STAR WORDS: Tales From a Galaxy Far, Far Away

The latest release from Del Rey’s line of Star Wars novels is a quartet of short stories by Landry Q. Walker collected under the more-than-slightly cumbersome heading of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Tales From a Galaxy Far, Far Away. I will call them Tales for ease of reading. The quartet is available only in e-book format, look for it online from your e-book seller of choice.

Each story in the collection features characters from the imminently released film. What’s fun and interesting in this selection of stories is the wide variety of genres on display. Walker’s four tales rely on and reference wildly different sets of tropes, from horror to Western. [Read more…]

STAR WORDS: Hyperspace Troopers


Video game tie-in novels are typically of dubious quality. Shadows of the Empire was never great storytelling as prose or pixels. It came as a surprise to me how much I enjoyed Battlefront: Twilight Company and how grounded the series felt. Freed was clearly inspired by the long history of military science fiction and the hard-hitting reports of wartime journalism so prevalent in the last decade. What we get is a gritty, grimy, soldierly look at war on a galactic scale from the perspective of a boots-on-the-ground grunt. And somehow the book maintains the optimism inherent in Star Wars. It’s a refreshing look at Star Wars and brings to mind Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath in many ways – the action has an immediacy that pulls the reader into the world, caring about one character rather than the fate of a galaxy.

Johnny Rico, meet Namir

The novel follows Namir – a veteran sergeant of the 61st mobile infantry, Twilight Company – as he rises through the ranks during the darkest days of the Rebellion. He’s a jaded soldier fighting for the Rebel Alliance because fighting is all he knows. There is no patriotism in him, no love for the cause. As he is thrust up the chain of command he must grapple with his own doubts and whether he can serve the soldiers under his command if he is not a true believer. [Read more…]

STAR WORDS: The Necessary Tentpole

I’ve raved a lot about the Star Wars comics here in my little column. Deservedly so, I feel. Lando, Princess Leia, and Shattered Empire were all excellent stories – well plotted, well paced, intriguing art, solid characterization, and satisfying endings. If the first three issues of Chewbacca are anything to go by, there’s more great things to come from Marvel. They hire good talent – solid writers and artists – to produce these books and that looks to hold true going forward.

And yet, the central title in the little comics experiment Marvel has embarked upon with the Star Wars brand is really only okay. It’s a mediocre comic and, unfortunately, only mediocre Star Wars. It’s frustrating as a fan because this comic tries to explain the last line of the opening crawl of The Empire Strikes Back: “The evil lord Darth Vader, obsessed with finding young Skywalker, has dispatched thousands of remote probes into the far reaches of space….” How does Vader know who Luke is? [Read more…]

STAR WORDS: Shattered Empire

Romance - Issue 1 - Morning Kiss

A tender goodbye between Shara and Kes.

Journey to the Force Awakens – Shattered Empire, a four issue comic mini-series written by Greg Rucka (Smuggler’s Run) follows A-Wing pilot Shara Bey and her husband Kes Dameron, a Pathfinder specforce commando, through the months following the Battle of Endor. The comic achieves a surprisingly grand scale in just four issues.  It tackles many themes and questions – honor, duty, and the personal cost of war among them – that are typically addressed in lengthier novels or films. It is an incredible piece of work. I’ve spoken highly of Princess Leia and Lando here on STAR WORDS before but Shattered Empire surpasses them both as an artistic achievement.

Accompanying Rucka on this odyssey is a small collective of artists – Marco Chechetto took the lead and was featured in all four issues; playing backup were Angel Unzueta and Emilio Laiso. Their work on Shattered Empire cannot be overstated. The book succeeds because the art and prose are knit together seamlessly, supporting one another and creating a whole greater than the sum of the parts. Chechetto has an uncanny ability to convey complex emotions in the characters he draws. The range of emotions Shara displays can be heartbreaking at times. The dialogue is fairly minimal at times with the emotion of the drawn characters carrying the narrative. [Read more…]

STAR WORDS: Lando’s Five

Lando No. 1

Marvel is producing fascinating character studies for the notable characters in the galaxy far, far away. Darth Vader delves deeply into the Dark Lord of the Sith’s psyche, dredging up the pain and torment behind the inscrutable mask. Princess Leia showed her heroic quest to save her people and come to grips with the loss of Alderaan. Continuing this trend is the Lando mini-series, which follows everyone’s favorite scoundrel on a heist that doesn’t go as planned. Words by Charles Soule, drawings by Alex Maleev, colors by Paul Mounts, and lettering by Joe Caramagna. [Read more…]

STAR WORDS: Princess Leia Conquers the Universe

Star Wars Logo

A New Hope borrowed heavily from the pulp science fiction serials of the 1940s, most notably the various runs of Flash Gordon. The films didn’t stay entrenched in that milieu for long, with The Empire Strikes Back presenting a more refined, if darker, look at that galaxy far, far away and the subsequent films striving to establish Star Wars’ identity on its own. Princess Leia, the five-issue miniseries from Marvel Comics, returns Star Wars to its roots as an homage to Flash Gordon. [Read more…]

STAR WORDS: Aftermath Revitalizes Star Wars Novels

Aftermath Cover

Spoiler Warning: there are spoilers for the events, characters, and implications in Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath in this article.

Chuck Wendig is the first author to pen a trilogy of canon novels – the five previous canon novels all stand alone. The first of Wendig’s books, Aftermath, serves as the flagship novel of the Journey to the Force Awakens – a collection of novels, comics, young adult fiction, and other stories that fill in the time period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. Aftermath was released on Force Friday and has given readers the first glimpse into the state of the galaxy after the Battle of Endor. Aftermath sets the status quo for fans as we approach the seventh film in the Star Wars saga. [Read more…]

STAR WORDS: Rebels Launch a New Canon

Star Wars Logo

It’s a great time to be a Star Wars fan. Never before have we had such a torrent of great Star Wars content streaming to us. This column will serve as your guide to the Star Wars galaxy, covering the new movies, comics, novels, games, and more.

While The Force Awakens was the first project announced by Disney, Star Wars Rebels was the first Star Wars project created entirely under the Disney banner and it gives us a good idea of the quality of storytelling we can expect from Lucasfilm properties going forward. [Read more…]