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Star Wars Resistance Trailer Revealed

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 10:00

Today, we got our first look at Star Wars Resistance, the new anime-inspired animated series, and a promise of more to come when the series debuts on Sunday, October 7 (10 p.m. EDT/PDT) on Disney Channel, DisneyNOW, and Disney Channel VOD, with subsequent airings on Disney XD.

The trailer comes complete with familiar faces like Poe Dameron and everyone’s happily-beeping buddy, BB-8; a glimpse at the new cast of characters including Kazuda Xiono, the young pilot recruited by the Resistance; and an introduction to the Colossus, a massive refueling platform on an outer rim ocean planet. The series, set prior to the events in The Force Awakens, also welcomes Oscar Isaac and Gwendoline Christie to the voice cast, reprising their roles as Poe and Captain Phasma, respectively.

See the trailer for yourself below:

We’re also thrilled to bring you intel on the first episode! In the one-hour premiere “The Recruit,” Poe and BB-8 assign Kaz to the Colossus, where he meets a cast of colorful new aliens, droids and creatures. While undercover to spy on the growing threat of the First Order, Kaz works as a mechanic and lives with Poe’s old friend Yeager — a veteran pilot who operates a starship repair shop run by his crew: Tam, Neeku and a battered old astromech called Bucket.

“Can you imagine what it’s like to be an ace pilot?” Kaz asks.

This fall, imagine no more. Welcome to the Resistance!

StarWars.com All Star Wars, all the time.

Star Wars Echoes: The Rebel Paths of Leia Organa and Hera Syndulla

Fri, 08/17/2018 - 08:00

Star Wars Echoes examines the lives of two characters — seemingly very different on the surface — and how they’re often more similar than we might think.

Throughout the mythology of the Star Wars universes, synchronicity can be seen again and again, binding heroes, villains, creatures, and legend to one another despite their paths never crossing even once. Take for instance two daughters of resistance — one a princess, organizing a rebellion through diplomacy; the other a pilot, molding a family of individuals into a band of heroes. Both armed with nerve and idealism, each determined to do whatever it takes to bring peace to worlds that sorely need it. Leaders, generals, freedom fighters — the parallel journeys of Leia Organa and Hera Syndulla follow the stories of two rebels waging war against an Empire…both depending on the help of impromptu families comprised of unlikely heroes…each of them inspiring those around them to never give up hope.

Both are daughters of prominent resistance fighters.

One grew up surrounded among Alderaanian royalty, only child of Bail and Breha Organa, friends to the Jedi Order and then secret benefactor to the Rebellion following the Clone Wars.  The second hailed from a devastated home world, last remaining scion of Cham Syndulla, leader of the Twi’lek resistance on Ryloth. There the comparison ends, unfortunately — for while Princess Leia Organa’s relationship with her doomed parents had been one of respect and affection until the very end, the death of Hera’s mother and Cham’s subsequent obsession with freeing Ryloth created a rift between father and daughter. Only years later did Cham and Hera manage to reconcile, however their early relationship helped inspire the younger Syndulla to fight for those who needed help, whether from Ryloth or anywhere in the galaxy, just as Bail and Breha’s example taught Leia the poise, charm, tact and doggedness she would continue to employ in her fight against those would bring evil to the galaxy.

Each inspired a reluctant, reckless hero to join her cause.

On the run and in disguise, former Jedi Caleb Dume — going by the name Kanan Jarrus — had no intention of joining a cause. Staying off-radar, Jarrus did his best to avoid trouble with the Empire, hoping to go unnoticed even years after the Jedi Purge. But when intrigue found him on a mining operation in the Gorse system (as did a certain idealist pilot from Ryloth, already a budding tactician and full-time rebel), the exiled Jedi inexorably found himself drawn to Hera Syndulla and her belief that rather than fighting the Empire alone, a band of rebels together might actually make a difference. Years later, following the Battle of Yavin, Leia Organa found herself convincing another scruffy lone wolf to join their struggle. And though Han Solo was no Jedi, he shared Kanan Jarrus’s belief that joining up only put you in harm’s way. Plus, he had debts to pay. Arguing with the princess in the icy corridors of Echo Base about whether or not to stay, Han’s feelings for Leia and fondness for Luke eventually drag him into a cause he never meant to join. Ultimately, Kanan and Han found new meaning for their lives by joining this greater cause.

Captured by the Empire, both Leia and Hera lost a valuable Jedi ally during their rescue.

Sure, neither of them meant to get caught. And given time, maybe both would have escaped without help, each in their respective, strong-willed style. But help did come for both Princess Leia of Alderaan, locked in a cell on the first Death Star, and General Hera Syndulla, captured by Rukh and a squadron of stormtroopers following a disastrous assault on an Imperial blockade. The former found herself rescued by a farm boy, smuggler, Wookiee, some droids…and a long-lost Jedi general, emerged from exile by her request, who sacrificed himself so the others might escape. The latter, Hera, was liberated by her family — the crew of the Ghost and their colleagues on Lothal — and another Jedi, Kanan Jarrus, paid the ultimate price so that Hera and the rebels could get away. Of course, the key difference here is in relationships between rescuer and rescued: Though Leia had known of Obi-Wan Kenobi through her father’s stories, her connection to the man was strictly diplomatic…especially because Leia would have no way of knowing Kenobi’s relationship to her father at the time. Hera and Kanan, meanwhile, well…their relationship obviously went far deeper, and so the heartbreak of his loss was felt more profoundly by the rescued general following his death in Lothal City.

Refusing to be defined by their limitations, each matured beyond their original role into prominent, strategic leaders of the Rebellion.

Hera Syndulla wanted to be a pilot, ever since seeing the Republic’s Clone Army fly their gunship over Ryloth as a girl. Years later, she captained her own ship and slowly became an accomplished freedom fighter, blossoming into a rebel that would make her father proud. Princess Leia, meanwhile, spent her earlier years as a diplomat and royal courier, running secret missions for her father and serving the Rebellion in the guise of a loyal politician and brilliant senator. Over the course of their individual journeys, warring against the Galactic Empire, both slowly evolved far beyond their early roles in the Rebel Alliance. Leia, of course, would assume a key role at the upper echelons of the Rebellion, more often finding herself before maps and holograms among strategists, eventually leaving her royal title behind for that of a military general. Of course, that didn’t stop Leia from entering the field of battle armed with a blaster right through the Battle of Endor…and then again during the rise of the First Order. Syndulla, as well, found herself promoted to Phoenix Leader, then commander, and then general, gravitating from her full-time role behind the controls of a ship toward maps and strategy missions, as well.

Both befriended young, novice Force-users who would eventually put a greater cause before themselves.

The first time Hera Syndulla laid eyes on Ezra Bridger, Kanan Jarrus’ future apprentice had hitched a ride aboard her ship. The last time she saw him, Ezra expertly used his abilities to restrain Grand Admiral Thrawn long enough for a pod of purrgils to whisk away the last Star Destroyers above Lothal, separating himself from his friends and family to save the day. A complicated relationship that was definitely leader-soldier but also could have been mother-son or brother-sister near the end, the mutual affection between Hera and Ezra made their last goodbye — and his final gift to her, a meiloorun fruit — sad and bittersweet despite his sacrifice for something greater than himself. Luke and Leia, following the events involving the first Death Star, formed a powerful bond. With the discover that they were siblings, that bond became tighter than ever before, which made his decision to face Darth Vader and the Emperor alone almost impossible to bear. Years later, Luke would say goodbye before making a stunning sacrifice that would save his sister and the Resistance.

Leia and Hera’s individual wars with the Empire both heralded rebirth — in the form of a son.

“We have hope. Hope that things will get better. And they will.” A Hera Syndulla quote, but one that could have easily come from another determined general, as well. And hope did present itself to both after the Empire’s end. Hera, as we learned, had a son after the Battle of Endor — Jacen Syndulla, the child she had with her fallen love, Kanan Jarrus. Married to Han Solo in a private ceremony, Leia had a son, as well. They named him Ben, and though his life and upbringing was one of family and hope, the truth is that life often has other plans, and that boy’s destiny turned another way. And despite Leia’s admission to Luke on Crait, that she held on to hope for so long…Ben Solo’s story isn’t over. And the one thing that both Leia Organa and Hera Syndulla’s stories have taught us, is the power of hope.

Neil Kleid is a writer and designer who truly belongs among the clouds. He digs Star Wars, comix, mobile design, BBQ, and baseball. Talk to him about design and Lobot on Twitter at @neilkleid.

Why We Love Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 17:30

“Begun, the Clone War has.” Yoda uttered those ominous words at the end of Attack of the Clones and set up the premise of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Fans thought the animated series was over, but we learned about #CloneWarsSaved at San Diego Comic-Con. With the beloved show returning with new episodes — and this week marking the 10th anniversary of the animated feature that started it all — it’s the ideal time to look at what makes The Clone Wars so special.

Set between Episodes II and III, The Clone Wars explored the conflict between the Republic and the Separatists, the former fighting with clone troopers and Jedi and the latter fighting with droids and dark side wielders. The right and wrong sides of the war seem clear from that distilled description, but in reality, it wasn’t so simple. From its theatrical movie debut in 2008 to its then-final episodes released as “The Lost Missions” in 2014, The Clone Wars, driven by stories George Lucas wanted to tell, showed battles on epic and personal levels. It started with more episodic plots and evolved over the years to feature longer story arcs comprised of three or four installments.

One of the many reasons fans latched onto The Clone Wars was because of who was often at the heart of those stories: Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and a character created for the show, Ahsoka Tano. Blending the familiar with the fresh is one of the things The Clone Wars did best. It built upon what was shown of Anakin in the prequels and depicted more of his personality and struggles. His relationship with Padmé and its up and downs got more attention. His ace piloting skills were on display more frequently. His temper was there, but so was his heroism. The series spends enough time with Anakin for fans to track and acutely feel his path to the dark side.

And this kind of expansion happened for other characters that got their start outside of the series, too. Want to learn more about Obi-Wan’s past and missteps? How about teenage Boba Fett trying to exact revenge upon Mace Windu for killing his father? The Clone Wars goes there and beyond. It connects dots to existing points in the films too, by showing Palpatine’s devious, patient mind in action covering up how he orchestrated Order 66 and by visiting Darth Maul in a literal trash pile and explaining how he survived his fall on Naboo in The Phantom Menace.

For all The Clone Wars adds to established areas, its impact on fandom is also weighty because of the new characters it introduced. Fans of Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s Padawan, are legion. Viewers could put themselves in Ahsoka’s place in the show; they went on missions alongside Anakin and learned about the gray areas of the war. As Ahsoka matured over the series, fans identified with her growth and the difficult decision she had to make about the Jedi and her beliefs. Fans connected with the clones (especially Captain Rex), Asajj Ventress, Cad Bane, Satine Kryze, and so many more.

Since an animated series doesn’t have the same time constraints as a film, The Clone Wars had the luxury to flex and travel into different kinds of stories — the likes of which we hadn’t seen on screen in Star Wars before. Remember the time parasitic Geonosian brain worms slithered into nostrils and took control of clone troopers and a Jedi? Brain worms, droid-centric escapades, witchy magick, deep explorations of the Force. All of that and more had places in the show. The storytellers stretched the canvas and found ways to add wild and sometimes weird (in the best way) elements to the space fantasy.

The Clone Wars premiered in a time when we didn’t know more Star Wars films were on the horizon. The show was a Star Wars lifeline for longtime fans and a dazzling entry point for new ones. With weekly doses of adventure, emotion, increasingly beautiful animation, memorable music, and extraordinary voice performances, The Clone Wars captured the hearts of countless fans. They have shared their passion for the series so enthusiastically and endlessly they helped bring it back. That’s the strongest endorsement any series can claim.

When you’re ready to watch The Clone Wars for the first time or revisit the series, we would be honored if you would join us in our chronological rewatch.

Amy Ratcliffe is obsessed with Star Wars, Disneyland food, and coffee. She’s the author of Star Wars: Women of the Galaxy and a co-host of the podcast Lattes with Leia. Follow her on Twitter at @amy_geek.

Replaying the Classics: Knights of the Old Republic

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 10:00

In Replaying the Classics, StarWars.com revisits Star Wars games of yesteryear, examining why we loved them then and why they stand the test of time.

Spoiler warning: This article discusses details and plot points from Knights of the Old Republic.

It’s not hyperbole to say that video games don’t get much better than Knights of the Old Republic. Released in 2003 in collaboration with LucasArts for the Xbox and PC, BioWare’s landmark role-playing game set a new bar for interactive storytelling in not just the Star Wars universe, but gaming at large.

KotOR, as it’s often called, took the rich Dungeons & Dragons experience BioWare had honed in its best-selling Baldur’s Gate series and married it to the groundbreaking tech the studio developed for its 2002 RPG, Neverwinter Nights. The game’s massive voice-over cast, as well as the sheer volume of spoken dialogue, was unprecedented. Jeremy Soule, today best known for composing the score to Bethesda’s Skyrim, supplied the John Williams-esque soundtrack. The result was a vast, cinematic journey through the galaxy far, far away, allowing players to take part in the ancient conflict between the Old Republic and the Sith four thousand years prior to the films.

One reason why the game endures is its robust character-creation system. No matter how you play or what side of the Force you follow, the game will always begin with your character awakening on a Republic cruiser dubbed the Endar Spire — the inspiration for the Hammerhead Corvette in Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One. You’ll always wake to find the ship under attack by the Sith, and meet a doomed ensign named Trask Ulgo. But who you are in the game is essentially up to you.

As a soldier of the Republic fleet, you fight your way to the starship’s bridge and rendezvous with Carth Onasi; together, you and Carth escape to the nearby planet of Taris and set about finding the Endar Spire’s third surviving crew member, Bastila Shan. Bastila’s a young Jedi whose affinity with the Force presents a serious threat to the Darth Malak and his Sith fleet, and so players’ first main quest in the game is to find her and deliver her to the Jedi. (“Dantooine. They’re on Dantooine.”) For reasons that aren’t clear right away, the player character and Bastila share a strong bond with one another through the Force. In dreams, they share visions of Bastila’s fateful duel with a masked Sith Lord called Darth Revan, believed to have been killed aboard his flagship by Malak, their former apprentice.

“We were there to capture Revan alive,” Bastila recalls in an early conversation. “The Jedi do not believe in killing their prisoners. No one deserves execution, no matter what their crimes. Remember that Revan and Malak were once great Jedi. Heroes in every sense of the word. They demonstrate the danger of the dark side to us all.” During another interaction, she asks, “What greater weapon is there than to turn an enemy to your cause? To use their own knowledge against them?”

Spoiler warning: The game’s central plot twist, it turns out, is that you were once Revan, Dark Lord of the Sith. When Malak betrayed the player character, Bastila used the Force to preserve them, and the Jedi Council on Dantooine ultimately chose to erase Revan’s memories, hoping to gain a powerful ally. After you and Bastila arrive at the Jedi enclave on Dantooine, it becomes apparent that you’re a “special case,” chosen to train in the ways of the Force long past the typical age for Jedi initiates. BioWare’s writers make deft use of foreshadowing, drawing on an ingenious blend of 21st-century cinema and Joseph Campbell’s “monomyth” to build to a climax as shocking as Vader’s famous revelation on Bespin.

Knights of the Old Republic was my love letter to The Empire Strikes Back,” the game’s lead designer, James Ohlen, told Game Informer in a recent interview. “As a kid, it was my favorite movie of all time, so when we had a chance to work on Star Wars I wanted to do something that had a twist that was comparable or had that same kind of surprise factor.”

KotOR certainly accomplished what Ohlen and his team set out to do, but its contributions to Star Wars fandom and Legends lore go even further than telling one of the most memorable stories in Star Wars history. The game introduced new worlds, and new alien species, some of which still exist within the official canon: Rakata Prime, the amphibious Selkath of Manaan, the planet Taris. Its turn-based combat system — built upon the d20 ruleset from Wizards of the Coast’s Star Wars Roleplaying Game (2000) — is still utterly remarkable; its influence can be seen today in Capital Games’ mobile RPG Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes. And cosplayers can regularly be found at conventions around the world sporting the mask of Revan or the Jedi garb of Bastila Shan.

Fans love this game, and for good reason. It’s a grand, sprawling adventure in the tradition of the BioWare classics that preceded it. It forever holds a place in video-game history as a loving tribute to the original Star Wars trilogy that also managed to be something more: one of the all-time great RPGs.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is available on Xbox One, Steam, GOG.com, Humble Store, App Store, Google Play and Amazon App Store.

Alex Kane is a journalist based in west-central Illinois. He has written for Polygon, the website of Rolling Stone, Syfy Wire, Variety, and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @alexjkane.

The Clone Wars Rewatch: A Sith Plot Unravels in the Theatrical Release (Part 3 of 3)

Thu, 08/16/2018 - 08:00

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the all-new episodes coming thanks to #CloneWarsSaved, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.

Ten years ago, Star Wars fans flocked to movie theaters for the release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a feature-length spectacle that ushered in the animated series. Now, we’re breaking down the film into three acts, deconstructing the introduction of Ahsoka Tano, the Battle of Teth, and the unraveling of the nefarious Huttlet kidnapping plot.

Synopsis:

While Ahsoka and Anakin are en route to Tatooine with Rotta on the mend, Dooku and Ventress have convinced Jabba that his son has been murdered — and he’s next! Enter Padmé, who is prepared to use her pull as a senator and act as an emissary to Jabba’s flamboyant uncle, Ziro the Hutt.

Analysis: 

As Ahsoka quotes the wise Master Yoda, “Old sins cast long shadows.”

The return to Tatooine opens old wounds for Anakin. This is the desert planet where he lived as a slave and was rescued by the Jedi. This is the place he returned to too late to save his mother, giving into his hate and slaughtering an entire Tusken village, including the women and the children, in his quest for revenge.

Every step he takes in the coarse and rough sand is a reminder of the emotional burden he carries with him. But he refuses or is incapable of sharing that part of himself with his young Padawan. “The desert is merciless,” he warns her. “It takes everything from you.”

Anakin’s duel with Dooku is a brilliant battle of sabers, sand, and Force lightning, but it also showcases how easily the young Jedi Knight can be manipulated when his emotions, his pain and suffering especially, are preyed upon by those who would use him as a pawn. Thanks to Dooku, Anakin makes a hasty retreat by speeder to rush to Ahsoka’s side, making matters worse by playing into the plot and threatening Jabba at saber-point.

Of course, he never listens.  While Ahsoka tries to get his attention to elicit his help, he barrels past her toward Jabba’s Palace. She’s forced to finish the battle with Dooku’s minions herself, literally bending over backwards to protect herself and Rotta during combat.

Fortunately, Padmé has also been working to save their skins (and secure a treaty for the Republic) in the seedy downtown section of Coruscant. She’s bold in her actions, firm in her beliefs, and prone to aggressive negotiations when the situation calls for it. After a failed plea with Ziro, imprisonment in the Hutt dungeons, and a quick-thinking ploy to get the hapless battle droids to assist her in calling for help, she gains the upper hand thanks to Threepio and a few good clones. In the end, it’s Padmé who successfully makes the final, urgent plea to call a cease-fire on Anakin’s immediate execution. It’s the first time in the series viewing that we’re seeing Padmé on the small screen, but with a few furtive glances and telling looks, it promises to be the beginning of a deeper exploration of her secret union with young Master Skywalker.

Jabba’s still the ruthless crime boss we know and love, but giving him a son does, for lack of a better word, humanize him a bit here. I mean, he’s still a piece of worm-ridden filth who has lounged upon his throne while everyone else, including a handful of unfortunate bounty hunters, have tried to rescue the Huttlet heir. But watching him nuzzle his Pedunkee Mufkin is oddly endearing. One day he’ll be taken down by Anakin and Padmé’s biological daughter, but today he’s a caring dad just like any other.

By the time the credits roll, Anakin has started to warm to the idea of Ahsoka as more than meets the eye, a skillful fighter worthy of his training who has already proven she has his back, and Ahsoka, for her part, has begun to fully realize the true weight of her life as a Padawan.

Intel:

  • Jabba’s little Pedunkee Mufkin, Rotta, may be small enough to fit in a backpack or cradled by a teenage Padawan, but in reality he’s 55 years old. (And he looks great!) Hutts spend their first 50 years in the brood pouches of their parents and have the mind of an infant when they emerge.

What did you think? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!

Next up: Come back Tuesday as we head to the Kamino system where five headstrong clones are undergoing training in “Clone Cadets.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.

Han Versus a Military Tribunal in the Novelization of Solo: A Star Wars Story – Exclusive Excerpt

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 13:25

We always knew Han Solo was a maverick, a talented pilot who preferred to fly by his own rules and for his own profit.

When author Mur Lafferty brings Solo: A Star Wars Story from the screen to the page with the novelization of the hit summer film, we’ll get an even more in depth look at the formative events that shaped the young scoundrel.

Today, StarWars.com is bringing you the first look (and listen) from the forthcoming novel, Solo: A Star Wars Story. In this exclusive excerpt from the expanded adaptation, Han gets into trouble with the Imperial Navy and faces a military tribunal…

“Onyx Squadron, maintain formation!”

Han knew that voice, and it always made him grind his teeth.

Flight Officer Ubbel was constantly demanding they play it safe. Han privately thought that if Ubbel had been in charge, the Empire would have encompassed one of the smaller skyscrap­ers on Coruscant instead of half the galaxy.

“I can take them faster than the squad can!” Han shouted.

“Negative, negative, Onyx Nine, return to formation!”

Han actually liked Onyx 2, his friend Cadet Lyttan Dree. The number of other cadets who liked him was frankly diminish­ing. His natural charm always drew them in…but then most people would quickly figure out that being close to him would probably reduce their chances for advancement. Dree, or Onyx 2, managed to be a good pilot, Han’s friend, and still fol­low the rules. Han had always meant to ask him how he did that, and now he might never get the chance.

Han peeled off from the formation and chased the Headhunt­ers down, feeling much freer now that he could fly where he wanted to and not worry about the others in formation. In the­ory he could understand the need for a formation, but in prac­tice he always preferred to worry only about himself and his own ship.

He accelerated, watching the raiders flank Onyx 2 as he tried to outmaneuver them. Han’s helmet squawked again, and he turned down the audio as Onyx Leader was shouting at him to return to formation. Then his droid started fussing at him.

Imperial droids were the worst. The White Worms hadn’t had much use for droids, so Han hadn’t grown up with them behind doors, underfoot, and always politely, infuriatingly, tell­ing him how wrong he was.

His ship’s intelligence, MGK-300, was such a droid. It thought that since it was integrated directly into his ship, it knew more about the ship than he did.

He’d already long since had enough of MGK’s so-called guidance, but it still beeped furiously at him that they were making the squadron weaker because of his actions.

Han ignored it. If the droid wasn’t telling him something was wrong with the ship, he didn’t see a need to listen to it.

He got one of the raiders in his sights and fired, nearly miss­ing, but clipping a wing. The ships separated, one keeping up with Onyx 2 and one turning to pursue Han.

Now he saw the point of the squadron formation. Han wheeled and turned, heading back, and met head-on his own fellow ca­dets flying toward them. He ducked to slide under them and they fired. He cheered them on, but then felt the ship heave under him as something behind him exploded.

His Infiltrator went into a spin. Han fought for control, try­ing to tune out the squeals and beeps coming from behind his head.

“Yeah,” he said, “I know we lost the reverse thrusters! Thank you!” The ship started to spin, the universe whirling madly around him, the Star Destroyer’s docking bay a rapidly moving target.

MGK beeped what Han knew was standard emergency pro­tocol at this point—which was essentially giving up. He shook his head. “Not ejecting! I can make it back to the docking bay!”

The droid made known its firm disagreement, beeping and booping faster and faster as it began to panic.

These machines were distracting, irritating, and useless. How did anyone fly with this nagging going on? “You know what?” he asked, flipping an emergency switch to power down the droid. MGK couldn’t distract him now, and he could finally focus.

As if the droid were trying to get the last word in, the control panel sparked and spit when he touched the switches. Pain flared in his hand and he yelped, shaking it. Had MGK done it on purpose? He couldn’t tell. It was pointless to wonder, be­cause the docking bay was suddenly much, much closer.

He struggled to maintain control and decelerate. At the last possible moment, he yanked the control yoke upward, managing to slip through the artificial atmosphere of the docking bay cleanly, without clipping any of the sides—which Han thought was pretty impressive. His ship hit the floor and bounced, ca­reening him into three tethered TIE fighters. His chin hit the control panel and he saw more stars, wondering briefly if he had flown straight through the ship and back into space. Then he heard the alarms and remembered where he was.

No one was impressed with the fact that he’d saved Onyx 2.

Commodore Almudin’s round face seemed to eclipse the rest of the tribunal. Other high-ranking important types were there, but Han could only see the ridiculous round face, even as he struggled to take the man seriously. The commodore outranked him (actually, everyone on the tribunal outranked him), and rumor had it that he’d had an amazing flight record in his day. But right now he flew a desk and had the exciting job of sen­tencing real pilots in military tribunals.

Han’s chin still throbbed from the quick work the medical droid had made of his gash, and he ignored the other aches from the crash as he stood straight.

But the officer’s face really was irritating.

The other officers on the tribunal, two women and a man, looked both bored and annoyed, as if in their minds Han was already sentenced to death and they were just waiting for lunch.

“Cadet Solo,” the commodore said, like he had before, with that tone of less than disgust, “I still can’t decide if you’re brave or stupid.”

He shrugged. “I like to think I’m a little of both, sir.” He paused. He could never get the ranks right. Was this man a moff? He’d better cover all of his options. “I mean, Moff.” The man’s face didn’t change. “Sir Moff.”

That finally broke him. He scowled at Han and said, “It’s ‘Commodore,’ and if you think having a smart-ass attitude is the way to go here, you’re sorely mistaken.

“Why don’t you tell us what allegedly happened here?” he continued, indicating a screen that had lit up. It was flanked by two Imperial guards, Lieutenants Tag Greenley and Bink Otauna. Once upon a time, Han had attempted to befriend them, but they turned out to be such colossal screwups, Han started to avoid them before they got him or themselves killed. Still, he needed all the friends he could get. He gave them a little wave and a grin. They looked back at him wryly and said nothing.

The screen lit up and Han saw his own ship, leaving forma­tion to pursue. He felt a surge of pride as he always did, seeing from the outside how free he looked. He realized he was just admiring himself, and he cleared his throat and pointed in the general direction of where Onyx 2 was being pursued.

“Onyx Two was flanked by Headhunters.” He’d reported all of this. He had no idea why they needed his comments again since he’d already given them all the information in his report. “If I’d followed Command’s directive and returned to forma­tion instead of going after ’em, he’d be dead now.”

This tribunal was ridiculous. Couldn’t they see that he’d saved their second in command?

“There is no place for maverick heroics in his Emperor’s navy.”

Han held his hands up, as if fending off praise. “Trust me, I’ve got no interest in being a hero, Commodore, what I—”

The commodore cut him off abruptly. “Well, congratulations. You’re not one. This tribunal, me in particular, finds you guilty of disobeying a direct order, and you are hereby reassigned to the infantry. Report for immediate transfer to Mimban.”

He wasn’t getting kicked out. Relief flooded him. He smiled. “Okay. I thought it was gonna be way worse.” He cocked his head and inquired, “And roughly, when do you think I’ll be fly­ing again?”

Commodore Almudin smiled, and there was nothing friendly about it. “Oh, we’ll have you flying in no time.”

Listen to the exclusive audio clip here:

https://starwarsblog.starwars.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Han-Navy-excerpt.mp3

And you can pre-order your copy of the Solo: A Star Wars Story novelization now!

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Star Wars Fan Awards Pro Tips: Advice for Making Your Best Entry from Matt Martin

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 11:57

It’s safe to say that Matt Martin knows Star Wars. As a member of the Lucasfilm Story Group, he’s contributed to, advised, and guided everything from Star Wars films to animated series to comics. Moreover, as a StarWars.com team and Star Wars social media alum who served as a Star Wars Fan Film Awards judge for years, it’s also safe to say that he really knows fan-made Star Wars content.

That’s why we’ve asked Martin to offer up some general tips for prospective entrants in the Star Wars Fan Awards 2018. Whether you’re making a video, work of art, or photo, you’ll find Yoda-like wisdom here that can make your project most impressive.

Here are Martin’s top four tips for creating great Star Wars anything — and be sure to check out the newest installment of The Star Wars Show later today for even more helpful hints.

1. Be original.

There’s an easy way to have your work stand out from the pack: make something wholly original. It doesn’t matter if it’s a video, painting, sculpture, photograph, or whatever — say what you want to say, not what others have said before you. “Audiences have been seeing Star Wars stories told for over 40 years now and there are some key themes that can get hit over and over,” Martin says. “Find a new angle. Something unique and personal and tell that story: a story no one else can tell but you.”

2. Don’t forget the fun.

Star Wars isn’t all lightsaber duels over lava and surprise parentage reveals. It’s also C-3PO calling R2-D2 an “overweight glob of grease.” It’s an Ewok stealing a speeder bike. It’s a porg being tossed around the Falcon cockpit while Chewie tries to steer. In other words, Star Wars is also really fun.

“Humor is one of the key elements of Star Wars’ success and it can also help you succeed in the Fan Awards,” Martin says. “I’m not saying you need to make a comedy, but just remember to include some levity in your story.”

Comedic moments or elements can serve as a break between more serious aspects of your story; they can act as an Easter egg in a photo or other work of static art; they can show a different side of your characters and yourself. Just like in Star Wars. So embrace your sense of humor and bring it into your work where appropriate.

“It’s those small character moments and those bits of fun that really set Star Wars apart from your everyday action film,” Martin says. “You want to include at least some humor. It will go a long way toward connecting with your audience.”

3. Be willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

Keeping things simple and lean is never a bad idea. You might have something you love — a line in a film, a detail in a painting, etc. — but if it distracts or detracts from the larger whole, don’t be afraid to remove it.

“If you’re making a film, editing is key,” Martin says. “It’s hard to cut things that you worked so hard on, but in order to tell a clear and concise story, you’ll have to make some tough decisions. In the end you’ll be glad you did.” Yes, this even extends to one of Star Wars’ trademark action set pieces. “If you shoot a pretty good five-minute lightsaber duel,” Martin says, “you can probably cut it into a really incredible one-minute duel.”

4. Rules are made to be followed.

Imagine working really hard on your epic movie. It’s filled with dazzling visual effects and creative sound mixing, your actors are amazing, and the story is thrilling. Everyone you show it to loves it! And then…you go ahead and submit it with a five-minute, 30-second running time — a half-minute over the allowed limit. Congrats: your entry is disqualified!

“Follow the rules,” Martin says. “I know, rules are a bummer, but they exist for a reason. And if you don’t follow them, you’ll be disqualified and no one will see your masterpiece.”

This goes for all entries. Read the rules carefully, then re-read them. Be sure you’re complying every step of the way in the making of your work. The last thing you want is for some small oversight to ruin your chances of winning. As Yoda said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Remember that when it comes to adhering to the rules.

Get more Star Wars Fan Awards tips from Lucasfilm’s behind-the-scenes filmmaker, Ian Bucknole!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.​ Enter contest between 7/18/18 at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time (“PT”) and 9/17/18 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. & D.C., Canada (excluding Quebec), Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico who are 13+ at time of entry. Limit 1 submission per genre per person. There are 34 Star Wars prize packs available to be won (Estimated Value: US$200 each). See Official Rules {https://www.starwars.com/star-wars-fan-awards-official-rules-2018} for full details on how to enter, eligibility requirements, prize description and limitations. Void in Quebec and where prohibited. Sponsor: Disney Online, 500 South Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA 91521-7667.

In Secrets of the Empire, You’re Now a Wanted Rebel

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 10:54

You infiltrated an Imperial base disguised as a stormtrooper. You stole secret data. You encountered…someone. He seemed unstoppable. You somehow escaped without a trace.

Or so you thought.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, the full-sensory hyper-reality experience from ILMxLAB and The VOID that sends you on an undercover rebel mission to Mustafar, gets a clever new addition starting today. Upon completing Secrets of the Empire, you’ll now receive an email from the Empire that directs to a hidden page on TheVOID.com. There you’ll find your own personal “Wanted” poster featuring a security photo from the mission, details of your crimes, and the bounty on your head.

So much for getting away without a trace. But for any proud rebel, this is akin to a diploma suitable for framing.

Here’s the even cooler thing — the crimes listed are actually achievements, and the more you earn, the more you’re worth to the Empire. So both in Star Wars and in our own galaxy, you’ll know how well you really did.

To celebrate this update, StarWars.com caught up with Matt Martin of the Lucasfilm Story Group to discuss the creation of these “Wanted” posters, from working with the wizards at ILMxLAB and The VOID to developing the Empire’s in-universe response to such a daring rebel act. 

An email from the Empire…

StarWars.com: I love the idea of these “Wanted” posters — they’re a fun bonus to the Secrets of the Empire experience, but they also add some depth from an in-universe perspective. How did you and the Story Group collaborate with the makers of Secrets of the Empire to create these?

Matt Martin: ILMxLAB originally pitched the idea to The VOID team and the project really took off. The VOID worked on some initial proof of concepts and, from there, it was a matter of thinking through some of the in-fiction details for writing and overall graphic design with the teams at Lucasfilm. We had a list of all the achievements that could be earned so we, along with the ILMxLAB team, had to look at those and try to make them sound as Star Wars-y as possible — which is always fun!

…that leads to your own “Wanted” poster.

StarWars.com: How did you figure out what an Imperial “Wanted” poster might look like, or what the Empire would deem crimes? Did you look at similar content in something like Star Wars Rebels, which is also set during the reign of the Empire, did you start from scratch, or did you do other research?

Matt Martin: The Rebels design was definitely the go-to inspiration as it’s the most well-established, but we wanted this to feel unique so we didn’t replicate it one-to-one. What’s interesting about the Rebels execution is that it was designed as a marketing piece before making its way into the show itself, so we already knew what the English language version looked like. We used that established in-universe style and gave it to Eric Tobiason, ILM Art Department art director, and he ran with it. Eric was able to create six unique stormtrooper poses that are based on your in-experience avatar selection, and really the whole Empire aesthetic on the “Wanted” posters. Once his creative execution came back, there were only minor tweaks to get it to the final version that The VOID team worked hard on to implement for guests.

StarWars.com: What’s your single favorite aspect of these posters, and why?

Matt Martin: It might actually be the trooper image itself. In the experience, you choose a color for your trooper and that color shows up on your shoulder pauldron — that way you know who’s who. The “Wanted” poster takes your choice into account, so if you chose, say, a blue pauldron trooper, you’ll have an image of the blue trooper on your poster.

StarWars.com: The fact that the bounty on your head is, essentially, your score, is such a smart twist.

Matt Martin: Yeah, I love that. And it makes sense. Secrets of the Empire takes place before the official Rebel Alliance has been formed, so the Empire isn’t as used to dealing with this sort of insurgency. They don’t have as much infrastructure set up to track down these troublemakers, so they just throw money at it. And the more damage you cause, the more upset they get, and the more money they’re willing to spend to track you down. The Empire isn’t exactly hurting for funding.

Tickets for Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire are on sale now.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Star Wars Back-to-School Shopping List 2018

Wed, 08/15/2018 - 08:00

It’s time for your youngling to become a Padawan learner. Whether they’re headed to the swamps of Dagobah, the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, or a far-off classroom on an Outer Rim planet, preparation starts with the right supplies. We’ve selected some our favorite Star Wars-themed gear to help you finish your back-to-school shopping before the next planetary rotation.

Star Wars Stationery Pouch

The greatest teacher, failure is. Erase your mistakes and start again with a trio of lightsaber-inspired pencils and other galactic writing accessories. Available at shopDisney.

Star Wars Folio Organizer

The protective pouch in this folio is perfect for an E-reader. Or the stolen blueprints to an Imperial battle station. Available at shopDisney.

FanWraps Laptop Wraps

You paid good credits for that laptop. Protect it from disintegrations and other wear and tear. Available at FanWraps.com.

“Welcome to the Galaxy” Bulletin Board Set

For teachers decorating for a new year, turn the classroom into your own Jedi (or Imperial) academy, welcoming Padawans and cadets alike to take their first steps into the larger world of learning. Available at EurekaSchool.com.

Popsockets

Don’t let another cell phone slip through your fingers. A secure grip enables texting one-handed, stability for snapping photos and a convenient stand for propping your phone up on the go. Available at Popsockets.com.

The Galaxy in Books

Outside the classroom, encourage a lifelong love of reading. Enjoy the zany adventures of the Jedi Academy series, told through comics, doodles, and journal entries. Find some wisdom and balance in Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Star Wars Little Golden Book. For younglings not quite school-age, start them early with the basics ABC-3PO and OBI-123. And for parents who still need some help understanding the difference between a wampa and a Wookiee, Star Wars Made Easy will have you conversing with the fans in your life like you’re a regular protocol droid. Available from Amazon.

Star Wars Millennium Falcon Backpack

Blast off to the new year with a flashy new bag styled after the fastest ship in the galaxy. LED lights power up the hyperdrive with each step you take. Available at Target.

State Bags

Judge these bags by their size, do you? The classic collection has been shrunk down for your little ones, streamlining all the necessary details in a perfectly petite pack. Available from State Bags and BoxLunch.

Star Wars Lunch Kit

Droids are often entrusted with carrying significant items, and what could be more important than lunch? For the Jedi, it is time to eat as well! Available at Target.

Star Wars Stickers Water Bottle

Even if you’re not stranded in the desert on Tatooine, it’s always smart to keep hydration reserves handy. Available from Tervis.

Find more of our favorite Star Wars products at Shop Star Wars.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

This Ewok Rice Bowl Will Make You Say ‘Yub Nub!’

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 10:00

Ewoks: friend or foe? It depends on whether they’ve strung you up for a BBQ or whether they think of you as some kind of god.

Still it’s hard to resist a furry face and sweet eyes, but instead of heading to the Endor moon, now you can make your own little Ewok pal at home — with an Ewok Rice Bowl! These flavorsome bowls are made with brown rice imbued with rich coconut milk, topped off with vegetables and fruit. In the end you’ll have a happy little rebel friend looking back at you.

When you’ve finished making this delightful dish, you’ll surely be accepted as part of the tribe.

 Ewok Rice Bowl

What You’ll Need:

  • inari (aburaage) tofu pockets, seasoned
  • Cherries
  • Plum
  • Kiwi
  • mushroom

Coconut brown rice ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 (14 ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Step 1: Rinse the rice under water a few times, then drain completely.

Step 2: In a saucepan stir together the rice, coconut milk, water, sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil.

Step 3: Reduce heat and cover, then simmer for 18 minutes.

Step 4: Fluff with a fork, then scoop into a bowl, reserving approximately ½ cup.

Step 5: Separate the inari and place around the edges of the bowl, leaving an empty center area.

Step 6: Add the rest of the brown rice on the sides for the ears.

Step 7: Cut a cherry to create the nose, and carve two small ovals out of the plum for the eyes.

Step 8: Slice the mushroom to form the mouth.

Step 9: Cut strips of kiwi to add the details to the cowl.

Step 10: Once everything is in place the bowl is ready to serve. Yub nub!

Jenn Fujikawa is a lifestyle and food writer. Follow her on Twitter at @justjenn and check her Instagram @justjennrecipes and blog www.justjennrecipes.com for even more Star Wars food photos.

The Clone Wars Rewatch: Lessons from Teth in the Theatrical Release (Part 2 of 3)

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 08:00

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the all-new episodes coming thanks to #CloneWarsSaved, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.

Ten years ago, Star Wars fans flocked to movie theaters for the release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a feature-length spectacle that ushered in the animated series. Now, we’re breaking down the film into three acts, deconstructing the introduction of Ahsoka Tano, the Battle of Teth, and the unraveling of the nefarious Huttlet kidnapping plot.

Synopsis:

The fight moves to wild space as Anakin and Ahsoka rush to rescue Jabba the Hutt’s son, Rotta on the planet of Teth. But it soon becomes clear that the kidnapping is only one facet of a larger plot to turn the Hutt clan against the Republic.

Analysis: 

A Jedi arriving on Tatooine to make a deal with the Hutts. A daring escape in a beat-up old freighter with some help from Artoo. A Skywalker letting his emotions distract from his mission. Key moments in the second act of The Clone Wars film evoke the Star Wars lore that came before it with elegant nods to the storytelling of the saga.

Take, for example, Obi-Wan’s arrival at Jabba’s Palace, part of the rescue of Jabba’s son. The scene is reminiscent of Luke Skywalker’s journey before the most gracious Jabba to rescue his carbonite-encased friend, Han, in Return of the Jedi. They’re both there to make a deal, but Obi-Wan’s success in negotiating a treaty has even more far-reaching implications for the future of the galactic war.

And that war is raging. The battles have become so expansive that now conflict has come to Teth, a distant planet in wild space, bringing destruction to the galaxy’s backwater residents just as assuredly as it has to more centrally-located planets. In the aubergine-hued tropical jungle, we find a troubling sign of how all-encompassing the war really is. It forces us to consider the difficulties of managing a conflict that is so sprawling that it stretches supplies and forces to their limit, while bringing new challenges with a variety of climates, native creatures, and troublesome terrain.

Case in point: the old monastery where Rotta is being held is located at the pinnacle of a tall mesa, an arduous climb that calls for scaling a steep vertical cliff. It seems impossible that the Republic, or the Separatists for that matter, could adequately prepare equipment and train troops for every possible scenario and landscape. But with General Anakin Skywalker leading the charge, the two sides mount a gravity-defying, sideways battle complete with AT-TEs using their magnetic feet to clomp to the top. The visuals and the score are a departure from everything we’ve seen in live action, a nod that this series will have the heart of the Star Wars we know and love but with a visual interpretation perfect for an animated approach. That one of Ahsoka’s first trials as Padawan should be to race through the jungle carrying someone in a backpack is a joyful callback to Luke’s own training on Dagobah (although I find it hard to believe anyone would deign to insult Master Yoda by calling him “Stinky” or any other disrespectful nickname).

Ahsoka’s tenderness toward her helpless charge, Rotta, is in direct opposition to what Anakin will become, and despite a moment of hesitance, in the end they choose the mission over fighting alongside the troopers. It’s a sign of growth for Skywalker, who only recently in the space above Christophsis had chosen to disobey commands to deliver aid to the planet’s surface when he saw an opening for a tactical victory in ship-to-ship combat. In that case, he was able to do both. This time, he has to leave Rex and the rest of his men fighting for their lives while he moves his Padawan and their charge a safe distance away.

The rescue mission is all too easy, playing into Count Dooku‘s hands. As soon as Obi-Wan takes his leave, Dooku arrives to warn Jabba that the Jedi are actually behind the plot. The tin-plated traitor, spy droid 4A-7, has captured footage of Ahsoka and Anakin forcing the rotund Rotta into a trooper’s pack.

From a certain point of view, Dooku’s recorded evidence seems to support his claims irrefutably with more success than a Jedi mind trick. The Jedi are playing into his hands, saying just the wrong things at the right time as he weaves a tale of faux corruption. That old mind trick, of course, still works on the weak minded and Ventress is quick to utilize Captain Rex as a pawn.

As Ventress and Obi-Wan battle in the picturesque twilight, Anakin and Ahsoka make the jump with the Huttlet safely in tow. If anybody can fly a bucket of bolts through hyperspace, it’s Skyguy.

Intel:

  • After Rotta’s rescue, it quickly becomes clear that the tiny Huttlet is sick. Nicknamed “Stinky,” a combination of the stress of the abduction and the move from arid Tatooine to the cool, wet climate of Teth has made him gravely ill.
  • The Republic gunships display a variety of stylized nose art in an homage to the pinups and paint jobs inherent in real-world fighter planes from World War II, including a buxom Twi’lek in formfitting white armor.

What did you think? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!

Next up: Come back Thursday as we delve into the third and final installment of our rewatch of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars theatrical release.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.

Po-Zu’s Leather Resistance Sneakers: The Next Step in Rebel Fashion – Exclusive

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 08:00

If your sneaker collection needs a little rebel flair, you’re in luck.

Po-Zu’s latest Star Wars shoes, sure to please all fashionable freedom fighters, are leather Resistance sneakers — a new take on a Po-Zu fan favorite, and StarWars.com has your first look. Available starting today for £145, the sneakers are made of chrome-free leather and come in black and white versions, with sizes for men and women. As with the company’s original Resistance sneakers, these feature a subtle Star Wars design nod with ridges that recall the look of Finn’s boots, as well as the Rebel Alliance/Resistance insignia. Check them out below!

 

Like many of Po-Zu’s Star Wars offerings, the leather Resistance sneakers look to be versatile — perfect with jeans and a T-shirt, sharp and fashionable when matched with a suit or dress — and are made with sustainable materials and processes.

So get ready to show your allegiance to the Resistance…and look good doing it.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

Designing Star Wars: Ahsoka Tano

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 05:30

The look of Star Wars is unlike anything else in popular culture. Step back in time to explore the history and philosophy behind the concepts that define the galaxy far, far away in Designing Star Wars.

Character concepts by Dave Filoni

It’s hard to imagine now, but Star Wars: The Clone Wars almost wasn’t a story about Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan, Ahsoka Tano. Supervising Director Dave Filoni’s original vision for the series, scribbled on a piece of lined paper, involved a band of misfit scoundrels aboard a freighter and operating on the fringes of the galactic conflict. It would have included a Padawan Learner named Ashla, and her Jedi Master on assignment with the crew, working to aid the war effort by dealing with arms dealers and crime bosses like the Hutt clan. It would have occasionally brought the pair back to the frontlines to defend the Republic.

Concept by Dave Filoni

But before the idea came to fruition, George Lucas stepped in, offering a guiding hand to bring Anakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi back into the spotlight to explore the heat of the battle with characters that already had a foothold in the war. Ashla became Anakin’s Padawan, Ahsoka. And the rest is history.

Concept by Dave Filoni

In the decade since her introduction in the theatrical release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Ahsoka Tano has grown up before our eyes. The scrappy Togruta, nicknamed “Snips” by her master, bounded onscreen with fresh energy and optimism that Anakin was sorely lacking. She was fearless and brave, with a brashness that shined through whether she was questioning her elders or dueling with General Grievous. She was also badly in need of some guidance to turn her Jedi Temple training into a real-world benefit to the war effort and calm her reckless ways. Her species sometimes got her mistaken for a servant girl, but Ahsoka was far from subservient and quick to ignite her lightsaber and leap into the fray.

Early maquette by Darren Marshall

Maquette facial detail by Darren Marshall

Behind-the-scenes, the shaping of her physical character literally included softening some of her rough edges. In an early design by Darren Marshall, Ahsoka had a mature, defined bone structure and angular features. The character ultimately debuted as a teenager with a more youthful appearance, but Lucas had already nixed the earlier version amid concerns over her larger alien head.

Concept by Dave Filoni

The maker also weighed in on her costume. Filoni originally dressed the Togruta he called Ashla in a long, pleated skirt. As she morphed into the Ahsoka we now know, her physical appearance and sense of fashion started to shift; we can thank Lucas himself for giving the nimble Padawan that shorter skirt and tube top. During the three years of design work leading to her debut, Ahsoka tried on different costumes and facial markings, including some influenced by San in Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke.

Concept by Dave Filoni

Filoni once described Ahsoka as “looking back at what was, looking forward at what might be.” In the creation of her story, Filoni sketched a tentative meeting between a very young Ahsoka and Jedi Master Plo Koon, who rescued her from her home planet of Shili after encountering the Force-sensitive baby. His affection for her remained for years to come, including the nickname “Little ‘Soka.” Among Star Wars fans, she grew to be a favorite character amid the new additions in the animated series.

Concept by Dave Filoni

With the right training, Ahsoka quickly proved to be a formidable warrior, with a combination of graceful acrobatic moves, a distinct reverse grip on her two lightsabers, and with a personality that struck a balance between Anakin’s brashness and Obi-Wan’s measured judgment. Padawan and Master learned to work together, forming a mutual respect and trust. Ahsoka grew and matured, from the 14-year-old new Padawan to someone who was older, wiser, and entrusted to teach and guide younglings. Through the trials on Mortis and when Ahsoka was framed for the bombing at the Jedi Temple — and later murder — Anakin was on her side, despite her expulsion from the Jedi Order. The charges were ultimately dismissed, but her faith was shaken. When the council offered to allow her back into the fold, she made the difficult and courageous decision to instead walk away.

All lighting concept designs by Chris Voy

She eventually joined the Rebel Alliance, in a triumphant and surprising return to the screen with a design that Filoni has called his favorite. Forging her own path in Star Wars Rebels, reborn from the wreckage of the Jedi’s betrayal, Ahsoka became a guiding force for the next generation of heroes in need of hope, a warrior with blinding white lightsabers and no affiliation to the Jedi or Sith. She is no Jedi. And perhaps she is stronger because of it.

“I hope through Ahsoka we showed fans that the universe has many possibilities,” Filoni has said. “We had her wielding a lightsaber and going toe-to-toe with the big baddies of the galaxy years ago. I like to think that Ahsoka paved the way for a character like Rey [in The Force Awakens].”

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you love most about Star Wars!

5 Insights from Artist Yusaku Komiyama on Creating the Lost Stars Manga Adaptation

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 10:00

For many fans, Claudia Gray’s 2015 Young Adult novel Lost Stars remains a favorite among the works collected on their Star Wars bookshelf. It’s the story of Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, two childhood friends who enroll in the Imperial Academy — and what happens when one defects to the Rebellion. As such, Lost Stars captures the feel of classic Star Wars, but with new complexities; in focusing on these new characters in the timeframe of the original trilogy, it shows the personal, moral, and cultural strains that result from the Empire’s tyranny, as well as the cost of fighting back.

If you love Lost Stars, or have been wanting to give it a try, there’s some very good news: Lucasfilm and Yen Press recently released a manga adaptation of Lost Stars, originally published digitally on the LINE app in Japan. Illustrated and adapted by Yusaku Komiyama, it’s beautiful. Komiyama’s art bristles with energy, from her zooming starfighters to Ciena’s laser-focused eyes. The quiet and emotional moments, however, linger with room to breathe, like Thane’s thunderbolt-struck first sight of Ciena in their younger years. As a whole, it’s an entirely new way to experience Lost Stars, and a rewarding one. StarWars.com had the chance to speak with Komiyama during a visit to Lucasfilm in San Francisco, discussing her approach to adapting Lost Stars, illustrating Thane and Ciena as well as Star Wars legends, and the unique perspectives of the book’s story. Here are five insights from the Japan-based artist and writer.

Spoiler warning: This article discusses plot points and details from Lost Stars.

1. Yusaku Komiyama is a recent convert to a galaxy far, far away. Reading her adaptation of Lost Stars, with its impeccable X-wings and detailed Darth Vader suit, you might think Komiyama has been studying Star Wars for years. Not so. “Up until a year before I started drawing the manga, I had not seen the films,” she tells StarWars.com. “I started watching the films and I instantly became a fan. I became an addict.”

2. The manga features some familiar faces. And there’s a reason. In the Lost Stars novel, classic characters like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker are not heavily featured. But Komiyama wanted to use the manga form — meaning sequential, visual storytelling — to its fullest, and pulled in Star Wars icons where she could. “The idea was that Star Wars fans would like to see more of these legendary characters, so I wanted to use them as much as possible.”

3. Bringing Lost Stars into the manga form felt natural for Komiyama. There have been other Star Wars manga adaptations in the past (and you should really check them out), but converting a novel into the Japanese comic-book style was a new venture. And it made sense to the artist handling the project. “Star Wars, the story itself, is very close to the Japanese boy’s shonen manga format,” Komiyama says. “I feel that the films adapt very well to manga. There’s characters like R2-D2 and Vader, and these are really solid characters. If you see them once, they’re really memorable, and that fits really well with the manga format.”

4. This is Komiyama’s favorite illustration in the manga. A powerful image toward the end of the book, the artist shows the destruction of Alderaan from a ground, and very human, level. “There are some things that are not in the films. I really enjoyed drawing this section, because it shows the destruction of Alderaan from the viewpoint of Alderaan. Star Wars is a very enjoyable series, but essentially, it’s a series about battles and war. So I enjoyed being able to create a scene which showed some of the helplessness and the despair that goes along with war.”

5. The different points of view within Lost Stars appealed to Komiyama as a storyteller. In framing this very personal story between two friends in the larger story of the Rebellion versus the Empire, Komiyama found the story to be a unique one in Star Wars. “It unfolds from the perspective of the rebels, and then the Empire, and then the two characters and their struggles within that context,” she says. “I found that really interesting.”

The Lost Stars manga adaptation is available now.

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Tooka Dolls, T-16s and More Toys in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Fri, 08/10/2018 - 08:00

We all had our favorite toys growing up, including a few that let us create our own Star Wars adventures: figures and dolls, toy blasters and lightsabers, model ships and games of all kinds. But what do the children in the galaxy far, far away do during playtime? Kids are kids, no matter what galaxy they’re in, and they’ve got their own toys, from homemade to mass-produced. Here’s a closer look at some of the toys and games for children that we’ve seen in Star Wars:

Luke’s T-16 skyhopper model

Before he was flying an X-wing, Luke used to love flying his T-16 skyhopper around Tatooine with Biggs. He also liked to play at flying indoors with his model T-16, as seen in his hands in A New Hope. Did he build it himself or did it come pre-assembled? Was it from a kit? Did it have lights and sounds or carry a pilot figure? Or did Luke just go “vroom-vroom” with it as he pretended to dive through Beggar’s Canyon in search of imaginary womp rats.

Boba Fett’s airspeeder model toy

Future Jedi play with toys, and so do future bounty hunters. Young Boba Fett kept a toy model of an airspeeder in his quarters in Tipoca City on Kamino. With air scoops on the sides, and vanes on the front, the toy looked built for speed. Maybe when he wasn’t learning from his father or Taun We, little Boba raced down the corridors, imagining himself chasing some scoundrel.

Tooka dolls

With tooka dolls appearing in Star Wars all over the galaxy, it’s likely that a stuffed or plush representation of a tooka is the equivalent to the teddy bear here in our world. First appearing in the episode “Innocents of Ryloth” in Star Wars: The Clone Wars as a toy found by the clone trooper Waxer, and returned to the young Twi’lek Numa, tooka dolls represented a creature not seen until much later in the fur. In addition to a few more appearances in the series, tooka dolls of all shapes and color continued their cute cameos, appearing in the episode “Future of the Force” of Star Wars Rebels as the toy of the Force-sensitive Ithorian baby Pypey, and eventually showing up in Rogue One. On the Erso homestead on Lah’mu, young Jyn owned two tooka dolls — one named “Starrie” and a more feline-looking one named “Koodie.” But tookas aren’t the only critters to be immortalized as toys in Star Wars — Jyn Erso also has a stuffed snow lizard named “Tinta,” “Sniksnak” the shaak, and an adorable white furry creature named “Abommy the Gig.”

Homemade dolls

When there’s no other kids around, sometimes you just have to make your own friends out of whatever material you can find. In The Force Awakens, we get a glimpse of a doll in Rey’s AT-AT home, a Rebel pilot made using found orange fabric. In her home on Lah’mu, Jyn Erso had quite a few homemade dolls as well, including the blue-furred “Lucky Hazz Obloobitt,” the scary-faced “Bad Mister Goob” and “Stormie” the stormtrooper. In another time, would Rey have her pilot battle Jyn’s stormtrooper? Or would they have gotten along and run a tooka ranch together?

Ball games

Quite a few kids play different kinds of ball games. As a child in Mos Espa, Anakin Skywalker kept some Noeu sphere racquets on the floor by his bed in his room. Hopefully he also had a Noeu sphere too – or a homemade equivalent. Did he play with his mom or did he play with his friends? Some of his fellow children in the slave quarters also liked to play ball – Seek mentions it as an alternative activity to watching Anakin work on his podracer in The Phantom Menace.

Dress up

In our world, kids play different roles by dressing up as princesses or pirates, police or superheroes, or Rey or Darth Vader. But in the galaxy far, far away, parts of real military uniforms might end up scavenged by children for their own imaginative storytelling. Rey salvaged a rebel flight helmet, letting her dream of piloting her own ship in the stars, while Ezra Bridger had a collection of Imperial buckets, though more as trophies of his own troublemaking against the Empire.

James Floyd is a writer, photographer, and organizer of puzzle adventures. He’s a bit tall for a Jawa. You can follow him on Twitter at @jamesjawa or check out his articles on Club Jade and Big Shiny Robot.

The Clone Wars Rewatch: Meet Ahsoka Tano in the Theatrical Release (Part 1 of 3)

Thu, 08/09/2018 - 08:00

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the all-new episodes coming thanks to #CloneWarsSaved, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.

Ten years ago, Star Wars fans flocked to movie theaters for the release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a feature-length spectacle that ushered in the animated series. Starting today, we’ll break down the film into three acts, deconstructing the introduction of Ahsoka Tano, the Battle of Teth, and the unraveling of the nefarious Huttlet kidnapping plot.

Synopsis:

While Anakin and Obi-Wan continue to fight on the frontlines in the Battle of Christophsis, the Jedi Council receives an urgent message requesting their help in the kidnapping of Jabba the Hutt’s son, Rotta. With communication cut off, the council’s new orders are delivered by a spunky surprise visitor — a new Padawan for Anakin, Ahsoka Tano.

Analysis: 

It’s fascinating to watch Ahsoka’s introduction now, knowing the trials and heartbreak ahead for the scrappy and strong-willed Togruta teen. The war will test the bonds of master and learner; Ahsoka will ultimately earn Anakin’s trust and grow into a more even-keeled yet passionate version of her teacher. She’ll lose her faith in the Jedi Order and determine her own path. And far in the future, after she is no longer a follower of the Jedi ways, she will have to face what her master becomes, clashing sabers on Malachor with Darth Vader. But today, we focus on the character’s beginnings, plunging straight into the havoc of a ground battle under the tutelage of Anakin Skywalker.

Part of what makes Ahsoka so refreshing is her bright-eyed response to the world. Instead of cowering in fear, she practically bounces off the ship upon arrival, eager for experiences that go beyond her temple training. She is so much like Anakin — indelicate, over-eager, maybe a little arrogant — and yet she will grow beyond him into a calm and measured warrior more akin to Obi-Wan.

It’s no surprise that Anakin isn’t interested in being a teacher. Brought to the Jedi ways too old to be properly indoctrinated, he’s long been resistant to the rules that govern him. He forms attachments, flouts the teachings, and often disregards direct orders (albeit with successful results.) But Yoda is a wise and patient teacher. He hopes that by giving Anakin a student to care for, the unorthodox General Skywalker may learn to let go when Ahsoka ultimately becomes a Jedi Knight in her own right.

Anakin is reckless, bold, full of a fighter’s bravado. He believes, foolishly, that a Padawan would just slow him down and he misjudges Ahsoka from the start by sizing her up by her age. At 14, she is a little young to be a Padawan — it’s true. She’s energetic and exuberant, ready to charge montrals-first into battle to gain much-needed experience. Basically, she mirrors all of his most exasperating traits back at him, forcing him to take a more measured approach. Ahsoka immediately begins to challenge him in ways that test his patience and ultimately make him a better Jedi, a more cunning warrior, and a slightly more patient person. (Maybe.) She’s the perfect foil for his own impetuousness, so often on display at a time when he is living a double life as sworn Jedi protector and secret husband. Their relationship, as much as his marriage to Padmé and his growing allegiance to Palpatine, helps to explain how Anakin goes from being the young man we meet in Attack of the Clones to the dark warrior of Revenge of the Sith.

As she so succinctly puts it, “You’re stuck with me, Skyguy.”

Which brings us to the other important relationship formed on-screen here: Ahsoka’s long and beautiful friendship with Captain Rex, far lighter than the contentious partnership between Jedi and Padawan. They may be in the heat of battle, but her quip and new nickname for Anakin, at once a show of her fearlessness and youth, earns a belly laugh from Rex while incensing Anakin, which is really a win-win.

Ahsoka is, to be fair, still a little rough around the edges, but in their first real battle together, she and Anakin begin to form a partnership, learning to trust each other as they’re both brought down to the same level — scuttling around beneath a piece of debris, essentially sneaking behind enemy lines disguised as…garbage. The plan has a cartoonish humor to it, but is ultimately effective in disabling the Separatist army’s mobile shield, while General Kenobi makes a very civilized ploy to surrender to General Loathsom, complete with what I can only assume in the galactic version of a proper cup of tea.

The opening act’s focus on Christophsis gives us a moment to reflect on the devastation of the war and its impact on the clone cadets, cut down on the battlefield while facing a seemingly endless and monotonous barrage of stoic battle droids, leaving the gleaming, crystal world around them in ruins. “This is a dark day for the Republic,” Jedi Master Mace Windu says.

But there is hope in the galaxy. With training and patience — and experience, which outranks everything — Ahsoka will amount to something more than she seems at first blush.

Intel:

  • The Lucasfilm logo onscreen at the beginning has an eerie soundtrack — the urgent sound of clone trooper chatter mid-battle.
  • Christophsis was one of two new planets developed for the animated feature film, which follows the format of three distinct episodes from the series and completes the arc featuring the crystalline planet.
  • We also get our first look at the jungle planet of Teth, with a hidden monastery that was inspired by Ralph McQuarrie’s early concepts for Jabba’s Palace.

What did you think? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!

Next up: With the Battle of Christophsis finally won, come back Tuesday as we delve into the rescue of Rotta in the second part of our rewatch of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars theatrical release.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.

Fantasy Flight Games Hits Lightspeed with X-Wing Second Edition

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 14:44

X-wings. Versus TIE fighters. Over the surface of the Death Star.

There’s a reason those words conjure distinct images and feelings in Star Wars fans. The speed, the feel, and the drama of the climax of A New Hope is something that changed movies and wowed a generation. It became a blueprint for Star Wars space battles moving forward and, for many fans, is the dream of Star Wars: piloting your own ship in a dogfight. It sounds simple, but it means so much. That’s the magic of Fantasy Flight Games’ tabletop X-Wing game, which debuted in 2012 and gets a significant revamp on September 13 with the release of X-Wing Second Edition.

X-Wing has been our most successful game line ever,” Steve Horvath, chief marketing officer of Fantasy Flight Games, tells StarWars.com. “Played by literally millions of people around the world. It’s been out now for six years. Time for a refresh.” But to borrow and Star Wars-ify an old phrase, “If the starfighter ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” So why the update?

In X-Wing, players employ (beautiful, display-them-in-your-office worthy) miniature models of Star Wars fighters and craft to battle it out on a game board, using cards to dictate movements and abilities. Well, despite the popularity of X-Wing, Fantasy Flight Games felt there was room for improvement, or at least, refinement. The designers examined fan feedback, learnings from tournaments, and their own wants out of the title, pouring all of it into a new iteration. The physical act of flying ships has a new emphasis, first and foremost. Flow and interactions have been tweaked. The Force plays a bigger part in the game. There are now actions that induce stress, upgrades with a limited number of “charges,” and the ability to repair damage to your ships. There’s even a new squad builder app that allows for easier organization of squads and collections. So, X-Wing Second Edition has some special modifications, indeed.

“I just think it makes it better than ever,” Horvath says. “If you’ve been playing the game for a long time, it streamlines it but adds depth to it in new ways. And it really refocuses the game on what the heart and soul of it always was, which is maneuvering starfighters and trying to outmaneuver your opponent, and blowing them into, like I say, space dust. The game drifted away from that for awhile, and Second Edition really gets back to what made X-Wing great to begin with. You can really feel it when you play it.”

And if you’ve never played it but want to, there’s more good news.

It’s easier than ever to jump onboard with X-Wing, Horvath says. The game has always had a broad appeal, attracting everyone from kids — Horvath mentions a letter from a mom saying that X-Wing is “the first game that my seven- and nine-year-old can play together and not fight” — to older hardcore Star Wars and tabletop gaming fans. But as X-Wing evolved, it got more complicated, making it less easy to jump into the proverbial cockpit. With its rebirth through Second Edition, including the support of the app, newcomers are essentially guided into the game, while those looking for a deeper experience will still find it. Squad cards, a new addition, are an example of this; if you’re brand new to X-Wing and find that building a squad is intimidating, you can use the included squad card to just play. As you get better and develop skill, you can move onto developing your own squads and strategizing.

“What Second Edition has done is, it’s made it easier to enjoy the game that you want to play,” Horvath says. “If you want to play a more straightforward, more straight-up version of the game, that’s very easy to do now. If you really want to dive into it and really go deep, there’s a clear path for that now, as well.”

But when it comes down to it, Star Wars space battles are essentially about the starfighters and ships. And X-Wing Second Edition‘s craft — its game pieces — have also improved on their predecessors. One new feature that made this writer exclaim, Whoa, cool!: the S-foils on X-wings can now be moved into attack position. “I can’t tell you how much excitement there was in the office when the first prototype came back from the factory,” Horvath says. Plus, there are rules in the game that go with it. If the S-foils are closed, your X-wing can do certain things that it can’t with them open, and vice versa. So brush up on your piloting skills and strategy — and yes, get ready to say Lock S-foils in attack position, which is sure to be a delight for your opponents.

Finally, X-Wing Second Edition is incorporating yet another major addition, and it involves clones and clankers. To put it simply: Begun, the Clone War has, in X-Wing Second Edition. For the first time, the prequel and Clone Wars era is coming to the game, including Separatist and Old Republic ships. “We’re super-excited about that,” Horvath says with a big smile. (And not a moment too soon, considering the recent announcement that the beloved Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series is returning. You can see official art for Darth Maul’s Sith Infiltrator and a Jedi Starfighter below, along with first looks at the miniatures themselves.) The addition of Clone Wars content coincides with a gameplay shift into factions; unlike the previous version of X-Wing, the Republic, Rebel Alliance, and Resistance will all play uniquely, as will the Separatists, Galactic Empire, and First Order.

Fantasy Flight Games has poured a lot of love — and 18 months of research, design, and testing — into X-Wing Second Edition. Based on everything added to the game, and its strong tenets kept from the original, it promises to be a truly special release.”It’s immersing you even deeper in the lore,” Horvath says. “And giving you an even more authentic experience.” Clear your tables, pick a side, and let’s play.

See more of X-Wing Second Edition in this week’s installment of The Star Wars Show below!

Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.

Star Wars Fan Awards Pro Tips: Advice for Aspiring Filmmakers from Ian Bucknole

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 11:40

You may recognize him from his uncredited star turn as “Zookeeper #1” on the 100th episode of The Star Wars Show, but Lucasfilm’s Ian Bucknole is also an accomplished filmmaker.

Bucknole is part of the crew that gathers behind-the-scenes extras and footage to take fans on set and into the heads of their favorite Star Wars directors, actors, and creators, most recently for Solo: A Star Wars Story. “It’s almost like I make fan films for a living,” he says. The Cornwall, UK, native also spent about a decade making short films and directing music videos before he joined the Lucasfilm video team. So we asked Bucknole to give some advice to aspiring directors entering this year’s Star Wars Fan Awards filmmaking categories.

Here are Bucknole’s top 4 tips and tricks for getting the job done right:

1. Do or do not… but have a plan!

No matter the scope of the project, big-budget blockbuster or small indie flick, you’ll need to put together a crew to make your dream a reality, Bucknole says. “How far would Luke have made it without his friends to help him out?” he asks. And a polished script is an essential blueprint to help your crew understand the story you’re telling in the broader sense and what needs to be captured on camera on each day of the shoot. “Your shooting day is only so long and people are volunteering their time to make your movie — so have a plan,” Bucknole says. Look up your favorite script online (it’s Star Wars, we know) and format accordingly. You can even take it to the next level and craft storyboards, rough sketches to communicate the exact camera angle of each shot. “Do not worry about your drawing ability! Crude stick figures and arrows can communicate your idea perfectly well,” he says. And stay on target with a schedule. “A shooting schedule is your secret weapon on set. Try and plan out the day as best you can, allowing more time for trickier setups or stunts.”

2. Tech isn’t everything.

Sure, it may seem cool to have state-of-the-art video equipment, “but you can achieve impressive results with your cell phone camera,” Bucknole says. That’s right. The pocket-sized device you use to scroll through social media and send text messages is also a tool of the filmmaking trade. Just make sure you’re shooting after you turn your phone sideways to landscape mode.

“Movies shot on phones have been successful at major film festivals and the box office,” Bucknole notes. Avoid shaky visuals by investing in a budget stabilizer for smooth tracking shots or a basic tripod. Save your friends and viewers from amateur audio by picking up an external microphone and a furry windshield for shooting outdoors. “Nothing’s worse than a beautiful image accompanied by shoddy, tinny sound,” Bucknole says.

3. Story is key.

“When we think of Star Wars, we often think of epic space battles and explosions, but some of the most iconic Star Wars moments are just two characters talking to each other, about their hopes and fears; their place in the galaxy, the Force, or… sand,” Bucknole says. Characters are the heart of the Star Wars galaxy, and they should be the living, breathing center of your movie, too. “Your project should be driven by your personality and imagination, but don’t go so overboard with the scale,” Bucknole warns. Just like with powerful Jedi, size matters not. “Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. Can you make your idea small but compelling? Imagine a desert or forest at night: what if a Jedi Knight had to share a campfire with a Bounty Hunter?”

4. And…cut! 

When the last scene is shot, the work has really only just begun. “Editing is where the movie really takes shape and it gives you an opportunity to improve or even reinvent what you shot,” Bucknole says. And just like with that powerful smartphone camera, there are lots of incredible apps on the market today that turn your tablet or phone into an editing booth. “Look up the work of some of the greats online: Ben Burtt, Walter Murch and Marcia Lucas and see how their post-production work added a whole other dimension to the movies you know and love.”

Come back this afternoon for more advice from Bucknole on this week’s episode of The Star Wars Show!

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Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Do you know a fan who’s most impressive? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver all about them!

The Galaxy in Comics: Doctor Aphra #22 Balances Levity and Darkness

Wed, 08/08/2018 - 08:00

The Galaxy in Comics is a deep dive into the events and themes of one recent Star Wars comic. In this installment, StarWars.com checks out Doctor Aphra #22.

Spoiler warning: This story contains details and plot points from Doctor Aphra #22.

At first glance, Doctor Aphra appears to be a relatively light-hearted comic book about a rogue archaeologist who keeps getting into trouble and somehow getting out of it again. And don’t get us wrong: the book certainly has its fair share of laughs. But beneath the obvious humor of Aphra’s mess of a life is a far darker undercurrent. After all, this is a woman who willingly worked for Darth Vader. This is a woman who does what she has to do to survive even when it includes sacrificing others. This is a woman who shares a lot of similarities with a homicidal droid (even if she’s been lying to herself about it). And that’s not even taking into account everything that happens around her. The contrast between levity and darkness has never been more apparent than within the pages of Doctor Aphra #22, an issue which has you giggling one page, recoiling in horror the next, and then laughing again a few pages later.

While each arc tells its own distinct story, the series has been building up so that Doctor Aphra #22 reinforces that Aphra can’t escape the consequences of her actions. She may not realize it yet, but being in an Imperial prison hasn’t actually granted her a reprieve from the side effects of her time working for Triple-Zero. The bounty hunter Tam Posla still wants revenge for what she did to his partner Caysin Bog, and General Hera Syndulla really wants to get her hands on the archaeologist. Meanwhile, Triple-Zero continues to monitor communications for any news of Aphra.

Still, the most dangerous threat lingering over Aphra’s head is the possibility of Darth Vader learning that she’s still alive. No matter how hard you try, you can’t outrun your past forever. It’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down. Her philosophy of “get rich and survive now, deal with the fallout later” can only continue for so long.

All of this helps make it fairly obvious that Doctor Aphra’s not really a good person and she’d probably tell you as much herself. Tam Posla deemed her an “insane deviant” and compared her to Dr. Cornelius Evazan (who absolutely fits that description).  Even Tolvan called her an “evil idiot” in the same breath as saying she loved her. These descriptions may not be entirely accurate, but good people probably don’t tell someone they care about a secret that could get them killed. And then they definitely don’t get distracted in the middle of being rescued because they see a chance for profit. Aphra does both. Ultimately, she tells her interrogators there’s an infectious colony of hookspores in the jail in order to save her own hide… even though it’s potentially doomed everyone. It’s lying with the truth.

As horrifying as it might be, it’s a good thing that writer Si Spurrier doesn’t shy away from the savagery of Mairan-assisted interrogation. Like Bor Gullet in Rogue One, Bor Ifriem digging through Aphra’s mind is a violation of her very being, painfully yanking memories out of her brain for review, or to rewrite them or remove them entirely. Past experiences inform who we are and what kind of person we become and Aphra is no different. Who would she be without the memories of what she’s done or the crucial people in her past? Speaking of her part, Doctor Aphra #22 puts a curious amount of emphasis on Aphra’s mother, Lona. Up until now, we’ve rarely heard about her outside of Aphra’s conversations with her father. In this issue, the officer leading the interrogation specifically threatens to “change her into a devil” within Aphra’s memories.

On a lighter note, Doctor Aphra balances these painful moments with humor. Maybe having “Captain Snuggles” Tolvan and Sana “the ex-girlfriend” Starros unexpectedly meet is a nightmare for Aphra, but it’s a much-needed moment of levity in an otherwise heavy story. Kev Walker’s art perfectly illustrates the trio’s surprised reactions to the revelation in a way that words alone can’t quite capture. And I think Lopset speaks for all of us here: “Awkward.”

That’s the fun thing about Aphra; these are the sorts of stories you can only tell with a character like her. We’re used to examining right and wrong within our Star Wars stories and having our good guys and bad guys. And Aphra is neither.

Bria LaVorgna is a writer who doesn’t remember a time when she didn’t love Star Wars. She also really loves Alderaan, Doctor Aphra, and Inferno Squad. You can follow her on Twitter @chaosbria.

The Clone Wars Rewatch: A Betrayal of Brothers in “The Hidden Enemy”

Tue, 08/07/2018 - 10:00

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and the all-new episodes coming thanks to #CloneWarsSaved, we’re undertaking a full chronological rewatch of the five original seasons, The Lost Missions, and the theatrical release. We’d be honored if you would join us and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.

2: “The Hidden Enemy” (Season One, Episode 16)

“Truth enlightens the mind, but won’t always bring happiness to your heart.”

Synopsis:

As Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi lead Republic forces on Christophsis, their troops are ambushed and forced to retreat. Soon, it becomes clear that there’s a traitor among them, a spy giving Separatists information on the Republic’s every move.

Analysis:

The more you consider the implications and nuances at play in this episode, the more it feels like a punch to the gut. The betrayal of a clone soldier serves as a haunting bit of foreshadowing for the future Order 66, when the activation of the inhibitor chip would strip the clones of their free will and turn them into mindless Jedi murderers.

For the clones, a turncoat is a deeply personal betrayal. Bred on Kamino as part of a Republic-backed program to raise and train an army, they seem interchangeable, genetically identical in every way. Their trust in each other should be unquestioning, as easily given as learning to trust themselves. And yet…it’s clear that they’re seeking their own identity in the sea of indistinguishable faces staring back at them. Although the clone army existed on film first, the series gave the troopers the chance to shine as individuals with unique personalities, haircuts, and traits that led them to personalize everything from their armor to their gunships. They’re brothers in arms. Soldiers. But they’re also human. And among the ranks, something is pushing a few good men beyond the desire for individuality and onto a far darker path, one that breeds deception, inviting everything from the clandestine removal of droid fingers as trophies or the even more unforgivable crime of selling out their own side to the Separatists.

As Captain Rex and Commander Cody race to catch the traitor, the chase leads them to the mess hall and a daunting conclusion. “The only people in here…are brothers.” It’s hard for them to comprehend that a fellow clone could do such a thing. And yet, how quickly they begin to turn on each other, interrogating suspects and picking apart alibis, the investigation expertly severing bonds and eroding their trust from the inside out like a virus spreading. If the Separatists hoped to weaken their enemy, this psychological warfare will do far more damage than blades or blasters. An operative willing to limit his own army by taking out the weapons depot doesn’t hurt, either. Slick’s methods and training leave his fellow soldiers flailing. How do you fight an enemy who knows every move you’ll make before you make it?

Slick is unquestioningly duplicitous, but from the words his brothers use to describe him, he’s been a by-the-book leader up to this point. He’s followed orders, obeyed commands, all while watching his fellow clone troopers be treated as expendable, easily replaced casualties of a war led by the Jedi overlords he feels are enslaving his people. Born to fight — to die, really, —  a number in an army where everyone has the same face, the same voice, he sought to be free, assert his personal agency. When he takes matters into his own hands, he thinks he’s doing the right thing for all clone kind, yet another moment where Star Wars invites us to consider, if just for a moment, how right and wrong can drastically shift from a certain point of view.

Slick’s betrayal invites comparison to another, more willing, participant in Order 66 — Darth Vader. As Anakin turns, the good man he was ceases to exist and is replaced by a murderous Sith Lord who would cut down his brothers in the Jedi Order (and the younglings, too). Slick’s betrayal is unthinkable to his clone brothers, just as Anakin’s turn to evil stuns his brother Obi-Wan. And while Slick believes he’s sold his brothers out for freedom; Anakin turns, ostensibly, to save the person he loves most in the galaxy.

Watching in chronological order, the episode also gives us the first of many gravity-defying lightsaber duels. Here, we meet the assassin Ventress, prowling around taunting and teasing Obi-Wan as she spars with not one, but two lightsaber-wielding Jedi. “So hard to know who to trust these days, isn’t it?” she purrs. “Poor Obi-Wan. You’ve been betrayed.” If you’re watching for the first time, you will have only just met this mysterious and multifaceted character, but she is undoubtedly one of my favorites from the show. Over time, she will prove that despite her unconventionally wicked appearance and sassy retorts, she’s one of the most complex characters in the series and one who suffers her own heartbreak at the hands of a master.

But for now, the fight rages on…with about a thousand battle droids on their way to the Battle of Christophsis!

Intel:

  • Originally, Sergeant Slick was going to have red hair, but the character was rendered with the standard clone coloration. Ultimately, the choice helps him blend in rather than stand out as obviously uncommon, making the reveal more of a surprise.
  • If the music during the clone brawl fight scene sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a variation of the speeder chase composition in Attack of the Clones.

What did you think of the episode? Tell us in the comments below and share on social with #CloneWarsRewatch!

Next up: Come back Thursday as we meet Ahsoka Tano and discuss the beginning of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars theatrical release.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer and all-around sci-fi nerd who always has just one more question in an inexhaustible list of curiosities. Sometimes she blurts out “It’s a trap!” even when it’s not. Want to talk more about The Clone Wars? Hop on Twitter and tell @KristinBaver what you thought about today’s episode.

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