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REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 1

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

And, as the Clone Wars end, the era of the Empire (and the Bad Batch) begin. The newest Star Wars series finally hits Disney+ after months of anticipation and, thankfully, does not disappoint whatsoever. Viewers are treated to an epic and cinematic 70-minute premiere episode full of unexpected appearances and moments, unique character development, and an episode that brilliantly lays the foundation for what’s to come in Star Wars: The Bad Batch.

It’s hard not to associate The Bad Batch pilot with the words “epic” and “cinematic.” The extended length, jaw-droppingly detailed animation, and an unexpectedly deliberate pace makes the first episode of The Bad Batch feel more like a feature film than anything we’ve seen in Star Wars animation to date, with the exception of the Siege of Mandalore arc in season 7 of The Clone Wars. Every sequence is meticulously crafted top to bottom and every department is firing on all cylinders in this pilot. Kevin Kiner’s score adds a grand sense to the whole episode, evoking many of John Williams’ themes from the prequel trilogy, while also carving out a distinct tone for Clone Force 99. The dialogue from writers Jennifer Corbett and Matt Michnovetz perfectly suits the tone of the new series. And, of course, the animation is stunning to say the least. The episode feels like a Star Wars film given the extent to which our lead characters hop from planet to planet, each of which are beautifully animated and really come to life in this episode.

From a narrative perspective, The Bad Batch clearly forges its own tale moving forward, while honoring what came before it and the era it is situated in. The pilot very much feels like a sequel to The Clone Wars, but, as the minutes and scenes go by, it becomes increasingly clear this is its own show – this is The Bad Batch. One of the most interesting things about this pilot was how it explores what it’s like to be a Clone amidst the changing structure of the galaxy. We’ve seen projects like Star Wars Rebels and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story highlight the efforts of rebels fighting to overthrow the tyrannous Empire in the years before the Battle of Yavin. And we’ve seen a lot to do with the seedy underbelly of the Star Wars galaxy during this era, perhaps most notably Solo: A Star Wars Story. But, The Bad Batch adds a different layer to this era that was perhaps the highlight of the series so far. What is it like for a Clone Trooper following Order 66? How do you adjust to the fact that your comrades, the Jedi, are all of a sudden gone? Do you adhere to the directions of a new government or do you follow your own moral backbone? All of these questions and more are intricately explored in The Bad Batch and make it stand out from other projects set during the Imperial Era.

The episode also excels in the extensive character development it’s able to achieve in its 70+ minute premiere. Clone Force 99 featured in four episodes of The Clone Wars’ final season, but they were largely servicing a broader narrative populated with established characters like Rex, Cody, and Anakin. Now, the Bad Batch truly take center stage. All of what we learned about this rag-tag crew from their arc in the Clone Wars is expanded on tenfold here. Yes, each character has their own, distinct abilities as a soldier, but they also have truly unique, idiosyncratic personalities that complement one another brilliantly. It’s a testament to the direction and writing of this pilot that we really get a solid feel for each of Clone Force 99, without a disproportionate focus on a single character. We intimately see and feel what it’s like for Hunter to lead his team amidst this changing galaxy and navigate his own morals and duty to the Empire. We see and feel what it’s like for Wrecker, who is naturally predisposed to destruction, but is confused by the state of things and always apt to unleash his inner child. The crew comes together brilliantly in this episode, in large part due to Dee Bradley Baker’s spectacular performances as the titular characters. Baker has been a staple in Star Wars for many years now, but The Bad Batch feels like the best opportunity yet for the talented voice-actor to get the much-deserved spotlight. Baker deftly transitions from character to character and really makes each member of Clone Force 99 feel like their own individuals. 

As all good pilots do, The Bad Batch sets up a number of interesting plot threads ripe for exploration in subsequent episodes. This is a spoiler-free review, so no worries if you haven’t had a chance to catch the episode yet, but let’s just say there’s more than a few appearances and plot choices that took me by surprise. Some of the most intriguing elements of this premiere pertain to Omega, the new character teased in promotional material. Her origins are unknown, as is her purpose on Kamino, but it’s certain that she will play a significant role in the series moving forward. Her inclusion definitely evokes elements of The Mandalorian in more ways than one. 

Verdict: 9.5/10

Star Wars: The Bad Batch kicks off with an epic and cinematic 70-minute premiere full of intrigue, suspense, and humor. Extremely polished and refined, the series feels like a sequel to The Clone Wars and features plenty of unexpected appearances and moments. It evokes some of the best elements of The Mandalorian and features a captivating opening act that ranks up there with some of the best Star Wars animation to date. A deliberate, slower pace allows for each of the titular crew to develop as unique characters, making us eagerly anticipate what’s to come for Clone Force 99.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

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INTERVIEW: Dee Bradley Baker, Brad Rau, and Jennifer Corbett Talk The Bad Batch, Exploring Clones Post-Order 66, Omega, and More

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

The newest Star Wars series hits Disney+ this month with Star Wars: The Bad Batch, following the adventures of Clone Force 99 in a quickly changing galaxy. We recently had a chance to attend a press conference previewing the new series hosted by Ash Crossan of Entertainment Tonight with supervising director and executive producer Brad Rau, head writer and executive producer Jennifer Corbett, and the voice of the Bad Batch Dee Bradley Baker. Here are some of the highlights from the press event.

In providing an overview of the members of Clone Force 99, Dee Bradley Baker identified Wrecker as his favorite of the batch.

BAKER: It’s-it’s fun to be Wrecker, because he’s so honest and…so clear and funny. Uh, but I have great affection for all of them. They’re all very interesting fellows. Uh, but Wrecker’s-he’s probably the furthest away from me as-from all of them. [LAUGH] And, uh, and he’s great fun.

Brad Rau and Jennifer Corbett spoke about what it was like to collaborate with Dave Filoni on the series.

CORBETT: I got to work with Dave on Star Wars Resistance, which was such a great experience. And getting the chance to develop the series with him, uh, you know, it’s kinda like a master class in writing Star Wars? And he, you know, with this being a-a sequel series of sorts, to-to the Clone Wars, it was kind of crucial that-that he be, you know, involved in this process very much. Because these are characters that he’s created and it’s the world that he knows, but, um, every-every day, every script is, uh, is a learning experience.

RAU: Dave-he’s awesome. I’ve known Dave for a long time. Uh, when he was starting Clone Wars, I first met him up at-up at the ranch-Skywalker Ranch, and I happened to just be starting my own animation studio at that time. So I was unable to join the force of the Clone Wars. It was one of my regrets that I rectified later on in Rebels, to join as an episodic director. And then on Resistance. And he’s-he’s an awesome guy, a good friend. Really good, you know, I couldn’t think of a better mentor. Especially for Star Wars. The stuff he tells us every day, is-is fantastic. And amazing. And yeah, just-just collaborating with him and-and-and being able to work with you, Jen, so closely on this show’s been awesome. It’s been a dream come true.”

One of the things head writer and executive producer Jennifer Corbett found interesting about the show was the possibility of exploring the immediate aftermath of Order 66 from the perspective of Clone Troopers.

CORBETT: We’ve seen the Clone Wars where it’s the height of-of the Clone Troopers doing what they’re meant to do, and what they were created for. And you know, the question became, “What happens after the war is over? What happens to clones who all they know, um, is being soldiers?” Especially for the Bad Batch who do things differently as it is with the Republic and how they fit in once it becomes the Empire…it was interesting to just sort of talk about the transition from the Republic to the Empire and what that looks like, because it’s not-it’s not what we saw in the original trilogy, wh-where it’s the dominance of the Empire.

The team behind the Bad Batch spoke about similarities between their show and The Mandalorian, especially in relation to the mysterious new character Omega.

BAKER: It’s interesting, uh, in terms of the-of the story and the writing, to have this kind of personal relationship with the younger character. And to see how that-how that changes and how they accommodate that and how-how that works. Because it’s more of like an uncle/niece, or a father/child, uh, dynamic, but not entirely. Because Omega is her own interesting, um, uh, potential of-of powers. [LAUGH] Maybe. And, uh, and so it’s interesting to see all of that unfold. But it, I think, it connects you to-to the story in-in a personal way. So it’s not just an action story.

RAU: To have these clinical, best of the best soldiers as suddenly fish out of water in this changing galaxy, and to have this kid that they do, um, look to, to help raise in a very parental way. And-and it’s a two way street, honestly, the way-the way that that works, that none of them are really equipped to go out into the world. And how do they, you know, how do they eat? They don’t have a mess hall to go to. How do they get their gear fixed? How do they get fuel for their-for their ship? These are things that are, “Wait a minute, oh yeah, we didn’t-we didn’t have to deal with that la-last week, now we gotta deal with it.” Are all things we get into. It’s really interesting.

The Bad Batch also evokes Rogue One in being a story independent of Sith and Jedi and more focused on reluctant, rag-tag soldiers.

RAU: It is really interesting, kind of off of what we were just saying, to deal with this family dynamic. To have the stories be emotionally charged, and emotionally based gives, um, gives the action a lot-a lot more texture, honestly. ‘Cause I mean, we-let’s face it, we’re blowing stuff up and we’re, you know, [LAUGH] we’re having fun doing that but, to have the emotional, um, context of that is-is the challenge, I think, in any of these stories. And it-for us, I think, it helps that we are coming into characters that are familiar and yet, we don’t know that much about. And it gives us room to kind of play around with how those characters develop.

The team behind the scenes of The Bad Batch were impressed with the range and versatility of Dee Bradley Baker’s performances as the five titular characters.

CORBETT: It’s impressive to watch him do it in-in the room, because when we first started, I thought he was gonna go a character at a time. And just watching him like, act out a scene with himself, with all of these Clones. But and-but there’s no pause. He just goes right into it. And I-I was blown away. And each-each time we do one of these record sessions, I’m-I’m just amazed at Dee’s talent.

RAU: Same. Yeah, some-sometimes I accidentally say, “Okay, so Wrecker, oh wait, I mean, wait, Dee.” I’m losing my brain.

Corbett commented on how she drew on her experience in the United States Navy during the writing process of the series.

CORBETT: I understand [LAUGH] how, um, people in the military become like, brothers and sisters very closely when you’re sent on missions together. When you’re in close quarters and kinda the-the camaraderie and-and also the banter that comes with living with people, so closely, in high stress situations. So, I think, you know, that’s what I try to bring to it, is how-how this squad, even though they are these elite soldiers, they are this-this family. But they don’t have to agree all the time, and all the things. And all the different perspectives that each of them brings, because they’re all so very different. And, um, I think that speaks to, you know, the military. No one comes from the same background, everybody has their different reasons for doing what they’re doing. And, um, it is-it is a family dynamic in real life, so, yeah.

Hearing Dee Bradley Baker, Brad Rau, and Jennifer Corbett take a deep dive into their upcoming series was exciting to say the least. The Bad Batch appears to be yet another interesting installment in Star Wars canon, offering new insights into Clone Force 99 and their experiences in a galaxy post-Order 66.

Stay tuned to Star Wars Holocron for more coverage of Star Wars: The Bad Batch!

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Kevin Kiner Talks The Bad Batch Score, Influences on the New Show, His Time Working with Dave Filoni and George Lucas, and More

by @holocronGeorge and @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

Kevin Kiner has been a familiar name to Star Wars for over a decade now, and his brilliant work in a galaxy far, far away continues with Star Wars: The Bad Batch. The composer of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels returns to the fold this month scoring the newest Star Wars show streaming on Disney+. We had a chance to speak with Kevin Kiner, who opened up about scoring The Bad Batch, his work in the Star Wars franchise, collaborating with Dave Filoni and George Lucas, musical influences, and more.

Kiner spoke of his long history with Clone Force 99 as he first composed the music for the animatic story reel, before scoring The Clone Wars season 7, but how he didn’t expect to be working with these characters for so long.

“No, I had no idea. The theme for Bad Batch was co-composed Sean and Dean [Kiner’s sons], and, you know, we wrote them for that episode before The Bad Batch came out in The Clone Wars. We had no idea they were going to be that big of a deal. Having said that, I’m really happy with that theme and it plays a large part in the show now.”

Similar to his work on The Clone Wars and Rebels, Kiner collaborated with his sons Sean and Dean on the score for The Bad Batch.

“We were worked all of season 7 of Clone Wars. Quite a lot of Rebels, almost all of Rebels I believe. You know you’d have to go back to season 6 or 5 of Clone Wars when I was not writing with my sons when they were still at university. It’s become kind of a team endeavor for five, six, years or whatever. It’s really fruitful. It keeps me fresh. It helps take a load off of me, because I’ve been doing this for 35 or 36 years. I’ve been doing Star Wars since ‘06 since I started with George and Dave when I first auditioned…’06 or ‘07, something like that. So that’s, you know, 14 years there.”

In terms of the process of composing the music for The Bad Batch, Kiner noted some minor logistical issues due to the pandemic, but, overall, noticed his work was not affected by the state of things.

“Film and television composers are kind of lone wolves out in our little cave. Composing is a bit of a solitary life. So, you know the pandemic didn’t really affect that at all. There were some logistical things that continue to be with orchestras. And we had a time where we went to Budapest, Hungary, and Prague when they were not having much problems there. So, we were able to record at times when we were completely locked down in the States…That’s just logistical. In terms of writing process, it’s not different at all.”

Unlike The Clone Wars, Kiner isn’t playing around with as many established characters with his work on The Bad Batch. Kiner spoke about what it was like composing music for a new series characterized by five central characters with five unique abilities and personalities.

“As always with Clone Wars, a lot of the great direction comes from the showrunners. Dave Filoni set up Clone Wars and he set up Bad Batch as well. One of the bits of direction he gave us, because he’s not really running that show anymore. One of the bits of direction he gave us was that the Bad batch are a group of misfits, sorta like the dirty dozen. So we went and watch dirty dozen and listened to the soundtrack. Guns of Navarone, another one called Kelly’s Heroes. So you’ll hear a harkening to a gang of misfits, they don’t really fit in, and yet they end up winning the day in a very unconventional way. Very similar to those great caper films and so that is an element you’ll hear in Bad Batch.”

Kiner also commented on what it was like to work on The Bad Batch with less direct involvement from Dave Filoni:

“Brad Rau is now the showrunner of Bad Batch. He’s really stepped into that job and we’re having a great collaboration with him too, super fun guy to work with. Really pays attention, knows what’s hes doing. Its amazing how Lucasfilm is able to find these people. I mean, I really feel like I was the right call for music and I try to live up with it everyday. And I know so many of the people I’m surrounded with were totally the right call. Look at Dave Filoni. George handpicked him. And it was pretty good choice [Laughs]. Everyone has their own personality and [way of] dealing with things, but, overall, it’s been seamless. And one of the cool things, Dave didn’t just say, “Bad Batch / Dirty Dozen! See you later!” He’s still involved, he still watches the show, he still listens to the things we’re doing and gives comments and stuff. And he’s doing this with Brad and Athena and all of the people involved, so it’s just been seamless…The transition has been seamless.”

In reflecting on his work in the Star Wars franchise, Kiner noted that it’s been one of the most demanding challenges of his career.

“It’s definitely the hardest gig I’ve ever had, on so many different levels. Filling John Wiliams’ shoes, which really is impossible, so I’ve never really filled his shoes. But I try not to wreck what he started. And I try to do it justice and I respect it. I’ve tried to, for instance, be really big on melody and he writes the greatest melodies ever for film, so there’s a huge challenge there. And his orchestral chops are insane. And I’m a rock and roll guitarist, I played in garage bands when I was kid since I was 10 years old. I was playing in bars way before it was legal for me to play in bars. There’s a different tradition that I come from. You know, I’ve educated myself on classical music. I continue to educate myself on classical music and study scores, study John Williams’ scores. And then the best I think is to study who he studied: Korngold, Stravinsky, all of the real greatest, Boulez. A lot of these fantastic composers and orchestrators and guys that came before. Star Wars is just in another league. It’s harder than anything for sure. It’s really rewarding, you know, once you’ve gotten through it. And the process is rewarding too. Because your brain doesn’t sit still.”

Throughout his work in Star Wars, Kiner has noticed it has become easier to strike a balance between honoring the work of John Williams and executing his own, unique style.

“I always…use this parallel, as a guitar player you’re starting to learn to solo and, as all of us guitar players, love to shred, right? That’s what we live for. So, maybe you copy a Jimi Hendrix solo or even a Joe Pass jazz solo or I copied the solo on Stairway to Heaven, Jimmy Cage. You don’t do that so you can play that solo over and over every night when you’re gonna play that song…The reason you learn that solo is so that it gets under your fingers, so when you do your own solo, some of those motions, whether it be physically or whether it be tonally or pneumatically, they’re kind of under your fingers, they become a little bit of you, they become an influence. But you don’t play them note for note, but now I can move in that direction if I want to. As much as I’ve studied John Williams, I don’t really worry about it. Some of his licks and stuff have gotten inside of me and I express them in my own way now. I’m not really concerned…I don’t think about it any longer. I used to think about it a lot, like I said it wasn’t a great strength of mine so I feel like I overcompensated for my lack of classical background for a long time.”

Beyond Star Wars, Kiner is proud of his other work in various different franchises.

“I had a great time doing the Bond games. I did Goldeneye and Bond Legends. That was really, really fun. It would be awesome to work on a Bond film or something like that. Everything I’m working on…I worked on Superboy in the 80s… so now here is Superboy and he shows up in Titans and it’s 30 years or something like that, it’s crazy. And I get to work with, here’s Batman, and Nighthawk and all of the different iterations and Robin. And Doom Patrol. I’ll tell you, I’m really most interested in the new stuff coming out. There’s a couple things I can’t really talk about, but when I see some of the new things coming across my desk I’m like ‘Wow, I can’t imagine enjoying something more than what I’m doing.’..Also, look at how good Clone Wars is. It’s such a great property…You could argue Clone Wars has done a tremendous amount for Star Wars as a franchise, I don’t even think that’s an argument – it’s a fact. To be involved in that is a complete dream. And to be involved with any kind of project that is really well respected. I’m working on this third season of Narcos Mexico. What a great show that is, the drama is fantastic. Really, really different score. It keeps me really fresh. And the style is very different.”

Following John Williams’ cameo appearance in The Rise of Skywalker, Kiner was asked if making a cameo appearance would be of interest to him.

“Man! I gotta ask them about that! Next time I talk to Brad, they gotta animate me…This guy has a museum, he used to work with Lucasfilm. He’s up in the Bay area. He’s got so much Star Wars memorabilia. A lot of it is fan art. He’s got the entire cantina band, you know all posed in the cantina, and there’s a picture of me sitting in with the band there…That’s what it should be. I should be in the club….I’m gonna bring that up now.”

Looking forward, Kiner hopes that his time in the Star Wars universe doesn’t finish any time soon.

“I certainly hope it’s not the end of myime. I hope I’m doing Star Wars for the next 20 years. Like me and John Williams, we’re not going to quit. Pry it from our cold dead fingers, I guess. That’s my attitude.”

Finally, in speaking of the members of Clone Force 99 in the upcoming series, Kiner included a little tease of what’s to come in The Bad Batch…

I think I can say, there’s not just 5 central characters…”

It was an honor to be able to speak with Kevin Kiner about his work on The Bad Batch, his career, and more. His thoughtful and insightful comments have made us even work excited for the upcoming Disney+ series. 

You can check out Kevin Kiner’s website for an in-depth look at his career and the projects he has worked on.

Stay tuned to Star Wars Holocron for more coverage of Star Wars: The Bad Batch! And look out for our video interview with Kevin Kiner coming soon!

Images courtesy of Disney+, Lucasfilm, Netflix, and kevinkiner.com

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What’s New in Star Wars – May 2021

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

From new TV shows, books, comics, and more, there’s a wealth of exciting new Star Wars material coming our way this month. The highly anticipated Star Wars: The Bad Batch finally drops this month, as does the kick-off to the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event. It is important to note all of these release dates are subject to change. Below includes a list and description of upcoming Star Wars projects in the month of May:

May 4 – Episode 1 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch

After making their canon debut in last year’s final season of The Clone Wars, Clone Force 99, a.k.a. The Bad Batch, take centerstage in their own Star Wars series. Fittingly debuting on Star Wars Day (May the 4th), the series will kick off with a 70-minute premiere episode spotlighting Hunter, Echo, Tech, Crosshair, Wrecker, and more.

May 4 – The Mandalorian: Magnetic Fun

The Mandalorian: Magnetic Fun looks to bring some enjoyment to younger Star Wars fans on this year’s Star Wars Day. The publisher’s summary for the upcoming activity book written by Grace Baranowski and published by Studio Fun International is as follows: “Young Star Wars fans will love following along as the Mandalorian, the Child, Cara Dune, and others journey throughout the galaxy in this fun, interactive magnetic book with 12 included magnets. Following the fall of the Galactic Empire, a lone gunfighter travels to the outer rim of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic. There, he retrieves a mysterious bounty. Join the Mandalorian and his allies Cara Dune, Kuiil, Greef Karga, and IG-11 as they attempt to save the mysterious Child from the former Imperial Commander Moff Gideon. With magnetic pages and 10 included magnets, this interactive book is perfect for young Star Wars fans!”

May 4 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Volume 1

Studio Fun International are also debuting a new children’s book covering the events of The Mandalorian’s first season for younger readers. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Relive the first season of The Mandalorian as Mando, Cara Dune, Kuill [sic], and Greef Karga attempt to save the Child from Moff Gideon and what remains of the Galactic Empire in this beautiful storybook. After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic. Star Wars fans of all ages will enjoy reliving the first season of The Mandalorian in this beautiful storybook.”

May 4 – Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga: The Official Collector’s Edition

Titan Comics have an incredible collector’s edition debuting this month that features various interviews, pictures, stories, and more from the entire Skywalker Saga. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” For more than five decades, the Skywalker saga has thrilled generations of fans who have grown up with one of the greatest stories in cinematic history. This sprawling epic of nine episodic films covers 67 years of unforgettable action, featuring thousands of iconic characters, from Star Wars: A New Hope to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And the Star Wars Insider magazine has been there every step of the way, gaining exclusive access to cast, crew, and creators. Now, collected together for the first time, this movie companion chronicles the story behind the making of the Skywalker saga, as told by the writers, directors, designers, and crafts people who built and shaped a legend. From George Lucas’ thoughts on embarking on the making of A New Hope to Ewan McGregor on stepping into the shoes of the late Sir Alec Guinness to play Obi-Wan Kenobi to Daisy Ridley taking on the role of Rey in the final trilogy, this is a must-have for anyone touched by this incredible story.” 

May 4 – Star Wars: Galactic Baking

Insight Editions will soon release a cookbook of Star Wars-inspired baking recipes. We’ve had a chance to try out some of the delicious treats so far and we can’t wait to get our hands on what else the cookbook has in store. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Embark on a baking journey through the Star Wars galaxy, and craft scrumptious treats inspired by fan-favorite planets. Get ready to tour the galaxy with this baking cookbook inspired by the snowdrifts of Hoth, the wastelands of Tatooine, and beyond. Star Wars: The Official Baking Cookbook is the most delicious way to experience the planets, flora, and fauna of the Star Wars galaxy. Whether you’re throwing a watch party or hosting members of the Galactic Senate, this cookbook is a must-have for fans of all ages. Over thirty mouthwatering recipes: Star Wars: The Official Baking Cookbook features recipes such as Mustafarian Molten Lava Cakes, Cloud City Marshmallows, Life Day Cake, Loth-Cat Kibble, Keshian Spice Bread, Dagobah Bog Pie, and more. Bake your way through the galaxy: Packed with stunning food photography that’s sure to inspire your inner chef, this cookbook will transport you to planets such as Kashyyyk, Jakku, Endor, Bespin, Coruscant, and everywhere in between. For all skill levels: All types of bakers—from Padawans to Jedi Masters—will be able to enjoy recipes based on the Star Wars galaxy, from the Skywalker Saga to Star Wars Rebels. Own the official Star Wars baking cookbook: This officially licensed guide to the galaxy’s best sweets and treats will be a delectable addition to your Star Wars collection.”

May 4 – Star Wars Insider: The Fiction Collection Volume 1

Titan Comics are also releasing a collection of Star Wars Legends short stories this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Star Wars Insider, the official magazine of the Star Wars saga, presents an amazing collection of tales from the galaxy far, far away. Featuring short stories starring familiar characters such as Han Solo, Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian and Darth Vader, this collection also includes tales featuring supporting characters such as Darth Plagueis, Hondo Ohnaka, Captain Rex, and Darth Revan. Featuring renowned best-selling Star Wars authors including Jason Fry, Matthew Stover, John Ostrander, and Paul S. Kemp, this volume also includes stunning art from some of the sagas [sic] best-loved interpreters, including Joe Corroney, Brian Rood, Jan Duursema, and Magali Villeneuve.”

May 5 – The High Republic Adventures 4

Daniel José Older and IDW Publishing’s fourth issue of The High Republic Adventures debuts this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Zeen has followed the Jedi to the Starlight Beacon, where she learns what it means to be a Padawan and begins her own training. Meanwhile, her best friend Krix tries to survive on a Nihil ship, fighting their way through a Republic blockade, as he wonders who the mysterious person who rescued him truly is.”

May 5 – War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha 1

One of our most highly anticipated projects of the month sees the start of Marvel Comics’ War of the Bounty Hunters series. This new crossover will begin with a prelude to the series written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Steve McNiven. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE STAR WARS COMIC EVENT YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR! The notorious bounty hunter BOBA FETT has finally landed his greatest prize – HAN SOLO, frozen in carbonite for easy transport. Fett will bring the smuggler to TATOOINE to collect the massive bounty placed on Solo’s head by the fearsome crime lord JABBA THE HUTT. Sounds easy. What could go wrong?”

May 7 – Episode 2 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Akin to the release schedule of The Mandalorian’s first season, we are due to get two episodes of The Bad Batch series released in the first week!

May 12 – Star Wars 13

War of the Bounty Hunters continues in the 13th issue of Marvel Comics’ Star Wars series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “PRELUDE TO WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS: “THE HUNT FOR HAN” CHEWBACCA has heard from an old friend with intelligence on the location of notorious bounty hunter BOBA FETT, known to be in possession of HAN SOLO.

Along with LUKE SKYWALKER, the loyal Wookiee sets off in search of his lost friend, on an adventure to Nar Shadaa… [sic] the SMUGGLER’S MOON! But will this mission prevent plucky astromech droid ARTOO DETOO from passing along a crucial message to Luke, one that will affect the fate of the entire Jedi Order…?”

May 12 – The High Republic 5

Cavan Scott’s The High Republic series for Marvel Comics continues in this month’s fifth issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “ATTACK OF THE HUTTS! The HIGH REPUBLIC JEDI clash with HUTT forces. GAMORREANS! NIKTO! BATTLE RANCORS! STARLIGHT BEACON over-run by a creeping alien horror! Can VERNESTRA RWOH and her Padawan IMRI CANTAROS find a way to save Starlight’s infected masses? Plus, KEEVE TRENNIS learns the terrible secret MASTER SSKEER has been carrying for so long. Can she ever trust him again?”

May 14 – Episode 3 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch

The adventures of Clone Force 99 continue in episode 3.

May 18 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Guide to Season One

We recently debuted an exclusive first look at Titan Comics’ Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Guide to Season One, an incredible and insightful look into the hit Disney+ series with amazing character files, behind the scenes images, concept art, and more.  Check out our exclusive preview here before the collector’s edition releases later this month.

May 19 – Bounty Hunters 12

Ethan Sacks gets his hands on the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event with the 12th issue of his Bounty Hunters series for Marvel Comics. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “PRELUDE TO WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS: “THE THREAT IN THE SHADOWS” As VALANCE and his reluctant partner DENGAR race to intercept BOBA FETT and his precious cargo, who are the deadly pursuers that are after them? A dark secret from Valance’s past connection to HAN SOLO may get him killed all these years later. But who is the mysterious leader of an assassination squad that is driving Valance into a life-and-death confrontation with his old friend?”

May 19 – Star Wars Adventures 5

Katie Cook and IDW Publishing team up for the fifth issue of the Star Wars Adventures comic series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Padme [sic] and Anakin have grand plans to have a romantic night celebrating a recent victory. But before they get a chance to get together, Anakin is Jedi-napped by a group of outlaws with their sights on a holocron in the Jedi temple! Now it’s up to Padme [sic] to use all of her cunning to infiltrate the outlaw base and rescue him.”

May 21 – Episode 4 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch

The adventures of Clone Force 99 continue in episode 4.

May 25 – Star Wars: I Am a Clone Trooper

Golden Books are releasing another exciting Star Wars book for young readers this month. The publisher’s summary for I Am a Clone Trooper is as follows: “Meet the Clones from the Star Wars saga in this Little Golden Book! From Captain Rex to Commander Cody to the Bad Batch, this Little Golden Book will introduce young readers to all the Clones from the exciting Star Wars saga. Featuring stunning retro stylized illustrations, this book includes epic scenes from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series on Disney+. It is perfect for Star Wars—and Little Golden Book—fans of all ages.”

May 26 – Doctor Aphra 10

Alyssa Wong’s incredible Doctor Aphra series continues with its 10th issue, which will be a part of the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “PRELUDE TO WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS: “THE INVITATION” DOCTOR APHRA and SANA STARROS find themselves cornered by VUKORAH and the UNBROKEN CLAN! Can they pull off a daring escape–even if that means surrendering the NIHIL HYPERDRIVE? And what sets them on a collision course with one of the most deadly BOUNTY HUNTERS in the galaxy?”

May 26 – Darth Vader 12

Greg Pak and Darth Vader get in on the action in War of the Bounty Hunters with this 12th issue of the Marvel Comics series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “PRELUDE TO WAR OF THE BOUNTY HUNTERS: “RESTORATION” Returned to the fold after his rebellion against the EMPEROR, DARTH VADER faces the horrors of reconstruction in the secret laboratories of CORUSCANT. As he blacks out under the knife, does he still dream of revenge against his master? Or do his thoughts drift towards his son – and the friends who make LUKE SKYWALKER so vulnerable? Don’t miss this next critical new chapter in Vader’s ongoing evolution – featuring the revelation of the first time the Dark Lord learned the name HAN SOLO!”

May 28 – Episode 5 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch

The last of the Star Wars content dropping in the month of May sees the fifth episode of The Bad Batch series debut on Disney+.

For reference, a condensed list of upcoming projects in May without descriptions is included below:

May 4 – Episode 1 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch  

May 4 – The Mandalorian: Magnetic Fun   

May 4 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Volume 1   

May 4 – Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga: The Official Collector’s Edition   

May 4 – Star Wars: Galactic Baking   

May 4 – Star Wars Insider: The Fiction Collection Volume 1   

May 5 – The High Republic Adventures 4   

May 5 – War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha 1  

May 7 – Episode 2 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch

May 12 – Star Wars 13   

May 12 – The High Republic 5   

May 14 – Episode 3 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch

May 18 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Guide to Season One   

May 19 – Bounty Hunters 12   

May 19 – Star Wars Adventures 5   

May 21 – Episode 4  

May 25 – Star Wars: I Am a Clone Trooper   

May 26 – Doctor Aphra 10   

May 26 – Darth Vader 12   

May 28 – Episode 5 of Star Wars: The Bad Batch

Images courtesy of Disney+, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, Titan Comics, Insight Editions, Golden Books, and Studio Fun International

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Star Wars Holocron

Maya Erskine Joins Cast of Obi-Wan Kenobi

By @HolocronJosh for @sw_holocron

The upcoming Disney+ show ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ has added another cast member: Maya Erskine.

Erksine, best known for her starring and creator role in PEN-15, will appear in at least three episodes of the show, according to Deadline.

Erksine joins a diverse cast for the show that includes Ewan McGregor in the starring role, Joel Edgerton, Bonnie Piesse, Moses Ingram, Kumail Nanjiani, Indira Varma, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Sung Kang, Rupert Friend, Simone Kessell, and Benny Safdie. Hayden Christensen will also reprise his role as the infamous Darth Vader – the first live action performance he’ll make in the franchise since 2005’s Revenge of the Sith.

The series is scheduled to begin filming this month.

Source: Deadline

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

It’s incredible to think that we are mere weeks away from the 30th anniversary of Heir to the Empire and, therefore, the debut of the one and only Grand Admiral Thrawn. The blue-skinned, intimidating officer of the Chiss Ascendancy turned Grand Admiral in the Imperial Navy has been a seemingly ever-present fixture in Star Wars following his debut in author Timothy Zahn’s 1991 novel. 

The character’s incredible longevity is further evidenced by his most recent appearance in Thrawn Ascendancy Book 2: Greater Good, the middle installment of Zahn’s latest Thrawn trilogy. A follow-up to last year’s Chaos Rising, Zahn continues expanding Thrawn’s backstory as a member of the Chiss Ascendancy  following the victory for the House of Miith out in the Unknown Regions. As many second parts go, the underlying threat was not extinguished and now it’s time to face enemies who don’t appear to be enemies…

Greater Good continues in the fashion of its predecessors in crafting a tale rather distinct from other events and characters in Star Wars lore. Thrawn’s introduction in the aforementioned Heir to the Empire and his role in projects like Star Wars Rebels and Zahn’s first canon trilogy are largely centered around established moments and plot lines – Thrawn is brought IN to the fold of existing plot machinations. This is a relatively, and refreshingly, stark contrast to Zahn’s work on the Thrawn Ascendancy trilogy. Despite taking place during the Clone Wars, Greater Good feels beautifully disconnected from other stories. In fact, this is one of the most disconnected tales we’ve gotten in canon yet, as it really feels like the adventures of Thrawn and his crew are occurring in their own little world. This allows for a lot of world-building and expansion in that, as a reader, we’re being immersed in the conflict at hand, rather than trying to piece together its relevance relative to other plotlines. This is a tale about Thrawn and the Chiss Ascendancy, a tale in the Unknown Regions, a tale not beholden to preexisting events necessarily. 

As such, however, this requires readers to be on their toes a little bit. It’s been a little while since I read Chaos Rising and there were times where I felt like I could have done with a bit more of a refresher, particularly regarding the world-building of the Chiss in that novel. At times, this issue is heightened by the introduction of a whole host of new characters, many of whom are difficult to keep track of and, ultimately, detract away from our focus on Thrawn. That being said, the novel really excels when it centers on Thrawn, the central plot, and some of the more interesting attempts at world building.

Similar to many of the best Legends books, Greater Good adopts an interesting storytelling that fosters a sense of empathy toward our titular character. In canon, Thrawn is introduced as an antagonist to the crew in Rebels – a heartless servant of the Empire. But, that isn’t exactly the Thrawn we get here. Thrawn is more relatable and his intentions are understandable, although it’s difficult to not see the impending darkness within on the horizon. This is a unique opportunity afforded by presenting this story in novel format. A story like this is perfectly designed to unfold in a trilogy of novels, as opposed to a television series or theatrical films. We’re given a more introspective glance into the inner-workings of Thrawn, something Zahn has captured brilliantly over the last 30 years.

Unfortunately, at times, the book feels much like a preview of the final installment of the trilogy releasing later this year – Lesser Evil. Indeed, I finished Greater Good and just wanted to pick up the next book immediately, in large part because this second chapter doesn’t progress at the speed and with the momentum one would hope. Nonetheless, Book II: Greater Good works incredibly well as a neo-noir mystery novel with interest increasing as the events unfold.

Verdict:

Author Timothy Zahn and Del Rey’s newest venture into the world of Thrawn excels far more than it fails. The novel is bogged down by some convoluted world-building, disinteresting side characters, and sluggish pacing, but the uniqueness of the Chiss culture and Unknown Regions, the superb action sequences, and the brilliance of our titular character carry the story brilliantly into the upcoming final chapter of the trilogy.

Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good hits bookshelves Tuesday April 27th

Images courtesy of Del Rey and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron

The Five Deaths of Shaak Ti Explained

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

From Maul to Boba to Palpatine, Star Wars has a long standing tradition of death not being taken too seriously. But Shaak Ti really takes the cake with dying not once, not twice, not 3 times, not even 4 times, but a whopping 5 times in Star Wars lore. In this article, we’re going to take a look at each and every one of Shaak Ti’s deaths – how she died, in what project did it occur, the history surrounding it, behind the scenes info, and more. 

Death #1

After an extremely brief appearance in Attack of the Clones, Shaak Ti was due to play a much more significant role in Revenge of the Sith. The beginning of Episode III originally featured a much longer Battle of Coruscant that spanned nearly a full hour. In addition to more obstacles faced by Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Palpatine, this opening act of Revenge of the Sith also portrayed one of 5 deaths of Shaak Ti. 

Anakin and Obi-Wan are traveling along the halls of the Invisible Hand when they come across a despondent Shaak Ti on her knees in front of General Grievous. It is implied that Shaak Ti was captured at the same time Palpatine was on Coruscant and, as such, is being kept prisoner by Grievous like the Chancellor himself. After apologizing to Anakin and Obi-Wan for failing to protect Palpatine, Grievous brutally stabs Shaak Ti from behind – killing her immediately. 

This marks the earliest version of Shaak’s death as it appeared in George Lucas’ first drafts of the Revenge of the Sith script. Lucas originally planned for Shaak to die at the hands of General Grievous and then have Tsui Choi, a Jedi from the Expanded Universe, take her seat on the Jedi Council. The inclusion of Shaak’s death in this manner actually leaked before the May 2005 release of the film across different fan sites and The Revenge of the Sith action figure of Shaak Ti even included a hole in her chest to reflect this version of her death. 

But, as we all know, Shaak Ti’s death was absent from Revenge of the Sith, which leads into…

Death #2

In the editing process of Revenge of the Sith, the Battle of Coruscant was radically cut down, which included the removal of Shaak Ti’s death at the hands of Grievous. At this time, Tartakovsky and colleagues were developing the final season of their Cartoon Network series. 

As a means to explain Shaak Ti’s absence in Revenge of the Sith, the microseries shows the Jedi die again, also at the hands of Grievous. 

Death #3

Star Wars Insider 87 stated that Shaak Ti’s deaths at this point, including one in Revenge of the Sith we haven’t got to yet, weren’t canon – meaning she lives past Episode III. This led to her appearance in the acclaimed video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, sporting a really cool new look. 

At this point, Shaak Ti had survived Order 66 and was in exile on the planet Felucia, where she trained a new Padawan and Force-sensitive natives.Her peace didn’t last long, however, as Darth Vader sent his apprentice – Galen Starkiller – to kill Shaak. Shaak and Starkiller engaged in an epic duel, but, eventually, Shaak was defeated by Starkiller.

Death #4

Weirdly enough, Death #4 is an alternate take on Shaak Ti’s death in The Force Unleashed. In the mobile version of the game, Shaak is killed when Felucian carnivorous plants are made to eat her by Starkiller. 

But, so far, all of these deaths are Legends or EU content. So, how does Shaak Ti die in canon?

Death #5

The fifth and final death of Shaak Ti is perhaps the most poignant and heartbreaking. George Lucas filmed not one, but two death scenes for the Jedi in Revenge of the Sith. 

The first death, the one aboard the Invisible Hand that I already mentioned, was written, filmed, and eventually scrapped in favor of a second death sequence occurring in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. 

As Palpatine instigates Order 66 and Anakin (as the newly anointed Darth Vader) raids the Temple, Shaak Ti is mediating in peace. Vader approaches Shaak Ti, who is unaware that Anakin has turned to the dark side. Before she becomes wary that something is wrong, Vader stabs and kills her with his lightsaber. 

This scene is included as a deleted scene on the Revenge of the Sith Blu-ray and on Disney+. It’s also shown in the LEGO Star Wars: The Video game adaptation of the film and in Yoda’s vision sequence in The Clone Wars.

With so many potential deaths, the 2016 reference book Star Wars: Galactic Atlas eventually confirmed that Death #5, her death in the Jedi Temple, was canon, rendering the others to be Legends or EU content. This is a good decision ultimately as The Force Unleashed and Clone Wars microseries are Legends content and her death aboard the Invisible Hand feels a little out of place amidst the important plot points occurring during Revenge of the Sith’s first act.

All in all though, there you have it – 5 deaths of Shaak Ti. This truly feels like something unique to Star Wars that other franchises simply don’t have – a franchise with some obscure character with barely any screentime being featured and explored so extensively in other projects, culminating in 5 unique takes on her death. 

Images courtsey of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron

EXCLUSIVE SPREAD: The Mandalorian: Guide to Season One

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

Mando and IG-88 silently walk into the building previously heavily guarded by a myriad of armed figures. After disposing of the enemies at the encampment, our titular character and his foe-turned-ally droid partner are closer to ‘the asset’ than ever. The tracking fob beeps louder and louder, more frequently and more frequently. They approach a silver pram only to uncover an infant of the same species as Yoda – a Baby Yoda, later known as Grogu. Disposing of IG-88, there’s an immediate connection between Mando and the Child…

And at the point, if it hadn’t happened already, we were already gripped by the stunning first series of The Mandalorian on Disney+. We can never get enough of The Mandalorian, which is why we’re particularly excited about Titan Comics’ upcoming release Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Guide to Season One. The book, which releases on May 18th, features character files, plot points, never-before-seen images, a complete episode guide, and a detailed behind the scenes look at how the iconic series came to life.

Ahead of the release of The Mandalorian: Guide to Season One, we’re happy to present an exclusive spread from the upcoming title:

MANDALORIAN ARMOR AND WEAPONS

To Mandalorians, armor is more than a metal covering to wear in battle: it is, in fact, a part of their identity and culture, something that makes them immediately recognizable by fellow warriors and enemies alike. In this regard, Mando’s gear is no exception.

Following the Mandalorian tradition, he wears a helmet with a T-shaped visor equipped with a macrobinocular viewplate, shoulder pauldrons, gauntlets, vambraces, a cuirass, a cape, and a bandolier. After receiving a camtono of beskar steel from the Client when he recovered and delivered the Child, Mando managed to replace his damaged armor with a full set.

Weapons are equally important, for they are, as stated by Mando himself, part of the Mandalorian religion. Indeed, the bounty hunter has plenty of weaponry at his disposal, such as a blaster pistol, a vibro-knife and an Amban sniper rifle – which can also be used as a taser or a sonic detector if needed. Further to this, Mando has also got several tricks up his sleeve: a whipcord launcher, dual flamethrowers and whistling birds—tiny missiles useful for striking multiple targets simultaneously. Before leaving Nevarro to reunite the Child with his people, the Mandalorian also receives a long-coveted device: a jetpack, often used by Mandalorian warriors as well as by other armed forces.

BEHIND THE SCENES

The concept art of Boba Fett—the first character to wear Mandalorian armor in a Star Wars film—was influenced from the “Man With No Name”—the character played by Clint Eastwood in three western movies by Sergio Leone. The same iconography inspired the design of Mando, making him a character full of mystery. Therefore, it is no coincidence that actor Pedro Pascal watched several samurai and western movies by Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone to get into the character, and was heavily inspired by Clint Eastwood in films such as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (1966). Pascal truly reached for the stars when it came to enhancing his performance: right before rehearsing for the season finale, the actor injured himself while walking out of the makeup trailer.

As he was about to film the ‘unmasking’ scene with droid IG-11, Pascal went to the hospital with his face covered in fake blood and wounds, unsurprisingly alarming the hospital personnel. Seven stitches later, however, the actor went back on set and shot the scene as originally planned, thus proving to be as tough and heroic as only a true Mandalorian would be. But Pedro Pascal was not the only one who portrayed the Mandalorian in the series. He actually modelled his performance around the physicality of his stunt doubles: Brendan Wayne, the weapons expert, who took care of the gunslinger aspect; and Lateef Crowder, the martial arts expert, who performed the fighting sequences. Therefore, the Mandalorian is the result of the work of three different people who act as one.

Cover art for The Mandalorian: Guide to Season One is presented below:

Star Wars: The Mandalorian: Guide to Season One will be released on May 18, 2021 and is available to preorder from Amazon and Forbidden Planet.

Images courtesy of Titan Comics

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Star Wars Holocron

New Details on Upcoming The High Republic Stories Revealed

by @holocronJulie for @sw_holocron

StarWars.com recently announced official descriptions and additional details for a slew of upcoming projects in Phase I, Wave II of The High Republic. After a thrilling first wave that introduced us to Force-sensitive protectors of the Republic and an ominous, burgeoning enemy in the Nihil, we’re more excited than ever about what’s to come in the era before The Phantom Menace. Check out some of the upcoming titles in The High Republic initiative below:

The High Republic #6

The sixth issue of Cavan Scott’s Marvel Comics series arrives on June 2, 2021. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “HEART OF THE DRENGIR! New story arc! The REPUBLIC FRONTIER in crisis! The JEDI of STARLIGHT BEACON join forces with their most feared enemy to face the terror of the unstoppable DRENGIR horde. AVAR KRISS and her new allies fight nightmarish creatures on a harsh lava world. Can young Jedi KEEVE TRENNIS save her former master from the darkness? Also who or what is the GREAT PROGENITOR?!”

Hidden Danger – Part 1

Titan Magazines and Justina Ireland are delivering a new story set in The High Republic era as part of Star Wars Insider #203 on June 8. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “In preparation for the Republic Fair on Valo, the Agrarian and Agricultural Alliance is having their annual seed bank conference on Starlight Beacon.  This is a chance for the agricultural experts from all over the galaxy to come together to discuss experimental farming techniques and sustainability.  Administrator Velko Jahen and Starlight Beacon’s Head of Security Ghal Tarpfen have been stressed nearly to the breaking point with ensuring the safety of the Starlight while also making certain that the conference goes off without a hitch. And the pair will be pushed to the limit when the Drengir slither onto the scene…”

The Rising Storm

Del Rey and Cavan Scott team up for a follow-up to the acclaimed Light of the Jedi in this new adult novel that releases on June 29. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Following the dramatic events of Light of the Jedi, the heroes of the High Republic era return to face a shattered peace and a fearsome foe. In the wake of the Great Hyperspace Disaster and the heroism of the Jedi, the Republic continues to grow, bringing more worlds together under a single unified banner. Led by Chancellor Lina Soh, the spirit of unity extends throughout the galaxy, with the Jedi and newly established Starlight Beacon station at the vanguard. In celebration, the chancellor plans “The Republic Fair,” a showcase of the possibility and peace of the expanding Republic—a precept the Jedi hope to foster. Stellan Gios, Bell Zettifar, Elzar Mann, and others join the event as ambassadors of harmony. But as the eyes of the galaxy turn toward the Fair, so too does the fury of the Nihil. Their leader, Marchion Ro, is intent on destroying this spirit of unity. His storm descends on the pageantry and celebration, sowing chaos and exacting revenge. As the Jedi struggle to curb the carnage of the rampaging Nihil, they come face to face with the true fear their enemy plans to unleash across the galaxy. The kind of fear that even the Force cannot shield them from.”

Race to Crashpoint Tower

Also on June 29, Daniel José Older and Disney-Lucasfilm Press are coming out with this new middle grade novel. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The Republic Fair is coming! Visitors from all over the galaxy are traveling to the planet Valo for a massive, awe-inspiring festival celebrating the Republic. While his fellow Valons prepare for the fair, Jedi Padawan Ram Jomaram is hiding out in his favorite place: a dingy garage filled with mechanical parts and tools. But when a security alarm goes off on the nearby hilltop nicknamed Crashpoint Peak, he ventures out with his trusty droid V-18 to investigate. There he discovers that someone has knocked out Valo’s communications tower—a frightening sign that Valo, and the Republic Fair, are in danger. Sure enough, as Ram races to warn the Jedi, the dreaded Nihil unleash a surprise attack! It’s up to Ram to face down the enemy at Crashpoint Tower and send a call for help to the Republic. Luckily, he’s about to get some assistance from unexpected new friends…”

The High Republic Adventures 6

Older’s fantastic High Republic Adventures series from IDW Publishing continues with the sixth issue on July 7. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “As the galaxy prepares for the Republic Fair, Qort and Farzala leave their Padawan friends to join Leox Gyasi and the crew of the Vessel on a secret mission for the Jedi. What could possibly go wrong? As it turns out: literally everything.”

Out of the Shadows

Justina Ireland delivers a YA novel following her middle-grade book Into the Dark earlier this year. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The darkest secrets are the hardest to bring to light….Sylvestri Yarrow is on a streak of bad luck with no end of sight. She’s been doing her best to keep the family cargo business going after her mom’s death, but between mounting debt and increasing attacks by the Nihil on unsuspecting ships, Syl is in danger of losing all she has left of her mother. She heads to the galactic capital of Coruscant for help, but gets sidetracked when  she’s drawn into a squabble between two of the Republic’s most powerful families over a patch of space on the frontier. Tangled up in familial politics is the last place Syl wants to be, but the promise of a big payoff is enough to keep her interested…Meanwhile, Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh has been summoned to Coruscant, but with no idea of why or by whom. She and her Padawan Imri Cantaros arrive at the capital along with Jedi Master Cohmac Vitus and his Padawan, Reath Silas—and are asked to assist with the property dispute on the frontier. But why? What is so important about an empty patch of space? The answer will lead Vernestra to a new understanding of her abilities, and take Syl back to the past…and to truths that will finally come out of the shadows.”

Tempest Runner

Following his acclaimed audio drama Dooku: Jedi Lost, Cavan Scott returns to this medium with a new audio drama from Del Rey on August 31. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “As one of Marchion Ro’s most trusted allies (well, as far as Marchion trusts anyone) Lourna Dee has carved out a place for herself as a leader among the Nihil. But it’s lonely at the top, and a Tempest Runner like Lourna is always watching her back for threats—whether those threats are from the Jedi or her fellow Nihil.”

The Edge of Balance

One of the more unique projects on the horizon is a Manga from Justina Ireland and Shima Shinya on September 7. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “In the aftermath of the Great Hyperspace Disaster, young Jedi Knight Lily Tora-Asi is assigned to help displaced civilians relocate to Banchii, a planet in the Inugg system far in the Outer Rim. While balancing the arrival of incoming settlers and teaching the Padawans on their Temple outpost, Lily must also confront an attack by the insidious Drengir and, after the events of the Republic Fair, deal with the growing threat of the Nihil. But the dangers to Lily and her Padawans are much closer than she thinks….”

Showdown at the Fair

And, finally, George Mann brings us a new storybook from Disney-Lucasfilm Press on October 5. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “The Republic Fair has come to the planet Valo, and everyone is celebrating. Until the dreaded Nihil launch a surprise attack and Burryaga the Wookiee and the other Jedi of the High Republic must save the day!”

Images courtesy of Disney, Disney-Lucasfilm Press, Del Rey, Viz, IDW Publishing, and Marvel Comics

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

How Clone Wars (2003) Could Be Made Canon

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

“There’s always a bit of truth in legends…”

Ahsoka Tano’s wise words from Star Wars Rebels may be the pathway to make Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars series canon. 

Initially released in 2003 and spanning three seasons culminating in the release of Revenge of the Sith, the Cartoon Network series featured 25 highly stylized installments showcasing different facets of the infamous Clone Wars. The series was often a stark contrast to the theatrical films, with long stretches absent of any dialogue or music whatsoever. It was also the introduction of several iconic Star Wars characters, including Asajj Ventress, Durge, and General Grievous. However, as we all know, Dave Filoni’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars series eventually superseded its predecessor, essentially deeming Tartakovsky’s show non-canon or Legends. Nonetheless, we think there’s a unique way Star Wars: Clone Wars could become canon again.

One of the reasons Star Wars: Clone Wars was branded Legends material is due to the aforementioned stylistic and tonal differences from the saga films. While Filoni’s series feels very much in sync with the prequel trilogy and the Skywalker saga more broadly in terms of tone, style, and narrative, Tartakovsky’s series just feels different. The Star Wars sense of humor we’re all used to and love is largely nowhere to be seen. Characters go long stretches without uttering a word. And the action feels like it’s more out of a stylized Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill-esque film than it does a Star Wars project. 

Beyond stylistic differences, there’s various continuity differences between the two Clone Wars series that make it difficult to reconcile Tartakovsky’s series as canon in the traditional sense. The most glaring is the total absence of Ahsoka Tano in the original series, who obviously goes on to play a central role in Filoni’s series and canon beyond that. Although some may argue Star Wars: The Clone Wars doesn’t entirely negate its predecessor, it poses some uncomfortable questions if both are deemed canon.

However, this is where Ahsoka’s nugget of wisdom from Star Wars Rebels comes in. 

Recently, Star Wars has started delving into its own canon in this weird, really interesting, meta way. George Mann wrote Myths and Fables, and later published Dark Legends, two collections of in-universe short stories. Insight Editions have came out with The Secrets of the Jedi and will soon release The Secrets of the Sith. And, more recently, Kristen Baver and DK publishing have published Skywalker: A Family at War, a kind of in-universe biography of the Skywalker family. 

All of these projects, besides just being really cool and interesting, have something in common – they’re all in-universe depictions of events. For instance, Star Wars characters will have read the stories in Myths and Fables or Dark Legends just like we have. It’s this weird, meta take on things where we, as Star Wars fans, get a glimpse into the sort of materials people living in that vast universe get their hands on. Think of Tales of the Black Freighter in Watchmen, if you know what I mean.

So, how does this relate to Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars series then? 

Well, what if the series was an in-universe depiction of the Clone Wars? Similar to George Mann’s stories and other works. Perhaps characters in the Star Wars universe watched Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars as a sort of retelling of the events that actually occurred. Not only would this explain some of the stylistic and narrative discrepancies between the 2003 series and 2008 series, but it would also mirror our real life depictions of battles and wars through media. We watch Band of Brothers as this creative, stylized dramatization of the 101st Airborne Division in World War II. We watch Platoon or Apocalypse Now as cinematic retellings of the Vietnam War. It’s conceivable that people within the Star Wars universe also watch portrayals of famous historical events, like the Clone Wars, albeit with some tweaks here and there for dramatic effect. 

Besides this kind of meta-take on Tartakovsky’s series to make it canon (sort of), there’s another way Star Wars: Clone Wars could be integrated into broader canon. 

If we take a step back, The Clone Wars as an event occurs from 22 BBY to 19 BBY, this tiny 3 year sliver in between the events of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Tartakovsky’s series spans 25 chapters, but let’s focus on Chapters 1 through 21 for a second. The first 21 of 25 chapters of the series happen roughly in 22 BBY – the first of three years of The Clone Wars. Conversely, Dave Filoni’s The Clone Wars takes us all the way up to 19 BBY and Revenge of the Sith. In the 2008 theatrical Clone Wars, Anakin is already a Jedi Knight. He doesn’t have his Padawan braid, his hair has grown. General Grievous is a threat on the Republic’s radar and already has his rough breathing. The Clone Wars is clearly full steam ahead at this point.

Where things get a little messy in canon is where both of these series end. Chapters 23 through 25 of Tarvatoksy’s series focuses on the Battle of Coruscant. We see Shaak-Ti protecting Palpatine from Grievous. Anakin is on a sort of pilgrimage. Anakin and Obi-Wan are recalled to Coruscant after a mission on Nelvaan. Anakin’s robotic hand is destroyed in this process and He has an insidious vision of  becoming Darth Vader. 

This is in contrast to Dave Filoni’s Siege of Mandalore arc. In this arc, Anakin and Obi-Wan are recalled to Coruscant while on Mandalore, not Nelvaan. Not to mention all the things that happen to Anakin in these last few episodes. It’s hard to headcanon your way around any of this.

So what’s the solution? Well, more minor discrepancies in canon aside, Star Wars can maybe take a page out of the X-Men and Terminator franchises in terms of how they selectively retcon certain things. The X-Men universe has been very loose with what constitutes canon, seemingly changing things at will to fit their narrative as it progresses. Similarly, the later few Terminator movies have cherry picked what they want (and don’t want) to be canon. Star Wars could adopt a similar approach and simply retcon Chapters 23-25 of Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars, making Chapters 1 through 21 or 22 canon. 

Or maybe smarter minds than mine could piece together in some creative fashion how both Clone Wars series could be weaved into canon seamlessly. 

Either way, Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars series lives on in the hearts of many Star Wars fans. It’s kind of an amazing position to be a Star Wars fan when we get not one, but two fantastic Clone Wars series. Whether it be making the 2003 series an in-universe depiction of the Clone Wars, or playing around with canon in retconning some, but not all installments of the series, we think there’s still a few ways the acclaimed show could be made canon.

Images courtesy of Disney and Lucasfilm