

Start of the new format which individually labels which stories are in-continuity (and which aren't) and in what era they take place.  Set at three stories, this first issue is off to a bang with two excellent multi-parters and one well-done standalone starring Kyle Katarn and the first comics appearance of the Yuuzhan Vong.  All of the stories are interesting and the artwork outstanding on each.  My favorite, Nomad, by Rob Williams is Star Wars at its finest and Brandon Bandeaux' illustrations are worth the cover price alone.  Jeremy Barlow has done a great job here and has even seen fit to include definitions for each of the different eras (which I'm going to utilize here as well).  Keep 'em coming!

 

 

 

Jedi vs. Sith

 

(for a detailed chronological breakdown with Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, click here)

 

Review by Rogueish (from the Dark Horse message boards)

 

So what is it all about? I guess someone said, shortly after The Phantom Menace, that there were some continuity issues that needed ironing out. Someone must have decided, "Hey, we need to do something about this rule of two business." For those uninitiated, the Sith Empire had been created by Dark Horse and set some 4-5000 years before ANH. (see the stories above - ed.)


So we needed a story, and Darko Macan was drafted in to give us all an insight into how the rule of two Sith Lords came about. Macan, famous for Vader's Quest amongst other things, teamed with Ramon F. Bachs to bring us a visual treat that put our minds at rest and to fix the continuity spill that enraged so many fans.   So did it work?  I've heard varying examples of praise and whatnot over this story. When I first read it, it was in tpb. form, and was what led me to this website after noticing www.darkhorse.com on one of the first pages. I was a lurker at first, but I remember that all the talk was about Ruusan and Bane, and the fan hysteria that went along with it.  So the story (I won't spoil it too much, as there's bound to be someone out there who has not read it) is set around 1000 years before Episode 1 and we're led straight into the final battle between the Jedi and the Sith. There's no build up, no blurb to tell us what's been going on, just a small prologue that introduces us to some big malevolent guy that slaughters a family (including kids) with a shiny red lightsaber.  That'll be Bane then. 

There’s a background to this story that we haven’t seen. For instance, there are those (me included) who would like to see the build up to this final chapter, for that is what it is – it’s a final episode in what could be a duology or even a trilogy. I for one would like to see how the Jedi and the Sith came to be at their respective ragtag states on Ruusan, as well as various other tidbits that are alluded to within the story. For example, there’s an issue with Lord Kaan and Bane, and how and why Kaan attempted to poison his rival lord, with the aid of the svelte eye-candy Githany (and speaking of Githany, just what is her story with Kiel Charny?)

Anyway, the story itself is a real treat. As the title suggests, the reader will no doubt see plenty of lightsabers and battles between the two factions of the Force. The basic message is the old favourite; Light versus Dark, there’s no ambiguity. If you’re just a Rogue Squadron fan, or only a fan of fleet battles, then you shouldn’t read this book. But if you do like the Jedi, and you like lightsabers, then this is a must. But this isn’t just a bunch of pages depicting a long and bloody battle; there actually is a story within. The long and bloody battle we do not see, but we see the aftermath of such battles; the weary Jedi, led by Lord Hoth, desperate for reinforcements as his Jedi army licks it wounds, ready for the final push against their enemy. Some of these reinforcements consist of children, hand-picked by Jedi scouts, scouring the systems for Force-potential users. Three such children are drafted into the ranks of the Jedi on Ruusan, and their interwoven tales lead them into the thick of the battle between Dark versus Light.

What I like about this story is that it does indeed explain how the Sith, as a large body of people, were whittled down to just two. At first, we see them planning their little war with the Jedi on the planet. There’s a circle of Dark Lords, then there’s their minions, and then along comes Darth Bane, who has survived an assassination attempt and tries to unify their Sith powers to destroy the Jedi once and for all. He confides with Githany that the Dark Side is spread too thin, that their power is weakened and that for them to be strong again it should be contained in one vessel – one Dark Lord. It’s Githany that suggests that two may suffice, and Bane agrees. But it’s the deluded and ambitious Kaan that puts things in motion. He devises a plan to destroy the Jedi once and for all, hoping to end the cataclysmic struggle.

And what of the Jedi, and its Army of Light, led by the rugged Lord Hoth? Well that’s an interesting point. This story is another example of the Jedi Order, the Guardians of Peace and Justice in the Galaxy, embroiled in a bitter war, dying for their cause and resorting to violence to defeat the Sith. This could easily be spread among a multi-issue series, much like the Clone Wars in Republic. Instead, the 6 issues deal with the issue at hand, the Rule of Two, rather than why the Jedi need titles such as Lord, and why Lord Farfalla has a big shiny ship and indulges in red wine. This has been mentioned recently on other threads, and my suggestion on the title Lord is that it’s just a symbolic title, rather like the Generals during the Clone Wars. The Jedi in Jedi Vs Sith resemble knights in medieval Britain. Draped in capes and armor, living in tented camps adorned with flags, bugle boys and even one Jedi sports a bow and arrow, the Jedi of this era are a far cry from the likes of Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider, and it’s a good indicator of how the Order evolves throughout the ages. Can you imagine Master Yoda uttering this quote: “...and all of us charged this morning and it was glorious…”

I shall not spoil the outcome here, but its pretty obvious that probably there may only be two Sith Lords at the end of the tale. I rate this story very highly, and Ramon F. Bachs’ artwork is an absolute delicacy, I want to see more of his work in Star Wars. Darko Macan’s legend (and it is a legend that he depicts – it’s the tale of how the Sith have been extinct for a millennia, allegedly) pits the reader into the thought processes of a serious Dark Lord, better than we saw with Naga Sadow or Exar Kun. He makes Bane more silent and deadly and rightly so, this is the guy that is the pre-cursor to the fall of the Republic. Where the great Sith Empire and other Sith Lords have failed, it’s thanks to Bane that Darth Sidious finally manages to control the Galaxy when others couldn’t. And you read where it all started right here within the pages of this fine story. I don’t know for sure how popular this book is amongst Star Wars fandom, but for me, it is a classic. It is up there with other epics like Dark Empire. In fact for me it’s even better. I do wish that other characters could be explored in other projects. I do like Lord Hoth, and I’m intrigued by the dandy Jedi Lord Farfalla, but at the end of the day, the rule of two is explained which was the task at hand so we’re unlikely to see them again. Nevertheless, not only is it job done, we’re given a right festival of comic and Star Wars genius. Bravo.

On a side note, for those of you who like bridges between Star Wars eras, then you should understand that the planet Ruusan, and in particular the site of the catastrophic ending, is the fateful Valley of the Jedi, the subject of much grief for Kyle Katarn and Jerec in the game Dark Forces: Jedi Knight. Thanks to Matt for pointing this out to me. You can read this book, and play the game without knowing that the two are connected. For further clarification, read the graphic book Dark Forces: Jedi Knight(First posted on the Dark Horse Message Boards by Rogueish)

 

 

 

Jedi: Yoda

 

Review

 

An instant classic!  One of the best tales of the Clone Wars and one of the most powerful Star Wars stories ever told.  Yoda heads off to Thustra, a pivotal planet in the Republic's war against the Separatists, and home to his old friend, King Alaric, who has chosen to side with the enemy.  Yoda's quest to find a peaceful solution to the ever-worsening conflict may be hampered by a web of Machiavellian plots and deceits that even he cannot unravel.  While there is no shortage of action, this is first and foremost an intelligent and thought-provoking story that deals with perspectives and principles. It also serves as the perfect bridge between Episode II and III poignantly demonstrating the results of the Jedi's continued allegiance to the Republic, and their unknowing adherence to the manipulations of the Dark Lord of the Sith.  Author Jeremy Barlowe and artist Hoon together weave a beautiful and tragic tale of betrayal, grief and lost ideals set against the epic conflagration of the Clone Wars in a galaxy far, far away....

 

 

Clone Wars Adventures

 

Continuity Notes

 

This digest-size issue comprises three separate Clone Wars tales told in the style of the animated series, and they are excellent, action-packed and beautifully illustrated!  Obi-Wan and Anakin are trapped on a night planet and pursued by the Shadowmen in "Blind Force"!  In "Heavy Metal Jedi" Mace Windu and Saesee Tiin must pool their different talents to face off against the Separatists most fierce droid creation yet!  Finally, Kit Fisto continues his adventures undersea (as seen in the Clone Wars animated series) as he must search the depths for the mysterious leader of the Separatists on Mon Calamari in "Fierce Currents".

 

 

The Golden Age of the Sith

 

Review by Erik "woodstock" Houser (originally from the Dark Horse message boards)

 

You know how everyone has their "first comic" that they read to death and are forever attached to? GAOTS is my "first comic." Sure, I had read Dark Empire and Tales of the Jedi vol. 1 before this, but I never really attached to it. But then I got the floppies for this... and fell in love with the whole concept of the comic. The whole concept of Star Wars comics. I have read these issues countless times, as their current quality proves. I haven't read them though since I started actively reading comics in 2002, so it's great to go back and look at them with what I know about the medium.

I never actually had #0 until I ordered from TFAW in 2001 or so, so my original memories of the series are only for 1-5. As I went back into #1... memories flashed in my mind of reading this as a kid late at night, making unique voices and acting out every character. The lines are engrained in my head for this series. I know what the characters will say before I read it. THAT'S how attached to Golden Age I am.

Now that I've established that... I read Golden Age today for the first time in a long while, as I said. In the time since I've last read this, I have devoured the comics industry. Since June 2002, when I was properly introduced to the comic book world, I've read Watchmen, DKR, Sandman, Daredevil: Born Again, everything else Alan Moore has written... all the stories considered by everyone to be perfect. I know can properly assess comics, but I'm propably stil a little biased.

Golden Age is, simply put, flawed. Like every other single thing KJA is written, it has a great premise and excellent structure... but the script and dialogue just fall flat. I love how epic the story feels though. Gav and Jori have nothing left in the world, so they set out for parts unknown... and come across the long-lost Sith Empire. The bad guys.

Naga Sadow has got to be one of my favorite characters ever. In Golden Age, he's just the mastermind of everything... everyone plays into his hands. In my countless re-readings, it never ceased to amaze me how Naga knew everything, and it was all part of his plan. I will always remember the very last panel... that was one of my first experiences with a twist ending... so chilling, I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.

Back to #0: as the letter columns later debated, I would have to agree that it is a pointless cash-in. Maybe not exactly a cash-in, but it's so pointless. The story of Gav and Jori is so much better when we don't know exactly how their parents died. It's just 12 pages of mashed together crap... including how Memmitt Nadill conveniently learns Jedi battle meditiation in a couple seconds after Odan-Urr has been studying it for years.

Another high points: the universally loved Aarba the Hutt.

Some low points: KJA causing all of us years of pain with the whole "Dark Lord Of the Sith" fiasco. I know, it's not that major, but it used to confuse me so much.

On to the art... well, Gossett's stuff in #0 is basic and not of any note.

But I love.  Absolutely love.

I absolutely love Dario Carrasco's work on Golden Age, and I still count it as one of the best artistic efforts the Star Wars books have ever seen. Let's be honest: this story would have been a lot worse without him. This fully functioning universe he created... it's Star Wars, but it's NOT Star Wars. Which is exactly the way it should be. Some of the familiar SW trappings are present, but a lot is different. Which is logical. Think about how long 5000 years is... think about what Earth was like 5000 years ago. I love the Egyptian/Greek/Roman influences Carrasco implemented all throughout the series. I love how unique it is. His technology and architecture was different from the familiar, yet so good. His characters now remind me of Barry Smith's work. Everyone looks different and is very expressive. There's so many little things added to the story, that I presume were by Carrasco, that just make the universe feel so alive. Example: page seven of issue three, with the small battle between rodent and crab thing. And I really like the differing lightsaber styles for light and dark - backpacks for the former, powered-up broadswords for the latter.  Carrasco really stood out with the environment - every planet has a different feel, and you would never confuse one for the other. All the giant tombs freaked me out on Korriban when I was little.

There are some awkward parts in the story though where word balloons make sense... which makes me think that this series was not done conventionally. It is my guess, that I am almost 100% sure of, that KJA sent Dario some slightly-detailed plans for a plot and then Dario designed the world and just drew the story. Afterwards, KJA looked at the pencil art and wrote the script in. That's the only way any of this makes sense. Example: issue four, page eight, where Empress Teta is addressing the Republic. She's still delivering the speech in panel four... but WALKING DOWN THE STAIRS. Another example is the universal confusion we've had over Naga Sadow looking Sith: KJA probably never specified that he should look human, and it was too late to fix it.

The coloring was perfect for this series too... drab, but bright when it was required. It really gave us the feel of the used, broken Star Wars universe.

 

 

Escape from Dagu

 

Cancelled title

For an as yet undisclosed reason, this book has been cancelled.  The synopsis, however, has been referenced in official sources (e.g., such as Star Wars Fact Files #116 and Republic Holonet News Core Edition 14:3:22), making it canon.

 

Plot synopsis from StarWars.com:

William Dietz, author of the Dark Forces novellas, returns to Star Wars with Escape from Dagu. In the paperback novel, due out March 2004 from Del Rey Books, the Jedi Shaak Ti attempts to liberate Republic prisoners of war caught behind Separatist lines.

 

The shroud of the dark side has fallen and the Clone Wars have begun. Thousands of solar systems are defecting to the Separatists' Confederacy of Independent Systems, led by the charismatic fallen Jedi Master Count Dooku. But the threat to the Galactic Republic does not end there, for the malevolent Count answers to a shadowy Sith Lord - one who harbors his own sinister agenda.

 

The swamp planet Dagu, a remote place where the Confederacy has chosen to build a military base using prisoners of war, seethes with discontent. The slave laborers, including clone troopers, are determined to escape -- and the native reptilian Rybets have sworn to regain their freedom.

 

Count Dooku has learned that among the prisoners is a courier with information that could bring down the Republic. Dooku has selected Artel Darc,a most cunning and capable Dark Jedi, to apprehend the courier. But Artel Darc doesn't know that Shaak Ti, the legendary Jedi Master, is among the prisoners. Nor can he fathom how awesome a weapon the desire for liberty can be -- even against seemingly impossible odds.

 

 

 

Empire #20 and 21: A Little Piece of Home

 

Continuity Notes

 

Issues 20 and 21 of Empire seemingly contain a continuity-error.  As per Archie Goodwin's Star Wars newspaper strips (now in trade paperback as Classic Star Wars volumes 1-3), the main heroes of the Rebel fleet departed Yavin with the full intention of traveling to Hoth where they would establish a new base.  The events in these issues, however, revolve around Leia's search for a new base for the Rebels shortly after they depart Yavin.  The only plausible way to reconcile this problem is to assume that Leia is searching for a base in addition to the one planned on Hoth.  Likely she fears the construction and preparation of Echo Base (a 20 month job) is too long a time to allow so many of the ships of the Fleet to drift in space above Hoth risking Imperial discovery, thus her urgency to find another base where those ships can hide.

 

Update: The seeming continuity-error of this issue and the following has been officially resolved in the introduction to Empire #24 which definitively indicates that the placement of these stories occurs after the Rebels have discovered Hoth.  The length of time it took to establish Echo Base was 20 months.  Therefore, in the first few months of construction, there would not have been sufficient housing for the majority of the personnel aboard the Rebel Fleet.  Leia's frantic search for yet another (albeit temporary) base for the Rebels is thus understood as it occurs within the early part of the 20 month interim period following the departure of the Rebels from Yavin 4 to Hoth.

 

 

The Marvel Series: A Long Time Ago

 

Notes

 

The Marvel series finally got the royal treatment fans clamored for in late 2002 with the release of the trade paperback series, A Long Time Ago..., which featured computer re-colored strips on high gloss paper, and packing an average of 16 issues per book!  These were reprinted chronologically and featured new introductions (which to some were the only disappointing element to this series as a few of the introductions were thought to be condescending and inappropriate).  Originally these were to have the "Classic" moniker preceding the title (as with Dark Horse's other reprint series), yet for some reason it was dropped in favor of the shorter title.  Some confusion has arisen in regards to this title as a prior six-issue reprint series was published by Dark Horse, likewise titled A Long Time Ago....  This limited edition series was the first to reprint a limited number of Marvel stories, however, it greatly differed in quality and content.   The covers images can be seen below (click here) where they are described in greater detail . 

 

Thus the American run of the Star Wars Marvel series was reprinted at last (excepting the Return of the Jedi adaptation which ran separately and which Dark Horse has reprinted twice before).  Fans were likewise grateful to NOT see the Infinities logo (indicating stories which may be outside of continuity) affixed to this series indicating that 'officially' these stories stood their ground in the history of the Star Wars Expanded Universe where they belonged (settling once and for all the debate which had arisen, and on spurious grounds, back in the early nineties), and new writers have been quick to incorporate characters, places and events in new books, comics and young readers' adventures. 

 

With the success of this series, many have begun to hope and clamor for more.  The UK Marvel run, for instance, published its titles weekly, thus predicating the need for more stories to fill in the extra issues (Note: The UK issues ran far shorter than the US and in b&w.  Also, the page length of the stories varied over the years, with other sci-fi stories filling out the magazine.  There was even a brief period following TESB when the magazine went monthly).  Some of these stories have been reprinted here in two issues called Devilworlds (now also out-of-print).  Nevertheless, there is much more that has not (of the post TESB Marvel UK stories only "Death Masque" has not been reprinted).  Marvel attempted to provide some of these for their US audience back in the early eighties in two paperback books.  One was titled rather confusingly 'Star Wars' (now commonly referred to by its subtitle: 'Four New Adventures in Full Color') and the other 'Star Wars 2: World of Fire' (a three part epic by Chris Claremont of X-Men fame).  Nevertheless, few in the US (Canada seems to have had these in greater amounts) saw these paperback-sized comics (marketing not being the juggernaut it is today) let alone knew of their existence, and they quickly went out of print to become collector's items.  Along with the demand for these stories, Marvel (in the US and UK) released two series to accompany the animated Droids and Ewoks cartoons.  These two series (respectively entitled Droids and Ewoks) have long been out of print, and though geared to a younger audience, curiosity and a desire for completion has driven many a fan to hunt down these titles and demand their reprinting.

 

For a great overview of the entire Marvel series, author of the upcoming Knights of the Old Republic series John Jackson Miller, has written an excellent article which you can check out here.

 

 

Classic Star Wars: A Long Time Ago

 

Notes

Rich Handley and I wrote introductions for these six titles, although in the end they weren't utilized.  We were given name credit, however, in the interiors which was a nice gesture.  Unlike their similarly named counterparts, these six digest-sized issues only reprinted a handful of Marvel tales and in black and white.  The stories were not reprinted sequentially and their cover images did not accompany the issue (although cover images from different issues graced the filler pages in the back which initially would have been the introductions, timelines or possibly cover images).  Marvel is not credited in the interior and in fact their logo was removed from the cover images.  The covers of these six issues were reproduced from well-known Ralph McQuarrie conceptual images utilized for the Classic Trilogy.  Some fans expressed disapproval over the solicitation: for each Star Wars issue (free of charge), comic book stores had to purchase three other digest-sized titles (popular Italian comics translated into English).  So to get all six Star Wars titles, the dealer had to get 18 Italian titles, the cost of which generally fell to the consumer.  As a result, few dealers obtained them and many fans were unable to purchased the series. Fans hopes were restored, however, when news of the seven-issue color series of the same name came along a few years later (See above).

 

 

Pizzazz

 

Notes

 

Another next-to-impossible quest was the search for Pizzazz magazines.  Living in NY, you'd think you could obtain everything you wanted right at your fingertips.  Think again.  I scoured bookshop after bookshop, magazine specialty stores, comic shops, all to no avail!  I finally located these in New Jersey in an old, near-abandoned warehouse which was run by a wonderful bookshop a few blocks down.  While my friend got to start and complete his Marvel collection in one day (what took me months!), I was filled with joy at finally locating these incredibly rare magazines!  Shame on Marvel for not advertising back in the day that these issues had exclusive Star Wars comics in them! 

 

The run sadly but not unsurprisingly lasted only 16 issues which left the story hanging in mid-stream.  While the UK got to read the entire storyline over a period of time in their Marvel Weekly run, the US didn't receive the conclusion until the Marvel Illustrated Book: Star Wars (aka. Four New Adventures in Full Color) came out in 1981, which featured the conclusion to this series as one of its stories (War on Ice).  But if you blinked, or was eleven years old, which I was at the time, you missed it and spent a good part of your twenties haunted by the search for it.  Finally, in the mid-nineties, issues 1-9 were reprinted as the ultra-rare Star Wars #0, which was exclusively released in certain toy stores and via the 'Another Universe' merchandise catalog (which also produced its alternate cover version).  One can only hope that Dark Horse will one day reprint this ENTIRE storyline under one book once and for all!

 

Story-wise, this was Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin's other Star Wars tale (besides the early issues of Marvel) and like its Marvel counterpart, is pretty bizarre in a 'Land of the Lost' kinda way!  Great fun and very indicative of the innocence of the times!  Archie Goodwin took over at about the same time he took over the regular Marvel run, leaving Roy to return to Conan.  These are some of the earliest tales to take place on the timeline.

 

 

Star Wars #28: Whatever Happened to Jabba the Hut?

 

Continuity Fix by the2ndQuest

 

The Jabba the Hut (one t) of this story is actually one of Jabba's head accountants by the name of Mosep who went by the alias of Jabba the Hut to collect debts for Jabba. 
 

 

 

Star Wars #35: Dark Lord's Gambit

 

Continuity Notes

 

Leia's broken ankle is explained by the story which appeared only in the UK as issue #154 (it has since been reprinted by Dark Horse in Devilworlds #2) entitled, "Tilotny Throws a Shape".  This phantasmagoric story was written by the brilliant Alan Moore and pays a debt of homage to the noted fantasy writer Lord Dunsany (1878-1957).

 

 

 

Marvel Star Wars #78: Hoth Stuff

 

Continuity Notes

 

This issue, despite an interesting story and gripping drama, has long been considered out of continuity for several reasons, namely:

  1. Leia mistakes Wedge's history for that of Biggs.

  2. Wes Janson dies at the end of the issue.

  3. Wedge is MIA for some months following the battle of Hoth.

While the first one might have been reconciled, both the X-Wing books and Shadows of the Empire squashed any chances of the latter two.  However, in a recent story published online by Wizards of the Coast, the events of this tale have been brought back into continuity in a very amusing and appropriate way – as a tall tale based on an actual event.  Wedge himself recounts this myth to new pilots prior to their training (and before coming face to face with a very alive Janson).  For more details, you can read "Hoth: Under the Ice, part 3: Merchants of Death" here.   As the story brings out, Wedge and Janson did fend themselves against Arns Grimraker and ended his life.  Unlike Wedge's tall tale (as recounted in Marvel Star Wars #78) however, the event did not take months but days and Janson was not killed.  Thanks go to Cory Hendon for bringing this story back into continuity in a plausible and exciting way!

 

 

Star Wars #79: The Big Con

 

 

Continuity Notes

 

Until recently when Dark Horse reprinted this issue in "A Long Time Ago, vol. 5: Fool's Bounty," UK fans might not have been aware that a page was cut out of their copy of this story.  Apparently to appease UK censors, Marvel UK removed a page which featured a prostitute giving Lando and Chewie erroneous directions.  The British version simply showed the aftermath of Lando and Chewie driving down the wrong side of a highway.  The US and current Dark Horse trade reprint restores the page and clarifies why they made such a wrong turn.

 

 

The Hollace/David's series (aka. The Glove of Darth Vader series)

 

Continuity Notes

 

Despite some minor continuity-discrepancies, Lucasfilm considers these to be part of the Star Wars Expanded Universe.  Note, however, that the wedding celebration that is begun at the end of Book Six does not in fact contradict the events of The Courtship of Princess Leia as had previously been assumed.  In a letter sent by the author (and published in Star Wars: Lostworlds), it is made plain that the authors had intended a three-book sequel which was subsequently cancelled.  "If we had written #7, however, I would remind you that it takes MANY STEPS to get down the aisle, and there is not one chance in hell that Han and Leia would have made it to the end of the aisle and sealed their marriage before a harrowing IMPERIAL ATTACK would have savaged their hoped for wedding and left it all in ruins. No nuptials took place that night, my dear friends.

"
It may be helpful for you to know that our contract with Lucasfilm (and Lucasfilm's contract with Bantam on our series) was for six books with an option for an additional three, which would have made for a nine book series.  At the time we anticipated the probability that the series would go to nine books, and therefore we had to plan ahead for where the next three stories would go. Though complete story outlines for the next three were never written, we definitely decided on some aspects of the future three stories (7-9) before books 4-6 were published. Our intent definitely was to have the Empire attack and ruin the intended wedding of Han and Leia before they ever said 'I do.' The wedding never would have happened -- and that's how book 7 would have begun." - Paul Davids.   For an in-depth plot synopsis of each book as well as discussions and fixes to many of their continuity issues please go here.

 

 

 

Marvel Illustrated Book: Star Wars (aka. Four New Adventures in Full Color!)

 

Notes and Review

 

    The "Holy Grail" of Star Wars novel and comic collecting!  And indeed this book is both, as the title indicates, four comic stories in paperback book format.  Apart from issue 107, Pizzazz and World of Fire which were a challenge to locate in their own right, this was the single most difficult book to find back in the day, and I used to literally dream about discovering it in some garage sale or in some antique store I'd stumble upon.  Nobody had this book, and few even knew of its existence!  Not the convention dealers, not the old book and antique shops, not even the comic book stores.  And believe me, I scoured every one in the local area, if not in person, then by phone!  I nearly gave in to despair when after years of constant vigilance, I couldn't find it.  But the computer proved a valuable tool and I soon located someone willing to give me photocopies of it (incidentally you can now find beautiful color scans of this book online - follow the link here).  Before long, via the Internet again, I found a lovely book store in Canada which had this book for a very nice low price (along with World of Fire) and the search finally ended...   -- ed. 

 

    The stories contained herein are excellent, some of Marvel and Goodwin's best, representing a number of the additional tales that UK-only fans got to read (due to their comics weekly schedule as opposed to our monthly).  Others would appear in the Marvel illustrated book, World of Fire, and in our day in Dark Horse's Devilworlds two-parter (which reprinted all but one story, Death Masque). 

 

Way of the Wookiee tells the story of a botched Kessel Run of Han's (incidentally this one preceded the one that landed him in trouble with Jabba).  Colonel Quirt and the events of this story are mentioned in Ann Crispin's excellent Han Solo Trilogy (Book 3) which shows the order of events as depicted on the timeline. 

 

Day After the Death Star is a great short story about the personal impact of war and killing, which also shows Chewie actually get the medal he so deserved (Leia gives it to him at the party that night).  

 

Weapons Master is possibly my favorite.  It explains how someone from a "peaceful planet" with no weapons could have produced someone so formidable with a blaster as Leia.  One of Goodwin's darker and more cynical tales, there's some interesting dialogue and character development here.  This tale was also referenced in Ann Crispin's Han Solo trilogy.  [Timeframe-wise, this story was moved to just before Splinter of the Mind's Eye where the Luke-Leia dynamic is strongest.  Also, the story does not mention their Yavin 4 base which allows it to be placed in the period after the Rebels departed Yavin 4 and before Echo Base was prepared for settlement.] 

 

Finally, War on Ice, while the weakest entry of the four, also solves the mystery for those of us in this hemisphere who never saw the conclusion of the Pizzazz serials (the UK got it all eventually in their run) which ended abruptly with issue 16.  Well here it is at long last!  All in all, a great collection that was finally reprinted by Dark Horse in Omnibus: Wild Space.

 

 

Marvel Illustrated Books: World of Fire

 

Notes and Review

 

     My copy of this book was signed by Chris Claremont who I met in Manhattan back in the late 90's when he was on a book signing tour for the Willow sequels he was co-authoring with George Lucas (although Lucas was more of a ghost-writer on the project).  He was a very nice man and seemed surprised to see this old Star Wars book appear before him.  I remember discussing with him my enjoyment of it and hopes to see it one day be reprinted.  This was a very difficult book to find back in the day, not as much as its predecessor (Four New Adventures in Full Color) but nearly so!  I'm very grateful to a book dealer in Canada a country that appears to not have had the scarcity of these that the US seems to have suffered. 

 

     This is a great story which has a classic 'terror on an alien world' feel to it.  It also introduces a new character, one of the few black women in Star Wars (not that you can tell from the cover which depicts her as white -- but the covers of the Marvel UK comics clearly show her as black as the interiors seem to indicate).  Infantino's heavy stylistic work is present here, this time in b&w, but it fails in one instance which is to render an appropriately frightening image for the evil creature in this story.  The text really seems to suggest something very alien, almost Lovecraftian in scope, and the story keeps his presence shrouded in mystery quite a way through, focusing instead on the tenuous truce established between the Rebels and Imperials, as well as the burgeoning mystery behind the strange planet they're on.  When the creature is finally revealed, however, what Infantino gives us is some kind of generic giant lizard-monster.  Ah well, I like Infantino's work, but in this one instance (as well as maybe in issue 46), I'd have like to have seen someone like Totleben & Bissette do the art and provide us with something genuinely terrifying instead.  Still, the story's a hoot!

 

 

 

Classic Star Wars (Vol. 3: issues 15-20)

 

Continuity Notes

    There has been some discussion as to how the events of the latter part of this series harmonizes with the 20 month period it took the Rebels to complete Echo Base on Hoth.  While some have attempted to break up the latter part of strips, their seamless narrative structure precludes attempting this with any success.  The reconciliation, however, may be much simpler.  Might some of the Rebels have been able to occupy a part of the base while the rest awaited continued construction?  Al Williamson only depicts the interior of the command center and a few outlying buildings.  Therefore, construction is likely still in its early stages. Personnel from the majority of the fleet likely trickled down slowly to Hoth as the Rebels continued erecting shelters for them. Seeing matters in this light allows for the Classic SW stories to be told prior to the completion of the 20 month construction period.

 

 

 

Graveyard of Alderaan

 

Continuity Notes

One of the few RPG adventures to contain the Heroes of Yavin (Luke, Leia, Han, etc.,).  The "cutaway scenes" (these are the scenes you read aloud to the player and are thus are not determined by the players actions) provide enough of a story to include here as an historical event, and therefore have been placed on this timeline.  The Rebels rush to the "Graveyard," an asteroid field that is all that remains of Alderaan, after hearing a rumor that the Royal Palace has turned up intact on a large asteroid. 

 

********* Spoilers: The anonymous group of adventurers (played by those who take part in the RPG) discover that the rumor is in fact an Imperially designed ruse perpetrated to lure Leia and her friends to the site.  In fact, there is an Alderaanian war craft called Another Chance secreted away in the event of war.  The Rebels succeed in capturing the ship and warning the Heroes of Yavin away before they walk into Vader's trap.

 

 

 

Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell

 

Continuity Notes

 

Now out of print, this audio drama by Brian Daley (who wrote the original Han Solo Trilogy and the Radio Dramas of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back) – once available on LP or cassette – contains an exclusive story of a covert operation on Ord Mantell and the trouble that awaits the heroes there.  Continuity-wise, this makes the second time they run into bounty hunters on the rather lawless world of Ord Mantell (the first occurred in Goodwin's Classic Star Wars newspaper strips).   Aside from this, there is nothing contradictory in the story itself (and a prequel to it was even provided in Galaxy Magazine #5: Double Cross on Ord Mantell) or with Archie Goodwin's tale of bounty hunters.  The rebels simply ran into bounty hunters twice on this planet. Han's retort to Leia in The Empire Strikes Back thus has an added ironic twist.

 

 

 

The Star Wars Holiday Special

 

Notes and Continuity Fix

Note: For a great in-depth look at the Star Wars Holiday Special, check out this site: http://www.starwarsholidayspecial.com/

 

The Star Wars Holiday Special has inspired a reported quote from George Lucas that he'd like every copy burned.  Of course, that hasn't stopped many from tracking down this lost "gem" of Star Wars history, even though forced to get it online or at conventions.

 

Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Anthony Daniels all "star" in this feature length presentation about Chewbacca's urgency to get to his home planet to celebrate the Wookiee Life Day.  Aside from the main cast, this ill-conceived show focused in particular on a overly long look at the daily routine of Chewie's wife, Malla, his father, Itchy, and his son Lumpy.

 

The supporting cast included guest stars Bea Arthur as the Cantina bar maid, Harvey Korman in several bizarre roles and Art Carney as the neighbor and local trader.  The Star Wars Holiday Special also features rare musical performances from Dianne Carol (in a very odd virtual reality number) and Jefferson Starship (this is the early post-Airplane line-up with Chaqico on guitar and Marty Balin singing lead -- Grace, however, is nowhere to be found) performing heavy metal style (this was an exclusive appearance which does not appear anywhere else and which has led hard-core Airplane fans in search of this video).  Yet not even the work of these talented performers were able to save a terrible script from becoming Star Wars' biggest embarrassment.  There was, however, one salvageable aspect of this mind-numbing examination of the day in the life of a Wookiee family, and that was the well-received Nelvana cartoon.  Originally titled, "The Adventure of the Faithful Wookiee," (though this appeared on the script it is nowhere on the screen), this animated short marked the first appearance of Boba Fett in any medium.  Starlog 32-4-1 (as it was seemingly titled) also utilized the voices of the original cast, and as the only successful segment of the Holiday special, allowed Nelvana to create the later Droids and Ewoks cartoons in the mid-eighties. 

 

The continuity of Starlog 32-4-1 proves difficult, especially in light of Russ Manning's more appropriate use of Fett in the newspaper strips (reprinted in trade paperback as Classic Star Wars 4: The Early Adventures).  In the Nelvana cartoon, no one seems to recognize Fett as a Bounty Hunter, and in fact, they initially believe him to be a friend of the Alliance.  However, several books have determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that Fett was a very well-known bounty-hunter years earlier and had in fact several run-ins with Han and Chewie (and even the droids in one episode of the Droids series). 

 

Some have postulated that Fett's use of a poisonous gas caused Han to forget who Fett was, and that a memory wipe would account for the droids' failure to recall Fett's identity.  Nevertheless, these explanations do not take into account Chewbacca who was not subject to Fett's poison and who would most certainly NOT have trusted Fett under any circumstances. 

 

Secondly, the Manning comic which must occur later, demonstrates that Luke does not recognize Fett (which is viable considering Luke's sheltered existence on Tatooine).  This definitely would not be the case if in fact the cartoon was an 'historical' event.  Note: If the comic were to be placed before the cartoon, you have the same difficulty as before in that Han, Chewie and the droids would have recognized Fett (and in this circumstance, you cannot utilize the memory-wipe theory for the droids lack of remembrance).  One further point is made against the cartoon as having occurred, is the fact that Chewie's son Lumpy is watching it.  The fact that it exists as some form of entertainment media is yet a further reason to determine that the Nelvana cartoon is not a 'historical' episode in the lives of the Star Wars characters, but rather some form of in-universe holocartoon, essentially a fictional movie in the Star Wars universe which Chewbacca's son owns because his father is portrayed in it as one of the heroes.

 

Despite its continuity flaws, the Star Wars Holiday Special is still a hoot, and discussing it makes me long to sit in front of my dark wood entertainment center and watch it again!

 

For more information on Life Day and Kashyyyk, see this article.

 

 

Havoc on Hoth

 

Continuity Notes

 

One of the first true "Infinities" tales (long before LFL coined the term).  This irreconcilable, poorly-conceived story of the discovery of Hoth base contradicts the proper (and much better told) events as described by Archie Goodwin in the newspaper strips (reprinted in trade paperback as Classic Star Wars Volumes 1-3).  In this version, when the Rebels determine they need a new secret base, Han simply suggests that they should try Hoth.  The main adventure involves the discovery that smugglers and bounty hunters are using Hoth as their base of operations.  Ho hum.

 

 

 

Tales #18: Payback

 

Notes and Review

 

Excellent story which introduces some interesting and mysterious villains we've never before seen, crime lords which are thankfully NOT Hutt's (overused in SW literature) and who the reader would like to know more about.  As with other great Fett tales, this one, though short, has a few nasty twists.  Fett comes out on top, but with an interesting lesson that he may or may not have learned (depending on when the story occurs).  As regards this, I have made an approximation for the dating of this tale, which like many Boba Fett stories, is difficult to place.  This one in particular may occur at any time during Fett's adult life as there is no indication as to when it specifically might take place.  The author or illustrator are free to email me with their thoughts: thesithempire@timelineuniverse.net.

 

 

The Ruins of Dantooine

 

 Review

 

Review by editor:  Fast paced, likeable characters, an interesting, larger-than-life storyline, and lots of twists and turns along the way.  In many ways, it's a simple story, but also a refreshing one, veering away from the more recent hard-sci-fi trappings or the very dark NJO series.  This is just straightforward STAR WARS, and even the main characters of the films make brief cameos.  Main protagonists and villains are cut in the tradition of Star Wars characters.  Some criticisms have leveled the charge of predictability and a too-clichéd renderings, however, one need not ascribe to such a jaded view.  This is meant to be a quick read and a fun adventure tale, and as such it hearkens back to the Star Wars of the late seventies before it became bogged down in overly-technical details and complex storylines.  Continuity-wise, the events involving the Ithorian may help to reconcile later events depicted in the FunWorks storybook, Han Solo's Rescue Mission.  A short prequel to this story appears in Star Wars Insider #74.

 

 

Tales from Mos Eisley

 

 Review

 

Not unlike the Tales books above, this rare one-shot comic details adventures of new characters in the Star Wars Universe (three in all).  Though this may not sound appealing to all (particularly those who care primarily for the heroes of the films) the stories here are classic science fiction tales with an EC Comics/Twilight Zone/Outer Limits feel to them.  The stories and artwork are excellent, and it's great to Bret Blevins again (from Marvel Star Wars 89).  Note: Despite the Tales from Mos Eisley title, these are all original stories, not reproduced anywhere else, and are not adaptations of any of the stories in the book(s) of the same name.  This one has yet to be reprinted in trade paperback form.  Incidentally, it's great to see Dark Horse continue the short story anthology tradition started here in their ongoing Tales comics.  Note too that placement of these stories is difficult at best as, with the exception of one story, they can take place in nearly any era.  Dark Horse Comics places this issue in this time frame, and lacking further information, I have reluctantly followed suit.

 

 

Jedi Quest

 

Continuity Notes

 

There are some minor internal dating errors in some of the books.  In Book 4, chapter 12  Obi-Wan erroneously cites ten years since he'd last seen Sano Sauro. Obi-Wan's date would therefore place the earlier incident at 35 BBY, which is impossible as the incident Obi-Wan speaks of occurs in the book Jedi Apprentice: Special Edition: Deceptions, which dates the events of the story twelve years prior to when Anakin is aged 12 and a half years old (this is confirmed by mentioning too that three and a half years have passed since Qui-Gon's death in 32 BBY), therefore it has a cardinal date of 41 BBY. Therefore, unless Obi-Wan's seen him since, we have to ignore this date

.

Another dating error occurs in Book 10 (chapter 3) Obi-Wan again proves he can't count, thinking that 6 years have passed "since they had all been together on one mission" referring to himself, Anakin, Siri, Ferus, Tru Veld, Ry Gaul, Soara and Darra. This is probably Watson's biggest dating error because it's irreconcilable and has to be a mistake. Anakin is confirmed at the age of 14 in Book 1 (which is when he first meets Ferus and befriends Tru Veld and the only time all eight Jedi go on mission) and is aged 18 in book 10 (chapter 1) which allows for four years at most to have passed. Likely, Watson had originally intended this book to lead directly into Episode II: Attack of the Clones, which would explain how Anakin mysteriously jumps ahead a year in age (he's only 17 two books earlier, and those take place right after one another), described as being "almost 19." She also might have figured on Book 1 taking place in 28 BBY (immediately after Jedi Quest: Path to Truth, except for the fact that the earliest Anakin can be 14 is 27 BBY.

 

 

 

The Jedi Apprentice Series

 

Continuity Notes and Review

 

Amazing series by Jude Watson that never fails to excite and entertain.  Watson has a gift of getting her reader into the heads of the characters and eliciting their most intimate thoughts.  Thus, as you travel with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, you share their joys and sorrows, hopes and frustrations, and triumphs and failures.  Also, you get the essence of what it means to be a Jedi, so there is a refreshingly ample array of psychological depth and wisdom to be found in these books.  This series too is chock full of intriguing events and epic adventures that take place in the final decaying years of the Republic before Palpatine ascends the throne.  Truly, some of the best Star Wars books written and a must-read for any fan of Star Wars or of moving, well-written drama. 

 

Continuity Fix: I spent a long time figuring this one out because of Obi-Wan's ever-shifting year of birth, which currently stands at 57 BBY – placing Obi-Wan at 25 during TPM, 35 in AOTC, 38 in ROTS and 57 in ANH (not bad when you consider that the character is only five years younger than Alec Guinness who was 62 during filming of ANH).  At any rate, based on Jude Watson's internal chronology in the 20 book series, calculations are off by little less than a year anyway, yet because we're not given the months the characters were born or when the year change occurs, could easily be fit to meet the mark. 

 

Starting backwards from the latest date, JA (Jedi Apprentice) Special Editions 2: The Followers, Obi-Wan is 18 in the first half of the book (but is likely about to turn 19 as the year has changed).  The second half of the book is marked as taking place 10 years later when Anakin is said to be 13.  Anakin was 9 when he entered the Temple at the 32 BBY point, thus the year for the latter part of the story is 28 BBY.  Also, Obi-Wan says that Qui-Gon died nearly 4 years ago, which makes 28 BBY a cardinal date.  10 years earlier brings us to 38 BBY (which shows the year has changed and that Obi-Wan must be nearing his 19th birth-date).  In the story that precedes this one, JA 18: The Threat Within, Obi-Wan is said to be 17 (and it is said that the last two months have been spent at the temple).  Therefore, this story should set at around the latter part of 40 BBY. 

 

In JA 17: The Only Witness, Qui-Gon says it has been four years since he took Obi-Wan on as a Padawan.  Qui-Gon has been grieving for some months following the running storyline of Tahl set out in JA 14, JA 15 and JA 16, so it could be said that the year changed and is at the 40 range.  Thus, four years would bring JA 2 to 44 BBY.  Going back to JA 14, meanwhile, Obi Wan is said to be 16, thus these stories must take place at 40-41 BBY. 

 

The preceding book is JA Special Edition 1: Deceptions.  The second half of the story (Anakin/Obi-Wan) details that Anakin has been at the temple for three years, which would put it at the 29yr period BBY.  The first half of this story is said to take place 12 years prior, thus at 41 BBY, but this may be erroneous.  JA Special Edition 1: Deceptions details the trial of Obi-Wan for the death of his fellow student Bruck.  During the trial, Obi-Wan's friend Bant is called to the stand and asked her age.  She says she is 12 now and was 11 at the time of Bruck's death.  Therefore, no more than a year and 11 months can have passed (meaning that she may have been at the start of her 11th birthday when Bruck died and at the end of her 12th birthday at the trial) between this book and JA 7: The Captive Temple, which details the events of Bruck's death and occurs at 44 BBY.  Therefore, it should be set at 42 BBY, which marks not 12 but 13 years prior to the Anakin/Obi-Wan portion of the book.

 

Obi Wan had turned 13 in JA #3: The Hidden Past.  Therefore, JA #3 is likely 44 BBY.  JA #1: The Rising Force takes place exactly a month before that when Obi-Wan is still 12.  We don't know when the year changes.  But if we want to stretch things to make them fit, it can be argued that the year change occurs around this time and can set JA #1 at 45 BBY.  This, of course, equates with Obi-Wan's birth year at 57 BBY.

 

Note: in JA #11: The Deadly Hunter, it appears that Obi-Wan has turned 14.  Jedi Quest: Path of Truth, however, has Obi-Wan recall that he first met Didi and Astri Oddo 13 years prior.  Jedi Quest is set at the cardinal date of 28 BBY, which places JA#11 at 41 BBY, when Obi-Wan is 16.  This seems like a contradiction, however, a closer inspection of the passage in JA #11 reveals that Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon have been away for some time since the prior book.  The passage that states Obi-Wan's age is from a memory Obi-Wan is having of Qui-Gon telling him he's 14.  If that memory is two years old, however, it would account for that.  Since in no other place in JA #11, #12 or #13 (which immediately follow each other) is Obi-Wan's age stated, there's no real reason these three books can't be set at 41 BBY when Obi-Wan is 16.

 

 

 

 

The Crystal Star

 

Review by Abel Peña

 

One of the things I think Crystal Star does REALLY well is the way Vonda
McIntyre captures the logic of children.  Unlike most Star Wars novels that
showed the development of young Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin, Crystal Star I
felt characterizes the children with incredibly little deviation from
plausibility.  They act their age, and McIntyre seems to indulge in these
scenes.  So much, in fact, however, that there seems to be too much time
devoted to realistically getting the kids from their initial elementary
conclusions to the sorts of conclusions they are needed to get to to propel
the story.  In other words, while incredibly realistic characterizations,
the time spent on the kids slows down the plot to detrimental effect.

The label of detrimental might be too harsh, though, or at the very least
displaced.  McIntyre introduced many elements that seem to have no
comparable precedent in Star Wars, and, in my opinion, she does not spend
enough time on them to make them readily intelligible or attractive.  Two
of the biggest culprits are:

Waru -- a trans-dimensional being with anti-Force capabilities (take a
moment to try understanding what that means or exactly entails)

Weird Luke -- Luke completely unlike himself in no subtle way.  This
seemingly has to do with the "anti-Force" associated with Waru and the
nearby crystallizing star, which is presumably acting on
super-Force-sensitive Luke in a correspondingly antithetical way.  This
conclusion, while most in tune with the logic of the novel, never seems to
be adequately suggested, either overtly as in the narration or dialogue, or
thematically, and Luke just seems like a plain weirdo.  (Incidentally, it's
been suggested to me by more than one person that Luke's "weirdness" in
Crystal Star could be a manifestation of a denial of his misery over losing
Callista.  This I thought was an excellent fix following on the heels of
Darksaber, though less air-tight following the reconciliation between the
two characters in Planet of Twilight, which in my opinion usurped from
Crystal Star the title of worst SW novel).

Hethrir, the bad guy, sadly does have a precedent.  He's simply a bad
villain, characterized so un-"trans-dimensionally" as to be on par with the
baddies from the Glove of Darth Vader.  However, this is particularly
disappointing after reading the opening chapters of Crystal Star and the
excellent execution of Hethrir's potential for duplicity, exhibited when
convincing the Solo kids that their parents are dead and that he is their
hold-father.  To watch Hethrir degenerate from here to a narcissistic
Emperor wanna-be is incredibly painful.  You find yourself praying the
cartoon villain dialogue will prove to be a clever ruse and that the
potential-Hethrir we briefly glimpsed will reemerge sooner rather than
later.  Instead of sooner or later, we get never.

Waru I think was an excellent concept that was badly realized.  Waru seems
to be a badly developed take on the paradox issues that come to dominate
the later New Jedi Order books, which was there handled deftly.  However,
Crystal Star also handles the character of Han Solo much better than many
of the NJO authors (James Luceno obviously excluded).  I often felt that he
was the only guy with whom I could empathize in Vonda's wacky world of
Warus, centaurs, and wyrwulfs.

Although, Leia's no square either.  For the first and perhaps only time
during the run of Star Wars books of the 90s do I feel Leia acts with truly
motherly instincts and logic.  While the characterization isn't perfect, I
would say McIntyre errs on the side of bringing that repressed mother-part
of her personality to the fore.  In my opinion, Crystal Star and the Black
Fleet Crisis excellently split the two sides of Leia's post-ROTJ personality
between them, with most everything else coming up a poor second.

Lastly, one of the novel's shining moments is the end battle with Waru.
Luke and Leia are trapped in the abstract netherverse literally inside Waru
and are being lulled toward a black hole (infinite power, love, goodness,
happiness, what-have-you) therein.  Han, the only completely rational one
of the bunch, looks at his children, all of which have just been saved from
slavery and death, then toward the Waru-mass where his wife and brother are
dooming themselves to a fate worse than death.  "Take care of the kids," he
says to Chewie, then to his children, "I love you."  Now he turns and runs
straight at Waru, that Moby Dick of the Star Wars universe, and dives face
first into it to save Luke and Leia.  The narration is compressed,
exposition sparse, and the effect is breathlessness.  The peril and sense
of potential loss in that moment is perhaps the most I ever felt in the
Bantam series.  For however brief an instant, I believed in the possibility
that in Vonda's wacky world, perhaps heroes do die.

In the end I think the book's downfall is a case of too much too fast.
While I'm not convinced that given more pages, or even a trilogy, McIntyre
would have written a better Star Wars book, I think the book has some
really good ideas.  However, I think her natural predisposition for
expressing those ideas is, like the anti-Force theme, at irreconcilable
odds with the predispositions of a majority of fans of the Star Wars
universe.  One thing's for sure, Crystal Star is a one-of-a-kind SW read.

 

 

Review by Joe Bongiorno

 

I read The Crystal Star on a ten-hour car-trip to a family wedding.  It was nearly a miracle to just have the book, as I wasn't sure if the bookstore would receive it in time for the journey, so I was ecstatical to find that it had just arrived the very day before we were to set out.  It was going to be a long ride and a new Star Wars book was the perfect companion for the road. 

 

Time has been much kinder to The Crystal Star in the intervening years since it was first published to less than stellar response from critics.  Now finally, in the wake of The New Jedi Order, Star Wars fans can finally look upon this original story as the off-beat, somber, weird adventure it was meant to be.

 

Part of the problem at the time (which also hurt the sales and reviews of Kathy Tyers' Truce at Bakura) was Zahn-syndrome.  Zahn's "Thrawn Trilogy" was the first of the new Bantam line and for good or bad set the standard for some years as to how some  fans thought SW books should be written.  One of the negative sides to this was that authors were beginning to imitate and mimic Zahn's "hard-sci-fi" style to the exclusion of original ideas as well as to the more fantastical elements of the SW Universe.  And predictably, SW books were beginning to sound and feel a tad run-of-the-mill.  Though likely unintentional, Vonda McIntyre sought to fix that trend and in the process bring back to Star Wars a sense of the exotic and mysterious that the first two films and early books had in such great measure.  In The Crystal Star, a host of new alien species, bizarre creatures and fascinating locales greeted the heroes along with some very different and dangerous threats. 

 

The story begins with the kidnapping of Han and Leia Solo's three kids.  Though the Solo twins and Anakin have since become iconic, back when this book was released, fans weren't ready for stories that highlighted 'the Jedi brats' as they were then labeled.  This was unfortunate because McIntyre threw them into some exciting and terrifying scenarios where they were forced to rely on each other and the Force in ways we wouldn't see until much later.  The author also displayed her ability to write accurately the characters we know and love, and then take them to places we wouldn't expect.  Leia's palpable grief and insecurity over her kidnapped children, Han's exultation at being on a long-awaited vacation and his reaction to bumping into an old girlfriend, and Luke's troubled and distorted state-of-mind (due to his breakup with Callista, which was something readers wouldn't know until Planet of Twilight, which although taking place earlier, was published later out of chronological sequence) in a realm where the Force behaves in entirely unpredictable ways, were refreshing changes of pace. 

 

The new characters were likewise interesting, and if the book suffers at all, it's likely from not getting to spend enough time with them.  Characters such as the Ferroans, Lusa, the Imperial Executor Hethrir, and the much-discussed and very Lovecraftian alien entity Waru are interesting and original.  While Hethrir echoes shades of the Emperor in his megalomania, Waru remains frustratingly enigmatic, but it is precisely this being's occluded origin and nature which contributes to his being a memorable villain in the Star Wars pantheon.  McIntyre would not be the first to bring this kind of cosmic horror into the Star Wars universe (a distinction that goes to Alan Moore's short Star Wars stories in Marvel UK), nor the last, but her iteration remains a fascinating look into the more supernatural corners of the universe.

 

In the end, McIntyre's vision proved perhaps too strange for those fans expecting more of the same.  For those looking for something unusual and off-the-beaten path, however, The Crystal Star remains a pleasurable and wildly creative anomaly, a great 'weird tale'  and a prelude to the time when Star Wars fans would come to embrace something different in The New Jedi Order and Fate of the Jedi series.

 

 

The Last One Standing: The Tale of Boba Fett

 

Review by Karenstar@yahoo.com

I thought this was a great short story.  My favorite character has always been Boba Fett, and this story gave us some insights into him.  There are brief histories of his escapades, including small mention of the Sarlacc pit.  It finishes up with Fett and Solo, and their strange, yet small connection.  It was definitely worth reading.