Star Wars Needs Mandalorian

Star Wars Celebration 2019 happened recently, and it brought tons of news. First, of course, was the trailer for Episode IX (read my reaction here). Overshadowed by all the hoopla concerning Rise of the Skywalker, was something that Star Wars needs: the Mandalorian. Why do I say this?

The Star Wars galaxy is huge. It encompasses countless planets and citizens, and yet, the majority of the stories we have seen and read follow a select group of those inhabitants. The prequels, the Clone Wars animated series, the Original Trilogy, and the new movies all focus on the Skywalkers in some way. Now, don’t get me wrong; I dig the Skywalker saga. It is arguably what made the franchise so successful in the first place. However, with such a large canvas for storytellers to use, I am disappointed the galaxy feels so limited.

The Image shows what Star Wars needs: the Mandalorian in action. He is shooting a blaster pistol at some unfortunates.
The Mandalorian, played by Pedro Pascal. Image from the teaser trailer.

Star Wars needs to feel bigger, and finally it will because of the Mandalorian. Set five years after the Return of the Jedi, the series will give us our first glimpse of something new. Will it still rely on the films? I am certain, but I do hope that it won’t have the titular character chasing after Solo or Skywalker. In fact, I hope the characters we know from the movies are nowhere to be seen or heard. Maybe a mention of how they are fighting the remnants of the Empire, or establishing a government. Those things I could live with, but nothing more.

Star Wars Needs Original Mandalorian Stories

There are plenty of stories to tell using the premise of a Mandalorian bounty hunter (who isn’t Boba Fett) that we don’t need the OT characters. Instead, have this warrior working for a criminal organization, bringing in the rabble. Maybe he used to work for Jabba and is now freelance. I want them to use this opportunity to explore the seedy underbelly of Star Wars. As a bounty hunter, his options are limitless.

Show us new locations and introduce us to new characters. Expand the galaxy to the size it deserves. If the creative forces can do this, then I will be there for it. Who am I kidding? I am already there for it. I think I am more excited about this than episode IX, mostly because it is something new.

Han Solo was an anti-hero turned hero. Rogue One fully introduced the idea of gray morality to the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian has the opportunity to expand on this under developed aspect of the galaxy. Not everyone needs to be a big hero of destiny, nor do they have to be absolute evil. The far away galaxy needs a bit of moral ambiguity. It creates interesting and entertaining story opportunities, and helps people relate to it.

Personally, I love the good is good and evil is evil aspect to Star Wars, but I also welcome the development of a different type of character. The galaxy is a big place with enough room for all types of characters.

The Stories I Want

I am about to start an Edge of the Empire Role Playing game with some friends. They want to play bounty hunters and smugglers, and while I haven’t seen the Mandalorian, it has already helped me by providing a sort of context. Right now the idea is the players have to hunt down a Twi’lek who stole sensitive information from their boss. They need to retrieve the information and return the thief to face punishement. It’s a simple setup, but I think it has lots of potential.

As I was planning this adventure, I started thinking about the kinds of stories I want from the Mandalorian.

I want heist stories, intrigue stories, investigations and kidnappings. In short, I want crime stories set in the Star Wars universe.

In addition to the types of stories I mentioned above, double crosses always work well in criminal underworld tales. A Star Wars story about how the Mandalorian’s friends double crossed him could be a lot of fun. In fact, such a story could set up a Lone Wolf and Cub type dynamic with him turning to bounty hunting to fund his vengeance.

Stars Wars needs the Mandalorian and the stories it can tell. I have faith that they can tell good ones.

What about you? What stories or jobs do you want to see the armored warrior participate in? Are you excited for this show? Tell me in the comments.

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Tie Fighter #1 Review: Imperial Pilots Take the Stage

In the Star Wars universe, the aesthetic of the Empire is unmistakable. Imperial ships are gray, angular, and easy to recognize. This look helps them strike fear into their enemies and present a unified front. Unlike the Rebels, the Empire announces its presence. However, this unity also makes the Empire seem like a faceless mob of people, which is effective. What could be scarier than a faceless death machine? Here, I review how Tie Fighter #1 attempts to address that style, and answer how well it succeeds in its task.

The image shows the cover to Tie Fighter #1, the focus of my review. We see a tie pilot on the inside of his space ship.
Tie Fighter #1 Cover. Click image to enlarge

The Empire is without a doubt an evil organization, and they have proven this time and time again. First, they build a weapon of mass destruction. Then, they take a Princess and a diplomat hostage and torture her for information. Next, they use their weapon to destroy her home planet. All of these things are terrible actions taken by a terrible and oppressive government. This issue attempts to add some context to these actions, and present the other side of the coin. For example, are the Rebels really terrorists? Do they deserve what the Empire is doing to them? When thinking about my Tie Fighter #1 review, these were questions I had to grapple with.

Tie Fighter #1 Review: Sympathy for the Empire

Due to the fact that the Empire is evil, one could easily assume that its troopers and pilots are also evil. This is not a bad assumption to make. When I read this comic, I wondered how the creative team would make me sympathize with its protagonists. How would they develop these characters and present them in a sympathetic light? It is a dicey question, to be sure, especially considering the current real world political climate. “Fine people on both sides,” and all that.

I am not here to talk politics, much, but it bears keeping in mind that this comic asks the readers to side with a government that murders citizens by the billions and rules with fear. This is not the first time a Star Wars comic has tackled such issues. In fact, Dark Horse had an ongoing series called Empire, and it was great. Why? Well, first of all it came out in the early 2000s. a simple time, and it never tried to make the Imperials sympathetic. Instead, it showed the whole Empire as conniving and paranoid and evil. In classic Star Wars fashion, it presented the galaxy far far away in the moral absolutes it so often deals .

Anyway, back to my Tie Fighter #1 review. We first meet Squadron 5 (Shadow Wing) as they blast some Rebel ships to hell. After a job well done, they return to their capital ship, the Imperial Star Destroyer Pursuer, where the reader catches the first glimpse of some of these pilots.

The image shows two shadow wing pilots, Lyttan Dree and Jeela Brebtin talking after a space battle. Jeela has an intense look on her face.
Click image to enlarge

Characterization Through Artwork

I like this page for a couple of reasons. One, the artists do a good job of capturing the vastness of an Imperial Star Destroyer. These things are huge, and that size is not easy to capture on the page. However, Roge Antonio and Michael Dowling do a fine job of translating that feeling to the page. Additionally, the art immediately tells us what we need to know about the two characters on the page.

Dree stands with his head at a near level angle, and has soft edges. These two elements combine to demonstrate a sense of naivety and inexperience. He is a lieutenant so he can’t be that inexperienced, but the art helps convey that he maybe isn’t strictly by the book. Actions he takes later in the issue confirm this suspicion.

Brebtin, on the other hand, is dark colors and angles. She is severe and serious. The art and her words tell us this. The difference between how Antonio and Dowling present these two Imperial pilots tells the reader all we need to know. One of them follows the book and takes their job quite seriously while the other has a more relaxed attitude towards things. If we had to choose one of these characters to be sympathetic to, it would most likely be Dree. He seems like a nice guy caught up with a bad organization, whereas Brebtin appears fully committed to the Imperial cause.

Politics of the Empire

As an organization that relies on fear to hold power, the Empire should suffer from a large amount of paranoia within its ranks. Thankfully, this issue addresses that fact, showing the fear and paranoia of the Imperial pilots on several occasions. Why is this important to me? One, it helps add an aspect of humanity to the cast. If they were all good little soldiers who never questioned the Empire or orders they would feel unrealized. Even the best soldiers have questions. Whether they ask those questions is another matter.

Imperial Paranoia. Click to enlarge.

Second, having the characters question their superiors, and each other in some instances, the creative team establishes that not all is right in the Empire. If its troops and pilots have doubts, Imperial leadership will have trouble keeping things together. As a bit of foreshadowing it works quite well.

Finally, the paranoia gives the comic a great way to further characterize Imperial forces. We see that they have to navigate an extremely rigid and authoritative system where one slip up could result in severe punishment. As readers and Star Wars fans we know this, but it helps to see it there on the page.

These elements work together to assuage the idea that you are reading about, and supposed to root for, the villains.

Tie Fighter #1 Review: Should You Read It?

If you are interested in a different perspective on the Imperial vs Rebel conflict, then this issue is a good place to start. It’s got some space battle action, some intrigue, and some good characterization of the galaxy’s villains. As this is a first issue, it is mostly set up, but there are a few good surprises in store.

Of course, if you have no interest in seeing the Empire in a sympathetic light, then stay away from this book. There are, however, hints that traitorous activity is afoot. A defection plot, maybe? Or possibly, rebel infiltration? Either of these choices would add a new layer to the proceedings and offer real reasons for reader sympathy. All in all, I was entertained by it, but your mileage may vary.

Have you read this comic?

Did you love the Tie Fighter game from Lucas Arts? I did, despite playing as a bad guy. Y-Wings were just so much fun to shoot down.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think about this book, this post, or Star Wars. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you.

The image shows the credits page from Tie Fighter #1, which I review in this blog post.
The ones responsible for this. Click image to enlarge
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Star Wars Episode IX Trailer Reaction

First of all, I want to say how happy I am that Lando is back. He’s flying the Falcon with a big smile on his face, and that is wonderful. When he didn’t appear in Episode VII, I really wanted him in VIII. So, to see him appear in IX warms my heart. My joy is only a little diminished by the fact that he won’t have screen time with Han or Leia. Luke is still possible, though. Anyway, here is the Star Wars Episode IX trailer.


And, here is my reaction:

I loved it, and I am excited for the movie. I am not a TLJ hater, though I recognize it had some issues. However, I think it presented a lot of cool ideas for the Star Wars universe, and tried to remind people the galaxy is big. How successful it was in that regard is something else. But, it took chances, and made us remember that the Force is a living thing that exists everywhere. Plus, all the stuff with Luke was gold, Jerry, gold.

Anyway, back to my Star Wars Episode IX Trailer reaction.

Good things: The Luke voice-over. I will always love hearing old, grizzled Luke talk. Additionally, his voice gives me hope that we haven’t seen the last of the character, despite his apparent demise in The Last Jedi. I want him to be an active force ghost, like Yoda as in the previous installment, mainly because I want him there to troll Kylo at every opportunity.

The image shows Rey running from Kylo's tie fighter in the Star Wars Episode IX trailer

Lando! Did I mention that Lando is back and I love it? Well, he’s back and I love it.

The opening of the trailer with Rey on a desert planet (could be Jakku, could be Tatooine), the lightsaber and Kylo’s fighter bearing down on her! Great stuff.

The image shows Lando flying the Millenium Falcon from the Star Wars Episode IX trailer, and his reactions is as giddy as mine.
Lando in the new Stars Wars movie. He looks as happy as I feel knowing he’ll be there.

Poe and Finn having more screen time together. I am not a ‘shipper, but those two characters have good chemistry. Their lack of shared screen time in Episode VIII didn’t bother me too much, but it will be nice to have them reunited.

Carrie Fisher

That final image and the laugh. Yes, those play off my nostalgia feels more than anything else, but I’m not going to lie; they did their job.

Other Exciting Things

I also like the shot of Kylo repairing his helmet. Why? Because it tells me that he is as trapped in the past as any of us. When put in the context of his remarks to Rey in Snoke’s throne room, it helps us understand that he is just a fool playing at evil.

I am not a Reylo fan, and I hope they don’t get together or are somehow related. However, I do hope he somehow gets his redemption because Star Wars is also about redemption. Reconstructing his helmet indicates he has attachments to the past, which could pave the way for him to return to the light.

Or, maybe that isn’t him rebuilding the mask. Maybe it’s someone else: like Phasma or a hitherto unknown villain. I mean, it’s almost 100% certain Kylo is remaking the mask, but there’s a slight chance it’s someone else.

The glimpse of Kylo Ren we see fighting alongside the stormtroopers intrigues me. I want to know who they’re fighting. Is it rebels? Is it poor villagers like in Force Awakens? I want it to be a contingent of First Order troops loyal to Hux. Just imagine how cool it would be if we got to see some First Order civil war infighting. Having such a subplot in the movie would do a few things.

One, it would give the Resistance/Rebellion time to rebuild, and have their own adventures. Two, it would further develop the rift established between Hux and Kylo and their struggle to lead the First Order after Snoke’s death. Third, we’d get to see evil tear itself apart: another common Star Wars theme.

Final thoughts

This is a short trailer, and ultimately doesn’t show much. Still, the trailer has piqued my excitement to see how the Skywalker saga will end. I am curious about the tittle though. What does ‘Rise of Skywalker’ mean. Is Rey really going to be a Skywalker? Is it a reference to Kylo’s redemption because he’s a Skywalker? Will Luke’s force spirit arise from the remains of his clothes and bestow the Force on the galaxy as the end of TLJ implied?

What other options that I haven’t thought of exist?

This trailer makes it appear that JJ Abrams and co have decided to toss out some things from The Last Jedi, and I am not sure how I feel about that. I know people had problems with TLJ, but it wasn’t as bad as they say, nor was it as great as its defenders say. It was entertaining with some excellent parts and some not so great moments. I do hope, however, that the ideas and answers it gave us remain, otherwise it will feel like a waste of a movie. If nothing from TLJ matters, why have it at all.?

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts and reactions to Star Wars Episode IX trailer. What do you think? Are you excited for this final installment of the Skywalker saga? Are you as happy as I am about Lando’s return? Let me know in the comments.

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