• Annotations 

    Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away: August 2017

    By | September 12th, 2017
    Posted in Annotations | % Comments

    Welcome to Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away! This right here will be your monthly hub, looking in depth at Marvel’s Star Wars comics each month! Now, you may be thinking: “Alice, don’t you already have a podcast where you talk about Star Wars every month?” And you’d be right! But, this way, I get to delve deep into Marvel’s comics and I get to talk about Star Wars even more.

    This month in Star Wars: while two different films have lost and gained directors, Marvel’s comics have continued apace. Most series are in the middle of their arcs while we’ve gotten the first issue of a new series focusing on Mace Windu, Jedi of the Republic!

    So, what are we waiting for? Let’s punch it, Chewie!

    “Darth Vader” #4

    Cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli & Francesco Mattina
    Written by Charles Soule
    Pencilled by Giuseppe Camuncoli
    Inked by Cam Smith
    Coloured by David Curiel
    Lettered by Joe Caramagna
    Vader’s first mission isn’t going well. The dark side is the way of power. But no one said it would be easy.

    More Machine Now Than Man

    One of the things I love about this series so far has been how it’s treated Vader as a cybernetic construct. Throughout most of Vader’s existence, his suit and prosthetics have rarely been showcased outside of, perhaps, the ending of Return Of The Jedi and, obviously, the construction of the suit in Revenge Of The Sith. Here, however, we see a crushed and beaten Vader reconstituting himself with the droid parts of a fallen opponent. The exposed cybernetic legs and the cracked lens remind us not only of the infallibility of Vader, but the vulnerability that comes with relying on life-sustaining technology.

    The Great Jedi Betrayal

    We knew that Infil’a had secluded himself on a backwater moon, only feeling the Jedi Purge through the shockwaves it created in the Force, but it really interested me that this is the first he’s hearing of the Empire’s branding of the Jedi as traitors. It’s something that was introduced in Revenge Of The Sith and only really explored in Rebels and the tie-in “Kanan” comic, but here we see the reaction of someone living through the Purge. The idea that the Order Infil’a dedicated himself to has been eradicated is one thing, but for the galactic public to view them as traitors based on a twisted lie? That’ll mess you up.

    Tragic Irony Of Hope

    Star Wars loves tragic irony. It’s perhaps what George Lucas’s storytelling rests on the most. So I loved this little panel, where Infil’a indulges in a little reassurance, a little hope, for a brighter future that he may return and train and new generation of Jedi to fight back against the tyranny of the Sith. And I loved how the issue is constructed to punish that by having Vader’s return wipe out not just Infil’a, but the entire town he swore to protect.

    This is perhaps the best distillation of the dark side that gathers over the galaxy in the wake of the Jedi Purge.

    How To Fight Like A Sith

    If this “Darth Vader” series is all about Vader unlearning how to fight and live like a Jedi and learning to fight and live like a Sith, this might be his first steps into a darker world. Sure, we’ve seen him fight out of anger in past issues, but he still fought one on one with a semblance of the nobility instilled in him by the Jedi. It’s here that Vader starts to employ a level of trickery, of mocking distractions to expose the weakness of empathy in the Jedi. By taunting Infil’a with the deaths of innocents, Vader is easily able to best him in a way he couldn’t when he tried to fight him with honour.

    VADER TRIUMPHANT

    And so we see Vader’s first true victory as a Sith apprentice. Able to best a pretty formidable Jedi Master in combat through dark side trickery and the exposing of a weakness, Vader walks away a little more steeped in the dark side of the Force and with his very own lightsaber. Where we go from here, I can only guess at, but I’ll be interested to see what Vader’s next conversation with Palpatine is after this fight.

    Continued below

    “Cassian & K-2SO Special” #1

    Cover by Julian Totino Tedesco
    Written by Duane Swierczynski
    Illustrated by Fernando Blanco
    Coloured by Marcelo Maiolo
    Lettered by Clayton Cowles
    Cassian Andor is one of the top intelligence agents in the ranks of the Rebel Alliance, ably assisted by his reprogrammed Imperial security droid, K-2SO. But naturally, the two weren’t always on the same side of the Galactic Civil War. Now, for the first time, read the story of the pair’s first contentious meeting! It is very likely not to go well.

    Not Quite An Opening Crawl

    Much like Rogue One, this issue forgoes the stylistic trappings of the rest of Marvel’s Star Wars comics. Replacing the Opening Crawl style credits page with one closer to the Rebellion mission briefing of the Rogue One adaptation, we then get what would basically be the kind of exposition of the Opening Crawl in Cassian’s dialogue. It’s an interesting choice and continues to make Rogue One feel like it’s own thing within the Star Wars universe, even in terms of tie-ins.

    A New Species

    This issue, we’re introduced to Kertas and Rismor, a unique alien race that’s introduced here for the first time. They don’t, as far as I can tell, have a species name yet, but it can only be a matter of time, honestly. They apparently communicate largely through scenting, which is pretty interesting, and their purple skinned design make them look visually unique. I wish they had more impact on the story other than largely being flavour so it’s not entirely about Cassian and K-2SO and I certainly hope they make a return.

    The Guts

    Now, this is a pretty cool image. In Cassian’s mission briefing, he mentions infiltrating “The Gut”s to extract Imperial security data and it’s a few pages before we get context to that. With the increased military presence on Wecacoe, we assume it’s something pretty important, until we’re hit with the this. The guts are of a downed Star Destroyer, and I can’t help but be impressed that Cassian would try to infiltrated a grounded Star Destroyer with a team of three. Because of course he did.

    A Partnership At First Sight

    Obviously, this issue exists to tell the backstory of how Cassian first met and reprogrammed K-2SO. While we don’t really get much information that we didn’t already know from watching Rogue One, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy their initial conflict. Having to take on a Security Droid, we see the more militaristic side of Cassian here as he ably takes down a seven foot tall slab of metal.

    Imperial Subtlety

    Once reprogrammed, K-2SO still retains a semblance of Imperial personality and with that comes all the subtlety of a slapstick character. Barging into situations with far too much honesty, we get a sense of the charm K-2SO had before he got roped into stealing the plans for the Death Star and his (spoilers) untimely demise on Scarif. I do almost wish this was a longer miniseries about his and Cassian’s ongoing adventures instead of just a fill-in-the-blanks sequel.

    Choices & Droids

    Here, we get an interesting notion that goes back to the nature of droids in the Star Wars universe as a whole. While droids are said to be programmed and will follow the orders of their masters, they’re also capable of free thought and genuine personalities. It brings up some pretty interesting moral questions about K-2SO. Sure, he’s a fun character with comedic chops, but in the context of the universe, he was essentially kidnapped and brainwashed by Cassian and used against his will. Does he remember this moment? Does he remember losing his choice to be someone?

    Happily Ever After

    And, of course, we ended with an introduction as Cassian and K-2SO become fast friends and partners before they team up to take down the Imperial military presence across the galaxy before settling down on peaceful Yavin, living happily ever after. Obviously, that last part doesn’t happen, but this ending goes back to that sense of tragic irony I mentioned. It’s bittersweet because we’re seeing this great partnership blossom, but with the newfound context not only of K-2SO’s lack of choice in the matter, but also the context of their inevitable deaths in service of the Rebellion.

    Continued below

    “Doctor Aphra” #11

    Cover by Kamome Shirahama
    Written by Kieron Gillen
    Pencilled by Kev Walker
    Inked by Marc Deering
    Coloured by Antonio Fabela
    Lettered by Joe Caramagna
    Aphra’s mission to make quick credits by auctioning off an ancient Jedi artifact is going to plan…That is, until it isn’t. Meanwhile, a dark figure from Aphra’s past decides to make an appearance…

    Mastermind Revealed

    Last issue, the Eternal Rur awoke in the body of a recently decommissioned security droid and proceeded to open fire on the room full of smugglers, crime lords and other well to do galactic citizens for daring to bid on owning him. Fair enough, to be quite honest, I’d be pretty pissed if my entire existence was confined to knock off Kryptonite people were space-ebaying.

    This issue, however, reveals that BT and Triple-Zero were behind unleashing Rur on the crowd. Why? Was it to get the jollies on all the organic murder going on? I have no idea, but I’m guessing it has something to do with who shows up at the end of the issue.

    Partners In Survival

    There’s not a whole lot to comment on in this issue, so I want to draw attention to this nice little moment. These two have generally been at odds with each other during this arc, but here we see them put aside their differences and team up in a matter of survival. I love it when organics come together to stave off the glorious obliteration at the mechanical hands of an ancient Jedi consciousness.

    No Happy Ending

    We get a moment of interesting lucidity here from Aphra, who generally exists behind layer upon layer of faux character traits and personalities. As a reader, it’s hard to get a bead on who Aphra really is, but I appreciated this look behind the curtain at the accepted nihilism of her life choices. She knows she’s no hero, that she’s done awful things to get where she is in life (which isn’t a position of much power, let’s be honest) and that there’s no sunshine and roses to be had at the end of it.

    Look Who’s Come To Dinner

    There he is! You know, after being teased at the end of #9, I was expecting a follow up quicker than this. And I was especially expecting something more substantial than another last page teaser of Bid Daddy Vader turning up to ruin the party. I guess what I’m saying is, I hope next issue makes up for how weirdly clean Aphra’s getaway in “Darth Vader” was resolved and that we finally get an explanation of what’s going on with Triple-Zero.

    “Star Wars” #34

    Cover by Mike Mayhew
    Written by Jason Aaron
    Illustrated by Salvador Larroca
    Coloured by Edgar Delgado
    Lettered by Clayton Cowles
    Sana and Lando join forces on Coruscant to swindle some credits!

    Sana’s Backstory

    Sana Starros is a strange one. Introduced in a flurry of controversy because she was apparently Han Solo’s wife, she seemed to be quickly swept to the sidelines after the reveal that it was all just an in-universe work from some credits. Thankfully, we finally got an issue all about her (and Lando, the only other black person in the galaxy during the Original Trilogy) that touches on her backstory a little more.

    She’s still largely a mystery, but we get a sense of how her time with the Rebellion has changed her and how she uses her smuggling skills for altruistic purposes. If anyone’s deserving of her own series, it’s Sana.

    Playing Ever Side

    One of the most impressive things about this self-contained story is how Sana is able to con everyone she meets. From the crab guys that look like the aliens from The Fifth Element meets a Zerg to the Imperials whose weapons were stole to the Hutt that stole them. She runs rings around everyone, playing ever angle and getting away scot-free. Again, why doesn’t Sana Starros have her own comic series yet?

    Continued below

    Impressing Lando

    You know you’re a good con artist when you impress Lando Calrissian. The guy who swindled someone out of an entire mining facility and even tried to hijack the Emperor’s private yacht must be hard to impress, but Sana was clearly able to show him up. This entire issue I could annotate with simply “Give Sana Starros her own damn comic.”

    Smuggling Hope

    The issue ends on that note of altruistic smuggling I mentioned. Throughout the issue, the reader wonders what Sana’s game is, what there is to gain from swindling so many different people and the revelation is pretty beautiful. Putting that money back into Nar Shadaa in the hopes of making the lives of the people there that small bit better. Again, and as always, give Sana Starros her own damn comic.

    “Poe Dameron” #18

    Cover by Phil Noto
    Written by Charles Soule
    Illustrated by Angel Unzueta
    Coloured by Arif Prianto
    Lettered by Joe Caramagna
    Jess Pava and Kare Kun are on a mission to expose the First Order to the rest of the galaxy! Meanwhile, Poe Dameron and Snap Wexley are tracking down Oddy Muva – the traitor! Black Squadron divided!

    Might Of The First Order

    Last issue, half of the Black Squadron flew off to document the horrors of the First Order as they make their presence more and more known in the galaxy. Here, we see that horror of the First Order as an officer guns down a native of a planet with a rich mine of Thorilide for not allowing the First Order to mine there. If the Black Squadron were looking to catch the First Order red handed, they’ve struck gold. Now if only they could get out of there without attracting attention to themselves.

    Journalistic Morality

    Suralinda joined the Black Squadron last issue to make up for the gap left by L’ulo and she immediately rubbed Jess and Kare the wrong way not just for being the one who almost sold out the Resistance, but for being a journalist amidst soldiers. It’s interesting to see here the moral juxtaposition between those two ideologies as Suralinda is more than ready to turn tail and leave the natives to the mercy of the First Order in order to complete her assignment while Jess and Kare can’t abide to let such cruelty go unpunished. Let’s see how that turns out, shall we?

    Moralistic Loopholes

    A theme of “Poe Dameron” has been examining morals of two juxtaposed ideologies in relative peacetime. There’s no war to fall back on that allows one to think of themselves as doing something wrong for the right reason. Here, Oddy’s betrayal of Black Squadron in order to save his wife is presented without the vacuum of unaccountability that war provides. Oddy sacrificed the lives of many who were close to him for the protection of the one closest to him and while it’s hard not to defend his choice to save his wife, you can’t ignore the lives of Black Squadron put on the line because of it. It’s one of the more interesting aspects of the series.

    Slave Terex

    Another more interesting aspect of this issue is when Oddy is confronted with what the First Order has down with Terex. It’s hilarious to Oddy that after toiling under the thumb of Terex, Terex is now left to guard a relatively harmless prisoner and get information from him. We get another glimpse at the humanity behind the cybernetics too as Terex tries to get Oddy to free him from the slave circuits, but to no avail. Oddy delights in almost cruelly letting Terex suffer for what he put him through.

    Journalistic Integrity

    Remember when I said the ideological juxtaposition between Suralinda and the rest of Black Squadron was fascinating in how it shows the priorities between journalism and military? Here, we see Suralinda use that to either sell Jess and Kare down the river to the First Order or we’re meant to think that and she is stalling in order to get a better position to free them. It’s very likely that this is Soule and Unzueta presenting a seemingly untrustworthy character doing something shady only to reveal altruistic intentions later on. We’ll see next issue.

    Continued below

    Black Squdron On The Ropes

    The issue ends on a pretty sinister note as Black Squadron is almost entirely at the mercy of the First Order. With the Cold War between the Resistance and the First Order heating up, I have to wonder how long this series can hold out before it has to catch up with The Force Awakens.

    “Doctor Aphra” Annual #1

    Cover by David Nakayama
    Written by Kieron Gillen
    Illustrated by Marc Laming & Will Sliney
    Coloured by Jordan Boyd
    Lettered by Joe Caramagna
    Doctor Aphra has a troubled past full of parental drama and war. But what about her Wookiee shadow, Black Krrsantan? Find out just how this Wookiee warrior is as frightening as they say…and then some!

    The Origin Of Black Krrsantan

    This annual presents the origin story of Black Krrsantan in a pretty unique light. The story of a Wookiee being stolen from Kashyyyk by slavers to be trained as a gladiatorial combatant isn’t exactly the most exciting thing in the world, but the twist of having Black Krrsantan using a fellow Wookiee as bait in order to attack the slavers is something new. Then having him use the lone survivor to take him to the Xonti brothers flips what was seen as a tragedy on its head.

    A Life Of Harsh Training

    Due to the constraints of time in a 30 page annual, we only see glimpses of Krrsantan’s life at the hands of the Xonti brothers, but we definitely get a sense of a fierce fighter forged through the fires of the pit as well as a volunteer being forced to wallow in the same conditions as those kidnapped and enslaved by the brothers. It’s here that the element of tragedy in Krrsantan’s life is brought to the fore in a new light. This is the life he chose, but it’s not the conditions he deserved to live in.

    Wookieeverine

    I don’t really have a lot to say here, I pretty much just wanted to make the Wookieeverine pun. I found it pretty funny that this page was so reminiscent of Barry Windsor Smith’s “Weapon X” run with the harsh red lighting and with Krrsantan being left with metal claws. It explains why Krrsantan is an almost superhuman (superwookiee?) fighter if he is augmented to be nigh unbeatable.

    A Life Debt

    And here’s the rub. The reason Black Krrsantan has been so dogged in hunting down the Xonti brothers has nothing to do with revenge and everything to do with the Wookiee’s sense of honour and debt. The brothers completely upended Krrsantan’s life and left him entirely changed. It’s only right for a Wookiee to want to do the same for them. If that leaves them with some arms being removed from their sockets, though, that’s another matter…

    Setting Up The Auction

    Finally, I enjoyed how this annual was tied into the current arc of Aphra’s auction of Rur. It was a moment that wasn’t needed, but it placed the story in the context of the larger series while also giving Aphra, BT and Triple-Zero something to do while Krrsantan was regaling journalists with his life story.

    “Star Wars” #35

    Cover by Mike Mayhew
    Written by Jason Aaron
    Illustrated by Salvador Larroca
    Coloured by Edgar Delgado
    Lettered by Clayton Cowles
    Han and Chewie go back to smuggling…for a Hutt?!

    How Do You Solve A Problem Like Smuggling A Hutt?

    This issue has a pretty neat set-up and while I think it’s somewhat let down by the execution, I enjoyed the notion that the Rebellion uses Han to do the dirty work that no one else really wants to do. Got a cybernetically enhanced and incredibly swole Hutt that you need to transport to a new prison complex? Why not pawn it off on the guy who doesn’t really want anything to do with us anyway? Problem sorted! The bonus is that Solo knows how to deal with Hutts and that’s where the meat of this issue comes in.

    Continued below

    Mon Mothma Knows

    I love that the new Star Wars canon has really upped the importance of Mon Mothma’s role in the galaxy. A lot of that has to do with Rogue One and Rebels, of course, but even in scenes like this, Mon Mothma holds a lot of weight in the Rebellion. An aspect I love is how clearly she can see through Han and Leia’s flirting and see what’s really behind it. She doesn’t come out and say it, obviously, because they don’t work it out for themselves until Empire Strikes Back, but it was just a small moment I love.

    The Temptation Of Solo

    While it’s eventually revealed that Solo and Chewbacca are all in on the plan to break Grakkus by appealing to his arrogance, I loved these panels. It’s so dramatic and plays into the theme of Han feeling unsure of his place in the Rebellion. Throughout the series, playing to type, he’s complained about being controlled by the ideology of the Rebellion, that he wants to return to his past life as a smuggler out for himself. Here, we see Grakkus pushing that button, seemingly pressing on his own arrogance to break away from the Rebellion. Interestingly, it leads into…

    The Bait & Switch

    Han revealing just how committed he is to the Rebellion by putting his life on the line to force Grakkus to give up the location of his arsenal. It’s a lovely character moment in the grand scheme of things because it’s a reminder of the heart of gold underneath his smuggler exterior. While he still puts up the facade of selfishness, it’s a hint that he believes more than he says he does even this far before Empire Strikes Back.

    “Jedi Of The Republic: Mace Windu” #1

    Cover by Jesus Saiz
    Written by Matt Owens
    Pencilled by Denys Cowan
    Inked by Roberto Poggi
    Coloured by Guru-eFX
    Lettered by Joe Caramagna
    For over a thousand generations, the Jedi have been the peacekeepers of the galaxy…but now, at the dawn of the Clone Wars, they find themselves in a new role: generals in the Army of the Republic. As Mace Windu, one of the Jedi’s greatest warriors, leads a small unit of Jedi into battle shortly after the war begins, the Jedi must make peace with their new role, or be lost to the violence around them!

    The Pursuit Of Peace

    Something always fascinating to me about the Prequel Trilogy is where it positions the Jedi in the conflict of the Clone Wars. Placing them as generals of the clone army, it seems to undercut their position of galactic peacekeepers. Now, while I understand the frustration behind people seeing this as a betrayal of what the Jedi were presented to be in the Original Trilogy, I want to remind you that it was part of Palpatine’s plans to place them in this compromised position.

    Where I think Lucas failed the story of the Jedi is a lack of scenes like this, where the Jedi acknowledge that their position as peacekeepers have been compromised. Windu and Mundi contemplating on what being a Jedi during a war means is a great moment sadly missed during the Prequel films.

    A Mission For Windu

    For the longest time, I was confused about what this comic would actually be about. Sure, it’s about Mace Windu during the Clone Wars, but what will he be up to that we didn’t see in The Clone Wars? Well, it turns out that he’s on a mission without a battalion of clones backing him up and I’m very into that idea. Not only does it give us more Kit Fisto (my favourite Prequel Jedi), but also introduces us to two new and interesting Jedi: one a charming blind monk stereotype and one an over-excited fangirl stereotype. Harsh, I know, but I hope we see them develop beyond that archetype over the rest of the series.

    Continued below

    Knights Of The Republic

    Going back to the idea that the Jedi as generals undercuts their position as peacekeepers, this set of panels brings up an interesting point. They do call themselves knights, who (in a real world context) historically kept the peace while also going to war when needed. How else can one keep the peace during times of war than to lead a swift and (hopefully) decisive end to it from the fore rather than sit it out and let the galaxy be engulfed in chaos?

    What’s The Opposite Of Altruism?

    Something I love about the Clone Wars is how it’s fought through proxy. At it’s head is Palpatine, pulling the strings of the Republic and the Separatists alike, both of whom use dehumanised proxy armies to fight their battles for them. The Republic use clones lead by ascetic warrior monks while the Separatist use droids. I’m very taken with the idea that the opposite of the Jedi isn’t the Sith, but the empathy-less droids.

    And there we have it! A deep dive into the stories of Marvel’s Star Wars comics from the last month! Join me next month for a look into the releases of August.

    And, as always, may the Force be with you…


    //TAGS | tales from a galaxy far far away

    Alice W. Castle

    Sworn to protect a world that hates and fears her, Alice W. Castle is a trans femme writing about comics. All things considered, it’s going surprisingly well. Ask her about the unproduced Superman films of 1990 - 2006. She can be found on various corners of the internet, but most frequently on Twitter: @alicewcastle

    EMAIL | ARTICLES



  • -->