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The Clone Wars Rewatch: The War Ends in “Victory and Death”

Thu, 03/11/2021 - 08:00

To celebrate the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+, 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 for the weekly #CloneWarsRewatch — you can watch this week’s episode on Disney+ now — and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.

133: “Victory and Death” (Season Seven, Episode 12)

Synopsis:

In the wake of Order 66, Ahsoka and Rex must work together to survive.

Analysis:

What does it mean to let go? At different points in her life, it’s a Jedi teaching that has surely meant different things to Ahsoka Tano.

In her youth, perhaps it meant allowing herself to conform to the Jedi Order, letting go of her attachments to her family, her homeworld, and some of her individuality to absorb the practices of the Force users during her upbringing at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.

During her apprenticeship to Anakin Skywalker, she let go of her expectations for what a Jedi could and should be, and learned to embrace the nuance of right and wrong that came with the responsibility of leading soldiers in a war that was exceedingly more muddied as the years dragged on. She learned to let go of her ego and listen to her master, yet in equal measure she learned to speak up and stand up for herself, both valuable skills.

She learned to let go of the Jedi Order when she was confronted with the reality that the Republic and the bastions of peace and justice in the galaxy were corrupted and rotting at the core. Truth be told, the Jedi let go of Ahsoka first, but when they invited her back, she let go of everything she had known on Coruscant, her future there, and her place among the Jedi to forge her own path.

At each turn, she became stronger, more self-possessed, and more in tune with the Force and her place in the galaxy. She upheld the values of the Jedi even when the Order crumbled and she no longer stood among their storied ranks. Ahsoka let go of everything she feared to lose and became stronger for it.

But here, Ahsoka must let go once more. With the effects of Order 66 rippling through the Republic, and Ahsoka and her dear friend Captain Rex marked as traitors, they find themselves in a position not unlike Ahsoka faced in the bombing of the Jedi Temple. This time, at least, she’s not alone. And she no longer feels compelled to prove her innocence, or her worth, to anyone.

Ahsoka refuses to murder the newly-brainwashed clones to save her own life. “They may be willing to die, but I am not the one who is going to kill them.” Ahsoka says to Rex, who uses his helmet to hide the tears in his eyes as he recognizes he will have to fight through a battalion of his brothers if he, too, wants to escape and survive.

Maul, although intended to be a distraction to aid their escape, is pure chaos. His destruction of the ship’s hyperdrive consigns everyone aboard to death. In the last instant, he snags the shuttle that should ferry Ahsoka and Rex to safety, and he does so with impunity.

There is a moment where Maul is still within Ahsoka’s grasp. She has worked so hard to capture rather than kill him, and she has worked so hard to flee rather than murder the clones calling her traitor. She is holding on through the Force, yet being dragged by the sheer effort. And only when she realizes that Rex needs her help to fend off the attacking clones does Ahsoka let go.

She lets go of the shuttle through the Force. She lets go of her hopes of escaping on the ship. She lets go of whatever justice may have been meted out with the delivery of Maul. She lets go of her triumph in bringing him in. She lets go of the Republic and whatever path may have led her back to be accepted among the Jedi.

But she doesn’t let go of her friend, Rex, or her will to survive. Hurtling through the debris as the Republic cruiser is sucked into the moon’s gravitational pull, sending all aboard plummeting to their deaths, Ahsoka finds something to hold onto and climbs to safety inside the Y-wing.

Ahsoka and Rex bury their dead. They mourn the toll of the war and their brothers lost to a cause no one fighting could truly understand. And Ahsoka lets go of one final piece of her identity as a commander in the conflict. She lets her lightsaber fall to the ground, left behind among the helmets marking the graves of the men who died in the final throes of the war.

The Clone War is over. The time of the Empire has begun.

Intel:

  • The final scene of the series is an epilogue and the first time we see Darth Vader in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animation style.

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

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Watch all of your favorite Star Wars movies and series on Disney+.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer, host of This Week! In Star Wars, 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 the series.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog, #CloneWarsRewatch

Beilert Valance has a Heart in Marvel’s Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #10 – Exclusive Preview

Wed, 03/10/2021 - 08:00

“Oh, poodoo!”

Even with Dengar joining forces with the Ohnaka Pirate Gang, the Weequay scoundrels are no match for Beilert Valance. Thanks to Han Solo, the cybernetic bounty hunter is now determined to help aid the crew of the rebel transport, even if it means risking his own life and limb in the process. Find out more in StarWars.com’s exclusive first look at the comic below.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #10, from writer Ethan Sacks and artist Paolo Villanelli, with a cover by Mattia de Iulis, arrives March 17 and is available for pre-order now on Comixology and at your local comic shop.

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20 of the Star Wars Galaxy’s Greatest Droids

Tue, 03/09/2021 - 08:00

Whether they are your best buddy, healing you from a wampa attack, or a bounty hunter on your trail, droids have played important parts of nearly every Star Wars story. And since droids are so important to the galaxy far, far away, it’s always a good time to celebrate these versatile mechanical beings. As such, here are 20 of the most memorable droids in Star Wars.

1. C-3PO

If you’re a Star Wars fan, the chances you haven’t heard of C-3PO are approximately 3,720 to 1. His crewmates might be tempted to shut him up or shut him down from time to time, but Threepio’s protocol and translation skills come in handy more than some people may care to admit.

2. R2-D2

R2-D2’s memory bank holds countless tales of heroics and tragedy from the Clone Wars, the Rebellion, and the Resistance. Never has a beep or a boop had as much character or meaning as when it comes from the most famous astromech droid in Star Wars. R2-D2 is always there for his masters when they need a holo transmission, a map, or a lightsaber.

3. R5-D4

Speaking of astromech droids, R5-D4 helped bring C-3PO and R2-D2 together on Tatooine in Star Wars: A New Hope when his motivator blew outside the Lars homestead. While he is mostly remembered for this brief bit of screen time and his action figure, Arfive’s story continued in “The Red One” from the anthology From a Certain Point of View, and can be seen in Peli Motto’s hangar in a few episodes of The Mandalorian.

4. AP-5

AP-5, an Imperial inventory droid who defected to the Rebellion in Star Wars Rebels, is memorable for both his grumpiness and his…singing. Fun facts: A fan favorite, AP-5’s voice performance by Stephen Stanton was inspired by fellow actor Alan Rickman. Also, his name comes from Rebels producer Athena Yvette Portillo.

5. BD-1

Arguably the best buddy droid in Star Wars, BD-1 is Cal Ketsis’ helpful companion in the video game Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. No matter how dire the situation, this BD unit exploration droid is always ready to scan objects, open chests, and offer up a healing stim to help Cal continue his journey.

6. C1-10P (Chopper) 

C1-10P, known as “Chopper” to his friends, is a C1-series astromech droid and member of the Ghost crew. Featured prominently in Star Wars Rebels, Chopper is always loyal to his crew and his missions, but that doesn’t stop him from brashly communicating his thoughts and feelings with his peers, with a variety of sounds (performed by series creator Dave Filoni) and by waving around his numerous instruments. 

7. Mouse Droid

If you ask most Star Wars fans if they remember the scene in A New Hope with the MSE-6 series repair droid, you’ll probably get a lot of blank faces. But if you use the droid’s more common name, “mouse droid,” images of a tiny tank-like roving droid running away from Chewbacca’s growl on the Death Star will likely start to form. Mouse droids are repair units that have shown up in multiple books, comics, and TV series from The Clone Wars to The Mandalorian.

8. Mister Bones

Mister Bones has never appeared in a Star Wars film, but his type of droid, the B-series battle droid, played a large role in The Phantom Menace. Mister Bones’ story occurs much later in the Star Wars timeline — after the second Death Star has been destroyed by the Rebellion – as depicted in the Afertmath trilogy of books. Modified by Temmin “Snap” Wexley, Mister Bones is loyal to Snap and his mother Norra, but still has a taste for violence…

9. 4-LOM

4-LOM is a protocol droid, like C-3PO, but with a head shaped like an insect – and unlike the fussy golden droid, 4-LOM is a no-nonsense bounty hunter. Commonly found together with his buddy and fellow bounty hunter Zuckuss, 4-LOM’s brief screen time in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back — he was one of the few gathered by Darth Vader to find the Millennium Falcon –has been followed by more in-depth stories in the comic series Star Wars Adventures and Bounty Hunters.

10. IG-11

Bounty hunter. “Nurse” droid. Somehow, IG-11 was both in Season 1 of The Mandalorian. Originally programmed as an assassin droid, IG-11 worked with the Bounty Hunter’s Guild and attempted to capture and kill Grogu, then known as the Child. After the Mandalorian, Din Djarin, blew IG-11 to pieces to protect the tiny being, an Ugnaught named Kuiil re-programmed IG-11. He became more human than most, and honored his programming until the end.

11. EV-9D9

EV-9D9 serves as a reminder that some droids can long outlive their masters. First seen as a cruel torture droid in Jabba’s palace in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, EV-9D9 later turns up behind the bar in the Mos Eisley cantina in two episodes of The Mandalorian.

12. R1-J5 (Bucket)

R1-J5, more commonly known as “Bucket,” is further proof that the best droids stand the test of time. Jarek Yeager claims he purchased his then racing co-pilot droid when he was already 100 years old. In Star Wars Resistance, Bucket works as a mechanic droid helping Yeager and the rest of Team Fireball repair ships on the Colossus. Bucket regularly wears a helmet, perhaps to remind himself of his racing days.

13. BB-8

He’s round, cute, tough, trustworthy, and loyal. No wonder Poe Dameron is so excited every time he reunites with his favorite BB-unit. Introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, BB-8 plays an important role in the Resistance’s struggle to defeat the First Order. Whether he’s keeping a map to Luke Skywalker’s whereabouts safe or helping Finn and Rose blast their way out of danger on a First Order ship, BB-8 can always be counted on to come through for his friends.

14. 2-1B

2-1B isn’t a droid name known by the masses, but fans of The Empire Strikes Back will know him well. A B-series medical droid, 2-1B was part of the Rebellion and in the middle of the action at Echo Base on Hoth, where he monitored Luke in the bacta tank after his wampa attack. He also helped Luke with his new mechanical hand after his lightsaber duel with Darth Vader on Bespin.

15. L3-37

The most independent of droids, L3-37 was a droid’s rights advocate and Lando’s co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon in Solo: A Star Wars Story. There were no other droids quite like Elthree as she was a custom pilot droid that made enhancements to herself throughout her lifetime. When she fell during a firefight on Kessel, Elthree was uploaded to the Falcon’s navigation system; the short story “Faith in an Old Friend” continues her story as part of the workings of the Falcon in the anthology From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back.

16. 0-0-0 and BT-1

Doctor Aphra frequently travels with two droid companions — who are bad news all around. 0-0-0, also known as Triple-Zero, is a protocol droid with a penchant for torture, and BT-1 is an equally unsavory assassin droid, created via the Tarkin Initiative, a secret Imperial think tank. Together they make for quite a terrifying duo.

17. K-2SO

K-2SO wasn’t destined to win any awards in charm school, but he was a vital part of Cassian Andor’s team of rebels in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Originally designed as an Imperial security droid, Kaytoo could cut any human down to size with a biting remark, or a blaster if necessary. He gave his life to save Cassian and Jyn as they attempted to steal the Death Star plans, a sacrifice that would change the course of the galaxy.

18. D-O

A poorly treated (unclassified) droid who slowly built a bond with BB-8, Finn, and Rey during The Rise of Skywalker, D-O was quick to help the Resistance when they needed intel about his former master, Ochi of Bestoon. But D-O also wasn’t shy to say “no thank you” and roll away to let you know when his boundaries were crossed. In a galaxy of cute droids, he ranks high.

19. CB-23

BB-8 isn’t the only memorable ball droid in a Star Wars, as CB-23 proved a vital partner to Kazuda Xiono in Star Wars Rebels. (Carrie Beck, the vice president of animation and live-action development at Lucasfilm, was the inspiration for her name.)

20. R-3X

Probably no droid has traveled to more places than R-3X, also known RX-24 or simply Rex. R-3X piloted a Star Commuter and then worked at Star Tours for several years before crash landing on Batuu. After arriving on Batuu, the owner of Droid Depot, Mubo, reprogrammed Rex as a DJ. Visitors to Oga’s Cantina can now rock out to tunes from DJ Rex when they visit Black Spire Outpost!

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Amy Richau is a writer, lifelong Star Wars geek, and diehard Denver Broncos fan. You can find her on Twitter @amyrichau and more of her writing on FANgirl Blog.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

Cozy and Cute

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 16:18
This soft flannel is covered in nods to the Child, Grogu, and his love of frogs.

Explore the Journey of Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Age of Resistance – Exclusive Excerpt

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 10:00

From the opening scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans loved Poe Dameron. The hotshot pilot with a heart of gold, he was funny (“Who talks first?”), heroic, and would prove himself a loyal friend to those around him. Titan Publishing Group, makers of Star Wars Insider, will celebrate Poe and the entire sequel trilogy era with Star Wars: The Age of Resistance – The Official Collector’s Edition, arriving March 9. The deluxe hardcover magazine (also available in softcover) chronicles the making of The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker with exclusive interviews, stunning photography, and more. Read on for an exclusive excerpt of Star Wars: The Age of Resistance‘s deep dive into the story — both on screen and behind the scenes — of Poe Dameron.

Commander Poe Dameron was the most daring and skilled pilot in the Resistance. Born toward the end of the war between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire, he was raised on Yavin 4—the moon the rebels launched their attack from that destroyed the first Death Star. General Leia Organa, who had trust in Poe, sent him on a mission to retrieve information that would hopefully reveal Luke Skywalker’s location.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

Together with his loyal droid, BB-8, Poe Dameron reached Tuanul, a small, remote village on Jakku, and received part of a map from an old Resistance ally, Lor San Tekka, to aid in the search for Luke. But when the First Order stormtroopers attacked the village, Poe had no other option than to entrust the secret information to BB-8 and send him away before being captured. Tortured by the First Order, Poe didn’t reveal any information. He wasn’t even intimidated by Kylo Ren when the dark warrior appeared.

“That’s who Poe is,” says actor Oscar Isaac, who played Poe Dameron. “He’s a fast pilot, a fast talker, someone who lived with death very close by and went towards death as a good warrior should. He was the first one to throw himself in harm’s way. That’s something that I really liked, and I talked to J.J. a lot about. How to really find something simple and clear,

but do it really strongly.”

LIKE BROTHERS

Freed from his cell by a stormtrooper, FN-2187, the two stole a Special Forces TIE fighter from the main hangar aboard a First Order Star Destroyer, flying toward Jakku and through a barrage of cannon fire and missiles from the massive starship. A close bond between the two fugitives was formed, and the stormtrooper became Finn, soon to become a Resistance fighter. “John Boyega is a fantastic human being,” recalls Isaac. “He reminded me a lot of my little brother, and that’s a little bit of the relationship that Poe and Finn had. We just laughed a lot, and talked a lot about our scenes together. He was incredibly flexible and on his toes with different ideas.” Hit by a missile, the TIE fighter crashed on Jakku. Finn found himself alone in the middle of an endless desert. There was no sign of Poe, and when the ship sank into the sand and exploded, Finn believed the Resistance pilot to be dead.

POE LIVES

The First Order attacked Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana. Finn, Han Solo, and Chewbacca were captured. But a Resistance squadron of starfighters arrived, led by Poe Dameron’s X-wing, Black One. He was alive, and had indeed survived the crashlanding on Jakku. According to Isaac, originally the character was going to die in that crash. “This idea that Poe came back was something that was added later, which, obviously, for me, was incredibly

exciting and fantastic—I got to live. Not only did I find out that I got to live, but that I would come back in a black X-wing, which was the coolest thing I had ever heard in my life.” Poe lived to become a symbol of the Resistance, one of its most important commanders, and his relationship with Finn evolved, defining both characters. “Poe lived,” explained director J.J. Abrams, “and he lived partly because Oscar questioned it. He’s spectacular in the movie.

And I loved where he went in the next episode. I just adore Oscar, and I loved working with him. He brought an incredible strength to this heroic role.”

Check out spreads of this article and variant covers below!

Softcover edition exclusive cover.

Comic store edition exclusive cover.

Star Wars: The Age of Resistance – The Official Collector’s Edition arrives March 9 and is available for pre-order now.

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On the Comlink: What Do the Women of Star Wars Mean to You?

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 08:00

On the Comlink is a feature in which StarWars.com writers hop on a call (virtual or old fashioned) and discuss a specific Star Wars topic. In this installment to celebrate International Women’s Day, Kristin Baver, Kelly Knox, Swapna Krishna, Jennifer Landa, and Amy Richau talk about their favorite women of the galaxy in front of the camera and behind it, how Star Wars books have changed the way they see favorite heroes, and how representation has shifted the way the next generation understands a galaxy far, far away.

Kristin Baver: We’re here because it’s International Women’s Day, which is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. And there are so many cool women of the galaxy — both in Star Wars on screen, in the stories, but also behind the scenes with the people who are making it today, and the people who made it 40-plus years ago. There are just a wealth of women to celebrate who have some involvement in Star Wars.

Thank you all for joining today. Super appreciate it. You know, especially those of you with young ones, you have, like, 20 minutes to yourself every day? So thank you for spending that 20 minutes with us to have this conversation. To get us started, what do the women of the galaxy mean to you?

Swapna Krishna: Okay, I’ll go first. The women of the galaxy. It’s interesting because they’ve meant different things to me at different points in my life. I was a kid who grew up on Star Wars, so when I was young it was who did I want to be? What did I want to become? You know, when I was young, Princess Leia was just everything. She was the person I wanted to be, she was my role model, she was so strong. And as I’ve gotten older I’ve really enjoyed seeing the kind of cracks in that, and taking comfort in the insecurities, and the flaws, and the fleshing her out to really be a real person as Star Wars has done over the last few decades. I’ve really found comfort in that.

Kristin Baver: That’s a great answer and Princess Leia, of course, I knew we were going to talk about her today. I themed my shirt on this. [Points to General Leia shirt.] But also, she is the first woman of the galaxy in so many ways. It’s fascinating to me, looking back on it now, because I grew up with Star Wars and the whole original trilogy was already out by the time I discovered it. And so to think about Princess Leia breaking the model for female characters going forward and what they could be, and that they could be damsels in distress but definitely not needing anyone else’s help for that — as long as you can unlock the door, they’ll take it from here — is just so fascinating. Since I arrived at it after the original trilogy was fully released, it wasn’t until I was an adult looking back on it that I fully appreciated how ground breaking that really was when it first came out in 1977.

But also, Swapna to your point, I really do appreciate that she is so imperfect and flawed and you see that a lot in the sequel trilogy when she’s dealing with a whole new mess with the Resistance and her son and her estrangement from Han. That’s so relatable and also so important that we see these heroic figures that…in the original trilogy especially, I think she’s frequently shown just not backing down, and not falling apart, and not crying — I love that line in A New Hope when she shows up at Yavin IV and she’s just like, “We don’t have time for our sorrows.” Essentially, we’ve got stuff to do. But then in the decades since, in the publishing and comics you start to see a little bit more of that personal side of Leia and those stories have really started to explore how she is when she’s not “on.” We see that she does break down and she is upset and she is crying and she is dealing with a lot of stuff, but she’s a woman who has a very public side and then the private side and she’s not gonna let those cracks show to Darth Vader or to Governor Tarkin. But when she does get to be alone, she does still fall apart. And I think when I first read that it sort of blew me away because I had seen her as this figure, someone who just never falls apart and it’s so important to show that, no, she does. But she knows that there is a time and a place and she can compartmentalize to still get the job done.

Jennifer Landa: I think that the books have been so great recently in rounding out the character — getting to know more about what she’s thinking. In Last Shot, being a mom, how is she juggling her career with also being a new parent? It’s not easy! And in, of course, Leia, Princess of Alderaan, getting to know the young Leia. I hope we get a series! And getting to see more of her relationship with her mother Breha Organa was really exciting to read, and something that I had always wondered about. I think that the books have continued to evolve the character.

And, of course, Carrie Fisher herself, who has truly been — was truly, and continues to be — a wonderful ambassador for the character and for Star Wars. Carrie’s humanity and her honesty really made the character, I think, even more relatable and it made her relatable to fans. She was so accessible and open to fans in a way that is just — it’s refreshing and not many celebrities are like that. She was a trailblazer.

Kristin Baver: Oh yeah. And she never shrank back from the things that other people might classify as struggles with flaws, or emotional baggage that they would hide, typically, especially in Hollywood. And she served it up with humor, which also just makes it so accessible and it almost makes it a little bit more inviting, I think, that she was allowed to laugh a little bit at herself. So it made you feel a bit less voyeuristic when she invited you in to those very personal struggles because she was making it a little performative. But you also can see that it’s raw and open and just so human.

Amy Richau: I think that both Carrie Fisher and Leia are both just so resilient and that’s something that I’ve always admired about them. But like, it doesn’t mean that they’re strong all the time. It just means that whatever comes at them, they’re going keep going, and they’re going to try to keep their sense of self preserved no matter how much tragedy they have. I mean, Leia had so much tragedy even just at the beginning of the original trilogy. But I really loved how they had the main [female] legacy character in the sequel trilogy, everyone else kind of..all the boys ran away! Like Luke went to Ahch-To, Han went back to being a smuggler, and she was the one who was kind of like, churning. She was the consistent one. And I think that the person who is consistent — and is working behind the scenes, and just keeps going — a lot of times isn’t the person who gets the fame or the acclaim. Like, it’s more the person who kind of like, makes a comeback or, you know, goes away and then makes the heroic return. But she was just always constantly there fighting the good fight.

Hera in Star Wars Rebels is a similar character who really is the heart and soul of the crew of the Ghost. She’s gonna get emotional because she’s not a robot. She’s gonna get emotional and she’s going to grieve, but she is just consistently there. If she would have left, I think the entire Ghost crew would have fallen apart. I’m not sure if that’s true with any of the other characters.

Kristin Baver: Yeah! And you’re right because especially — spoilers — after “Jedi Night,” once she loses Kanan, she does have that time where she falls apart and Chopper holds her hand and that always makes me cry. It’s going to make me cry talking about it a little bit! I can feel it starting.

But then she comes back out after she’s made her peace with it and added to her Kalikori and she gets back to work. So she’s very much like Leia in that way, and she just keeps things together.

Kelly Knox: It’s funny, Swapna said that they were role models for her when she was growing up but I still feel like they are for me now —  Hera and Leia and Rey and Jyn Erso — because they keep fighting even after they lose everything. Like Amy was saying, they’re so resilient. They get knocked down and then they get back up and keep fighting because they believe in what they’re there for and they have hope that things can get better. And that one quote that Hera always said so beautifully, that said things will get better. So yeah, they’re still role models for me, I think.

Kristin Baver: Hera has a lot of great quotable quotes.

We already talked a little bit about Breha, but for the prequel trilogy, Padmé Amidala is really the focal point in terms of a heroine. And then in the sequel trilogy, Rey, who I just adore. I didn’t realize how much I needed the character of Rey until I was sitting in the movie theater for The Force Awakens and following along on this journey and recognizing aspects of myself in her. I think primarily, for me, it was those moments when you just feel really lost and like you’re just kind of spinning your wheels waiting for something good to happen but you don’t really know what direction to go so you kind of get stuck. I think we’ve all experienced that where you’re just kind of mired in something. And you’re probably not living in a bombed-out AT-AT, but you are kind of feeling a little bit lost and a little bit like you just have no idea where to go.

Amy Richau: I liked to see her journey go through, in The Rise of Skywalker at that moment when Rey…she wanted to get Leia’s approval for going on a mission. But she said that she was going to go whether she got it or not, I thought that was a great character moment for her, which was extremely impressive especially because of the situation of like, the Leia footage in that film. But that she had so much respect for her master — who was Leia at this moment — but she felt so strongly about what she was doing, and I think that she felt so secure about what she was doing that she would go ahead and do it even if she didn’t get her approval. I really liked that. I like it any time when two women speak in Star Wars!

[Everyone laughs]

Swapna Krishna: Yeah, I was going to say actually, similarly to that note…going back to the prequel trilogy with Padmé. E.K. Johnston has just done fantastic work bringing the handmaidens to life in her, I think she just had the third book announced? That is such a powerful, inspirational group of young women who are working hard and doing all this amazing stuff and making a difference. I love what the books have been doing to build out the women in this universe.

Kristin Baver: The books and the comics. Because I think the first Marvel Star Wars comic I ever read was the Princess Leia run. And to me that just blew the doors off of an aspect of Leia that I hadn’t ever even considered having watched the original trilogy.

Amy Richau: And why did it take so long to get that?

Kristin Baver: [Laughs] Good question! Good question.

Swapna Krishna: And Doctor Aphra, too, in the comics. Who in some ways, please correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like that was our first morally ambiguous woman as a major character? And so that added a really great depth to the women in the galaxy.

Kristin Baver: I think Ventress is a little morally ambiguous, less ambiguous than Aphra.

Swapna Krishna: Oh yeah. Forgot about Ventress. She’s amazing.

Kristin Baver: She is amazing, but she is a little more decidedly on the dark side of things. Less ambiguity, I think, with that one.

Jennifer Landa: Speaking of Ventress, one of my favorite characters is Mother Talzin, who was a character I never imagined would appear in Star Wars, never imagined I would enjoy so much because I agree with the things that she does. What? This dark side within me! But she’s loyal, she wants to protect her family, so to speak. And it was really kind of a little bit of a darker storyline for The Clone Wars. I remember watching that at a fan event in Los Angeles thinking, “Okay, I need to get back into this series because I didn’t realize that this is where we were going in terms of storylines.” It was really…those types of characters are fun in the galaxy because women are complex characters. We are not all these perfect heroines, right? And I think that Star Wars has been fantastic showing us more characters like that. Showing us the Ahsoka Tanos, the Doctor Aphras, the Mother Talzins, the Nightsisters, and now with The Mandalorian, seeing Bo-Katan in live action, that was incredible. And Ming-Na Wen as Fennec Shand…it’s just exciting.

And when I think about the women of the galaxy, I think about why I’ve been a fan all these years. It’s because of the women, because we’re getting more and more stories, and because now I can share these stories with my two young daughters. It’s exciting for them to be able to have heroines like Rey. To be able to dress up — like, my 5-year-old daughter loves Queen Amidala. It’s thrilling and it makes me hopeful for the future.

Kristin Baver: Queen Amidala, hands down, best fashion in all of Star Wars for me. Everything looks like it just came off the runway, and also incredibly heavy, and a nightmare to have to put on, which is part of why she has handmaidens. Certainly not the only reason.

Jennifer Landa: And that’s the work of costume designer Trisha Biggar, a fantastic woman behind the scenes. Thirty costumes! I mean, her handiwork is just incredible.

Kristin Baver: Well, and speaking of Trisha Biggar and the Padmé costumes, I want to talk a little bit about behind the scenes for a minute. It never ceases to amaze me how much work and skill and craftsmanship Tricia Bigger and her team put into the costumes, not only for Queen Amidala, but for everybody involved in the prequel trilogy, to the extent that they were putting all of this amazing embroidery and detail into garments that were in the background or were on screen for all of one scene. It just impresses me so much that they took it so seriously and put so much into their work, regardless of whether it was going to be a blip or it was going to be the main showpiece on all of the poster artwork. Because, of course, you don’t really know that when you’re in production; you could be making something for a big scene and then the thing gets cut or something else shifts.

Jennifer Landa: And what’s genius is, which I’m going to plug Amy Ratcliffe’s book, Star Wars: Women of The Galaxy.

[She holds the book up to camera]

Kristin Baver: I love that you brought props, Jenn. [Laughter]

Jennifer Landa: But Amy made a great point about Trisha Biggar’s costume design that I had forgotten, which is that when Padmé is the queen, her costumes are very rigid, very stiff, very heavy. They represent the weight of her responsibilities. Yet the moment that she is with Anakin, her dresses are more flowing. They’re more organic looking. And I just thought that was such a great point and something that I had never really – like, subconsciously I felt it — but then when Amy articulated it, I was like, yes! That’s why Trisha Biggar is a genius costume designer.

Amy Richau: And I think it’s really important, speaking of Amy Ratcliffe, that more women are writing books about Star Wars in the nonfiction world. And, you know, I was really impressed with Debs Paterson, who I think was the first woman who ever directed a behind-the-scenes video documentary, I mean, for a Star Wars film. She did, what was it called? I wrote myself a note: The Skywalker Legacy. And I think that women telling the history of Star Wars is something that still hasn’t happened all that much. And I think it’s important to get a woman’s viewpoint from that. In The Rise of Skywalker documentary, the clear standouts to me were Victoria Mahoney, who was the second unit director, and Eunice Huthart, who was the stunt coordinator. But I kind of wonder, if it wasn’t a woman behind the scenes would they have gotten as much time? Would she have sought them out? Sometimes that really can change the history that is presented in a documentary or written about in a book. And that goes for the same for having diversity, all kinds of diversity and making sure that it’s not just all white people writing the history of Star Wars as well.

Kristin Baver: And, of course, you have Kathleen Kennedy, the president of Lucasfilm. But Amy, to your point, having that across the board with representation matters so much to ensure that the stories that are being told are being reflected authentically. And you need to have multiple voices on all sides and from all across the spectrum to really get that across.

Kelly Knox: And it’s really great how far we’ve come since A New Hope. I remember reading an interview with George Lucas and he said that he had to fight to get an action figure of Princess Leia made and he had to argue that she was the main character. She was the one who knew what was happening in Star Wars and the other guys, like we said earlier, were just kind of wandering around, not really sure what was going on. When The Force Awakens and then the others came out, I remember standing in the middle of Target and staring at a big Rey standee. And I was just like, “How cool is it now that the character that’s front and center in the middle of the store is a woman?” And she’s a Jedi and she’s just amazing. It still gets me, but for my daughter — she’s 12 — it’s just how it is. I just think that’s amazing.

Kristin Baver: Yeah. And another important aspect to me is that, you know, once we had Rey, pretty soon after we had Jyn Erso, who is a little morally ambiguous, at least at the start of Rogue One. But what really surprised — and I guess inspired — me was seeing some younger boys who were seeing these characters and were relating to them. I’m seeing a lot of nodding, but when I was a kid, I was a Han kid even more than I was a Leia kid —

Kelly Knox: I was a Leia kid!

Kristin Baver: And I loved Han, and I loved his one-liners. I loved his wit. And I was fortunate to be raised by feminist parents. I could be anybody or anything I wanted to be. So it didn’t really occur to me as a child to be like, “Oh, the only option is to be like Leia.” I was like, “Oh, no. I want to be like Han.” But to now see that going the opposite direction with little boys seeing women of the galaxy and wanting to be like them is so cool to me. I don’t know that we have seen that before.

Swapna Krishna: Yeah, I have a little boy. He’s two and I always say that it is so important to me that it’s not just little girls can see themselves, but little boys can see little girls…maybe for that generation it won’t be revolutionary. It’ll just be absolutely normal. And that’s my hope for him.

Kristin Baver: Yeah, I think that’s the goal that they’re just like, “What are you talking about?” It stops being revolutionary.

Swapna Krishna: Yeah. Yeah.

Kristin Baver: “Of course, I can be anything.”

Jennifer Landa: Because kids respond to stories where the characters are well written and the characters are well acted. That’s what they’re going to respond to. That’s what they gravitate towards. They don’t really care so much about the way that the character looks, so to speak. As long as it’s a good story, they’ll get immersed into it and then they’ll want to role-play as that character.

Amy Richau: I think that’s one of the great things about Ahsoka — Ahsoka was kind of the character that we saw the Clone Wars through her eyes and the relationship between Anakin, you know, and all the other people around him. And it was an easy way to kind of latch onto her. And why, I mean, so many people — I hear boys and men both, you know, you ask, “Who’s your favorite character?” Ahsoka. It’s a pretty common answer, which I think is amazing. She’s still one of the most beloved characters. And it sounds like we’re going to hear a lot more about her.

Kelly Knox: Yeah, I really loved her duel in The Mandalorian because I realized while I was watching it, it was the first live-action duel between two women and I just got even way more excited. My husband was like, “Why are you bouncing up and down? And I was like, “The ladies! The ladies are fighting!” [Laughter]

It had not occurred to him at all. And I was like, “Yeah, you kind of, you’re used to it.” You don’t realize what you’re used to until maybe you look at it from a different point of view. I was so excited.

Kristin Baver: And it goes back to the idea of how much representation matters, because if you’re viewing it and you’ve always seen yourself and you’ve always seen plenty of examples, it does seem commonplace. So to work our way to a point where everyone can see that, hopefully, and feel that, I know we have such a long way to go. But I think that is the end goal to making sure that, you know, the first isn’t the last.

[Everyone nods]

Oh, I wish we could transcribe your faces now. I’m seeing so many emphatic…

Swapna Krishna: I know, and I’m like, “OK, OK, I might start crying.”

Kelly Knox: I think I did literally shout ladies during this.

Kristin Baver: “Ladies!” Now I can’t remember if it was you tweeting about it or someone else —

Kelly Knox: I did.

Kristin Baver: But I didn’t even realize it while I was watching it at first that this was such a historic moment. And of course, a historic moment to have Ahsoka in live-action after so many years.

We’ve had such a great conversation already, but one other thing I definitely wanted to make sure we touched upon was underrated characters, because there are so many underrated women of the galaxy. When you held up Amy’s book, Jenn, it reminded me that she covered a lot of them and even some that, like Kneesaa, which when I saw it in that book, I was like, “Oh, yeah, she is a woman of the galaxy.” But I wouldn’t have thought to put her in there. I’m curious if you have a favorite underrated woman of Star Wars. And I can go first while you guys are thinking —

Swapna Krishna: Ventress!

Kristin Baver: There you go! OK. Why Ventress?

Swapna Krishna: Ventress by far. I just think she’s so…I think her journey is one of the most fascinating ones. We see a lot of light to dark. We see light, tempted by dark, come back to light. We see a lot of dark. And she’s not a big villain, you know, but we see through her a journey of how somebody can be manipulated and gaslighted and then reject that and try to figure out who she is on her own terms, and I just find it so powerful.

Kristin Baver: That’s a great answer.

Kelly Knox: Mine is actually Aunt Beru, who I think gets no credit at all for raising Luke to being this amazing guy that, you know, saves the galaxy. All that compassion and thoughtfulness came from somewhere. And no offense to Uncle Owen, but I have a feeling it was from Aunt Beru. [Laughter]

I don’t think she gets as near as much attention as she could. And then, we mentioned earlier, Breha Organa, who I would love to hear even more about. Because, you know, Luke and Leia’s moms — they did something right.

Kristin Baver: I would love a young Breha story. Like I think there’s so much fascinating stuff just from what we’ve gotten in Claudia Gray’s book of her going up, I think it’s Appenza Peak, and almost dying and then refusing to get the skin graft so she could be like, “Yeah, I’m partially bionic. What’s it to you? I’m still the queen.” I want to hear that story in full.

Kelly Knox: I love her.

Amy Richau: My pick would be Satine from The Clone Wars. I thought she was really fascinating and not just because of the Obi-Wan part, but that also is obviously the story that someone needs to tell. And hopefully someone — maybe Claudia Gray — is working on it right now.

Kelly Knox: I want that so bad.

Kristin Baver: Somewhere we’ve summoned her by now.

Amy Richau: I don’t want to box anything in…but just her leading Mandalore when there were so many different clans, all of that history of Mandalore and just being so confident in her stance in things even when it didn’t do her any favors, I thought that she was just a really great character. I also really, really need to know more about Merrin from Jedi: Fallen Order. So I need to shout that out in case.

Kristin Baver: Good pick.

Jennifer Landa: You all have such good ones…I’m going to go weird. I think of the droids, I think of the creatures, the aliens — so like, Sy Snootles. I remember as a child watching her and immediately…from the way that she was kind of grooving to the music with her microphone [Jenn starts rocking back and forth with an imaginary microphone] I was just like, who is —

Kristin Baver: [Laughs] That is a great Sy interpretation, Jenn. Again, I wish we could transcribe that.

Jennifer Landa: To me it was like, “Oh, she’s like a bar singer! I want to know more about that character.” I mean, or the Caretakers, who I love. They’re these weird creatures and yet you instantly know what it would be like to have an interaction with one of them.

Or L3-37, who was phenomenal. I don’t think she’s really underrated. I think everyone knows how awesome she is. And then the last one going to the books would be Kriki, the Chadra-Fan from Delilah Dawson’s book Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire. Kriki is just the most vulnerable, sweetest, little bat-alien ever. I hope that we see her onscreen at some point.

Kristin Baver: I love the Chadra-Fans. Although I would have to say my pick is probably Bo-Katan if we can still qualify her as underrated. I don’t know now that she’s in The Mandalorian and she has transformed into live-action if she still counts. But I just love her — it’s a little bit, I think, Swapna, why you love Ventress — but I just love her journey of going from doing the wrong thing to seeing that things aren’t black and white and realizing she doesn’t want to be part of the Death Watch anymore, and making all these decisions and losing her sister. She goes through all this tremendous loss and still always goes back to her roots and tries to fight for Mandalore and unite Mandalore. And I hope we see a lot more of her, too.

So, what are you all doing for International Women’s Day?

Kelly Knox: When is it actually?

Kristin Baver: It’s on March the 8th, which will be today when this conversation runs. [Laughter]

Kelly Knox: I totally blew it. [Laughs]

Kristin Baver: So for today…I’m thinking cake or brownies or, you know, whatever your delightful food of choice is. And maybe a Star Wars marathon. Star Wars is also always my sick-day movie, too. Any time I’m feeling lousy, I usually put on A New Hope because if you fall asleep in the middle then you wake up and you’re like, I know exactly where we are. [Laughter]

Jennifer Landa: I am going to be patient like Aunt Beru. I’m going to make my children delicious food. I’m going to be diplomatic like Queen Amidala. And I am going to be resilient like Leia. All for my children, and then at the end, I’m going to collapse. [Laughter]

Kristin Baver: A little bit like Hera, but that’s ok. You’re going to get back up, also like Hera and Leia.

Jennifer Landa: Exactly!

Kristin Baver: Those are great. Those are also just everyday goals: let the women of the galaxy, behind the scenes and on screen, help inspire us to just do better and be better.

Kelly Knox: That’s why they’re hanging up in my office. [Points to artwork of Padmé, Leia, and other Star Wars heroines.]

Kristin Baver: Oh yes, that’s the theme behind Kelly!

Kelly Knox: Yup! That’s why I have them up there. I’ll be laying on the floor like, “I don’t want to get up,” and then I’ll see them and be like, “Okay, I can get up.”

Kristin Baver: “Okay, Padmé, stop looking at me like that.” [Laughter]

Kelly Knox: I get it!

Kristin Baver: Awesome. Alright. Well, this has been a lovely conversation. Thank you all so much for joining in. This was a great way…personally, I feel like this is my celebration of International Women’s Day because this is just so lovely. And I miss good girlfriends and good conversation during this quarantine. We’ll get back there. And I hope to see all of you at Celebration in the future times.

Jennifer Landa: [Sighs] Wow. [Laughter]

This discussion has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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From a Certain Point of View: What’s the Most Memorable Story Arc in Star Wars: The Clone Wars?

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 10:00

One of the great things about Star Wars is that it inspires endless debates and opinions on a wide array of topics. Best bounty hunter? Most powerful Jedi? Does Salacious Crumb have the best haircut in the saga? In that spirit, StarWars.com presents From a Certain Point of View: a series of point-counterpoints on some of the biggest — and most fun — Star Wars issues. In this installment, two StarWars.com writers take a stand on the most memorable story arc in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, now streaming on Disney+.

It’s the Umbara arc, says James.

There are a lot of really great storylines in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: exploring the growth and adventures of Ahsoka Tano, discovering mysterious Force entities, and looking at the relationships between characters as the war devours the Jedi and the Republic. But when it comes to picking a single story arc that stands out above the rest, I go back to the adventures on Umbara, a story that focuses almost exclusively on the clones as they grapple with duty and morality under the command of Jedi General Pong Krell.

Like many of the clone-centric stories, we never know where the four-part story could go, because we don’t know the fates of our favorite clones. Thanks to Dee Bradley Baker’s superb acting, we feel the differences between these soldiers despite their common genetic origin. But pretty much any and all of the clones, as well as Pong Krell himself, are entirely expendable.

The battle on Umbara is a challenge enough for the 501st Legion — in the dim light, clones are lost to unseen monsters and pitfalls of the alien world. The shadowy Umbarans themselves are entrenched and well-suited to defend their world from Republic forces. But add Pong Krell into this heart of literal darkness, and everything is pushed to a breaking point.

Krell is harsh, caring far more about the objective than the casualties, and Rex and Fives almost immediately butt heads with him regarding his tactics that would almost certainly lead to heavy losses. When Fives, Hardcase, and Jesse disobey orders to steal Umbaran fighters for a sneak attack, Rex is put in a tough ethical situation: following the orders of a superior versus protecting the lives of his men.  There’s palpable tension when Dogma and Tup try to inform Krell of the rogue mission and it all comes to a head when Krell orders the execution of Jesse and Fives for insubordination and Dogma readies a firing squad.

At this point, I was past the edge of my seat — were Jesse and Fives really going to be killed by their own squadmates? The two narrowly escape death with a plea to the individuality and humanity of the clones, and the firing squad refuses to shoot the pair. Then Rex and the clones are sent on a strange new mission: to attack Umbaran units that may be disguised in clone armor. In horror, Rex realizes too late that the 501st Legion has engaged against the 212th Attack Battalion. Their opponents are no masquerading enemy, only their fellow clones.

After heavy casualties, including the death of the 212th’s leader Waxer, the clones end the premeditated carnage, and try to confront Krell for his deliberate treachery, and ultimately it’s Dogma who guns the traitorous general down. All of this heavy action has been building on the loyalties of each clone: following foolhardy orders, protecting the lives of their fellow soldiers, and determining what it means to do the right thing. These ethical dilemmas, along with some beautifully eerie battles, make this the most memorable arc in the series.

It’s the bombing of the Jedi Temple, says Swapna.

The Clone Wars conflict is incredibly important to Star Wars history, and its impacts are still being felt today. And, by far, the most pivotal character that the series introduced is Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s Padawan. She embodies everything we’ve been taught a Jedi should be — goodness, loyalty, a strong sense of morality, dedicated to living a life spent serving others — and yet, at the end of the fifth season, she was cast out of the Jedi Order.

We saw the Jedi Order at its best and its worst during The Clone Wars, but nowhere was it more misguided than when Ahsoka was accused of bombing the Jedi Temple and the Jedi Council refused to stand by her. Some Jedi argued that they didn’t think she could have done it, but Anakin was the only one who believed in her and steadfastly stood by the person he had come to know and trust. The debate, and the subsequent decisions, showed how weak the Jedi Council had become and directly set the stage for Order 66. And it showed how the Republic-turned-Empire’s war against the Jedi could have come to pass: People had good reason to mistrust the Jedi — look how they treated one of their own, arguably the best of them.

This arc is unforgettable for so many reasons, but the thing that makes it the most memorable for me is the way it ends. The Jedi vote to strip Ahsoka of her status as a Padawan, functionally abandoning her altogether and allowing the spectacle of a full military trial — in spite of the fact that many of them (including Plo Koon and Obi-Wan) aren’t even convinced she’s guilty. It speaks to the rot at the core of the Council.

Anakin manages to uncover the true culprit behind the bombing, and shamefaced, the Jedi Order pronounces Ahsoka innocent and invites her to return. But Ahsoka makes a fateful decision: She chooses to walk away from the life she knew, from the corruption she’s seen, and instead forge her own path, according to her own principles.

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Is James right or do you agree with Swapna? Maybe they’re both wrong in your eyes! Let us know on social using #FromACertainPOV!

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.

Swapna Krishna writes about space, science, tech, and pop culture. Her work has appeared at Engadget, The Verge, Gizmodo, the Los Angeles Times, Polygon, Mental Floss, SYFY, and more. She is the co-editor of Sword Stone Table, a forthcoming King Arthur-inspired anthology from Vintage. You can find her on Twitter @skrishna.

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Quiz: Which Leia Organa Are You?

Fri, 03/05/2021 - 08:00

There’s no one in the galaxy quite like our favorite rebel princess. From senator who risked all to wise Resistance general, Leia Organa stands as one of the greatest heroines of Star Wars and an icon of cinema. In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the beloved character — brought to life by the legendary and deeply-missed Carrie Fisher — with a fun quiz that asks: Which Leia are you? So don’t be a nerf herder — find out now!

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The Chiss Fleet Strikes in Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good – Exclusive Excerpt

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 10:00

Before he was Grand Admiral, Thrawn had some competition.

In StarWars.com’s exclusive excerpt of Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good, the second book in Timothy Zahn’s trilogy that chronicles Thrawn’s rise, Senior Captains Thrawn and Lakinda lead their own cruisers into battle. Both have their own methods, and Admiral Ar’alani eagerly watches the results…

Check out the below in print and audiobook forms, along with Jeremy Wilson’s stunning poster of the Chiss leadership, only available with the Barnes & Noble edition.

Throughout her years in the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet, Admiral Ar’alani had lived through more than fifty battles and smaller armed clashes. The opponents in those encounters, like the battles themselves, had varied widely. Some of them had been clever, others had been cautious, still others—particularly political appoin­tees who had been promoted far beyond their abilities—had been painfully incompetent. The strategies and tactics employed had also varied, ranging from simple to obscure to screamingly violent. The battle results themselves had sometimes been mixed, sometimes in­conclusive, often a defeat for the enemy, and—occasionally—a defeat for the Chiss.

But never in all that time had Ar’alani experienced such a mix of determination, viciousness, and utter pointlessness as in the scene now unfolding in front of her.

“Watch it, Vigilant—you’ve got four more coming at you from starboard-nadir.” The voice of Senior Captain Xodlak’in’daro came from the Vigilant’s bridge speaker, her resonant alto glacially calm as always.

“Acknowledged, Grayshrike,” Ar’alani called back, looking at the tactical. Four more Nikardun gunboats had indeed appeared from around the small moon, driving at full power toward the Vigilant. “Looks like you have a few latecomers to your party, as well,” she added.

“We’re on it, ma’am,” Lakinda said.

“Good,” Ar’alani said, studying the six missile boats that had ap­peared from behind the hulk of the battle cruiser she and the other two Chiss ships had hammered into rubble fifteen minutes ago. Sneaking into cover that way without being spotted had taken some ingenuity, and many commanders with that level of competence would have used their skill to exercise the better part of valor and abandon such a clearly hopeless battle.

But that wasn’t what these last pockets of Nikardun resistance were about. They were about complete self-sacrifice, throwing them­selves at the Chiss warships that had rooted them from their bur­rows, apparently with the sole goal of taking some of the hated enemies with them.

That wasn’t going to happen. Not today. Not to Ar’alani’s force. “Thrawn, the Grayshrike has picked up a new nest of nighthunters,” she called. “Can you offer them some assistance?”

“Certainly,” Senior Captain Mitth’raw’nuruodo replied. “Captain Lakinda, if you’ll turn thirty degrees to starboard, I believe we can draw your attackers into a crossfire.”

“Thirty degrees, acknowledged,” Lakinda said, and Ar’alani saw the Grayshrike’s tactical display image angle away from the incoming missile boats and head toward Thrawn’s Springhawk. “Though with all due respect to the admiral, I’d say they’re more whisker cubs than nighthunters.”

“Agreed,” Thrawn said. “If these are the same ones we thought were caught in the battle cruiser explosion, they should be down to a single missile each.”

“Actually, our tally makes two of them completely empty,” Lakinda said. “Just along for the glory of martyrdom, I suppose.”

“Such as it is,” Ar’alani said. “I doubt anyone out there is going to be singing the elegiac praises of Yiv the Benevolent anytime soon. Wutroow?”

“Spheres are ready, Admiral,” Senior Captain Kiwu’tro’owmis confirmed from across the Vigilant’s bridge. “Ready to rain on their picnic?”

“One moment,” Ar’alani said, watching the tactical and gauging the distances. Plasma spheres’ ability to deliver electronics-freezing blasts of ionic energy made them capable of disabling attackers with­out having to plow through the tough nyix-alloy hulls that sheathed most warships in this part of the Chaos. Smaller fighter-class ships, like the Nikardun missile boats currently charging the Vigilant, were especially vulnerable to such attacks.

But the missile boats’ smaller size also meant they were more nim­ble than larger warships, and could sometimes dodge out of harm’s way if the relatively slow plasma spheres were launched too soon.

There were tables and balance charts to calculate that sort of thing. Ar’alani preferred to do it by eyesight and experienced judgment.

And that judgment told her they had a sudden opportunity here. Another two seconds . . . “Fire spheres,” she ordered.

There was a small, muffled thud as the plasma spheres shot from their launchers. Ar’alani kept her eyes on the tactical, watching as the missile boats realized they were under attack and scrambled to evade the spheres. The rearmost of them almost made it, the sphere flicker­ing into its aft port side and paralyzing its thrusters, sending it spin­ning off into space along its final evasion vector. The other three caught the spheres squarely amidships, killing their major systems as they, too, went gliding helplessly away.

“Three down, one still wiggling,” Wutroow reported. “You want us to take them?”

“Hold on that for now,” Ar’alani told her. It would be at least an­other few minutes before the missile boats recovered. In the mean­time . . . “Thrawn?” she called. “Over to you.”

“Acknowledged, Admiral.”

Ar’alani shifted her attention to the Springhawk. Normally, she would never do this to the captain of one of her task force ships: giv­ing a vague order on the assumption that the other would pick up on her intent. But she and Thrawn had worked together long enough that she knew he would see what she was seeing and know exactly what she wanted him to do.

And so he did. As the four momentarily stunned missile boats headed off on their individual vectors, a tractor beam shot out from the Springhawk’s bow, grabbed one of them, and started to pull it in.

Pulling it directly into the path of the cluster of missile boats charging toward the Grayshrike.

The Nikardun, their full attention focused on their suicidal attack on the Chiss cruiser, were caught completely off guard by the vessel angling in on them. At the last second they scattered, all six manag­ing to evade the incoming obstacle.

But the disruption had thrown off their rhythm and their aim. Worse than that, from their point of view, Thrawn had timed that distraction for the precise moment when the Nikardun fighters came into full effective range of the Grayshrike’s and Springhawk’s spec­trum lasers. The missile ships were still trying to reestablish their configuration when the Chiss lasers opened fire.

Twenty seconds later, that section of space was once again clear of enemies.

“Well done, both of you,” Ar’alani said, checking the tactical. Aside from the disabled missile boats, only two Nikardun ships out there still showed signs of life. “Wutroow, move us toward target seven. Spectrum lasers should be adequate to finish him off. Grayshrike, what’s your status?”

“Still working on the thrusters, Admiral,” Lakinda said. “But we’re sealed again, and the engineers say they should have us back at full power in a quarter hour or less.”

“Good,” Ar’alani said, doing a quick analysis of the debris and bat­tered ships visible through the Vigilant’s bridge viewport. There shouldn’t be any places out there where more ships could be lurking.

Jeremy Wilson’s poster of the Chiss leadership, only available with the Barnes & Noble exclusive edition.

On the other hand, that was what she’d thought before those six missile boats popped into view from the battle cruiser’s hulk. There could be a few more small ships gone to ground in the fog of battle in the hope that they’d be missed until the time was right for their own suicide runs.

And at the moment, with its main thrusters down, the Grayshrike was a sitting flashfly. “Springhawk, stay with Grayshrike,” she ordered. “We’ll clean out these last two.”

“That’s really not necessary, Admiral,” Lakinda said, a hint of care­fully controlled protest in her voice. “We can still maneuver enough to fight.”

“You just concentrate on your repairs,” Ar’alani told her. “If you get bored, you can finish off those four missile boats when they wake up.”

“We’re not going to offer them the chance to surrender?” Thrawn asked.

“You can make that offer if you want,” Ar’alani said. “I can’t see them accepting it any more than any of their late comrades did. But I’m willing to be surprised.” She hesitated. “Grayshrike, you can also start a full scan of the area. There could be someone else lurking nearby, and I’m tired of people charging out of nowhere and shoot­ing at us.”

“Yes, Admiral,” Lakinda said.

Ar’alani smiled to herself. Lakinda hadn’t actually said thank you, but she could hear it in the senior captain’s voice. Of all the officers in Ar’alani’s task force, Lakinda was the most focused and driven, and she absolutely hated to be left out of things.

There was a brush of air as Wutroow stepped up beside Ar’alani’s command chair. “Hopefully, this is the last of them,” the Vigilant’s first officer commented. “The Vaks should be able to sleep a bit easier now.” She considered. “So should the Syndicure.”

Ar’alani touched the comm mute key. As far as she’d been able to tell, the supreme ruling body of the Chiss Ascendancy had been as unenthusiastic about this cleanup mission as it was possible for poli­ticians to get. “I didn’t know the Syndicure was worried about rogue Nikardun threats to the Vak Combine.”

“I’m sure they aren’t,” Wutroow said. “I’m equally sure they are worried about why we’re way out here engaging in warlike actions.”

Ar’alani cocked an eyebrow at her. “You raise that question as if you already knew the answer.”

“Not really,” Wutroow said, giving Ar’alani one of those significant looks she did so well. “I was hoping you knew.”

“Sadly, the Aristocra seldom consult with me these days,” Ar’alani said.

“Oddly enough, they don’t consult with me, either,” Wutroow said. “But I’m sure they have their reasons.”

Ar’alani nodded. Normally, the Nine Ruling Families—and the full weight of official Ascendancy policy—were dead-set against any military action unless Chiss worlds or holdings had been directly at­tacked first. She could only assume that the interrogation of General Yiv the Benevolent and a thorough examination of his captured files and records had proved the Nikardun had been such an imminent threat that the Syndicure had been willing to bend the usual rules.

“At least Thrawn must be pleased,” Wutroow continued. “It’s rare to get vindication and retaliation delivered in the same neat package.”

“If you’re trying to get me to tell you what he and I talked about with Supreme General Ba’kif before we left on this little jaunt, you’re in for a disappointment,” Ar’alani said. “But yes, I imagine Senior Captain Thrawn is pleased at how things turned out.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Wutroow said, her voice making a subtle shift from the admiral’s friend to the admiral’s first officer. “Coming into range of target seven.”

“Very good,” Ar’alani said. “You may fire at your convenience.”

“Yes, ma’am.” With a crisp nod, Wutroow headed back across the bridge. “Oeskym, stand by lasers,” she called to the weapons officer.

Two minutes later, it was over.

PRH Audio · Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy(Book II: Greater Good)by Timothy Zahn, read by Marc Thompson – excerpt

Audio excerpted courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio from Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy (Book II: Greater Good) by Timothy Zahn, read by the Marc Thompson.

Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good arrives April 27 and is available for pre-order now. The Barnes & Noble exclusive edition with poster is also available for pre-order now.

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The Clone Wars Rewatch: Ahsoka’s World is “Shattered”

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 08:00

To celebrate the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Disney+, 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 for the weekly #CloneWarsRewatch — you can watch this week’s episode on Disney+ now — and share your thoughts on the award-winning series.

132: “Shattered” (Season Seven, Episode 11)

Synopsis:

Maul is captured and the Siege of Mandalore is won. But evil lurks elsewhere, and the galaxy will never be the same.

Analysis:

There is an inherent conflict in the Clone Wars that goes far beyond the surface turmoil, the battles, and the Republic and Separatist fighters on the frontlines. It’s a feeling of wrongness, something awry, that permeates the war. The Jedi can sense it, but it’s true form is revealed too late, and then…all that they fought and struggled for is lost.

In Rex, it’s a duality between the soldier he was born to be and the individual he has become. Fighting alongside Ahsoka and Anakin, losing so many of his brothers in arms, Rex has come to understand the nuance of the war. But at the base level, he and many of his fellow clones have mixed feelings about the state of the galaxy and the war specifically. “Many people wish it never happened. But without it, we clones wouldn’t exist,” he tells Ahsoka. His existence hinges on the war’s inevitability, yet he struggles to maintain his sense of self amid the strife. And it’s an ugly reason for being alive.

With the inhibitor chip triggered, his fight becomes something tangible. You can see it in the way his hands quake and the muscles of his face twitch and spasm. The chip is telling him to execute the Jedi, including Ahsoka — although it’s arguable she still counts among their kind. But his conscious mind pushes against the mind-controlling device. He remembers his friend Fives, who nearly exposed Darth Sidious‘s scheme but instead was treated like a man who had lost his mind. He must have summoned all of his strength to give Ahsoka even that tiny clue as Order 66 firmly took hold, robbing him of his autonomy. Rex had his suspicions about the inhibitor chip after he watched Fives die, but he was a good soldier who followed orders even when he had questions and Ahsoka nearly paid with her life.

Ultimately, it’s not the fault of the clones; as Ahsoka says, they were programmed, their minds altered when they were young. She understands that feeling better than most. Raised in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant from a young age, all she’s known is the Jedi way. And since her mid-teens, all she’s known is the war. Pushing against that programming to reclaim herself and what she truly believes is an arduous task, but she’s on her way to becoming the epitome of the Jedi peacekeepers, the best of the Jedi even while she’s no longer among their ranks.

In her mind, Anakin Skywalker still reigns supreme as the best of the Jedi Order. In quick succession, she feels his loss as he turns to the dark side and loses her friend Rex to Order 66. If Ahsoka had reached Anakin in his darkest hour, could she have saved him? Could she have convinced him to turn back? We’ll never know. But he, too, was programmed from a young age, manipulated by Palpatine and other events transpiring in the galaxy at large and in his life. He lost his mother yet rose up to become a storied warrior. He survived tremendous loss to find love with Padmé. He succeeded where most of the Jedi struggled, a legend on the battlefield who, like the clones, was turned against the Jedi and the Republic to become a servant of the Sith, all thanks to Palpatine’s grooming.

At least one thing is for sure. Ahsoka, through her belief in the Force and the core teachings of the Jedi, reaches her friend Rex in time, connecting her mind to his with the simple mantra: “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.” It’s a way of centering on the energy binding all life, not for good or evil but balance and harmony.

She finds the chip. She helps save Rex from himself. And in the process, she saves her own skin.

Intel:

  • Even from afar, Ahsoka feels her old master turn to the dark side, a tremor in the Force punctuated by audio from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

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

Next up: Come back next Thursday for the thrilling series conclusion in “Victory and Death.”

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Watch all of your favorite Star Wars movies and series on Disney+.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is a writer, host of This Week! In Star Wars, 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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Moff Gideon’s Dark Troopers Join Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 10:00

The Razor Crest has landed, but it’s not alone.

This week, a new exhibition event in the Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes mobile game has expanded the Galactic War table with an all-new game mode: Conquest. And starting tomorrow, a three-day marquee event has brought Moff Gideon’s menacing Dark Troopers, from Season 2 of The Mandalorian on Disney+, onto the holotables.

Available with an opening level requirement of 60, the Dark Troopers will usher the new “Imperial Remnant” faction tag into the game as well as the new Dark Trooper Squad buff.

In Conquest mode, players will face increasingly difficult foes as they advance from sector to sector, locating Data Disks to help power up their squads on the journey and strategizing the best combinations to defeat some of the game’s most difficult challenges yet.

Conquest will also allow you to unlock the Razor Crest, the Mandalorian’s trusty ship from The Mandalorian, for some added maneuverability. It’s the ship that’s proven it can withstand military conflict, roving Jawa scavengers, and just about anything else the galaxy can throw at it.

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Leia and Kes Reflect on Those They Love in Marvel’s Star Wars #12 – Exclusive Preview

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 08:00

In the Rebellion, everyone is fighting for something.

In StarWars.com’s first look at Marvel’s Star Wars #12, pilot Kes Dameron runs into Leia Organa in one of their cruiser’s more isolated rooms. But the two don’t talk much about the war with the Empire; in reality, their thoughts turn to those who matter most…

Star Wars #12, from writer Charles Soule and artist Ramon Rosanas, with a covers by Carlo Pagulayan, arrives March 10 and is available for pre-order now on Comixology and at your local comic shop.

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A Young Obi-Wan Kenobi Surrenders in IDW’s Star Wars Adventures #4 – Exclusive Preview

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 10:00

Didn’t anyone ever tell these Trandoshans that it’s unwise to upset a Wookiee?

In the latest issue of IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures comic, the Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn is trapped along with several scared Wookiees when his student, Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, hatches a daring plan to save his master. But first, he must surrender to the Trandoshan hunters holding his friend and their Wookiee allies hostage on Life Day.

The story, “Life Day Part 2,” written by Michael Moreci with art from Megan Levens, is the first of two in the upcoming comic, Star Wars Adventures #4, with a second tale, “Credits” featuring Val and Tobias Beckett, by Jordan Clark with art from Yael Nathan. StarWars.com has your first look at a few pages from inside the first story, which you can check out below.

Star Wars Adventures #4 arrives March 17 and is available for pre-order now on Comixology and at your local comic shop.

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Alphabet Squadron Soars Again in Victory’s Price

Tue, 03/02/2021 - 08:00

With the end of the war against the Empire at hand, the story of the pilots of Alphabet Squadron comes to a head with the final book in the trilogy, Alphabet Squadron: Victory’s Price, by Alexander Freed. The five starfighter combat veterans, each piloting a different kind of rebel craft, have been through a lot as they have been tracking down their Imperial nemesis: Shadow Wing. With their own individual issues and strained friendships, they still continue their battle together — except for squadron leader Yrica Quell, believed dead. With the release of Victory’s Price at hand, we caught up with author Alexander Freed to help get us ready for the last chapter in the adventures of Alphabet Squadron.

StarWars.com: Victory’s Price finishes off the story of Alphabet Squadron. While we saw them coming together in the first book, and starting to splinter again in the second, what unites the five pilots?

Alexander Freed: Ultimately, it’s the Alphabet pilots’ hard-earned, intimate understanding of one another that unites them. Yes, their shared mission to stop Shadow Wing is tremendously important, as are the experiences they’ve shared over the past two books…but each of the pilots has history and traumas that’ve shaped them in ways they aren’t always keen to admit, and over time they’ve come to reveal their truest selves to one another. Grudgingly, in some cases.

They all still have secrets, and they’re often misunderstood, but their colleagues know them better than anyone else in the galaxy. That’s a bond that’s tough to break. Especially between friends, but even among enemies.

StarWars.com: When the previous novel, Shadow Fall, ended, many of the characters were in very different places in their lives than when they started the trilogy. Who do you think changed the most?

Alexander Freed: That’s a tough question! The easy answer would be Quell, but while her changes might be the most dramatic I’m not certain they’re the biggest beneath the surface. Both Wyl and Nath would probably claim to be the least changed. Chass’ road may be the strangest and most winding, going one way and then zig-zagging around. Maybe the right answer is Kairos, for reasons that will be illustrated in Victory’s Price — yes, she’s talking, she’s showing her face, but those are only the outward manifestations of a deeper change she’s been through.

Wyl

Chass

StarWars.com: The story of Alphabet Squadron is really one of an interconnected network of relationships. What is important to you about writing and understanding these different types of relationships?

Alexander Freed: A lot of it is being mindful of how each character perceives their relationships with the others, and how perception may be different than truth. Here’s an overly simplistic example, just to clarify: Wyl tends to assume the best of people — believing that whatever they’re doing, they usually believe it’s the right thing to do, even when they’re wrong or misguided. He values open and empathetic communication as a way to build bridges. Chass, meanwhile, tends to see people as dupes and pawns, guided by whatever they’ve been programmed to believe. She has an emotionally transactional view of the world — you help someone, they owe you; they hurt you, you hurt them back — and she might argue that creates a fairer, more just world than anything Wyl would concoct.

For all those reasons, Wyl and Chass perceive their relationship with one another very differently! They’re going to assume the other person is motivated by forces they aren’t, and attempt to help or hinder the other person for reasons that may not be valid. Often, this creates stumbling blocks and tragic misunderstandings. Sometimes it reveals important truths.

StarWars.com: Some of the biggest events in Shadow Fall for Yrica Quell are the loss of Caern Adan and IT-O and her re-establishing contact with her old mentor, Soran Keize, now in command of Shadow Wing. How have both of these shaped who she has become by Victory’s Price?

Alexander Freed: Quell spent Alphabet Squadron in denial about herself and her past with Soran, trying to run from who she was in the Empire. In Shadow Fall, she was forced to confront her past — at several points and in several ways, but most profoundly in her journey with Adan and IT-O. Now there’s no more running. She’s accepted the truth of what she’s done. The question is: What are the implications of that, and what is she going to do about it?

Nath

StarWars.com: The friendship between the former pirate Nath Tensent and fresh squadron leader Wyl Lark got tested during the battle on Troithe in Shadow Fall — where are they now in their relationship?

Alexander Freed: Things are awkward! Wyl and Nath both have too much affection for the other to be truly at odds, but they’ve reached a point where their differences make a continuing friendship challenging. At the start of Victory’s Price, they’re both aware of this in their own way, but neither has a plan to deal with it.

As with everything in the series, it’s complicated, but the essence is this: Not wanting to see his friend Wyl burdened with the guilt of a bad decision, Nath thwarted Wyl’s good-hearted – -but somewhat reckless — plan to avoid bloodshed on the eve of battle.

Both Nath and Wyl had good reasons for what they did, and Nath acted in what he saw as Wyl’s best interests. But how does a relationship recover from that? Wyl can’t be too bitter toward Nath, but how can he maintain a friendship with the man knowing the situation may reoccur?

StarWars.com: When you write starfighter battles with Alphabet Squadron, you often balance the pilot communications with how challenging combat is — how hard it is to do a bombing run, or to provide cover for a slower ship, or fly with a ship shot to hell. How do you approach writing these battles, and what extra challenges do you throw at your pilots on both sides?

Alexander Freed: For me, the most important thing is figuring out the emotional core of the fight — what is it about, what are the characters feeling (physically as well as mentally), and what do they need to go through to get to where they need to be for the story to work. But I also spend a lot of time trying to figure out interesting tactics, new scenarios (one-on-one duels, technical problems, new varieties of opponents), and so forth — a battle scene without a heart is pointless, but a battle scene that doesn’t have something interesting going on deservedly loses a reader’s attention.

Victory’s Price has a couple of fun “set piece” battles that came out of knowing what I wanted to accomplish and working out from there: “What’s the most flamboyant, Star Wars-y way to make this happen, ideally with a good number of explosions?”

StarWars.com: Chass na Chadic carries a lot of weight on her shoulders, continually surviving as her comrades have died. Alone on Troithe, she found a connection with a cult, the Children of the Empty Sun. How has this experience changed Chass and how she relates to the rest of her squadron?

Alexander Freed: For ages, Chass was determined to become a martyr; now it’s looking more and more like she’s going to survive the war, and that puts her in a difficult position — she has to imagine a future for herself, and that’s not something she can easily see. It’s also not a problem she imagines the rest of the squadron facing. Her experience with the cult offers one potential solution, but it could well alienate her from her comrades…thus, separating her from one of the few forces tending to her mental health.

Kairos

StarWars.com: The most enigmatic member of Alphabet Squadron is Kairos, the U-wing pilot. She was badly injured in the previous book but she’s back now. What keeps her going through this part of her life?

Alexander Freed: Other than sheer stubbornness? IT-O and Caern Adan were Kairos’s closest companions, so their loss hits as hard as her injuries. She’s not one to give up, but she needs to figure out what’s next for her. Saying anything more would be giving away too much!

StarWars.com: What is it like to write Hera Syndulla as she is in the post-Endor timeframe, no longer with her crew of the Ghost, but as a general of the New Republic, and in charge of large capital ships and complex operations?

Alexander Freed: Hera, in some ways, epitomizes the spirit of Star Wars — a good-hearted woman of high spirits thrust into adventure, terrible trials, and eventual leadership. She’s more than risen to her task as a general, and we see more of her than ever in Victory’s Price, conferring with the New Republic’s military council and seeking to bring an end to a very long war. But her personal commitment to stopping Shadow Wing has grown steadily over the novels. Once it was one of many vital operations she was overseeing, while now it’s her primary focus. She’s seen what Shadow Wing can do. In Shadow Fall, she saw what Shadow Wing did when she split her attention. She’s not going to let that happen again.

StarWars.com: Soran Keize sees his Imperial service as more than loyalty to the Empire. While he’s willing to commit atrocities like Operation Cinder, what really drives him in leading the 204th Imperial Fighter Wing?

Alexander Freed: That’s an excellent question. If you asked him, he’d say loyalty to his comrades. That while he may believe in some of the values of the Empire, everything he’s done since Endor and his sojourn as Devon has been to support and protect the people who fought for and alongside him.

If you asked him, he’d say that. He’d even believe it. But is it true?

StarWars.com: In Star Wars, there is a spectrum for characters from total heroes to complete villains with some folk in that gray area in the middle. Where do characters like Yrica Quell and the rest of Alphabet Squadron fit in that scale? Do they slide around a lot as circumstances dictate?

Alexander Freed: One of the things I enjoy about working in the Star Wars galaxy is the clearly defined moral “poles.” Luke Skywalker is a Good Man. Not a perfect one, maybe, but Good and attuned to the Force. Emperor Palpatine is an Evil Man, and he controls the dark side of the Force. In short, you can point to things within the setting and go, “That’s evil!” with confidence.

But most of the galaxy isn’t at the poles. They don’t know that Luke is Good and Palpatine is Evil. Quell lives in a universe governed by forces — no pun intended — she doesn’t truly understand, and that’s true of most of the squadron. It’s a lot easier for the reader to judge their actions than for the characters themselves.

Alphabet Squadron: Victory’s Price is available now in hardcover, ebook, audiobook formats.

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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.

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day And Beyond with the Star Wars Green Gift Guide

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 08:00

To paraphrase Rey, we didn’t know there was this much green in the entire galaxy!

Whether you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or just enjoy the beauty of shades of emerald and jade, evoking the splendor of nature and the power of the energy binding the natural world, StarWars.com has something for you with a green guide to celebrate the coming of spring.

Star Wars: The High Republic: Into the Dark from Disney-Lucasfilm Press

Green lightsabers usually conjure visions of Jedi Knights taking on crime lords on Tatooine or battling the Trade Federation and Darth Maul on Naboo. But there’s a new Jedi Padawan with a bright green blade. Meet Reath Silas and other new characters in a recent addition to The High Republic initiative.

LEGO Star Wars: Yoda’s Galaxy Atlas from DK

Travel from the green swamps of Dagobah to the emerald forests of Endor with your green guide, a LEGO Star Wars version of Jedi Master Yoda (complete with a little backpack!)

Protect Our Forests T-shirt from Fifth Sun

The Ewoks know something about keeping things green, and they’re always ready to protect the forest moon of Endor from intruders and other dangers. With this bright green tee, you can join the cause.

Star Wars Pop! Bobbleheads and Keychains from Funko

Choose from the concept art version of Jedi Master Yoda, the Child, AKA Grogu, in a bag, or even a pint-sized Boba Fett. Will he keep an eye on your keys? As you wish.

The Child Moccasins from Ground Up

Soft shearling makes these moccasins comfortable for traversing the galaxy or simply kicking it in the Razor Crest or wherever you call home.

Star Wars The Child Matching Pajamas from Hanna Andersson

Whether you’re the baby of the family or a wise elder like Yoda, everyone in the family can be swaddled in soft matching pajamas with original artwork celebrating the Child from The Mandalorian.

Star Wars Rodian Sweatshirt from Heroes & Villains

Fans of the green-skinned Greedo can celebrate his alien species with a soft crew-neck fleece.

Gamorrean Fighter Concept Maquette from Regal Robot

We admit to being a little green with envy when Jon Favreau first tweeted an image of a concept maquette announcing the second season of The Mandalorian. Now you can bring a collectible version of the Gamorrean Fighter home.

The Mandalorian The Child Green Tea from Republic of Tea

Bright green leaves, mixed with ginseng and honey, make a soothing cup of tea for a calm spirit and a clear mind just like Grogu.

The Jedi Master Diamond Pendant from Star Wars Fine Jewelry

A gleaming green jade stone carved in the image of Yoda makes this pendant the perfect symbol of the delicate balance between the natural world and the energy binding the galaxy together.

Lucky Grogu Tee from Tee Turtle

The Child embraces the luck only a four-leaf clover can bring.

Stormtrooper St. Patrick’s Day Mug from Zazzle

Or, if your allegiance is to the Empire, what else would you drink your coffee from on a holiday break?

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“The Potential of Finn”: Mel Milton on His Black History Month Portrait

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 12:00

There is hope in Finn’s eyes. The stormtrooper who escaped from the First Order and went on a secret mission for his friend, Poe Dameron, has become a full-fledged hero of the Resistance. And it’s that story, and the promise of other untold adventures yet to come, that inspired artist Mel Milton when he sat down to create a portrait of the character for Black History Month.

But there’s a complexity to Milton’s relationship with Finn, which is shared by other fans who saw the first look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 and expected more from Finn’s journey. After two more films, Milton says he still doesn’t feel Finn’s journey was complete. Finn has shed his armor and his borrowed jacket to become his most authentic self, as seen in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Yet in this portrait, his eyes are focused in the distance, looking toward the horizon and all that lies ahead. “I myself enjoy this character but there’s also something that was missing for me,” Milton admits to StarWars.com. “To be able to sit and say when we tell people stories, it’s when we overcome something. There’s a moment where the main character overcomes a conflict and it’s like, ‘That’s why I want to be that character! Because I have my own problems. I have my own things to overcome.’ And I think the potential of Finn was that.”

"Storytelling is at the heart of being human and black representation in all media gives us the opportunity to feel like we are a part of the world we are living in. To be seen and heard more gives us a chance to feel like we are understood by those consuming our stories.” 1/3 pic.twitter.com/7nv48oLE6g

— Star Wars (@starwars) February 14, 2021

Milton’s solution was to paint Finn at his best. “I moved him up a little bit, made him more proud to [be] a part of it because that’s how I imagine him to be,” he says. “But I wanted to portray him how I had him in my mind. That hope. Those dreams.”

Milton expected the portrait would generate much-needed conversation around the issue of black representation in media in general and in Star Wars in particular, “because I have that dialogue in myself,” he adds. “This is where representation becomes important. I remember when they showed that trailer and he popped up and everybody was just like, Here it is! Here is this moment that someone like me is on the screen.’ And so I think it built up…especially in the Star Wars realm. To have the representation dialogue gives a perspective from someone who hasn’t been represented very much to those who have been represented a chance to see beyond the labels and stereotypes that having little representation creates. Our country was built on diversity and our stories should be equally diverse to show that richness.”

Growing up half black and half Filipino in a military family, Milton embraced his love of art and Star Wars. But it wasn’t until his family settled in San Diego that he began to understand how his experience differed from that of his primarily white neighbors in California. “I was picked on a lot because of ‘not fitting in,’ which lead me to carry a lot of anger growing up. I understand why I was angry now , but as a child it wasn’t something that made sense. When I got older, then I started looking into this stuff. But as a kid you’re like, ‘Why don’t I fit in? What is that?’”

Overcoming homelessness and drug addiction in his teens that led him to drop out of high school in the 10th grade, Milton went to school to learn graphic design, then discovered his calling in the Artist’s Alley of San Diego Comic-Con. At 21, he planned to move to New York City to become an artist and animator, but made a stop in Utah where he had family and ultimately settled there, where he now has a wife and a young daughter.

Through his art, Milton says he can start conversations and express himself, bringing people joy and making them think. Prior to the release of his Finn portrait on the Star Wars and Disney social channels, Milton had been commissioned to create two Star Wars comic book covers — one with an epic clash between Yoda and Darth Maul and another featuring Kylo Ren. But on his own social media, he frequently posts quick sketches and half-finished works. Along with the phrase “Keep on keeping on,” it’s a reminder to himself and to other aspiring artists to keep doing what they love even when it gets difficult or they don’t see themselves represented in the industry they aspire to work in.

“You want to destroy a civilization? Kill their art. Right?” he says. “Because it’s at the heart of the people. Storytelling is this thing that resonates with people.” As he notes in the post accompanying his Finn art, “Storytelling is at the heart of being human, and black representation in all media gives us the opportunity to feel like we are a part of the world we are living in. To be seen and heard more gives us a chance to feel like we are understood by those consuming our stories. Stories can show how a character can overcome struggles and conflict and to see someone like yourself in that story is a springboard for the imagination. Introduce that to an eager mind of a child and you inspire the next generation of story tellers and beyond.”

And for Milton, that’s the core of why black representation and the celebration of Black History Month and beyond is so important. “To have a time and a place to celebrate, embrace and showcase black creativity and beauty is something that gives me a sense that I am a part of something wonderful and to me that is something that should be shared and experienced,” he says. “When I was growing up, being an artist seemed impossible to me as it wasn’t something that I saw or could nurture properly. I didn’t have a lot of people like me to turn to for advice. In those early years, a lot of people were surprised I said I wanted to be an artist. I’m hopeful for those young artists now and look forward to seeing them bloom as more and more black stories are told.”

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Wherever You Go, The Child Goes in This Unique Floating Pram – Exclusive

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 11:00

On the exhibition floor at the New York Toy Fair last year, the Child was just beginning his reign. Three months after toddling onto our screens, The Mandalorian’s co-star was gaining his own following, as fans clamored for toys and collectibles modeled after the bounty hunter’s green companion.

Among those earliest offerings, though not for sale, one display stood out from the crowd: a floating pram, inspired by the one featured on the Disney+ series, hovering in mid-air, 2.5 inches of its base, and protecting a most valuable plush-and-vinyl asset sculpted by the designers at Mattel. That 11-inch plush Grogu has since won Plush Toy of the Year at the 2021 Toy of the Year Awards, flying off of store shelves faster than the Razor Crest making a daring escape. But a life-size, levitating replica of the floating pram remained an elusive acquisition….until now.

Today, Mattel Creations, in partnership with ProjectArt, will place one specially-crafted hovering pram up for bid through an online auction on eBay and 100% of the final auction price (minus PayPal fees if purchased via PayPal) will benefit ProjectArt, a charity that supports the arts for underserved K-12 students by promoting teaching and learning through visual arts. Bidding is open now through March 5.

But before one lucky fan captures this prized asset, StarWars.com sat down with Mattel designer Michael Kadile to get a full bounty puck of intel on how the display piece was made.

StarWars.com: This floating pram is so unique! What can you tell us about how you took something that is partially in CGI on The Mandalorian and brought it into reality?

Michael Kadile: I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, so you don’t have to ask me to repeatedly watch this incredible new show. After watching The Mandalorian several times, screen capturing scenes and studying every angle, the first step was to recreate a 3D digital replica with the talented Mattel Sculptural Department. After the sculpt was perfected, we printed out massive molds to build a life-size pram.

After several versions of the molds, I then began to experiment with the process of building the pram. I was able to document the process so that the build could be replicated, if necessary. Finally, we painted static models of the pram to best replicate how it looks in the series. To finish the look, we added some stellar work from the Mattel Soft Goods team with custom ornamental blankets and the project was a hit!

StarWars.com: What was the biggest challenge you and the team encountered?

Michael Kadile: We had to install a powerful electro-magnetic levitation system on something that was large enough to be an actual pram. The balance was meticulous and specific. It has to be centered directly and balanced precisely when The Child was set inside of it along with the ornamental blankets. The slightest imbalance, even a gust of air, could have thrown it off if not installed properly.

Then two months after New York Toy Fair 2020, I was asked to replicate the display model for the charity auction. The biggest challenge for this next model was the COVID-19 shutdown. I would need to assemble it from one location (my garage) and working remotely with all the same teams to complete this version.

To show my appreciation for all the people who contributed to this phenomenal project, I insisted that each and every one of them signed their name somewhere on the inside of this collectible art piece. I was thrilled to work on this project and can’t wait to see who gets to enjoy this one-of-a-kind creation in their own home.

StarWars.com: The auction will benefit ProjectArt. Why is that charity important to you as an individual, and an artist yourself, as well as Mattel as a company?

Michael Kadile: ProjectArt focuses on bringing learning through visual arts to underserved K-12 students while also providing a residency program in the public library for artists to create new artwork and mentor youth who don’t have access to art education.  Giving kids the ability to express themselves through art and exploring their creativity is a great passion of mine, and being creative in my childhood ultimately helped me get to where I am today.

Mattel has a multitude of purpose-led brands and this partnership between Mattel Creations and ProjectArt is dedicated to giving back to the next generation of creators, particularly through the arts. Connecting with these kids is something that I find extremely rewarding. It’s amazing to have the ability to potentially impact their future and let them know that they can become anything, even a toy designer, and continue to play well into their adulthood.

In addition to the charity event, Mattel Creations also announced a new collector’s edition plush of The Child in a motorized hover pram, with realistic-looking hair and plush hands and feet, as well as a very limited quantity of autographed 3-packs of the Star Wars x Barbie dolls signed by acclaimed Barbie designer, Robert Best. The Star WarsThe Mandalorian The Child – Collector Edition Plush with Hover Pram and Star Wars x Barbie sets are available for a limited time only starting March 5 at 9 a.m. PST and ending at 9 a.m. PST on March 12.

Bidding on the eBay auction for the Mattel floating pram is open through March 5 at 9 a.m. PST at ebay.com/mattelcreations.

Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family at War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an 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. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.

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Get into the Holiday Spirit Early with Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas – Exclusive First Look

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 14:04

Jabba’s Palace looks downright cheerful decked out for a festive holiday party.

The Hutt’s fearsome guards have exchanged weapons for candy canes. The droids he’s received as a gift from Luke Skywalker are appropriately decked out in red ribbon. Even his favorite decoration, Han Solo, has been freed from his carbonite slumber to mingle with his friends.

And this is but one of the alternate-universe scenes unfolding in Jeffrey Brown’s newest illustrated book, Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas. The author of Darth Vader & Son and Vader’s Little Princess has reunited Darth Vader and his rebellious young twins for a holiday-themed family album that showcases the gentler side of the Sith Lord and the rest of the inhabitants in a galaxy far, far away. There are Force-enabled snowball fights, gingerbread Death Stars, and tauntauns prepared to help Santa Claus navigate through a Hoth snowstorm. Plus, Jabba the Hutt wearing a Santa cap!

“The holidays and Star Wars have always been tied together for me,” Brown tells StarWars.com. “Every year in my stocking would be a new Star Wars action figure, and growing up in Michigan meant that Hoth was always the planet I most related to. So making a whole book of holiday Star Wars gags seemed like a natural, cozy return to familiar and well-loved family!”

As revealed on This Week! In Star Wars today, StarWars.com has your first look at the charming cover art and a few illustrations from inside the new book in Brown’s New York Times bestselling Vader series.

Learn more about Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas and more on the latest episode of This Week! in Star Wars below:

Star Wars: A Vader Family Sithmas arrives on October 5, 2021 and is available for pre-order now.

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Star Wars Pinball VR Coming April 29

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 13:38

Soon, fans will have a whole new way to play — and experience — Star Wars Pinball.

Zen Studios announced today that its long-running Star Wars Pinball is coming to virtual reality for the first time ever. Star Wars Pinball VR will arrive on Oculus Quest 1 & 2, Steam VR, and PlayStation VR on April 29 — just in time for May the 4th, the Star Wars fan holiday.

Star Wars Pinball VR is set to launch with eight tables: the brand-new The Mandalorian and Star Wars Classic Collectibles tables, along with six remastered favorites, including Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Wars Rebels, and Masters of the Force.

Star Wars Pinball VR will also feature some special modifications that take full advantage of the virtual reality experience. All of the action occurs in a fully customizable “fan cave,” which houses your in-game pinball table as well as many Star Wars helmets, lightsabers, and other items earned through successful play. Turn on the pinball table and the room comes to life — not only with a new table to play, but also with life-sized characters and vehicles joining you on either side. Meanwhile, Total Immersion mode allows you to experience everything at table level, and fully 360-degree minigames surround you with iconic Star Wars set pieces.

The game was revealed on The Pinball Show — Zen Studios’ new monthly YouTube show — in a clever video that pays tribute to the classic trailer for the Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition.

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Deploy the Fleet for the New Star Wars X Herschel Collection

Thu, 02/25/2021 - 09:00

“If you only knew the power of the dark side…”

When Jon Warren, VP of product design at Herschel Supply Company, and his team sat down to design the new Star Wars x Herschel collaboration, he knew it was the perfect time to incorporate his favorite design details from the costumes of the galaxy’s most captivating villains in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Darth Vader loomed large, along with the mysterious bounty hunter Boba Fett. And, of course, the gleaming white legion of Imperial stormtroopers would have to be represented.

But far more than just using the armor and color palettes for inspiration, Warren’s pieces speak to the most die-hard fans with a variety of patterns, quotes, and minute details that connect directly to the original costume design. The zipper pulls on one Boba Fett bag are braided in a nod to the embellishments cascading off one shoulder of his gear. The pinstripe stitching around Darth Vader’s chest plate has found new life on the exterior print of another bag. And the stormtrooper line salutes the gamut of armor and equipment represented by the Empire’s finest, with a variety of screen prints including one emblazoned with a thermal detonator.

To mark the release of the new line, StarWars.com recently sat down with Warren to take a deep dive into his favorite features, and nerd out about how the galaxy far, far away inspired him to become a designer.

StarWars.com: As the first Star Wars x Herschel collaboration, when you sat down to begin designing the line, what were your must-haves for the collection? 

Jon Warren: We wanted to work with the dark side and The Empire Strikes Back right out of the gate — the villains are some of our favorite characters from the Star Wars galaxy. As designers, we see their uniforms as an extension of their story, so we decided to build designs off of what the characters wear and their equipment. We put in a lot of thought into this one. We’re product geeks and knew we had to [deliver] for the fans.

StarWars.com:  How did you stay true to the Herschel brand and aesthetic while incorporating those elements that were unmistakably Star Wars

Jon Warren: When you think of Darth Vader, Boba Fett, and the stormtroopers, you immediately envision the distinctive gear they wear, which was a perfect jumping off point for the collection. When we began designing the line, we imagined what each character might use if they carried Herschel and pulled specific styles from our product range for each of them, so every set of bags is completely unique. A lot of us at Herschel are huge Star Wars fans. As kids, we would obsess over all of the different movie details, play with the action figures, and role-play these iconic characters so we had a lifetime of imagination to work off of.

StarWars.com: Let’s talk about some of those details in each character collection. The stormtrooper pieces are so crisp and clean, yet evocative of that classic white armor. I love the quilting detail on the straps in particular.

Jon Warren: Every bag in the collection has a cross stitch over a tonal version of Hershel’s signature woven label. This is a subtle nod to Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker crossing lightsabers. The stormtrooper is primarily white, but we screen printed different details of their uniform and equipment on the bags too. My favorite is the thermal detonator that we made out of our Settlement Case. If you’re in the know, you’ll recognize it immediately.

The shoulder strap panels on the Miller backpack were modeled after the way the stormtrooper’s chest plate attaches; when you wear the backpack, you get that hit of black.

The interior liner pattern is rendered with a custom pattern that takes cues from the armor. The color is a nod to the blue air filtration vents found on the stormtrooper helmet.

StarWars.com: The linings on your bags are always really fun prints. For Darth Vader, you went for what looks like a red Death Star lights motif and some of the pieces have a subtle pin striping on the outside. 

Jon Warren: We went all out for Darth Vader. He’s the ultimate villain and might just be the most popular character in all of Star Wars. It was only fitting that we give him two of our most iconic bags — the Herschel Little America backpack and Novel duffle. We opened custom rubber molding on all of the Vader bags to match his armor — this is a particularly special feature since it’s completely unique to the collection. The red on the straps speaks to the red lightsabers used by the Sith. And the liner boasts another custom pattern inspired by the triangular grill on Vader’s helmet. Red is, of course, the color most associated with the Sith and the dark side.

If you look closely, you’ll see that we used a heat transfer printing technique to recreate the pinstripe stitching around Darth Vader’s chest plate. It’s another one of those understated design details we wanted to include for the fans. We also wanted to do something special to reference Darth Vader’s cape. If you flip the Herschel Little America backpack and Nova Mid-Volume backpack over, you will see, screen-printed in Aurebesh, the word “DEPLOY.” And there’s a rain cover for the bag with a reflective Imperial Crest stowed away in a zipper compartment.

We added a small hidden detail behind the woven label located inside of the bags. The front of the label reads, “JOIN THE DARK SIDE,” but there’s a hidden quote behind the label specific to Vader. It reads, “NO, I AM YOUR FATHER.” It’s one of the most iconic quotes in the cinematic world and such a great twist in the film. We had to use it.

StarWars.com: And then there’s Boba Fett! I love the abstract print using some of the colors that we associate with Fett’s armor. It’s very much an “if you know, you know” kind of piece at first glance that I could see would blend seamlessly into someone’s existing wardrobe. How did you land on this more abstract print for this part of the collection?

Jon Warren: As a kid, Boba Fett was the coolest character in The Empire Strikes Back. My friends and I thought he was such a bad ass. His armor is so cool and as an old skateboarder that would frequently shop at army surplus stores, a custom camouflage print for his bags felt natural.

The camo was inspired by Boba Fett’s dinged up helmet. It reminded me of some vintage splinter cell camo I have. I wanted to do something military, but also unique to Herschel and Star Wars. I love all of the styles in the collection, but the Dawson backpacks are my favorite. We created external pockets to mimic Boba Fett’s cargo pockets — a special design detail exclusive to these bags.

Another, darker, feature on the Boba Fett bags is the braided zipper pull you see throughout the collection. It’s a nod to the braids he has hanging off of his right shoulder in the film.

Like Darth Vader, Boba Fett also wears a cape and has a similar rain cover stashed away at the bottom of his Dawson backpacks and Classic XL backpack. His features the Mandalorian Crest instead of the Imperial Crest seen on Vader’s.

Boba Fett’s internal quote label says, “AS YOU WISH.” The interior liner print is a graphic play on his helmet and visor. The mustard yellow colorway is a reference to his knee and shoulder armor.

StarWars.com: Obviously, you are a huge fan based on all the thought and detail you’ve put in here. Can you tell us what Star Wars means to you?

Jon Warren: Star Wars made a huge impact on me as a kid. I saw The Empire Strikes Back in the theater and I was instantly hooked. George Lucas and his team created an entire galaxy with rich storytelling, compelling characters, futuristic vehicles, uniforms, planets, environments, and epic space battles. Everything was original and set my mind wild. As designers, we get to create our own world as well — I try to channel that same type of creativity behind Star Wars into everything we do at Herschel. This collaboration was a chance for us to be a part of the Star Wars legacy, something that has inspired so many across different generations, young and old, and played such an important role in my and other people’s lives.

Shop the Star Wars x Herschel collection now.

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Associate Editor Kristin Baver is the author of the book Skywalker: A Family at War, host of This Week! In Star Wars, and an 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. Follow her on Twitter @KristinBaver.

Site tags: #StarWarsBlog

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