#CollectionCorner: Lego The Armourer’s Mandalorian Forge

The Armourer’s Mandalorian Forge was a set I knew I had to get from its announcement. The Armourer is such a great character and the inclusion of Paz Vizsla just made it even more desirable.

At the RRP of £27.99, for 258 pieces and three Mini-Figs, two of which are new for this set, it’s not a price to scoff at really. It all comes in three numbered bags, with a long piece out of the bags, the instructions and the sticker sheet.

The first bag builds the forge itself, which looks really cool on its own. The details of the forge itself are made through a group of stickers that run around the top edge, the middle has eight small blue flame pieces that make the forge look absolutely roasting. The Armourer also gets a piece of equipment (essentially a box on a stick) in which to melt the block of Beskar.

The first Bag gives us two of the three Mini-Figs, Mando himself and The Armourer. I’m sure this is the same version of Mando that came with ‘Trouble on Tatooine’ but I could be wrong. He comes with the buildable Amber Phase Pulse Blaster and a blaster pistol, there is one addition I should note, which is the jet pack he is given at the end of Season One. The Armourer is a wholly brand new Mini-Fig and unless she is featured in Season 3 of the show, I can’t see her being released in any other sets. The printed details on the torso look great, her fluffy collar is even depicted on the back. She domes with a hammer and some buildable tongs as accessories that can be clipped to the side of the forge for storage. The helmet is a brand new mould and is well detailed, including the Zabrak style horns.

The second Bag builds the doorway into the forge, it includes a shelf on which an unpainted Mandalorian helmet sits on a shelf along with a small blade-like item. A sweeping brush is also clipped to the wall. It’s good to see that the Covert takes pride in their hideouts cleanliness. A pair of stickers featuring the Mythosaur skull emblem are above the door, one on each side, and I like how the designers have almost Lego-fied it to make it fit with the aesthetic.

Bag 2 also concludes the Mini-Fig selection with Paz Vizsla. It’s nice to get a different looking Mandalorian, the added armour and the buildable backpack and heavy blaster really makes this figure feel unique.

The Third Bag build the final part of The Armourer’s Forge, this part has a great amount of detail for such a small area. Firstly the tool cabinet is an interesting build that allows the cub board to open. The boxes at the bag also contain added accessories, in this case a blaster pistol, a pair of Thermal Detonators and some blocks of Beskar. The computer had a printed blue holograph of Mandalorian armour about to be made by The Armourer and the device that helps do something to the blocks of Beskar.

When put all together, ‘The Armourer’s Mandalorian Forge’ is a nice looking set. It’s got some great details that are great for fans of the show and the Mini-Fig selection is well chosen.

If I had one gripe it’s the overall shape of the build. The angles at which the three sections are positioned major it quite awkward to display on a shelf, but that design also allows all of the details to be on show rather than hidden away at a ninety degree angle, so either way I’d have a gripe about it (there’s just no pleasing some people), and they could have given Mando and Vizsla a small knife each to help reenact their tussle in Chapter 3.

Overall, the price-to-piece ratio and the Mini-Fig selection is great. It’s got a lot of playability for such a small set and has decent display value. In terms of the screen accuracy, the designers did a great job of taking memorable parts of the set and transferring them into this set. There isn’t one part of the design that doesn’t feel out of place.

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Out of the Shadows by Justina Ireland Audiobook Review

Justina Ireland is busy. Just her recent Star Wars content alone is something to be in awe of, with ‘Out of the Shadows’, the YA entry to the second wave of ‘The High Republic: Phase One’ as well as ‘Edge of Balance’, the first Manga entry into ‘The High Republic’ and ‘War of the Bounty Hunters: Jabba the Hutt’. A pretty impressive roster to say the least, not to mention her upcoming book for the next wave of ‘The High Republic’, ‘Mission to Disaster’.

Of course, this post is my review of ‘Out of the Shadows’, which follows Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan Imri Cantaros who team up with Cohmac Vitus and his Apprentice Reath Silas are sent on a mission with pilot Sylvestri Yarrow, who has been wrapped up in Hyperspace Prospector family politics thanks to Xylan Graff, whose family are the main competitors of the San Tekka Prospectors to visit the Berenge sector where Sil’s ship was previously pulled out of Hyperspace by The Nihil in an attack that her and her crew barely managed to escape.

Along the way, they learn that the Graff family are in league with The Nihil, assisting them to build a gravity weapon to disrupt Hyperspace (which so happens to be in the Berenge sector, coincidence I think not) and when they are double crossed and Syl and the Padawans are captured by Nan (from ‘Into the Dark’) and Syl’s mother, Chancey Yarrow, whom Syl had believed to have been killed in a Nihil attack, who is the brains behind the Hyperspace weapon.

Master Cohmac and Vernestra, joined by Syl’s ex-girlfriend Jordanna go to rescue Syl, Reath and Imri whilst calling the Jedi Temple for reinforcements. Thanks to an ability to experience visions through the Force in Hyperspace, Vernestra begins to communicate with an unknown woman, who turns out to be Mari San Tekka, the old woman that Marchion Ro had kept alive in a medical pod who was the key to The Nihil’s ability to use Hyperspace.

As the two groups reunite onboard the weapon, Gravity’s Heart, they seem to rescue Mari who is finally able to pass away peacefully after giving Vernestra a secret Hyperspace Path.

Gravity’s Heart is destroyed in a battle between The Nihil and the Jedi and Republic forces, during which, many of the pirates are captured. Chancey and Nan return to the Graff stronghold and form an alliance with the family, turning their backs on The Nihil. The Jedi are able to once again go about thier business, with Vernestra and Imri deciding to return to Starlight Beacon, with Syl and Jordanna being their pilots on Syl’s new ship provided as promised by Xilan Graff.

In all honesty, ‘Out of the Shadows’ has been my least favourite part of ‘The High Republic’, and not in terms of the story, which has some hefty implications for ‘The High Republic’ moving forward, but in terms of the pacing. For me there were whole stretches where I wasn’t sure where the story was going but then suddenly we’d get some sort of information that, whilst important to the plot, could have been revealed earlier.

Having a nice mix of new and known characters really give ‘Out of the Shadows’ the opportunity to give us fresh eyes and perspectives as well as further develop characters that, over the course of ‘The High Republic’ have become fan favourites. At first, when we were first introduced to Vernestra Rwoh before ‘A Test of Courage’ was released, I initially (and rather stupidly) wrote her off as just a character made for kids. The youngest Jedi to be made a Knight at sixteen, if just felt like a way to have this character that kids would gravitate towards without having the parental figure breathing down their neck all the time, but when I finally read that book and have continued to follow her story, she is a great character. The growth we see from her, especially in ‘Out of the Shadows’ is phenomenal, from her concerns over telling her former Master, Stellan Gios about a modification she had made to her lightsaber that allows it to change between the traditional blade to an energy whip to her coming to understand an ability she had previously thought to be an occurrence that happened a couple of times as a child where she would have visions through the Force when travelling through hyperspace which become an integral plot point in this book.

I really like two of the new characters, Syl and Jordanna. Syl is completely down on her luck, she’s suffered some hardships and the Nihil attack really sets her off to making sure something goes right. She puts herself into an uncomfortable position with Xylan, who seems to say all the right things to convince her to join him on his mission, of course we later learn that it’s all a manipulation because of her connection to Chancey Graff. Her perspective on the Jedi is also a fresh take, she doesn’t really care for them, especially after her mother’s “death”, feeling that if the Jedi were doing more to protect the Galaxy that her mother would still be alive. Of course her opinion changes by the end of the book, as well as her general outlook, where everything went badly for her before, the end of the story, however really shows her development. Brand new ship, her relationship with Jordanna is repaired and feels better than ever and a new lease on life.

In terms of the audiobook, narrated by Keylor Leigh is good. Once again I wish we had Marc Thompson (he’s the voice of literary Star Wars much like Kevin Conroy will forever be the voice of Batman in my head). on the mic but Leigh does a phenomenal job.

Despite my issues with the pacing, I still very much enjoyed this book, Justina Ireland has continued to evolve Vernestra Rwoh’s character and given us some great insight into the ongoing state of the Galaxy with The Nihil infiltrating the Republic and making connections with powerful groups their threat level feels like it’s increasing, just in time for the third wave to come out next January, which I’m very excited about.

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Bad Batching: Infested/War-Mantle

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another two episodes of ‘The Bad Batch’ with ‘Infested’ and ‘War-Mantle’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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#CollectionCorner: Lego AT-AT Set Review

In terms of excitement and ‘The Razorcrest’ near desperation, the ‘AT-AT’ was always a set I wanted but could happily wait, which is why I didn’t rush to buy this set in its initial release, instead opting to wait for my birthday this year…

And wait I did, as after another month and a half after being told it was on its way and then waiting for a refund to buy it again from a more reputable seller… needless to say when it did finally arrive my excitement was pretty high.

The biggest surprise was the size! The box was f%#+*€g huge. Not UCS set huge, or ‘Death Star’ huge, but almost. Opening the box, I was expecting a lot of bags… alas there were only eight sections, as well as the large instructions book but amazingly, no stickers.

The first bag, whilst giving us a pair of decent accessories and three of the six Mini-Figs could really have been separated into the rest of the bags to cut down on plastic (gotta look after the planet somehow) and reduce the size of the box (although the larger sets having massive boxes has always baffled me). The Speeder Bike and E-Web Blaster Cannon look great and are well built, the Cannon especially as an interesting building technique of using some gun accessories as feet which surprisingly works.

The first three Mini-Figs are Luke Skywalker in his Pilot gear, he comes with a lightsaber and a pair of thermal detonators. The two Snowtroopers look really good, I love the printed design and the little attention to detail where they have light brown gloves rather than standard black or white hands that other Stormtrooper variants have. Both come with the standard issue blasters.

Bags Two and Three lay the foundations for the body of the Walker. Bag 2 builds the core and Bag 3 adds the interior design as well as the chassis details and the mechanism that allows Luke to hold onto the grappling hook blaster that goes up and down.

Bags Four and Five complete the Walker’s body with some great brick built details and the various angles that give it some incredible screen accuracy. A nice addition is the opening hatch at the back that opens up to allow the Speeder Bike to sit inside, whilst not shown onscreen, this little detail is mentioned in the ‘Incredible Cross Sections’ books.

Bags Six and Seven build the legs and feet of the vehicle. I absolutely love how the legs look after the sixth bag, the core of the legs are built out of Technic, meaning they are pretty strong but they do look hilarious, especially with the large feet. Luckily the seventh bag rectifies that by adding the details using various plates.

Bag Eight finishes the build with the AT-AT’s head/cockpit. I’ll be honest, I thought I was missing a bag or two when I had all the pieces out but the designers really did a fantastic job of creating the walker’s cockpit in incredible detail with what felt like so few parts. There are a pair of flick-missiles on the underside of the head which are well hidden and unobtrusive.

The final Bag also includes the final three Mini-Figs for the set. We get General Veers I’m his armour with binoculars and two AT-AT Pilots, each with a blaster accessory. All of the figures have great printed details and look great. Despite never being seen stood up on screen, the level of details on the two Walker Pilots is great, the designers really do their research when giving us these characters with little screen time.

When fully built and on display, the AT-AT is seriously impressive. As you can seen the above picture, it towers over the Mini-Figs and would look incredibly imposing on display as part of a diorama. The play features are really fun, with the Speeder Bike addition as well as the missiles, the Walker also includes a grappling hook which is operated using a gear mechanism hidden inside the front panel of the body which allows players to have their Luke Mini-Fig to reach the chassis and open it up to throw in the detonators to win the battle.

It’s a really fun build, and a great looking model. I’m really glad I finally picked this one up and didn’t miss out as I’m sure it will soon be up for retirement. The £140 for 1267 pieces is good for a licensed set, of course with it being out for a while there are places it can be picked up for a bit less but price-tag truly represents the quality of the set.

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Behind the Scenes, Remakes and the Other Stuff That Happened.

Hello there.

Remember me?

Been a while hasn’t it? Wish I could say it’s been a quiet couple of months but that’d be a bit of a lie.

Firstly, I’ll answer that burning question, “Where did you go?” Well, nowhere. Absolutely nowhere.

Second question, “Why did you go?” Well, as I got towards the end of July, I started to feel burned out. Not just with the Blog or Star Wars, but with a whole bunch of stuff.

Work was killing me, pushing almost 50 hours a week, working split shifts in a busy restaurant is good fun, but it doesn’t leave you with a whole bunch of free time, especially when you finish around 12am every day and just want to sleep afterwards. So I ended up falling behind on the Blog and Podcast and found myself feeling somewhat overwhelmed.

Add that to the realisation that when we reached September, my Daughter would be starting school and those hours I was working would pretty much mean I wouldn’t see her… not something that made me happy, luckily, through some fortuitous circumstances, I had a meeting which led to a trial shift which in turn landed me with a new job, which I have now started, with much more manageable hours where I now get evenings (I had forgotten what they were like).

Add in some troubles at home, mostly down the the fact that I was never home, the whole situation became a cluster-fudge where Star Wars got further and further to the back of my mind and I entered a world where I just needed pure entertainment, so two and a half months of me absorbing countless hours of non-Star Wars books, films and TV occurred.

Not to say that I kept my head buried in the sand when it came to the Galaxy Far, Far Away. I was aware of the news and some of the goings on (I also stayed off of Twitter for around 90% of that time away).

I didn’t watch the latest part of ‘Disney Gallery: The Mandalorian’ until last week, and when I did watch it I didn’t get the whole hype around the episode (of Gallery) other than the images of Mark Hamill holding Grogu. The secrecy around the making of that episode was astounding, but after twenty minutes of Filoni, Favreau and Hamill talking about keeping secrets and digitally deaging Luke Skywalker and then Favreau’s monologue of how technology can be used for bad things I was ready to throw my hat in until the last ten minutes brought me to tears in a geek way.

Of course, the biggest news over the last couple of months was the ‘Knights of the Old Republic Remake’ announcement…

Well, seeing as I don’t own a PS5 and that I’ve never been a big fan of the original game the announcement was a whole bunch of non-news, but the graphics on Revan looked pretty good, we’re this coming out on XBox as well I may have had some interest but I was more excited for the ‘Alan Wake Remaster’ announcement (my favourite non-Star Wars video game).

Yikes this all sounds a bit negative doesn’t it? Well, in a much more positive light, the latest wave of Star Wars Lego was released, and it’s the first wave in quite a while where I’ve wanted to just run out and buy most of the sets (not the helmets or UCS Gunship), although a trip to the nearest Lego Shop did result in Sara seeing the price of the UCS Millennium Falcon, say that the price is pretty reasonable and asked if I wanted it one day… but I’m sticking with my as-of-yet still unfinished Lego AT-AT.

Of course, the comics have been churning out, and I’m still way behind (still got to read most of July’s offerings) so a couple of months of catching up I lies ahead, which luckily means content, so for the next few weeks I’ll be plotting through older issues and books (just started Justina Ireland’s ‘Out of the Shadows’ audiobook). And soon, with the release of ‘Star Wars: Visions’ I’ll be focusing some attention of that series as well.

Unlike the Galaxy at the end of ‘The Last Jedi’, my spark has returned (and queue the music…

The Spark by John Williams

and now the content, like the Jedi, will return.

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War of the Bounty Hunters Issue 2

Boba Fett finds his way into the Crimson Dawn party after encountering an old friend. Once disguised and inside, he tasks a new ally with a job and attempts to sabotage the party as the auction draws to an end, leading him into a chance encounter with Leia, Lando and Chewie as Darth Vader makes his presence known.

The second part ties into the events of ‘Doctor Aphra’ issue 12 and gives us a look at what to expect in the upcoming issue of ‘Star Wars’, all the while showing Boba Fett’s journey and the lengths he’s willing to go to deliver Solo to Jabba the Hutt.

The Crimson Dawn party is underway with members of the various crime organisations contemplating the nature of their return. Bokka the Hutt is getting antsy and belligerent, with Jabba exerting this authority over the newest member of the Hutt Council.

Outside, Fett has just landed and is looking for a way in. After locating some stragglers he makes his move, only to be stopped by Bossk. The two former allies have a quick fight before Fett blows up a ship next to the Trandoshan, the explosion ripping the legs off the reptilian Bounty Hunter. Fett leaves him tied to a rock, telling him to deliver a message to anyone else looking to steal Han Solo, “Don’t!”

Inside the party, Fett (disguised as one of the stragglers) approaches Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros and has Aphra agree to help him to cause a distraction when he sends her a signal.

The auction heats up, Jabba wins with a bid of One Million Credits as Fett is about to set something off (I’m assuming a bomb) but he comes face to face with Leia, Lando and Chewie. All of them are surprised when Darth Vader arrives, announcing that Solo belongs to him.

As the core story of ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ starts to intersect with the individual stories told in the separate titles, we start to see some overlap, whilst this could be seen as pretty lazy, here we can really see how intricately Charles Soule has plotted all of the characters through this story. It just happens to be that I read this after reading the latest ‘Doctor Aphra’ issue first that I ended up feeling ripped off by reading this issue. Of course after a second read through and a better perspective (I read it the first time at 1am after getting in from work) I realised that the art is drawn from a different perspective and Fett’s encounter with Aphra seems expanded here.

Seeing Fett’s commentary during the bidding war shows that either he’s very angry or has a bit of a sense of humour at this stage of his life, albeit quite cynical. I hope it’s the latter but you can never tell sometimes.

The story of the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ is still at a very early stage, with so much more to come over the next few months, with at least three more issues from each of the titles involved and a handful of One-Shot stories there is a big part of me that just can’t fathom how Soule is going to continue to weave everything together when in this issue alone we get to see how Vader’s story intersects as well as the characters from the main title.

I don’t envy Soule who has undertaken this massive task, but his ability to craft amazing stories seemingly knows no bounds and I have every bit of faith in his abilities.

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Doctor Aphra: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 2

After getting into the grand Crimson Dawn party, Aphra and Sana work to keep a low profile but after getting recognised by a disguised Clone Soldier and a failed attempt at jewellery theft, Aphra is blindsided by the arrival of Darth Vader.

The bar is raised in this slow paced but equally tense issue as we get our first look at Qi’Ra’s lavish shindig as we are introduced to the veritable who’s who of the criminal underworld.

Aphra and Sana get into the party using the recovered invitation they got in the last issue. For the most part they do their best to lay low, seeing as most of the patrons have death sentences on Aphra’s head.

Of course that doesn’t stop the rogue archaeologist from doing what she does best after she tries to steal a necklace from a member of Black Sun, the jewels on which also act as data storage. The botched theft leads Aphra to planting a slicing chip on the jewellery to get info for Domina.

She is then approached by a former, disguised Clone soldier who enlists her and Sana to help him by creating a diversion when the time comes.

When Qi’Ra makes her appearance, Lucky and Ariole, also at the party, follow their former mentor, Crae into a back corridor where he he challenges them to a fight which the two younger gangsters are put through their paces.

Back at the auction, things are hitting up as the bidding war for Han Solo begins between the illustrious Jabba and another Hutt. Jabba wins the auction but the festivities quickly come to an end with the arrival of Darth Vader, claiming the Solo belongs to him.

The arrival of Vader sends Aphra into a state of panic, telling Sana they have to leave before she drops the device given to her to cause the distraction, drawing Vader’s attention.

And just like that, my faith in this series is restored (well a little bit). In what I think is the quietest issue of the series so far, with very little happening, the tension level has ramped up exponentially to the point where I feel like an impatient child in wanting to read the next part as soon as possible (a kriffing month).

I’m sure that many of the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ Part Twos will feature similar beats as this one as the auction is possibly one of the biggest moments that the characters are part of so seeing it from different perspectives could be interesting, but having it first shown in the pages of ‘Doctor Aphra’ gives this series some added weight.

Having been disappointed with this run over the last few months, this issue was a refreshing change of pace and has reinvigorated my enjoyment of the series. I’m really hoping that the rest of this arc continues to, in my opinion, maintain this standard, and if it does I’ll be happy to keep going with it.

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CollectionCorner – Sabine Wren Black Series Figure Review

Out of all the characters from ‘Star Wars: Rebels’, Sabine is the one who got some of the best character development throughout the whole series.

The quick witted, teenage Mandalorian graffiti artist turned heads with her brightly coloured armour and explosive hobby which makes her more than perfect to be immortalised in 6” of plastic.

Like the rest of the ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ wave, Sabine’s look is taken from Season 1, and she comes with her helmet (which is not being worn in the packaging), her two blasters and her paint spray/detonator.

The design is fantastic. All of the little details on the armour are spot on, even down to the flecks of paint on her legs and arms, the kind of details that could be easily overlooked.

The n the wrong hands, this figure could have looked a complete mess with all of the colours and designs. I remember having a 3.75 inch Sabine that was released in the ‘Rogue One’ packaging and (knowing that they are not the same level of detail) whilst it looked good for what it was, it just didn’t pop like this one. It felt muted and looking back, underwhelming. This one however, every colour blasts you in the face, the details are almost overwhelming but it never looks wrong or out of place on the figure.

Her accessories are also very well designed l, even down to the paint spray which is a great addition that could easily have been overlooked. Her twin Mandalorian blasters are also very well detailed and screen accurate, and ready to be kept in her two holsters.

The helmet, whilst not as streamlined as on screen, is built to fit on her head so that lack of accuracy doesn’t bother me, I think the only way that Hasbro could get around this is by having her head removable and have a neck joint in the helmet but that would take away display opportunities so I think that they made the right choice, and when it’s being worn by the figure it doesn’t look too big or too heavy.

The head sculpt looks great. Like the rest of the ‘Rebels’ wave, Hasbro have done a great job of making her look realistic rather than animated and she is instantly recognisable. The hair is well detailed and brilliantly coloured to match her onscreen look.

The artwork is stunning. The artist has really captured Sabine brilliantly here, her warrior confidence and her cocky personality that makes the character so great.

This is an amazing looking figure, and it does the character justice. The level of detail is phenomenal and has really set a high standard for me in terms of what to look for in a ‘Black Series’ figure.

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Doctor Aphra: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 1

Aphra and Sana’s search for Ebann Drake comes to an unexpected end when they find the crew and clientele of The Opal Empress dead. Their search leads them to a swarm of vicious bugs and the terrifying Bounty Hunter, Durge.

The first issue in Aphra’s story within ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ doesn’t wow. In fact it’s once again a lacklustre instalment of a series that’s struggled along for quite a while now.

The issue starts on The Opal Empress with Ebann Drake enjoying himself and the opulence on board the ship before it jumps to a bit later with Aphra and Sana on approach to the ship in Sana’s Volt Cobra.

Once onboard The Empress, the two soon realise that something is wrong and eventually come across the corpse of Drake. They find his invitation to the Crimson Dawn meeting and auction for Han Solo.

Meanwhile, Lucky and Ariole discuss the upcoming Crimson Dawn meeting and how Crae, their former mentor betrayed Wen Delphis.

Soon after, Durge appears on the scene, also on board The Opal Empress and the monstrous bugs make their presence known and swarm Aphra, Sana and Durge who do their best to escape.

Using her quick wits, Aphra has Durge lead the swarm into an airlock and jettisons the bugs and the Bounty Hunter into space. Whilst some bugs remain on the ship, Aphra and Sana manage to get back to The Volt Cobra and escape.

On The Cobra, they contact Domina Tagge and inform them of Ebann’s demise as well as the invitation. Tagge tells them she wants them to go to the meeting and get as much information for her as possible.

I’m really trying to really enjoy this series, and whilst I haven’t finished reading the original run of ‘Doctor Aphra’, she is a character I have thoroughly enjoyed reading since she showed up in ‘Darth Vader’. However, this series has been on a steady decline after the first story arc (granted we’re only on the third right now) but when you have a great character like Aphra and she’s not reaching the high potential that she has then it’s going to be disappointing.

It’s time to address my elephant in the room. Durge. Why oh why has he been brought over from the Legends content? I was never a fan of the strange tentacle creature in armour from his introduction in ‘The Clone Wars’ microseries and when he was in the ‘Star Wars: Republic’ comics from Dark Horse I was less than interested. He always felt to me, like an attempt to fill the main Bounty Hunter role left behind after the beheading of Jango Fett and when Filoni and Lucas gave us Cad Bane in ‘The Clone Wars’, I had hoped that Durge had been left by the wayside for the long run.

Now, I’ll give the ‘Doctor Aphra’ team some credit, Durge never came across as some sort of beast/monster in this issue, he does however come across like Arnold Schwarzenegger in ‘Predator’ or ‘Commando’, I was almost hoping for a “Get to da choppah!” type line and the lack thereof probably added to my overall disappointment. And, to be honest there’s still plenty of time to get one seeing as his ejection out of an airlock is probably not the last we will see of him.

The art is great, which for a comic is a definite must, but the story just continues to lack something for me. It’s hardly through a lack of talent, Alyssa Wong wowed me with her first run of this series and her bibliography is nothing to be trifled with. There’s a part of me that wonders if, because of ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’, her hand has been forced to a certain degree to have the characters reach a point and then participate in the crossover, rather than Wong have complete control over the direction of the series. I’ll definitely finish this arc, with the hope that I find the series more engaging by the end but I’m afraid at this point, Doctor Aphra’s time on my subscription list may be limited.

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The High Republic: Heart of the Drengir Part 1

Holy s&@£!

After breaking our hearts with Issue 5 and then in ‘The Rising Storm’, Cavan Scott starts to heal one of those brutally inflicted wounds.

Set in the time period around Scott’s recent novel ‘The Rising Storm’ following the oft mentioned battle against the monstrous Drengir led by Avar Kriss and Myarga the Hutt.

The latest battle is taking place on Daivak and The Drengir are winning. Leading Avar to put a call to Starlight Beacon for all Jedi to come to their aid.

On Starlight, Master Maru updates Stellan Gios on Avar’s situation and also on the condition of Master Sskeer, who seemed to have died after allowing Keeve to invade his mind to learn about The Drengir that had contaminated him.

Wracked with guilt, Keeve is desperate to help her Master and, in an attempt to help him, tries to connect with his mind but is seemingly taken by The Drengir.

Nice inside Sskeer’s mind, their spirits meet and go on a search through the Drengir part of Sskeer’s mind to find The Great Progenitor, or ‘The First Seed’. They are held back at first but with help from Maru and the Jedi Archivist, Orbalin they are able to push The Drengir mind back enough to find The Great Progenitor.

To break their connection, Sskeer rips the Drengir arm from his body, severing any connection with the monsters and waking up from his strange coma. Also, through chance or the Force, the location of ‘The First Seed’ is engraved in Keeve’s armour, a planet called Mulita, hidden deep in Wild Space.

If someone would have told me that ‘The High Republic’ would give us an image of a Hutt on a Hover Chair leading three Jedi, two of which are riding Rancors and the other on a Speederbike I would tell that person to sit down, have a glass of water and relax until the crazy had passed.

And then I would have eaten my words.

Because this image is everything!

And it’s not even the icing on the cake that is this issue and Cavan Scott is doing that thing again where he has two battles taking place, much like last issue, with Avar Kriss and her group fighting The Drengir on the battle ground whilst Keeve and Sskeer fight them on a more spiritual plane.

Firstly, I was was relieved to see Sskeer still alive, albeit in some sort of coma and being kept that way to stop the spread of his symbiotic Drengir attachment. Keeve, feeling guilt for putting her Master into this state pleads with the Doctor on Starlight Beacon to help him more than they already have, with Keeve being concerned about Sskeer’s revelation that his connection to the Force was getting weaker. The Doctor responds with a question, which I hadn’t actually considered, that he was having a crisis of faith. Which would make a lot of sense seeing as it started after losing his arm and one of his closest friends, Jora Malli during the Battle of Kur (in ‘Light of the Jedi’ by Charles Soule).

Keeve entering Sskeer’s mind and connecting with The Drengir part of him, resulting in Avar Kriss sensing the newly Knighted Keeve as a part of The Drengir in the Force is just creepy, and the horror vibe continues with images of The Great Progenitor, dwarfing Keeve and Sskeer, followed by The Drengir leader surrounded by its followers.

In the hands of lesser writers, The Drengir could come across as pretty lame villains, their one track mind of eating living beings feels like it could get old very quickly, but so far they have been handled well, and Scott has written them amazingly through this series and this issue is no different, adding new layers to the creatures and making them more menacing as well as adding in a hint of backstory that I hope gets expanded in a later issue.

This issue sees the introduction of Georges Jeanty as the artist, and he absolutely nailed it, keeping the high standard that Anindito filled the first five issues with. Scott is delivering on all cylinders yet again, which at this point should be a given.

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Bad Batching Episode 11 – Devil’s Deal

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Devil’s Deal’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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The High Republic – Where’s the Merch?

In 1996, Lucasfilm tried something that was pretty ballsy at the time, so ballsy in fact that it has left an impression on fans the world over.

They released a movie… without the movie.

‘Shadows of the Empire’ was a phenomenon, a cross-media event that told the story between ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ through a book, a comic series, a musical score, a video game as well as a whole range of toys, most of which were brand new (a couple of repackaged figures too but that’s not new). All that was missing was a film, but that was Lucasfilm’s intent and it showed just how popular the franchise still was in the lead up to the release of the Special Editions.

Similar things have happened since. I remember a huge range of merch for ‘Star Wars: The Force Unleashed’, with a novel, a graphic novel and toys, including at least one Lego set to whet the appetites of the fans, especially at a time when fans were clamouring for Star Wars content before ‘The Clone Wars’ came out.

And just look at how popular the world of ‘Knights of the Old Republic’ is, the amount of toys that have been produced, even to this day, are incredibly sought after.

Even since the Disney acquisition, we’ve gotten figures based on games (mainly from ‘Jedi: Fallen Order’ but some for ‘Battlefront 2x’). But there seems to be a serious lack of merchandise from ‘The High Republic’, which so far has mainly been in books and comics, but a recent update to the newest VR game, ‘Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge’ is a story set in the same era and with much more to be announced there is a myriad of potential merchandising opportunities.

It’s not like there isn’t any reference material to work from, in every ‘Behind the Scenes’ video we’ve seen for the initiative there have been walls full of designs, from the characters and the creatures to the vehicles it’s all there, not to mention the monthly issues of the two comics series.

Hasbro could be bringing new figures out regularly (or as regularly as Hasbro does so these days), imagine having Avar Kriss and Marchion Ro in your display of figures, I’d love it, and at the same time, even though the recent packaging for ‘The Black Series’ is wonderful, they could give ‘The High Republic’ figures a different type of packaging, as a way of showing the opulence of the era as part of the overall design. Imagine the fun the designers could have, I don’t know about you but I’d pay out for a Deluxe set of Bell Zettifer and Ember the Char Hound and imagine how amazing a Drengir figure could look. It’s not even just about ‘The Black Series’, with ‘The Vintage Collection’ Hasbro could even put out ships and also get the younger readers buying those ‘Action Fleet’ toys, which look pretty good to be fair.

The new vehicles are just begging for Lego to drop some sets. Give me a Jedi Vector, any time with any Mini-Figs they can think of (Burryaga please) and just think how creative the designers could be when building the Nihil ships. They could even forget about the ships (not that I’d want them to) and just do a series of ‘The High Republic’ Mini-Figs in blind bags. I know I’d be buying one… or three every time I went shopping.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, given the relative freedom of the time period, that the upcoming UBISoft open world game isn’t set during ‘The High Republic’, or another game come out that makes use of the time period on the next few years. Or even add characters to ‘Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes’ which would be a great draw for fans of the books.

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Race to Crashpoint Tower by Daniel José Older SPOILER FREE Audiobook Review

Jedi Padawan, Ram Jomaram is much more at home in the garage tinkering with machines than meditating and his craftiness with electronics is required when, in the run up to ‘The Republic Fair’ on his homeworld of Valo when a long range communications array at Crashpoint Tower is damage by Nihil raiders, leading Ram on a life-or-death mission to repair the tower and survive a Nihil invasion.

Daniel José Older’s first novel in ‘The High Republic’ series is a Middle Grade adventure whose events run concurrently with those in Cavan Scott’s ‘The Rising Storm’ and the two even cross over on occasion with characters and specific events referenced and even shown from different perspectives. For me this just adds legitimacy to ‘Race to Crashpoint Tower’ because there are many who would write it off because it’s “for kids” but actually it adds another layer to the already amazing ‘The Rising Storm’.

Older adds a few characters from other parts of ‘The High Republic’, some in a supporting role whilst a pair of them, from Older’s own ‘High Republic Adventures’ series take on major roles and assist Ram through the story. Whilst it was fun having them in another medium, there was a necessity to finish the most recent issue as to not be spoilt. Older has confirmed that the characters not involved with ‘Race to Crashpoint Tower’ will have their story told in the next arc of ‘High Republic Adventures’ which is hinted at in this book.

The story is fast paced and incredibly engaging, Ram isn’t the typical Jedi Padawan and seeing how he engages and sees the Force, like how Avar Kriss sees it as a song and Burryaga as an ever growing tree really fits with his character. Having him be a not-typical Jedi allows him to be relatable to more people and shows kids (the target audience) that it’s ok to be who you are and doesn’t do it in a preachy way. When we think of Jedi we instantly see them like Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon or Luke Skywalker so having a more tech savvy mechanic Jedi is new and fun.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little disappointed that the audiobook wasn’t narrated by Marc Thompson, who has become the unofficial voice of Star Wars for me (like how Kevin Conroy will always be the voice of Batman), instead this was narrated by Todd Haberkorn, who does a great job and really injects the fun into the story with his enthusiastic reading.

I have seen folks online questioning if this is an important part of the overall story, an honesty I would say it is. Aside from the fact that characters cross over and ‘Race to Crashpoint Tower’ shows events and adds more depth to moments shown in ‘The Rising Storm’, this book even explains and gives the story around what could be seen as a throwaway line from the end of Cavan Scott’s novel, so if you want the full story of the events of The Republic Fair then yes, buy this (audio)book and read (or listen).

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The High Republic Adventures Issue 5 Review

The junk Moon, Quantxi, becomes a battlefield between the few Jedi and the Nihil as Zeen and Krix finally come face-to-face for the first time since they separated on Trymant.

Daniel José Older brings the first arc of his ‘High Republic Adventures’ to an exciting end as ‘The High Republic’ prepares to enter its second wave.

After Krix shoots down Zeen’s ship, Zeen tries to talk to him but in the end, her feelings of betrayal lead her to use the Force in a dark way.

After locating Krix’s communicator, Lula makes her way to her friend, luckily in time to stop Zeen from using the Dark Side and killing her former friend before he escapes with Marchion Ro.

Meanwhile, Farzala and Qort team up with Masters Sy and Buckets of Blood as Yoda talks with Elder Tromak.

Yoda agrees to go on a mission alone with Tromak to retrieve and artefact that Marchion Ronis trying to find whilst Sy and Buck(ets of Blood) join with Zeen and Lula, trying to stop the Nihil ship from escaping but are unable to when a larger ship latches on and jumps to hyperspace.

At the end, Marchion Ro asks Krix to join The Nihil whilst Lula and Master Sy ask Zeen to join them on Starlight Beacon so that she can learn to control her powers and use them for good.

As the conclusion to a story arc, some of the issue fell flat for me. I was hoping for more from the Zeen/Krix reunion, a bit more back and forth about Zeen’s powers and Krix’s choice to stay with The Nihil. Justifiably he runs away after blowing her ship from the sky, causing it to crash, so I can understand not wanting to talk too much, but this was something that the arc had been building towards pretty heavily. Whilst her use of the Dark Side was pretty alarming, especially from someone who has been so intrinsically good. Of course Lula is on hand to calm her friend down and the fact that it is Lula’s presence that calms her rather than Krix’s pleas for mercy.

The mystery of Yoda’s new adventure is intriguing. Not only do we get a hint at more of Yoda’s past when Elder Tromak mentions the planet Dalna, the mention of it switches Yoda’s side of the conversation completely from not interested to very interested. I wonder if that is something Older will explore in the future. Of course the bigger mystery now is what’s happened to the old Jedi Master and Tromak when their ship was seemingly destroyed above Vrant Tarnum where Marchion Ro has recovered an artefact and decides to leave Krix in charge of a Nihil base.

Whilst the events of this run don’t impact greatly on the rest of ‘The High Republic’ storytelling, going forward it feels like all of the different areas will be coming together a lot more, but having these past five issues to really get to know Zeen, Lula, Farzala, Qort and Krix, as well as the rest of the characters allows us a chance to care for these characters and maybe follow their adventures in other mediums.

Older has guided us through this first arc, allowing us to get to know them all before we find out where they are all headed as we enter wave two of ‘The High Republic’ (and I may already know some stuff after reading a certain book recently but no spoilers).

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Bad Batching Episode 10 – Common Ground

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Common Ground’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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#CollectionCorner – Chopper (C1-10P) Black Series Figure Review

Whilst Hasbro have had a hit-and-miss success rate of getting figures to look like their on-screen counterparts (just look at every Poe Dameron figure ever), Droids, Troopers, masked characters have always looked amazing

This is Chopper’s second ‘Black Series’ release, and this is a repack of the first, with the same accessories and base that came before, to me that’s not a problem as I had only just started collecting ‘Black Series’ when this version came out. Had I already got the original I think I would have still bought this one to have the Ghost Crew on display in the same packaging.

The detail on this cantankerous Droid is superb. Every dent, rivet and burn are there on full, glorious display.

Taking the design cues from the life size model that was used in ‘Rebels Recon’ and later ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, this Chopper figure looks exactly like the real Astromech Droid. The paint work and choice of colours really bring him to life in a realistic way, the orange isn’t over the top and more muted than the animated version and the weathering effects really show how much this little guy has been through.

The accessories really make up the cost, which would seem rather steep if all we got was the figure itself. Chopper comes with a spare leg, which is taken from the Season 2 episode ‘The Forgotten Droid’. He also comes with a detachable middle wheel that slots into the rocket in the middle of the body.

He also comes with a rocket boost effect which is part of a base that can be used to display the figure. It’s a fun addition which could really make the figure stand out in the shelf when it could so easily get missed without it.

The box art shows Chopper in all his glory, rocket on full blast and his grabber arms stick out of his “head”. It’s a bit of a let down that the arms don’t come as add-on accessories but it’s not a deal breaker. I love how the artist has added a pair of Purgil in the background, it’s a nice little detail that’s a nice nod the the fans of the series.

A really nice looking figure, which comes with enough accessories to make you forget that you’re paying full price for a half-sized figure.

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Star Wars: The High Republic – The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott Book Review (SPOILER FREE)

There are very few books in the world (that I have read) that, when I finished them I closed the book and just sat for a moment wondering “What will I do now?”

The last time it happened what back in early 2017 when I finished Stephen King’s ‘It’. That’s how rare it is for me.

‘The Rising Storm’ was added to that very, very short list today (28th June).

Cavan Scott’s follow-up to Charles Soules amazing ‘Light of the Jedi’ is nothing short of brilliance, and Soule’s book was a hard one to beat.

Set almost a year after ‘The Great Disaster’, Scott takes us to the planet Valo where Chancellor Lina Soh is hosting The Republic Fair, an event for all systems to join together in unity and welcome new members to the growing Government body.

As ambassadors, Jedi Stellan Gios, Elzar Mann, Bell Zettifer and others are there to foster peace but Marchion Ro and the other Nihil leaders have other ideas.

The Nihil storm attacks the Republic Fair and the Jedi struggle to withstand the storm as the Galaxy finally sees the fear and devastation these Pirates want to bring to the Galaxy.

I’m sure there are many who did not envy Cavan Scott’s job of following ‘Light of the Jedi’ which so perfectly set up the first wave of books in ‘The High Republic’ but now that the era has been established, Scott has the freedom to just go nuts, and honestly, he did.

Whilst ‘Light of the Jedi’ felt grand in terms of scope, with the events spanning across the Galaxy, Scott focus is much narrower and more personal for the characters, we get to spend a lot of time with Gios, Mann and Zettifer as they navigate the events from different fronts, giving us a wide scope of the devastation the Nihil bring.

With more focus on Stellan and Elzar, both whom Soule introduced but who get to spend more time in the spotlight and whilst we got a sense of who they are in ‘Light of the Jedi’, the characters really come to life in ‘The Rising Storm’, even more than before, both are well written and wonderfully developed and as co-leads, vastly different enough to make them both feel fresh and complement each other throughout the book.

It’s not just the Jedi who get some major development, Scott spends a fair bit of time with Marchion Ro and the Nihil Leaders, seeing how things have changed for them over the past year, of course Marchion is front and centre but the Tempest Leaders are all a huge part of the book.

To say that I was excited for ‘The Rising Storm’ is an understatement, Cavan Scott’s ongoing Marvel series, ‘The High Republic’ has been consistently amazing and to see him get to tell a bigger story has been amazing. The book is so well paced, it speeds along but never rushes, the short chapter lengths drove the story from moment to moment, never holding back and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Of ‘Light of the Jedi’ is ‘A New Hope’ then ‘The Rising Storm’ is truly ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, in all ways. The deeply personal stories mixed with insane and intense action and a darker tone can easily draw those comparisons, but this isn’t ‘Empire’ rewritten to fit ‘The High Republic’, ‘The Rising Storm’ is its own beast entirely and one that any Star Wars fan should not miss whatsoever. I can see this book being the one that converts the naysayers or this who couldn’t get into ‘The High Republic’ into lifelong fans of the initiative, and with ‘Race to Crashpoint Tower’ by Daniel José Older out on the same day (in the US, on Thursday in the UK) which has been described as a companion piece to ‘The Rising Storm’ and Justina Ireland’s’Out of the Shadows’ out late July/Early August, I feel that my Star Wars reading card just got filled very quickly.

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Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 1 Review

After successfully thwarting Booka’s attempt to kill him, Vader uses the Hutt to gain access to Hutt Space and a Droid Gang’s base to find the lost Carbonite clad Han Solo, only to come up against IG-88 and Bokka’s own weapons.

A return to form for the ‘Darth Vader’ series. Vader kicks some serious Droid a$$ and squares up to a Hutt with muscles the size of Vader’s head and still the Dark Lord stands firm, his dark resolve stronger than ever.

After Vader vanquishes Bokka’s henchmen, Ochi brokers a deal between Vader and the Crime Lord, where Bokka’s will take Vader and Ochi into Hutt Space to locate someone who may know the whereabouts of Han Solo. Bokka agrees and takes Vader to a planet deep in the Hutt territory.

Once there, Vader and Ochi take their shuttle down to the Droid Crush base where their ship is hacked and crashes. Vader and Ochi fight off their attackers before IG-88 appears with a heavy arsenal of weapons but ends up using a slicing device to hack into Vader’s suit, managing to take control of his body.

Using the Force, Vader takes IG-88’s device and cuts off the Droid assassin’s head but the head is taken by surviving members of the Crash, just as Bokka fires on Vader who defends himself. Vader then takes the Droid’s hand and computer link to get the information that leads him to Crimson Dawn.

Returning to Bokka’s ship, Vader asks Bokka if he will try to kill him again now the Hutt has seen Vader’s power for himself, the Hutt agrees that any further attacks would be foolish and agrees to serve Vader on his mission.

Meanwhile, a group of hooded individuals , led by Sly Moore gather to plot against Vader.

This issue is a true return to form for this series. Whilst the last arc had some fun action, this issue wipes the floor with it all. The seemingly outmatched Vader against an army of Droids is reminiscent of Anakin during The Cone Wars, and luckily we don’t get any flashbacks to show this, in fact we only get a handful of flashbacks in the whole issue which was refreshing.

Ochi’s new role as Vader’s majordomo is an interesting one, but seeing as he’s dealing with gangsters, it seems fitting. And having Vader come up against a beast of a Hutt like Bokka, and survive his treachery is mightily impressive. Of course Vader would survive as we all know what happens, but we have seen him get almost taken apart piece by piece in the last arc.

What was very interesting was the failsafe that renders Vader unable to move that IG-88 uses. Is this a device that Palpatine has handed out to his most trusted employees, seeing as we learn that Sly Moore is the one who gave it to IG-88. It would make sense for Moore and Mas Amedda to have them after the last arc and their fear that Vader would come after them after their parts in his trials.

I’m really happy with the improvement of this storyline already, I know it’s great not one issue in (not counting the Prelude) and seeing Vader back on his game here is a welcome sight to see and read. The art is fantastic, the writing is great and this is looking to be a great addition to the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ story.

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Bad Batching Episode 9 – Bounty Lost

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Bounty Lost’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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#CollectionCorner – Hera Syndulla Black Series Figure Review

Whilst you could say that making a life-like figure based on an animated character could be hard to do, an easier thing would be to translate an animated alien character to a life-like action figure.

A “life-like” Hera Syndulla has been done before. This is her second outing as a Black Series figure, we have also seen her depicted on the cover of John Jackson Miller’s ‘A New Dawn’ and more recently in ‘Star Wars: Squadrons’ and each one has looked decidedly different, each one a different interpretation of the character, and Regis new ‘Black Series’ figure is no different.

Like the Kanan figure, Hera is wearing her Season 1/2 gear (the only real change in her outfit is her rank insignia), which is her brown and grey top with Orange flight suit and white straps. The whole outfit is well detailed, the wrinkles and folds in the flight suit looks brilliant and having the straps be separate and not just painted on is an added level of detail, the likes of which I have come to absolutely love ‘The Black Series’ figures for.

The face sculpt is gorgeous, the designer has really captured Hera’s soft features from the cartoon but also given her a look of determination that the character shows throughout the series. The shade of green used for her skin is a perfect tone that feels natural and yet alien all at the same time.

Her headgear, with the flight cap and goggles looks good and well detailed again and the details on her lekku are so well done (can’t see them in the picture unfortunately).

In terms of accessories, she’s a bit light. She comes with a small blaster which, whilst screen accurate, feels a bit of a let down in terms of items to display her with. I’m not saying I want a full cockpit diorama but the single tiny blaster (that fits into her ankle holster) feels a bit lacking. Could have at least given her a Meiloorun fruit as well.

The box art, as absolutely stunning as it is, feels a bit off for me. The art and the figure don’t share the same look, the figure, as I stated earlier, shows Hera’s soft features but the art makes her look harsher, with more angular features that don’t really match up with her animated counterpart.

It’s another solid and great looking figure from Hasbro. Whilst lacking in accessories it’s still a great piece to display, especially alongside the rest of The Ghost Crew.

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Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Part 1

After getting the location of Han Solo, now in the possession of Crimson Dawn, Leia, Chewie, Lando, Lobot and C-3PO head to the meeting, with Lando taking the opportunity to do some dealings of his own.

Soule kicks off the main titles ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ storyline and it’s already go intrigue, shady dealings, romance and some good old Star Wars style good times.

After receiving a message from Amilyn Holdo with details on the auction for Han Solo, Leia recruits Chewie, Lando, Lobot and C-3O to get on board Qi’Ra’s ship and join the auction and pay to get Solo and free him.

Lando uses this vast meeting to make good on his promise to Jabba to deliver the Talky Droid, where he will jettison the Droid out into space at a set location for Jabba’s crew to pick it up.

Before Lando and Lobot dispose of the Talky, Lobot connects with it again and Lando gives it some ‘what for’, telling the Droid he would have been much kinder had it not tried to kill his friend. That’s when Talky pulls a blinder and uses their connection to push back the implants connection to Lobot’s mind and allows the man to talk to Lando, but only after Lando sends it to its fate and the connection is lost as the Falcon flies away.

To avoid being detected, Chewie pilots the Falcon to the other side of the planet where the meeting is to be held but after a near collision the Falcon crash-lands near to the meeting place.

It’s not surprising that this story already fits in so well with the main ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ title with Soule at the helm, he’s quite probably been building his way to it, laying seeds throughout the last 13 (well 12 if you don’t include last months Prelude) much like he and Cavan Scott (and maybe the others) had been laying seeds and dropping hints about ‘The High Republic’ in their other works.

I’m pleased that Soule has referenced how out of character Leia has seemed over the last few issues. Whilst not glaringly obvious, something just hasn’t been the same, and it’s finally come to light as an intentional choice and the after effect of Leia’s defeat by Zahra earlier in the run. With that on top of the search for Han, the MIA Shara Bey and the scattered Rebel fleet it’s actually a work of genius to show the usually on form Leia show some cracks and allow herself some time to not be the all inspiring beacon of hope and just have a chance to feel like a regular person.

The continuing storyline with Lando and Lobot is hopefully coming to an end soon, maybe he can get himself out from under Jabba’s thumb in this arc. It’s totally understandable why Lando can’t be trusted by the main group but at some point he’s going to have to gain their trust, and the trust of the Rebellion leadership before the run comes to an end, which could be somewhere around issue 25 if they follow a similar structure to the first run which was 75 issues spanning three years in-universe. That leaves a bit of room after this crossover but we’ll just have to see.

The art and writing continues to be on point, I absolutely love this panel of Chewie as the Falcon is crash landing, the fear and surprise is conveyed so well which is something that could be quite difficult to do in a non-human character, but Rosanas excelled in this issue with the range that he shows in Chewie.

A great second-start to this new arc, I’m looking forward to seeing where Soule takes this series and what Lando will get up to next.

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The High Republic Adventures Issue 4 Review

Jedi and Nihil forces clash as Marchion Ro uses Krix to contact Zeen, who takes a Jedi ship and goes to meet her friend, Lula, Farzala and Qort take one last Jedi Vector and follow their new companion.

With another stellar issue of ‘High Republic Adventures’, Daniel José Older continues to bring us an amazing series that is a wonderful accompaniment to the rest of ‘The High Republic’ initiative.

Zeen and Lula meditate on the Republic Outpost above Ord Mantell when the base is put on alert and the Jedi Knights and Masters take to their starfighters to thwart a Nihil attack.

Meanwhile on The Junk Moon of Quantxi, Marchion Ro prepares for the next part of his plan, but a pair of locals try to get on the way. Ro sends Krix to stop on of them from sending a distress call, the boy chases the creature down but is too late to stop it from sending a distress call, but during the chase, he does send Zeen a message, asking her to meet him on the Moon.

As the Jedi wipe out The Nihil forces, Lula, Qort and Farzala look for Zeen who has left them a message of her own, telling them about Krix’s attempt to get in touch and that she is going to meet him. The three friends, along with Cham-Cham get into a Jedi Vector (which looks very cramped) and follows Zeen.

The Jedi forces have also picked up the distress call and are on their way to Quantxi to face what Nihil forces are there.

Oh, it’s all very, very exciting and I am loving every panel in this issue. Seeing the Jedi in action in starfighters was something that had been done so well in ‘Light of the Jedi’ that I didn’t even consider getting it in comics but wow. I really liked how the focus was on the few Jedi we have already met and we didn’t get bogged down with so many new names and faces in so short a time. I never thought I’d be so excited to see Yoda in a space battle. To be fair, I never thought I’d ever see Yoda in a space battle.

The growing companionship between Lula and Zeen is great, rather than a Jedi Master taking Zeen under their wing, Lula has taken it in herself to essentially train her friend, even though it’s supposedly forbidden for someone as old as Zeen to learn the Jedi way. I think that the Masters are turning a blind eye so that one day when she’s a bit older, Zeen will be taken on as a Padawan. Although her close relationship with Krix could put a hole in that theory, it could lead to another Anakin Skywalker situation where her attachments lead her towards the Dark Side, but who knows right now.

I’m loving how much Marchion Ro we are getting in this series, and how he’s manipulating Krix. Ro is fast becoming a classic villain and seeing him in this run as well as the novels is giving the audience a chance to see multiple sides to the Nihil leader and the lengths he is willing to go to.

Older and his team are putting out a consistently great series so far, and whilst the IDW series is aimed at a younger audience than the Marvel series, I honestly can’t tell a difference in tone, whilst Older injects a bit more humour than Cavan Scott, he doesn’t over-do it which manages to keep the series grounded.

And seriously, did no one think to check the timer on Buckets of Blood’s pastries? Careless!

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Bad Batching Episode 8 – Reunion

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Reunion’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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Doctor Aphra: War of the Bounty Hunters – Prelude Review

Aphra and Sana do what they can to thwart Vukorah’s hostage plot and fulfil their promise to Domina Tagge whilst Lucky and Ariole discover a plot against The Sixth Kin.

Doctor Aphra’s entry into the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ is more of a fizzle than a bang in, much like the Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters – Prelude it is actually the end of the current storyline with a lead in to the next issue.

Aphra and Sana deliberate on what to do, with Aphra ready to escape but Starros convinces get to help. Aphra sends Sana to find a way out whilst she throws herself into the line of fire, convincing Vukorah that she is the only one who can safely disengage the Nihil Hyperdrive from the test ship.

Lucky and Ariole manage to defeat their attackers from last issue and discover that there is is plan to destroy the Sixth Kin and so they go back to Wen Delphis for answers.

Aphra, under an intense amount of pressure as Sana brings a squad of Stormtroopers in from outside after freeing some hostages , manages to take the Crystal Core out of the hyperdrive and gets away just in time before the ship blows up.

The two of them are chased by Vukorah whom Sana manages to shoot in the eye (and she somehow survived). They go back to Domina and Aphra hands over the Crystal Core. Tagge gives them their next assignment, to get on board a luxury cruise and find a cousin of Domina before he can buy into some unknown venture.

Meanwhile, Wen Delphis explains to Luck and Ariole that someone within The Sixth Kin is leaking information, and all sources lead to the very same luxury cruise Aphra and Sana are heading towards.

I hate to say it, but the ‘Doctor Aphra’ series is very quickly losing me. The last two issues have been very lacklustre and drawn out when instead we could have had a pretty solid single issue finale last month and a worthy entry into ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ this month. Instead Alyssa Wong has overstretched one great story arc and rather than dive into a new one head first, dipped her toe into this massive crossover event., and it’s making me dubious for this series’ arc within the crossover.

I’m feeling very disappointed by this series, which had run on such a high note, for me the creative team was running on all cylinders but the last couple of issues have been so poor that the temptation to stop reading the series (I know that’ll put a dint in the content) but I can’t justify continuing to buy it it if I’m not enjoying what we’re getting. I’ll see how it fairs for the rest of the year, if maybe after ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ gives the series a bit of a boost.

For a second month running, I’ve been pretty unimpressed by the artwork as well and struggled to find a single panel to add to the post that remotely blew me away, however I did find this one pretty cool. If only to showcase the Stormtroopers actually hitting targets for once.

A lacklustre start to this series contributions to the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ and another disappointing issue for this series. I am really hoping that the team can bring it back to its former glory during/after this crossover event, but only time will tell.

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Spectre of the Past by Timothy Zahn Audiobook Review

Note: This review of of the abridged version of the audiobook.

After disturbing information about a planets destruction comes to light the peace within the New Republic becomes frayed thanks to a plot from within the Imperial Remnant whilst the Imperial leaders debate a surrender to the New Republic in a bid to end the war once and for all.

Timothy Zahn returns with what feels like a direct sequel to his blockbuster hit trilogy featuring all the familiar names and places that he introduced in ‘The Empire Trilogy’.

Following a failed weapons test, Supreme Commander Gilda Pellaeon meets with the last leaders of the fledgling Imperial Remnant and announces his intention to formerly surrender to The New Republic. Whilst the Moff’s agree, behind the scenes, Moff Disra has put a plan into action, with the help of Grodin Tierce, a former Imperial Royal Guard to make the Galaxy believe that Grand Admiral Thrawn had survived his assassination attempt ten years before, using a Con Artist called Flim to portray the dead leader.

On Wayland, whilst on leave from the Galactic Senate, Leia mediates a meeting between a Deveronian and the local Noghri where Leia comes into possession of a collection of Data Cards, one of which details something called ‘The Hand of Thrawn’, another, which she deciphers with the help of Talon Karrde, they learn that ‘The Caamasi Incident’ which wiped out most of a planet and its population was committed by a group of Bothans.

Whilst on a diplomatic mission, Han, Luke and Chewie are drawn into a fight with pirates. Through the Force, Luke senses that the crews are made up of Clones. Han and Chewie go to meet Leia whilst Luke hunts down the pirates and locates their stronghold deep within an asteroid belt. After narrowly escaping capture by the gang, Mara arrives in time to save Luke before the base self-destructs.

Luke goes to a Medical Facility to heal wounds he got in the base and has a terrifying Force Vision that leads him to a meeting with Talon Karrde where he learns that Mara, after chasing down one of the last Pirate ships she has been captured.

With tensions getting worse in the Senate, Han and Leia travel to Bothawui to help the local government deal with growing unrest. During a protest, an assassin frames Han for the murder of the Bothan leader. Han is found innocent after a device is found that was part of the assassins plan. Later, they meet Lando, who along with a Senator were taken aboard a Star Destroyer where they met the returned Grand Admiral Thrawn.

After revealing the Grand Admiral’s return to the Senate, Lando, Han and Leia meet with Karrde who decides to join their efforts in bringing some stability to the Senate and finding the names of the Bothan’s involved with ‘The Caamasi Incident’. After some convincing, Karrde agrees to go and meet a contact who may have access to a copy of the document.

Meanwhile, Pellaeon’s plan to surrender has started to fall apart. Firstly, the messenger tasked with inviting Senator Garm Bel Iblis to meet to discuss terms was captured by a Star Destroyer. Secondly, at the proposed rendezvous, The Chimera was attacked by pirates, whose ships were disguised as Corellian attack ships, meant to be believed to be ships under Iblis’ command. Realising the ruse, Pellaeon decides to wait a bit longer.

Well, when I say this, I’m talking mainly about the abridgement of this book. It’s a mess. A complete and utter mess. Everything is all over the place. Characters are in one place one second and a minute later they’re somewhere completely different, and it’s as if the news they got a moment ago hasn’t even been delivered based on their temperament.

Whilst the bare bones of the story is good, and yes it’s a bit messy in places, but with what seem like great big chunks taken out to fit the book into three hours it’s not surprising.

My one big take away, that I stated previously, is that Zahn is writing a direct sequel to his ‘Empire Trilogy’. He’s kept parts of the established lore what had come in between his first and second forays into the Expanded Universe but he’s definitely keeping to his own sandbox in terms of characters, events and even locations (Leia just so happens to be on a relaxing holiday on Wayland of all places, but according to Han it’s changed in the ten years since Thrawn’s defeat).

Zahn has put into place some interesting ideas, the Caamasi Incident is a terrifying feat that the Empire perpetrated with the assistance of a group of Bothans, and now that this evidence is brought to light it’s caused a political firestorm that once again threatens to tear the New Republic apart. Though I’ll be honest, the ease of which anyone can throw the New Republic into so much turmoil really goes to show how fragile the concept of a Galactic Government really is.

It was nice to reconnect with some favourite characters, especially Gilad Pellaeon who hasn’t been featured (from what I can remember) since ‘The Last Command’ and seeing this once proud leader of the Empire finally admit defeat and plan to surrender is almost heart breaking, if, you know, he wasn’t a member of The Empire. Also the return of Talon Karrde, the smuggler/information broker/pirate, you name it he’s done it. I would include Mara Jade here but she seems to have turned up quite regularly, but it it nice to get to read (hear) her as part of a Timothy Zahn book.

Whilst enjoyable, I really feel the desire/need to either get the unabridged version or buy the book to get the full story. I really feel that, out of all of the abridged versions I have listened to, this one has suffered the most. Zahn’s books are always (as far as my experience) pretty dense and chock-full of detail which never really made it into this version of the story, which was a bit disappointing but it has whet my appetite for the full story.

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Darth Vader: War of the Bounty Hunters – Prelude

After learning of his Master’s plans on Exogol, Vader undergoes severe repairs and prepares to enter the War of the Bounty Hunters.

Returning to the medical centre where Vader was originally put into the suit, Palpatine orders the workers to repair the damaged Vader who chooses to undergo the procedure without pain relief, allowing him to use the pain to fuel his anger and tap deeper into the Dark Side.

Vader has visions and memories of Luke, starting to believe his son to be weak without his friends, Vader turns his attention to them, especially Han Solo whose involvement at The Battle of Yavin caused Vader to become distracted, allowing Luke to blow up the Death Star.

Meanwhile, Palpatine attempts to reassure Mas Amedda and Sly Moore that Vader won’t turn his ire on them and will instead find himself a new target to unleash his anger upon.

Once Vader is essentially healed (and in a newer, slightly shiny suit as opposed to before), Ochi has also undergone a procedure to heal his eyes (giving him the really creepy look we see in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’). Vader takes Ochi to work with him.

Later, Ochi appears before Bokku the Hutt, telling the gangster that Vader is searching for Solo. Bokku doesn’t believe the assassin until Vader himself arrives.

Honestly, I’m really disappointed with about half of this issue. The other half is superb.

The superb half is the sections set in ‘the present’. Vader being rebuilt is seriously intense, seeing the repair droids essentially pull him apart to rebuild his cybernetic limbs and the knowledge that he is fully conscious at the time is almost terrifying.

Palpatine fully understands what his apprentice is doing and thanks to his insight knows that Vader would no longer pose a threat to him after witnessing a tiny portion of the Emperor’s machinations on Exogol and even reassures his closest advisers that even they will be safe. That’s some power they hold if they are safe from Vader who has been seen laying waste to Rebels, Tuskens and Geonosians in the pages of his various comic runs.

Finally getting the Ochi of Bestoon that we’ve seen on screen feels like a long time coming, and I hope that now he’s partnered with Vader instead of hunting him, we will see his character develop more.

The half I was let down by was Greg Park’s over reliance on flashbacks to the films and previous comics. I know that they have been a staple in this and Charles Soule’s run on the title but seriously, I already own all of those and if I wanted to I’d have a catch-up session instead of getting whole clips in comic form. One or two panels here and there wouldn’t bother me but it feels like almost half the issue is old material.

That being said, the art is astounding, and rather than getting the scary uncanny valley style we had back in the early days of the first run.

I feel the issue could have been much better and even covered more ground with Vader and Ochi visiting Bokka had the flackbacks been trimmed. Whilst it sets Vader’s place in the crossover event by the end, this felt more like a tacked on ending to the Exogol plot from the last few issues, definitely not the best issue of this run and I hope that Vader’s involvement in ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ doesn’t drag the series down.

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Bad Batching Episode 7: Battle Scars

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Battle Scars’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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#CollectionCorner – Kanan Jarrus Black Series Figure Review

When I decided that ‘The Black Series’ figures were something I was going to get into, I spent some time figuring out where to start other than a Rey and Kylo from each of the Sequel Trilogy as well as a Han Solo from ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ and a the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker from ‘The Last Jedi’, both of which I found for a decent price.

And then Hasbro announced the new packaging and, for the first time, the whole of the Ghost Crew from ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ as well as Ahsoka. Well, as a huge ‘Rebels’ fan this felt like a no-brainer. And rather than pick them up one-by-one I was going to buy the whole wave in one go. I just had to discuss the price-tag with my wife. All it cost me, other than said price-tag it cost me a nice lunch out (at my place of work). At the table I ordered them and a week later they arrived and now, nine months later I’m finally writing about them, starting with everyone’s favourite cowboy Jedi, Spectre One himself, Kanan Jarrus.

Dressed in his Season One/Two gear, this animated character translates brilliantly into a live-action style. The detailing on the clothes mirrors the animated details but recreate them in a realistic style, the straps and buckles on his armour, as well as the armour itself looks brilliant and give the figure a battle ready look.

The lightsaber is perfectly detailed as well as his signature blaster which would fit into the holster if I ever opened the package.

The face sculpt looks great, again, they have managed to give this animated character a great realistic look, they could have gone down the route of sculpting him to look like Freddie Prinze Jr but have opted to give him an original look.

The box art perfectly represents the look of the figure and the character. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to translate a stylised cartoon character to real life and think the artist has done a phenomenal job. Again, they could have taken the easy route and just drawn Freddie Prinze Jr as the character but the more original look feels truer to the character to me.

It’s a great figure overall and a very welcome addition to the collection, and maybe in the future, perhaps we could get a Season Three/Four version with the mask and an interchangeable head to show him in his ‘Jedi Night’ appearance (short hair and no beard).

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My Top Star Wars Moments 12

After finding out how to locate Moff Gideon’s Light Cruiser thanks to Mayfeld, Mando sends a message to Gideon that is WORD FOR WORD what Gideon said to Mando, Cara an Greef when he was first introduced (and another of My Top Star Wars Moments).

As soon as the holo appears, we all knew that $#%^ was on! As Mando repeats the Moff’s words, it became increasingly obvious that Gideon is afraid of our hero. Whilst Gideon spoke matter-of-factly, making his demands clear, Mando is straight up threatening the Imperial leader.

We know how much Grogu means to Mando, Ahsoka tell him that Grogu sees him as his father and Mando’s affection for The Child has grown over the course of the series, and this moment really cements that those feelings to Gideon who affectively begins to plan his side of the coming battle.

Whilst threatening, it’s a very touching moment and one that came as a surprise to many. Brilliantly executed across the board by the cast, especially Giancarlo Esposito who doesn’t speak but reacts so perfectly.

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Star Wars Issue 13: War of the Bounty Hunters – Prelude Review

The ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ arrives is the flagship title as Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca and the Droids travel to Nar Shaddaa and meet a familiar face whilst trying to locate Boba Fett and Han Solo.

With the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ crossover event ramping up, the ‘Prelude’ issues from the main titles are arriving to push us in the direction each of them will take for the next few months.

After Chewie receives a message from a contact on the Smugglers Moon of Nar Shaddaa, Luke, Chewie and the Droids meet with Sagwa, a Wookiee that Chewie helped free from slavery in ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ who has information on Boba Fett’s actions in the arena (see War of the Bounty Hunters: Alpha).

The group try to get information as find Fett but run afoul of The Hutts of Nar Kanji, the gang who’s best fighter was beaten by Fett.

The heroes end up in a showdown with the gang, but with Luke’s Force abilities they manage to escape with Sagwa.

Onboard the Falcon, R2-D2 reveals that he has a database of former Jedi Outposts which Luke may be able to visit and learn to improve his skills, but they are interrupted by Chewie who has received a message from Leia, from someone claiming to be in possession of Han Solo.

As Soule is writing this title as well as the main ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ mini-series, this title is is the most privileged place to perfectly complement each other. Of course, this is the ‘Prelude’ issue and at the end ties into events from the first issue of the mini-series.

Luke’s return to Nar Shaddaa after his run in with Grakkus the Hutt in the first run of the main title does not go any better than the first time, but this time he knows what he is doing and his training pays off in droves. It just adds to the story of Luke doing training between ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and ‘Return of the Jedi’ and the reveal at the end when Luke learns that Artoo has the list of Jedi Outposts gives us a hint at what we will get in the story after this crossover event concludes.

Having a team-up of Luke and Chewie feels fresh, it’s not a duo we have had before, and the necessity of having Threepio along to translate (and of course adding to the humour). The addition of another Wookiee, Sagwa gives the team the extra muscle they need and adds a really nice connection to ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’, especially with the connections to that film in the mini-series.

There is a part of me that’s a bit annoyed that the Shara Bey storyline has been put by the wayside in what could be an extended cliff hanger, seeing as that was the emotional core of the previous arc, of course a story about finding Han Solo will take precedence, and there needs to be some story threads to pick up after ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’, and maybe I just wanted to have that all packed up with a neat little bow because of my complaints about her fate already being well known thanks to previous books and comics. I’m probably being finicky here.

The art is wonderful and we get some really great and iconic images, including the one above which really shows Luke’s growing confidence also g with his companions. Even though Sagwa is in this scene as well, it’s nice to get a shot of the main heroes.

A great start to this titles part in this huge crossover event, I’m hoping Soule is able to keep the momentum going on both this and the main ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ series because he is a busy man.

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Bad Batching Episode 6 – Decommissioned

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week (just a day late) and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Decommissioned’.

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War of the Bounty Hunters Issue 1

What the #%$¥ just happened?

I got the first part of Charles Soule’s central story to the ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ crossover event, expecting something pretty cool, enjoyable and action packed like the Prelude.

What I got was a complete and utter masterclass in Star Wars comics storytelling that will be hard to top for a long time.

As if losing Han Solo wasn’t enough, Fett finds out he has a bounty on him, out there by Jabba’s after the Crime Lord received an invitation from a mysterious woman claiming that the criminal organisation, ‘Crimson Dawn’ was back and that they had Solo in their possession.

After fighting off the Bounty Hunters 4-LOM and Zuckuss (and taking 4-LOM’s head to find some information) Fett arrives at Jabba’s Palace, only to be confronted by Bib Fortuna and all of the Bounty Hunters staying at the Palace. Once Fett talks the Hunters down, Fortuna explains the invitation to Boba who goes in search of Jabba and Crimson Dawn.

Meanwhile, the Hutt leaders meet to discuss the return of Crimson Dawn and the leader of the returning Crime Syndicate is revealed (to the readers) as Qi’Ra, Han’s former flame who is using Solo to try and unite the different factions with interests in this Smuggler/Rebel leader.

Charles Soule has basically given us the comics equivalent of a mic drop. From the opening where we are introduced to the character who is revealed to be Qi’Ra and Fett’s fight against the Bounty Hunters to the showdown at Jabba’s Palace, every moment just wows the readers.

Having Crimson Dawn make a return is something that fans have been after since the release of ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ after finding out that the organisation was headed by none other than Darth Maul and Qi’Ra was rising in the ranks after the death of Quinlan Vos, whatever happens next is a mystery (although I have some theories). I’m hoping that maybe we will get hints as to what happened between ‘Solo’ and the first time we see Maul after, in ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ when he was found on Malachor. What I really like was the fact that Soule and Ross didn’t hide the fact that Crimson Dawn was back with the character Margo Trina, who has a brief appearance in ‘Solo’ and appears here as the courier of Solo to The Vermillion. It’s enough of a deep cut reference that it could easily be missed.

It’s not just the return of Crimson Dawn that is intriguing, the return of Qi’Ra is sure to throw a spanner in the works. Seeing as she is Han’s first love interest, if there is a meeting between her and Leia and that fact is revealed, it could cause some fireworks, especially seeing the lengths that Leia has been willing to go through to save Han so far.

Soule and Ross give us a great connection to ‘The Clone Wars’ by giving us a look at The Hutt Council, which we had only seen before in a pair of episodes which focused on Ziro the Hutt after they were freed from prison by Cad Bane. As it was ‘Clone Wars’ they of course were very stylised to look like Gangster tropes but Ross does a great job of translating them to fit in more with what we’re accustomed to seeing in live action.

Luke Ross’s art is wonderful. Every panel is a mini-work of art, I struggled to decide which I wanted to showcase in this post, but this splash page showing all of he connected characters just tops all the rest. It connects all the stories in the event in one beautiful moment.

Starting at such a high, it’s a bit worrying that the rest of the story won’t live up to this issues excellence. It’s definitely one of my favourite all time issues since Marvel started releasing them back in 2015.

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My Top Star Wars Moments 11

For me, 2016 was the year of the bad-ass Vader.

He throws down against Ahsoka in ‘Twilight of the Apprentice’, the season finale of ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ Season 2, lost half his mask and walked away from the destruction of the Sith Temple on Malachor. Not to mention the amazing moment where we hear both Matt Lanter and James Earl Jones voicing the character simultaneously to create a creepy effect that sends chills down the spine.

Then of course there was the amazing hallway scene in ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’. Need I say more?

But before that, at the tail end of 2015, the first part of the first crossover event in the ‘Star Wars’ titles from Marvel Comics arrived, ‘Vader Down’ and halfway through the first part we go this moment that was the start of Vader’s status as bad-ass.

Surrounded by Rebel soldiers and quite probably feeling rather disoriented after crashing his TIE Fighter onto the planet after a collision with Luke’s X-Wing and Vader has nothing better to do than ignite his lightsaber and basically tell his would-be captors to “Get &@*%#$!” before laying waste to them in droves.

It’s moments like this that I had only imagined about before the Disney acquisition (I never got into the Empire/Rebellion era comics or books beforehand) so for me this is a new side of Vader and I’m loving it.

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Doctor Aphra: The Engine Job Part 4

After last issues ridiculous cliffhanger and a very misleading cover for this issue, this is probably my least favourite issue of this series.

After their obvious survival, Aphra and Sana return to the bar to find everyone dead. They decide that their best course of action is to go to Midarr and get the hyperdrive tech from Mr De’rruyet’s facility.

After sneaking in disguised as interns, they find the device which Aphra quickly proves to be a fake. They then confront De’rruyet in his office after he finds them raising his files but the conversation is cut short by an explosion. In the hanger with the device, the wall has been blown open by Vukurah and her crew, demanding the device or they will kill everyone.

I’m really not a fan of obvious cliffhangers, so the beginning of this issue was a tad redundant for me, and of course they were going to get out because thanks to the Solicitations that come out months in advance, we all know what’s coming.

Secondly, having Vukurah appear at the end for a second issue running, where it’s all dramatic and people could die, to me it’s sloppy, just a repeat of the last issue.

What I have enjoyed so far in this run is how fresh each issue has felt for me, but this one feels like a whole lot of retreading ground just to fill an issue count. The return to the bar to find everyone dead, which we were shown last issue, just seemed to fill a panel which didn’t further the story at all.

I get the feeling that with ‘The War of the Bounty Hunters’ crossover imminent, they needed a bit of padding to get the story where it needed to be before the ‘Prelude’ issues, and maybe it’s the filmmaker in me, but I have always worked on the thought that every pert of a story needs to move the story forward and for a bulk of this issue it didn’t feel that way, which was kind of disappointing as the series had been consistently brilliant.

On the plus side, we do get more time with the villain of this arc, Vukurah and even though we’ve seen her wipe out a bar full of innocents and leave Aphra and Sana to die, we actually get to see her ruthlessness when she guns down a hostage just to prove a point.

Hopefully the series will get back to its brilliant self with the next issue, one duff part isn’t enough to keep me from reading it (just look at my thoughts on the current ‘Darth Vader’ series), but also, maybe I should temper my expectations a little.

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Bad Batching Episode 5: Rampage

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week (just a day late) and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Rampage’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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#CollectionCorner Lando Calrissian ‘The Empire Strikes Back 40th Anniversary’ Black Series Review

“Hello, what have we here?”

When I dove into ‘The Black Series’ figures and started getting the 40th Anniversary series for ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ I debated buying the Lando figure.

Had to had not long released a Lando from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, which looked pretty good in terms of the sculpt and the design, in the (then) regular black and red box, and the price was pretty good, but I could never pull the trigger because I didn’t think having an ‘Empire’ Lando in a regular box would be aesthetically pleasing on the wall. As it turned out, the 40th Anniversary version was just a repack of that figure (look at me doing research).

I finally pulled that trigger on Amazon Warehouse, knowing the packaging would be a bit dinged up in places and when it arrived it was slightly worse than I expected, with the blister pack loose, however a couple of strips of well placed sellotape have made the packaging look almost like new…

The sculpt looks great, the likeness to Billy Dee Williams is uncanny, seeing as the new cast are scanned so that the sculpts are spot-on, being able to do it for the cast in the older films is impressive and this is one of the best I have seen.

The outfit looks great and the detail on the cape gives Lando a regal look. I’m pleased that Hasbro went with a moulded cape over a soft goods one, I can’t imagine a fabric one would hold up as nicely with this figure. However, as an in-box displayer, I wish I could see more of the details on the figure that the cape hides (just no winning is there).

The accessories are spot on, Lando’s blaster is instantly recognisable from the films, however I don’t recall him ever using this model in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, instead he used one of the E-11’s he and his security took from the Stormtroopers. The communicator/microphone however is straight from the film, which he uses to make the evacuation announcement to the citizens of Cloud City.

In terms of the packaging, I’m a huge fan of the 40th Anniversary throw-back to the old Kenner style card-backs. They look great and, through a stroke of genius, the fact this figures card is a bit battered feels like a genuine figure kept since its release.

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My Top Star Wars Moments 10

“You have something I want.” Moff Gideon, The Mandalorian: Chapter 7 – The Reckoning

As my introduction to Giancarlo Esposito as an actor, this moment was mind-blowing. Having not watched ‘Breaking Bad’, the show he was best known for at the time, I had no idea how amazing an actor he is. He’s so good in his brief scenes in Season 1 of ‘The Mandalorian’ that I started watching ‘Breaking Bad’. I still haven’t finished it but it’s good and I recommend it.

Aside from his brief appearance just before his troop unleashed hell on The Client and his lackeys, this was Moff Gideon moment to shine. And shine he does.

After landing his TIE Scout Fighter and approaching the wrecked bar, Gideon makes his appearance and sets the terms of engagement. “Give me what I want, and maybe, just maybe I won’t kill you now.” It also helps instantly establish his character, he’s a bad a$$ and means business.

Moff Gideon, for me at least, became an iconic villain the moment he gave this speech. Esposito’s performance raises the bar for everyone around him and between this and the speech he gives about the E-Web Blaster in ‘The Rescue’, he firmly establishes himself as an enemy to be reckoned with.

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The High Republic: There is No Fear Part 5 Review

Just when I didn’t think last month’s issue could be topped, Cavan Scott and his team absolutely smash it it with this issue.

With the Drengir attacking The Starlight Beacon and The Hutt Cartel attacking the Jedi on Sedri Minor, it all looks a bit hopeless for the Jedi. But when the Drengir attack the Hutts, a tedious alliance is formed but the Jedi and Hutt team-up still isn’t enough to fight back the deadly plants.

It’s a more personal battle going on between Sskeer and Keeve that, in true Star Wars fashion, is the true battle that everything hinges on. Keeve does her best to get through to her Master, she n a moment of clarity he confesses that his connection to the Force was diminished, leading to his problems through the past few issues. He hatches a plan, for Keeve to enter his mind, which is now connected to the Drengir, using the Force to convince the creatures to retreat.

Keeve does so, saving the Jedi and Hutts on Sedri Minor and those on The Starlight Beacon, including Imri, Vernestra Rwoh’s Padawan. However the attempt does come at a price, with Ssker dead in Keeve’s arms.

Just wow! That’s all I can really say.

Ever since Cavan Scott teased the death of a “beloved” character and then the solicitations for this month came out and we saw this cover I think we all knew what was going to happen, but I had no idea how phenomenal.

Seeing the end of Sskeer’s journey here, in the aftermath of The Great Disaster and the battle against The Nihil followed by his possession by The Drengir and his seeming descent to the Dark Side really gave him a great arc through all of ‘The High Republic’. He also gives us a look at something we have only seen once before, and recently in ‘Into the Dark’, which is a Jedi’s diminishing connection to the Force and part of me is wondering if it’s got anything to do with The Drengir.

Granted, Sskeer claims that his Force connection had been fading for a while but it seems very coincidental that both Sskeer and Dez Rydan who had been in contact with The Drengir who are strongly connected to the Dark Side and I hope that this is something that plays out throughout ‘The High Republic’.

Getting to see The Hutt Cartel in action for the first time, and in a time where they are essentially free to do what they wish without the confines of The Republic or The Empire, with Rancor Riders and lackeys of various species laying waste to anyone in their way and to top it off, the Jedi holding their own against an army of criminals. I never thought it was something I wanted to see but damn I loved it.

The highlight for me is the Sskeer/Keeve fight. It’s the kind of fight that that Star Wars does the best, the emotional battle, this one, for the soul of Sskeer as Keeve tries her best to get through to her former Master, to bring him back from the influence of The Drengir. As great as the new characters have been through ‘The High Republic’, Sskeer has been the one who, in my opinion, has had the best character arc throughout the initiative so far. However, this is mostly due to the fact that he’s had a considerable amount of coverage throughout, but it has been and incredibly interesting journey to go on, especially since he was one of the first Jedi we saw in the promotional art who fans gravitated towards for being a Trandoshan Jedi.

I am very interested is seeing what happens with Keeve going forward, I imagine she will be wracked with guilt after seemingly killing her Master to save people from The Drengir and that could be a hugely interesting story to follow moving forward.

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Bad Batching Episode 4: Cornered

The Life Debt Podcast returns for another week and another episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ with the latest episode ‘Cornered’.

So stick some Star Wars podcast in those ears as I talk about the latest episode all about our favourite defective clones, and it’s right HERE for your convenience.

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The High Republic: Into the Dark by Claudia Gray Book Review

After what felt like an eternity, I have finally finished Claudia Gray’s inaugural entry into ‘The High Republic’ series.

The first YA novel of the series ‘Into the Dark’ never feels like a YA novel, and only really falls into that genre because of the age of the main protagonists, Reath Silas and Affie Hollow, both in their late teens.

Happening during the timeline of The Great Disaster that has been the backdrop for the other two books in the first wave (Light of the Jedi and A Test of Courage), ‘Into the Dark’ follows the crew and passengers of the ship ‘The Vessel’, one of the ships from the Byrne Guild that operates on the frontier regions of the Galaxy, crewed by the Matthew McGonaughey of Star Wars, Leox Gyasi, the navigator Geode (a huge sentient rock) and Affie, who is learning the ropes of the Guild and will one day take over from her adoptive-mother, the owner, Scover Byne.

The Vessel has been hired to transport a group of Jedi, Padawan Reath Silas, Master Cohmac Vitus and Jedi Knights Orla Jareni and Dez Rydan to the Starlight Beacon in time for the dedication ceremony but The Great Disaster forces them out of Hyperspace early.

In what seems like the middle of nowhere, and stranded with an array of other ships, The Vessel locates a Space Station and shepherds the other ships to it in time to save them from a solar flare. Once inside, the crews of the stranded ships start mingling which leads to some chaos that the Jedi manage to settle, including a kidnapping of a young girl called Nan that Reath puts an end to, leading the two of them to become close.

Cohmac and Orla explore the central arboretum that makes up the bulk of the station, where a strong sense of the Dark Side is located. After experiencing visions they decide to remove a set of statues they believes have been imbued with the Dark Side. Meanwhile, whilst exploring the Station, Dez Ryden is killed when he enters a strange corridor and Affie finds proof that members of the Byne Guild have used the Station as a way point, despite its strange and seemingly dangerous nature.

Once the hyperspace lanes are reopened, The Vessel returns to Coruscant. Affie does more digging on the Station and it’s connections to the Guild, whilst Reath deals with the news of his Master, Jora Mali’s death during a battle with The Nihil and Cohmac and Orla take the statues to try and learn about their connection to the Dark Side.

Affie, Reath, Cohmac, Orla and the crew of The Vessel return to the Station, Reath to arrest Nan after he realises she and her guardian are members of The Nihil, Orla and Cohmac to return the statues when they realise that they were keeping the Dark Side forces in check and Affie to get proof that her adoptive mother was utilising illegal indentured servants as pilots for The Byne Guild in a bid to try and get her to change her practices.

On the station, they encounter The Drengir, plant based creatures, attached to the Dark Side and hungry for meat which the statues had been keeping in a state of stasis. Reath is transported to another planet where he finds a beaten and poisoned Dez who had been transported to the planet and now a prisoner of a group of Drengir. Reath manages to escape back to the Station with Dez but finds it in a state of utter carnage with The Nihil trying to take over. The Drengir, once again imprisoned are released again to act as a distraction for The Nihil but The Vessel becomes stuck and only a life threatening plan from Reath can stop the enemies fight and fire The Vessel.

With the Station now empty of hostiles, The Vessel returns to Coruscant, Reath asks Cohmac to be his new Master, Orla finally fulfils her goal to become a Wayfinder and Affie foils Scover’s plans for indentured pilots allowing Affie, Geode and Leox to make their own way in the Galaxy.

Despite taking me a long time to read (took a Star Wars break half way through and then struggled to find time to just sit and read) I really did enjoy this book. Structurally it felt very different to most Star Wars books, in the sense that the first half was a very slow burn, getting to know the characters and their situations before an explosive second half. It has a very ‘Alien’ vibe in how it plays out as well. Having already known that this was the introduction of The Drengir and that’s they were the main antagonists, I was fully expecting them to show up at any time, picking off the different crews onboard the station, but we only get the one real casualty in Dez.

The second half is an absolute whirlwind, the pace is doubled or even tripled and the long wait make that first appearance of The Drengir that much more scary when the surround Cohmac and Orla and even Reath when he finds Dez on the Drengir homeworld.

In terms of the structure, I feel like the middle where they return to Coruscant for the first time could have been altered, perhaps not going back to Coruscant, instead having the characters make their discoveries in transit and make an unscheduled return to the danger zone would have ramped up the tension for me and maybe cut out a part that had a bit of a lull for me.

My one critique aside, Claudia Gray has written an amazing entry to ‘The High Republic’ and given us some great characters, some of which are returning in some of the upcoming books and comics which I am looking forward to (I’m loving how connected ‘The High Republic’ is) and it gives us some new ideas on different aspects of The Jedi Order, that we never got to see in The Prequel Trilogy, such as Wayfinders, Jedi who essentially go off on a sort of gap year but still being active Jedi, unlike those who take the Barash Vow who essentially leave the Order without actually leaving it to meditate on the Force.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what else Gray is going to bring to ‘The High Republic’ in the future, with a very full second phase coming up, I wonder if Gray along with Charles Soule will be hitting the front lines for the third phase which I assume will be out towards the end of this year/beginning of next year.

In terms of the rest of Gray’s Star Wars library, ‘Into the Dark’ is her first chance to bring us something wholly new without characters or settings familiar to fans, this book allows Gray to give us a completely new ‘Star Wars’ book and she does it with style, and it managed to surpass my expectations brilliantly.

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My Top Star Wars Moments 9

“There are more of us Poe, there are more of us.” Lando Calrissian

Say what you will about ‘The Rise of Skywalker’, many already have and still do in the deep, dark realms of social media, but if even the most staunchest of haters doesn’t have even a tiny glimmer of emotion at the moment then I don’t know what to say.

The build-up to this moment is intense to say the least. After Poe watches his long time friend and wing mate, Snap Wexley get shot down by a Sith TIE Fighter, the battle starts to play on Dameron, as the sound design is filled with shouts, screams and questions for the General we see Poe at his most defeated, this is the most broken we ever see him, maybe that he has ever been (even more so than in the novel ‘Resistance Reborn’ where he is dealing with his actions at the beginning of ‘The Last Jedi’). His apology to The Resistance is a sign that he has resigned himself to defeat.

But when we get Lando’s voice, in the first of two great moments where Lando saves the day, we get not only the Millennium Falcon, The Ghost and the mish-mash of ships we got in the trailer, but a whole wide-shot of ships, led by Lando and Chewie.

The brilliance doesn’t rest at the feet of J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio, sure they wrote a great moment (some would say lightning in a bottle for that team-up) or Oscar Isaac, even though his performance in the scene is fantastic. It’s the true master of Star Wars, the only other person next to George Lucas who has had a hand at crafting the Galaxy.

John Williams!

Like Lando, John Williams flies in and rather than giving us a new ‘Duel of the Fates’ or ‘Battle of the Heroes’, he simply and brilliantly gives us the Main Theme as the people of the Galaxy arrive and join the battle, becoming the overwhelming force of hope that will bring down the tyranny that has plagued the Galaxy.

The theme plays its way through the beginnings of this new battle, following the Millennium Falcon and the fighters on an attack, giving us that Wedge cameo that just added to the sequence, leading into the “Its not a Navy, it’s just people.” line that just sums up the whole moment beautifully.

Whilst the film isn’t the best of the Saga, it’s safe to say that it does have some fantastic moments and this, for me, is one of the best, if not of the whole Sequel Trilogy, hell, the whole of the Skywalker Saga.

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The High Republic Adventures Issue 3 Review

In a change of pace from the previous issues, Older gives us a look at the aftermath of the attack on Bralanak City as Zeen and Krix start on their new paths.

We learn that Zeen and Krix have been communicating with each other using the Com-Links that Yoda gave them in the previous issue.

Krix and Elder Tromak are taken by The Nihil to a fighting pit. Tromak must ride a beast called a Bogaranth whilst Krix leads it, the fight is called off by Marchion Ro who has found Krix’s communicator and it has a direct link to the Jedi.

Krix proclaims his innocence, saying that it belongs to Tromak who is sentenced to death, by becoming a snack for the Bogaranth and Krix is taken to Ro’s chambers.

Marchion knows that it was Krix’s and is impressed that the boy would so easily betray the man who was like a father to him to save his own neck. The problem is, however, that the Com-Link also contained a Transponder that could lead the Jedi straight to The Nihil. Ro tells Krix that this is a betrayal by his friend. The only way Krix can redeem himself is to allow the Jedi to come to them and wipe them out, with Krix’s help in luring them to their doom.

Meanwhile, on Starlight Beacon, Zeen’s experience is completely different. She is welcomed by the Jedi, especially Lula who has fast become her friend. The Masters all seem to have become quite taken with her, and even though she cannot join the Jedi Order because of her age, I get the feeling that, given her popularity with all of them, she will have a place on Starlight Beacon no matter what.

Whilst the Masters agree that, until her home has recovered from the attack by The Nihil, Zeen can stay aboard the Beacon, and her relationship with Krix and the now devoured Tromak could be useful. Something Yoda has already considered. Zeen is then asked to help the Jedi track down The Nihil using her communicator to keep in contact with Krix so the Jedi can help save the boy and stop The Nihil.

It’s no surprise that the two leads have very different experiences with the Jedi and The Nihil but Older uses them to show us life in each of the camps, which isn’t new for readers of ‘The High Republic’ series, but this is the first time we get to see inside a Nihil ship and it’s every bit as dark and dingy as I expected it to be.

We continue to see how vastly different the Jedi of ‘The High Republic’ are in comparison to those of the Prequels. We get Jedi Masters, Knights and Padawans all interacting in an incredibly light hearted social environment, Avar Kriss is having the time of her life listening to stories and good old Buckets of Blood just can’t stop eating. The most social interaction we saw the Prequel era Jedi have was in the lost Padawan arc of ‘The Clone Wars’ when the Padawans joined the travelling circus to save Ahsoka from Hondo. The more we see of these differences, the more I want to see how and why the Order changes and becomes what we have become so used to seeing on screen.

After a couple of fast paced issues, getting a bit of a breather to set up the next part of the story was much needed and the insight we get into both the Jedi and The Nihil really helps put into perspective how vastly different the two groups are, we’re not talking Force Users on two sides of the Force like we’ve had throughout the franchise, this continues to feel new and fresh and it’s just making me look forward to more content from ‘The High Republic’ even more.

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Bad Batching Episode 3: Replacements/Yub Nubbin: Cries of the Trees

Bad Batching returns after another amazing episode of ‘The Bad Batch’ called ‘Replacements’.

And as a bonus treat to tantalise your ear-buds, the first episode of ‘The Life Debt Podcast: Yub Nubbin’ is included to whet your appetite for the Early Access show on Patreon, starting in June. So if you like what you hear then please join the Patreon at any level to get access this new series as it won’t be released publicly until next year.

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Darth Vader: Into the Fire Part 6

After finally reaching Exogol, Palpatine tests Vader once again to determine whether he is still worthy of being a Sith Apprentice as Vader learns of his Master’s secret plans.

Questions get answered in this issue, we learn more about Palpatine’s master plan on Exogol than any of the material published around ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ concerning the Final Order. This wasn’t just something Palpatine had going on behind the scenes between the Original and Sequel Trilogies, this has been going on for a long, long time.

After Palpatine defeats the giant squid creature Vader brought to Exogol, the Sith Lord leads Vader through the ancient Sith Temple. We see the clone vats full of Snoke duplicates and even a container with Luke Skywalker’s severed hand.

Vader is forced to battle some Clone Warriors that he is seemingly overwhelmed by until he gains the upper hand, then a whole group of the Sith Acolytes surround him. He is tainted by Palpatine who says that any one of them could take Vader’s place. Vader kills them all.

Vader hears a crying sound throughout the Temple and as he makes his way through, along with Ochi, he finds the Star Destroyer fleet, and Ochi discovers the planet destroying weapons attached to them.

Vader finally finds the source of the crying, a giant Kyber Crystal that is being corrupted, like a Sith must do to make their lightsaber. Chunks of the Crystal are being removed for the Star Destroyer weapons. As a piece is removed, Ochi’s mask falls away and his eyes are burned by the blast.

Palpatine reiterates the way of the Sith to Vader and as Vader has a vision of him and Skywalker on Bespin when Vader tried to get Luke to join him, but this time with their roles reversed, Vader realises he is beaten and follows his Master with Sly Moore and Mas Amedda along with Ochi from the Temple.

It’s been a long time coming, but this issue has finally arrived (about two months after the last one) and we finally get a satisfying issue in this story-arc and unfortunately it’s the last part of the story as well.

Vader’s journey through The Exogol Temple answers more questions we had from ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ however, I’m sure this will be seen as a way for the Story Group to fix mistakes made by Abrams and Terrio, but for me this is just a way of expanding the lore.

Ochi’s character, whilst following Vader for most of the issue, comes across better now than in the past issues he’s been in and we finally get him unmasked, hopefully if the character stays in the series he’ll be more toned down and come across more like the sinister character we briefly glimpsed in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

The story, whilst really not wowing me over the last few issues really got to a great place with this one and I’m glad I stuck with the run. When I started seeing spoilers for this issue cropping up when it was released (I got it a day later) my intrigue was at a whole new level that it hadn’t been for this series. Park really brought the story to a great conclusion and Ienco’s art is fantastic.

Now Vader is back in Palpatine’s good books, I’m very interested to see what happens next for The Dark Lord of the Sith as ‘The War of the Bounty Hunters’ starts next month.

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Thrawn Ascendency: Greater Good Audiobook Review (SPOILER FREE)

Firstly, before I get started, I would like to thank Penguin Random House for sending a copy of this book for review.

Secondly I’d like to complain to Royal Mail for said book not arriving at all, which is why I got the Audiobook on Audible (thanks to having some spare credits). Anyway, time to talk Star Wars.

‘Thrawn Ascendency: Greater Good’ widens the scope of the first book in the trilogy, which spent a lot of time focusing on the Mitth family and gives us a wider view of the Ascendency as a whole, introducing new families and a brand new level of the Chris’s Family Hierarchy, branching away from the Nine Ruling Families and adding the Forty Great Houses, all of whom owe allegiance to one of the Nine Ruling Families.

Continuing on from where ‘Chaos Rising’ ended, the plots from within The Ascendency against Senior Captain Thrawn are mounting as the mysterious Jixtus begins putting his plans in motion to bring chaos to The Chiss.

‘Greater Good’ introduces us to new worlds within the Ascendency and new aliens from within The Chaos, one species, The Agbui, led by Haplif feature very prominently and bring a new perspective to the way the Chiss operate in day-to-day life.

Zahn takes the chess game that he usually plays when writing Thrawn and turns the 2D game board into a 3D board and really gets to play in the niche part of the Galaxy Far, Far Away that he created and sets us on a whirlwind story full of political intrigue and amazing space battles where every tiny detail feels like it has been plotted out before pen touched paper (or fingers touched keyboard).

As always, Zahn held my attention, but there were a few occasions where I wonder where the story was going in terms of the overall plot, there are events happening all over the Ascendency and Zahn juggles them well but some of the plot lines felt pretty slow at times. I’ll even admit that I did struggle slightly with the audiobook for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the new Chiss characters became very confusing, especially the numerous members of one specific Family, where almost all of the names sounded the same. It would become very confusing at times, especially when a number of them were in the same room. However, I’m sure that with a helpful reference, like a Dramatis Personae that is in the hard copy of the book, that confusion would easily have been avoided (thanks Royal Mail).

The second reason I struggled at times, and this feels like sacrilege to even say, but on a couple of occasions, Marc Thompson’s performance pulled me right out of the story when voicing a handful of characters in what feel like impersonations of Star Trek characters. I could easily point out Sulu, Chekhov and Worf voices for crew members of the Springhawk, and personally I didn’t get along with those choices.

Speaking of Marc Thompson, his performance overall was fantastic as always (despite my earlier complaint) and aside from Lars Mikkelsen, he is the only person I would ever want to portray Thrawn. The man deserves some kind of award.

On a whole, I wasn’t as enamoured with ‘Greater Good’ as I was with ‘Chaos Rising’, but what I did take away from this one was that rather than be the second act of a three act play, this one is being used as a vehicle to set up for the third book in the ‘Thrawn Ascendency’ trilogy, titled ‘Lesser Evil’ and out in November, which (I assume) will bridge the gap between ‘Greater Good’ and ‘Thrawn’, the first book of Zahn’s previous series which saw Thrawn rising through the Empire. However I still enjoyed the story, but I think I’d have enjoyed it more had I read it rather than just listened to the Audiobook.

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A Spot of Housekeeping

Hello there!

I’m just taking a moment to just keep everyone updated with some of the recent goings on in the world of ‘My Star Wars Life Debt’, especially with some new ways to support the Blog and Podcast.

Last week I bit the bullet and re-released the Life Debt Patreon last week with three brand new tiers and bonus content, including a brand new Podcast series (as of right now it’s unnamed) which will be similar to “Rebels Revisited’ and ‘Bad Batching’ where the focus will be (drumroll please) the 1985-6 Ewoks animated series. There are three tiers for folks to choose from, so head on over to https://www.patreon.com/mystarwarslifedebt and check it out.

I have also been working on bringing ‘The Life Debt Merch Cantina’ back, as such, I have added a brand new design to go with the original Andy Bailie artwork which is the brand new logo for ‘The Life Debt Podcast: Bad Batching’ which is now available on the store. Head on over to https://thelifedebtmerchcantina.creator-spring.com/ to see the products currently on offer.

All of these and the other ways to help support the Blog and Podcast are all on the Support Page. So if you would like to help keep the Blog and Podcast running as smoothly as a Hutt’s backside then please take a look.

Before I go, I just want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read the Blog and listen to the Podcast, every view and listen means a whole lot to me, so thank you again.

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War of the Bounty Hunters: Alpha

Marvel’s big Star Wars Crossover Event has arrived folks, and with a Charles Soule sized bang that means only one thing. It’s f@&#%*g amazing.

Boba Fett is bringing the Carbon-Frozen Han Solo to Jabba’s the Hutt but something is going wrong with the Crime Lords soon-to-be favourite decoration, leading Boba to Nar Shaddaa to visit an associate who calls himself a Doctor but he doesn’t have any of those Med-School certificates so I’m dubious of his moniker.

Needing to be paid up-front, Boba is enlisted to do a favour for Doc Ragon, Boba must enlist in the Fighting Pits and take out the Pit Warrior Wyrmin Lictor. Boba initially wants to walk away, but after the good Doctor manages to modify the look of Fett’s armour, the Bounty Hunter agrees to the terms.

Using the name Jango, Fett quickly makes a name for himself, killing all of his opponents until he faces off against Lictor in a spectacular fight which sees Boba injured before getting the upper hand.

Lictor’s benefactors approach Boba, demanding money or he does one more fight. Fett walks away ambit finds that Ragon has been killed and Solo has been taken, only to get a call from Bob Fortuna, saying that Jabba’s is getting impatient for the arrival of Fett’s prize.

Soule uses ‘Alpha’ to set the whole premise of ‘War of the Bounty Hunters’ up, and rather than just throwing a whole bunch of pieces into the story to set up each story thread over all of the connected comics in the Event, we just get one action-packed tale that leaves us with the mystery of who’s taken Solo and what is the biggest, baddest Bounty Hunter going to do about it.

Taking cues from 1996’s massive multimedia event ‘Shadows of the Empire’, telling the story of Boba Fett delivering Han to Jabba, it’s not going to be straightforward. And adding on the pressure of an impatient Hutt Crime Lord, Fett’s job has just gotten a lot harder.

With very little knowledge, other than the full list of issues that are part of the even being included at the end of the book as to who will be involved outside of the regular books we can look forward to seeing some of the classic Bounty Hunters appearing and I do wonder if we’ll get an appearance from Fennic Shand as a precursor to the eventual team-up between Fett and Shand in ‘The Mandalorian’.

With Soule at the helm, of course the story will be top-notch, but the art team of McNiven and Martin do a phenomenal job, especially with the black armour, keeping the iconic Boba Fett look but making it look completely different at the same time.

With 33 issues left of the Event, ‘Alpha’, is only the tip of the iceberg and I’m looking forward to where it takes everyone in all of the connected stories.

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Bad Batching 2: Cut and Run

The Life Debt Podcast series four has returned and this week we get a great fun episode that I loved talking about on the latest episode.

The second episode is out NOW, where I share my thoughts on the the latest episode of the series.

You can find the episode on most major Podcatchers, or find it over on Anchor.fm HERE.

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Doctor Aphra: The Engine Job Part 3

On their search for a Nihil Hyperdrive Engine, Aphra and Sana come across a whole bunch of old Nihil ships, and of course, trouble.

I’m not going to lie to you folks, but I’ve been really looking forward to this issue but had to wait to get it but was it worth the wait? Absolutely.

Aphra and Sana look for clues in a bar on the planet Dol’har Hyde, a place where the plant life seems to almost have a mind of its own and grows exceptionally fast. Close to the bar is a tree which has grown around/through a crashed Nihil ship.

Aphra and Sana make their way into the wreckage, with Aphra’s gear malfunctioning causing her to fall into a part of the ship, luckily her landing was cushioned by the tree.

Once inside the ship, they try to reactivate the systems, something Aphra manages to do and they locate the ships hyperdrive and deduce that the one they their competitors have could be a fake. As they are about to remove the hyperdrive they are attacked from above by General Vukorah of ‘The Unbroken Clan’.

Amidst the destruction, Aphra downloads the schematics for the Nihil hyperdrive before her and Sana take a chance and jump into the inside of the tree but their grappling hook launcher doesn’t catch onto anything causing them to fall. Vukorah tells her group to go to Midarr, where the bartender told them the hyperdrive was.

Meanwhile, Lucky finishes an assassination and on his way home he is met by Ariole Yu who takes him to his boss, Wen Delphis.

Like I said before, I’ve missed this series. It’s been the one series other than ‘The High Republic’ that I’ve enjoyed every issue of and this one is no exception, and not just because of its connection to ‘The High Republic’ in this run.

The continued interactions between Aphra and Sana are great, something I’m really invested in, especially after the ‘Doctor Aphra Audio Drama’ that really dived into their relationship before Aphra became the rogue archaeologist. We get some really nice hints at that in this issue which just helps tie all of these different mediums together.

We meet a new enemy for Aphra in General Vukorah. Other than working for a newly introduced crime organisation we know very little about her and I’m intrigued to find out more.

My only nitpick for the issue is the reliance of characters falling. I get that having Aphra’s gear failing is a plot device that plays out at the end, but it just felt a tad repetitive. However I’m sure that it will play out brilliantly next issue.

The design ofthe planet Dol’har Hyde is great, it looks like an out of control Felucia and the colour palette makes it look gorgeous. I’m intrigued by the name though, it reminds me of the character Francis Dolarhyde from ‘Red Dragon’, which makes me wonder if it’s a reference to the character from the book or film.

A well written and beautifully depicted issue, it’s keeping me interested which has been tough to do in a couple of the other series I’ve been reviewing recently, and Aphra continues to be my favourite of the original characters created since the old EU became Legends.

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Bad Batching: A Life Debt Podcast Episode 1 – Aftermath

The Life Debt Podcast has returned for a fourth series folks, and this one is all about the latest animated series, ‘The Bad Batch’

The first episode is out NOW, where I share my thoughts on the first episode of the series.

You can find the episode on most major Podcatchers, or find it over on Anchor.fm HERE.

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Showdown at Centrepoint by Roger McBride Allen Audiobook Review

With Centrepoint charging for another Supernova blast, the Solo/Skywalker family and friends are in a race against time to uncover the truths behind the events that n the Corellia Sector.

Roger McBride Allen really brings ‘The Corellian Trilogy’ to a stellar conclusion with ‘Showdown at Centrepoint’, with all of the leads reuniting to end the Corellian Conflict.

After splitting up on various missions, Han helps Dracmus pilot the homemade ship to Selonia followed by Leia and Mara. After coming under attack, the Selonian ship crash lands in friendly territory.

Luke and Lando, with Gaeriel and Kalenda go to Centrepoint Station where they meet the lone inhabitant of the massive station, Jenica Sonsen who takes them on a tour of the facility. They pass through the massive central core of the station and after learning about two previous flares and a third one starting to charge, Lando deduces that Centrepoint is what is the Novamaker that has been causing starts to explode.

On Drall Chewie, with Anakin, Jania, Jacen, Q-9, Ebrihim and Marcha keep a watch over the Planetary Repulsor. Through his tinkering, Anakin activates the station causing an underground lightning storm that damages the Falcon and Q-9. It also alerts ‘The Human League’ as to its whereabouts and an assault is launched, led by Thracken Sal-Solo. Chewie, the Children and the two Drall are captured but Q-9, who had been repaired had been hidden in one of the Falcon’s hidden compartments.

Sal-Solo records a message to Han and Leia, being held as hostages/prisoners by the Selonians, the spokeswoman for the Overden (the Selonian ruling council), Kleyvits, demands that Selonia should be freed from the New Republic and dates that the Solo’s and Mara Jade would be held until Leia agrees. The message shows Sal-Solo stood with Han and Leia’s children, wanting Leia to grant Corellia its demands of leaving the New Republic.

With the Interdiction Field down, a fleet of ships from Sacorria arrives. It starts to come clear that the whole plot involving the revolts in the different planets and the disdain between the three native species was generated by the Triad, the ruling power on the planet, made up by a Human, Drall and Selonian. Their intention was to make the Corellian Sector autonomous under their rule.

The Bakuran ship ‘The Intruder’ attacked ‘The Human League’ on Drall and freed ‘Sal-Solo’s prisoners, capturing Han’s cousin and taking control of the Repulsor.

On ‘The Intruder’, the Solo family is reunited as well as with Luke and Lando. Together, the Bakuran Admiral, Ossilege, Gaeriel and the rest form a plan to thwart the Triad. Luke and Lando stay with the fleet as fighters. During the space battle, Ossilege uses ‘The Intruder’ as a weapon against the Triad’s fleet, destroying the ship and killing himself and Gaeriel but winning the battle.

Han, Leia, Chewie and the rest of their motley crew return to Drall in time for Anakin to interact with the Drall Repulsor and used it to stop the third Supernova blast from Centrepoint Station.

After the conflict, after the previous Governor-General was killed in the conflict, Leia appoints Marcha as the new Governor-General of the Corellian Sector, with Ebrihim acting as her aide. Lando and Tendra reunite and their romance gets underway in earnest.

I have to say that ‘Showdown at Centrepoint’ was a thrilling and satisfying ending to ‘The Corellian Trilogy’, there’s suspense, drama, intrigue and romance and it’s all wrapped together in a fantastic package. The mystery around Centrepoint Station and those who are using it as a weapon is well played out, however, the reveal that The Triad is running the whole plot feels like it came out of nowhere, however, that could have been more down to the abridgement rather than the storytelling itself.

One thing that did bother me however, was the flirtatious interplay between Lando and Jenica. Lando has spent the past two-and-a-half (audio)books head over heels for Tendra, the key to spend a substantial amount of time flirting with another woman, only to tell her he’s in love with someone else. I get Lando is flirty, we all know that, but for some reason it just didn’t sit right with me. What could have been interesting would be if Jenica was flirting and Lando didn’t really notice, only for Luke to mention it at a later point. I think something along those lines would have sat with me better and would show some great character development. Sure, Lando shows growth here but not at the same level that could have been.

Allen does fall on a well used trip of the EU when Thracken manages to take the Solo kids hostage. We’ve seen them be kidnapped or almost get kidnapped before and it feels a bit played out, however it does allow us to get a great scene between Han and Thracken which is the juxtaposition of a scene they shared in ‘Assault at Selonia’, and we also get to see Anakin using his technical abilities to free himself and his siblings. His ability to understand technology and how things work has been a big focus in this trilogy and really comes to a head when he is able to use the Drall Repulsor, that has essentially linked itself to him, to stop the Triad from destroying the next Star on their hit-list.

I have to admit that ‘The Corellia Trilogy’ certainly reinvigorated my interest in the 90’s era EU (audio)books. Granted I’m not listening to them in release order, but rather chronological, but I was feeling very apathetic towards them after ‘The Callista Trilogy’ and ‘The Crystal Star’, none of which I enjoyed and found them to be tough to get through, even though they were only three hours each.

Allen certainly brings ‘The Corellia Trilogy’ to a satisfying conclusion that wraps up all the plot lines and mysteries that stem from it. This series is certainly not in the same league as Zahn’s ‘Empire Trilogy’ but Allen holds his own and delivers some great Star Wars stories with his contributions to the Galaxy.

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#CollectionCorner – The Armourer Black Series Review

This was a lucky purchase at the time, I found it in the aftermath of Christmas on Amazon and got lucky when I found it for a pretty good deal (just under £20 including postage). I had been eyeing her up for some time, especially after missing out on the Convention Exclusive version, which, when looking back, whilst having some lovely extra accessories, wouldn’t have looked great on the wall.

The sculpt is just beautiful and the level of detail on the figure is amazing. I absolutely love how this figure looks, with the leather-style look of her gauntlets and the layered design of the skirt (is it a skirt).

The helmet sculpt is so well made, the helmet on this figure reminds me heavily of the Spartan helmets seen in the film and graphic novel ‘300’, if you took away the visor and horns it would be almost a match. The horns are subtle, like in the series, and unlike those on the ‘Mandalorian Super Commando’ figure based on Maul’s Mandalorian followers from ‘The Clone Wars’ who have huge horns on their helmets.

The big difference between this and the Convention Exclusive is the cape, the exclusive has a fabric cape whereas the regular version has a plastic cape.

Her accessories are a set of tongs and a hammer which she uses to help forge armour. They are also the same items she uses against the Stormtroopers that invade the Covert in ‘Chapter 8: Redemption’.

The box art is beautiful. I love the orange hue that ‘The Mandalorian’ figures have. The pencil look is phenomenal and we get her in a very chilled pose with the hammer over her shoulder. It’s definitely the most relaxed we ever see the character.

This is one great figure and it fantastically represents the character and well worth adding to any collection.

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Why Does Bo Katan Want to Rule Mandalore?

I’ve been doing some contemplating on Bo Katan Kryze this week (I rewatched ‘The Rescue’) and I’ve been wondering quite a bit about her reasoning behind her, almost desperation to retake Mandalore.

In ‘The Rescue’, we learn a few things in regards to Mandalore, firstly, Boba Fett claims that “The Empire turned the planet to glass.”, so why the need to retake the planet if it’s so badly devastated?

We are also given a brief insight into the Darksaber, as a “symbol” of power, the power to unite the clans of Mandalore and rule as the Mand’alor. Bo Katan had this title once before when she was gifted the Darksaber by Sabine Wren and many of the Clans declared their alignment to Bo Katan against the Empire.

Since then, however, a lot has changed. The ‘Night of a Thousand Tears’ and ‘The Great Purge’ have been mentioned in the first season of ‘The Mandalorian’, both of which sound like massive events that are probably where the Empire reigned destruction on the planet after their rule was challenged by Kryze and her followers. The other thing that occurred, Bo Katan fought Moff Gideon. And lost. Knowing Gideon, he knew she wasn’t defeated and he probably didn’t kill her on purpose as he won the Darksaber in combat.

For me, when Kryze was given the lightsaber, that was her time to lead. The sister of Duchess Satine who stood against Death Watch and Maul. A true warrior who would lead from the front lines with the Darksaber held high. However, during ‘The Mandalorian’, the Galaxy is at peace. The Empire for the most part is gone, with warlords like Moff Gideon still around, and no matter what little they have in terms of resources, their numbers are dwindling. But Bo Katan’s hatred for Gideon is only outweighed by her desire for the Darksaber. In my opinion, Kryze isn’t the kind of leader that Mandalore needs right now. I’m reminded of a quote from ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, where James Gordon and his time as Commissioner is described as “A war hero, but this is peace time.”

Of course, we don’t know the state of Mandalore other than Boba Fett’s description. Is it still occupied until the Empire? I doubt it if the world has been so devastated as it’s described. Instead the Mandalorian people need someone to unite them. Would they be united by Bo Katan? Would some of them blame her for what happened to their homeworld? Do they see her defeat at the hands of Gideon to be part of the reason behind the destruction of their planet? Is that why she wants the Darksaber so badly, to right the wrongs of the past?

There’s another quote, this time from ‘Revenge of the Sith’ that comes to mind, “All who gain power are afraid to lose it.” Could Bo Katan be clamouring for the power she once held?

I do wonder if the third season of ‘The Mandalorian’ will give us a look at the reclamation of Mandalore and what Bo Katan’s role will be. There is a part of me that doesn’t think she will give up what she sees as her claim to the Throne so easily, but would she make a good ruler now? Would the people follow her? Only time, and hopefully a full season of episodes will tell.

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Assault at Selonia by Roger McBride Allen Audiobook Review

With Han Solo and Leia Organa prisoners of ‘The Human League’ and the New Republic Fleet unable to fight, Luke, Lando must find a fleet capable of breaking through the Interdiction Field. Meanwhile, Chewie and the Solo kids go with Ebrihim to his homeworld and discover the secret behind Corellia’s archaeological dig.

The second part of ‘The Corellia Trilogy’ is an action packed splendour that keeps the main heroes separated for the majority of the book. All three must rely heavily on unfamiliar allies to achieve their goals and reunite.

Han is captive of ‘The Human League’, led by his sadistic cousin, Thracken Sal-Solo, who’s aim is to reinstate an Imperial-type rule over Corellia. For entertainment, Thracken has Han fight a Selonian called Dracmus ago later becomes Han’s cell mate.

After a few days, they are rescued by Dracmus’ clan who have a series of underground tunnels. Suspicious but thankful for the help, Han is led into an Underground Complex where the Selonians have built their own space craft on which they attempt to escape to Selonia.

Leia is held hostage in the wreckage of the Government Building. A new cell mate is brought to her, Mara Jade. Despite a lack of trust between the two, they hatch a daring escape plan, making their way to Jade’s room she had been staying in prior to the attack and her incarceration.

First they retrieve Leia’s lightsaber and Han’s spare blaster and eventually make it to the room where they find the remote to bring the Jade’s Fire to them. After a brief skirmish, the ship arrives and they escape.

Chewie and the kids have arrived at Ebrihim’s homeworld, where they visit his Aunt Marcha. After he explains the events of Corellia, it turns out it’s happening on Drall also. The Solo children are encouraged to tell Marcha whet they found on Corellia and Marcha believes there is another on Drall. They find the location and enter the same style chamber and learn that it’s a repulsor, big enough to move a planet. They deduce that each of the planets in the Corellian System must have one.

Luke and Lando’s journey to Corellia is cut short by the Interdiction Field and the return to Coruscant and meet with the leaders of the New Republic. During a meeting with Admiral Ackbar, Mon Mothma and other leaders to discuss their options. Seeing as most of the fleet was under repair and the rest on other missions, Luke decides to visit Gaeriel Captison, an old flame from the novel ‘Truce at Bakura’.

After meeting with Luke, Gaeriel tells him that the Bakuran government has granted permission for the Bakuran Fleet to aid the New Republic on a mission to Corellia to vanquish ‘The Human League’ and their new Hyperspace technology would help them get through the Interdiction Field.

The Bakuran Fleet arrives in the system and pushes through the Field until one of the ships loses its systems. They learn they the Interdiction Field is being generated from Centrepoint Station. Lando and Luke fly with the fighter squadron, taking on Corellian fighters. The damages Bakuran ship is destroyed by another Planetary Repulsor, this one fired from Selonia. Dracmus reveals to Han that her group wanted to secede from the Corellian government and become part of the New Republic, and would have handed control of the Repulsor to them, however, it seems that their opposition had located it first.

Leia, in the Jade Fire, senses Luke and Han. The Bakuran fleet welcomes Leia, Mara, Han and the Selonian crew (whose ship became useless after Dracmus has the crew pull some daring manoeuvres. Lando also reunites with Tendra Risant who left her planet to search for him.

In another part of the Galaxy, Wedge is working tirelessly to evacuate people from the next system on Thracken’s list is stars that ‘The Human League’ will cause to go Supernova. Up until the last minute, Wedge believes that the threat was a hoax until the star starts acting strangely. Luckily Wedge and the New Republic ships were able to get to a safe distance, but many thousands of people died, and the next star on the list has a much higher population, many of whom would certainly die even if the New Republic was able to begin evacuations immediately.

As much as I enjoyed ‘Ambush at Corellia’, ‘Assault at Selonia’ really ramps it up and genuinely feels like ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in terms of the structure with all the heroes on separate adventures that culminate with everyone together for the final part. Allen doesn’t hold back and puts each of them through some form of ordeal, Han’s imprisonment at the hands of his cousin doesn’t feel half as brutal as his incarceration in ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’, but adds something different where he has to trust Dracmus and her Selonian comrades, even though he has very little knowledge of their allegiance in the Corellian crisis, it’s not until they are stranded that Dracmus explains their position and for Han, trust isn’t easy.

The Leia/Mara dynamic is interesting, given that the two of them don’t really trust each other at this point in the timeline, but knowing that they become family later it’s great to see that relationship develop, we also get to see Han’s feelings of distrust towards Jade in a conversation with Dracmus, who also knows Mara, but as a legitimate trader who the Selonian trusts.

The continued pairing of Luke and Lando is still as enjoyable in this book and the two of them end up going on another mission of the heart, with Luke meeting his former love interest, Gaeriel. Having still not read/listened to ‘Truce at Bakuran’, I didn’t learn about this pairing until this (audio)book, and their initial awkward meeting before the New Republic meets with the Bakuran naval leaders managed to give some insight to their past relationship without a huge amount of exposition, and didn’t get in the way of the story.

Seeing Chewie with Jacen, Jaina and Anakin as they go to Drall, Ebrihim’s homeworld gave us a look at another different grouping. Usually Han and Chewie are the inseparable pair so this is another refreshing change that Allen has given us in this trilogy. The fact that the children are the ones who have the important information that leads their group and Aunt Marcha to finding out about the Planet Repulsor and the history of the Corellian Sector, being a solar system made by people gives some interesting history to the Galaxy.

This final part with Wedge really slams home the threat of the hidden ‘Star Burster’ weapon, and the fact that we get a well known and loved character like Wedge to be a witness really shows the high stakes of what the New Republic must deal with and is a great lead in to the next book.

The second part of any trilogy is just like the second act of any story, it’s where the characters go through the most, must deal with insurmountable odds and get them ready for the final part and ‘Assault at Selonia’ does just that in a really great way and is helping put ‘The Corellian Trilogy’ high on my favourites list for the Legends timeline.

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The High Republic: There is No Fear Part 4

Possessed by the Drengir, Sskeer has Avar, Ceret, Keeve and the boy called Bartol captured in the vines created by the plant-like creatures.

Remembering her time as a Padawan, Keeve reminisces about a lesson that Sskeer taught her, as she attempted to use the Force to aid her to reach the opposite side of a canyon. As she falls, he catches her and she tries again, taking on his lesson that “there are no shortcuts on Light’s path.”

Avar and Keeve try to reach Sskeer who’s mind is buried behind that of the Drengir possessing him.

He tells them the history of the Drengir, fuelled by the Dark Side they fought alongside the Sith for a time, possessing them as they saw fit, but the Sith fought back and imprisoned them.

Centuries later, the Great Progenitor was awoken by a group of Jedi who were waylaid on a space station (Into the Dark) the rest of the dormant Drengir awoke and began causing their special brand of destruction.

They finally manage to do so and the Jedi are released. Sskeer manages to fight the plant creatures possessing him and joins the Jedi in fighting the creatures. They kill the two Drengir and make their way to the surface where the village chief is beating one of the citizens for talking to the Jedi.

Avar arrives, accusing him of knowing about the Drengir and helping them by sacrificing villagers to them, but she realises that he knew nothing of the monsters, instead he was in league with someone else, and as a ship lands she learns that that someone is The Hutt Cartel.

Meanwhile, on Starlight Beacon, Maru’s autopsy on the murdered Hutt reveals the true cause of its death, a strange plant-like creature.

With Vernestra Rwoh and her Padawan Imri Cantaros assisting, they are soon under attack from the Drengir that has burst out of the Hutt’s corpse (an excellent Alien reference), the Jedi must hold their own and stop the creature from getting out of the quarantine zone and into the Starlight Beacon.

This series just continues to get better, with the horror vibes, the continuing downfall of Sskeer and an (my) extended introduction to the Drengir (I’m only 100 pages through ‘Into the Dark’). Learning their history here was great and I hope we get a more in depth look at them somewhere (probably ‘Into the Dark’). They are vastly different from The Nihil which gives us a decent range of villains and if The Hutt Cartel are joining the ranks of villains in ‘The High Republic’ and I’ve been intrigued by since their mention in ‘Light of the Jedi’.

As always, the art is beautiful, we get some stunning shots of the Jedi in this issue, the group shot of the four Jedi preparing to fight the Drengir is my favourite image from the issue, but Anindito spoils us on every page, another stand out image is Avar Kriss walking into the hut just before the Hutt Ship arrives, and the panel where the Drengir explodes from the Hutt corpse is phenomenal.

I’m continually being blown away by this series. I’ve loved each issue so far and it’s been a great backbone to ‘The High Republic’ initiative, keeping the story going between each round of books (I’d best finish ‘Into the Dark soon) and most of all, giving us a great look into the life of a Jedi at this time period of the Galaxy.

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Ambush at Corellia by Roger Macbride Allen Audiobook Review

The Solo family visit Han’s homework’s of Corellia for a Trade Summit as tensions rise amongst the people and a hostile group called ‘The Human League’ begins terrorising the planet. Meanwhile, Luke joins Lando on a strange journey to find Lando a wife.

As the first part of a trilogy, ‘Ambush at Corellia’ has got the hard job of being the scene setter, establishing the overall plot, introducing the key players and setting up for the second act.

Han, Leia, Chewie, Jacen, Jaina and Anakin visit Han’s homeworld of Corellia to golf to a Trade Summit. Before they set off, Han and Chewie are approached by Belindi Kalenda from the New Republic Intelligence, there is unrest on the planet and they need Han to act suspiciously to distract those working against the New Republic.

On Corellia, Han has a look around and crosses the path of a parade for a group calling themselves ‘The Human League’. Two members seem to recognise him and knock him out, he wakes up in a cell where another member of the League tells them he’s not who they think, and that he is in fact Han Solo. He’s knocked out again and returned to his family with a warning.

Leia hires a Drall (one of the three native species of the Corellia System) called Ebrihim, and his Droid, a modified R2 unit called Q9 to be the children’s tutor during their time on Corellia. The family go on various field trips, one of which is to the first archaeological dig on the planet where Han recognises the uniforms of those that ‘The Human League’ wear. As they go through the dig, Anakin is drawn to a part of the wall, the twins join him and they reveal a hidden panel. They press it and open a door to a chamber. They are joined by Q9 who, before leading the children back to the group, scans the area in case it’s needed later.

At the trade summit, Mara Jade arrives with a message for Leia that had been delivered to her. The message, originally intended to be delivered by Luke who has gone on a separate adventure with Lando. The message, from the head of ‘The Human League’ demands that the New Republic begins the process to allow Corellia to leave the Galactic Government as well as remove the Selonian and Drall inhabitants from the planet, or his group would trigger a series of stars to go supernova, the first of which has already happened.

Han finds Kalenda who has been keeping an eye on the Solo family. They devise a plan to get Kalenda off-planet with the message to show Mon Mothma and The Senate. When Han tells Leia the plan they share a brief moment, knowing that Han is going to end up captured. He then instructs Chewie that, if anything happens he is to get the kids to safety.

The building they are in is attacked, Chewie, the children, Ebrihim and Q9 to the Falcon and try to escape but are attacked, so Ebrihim directs Chewie to a safe haven they could use.

Han and Kalenda go through with their plan and Kalenda escapes but Han is captured. The following day, ‘The Human League’ sends a message, their hidden leader is revealed to be Thracken Sal-Solo, Han’s cousin who had believed to be dead.

Meanwhile, through all of this, Lando takes Luke across the Galaxy to find a wife, not for love but as more of a mutually agreed business transaction. Their first visit almost has Lando enter into a union with a Life Witch, where Lando would die at the end of their five year agreement, the second has recently gotten married but the third, Tendra Risant piques Lando’s interest in a more romantic venture but their meeting is cut short by the local government kicking non-citizens off planet due to the unrest in the Corellian Sector. As they head to Corellia to help Han and Leia they are pulled out of Hyperspace by an interdiction field, a measure ‘The Human League’ has put in place to counter any attacks against the planet.

As a set up to a trilogy, ‘Ambush at Corellia’ does a great job, and it gives us our first look at Corellia (in Legends, as far as I know). By the end, all of the characters are in place for their storylines in the next book and gives us a promise of some great action ahead.

I really enjoyed the Luke and Lando dynamic, it’s not one we usually get and whilst it’s a more subdued storyline than Han and Leia’s it is almost refreshing to see something different playing out in a Star Wars story.

Allen gives us a really nice look at family life for the Solo’s when not in the middle of some crazy adventure as they are travelling to Corellia when Han is telling his children about the Corellia System, of course it’s an expository scene and it gives us a swath of information we need about the different species, the planets of the Sector and the political situation that they are in before, during and after the Empire. It’s a lovely scene with the whole family, the children sat with their parents for something akin to story-time.

‘The Human League’ is a different kind of enemy, not a Sith or Dark Force user in sight, no Imperial Remnant leaders wanting to get their name out there or alien race hell bent on Galactic domination. And whilst the concept is new for Star Wars, it’s not me that we have seen a lot in the world recently and whilst I try not to compare Star Wars to the real world too often (not saying Star Wars isn’t political, I just like to keep the fantasy and reality separate), there is something awfully similar to the horrendous increase of racism over the last few years that comes to pass in this (audio)book.

A good and enjoyable book that promises great things from the rest of the series, I’m starting to look forward to these audiobooks again after the tough slog that ended with ‘The New Rebellion’.

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Doctor Aphra Audio Drama Review

Like ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’, Del Rey have published the full Audio Drama script for the brilliant ‘Doctor Aphra’ Audio Drama in Hardback (6th April).

To celebrate the release, here is my original review for the Audio Drama.

When it was announced, I was so excited to be getting new ‘Doctor Aphra’ content. The previous audio drama, ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ was a great listen so I had the utmost faith that this would be just as good.

Even when we found out it was going to essentially be a retelling of Kieron Gillen’s ‘Darth Vader’ series that excitement still held. Why? Because it’s ‘Doctor Aphra’ and she’s a phenomenal character!

Firstly, it’s not a straight up retelling of Gillen’s series. It’s told from Aphra’s perspective. We get her thoughts, her insights, her excitement and her fears of being Vader’s attaché. We also get a considerable amount of back story into her and Sana Starros’ character. Readers of the ‘Rebel Jail’ story arc from Jason Aaron will be familiar with one section of the story too.

Sarah Kuhn has translated Aphra’s story arc into this medium brilliantly and given us some great insight into Aphra’s character and her past before becoming the rogue archaeologist we all know and love.

I really enjoyed the writing more in this audio drama, the narration didn’t feel quite as obvious as it did with ‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ and even though it was a story I already knew, it always felt fresh.

I loved Emily Woo Zeller as Aphra. She brings so much life to the character and I would love to get an ‘Aphra’ animated series with Zeller voicing the character.

The rest of the cast were good. It took me a while to warm up to Sean Kenin’s 000, as I had always thought that he would have sounded more like C-3PO, probably with a slightly darker tone to the voice like in ‘The Rise of Skywalker’.

Marc Thompson nails Darth Vader. That’s all I have to say about that really. It’s Marc Thompson, we already know he’s amazing.

Nicole Lewis does a great job bringing Sana Starros to life. It was easy to picture Sana from the comics with Lewis’s voice and it was really fun finding out what had happened between Sana and Aphra when they were younger.

I really hope this is just the start of more Aphra content. I’d be all over a Disney+ series, live action or animated. I’d happily take more audio dramas, especially if the creative team behind this one we’re to return, but I’d like more original stories than any more adaptations. This works as an introduction but I think if they produced original adventures, they could be onto a real winner, more so than they already are with this.

Definitely worth a listen, and it’s a quick one too, at just under 6 hours it’s easy to get through, and worth every second.

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The New Rebellion by Kristine Kathryn Rusch Audiobook Review

When a mass extinction occurs, an old friend of Han’s arrives with a strange message and the Senate is bombed by a mysterious attacker, Luke, Leia and Han go on separate adventures to get to the bottom of a growing threat to the New Republic.

After what I can only describe as a rather dismal run of audio(books), ‘The New Rebellion’ puts an end to the downward slump and sets a course for a solid Star Wars adventure.

On Yavin IV, during a training session, Luke experienced a vision where a man, disguised in a death mask murders the whole population of a planet. Leia experiences the same vision as she is about to address the New Republic Senate, which is about to enter a new term, with a whole swath of new Senators from former Imperial worlds, whom Leia is very suspicious of. The address barely gets started when the chamber is bombed, killing many Senators and their staff and wounding Leia.

At the same time, Han meets with a former smuggling associate, Jarril, who gives Han a cryptic message before disappearing. As Leia heals, Han and Chewie go to Smugglers Run, a smuggling den hidden in an asteroid field. Luke meets with a recuperating Leia and the two discuss their visions. Luke leaves to find a former apprentice, Brakiss, who left Luke’s Academy and turned to the Dark Side. Luke is stalled when his X-Wing is put out of commission for upgrades and takes one of the New Republic’s new X-Wings, that doesn’t need an Astromech, so he leaves R2 with Cole Fardreamer, a mechanic from Tatooine to help fix Luke’s ship.

Lando, searching for Han, finds Jarril’s ship with Jarril dead and a communication with Han’s name on it. After visiting Leia, Lando follows Han to Smugglers Run. At the Run, Han and Chewie find out the smugglers have been dealing in droids, taken from a Droid Factory on Telti, right where Luke is heading to meet Brakiss, who runs the factory. Brakiss sends Luke to the planet Almania, where Kueller, his Master, resides.

The same communication with Han’s name on it reaches a group of Senators (fork former Imperial worlds) who call for Leia to resign from her post as Chief of State. Instead, she hands the title to Mon Mothma so that Leia and Wedge, after finding Kuellor’s location can take the fleet to stop the Dark Jedi from taking over the Galaxy.

Cole and R2, with the help of C-3PO find an old Imperial detonation device installed in Luke’s X-Wing, and after some investigation, in a new group of X-Wings, one of which Luke had taken on his mission. With Leia and Wedge’s help, they take a ship to Telti to find the source of the detonators.

Over Almania, Luke’s X-Wing explodes with the Jedi Master barely able to escape in time. His injuries are tended to by a local before he goes to face Kuellor. Meanwhile on the Smugglers Run, Lando is taken prisoner by a Crime Boss, Nandreeson and is saved by Han and Chewie, who, with Lando, become heroes when the Droids from Telti explode and they manage to save the smugglers.

Cole and the Droids arrive on Telti and whilst Cole distracts Brakiss, R2 and 3PO find that Brakiss is making Droids, with the Imperial detonators for Kuellor who has had them sent all over the Galaxy and Kuellor is the only one who can blow them up.

Luke meets and fights Kuellor when Leia arrives (as the New Republic fleet engages Kuellor’s fleet of Imperial ships) she attempts to take Kuellor on herself but her attempts fail. Han and Chewie arrive after meeting with Talon Karrde and Mara Jade to acquire a pair of Ysalamiri (Force deflecting lizards) which are eaten by a psychic animal that has imprinted on Luke. Luckily before they were eaten, the Ysalamiri Force Deflecting Bubble weakens Kuellor enough for him to turn to Plan B, blow up all the Droids. Luckily, R2 and 3PO are able to shut down the Droids and block the signal. Kuellor is killed by Leia firing on him with Han’s blaster. In space, Wedge is able to lead the fleet to victory by confusing the Droids operating Kuellor’s Star Destroyers long enough to ambush them.

Back on Coruscant, the call for Leia to resign is revoked after Han is found innocent and Leia prepared to make a speech to the Senate to announce tie beginning of the postponed new term.

Where ‘The New Rebellion’ really works well where others haven’t is that it doesn’t have an over complicated plot. Whilst Rusch does fall back onto some EU tropes, former students of Luke going to the Dark Side, rebuilding the Empire and the call for Leia to resign her post, none of them feel out of place here. The use of Droids as bombs all over the Galaxy is one of sheer genius, Droids are just about everywhere in the Galaxy so to use them as weapons (not an army like the Prequels) is great. The idea of Droids being used as weapons was revisited in Daniel José Older’s novel ‘Last Shot’ in which Droids were essentially brain washed into killing humans.

Something that I really enjoyed was Leia using the Force more, it’s her connection to the Force and to Luke that really push the story, with Luke dealing with the Force is a more usual way for his character given his experience by this point in the timeline, granted, Luke doesn’t get much character development in this novel, his role is really to put an end to a Galactic threat that he feels guilty for.

The Han, Chewie and Lando storyline is good fun. We get a look at the underworld of the Star Wars Galaxy and in a great twist, it’s Lando who ends up in deep trouble with Han and Chewie coming to his rescue. And who can beat the run-in at the end which results in Leia defeating the (audio)books villain.

The novel isn’t overloaded with new characters, we get a few but none of huge consequence other than Kuellor, Brakiss and Cole Fardreamer, so the story is mainly focused on the existing heroes, and a couple of appearances from some EU favourites. Rusch really utilises all the characters well, with each of the plot threads coming together nicely at the end for a satisfying ending.

‘The New Rebellion’ is certainly a high point for the 1990’s Star Wars EU run, it packs the same kind of punch that Zahn’s ‘Heir to the Empire’ series did and doesn’t overstay its welcome like ‘The Black Fleet Crisis’ Trilogy and its one I would highly recommend to either read or listen to.

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Dooku: Jedi Lost Review (Re-Release)

‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ has just hit shelves in paperback form.

The script for the fantastic Audio Drama really allows you to have more of a deep-dive into the story, letting you pick up on those little things that you may have missed when listening.

To celebrate the release (1st April) here’s my original review for the Audio Drama.

Dooku has always been an interesting character. He is our introduction to the idea that Jedi could leave the Order, he is a political beast and a master manipulator, he is also incredibly strong in the Force.

But not much was known about his life prior to the events of ‘Attack of the Clones’ other than he was once Qui-Gon’s Master and he in turn was Yoda’s Padawan. Which gives us some understanding of his power in the Force and he’s incredibly enigmatic. The scene where he tries to tell Obi-Wan about Darth Sidious being in control of the Senate only to reveal that he is Sidious’ Apprentice is pure genius.

So when it was announced that an Auido-only novel about Dooku’s past I couldn’t wait and thankfully my wife had a spare Audible credit.

Dooku’s Story is told through holograms, a journal and stories told to Asajj Ventress, who is sent on a mission by Dooku, prior to ‘Attack of the Clones’ to find Dooku’s sister who has been captured by Republic Spies.

Asajj learns of Dooku’s youth in the Jedi Temple and his friendship with another young Jedi, Sifo-Dyas as they visit the planet Serenno on Jedi business he becomes involved in a mild conflict and rescues a young girl, Jenza, and her brother, Ramil. Jenza takes Dooku on a tour of the city and in an Force related accident where Dooku accidentally brings a building down on top of them, they find out that Dooku is her brother. Their father Gora has abandoned Dooku as a baby because of his Force abilities.

As they get older, Dooku and Jenza remain in contact as intergalactic pen-pals, sending holo-messages to each other regularly.

We learn on Dooku’s and Sifo-Dyas’ exploits in the Temple and how they broke into a hidden chamber filled with Sith artefacts, and their interest in these is noticed by Jedi Master Lene Kostana and she takes the young Dooku under her wing, but eventually she chooses Sifo-Dyas as he Padawan whilst Yoda takes Dooku.

After years of learning from Yoda Dooku’s secret is revealed after receiving a message from Jenza saying their mother has died and she is asking him to come back. Master Kostanna takes Dooku and Sifo-Dyas to Serenno’s Funeral Moon. The planet is in turmoil after Count Gora had replaced many professions with Droids and there is an uprising. They attack the funeral and Dooku, under duress uses the Force to throw everyone back, including the casket.

Afterwards, Dooku, Sifo-Dyas and Master Kostanna visit a nearby planet which they discover is consumed with the Dark Side and the three of them have horrific visions of war.

Years pass, Dooku and Sifo-Dyas drift apart, the latter continues to have debilitating visions and Master Kostanna stays with him whilst Dooku takes Rael Averross and then later Qui-Gon Jinn as his Padawan learners.

During Qui-Gon’s training they manage to uncover deep plot which involves a corrupt member of the Jedi Council who’s criminal contacts have sabotaged a racing speeder that Dooku’s brother was piloting which left him severely injured, and once Qui-Gon had become a Jedi Knight, Dooku was elected to join the Jedi Council.

Again, years later, Dooku was becoming more and more disenfranchised with both the Senate and the Jedi Council when he received a message from Jenza asking for his help in fighting off Mercenaries from Serenno. After debating with both groups, Dooku is joined by Kostanna and Sifo-Dyas.

They reach Serenno and are shot down, they manage to crash land safely and are met by Jenza and some of the Resistance fighters and it soon leads to a full scale battle which is eventually won by Dooku visiting his brother who has become more machine than man, controlling a Droid Army. During their fight Dooku deactivates the Droids and manages to best Ramil, killing him.

During the battle, a valuable resource was discovered deep underground, and realising that the Republic would now leap to their aid, Dooku decides to leave the Jedi and rule Serenno as an independent system.

Ventress, through learning these ordeals, cons to understand her new Master well, and once Jenza is found and her and Dooku are reunited, Dooku has his assassin kill his sister so that none of his secrets could come out, especially now that he is being influenced by a ‘hooded man’.

The story is well paced and fantastically written, Cavan Scott really gets into the heads of Ventress and Dooku, and gives us a greater understanding of their characters and motivations. Ventress is struggling with her new role as Dooku’s assassin and, at what seems to be an early stage of her time working for him, is frequently punished by Dooku for lying to him about her thoughts and her desires to leave. We really develop a growing sense of sympathy for her, and after also reading ‘Dark Disciple’ we really get to know more of her life and her ongoing story arc that, in terms of the timeline, starts here and ends in Christie Golden’s novel.

Dooku, of course, is the main focus of this story, and his backstory is so rich. From his early years at the Temple to his leaving the Jedi Order we really get to know what drives him, what kind of a Jedi he was, how he broke the rules of the Order but remains devoted to them, right until the bitter end where he realises the Order is not what it once was, no longer are they the Galactic Peacekeeping force but a tool for the Senate to use at their will.

What we don’t fully get is his eventual turn to the Dark Side, through the story he brushes the Dark Side but doesn’t turn and we only get a hint at his association with Darth Sideous at the end. If I have one complaint, it’s that there seems to be more story to tell about the time he is no longer a part of the Order and becoming Sideous’ apprentice. Hopefully we will get a sequel to fill that part of the timeline.

The secondary characters are great. Sifo-Dyas plays a prominent role and we learn of his almost debilitating Force Visions, which would eventually lead him to build the Clone Army. His master, Lene Kostanna, a Jedi with an interest in the Sith, who believes before anyone else that the Sith would return is an interesting character. Her mentoring of Dooku in the early parts of the story really give us an insight into Dooku’s mindset towards the Force which will be passed on through his Apprentice, Qui-Gon.

Jenza and Ramil are excellent plot devices, one hive Dooku a tie to his home whilstvthe other gives him a reason to come back at the end and liberate his home. Dooku’s relationship with Jenza is sweet but filled with peril as his communication with her is essentially forbidden by the Jedi but the siblings have a connection that neither wish to ignore. It’s quite sad at the end when Dooku has Ventress kill Jenza but it’s understandable in his twisted mindset, essentially killing her to protect her from further capture and torture at the hands of his enemies.

As I write this I am two-thirds of the way through ‘Master and Apprentice’ by Claudia Grey and I have to say I am impressed at how well these two stories connect, even is subtle ways, with the character of Rael Averross crossing over to appear, even though briefly, in this story whilst he features prominently in the other. The two act as brilliant counterparts and tell an even greater story when consumed together, and they are both amazing on their own to begin with, and this compatibility really gives me hope for the upcoming ‘Project Luminous’ which both Authors are involved with.

Cavan Scott has done a fantastic job giving us a deep-dive into the history of one of the most intriguing characters to come out of the Prequel Trilogy and it does not disappoint one bit, if only there was more of the story. I really want to get another Volume about Dooku and how he joins Sideous, the betrayal of Sifo-Dyas and the eventual build-up to ‘Attack of the Clones’.

‘Dooku: Jedi Lost’ is available where Audiobooks are sold.

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Star Wars: Operation Starlight Part 4

With the Rebel Fleet still in tatters, Leia and Kes share a moment of quiet to swap stories about their respective partners.

Soule slows the action down for a rare quiet moment which, after the past three issues is a needed chance to pause and have some character beats that don’t revolve around the action.

Kes shares the story of how he first met Shara after he made a bet on her ship in a race. After she wins he decides to meet the racer who won him quite a bit of money. He takes her for a drink and, years later they’re married, have a son and fighting to free the Galaxy from the Emperor’s hold.

Leia recounts a story about Han on Hoth before the Revels were discovered by the Empire. A reactor, linked to the heat supply for the Hoth base is about to explode. All of the Rebels are on the various ships keeping warm. Han and Chewie hava a part that could help and the two of them go to fix the reactor. In true Han and Chewie fashion, the repair job goes a bit awry, leading Han to tell the fleet to evacuate the base. Leia, on the Falcon waits outside the base, and after a few minutes Han and Chewie get in touch, the reactor patched up but needing the Techs to fix it up.

As the two talk, we learn more about why Leia has fallen in love with Han. Not because he’s a scoundrel or a smuggler, but because, deep down he’s one of them, an everyman who has become a hero of the Rebellion and won the hearts of the Rebels, and her.

Their conversation is interrupted, Shara Bey has got in contact. She speaks to Kes, telling him she has found a safe place to hide and has sliced into the Imperial network, Leia then speaks to her, asking her what she knows.

Taking a break from the action was what this arc needed and it gives us some great backstory for Han and Leia, and more of a reason for Leia’s feelings for Han, and answers the age old question, what Leia sees in him, which if we’re being honest, we’ve all wondered about at some point or other. Also, giving Leia a quiet moment in the story is something we’ve not really seen, in any medium, and that brief scene in ‘The Last Jedi’ when The Raddus comes out of Hyperspace barely counts (you know I’m right).

I really enjoyed getting some backstory on Kes and Shara, and rather than having them meet and fall in love during as part of the Rebellion, instead it’s pure chance, had Bey lost the race then would Kes have bothered to meet her? I doubt it, especially as he’s betting away his last seven Credits. It’s not fate, destiny or whatever you may call it, just pure chance which is a welcome break in a franchise full of destiny.

What was also pretty good was that we got some new Han Solo content, even when he’s frozen in Carbonite we are still able to get some new stories about our favourite smuggler this side of Mos Eisley. It’s a decent way of keeping him in the series without relying on memory flashes which we also get in this issue. Spike writes great Han and Chewie interaction, so it’s a bit unfortunate that his run on the series is without Han, maybe, just maybe, we could get a Canon version of Dash Rendar popping up later in the series.

A refreshing change of pace which cleanses the palette ready for this arc to ramp up, whether or not they will rescue Shara before the upcoming Boba Fett cross over event or she’ll be stuck on Tarkin’s Will for a bit longer, I’m starting to look forward to this run again after the last few issues felt a bit tedious.

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