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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Ronin: A Visions Novel

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

Star Wars: Visions took fans of a galaxy far, far away by storm last month and left us eagerly awaiting more adventures in the unique and enthralling worlds created for the series. One of the highlights of Star Wars: Visions was The Duel, a beautifully crafted short film directed and written by Takashi Okazaki that followed a former Sith lord as he defended a village against a Sith bandit leader. Thankfully, this short film was only an introduction to these characters and the intriguing and innovative world they inhabit as author Emma Mieko Candon continues the story with Star Wars: Ronin – A Visions Novel, an ambitious and truly unique book that tells a Star Wars story unlike anything we’ve seen to date.

Ronin, like the short film it expands upon, does not adhere to the narratives and rules set forth in broader Star Wars canon. And author Candon embraces this freedom wholeheartedly. This is not the Jedi Order we see in the films. This is not the Empire that Palpatine commanded for decades. Even the concepts of Sith and Jedi are reconceptualized in this novel. As such, Ronin is a Star Wars story unlike any other. Candon provides some context for this twist on the Star Wars universe, but leaves much of the explanations and exposition to the reader to freely generate and interpret. While some may find this unfulfilling, it actually makes Ronin feel even more like a true Star Wars story. The original Star Wars film provides several paragraphs of text in an opening crawl before plummeting viewers into a galaxy that takes a bit of time to get used to. Explanations about the world, governments, and other features are left to comments made by characters throughout the film. The same can be said for Ronin – Candon is not spoonfeeding the audience with dense exposition, akin to George Lucas’ approach to the original Star Wars film.

Instead, Candon’s story positions the characters in the forefront. Ronin uses the events of The Duel as a set-up for a story that heads in plenty of unexpected directions. As with many great Star Wars tales, Ronin starts off as a seemingly straightforward story, but ends up covering plenty of unexpected and exciting territory. This is in large part due to Candon’s work with the titular character, a former Sith who journeys in the Outer Rim on a mysterious quest. Star Wars has a long history with villains turned good, or heroes turned bad, and Ronin continues this legacy in fine form. It’s fascinating to position an ex-Sith as the protagonist and fans of The Duel who wanted to find out more about such a cool character will be more than satisfied with how the character is handled in this novel. It also wouldn’t be Star Wars without a quirky droid, in this case a straw hat-wearing astromech named B5-56. The droid’s relationship with Ronin is superb and evokes similar relationships between Anakin and R2-D2, Ezra and Chopper, and Poe and BB-8.

Where Ronin excels perhaps more than ever is its ability to honor the legacy of Star Wars and Japanese culture so seamlessly. Like The Duel, Ronin plays out like a calculated intersection between A New Hope and an Akira Kurosawa film like Seven Samurai. Despite being a novel and, therefore, deprived of the visual medium at Kurosawa’s disposal, Candon miraculously manages to capture what a Kurosawa / Star Wars story novel would be like. The book is filled to the brim with references to and inspirations from Japanese culture, in addition to many easter eggs and references to Star Wars lore fans will love. Also of note, Candon takes LBGTQ+ representation in Star Wars to another level in Ronin. The franchise has slowly but surely introduced queer relationships and non-binary characters in recent years, and Ronin furthers this representation with a host of fleshed out characters and relationships.

Verdict:

Star Wars Ronin: A Visions Novel is a must-read for fans of The Duel and the Star Wars: Visions series overall. Emily Mieko Candon’s book marks a refreshing and stark departure, both in style and world-building, from previous Star Wars stories in telling a tale that beautifully interweaves Japanese and Star Wars influences into a cohesive tale. Ronin is driven by a host of intriguing and fleshed-out characters that take the reader on a journey to some pretty unexpected places. All in all, Ronin: A Visions Novel is our favorite Star Wars book of the year to date.

Images courtesy of Del Rey

Star Wars Visions: Ronin is available to purchase on Tuesday October 12th!

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Star Wars Holocron

EXCLUSIVE LOOK: Star Wars Insider: Fiction Collection Vol. 2

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

Star Wars Insider, the official Star Wars magazine, has an exciting collection of Legends and canon stories hitting bookshelves next month. Star Wars Insider: Fiction Collection Vol. 2 featuring stories that will take you from the Battle of Endor to the desolate world of Jakku. The stories cover both Legends and canon, and feature popular characters such as Hondo Ohnaka, Lando Calrissian, Asajj Ventress, and Princess Leia. Written by renowned best-selling Star Wars authors including Alan Dean Foster, Mur Lafferty, Alexander Freed, David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams, this volume also includes stunning art from several of the saga’s best-loved interpreters, including Brian Rood, Joe Corroney, Brian Miller, Chris Trevas, and Chris Scalf.

Check out an exclusive preview of THE LAST BATTLE OF COLONEL JACE MALCOM, a story featured in the collection by Alexander Freed with art from David Rabbitte.

T-MINUS SEVEN HOURS.

The dying man’s armor dripped with sweat in the fog, beads of moisture – not water, never water on this planet – forming on the white plastoid chestplate and dripping onto the ground. The dying man himself was propped against a rock, and Sergeant Immel crouched above him as she fumbled to resecure his helmet. “He out, Colonel,” she said. “Autodoc pegs him at critical.”

Jace Malom watched the horizon. Through his helmet’s display filters, the fog seemed to dissolve before the yellow sky and rocky cliffs, then snapped back into place as the filter tech gave up with an electronic shrug. No further enemy presence. At least, nothing obvious.

“You’re call,” Jace said. “His tracer functional?”

“It works. What about vultures?”

“If the Empire has time to send vultures, it means we failed the mission.”

Not true, of course. The black-suited troopers could flock to the battlefield at any time – death’s own heralds, following med tracers to find their victims. But Immel knew the odds, so Jace could afford the lie.

“Why me?” Immel asked.

“Special Forces is here to advise, and I’m glad to be an extra gun. But in the field, the game’s yours.”

“You’re lowlife scum, Colonel Malcom.”

“SpecForce is nothing but.”

Jade watched Immel. Her armored shoulders rose and fell as she took a long breath, then, silent, leaned over her dying comrade and thumbed a device on his belt. Her voice crackled through Jace’s helmet comlink a moment later.

“All teams, we’re pressing on.”

Immel plucked her rifle out of the dust and started checking its readouts. Jace knelt beside the dying man and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“Corporal Amden vor Keioidian. You did the Republic proud. You did all of us proud. And we’ll be back for you.”

Jace stood, nodded to Immel, and they slunk off together into the fog, rifles cradled close. Immel didn’t look back, and Jace smiled bitterly, feeling the expression blunted by the scars on his face. She’d made the right call. She might end up a decent leader after all.

Then again, he thought, she’d better. The troops were going to need someone to look up to, and he didn’t have much time left.

T-MINUS FOUR HOURS

The battlefield narrowed to a series of canyons, channelling the fog like a riverbed.

Kalandis Seven’s gravity – low enough to make stone-tossing a sprot at base, high enough to ensure that a fall was still painful – made the march easier, but no less tedious.

Breaking the long silence came static-distorted cheering over Jace’s comlink. Children shrieked and fireworks popped, each accompanied by a blast of white noise. In one motion, not breaking stride as they traversed the barren landscape, Jace and Immel lowered the volume level on their helmet comms.

The propaganda broadcast overrode all channels every hour, blared by Republic Strategic Information Service agents in orbit. This time, it was another news report on the Empire’s withdrawn from Corellia and the Core Worlds. A genuine, unadulterated victory for the Republic, but one very far away from the Kalandis system, and not the first apparent victory Jace had seen in career.

It was forty years now, he thought – kept thinking every day at different times, when some private showed off his first scar in the mess hall or while reviewing specs for the hundredth variation of some starfighter – forty years since the Sith Empire had come to conquer the galaxy, and he’d been fighting ever since.

He supposed he wouldn’t be fighting much longer.

Immel’s voice cut through commentary on the Supreme Chancellor’s latest speech. “Target in sight.”

They had emerged from the narrow mouth of a canyon onto a cracked plain, where the silhouettes of dark spires stretched skyward behind the fog. 

“We’ve reached the spaceport,” Immel continued, adjusting her comlink. “All teams, report in.”

Jace listened to the crackling voices speak up, one by one, as he unslung a satchel and checked the contents. He knew the soldier’s names (Zenhai, Kayle, Min-Reva), had met most of them (Eron collected antique music recordings; Camur had a caf allergy), had even hand-selected a few for this mission (Yennir of the Green saw through fog like glass). They were young and stupid and brave, and he could think or worse men and women to serve with.

“Ready to go?” Immel asked.

Jace nodded and tossed Immel the satchel. 

“Beacons charged and ready. Plant them on the targets and the fog won’t matter – our fighter wing will know exactly where to drop the payload.”

“Assuming the pilots aren’t making out with their droids back at base. You done this before?”

“Bomb a spaceport? More times than I can count.”

“What’re the odds they won’t rebuild tomorrow?”

Jace shrugged his shoulders. “I can think of worse ways for the Imps to blow resources.”

Taking out a spaceport would be a major step in securing Kalandis, even if it did get rebuilt. Even if there were a dozen other Imp bases on the planet. Jace had put together the plan himself.

But Immel wasn’t wrong to wonder what good it would do.

Keep lying to her, Jace thought. You have an example to set.

The spaceport was a mixture of flat metal landing pads, squat command bunkers, and slender control towers. Jace and Immel made their approach together, silent, observing the enemy patrols – pairs of Imperial troopers clad in black and red. The fog made avoiding the enemy easy enough, until the head of a landing starship blasted the fog away, whipping a scorching, misty wall across Jace and a nearby patrol.

The Imperials hadn’t turned, hadn’t noticed anything before Jace’s blaster bolts burned twin holes in the backs of their suits. The roar of the starship’s engines continued as Jace and Immel rushed to drag the bodies under a half-repaired Imperial fighter.

One of the bodies groaned as the engine roar began to fade. Immel pressed the barrel of her rifle to the back of the man’s helmet and pulled the trigger before rolling the corpse into the fighter’s shadow. “Mercy shot,” she muttered.

Either way, Jace thought.

Immel withdrew a beacon and clipped it to a nearby power terminal as the fog rushed back in. Jace squinted and adjusted his helmet’s filters, looking in the direction of the vessel that had just landed.

“Southern tower is fifty meters that way,” Immel said. “Prime target – you plan to help?”

Jace didn’t turn, continuing to stare toward the looming shadow of the starship through the fog. It was too large to be a bomber. Sleeker hull shape than most transports. “How are we doing for time?” he asked.

Jace swore, then jutted a thumb in the direction of the starship. “All right – we’re adjusting the plan. That thing that just landed? Pretty sure it’s a planetary command ship on a refuelling run.”

Immel moved to Jace’s side and knelt, gesturing for him to follow suit. “Another patrol,” she said. “Keep talking.”

“Ship’ll be gone by the time our fighters arrive, but if we could capture that thing? It’s navicomputer could point us to every Imp target on the planet.”

Immel glanced at the power terminal where the metal disc of the targeting beacon hummed quietly. 

“Whole blasted world would be a blue milk run,” she agreed. “But we’re not equipped for a boarding action.”

“We’re not,” Jace said, “and we don’t have a lot of spare firepower, but we’re not losing this chance.”

Immel paused.

“Sir,” she said. “I’m in command of these men, and I’m not sending them–“

Good woman, Jace thought, even as he interrupted her.

“You’re not sending them anywhere. You finish the mission, and I go in alone. Won’t draw attention that way.”

And it’s not a bad way to go out, either, he added silently.

——-

Images courtesy of Titan Comics

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: Visions

by @HolocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

“It’s like poetry, it rhymes.” George Lucas’ iconic and frequently referenced quote about what makes Star Wars so special resonates now, perhaps more than ever, with the newest series on Disney+ that draws upon the earliest influences on a galaxy far, far away.

Amidst the host of upcoming Star Wars shows on the horizon, Star Wars: Visions always stood out as being the boldest and most stylistically project in development. Yet, it’s unfortunate that many projects tipped to be novel and interesting fail to live up to expectations. Thankfully, this is not the case with the newest Star Wars series hitting Disney+. Star Wars: Visions is a Japanese anime anthology series that marks a collaboration between Lucasfilm Animation and six of Japan’s most acclaimed animation studies. This collaboration culminates in a poetic full circle, an emotional and unexpected journey that beautifully uses the Japanese film and culture that influenced Star Wars in the first place to take the franchise in new and daring directions.

Star Wars: Visions offers a surprising amount of creative liberty to those behind the scenes. The nine short films that compose this series have a nebulous position in canon to say the least, which allows each of the animation studios to take their stories and characters in whichever direction they please. Ultimately, some episodes are stronger than others, but this is the nature of an anthology series like this. Tatooine Rhapsody, for instance, is a frenetic journey of a band rescuing their friend from Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett with the power of their music. Meanwhile, stories like The Duel and The Elder adopt a much slower, more deliberate pace in delivering mature, cinematic Star Wars adventures. The sheer variety, both in style and story, of the nine episodes is commendable. No single episode is like another and you never know what to expect when the next episode kicks into gear.

Speaking of the creative liberties afforded to the studios behind the scenes, it’s surprising how bold Visions really is. Some installments, such as T0-B1, feel so unlike the Star Wars that we’re used to that this show has completely changed our definition of what a Star Wars story can entail. It’s not an exaggeration to say Visions is unlike anything we’ve seen before in Star Wars. Yes, some may say this is because Visions does not adhere to canon in any way. Nonetheless, Visions is refreshing and exciting.

A particular highlight of the series is The Duel. Billed as “an alternate history pulled from Japanese lore,” The Duel is directed by Takanobu Mizuno and animated by Kamikaze Douga and tells the story of a Ronin who takes a stand against a Sith Bandit Leader and her mercenaries. The short film is in black-and-white, with the exception of a few startling bursts of color, including the red hue of lightsabers. The Duel is largely devoid of music, using long stretches of silence to build tension in a manner similar to Gendry Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars series. It feels as if you’re watching an animated Akira Kurosawa film that is tenuously related to the Star Wars universe. In fact, remove the lightsabers and it would be easy to mistake The Duel as a completely unrelated project. And yet, somehow, The Duel feels distinctly Star Wars. The punchy dialogue, the quirky droid companion, the culture on display – this is truly an intersection of modern Star Wars and Japanese cinema. Thankfully, we don’t need to wait much longer for more adventures in this world as Del Rey Books and author Emma Mieka Candon have a new novel titled Ronin: A Visions Novel building upon The Duel’s story.

The Elder, from Studio Trigger and director Masahiko Otsuka, is another standout installment of the series. The short film follows Jedi Master Tajin (voiced in David Harbour in the English-speaking version) and his apprentice Dan (voiced by Jordan Fisher) in a story set sometime before The Phantom Menace. The Master and apprentice are trekking through the galaxy when they feel a dark presence on a nearby planet and investigate, only to have a run-in with a Sith. Tajin, Dan, and the titular Elder are some of the most exciting characters introduced in Star Wars: Visions and we’re desperate to see more of them in the future. Tajin evokes the composure and comfort of Alec Guinness’ Ben Kenobi or Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon, while Dan represents the confident and buoyant apprentice who has to confront his hubris in the face of an unnatural evil. The Elder, brilliantly voiced by legend James Hong, could easily be a character from a Star Wars-themed horror film. The character is threatening, ominous, and brings a level of menace not seen in other episodes of Visions. Fans of darker Star Wars stories will love this episode.

The breadth of Star Wars: Visions’ stories means different episodes are likely to appeal to different viewers. And, honestly, there is nothing wrong with this. One of the hallmarks of Star Wars is that, amidst this vast universe, fans are drawn to a variety of different themes, tones, characters, and plots. Some may find The Ninth Jedi and it’s exploration of Jedi Knights after The Rise of Skywalker to be particularly fascinating, while others may find the relationships of Lop and Ochō in their story set between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope to be compelling and emotionally resonant.

Verdict: 8.75/10

Star Wars: Visions is unlike anything we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe to date. Given Japanese film and cinema’s immeasurable influence on the franchise, Visions feels like things come full circle in a manner that would make George Lucas proud. Some episodes, such as The Duel and The Elder, are stronger than others, but each is aesthetically and narratively different and bolstered by jaw-dropping animation and voice-acting – so much so that many episodes will leave you begging to see these characters again. All in all, Visions feels like Star Wars at its most experimental and unregulated, something we think fans will embrace.

Images courtesy of Disney+ and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron

EXCLUSIVE LOOK: Star Wars Insider 205

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

This month’s issue of Star Wars Insider celebrates the launch of Star Wars: Visions and features a host of exciting and insightful content from a galaxy, far, far away. Featuring Part 1 of a new The High Republic story by Cavan Scott, interviews with the brilliant Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and visual effects veteran Nilo Rodis-Jamero, an interesting ‘what if?’ analysis into what would’ve occurred had secrets been uncovered sooner, and more,, the newest issue hits bookstands on Tuesday September 21! Check out the exclusive preview below!

Japan and the Jedi

What better way to celebrate the debut of Star Wars: Visions than to reflect on the immense influence Japanese culture and film have had on the Star Wars universe. Star Wars Insider examines the relationship between Star Wars and Japan from its origins to present day.

Chaos and the Corellian

Han Solo remains one of the most iconic characters in Star Wars, and film, history. Unlike other, more calculated characters, Han’s journey has been unpredictable and taken tons of twists and turns as a result of the chaos the smuggler and eventual Rebel hero seems to thrive in. Star Wars Insider 205 takes a look at five pivotal periods in the chaotic Corellian’s adventurous life.

The High Republic: Part Mistakes – Part 1 by Cavan Scott

Star Wars veteran Cavan Scott continues to deliver epic tale after epic tale in 2021 and his terrific track-record continues with a short story in this month’s issue of Star Wars Insider. Check out some beautiful imagery from the story below!

STAR WARS INSIDER #205 is on sale: Tuesday September 21

U.S. / CANADA SUBSCRIPTIONS

U.K. SUBSCRIPTIONS

REST OF THE WORLD SUBSCRIPTIONS

DIGITAL SUBSCRIPTIONS

Images courtesy of Titan Comics

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Tempest Runner

by @holocronJosh for @sw_holocron

Since The High Republic’s debut, much attention has (deservedly) been on the incredible, diverse host of Jedi at the heart of these stories. But, hovering under the radar (both in stories and among fan conversations), are the Nihil – a truly underrated collection of villains unlike anything we’ve seen in the Star Wars universe. In Tempest Runner, the newest audio drama by Cavan Scott from Del Rey Publishing, the emphasis is placed on one member of the Nihil in particular – Lourna Dee – in a captivating and ruthless story.

Lourna Dee made her debut in Charles Soule’s Light of the Jedi that kicked off The High Republic publishing initiative. When we first meet her, Dee is a mysterious and fordimible Twi’lek Tempest Runner that, most recently, came head-to-head with Jedi on Valo and was more than a match for her opposition. Amidst the vast array of characters in Light of the Jedi and The Rising Storm, we’re given little insight into the inner-workings of Lourna Dee, something Tempest Runner explores in intense fashion.

Cavan Scott intelligently structures the audio drama by interweaving a series of flashbacks as Lourna is captured and interrogated by Republic officials. Events from other High Republic works are retold at times, but now from Lourna’s unique point-of-view, which is a refreshing contrast to the different perspectives we’ve seen before. There’s a brutality and ruthlessness in Tempest Runner that feels fresh and exciting, which is counterbalanced by the tragedy and heartbreak of Lourna’s origin story. In detailing Lourna’s motivations and background, her inclusion in previous High Republic stories is put in an entirely new context. Lourna is not merely another ruthless space pirate – there’s a depth to her character that Scott brings to life as he chronicles her downward trajectory from royalty to enslavement and, eventually, to the Nihil.

The production value of Tempest Runner helps bring this captivating story to life. The voice work by Jessica Almasy really brings Lourna Dee to life, and actors Marc Thompson and Jonathan Davis offer interesting takes on Marchion and Asgar Ro respectively. One’s enjoyment of Tempest Runner may ultimately come down to their taste or distaste for audiobooks. While the production is fantastic, some may prefer to wait until Tempest Runner is released in script format as other Del Rey audio dramas like Dooku: Jedi Lost and Doctor Aphra have been.

Verdict:

Tempest Runner is another impressive addition to the High Republic publishing initiative that adds significantly to the character Lourna Dee. In an unexpectedly emotional and traumatic story, author Cavan Scott sheds new light on a character that we previously barely scratched the surface of, but, now, can’t wait to see more of.

Images courtesy of Del Rey and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance, Vol. 1

by @holocronJulie for @sw_holocron

Japanese culture and cinema had an immeasurable influence on George Lucas in his creation of Star Wars and now, almost half a century later, things come full circle with Japanese artists bringing Star Wars to life in new and exciting ways. Authors Shima Shinya and Justina Ireland and artist Mizuki Sakakibara team up for The High Republic: The Edge of Balance, Vol, 1, the first in a new canon manga series from Viz Media. The Edge of Balance follows Jedi Knight Lily Tora-Asi in the aftermath of the Hyperspace Disaster depicted in Light of the Jedi and around the time of the Republic Fair attack on Valo. Lily is tasked with helping people displaced from the Hyperspace Disaster on a remote planet in the Outer Rim when hidden threats emerge…

Taking a step back, a project like The Edge of Balance showcases how brilliant it is to see the Star Wars universe brought to life in creative, different mediums. Various Star Wars stories have been explored in manga, but none in the High Republic era and none that have felt so raw and connected to the Japanese influences of Star Wars. Any qualms with the somewhat pedestrian story of The Edge of Balance are quashed by the sheer novelty of this medium of storytelling and the beautiful intersection of manga and Star Wars.

Much of The Edge of Balance works due to our lead: Lily Tora-Asi. Lily feels like a character straight from a classic manga and it’s interesting to see the Japanese manga aesthetic used to depict a new collection of Star Wars characters. The Japanese influence doesn’t stop there. The planet Banchii that is at the heart of this story would not be out of place in a Kurosawa film.

Although there is clearly more to be told in this story, The Edge of Balance does a serviceable job with its narrative. The sheer intensity and raw emotionality seen in other High Republic works like Light of the Jedi and The Rising Storm is absent here, but this is to be expected given the manga’s target audience and the amount of storytelling that can be covered in Volume 1. It feels as if we’re just getting started with this story and there’s going to be more than meets the eye with the Drengir and the Nihil moving forward, but, for now, the beautiful artwork, terrific lead, and Japanese influences make The Edge of Balance a worthy read for Star Wars fans.

Images courtesy of Viz Media and Lucasfilm

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Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Life Day Treasury

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

As summer comes to an end and the festive period gets closer and closer, Star Wars fans can start their holiday preparations early this season with Life Day Treasury, a collection of holiday short stories from a galaxy far, far away. George Mann and Grant Griffin team up once again, and have best-selling Star Wars veteran Cavan Scott with them, with a beautifully designed and intimate array of in-universe stories that brilliantly complements previous works Myths & Fables and Dark Legends.

After years of ignoring the brilliance (and insanity) of the iconic The Star Wars Holiday Special, Star Wars has started to explore the Life Day holiday again in a few interesting ways. The Wookie holiday celebrated by Chewbacca and family on Kashyyyk in the Holiday Special has been referenced in The Mandalorian a few times and was the centerpiece of last year’s The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. And now, Mann, Scott, and Griffin shed new light on this holiday and other winter-themed festivities with their most recent work.

Life Day Treasury benefits from its unique storytelling perspective that we previously experienced with Myths & Fables and Dark Legends. The newest collection of 8 short stories are, once again, a refreshing shift away from the structure of Star Wars canon. These are not stories that are meant to be read for adding vital details into the Star Wars timeline, but, rather, offer an interesting meta-esque take on the Star Wars universe. It’s really interesting and insightful for us, as readers, to experience the types of fairy tales and holiday stories that people in the Star Wars universe would also be exposed to. In doing so, Life Day Treasury contributes an incredible amount of depth to various cultures, species, and characters. For instance, the short story ‘The Kroolok’ focuses on Ewoks like Wicket and Weechee during the winter season on Endor in a clever, humorous, and suspenseful story that showcase a slice of Ewok culture we previously haven’t seen.

Another neat thing about the storytelling structure of Life Day Treasury is that it enables its authors to hop around the Star Wars timeline and focus on a variety of holiday-themed tales. The opening story ‘A Coruscant Solstice’ follows Stellan Gios during the High Republic era while tackling a situation at Coruscant’s Solstice Tide festivities. Other stories like ‘An Old Hope’ switch gears entirely, focusing on a lost astromech droid who trades stories with captives on a Jawa sandcrawler. The sheer diversity across the stories is commendable, and there’s something for every kind of Star Wars fan in this collection. Although the stories will appeal to children, stories like ‘The Song of Winter’s Heart’ explore mature themes and pose interesting questions about loyalty and friendship. In this sense, Life Day Treasury does what the best Star Wars projects do – it appeals to everyone, different readers will take away and enjoy different aspects of the project.

Similar to its spiritual predecessors, Life Day Treasury would not be what it is without the meticulously crafted artwork of Grant Griffin. Each short story is accompanied by a single image that sets the stage for the story that follows and offers a terrific visual reference throughout. Griffin’s work across Star Wars projects is jaw-dropping to say the least, and Life Day Treasury is up there with some of his best work. Every image is worthy of hanging up on your wall and it’s easy to just get lost in examining and appreciating the artwork on display in this book. Mann and Scott evoke the holiday season in the tales they tell, and Griffin really makes this feel like a holiday event worth celebrating.

Verdict:

Life Day Treasury is another impressive collection of short stories from Disney-Lucasfilm Press. Fans of Myths & Fables and Dark Legends will love the tales and artwork on display here, while newcomers to this style of storytelling will appreciate the emotional depths and clever plots each story has to offer. Needless to say, it’s only September, but Life Day Treasury has us eagerly awaiting this year’s holiday season in a galaxy far, far away.

Images courtesy of Disney-Lucasfilm Press and artist Grant Griffin

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Star Wars Holocron

What’s New in Star Wars – September 2021

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

The dramatic conclusion to The Bad Batch’s first season capped off a great August for Star Wars fans, and the content doesn’t slow down as we head into September. From a brand new show on Disney+ to the continuation of the terrific War of the Bounty Hunters series and more, there’s a host of interesting stories and characters to feast on over the next few weeks. Take a look ahead at some of the exciting new releases coming from a galaxy far, far away this month. It is important to note that release dates are subject to change.

September 1 – The High Republic 9

Cavan Scott takes his The High Republic series for Marvel Comics in a different direction with its upcoming ninth issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A NEW STORY BEGINS THIS ISSUE – THE SHADOW OF THE NIHIL! Following the terrible events of The Rising Storm, the villainous NIHIL are in retreat, hunted by THE JEDI. WAYSEEKER KNIGHT ORLA JARENI is attacked by a lone Nihil Stormship in deep space, a Stormship commanded by one of the Jedi’s own. Which of STARLIGHT BEACON’S number have joined the Nihil Horde? And how far will they turn from the Light?”

September 1 – The High Republic Adventures 8

Also in the High Republic era this month is Daniel Jose Older’s fantastic The High Republic Adventures series for IDW Publishing. The publisher’s summary for the upcoming eighth issue is as follows: “Back together and safe on the Starlight, Lula, Zeen, Farzala, and Qort recover from their adventures on the Junk Moon and Nal Hutta, but a new challenge awaits them in the form of an old friend. Meanwhile, Marchion Ro encourages Krix’s violent obsessions, leading to an attack on Takodana!”

September 7 – Life Day Treasury

George Mann has delivered great short story collections in the Star Wars universe with Myths & Fables and Dark Legends and looks to do the same with his upcoming collaboration with Cavan Scott and Grant Griffin celebrating the holiday of Life Day. The publisher’s summary for the Disney-Lucasfilm Press release is as follows: “Cozy up with this collection of holiday-themed midwinter stories from throughout the galaxy far, far away! From George Mann and Grant Griffin, the same team that brought us the stunning Star Wars: Myths & Fables and Star Wars: Dark Legends–with the addition of best-selling author Cavan Scott–this collection of eight myths and fables told around winter fires and high-tech heating pods across the galaxy will bring holiday joy to young and old Star Wars fans alike. From Jedi in the city to Ewoks in the forest, from Wookiees to droids, in this charming collection you will find holiday feasts, ghostly apparitions, snowy adventures, and much more. Ultimately these are stories of hope in the darkest of days. Of family, found and otherwise. Of kindness. And of love.”

September 7 – Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance, Vol. 1

The High Republic era is explored in a new format with an upcoming manga series written by Mizuki Sakakibara and Justina Ireland from Viz Media. 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….”

September 7 – Dark Force Rising – The Essential Legends Collection

Del Rey’s Essential Legends Collection continues with the second installment of Timothy Zahn’s iconic Thrawn trilogy. The publisher’s summary for the re-release is as follows: “Five years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the fragile Republic that was born with the defeat of Darth Vader, the Emperor, and the infamous Death Star stands threatened from within and without. The dying Empire’s most cunning and ruthless warlord—Grand Admiral Thrawn—has taken command of the remnants of the Imperial fleet and launched a massive campaign aimed at the Republic’s destruction. With the aid of unimaginable weapons long hidden away by the Emperor on a backwater planet, Thrawn plans to turn the tide of the battle, overwhelm the New Republic, and impose his iron rule throughout the galaxy. Meanwhile, dissension and personal ambition threaten to tear the Republic apart. As Princess Leia—pregnant with Jedi twins—risks her life to bring a proud and lethal alien race into alliance with the Republic, Han and Lando Calrissian race against time to find proof of treason inside the highest Republic Council—only to discover instead a ghostly fleet of warships that could bring doom to their friends and victory to their enemies. But most dangerous of all is a new Dark Jedi, risen from the ashes of a shrouded past, consumed by bitterness…and thoroughly, utterly insane. Now he schemes to use his awesome mastery of the Force to summon young Skywalker, allay his misgivings, cunningly enthrall him, and ultimately corrupt him to the Dark Side. A tale of brilliant spectacle, startling revelations, and tumultuous action, Dark Force Rising moves with the speed of light across a dazzling epic landscape of galactic proportions, from world to world, from adventure to adventure, as Good and Evil clash across the vastness of space “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….”

September 7 – Darth Bane: Rule of Two – The Essential Legends Collection

Also debuting as part of Del Rey’s Essential Legends Collection this month is Darth Bane: Rule of Two, the follow-up novel to Darth Bane: Path of Destruction. The publisher’s summary for Drew Karpyshyn’s novel is as follows: “Now Darth Bane is ready to put his policy into action, and he thinks he has found the key element that will make his triumph complete: a student to train in the ways of the dark side. Though she is young, Zannah possesses an instinctive link to the dark side that rivals his own. With his guidance, she will become essential in his quest to destroy the Jedi and dominate the galaxy. There is one who is determined to stop Darth Bane: Johun Othone, Padawan to Jedi Master Lord Hoth, who died at Bane’s hands in the last great Sith War. Though the rest of the Jedi scoff at him, Johun’s belief that there are surviving Sith on the loose is unshakeable. As Johun continues his dogged pursuit of the man who killed his master, Zannah, faced unexpectedly with a figure from her past, begins to question her embrace of the dark side. And Darth Bane is led by Force–induced visions of a moon where he will acquire astonishing new knowledge and power—power that will alter him in ways he could never have imagined…”

September 7 – X-Wing: Rogue Squadron – The Essential Legends Collection

The first installment in the X-Wing series of novels by Michael A. Stackpole sees a re-release in Del Rey’s Essential Legends Collection. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “They are sleek, swift, and deadly. They are the X-wing fighters. And as the struggle rages across the vastness of space, the fearless men and women who pilot them risk both their lives and their machines. Their mission: to defend the Rebel Alliance against a still-powerful and battle-hardened Imperial foe in a last-ditch effort to control the stars! Its very name strikes fear into enemy hearts. So when Rebel hero Wedge Antilles rebuilds the legendary Rogue Squadron, he seeks out only the best-the most skilled, the most daring X-wing pilots. Through arduous training and dangerous missions, he weeds out the weak from the strong, assembling a group of hard-bitten warriors to fight, ready to die. Antilles knows the grim truth: that even with the best X-wing jockeys in the galaxy, many will not survive their near-suicidal missions. But when Rogue Squadron is ordered to assist in the assault on the heavily fortified Imperial stronghold of Black Moon, even the bravest must wonder if any at all will survive…”

September 7 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian Sticker Art Puzzles

The Mandalorian Seasons 1 and 2 are featured in an upcoming children’s activity and reference book. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A new type of puzzle from a galaxy far, far away puts characters from The Mandalorian into your hands. Stick the puzzle pieces into their proper place to create 15 full-color scenes worthy of being displayed! If you can’t get enough of Mando and Grogu(TM), these 15 sticker puzzles featuring scenes from seasons1 [sic] and 2 of the hit television series The Mandalorian will take you on an adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Each puzzle contains more than 100 sticker shapes to be fitted into a tessellated grid—as the stickers are put in place, full-color artworks of your favorite Mandalorian characters, locales, and memorable moments will emerge. When you’re done, you’ll have a spectacular glossy art poster to display. This is the way.”

September 7 – Star Wars: The High Republic Vol. 1 – There is No Fear

Issues 1-5 of Cavan Scott’s The High Republic series is collected in a forthcoming trade paperback titled There is No Fear. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A new era of Star Wars storytelling begins! Journey back to the High Republic — the golden age of the Jedi! Centuries before the Empire and the Skywalker saga, the Jedi are at their height, protecting the galaxy as Republic pioneers push out into new territories. But as the frontier prepares for the dedication of the majestic Starlight Beacon, Padawan Keeve Trennis faces the ultimate choice — will she complete her Jedi trials, or rescue the innocent from disaster? And can she trust her closest ally? Enter a rich and vast world of new Jedi! New worlds! New ships! And new evils to fight — including the terrifying Nihil!”

September 8 – War of the Bounty Hunters 4

War of the Bounty Hunters continues in the penultimate issue by Charles Soule. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE WAR CONTINUES! The true machinations of the theft of HAN SOLO from BOBA FETT become clear, as one-time love of Solo QI’RA has returned her terrifying criminal organization, CRIMSON DAWN, to the galaxy. Qi’ra used Han to bring the most powerful players in the galaxy together, and now the pieces are moving toward their endgame. DARTH VADER, LUKE SKYWALKER, LEIA ORGANA, VALANCE, APHRA, THE HUTTS – all are vying for the ultimate prize, while Boba Fett’s stuck in the middle, a simple man just trying to get what’s his!”

September 8 – Doctor Aphra (2020) 14

The adventures of Sana Starros and Doctor Aphra continue in the 14th issue of Alyssa Wong’s series. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “REPEAT OFFENDERS. DOCTOR APHRA and SANA STARROS are imprisoned by a POWERFUL ENEMY! If they want to escape, they’ll have to work together with former foes JUST LUCKY and ARIOLE… And venture deeper into the heart of a CRIMSON DAWN FLAGSHIP!”

September 8 – Star Wars Adventures 9

Michael Moreci and Vita Ayala collaborate for the latest issue of Star Wars Adventures, spotlighting Mace Windu and Boba Fett. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Mace Windu and his Lightning Squadron land on the planet Ridlay, which has gone mysteriously dark, expecting a Separatist attack. But what they find instead is a surprise to them all. Then, Boba Fett makes his Star Wars Adventures debut as he clashes with Han Solo in the time before Episode IV!”

September 14 – Rebel Hero Journal

Studio Fun International and author Calliope Glass are bringing out a new in-universe journal focusing on Leia, Ahsoka, and Rey. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “In a galaxy far, far away, young female rebels like Princess Leia, Ahsoka, and Rey have always done everything they could to stand up for what was right. Discover exactly what makes these brave heroes so special in this beautifully illustrated prompted journal. Young Star Warsfans [sic] will be encouraged to embrace their own heroic traits and learn that they, too, can be a rebel.”

September 14 – Star Wars: The Galactic Advent Calendar

Celebrate the holidays with Insight Editions’ advent calendar this season! The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Filled with more than thirty surprises spread out over twenty-five days, Star Wars: The Galactic Advent Calendar is the perfect gift for any Star Wars fan. Celebrate the holidays and your favorite Star Wars moments with this advent calendar packed with a galaxy’s worth of exclusive trinkets.”

September 15 – War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh 1

At last, the origins of the bounty hunter Boushh are revealed in this newest War of the Bounty Hunters one-shot by Alyssa Wong. THe publisher’s summary is as follows: “Before PRINCESS LEIA acquired his armor to infiltrate Jabba the Hutt’s palace, BOUSHH roamed the galaxy as a bounty hunter. He and his team of lethal warriors were exiled from their homeworld; but what horrible event from Boushh’s past doomed them all to wander with no hope of ever returning? Desperate to survive, Boushh takes a suspicious job from a shadowy organization to assassinate DOMINA TAGGE, the leader of the powerful Tagge Family – a galactic dynasty stretching back countless generations. But Domina is the most dangerous enemy Boushh has ever faced, and the desperate exile has the most difficult choice of his life to make! ALYSSA WONG and David Baldeón’s one-shot is the third of four action-packed War of the Bounty Hunters tie-ins about the criminal underworld’s most notorious hunters and scoundrels, all told by the best STAR WARS writers and illustrators in the galaxy.”

September 15 – Darth Vader (2020) 16

Follow Vader’s relentless pursuit of his son Luke in the newest issue of the Darth Vader series by Greg Pak. The publisher’s summary for the upcoming 16th issue is as follows: “TARGET SKYWALKER. All of DARTH VADER’S careful scheming and brutal power moves to claim HAN SOLO’S frozen body have one ultimate end goal: LUKE SKYWALKER, the only person who could challenge Vader’s primacy at the Emperor’s side. Now everything comes to a head as father closes in on son and Luke finally grasps a shocking truth……one that will shape his destiny FOREVER!”

September 15 – The High Republic Adventures — The Monster of Temple Peak 2

The Cavan Scott Star Wars content keeps coming this month with the second issue of The Monster of Temple Peak miniseries set during the High Republic era. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Follow former Jedi turned saber-for-hire monster hunter Ty Yorrick in this adventure-packed High Republic miniseries by Cavan Scott and Rachael Stott! Ty begins the trek up Temple Peak, but the mountain’s hungry creatures and slippery edges put her rusty Force skills to the test. Dangerous monsters, cliffs, and battles are second nature for Ty, though. But dealing with people? Well, that may be the hardest part of her mission…”

September 22 – Star Wars: Visions

As Kathleen Kennedy stated during Disney Investor Day 2020, “Star Wars: Visions will be a series of animated short films celebrating the Star Wars galaxy through the lens of the world’s best anime creators. This anthology collection will bring ten fantastic visions from several of the leading Japanese anime studios, offering a fresh and diverse cultural perspective to Star Wars.” The upcoming animated series will comprise nine anime-inspired short films from various famous Japanese animation studios.

September 22 – Bounty Hunters 16

Ethan Sacks’ consistently gripping Bounty Hunters series intersects with the War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event yet again in this upcoming 16th issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “SHADOW SOLDIERS. VALANCE and DENGAR make a last stand against DEATHSTICK! T’ONGA seeks help from a LEGENDARY BOUNTY HUNTER! The bounty hunters converge on a high-stakes auction as CRIMSON DAWN’S plans come into focus!”

September 22 – Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle 1

Zombie droids in Star Wars? That’s what’s in store for the debut issue of Ghosts of Vader’s Castle. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Join Creepy Cavan Scott, Frightening Francesco Francavilla, and a host of eerie Star Wars artists in the epic conclusion to the Vader’s Castle saga! Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle is a horror-packed, star-studded, five-week event guaranteed to haunt your dreams. In issue #1, life is looking up for Lina and Milo Graf and Crater, but Milo has been having nightmares… about zombie droids! Find out what’s causing these dreams and if Milo can handle being haunted by the GHOSTS OF VADER’S CASTLE.”

September 28 – Star Wars Insider: The Fiction Collection Volume 2

A new collection of Star Wars Legends and canon short stories are debuting in a special issue of Star Wars Insider this month. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Star Wars Insider, the official magazine of the Star Wars saga, presents a stunning collection of exclusive tales, both Legends and current continuity, from the galaxy far, far away. A collection of exciting short stories featuring tales that take will take you from the Battle of Endor to the desolate world of Jakku. The stories, which cover both Legends and tales that fit in with the current Star Wars continuity, feature popular characters such as Hondo Ohnaka, Lando Calrissian, Asajj Ventress, and Princess Leia. Written by renowned best-selling Star Wars authors including Alan Dean Foster, Mur Lafferty, Alexander Freed, David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams, this volume also includes stunning art from several of the saga’s best-loved interpreters, including Brian Rood, Joe Corroney, Brian Miller, Chris Trevas, and Chris Scalf.”

September 28 – Star Wars: I Wish I Had a Wookiee

A cute new children’s book featuring 75 poems will hit bookshelves this September. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “Inspired by the beloved world of Star Wars, this collection of over 75 whimsical and original poems, written by Ian Doescher and illustrated by Tim Budgen, is a celebration of childhood, creativity, imagination, and the early years of Star Wars fandom. In “My Pet AT-AT,” a ten-year-old dreams of playing hide and seek and fetch with an AT-AT. In “Dad’s Luke Skywalker Figurine,” a child opens their dad’s untouched action figure but, instead of getting into trouble, helps their dad re-discover his own sense of play. In “T-16 Dreams,” a little girl imagines herself flying through the galaxy, the Empire hot on her trail, to help with her real-world fear of flying. Set in the hearts and minds of young children who love Star Wars, and filled with the characters you know and love, I Wish I Had a Wookiee is the perfect gift for the young Star Wars fan—and the young at heart.”

September 28 – The Odyssey of Star Wars: An Epic Poem

One of our most anticipated releases this month is from Jack Mitchell and Abramss Books, reimagining the events of Rogue One and the original trilogy in the style of The Odyssey and Beowulf. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “A thrilling retelling of the Star Wars saga in the style of classic epic poetry. “I look not to myself but to the Force, In which all things arise and fall away.” ourney to a galaxy far, far away like never before—through lyrical verse and meter. Like the tales of Odysseus and Beowulf, the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Jyn Erso, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and the Emperor are fraught with legendary battles, iconic heroes, fearsome warriors, sleek ships, and dangerous monsters. Beginning with Rogue One’s rebel heist on Scarif to secure the plans to the Death Star and continuing through the climax of Return of the Jedi, author Jack Mitchell uses the ancient literary form of epic poetry to put a new spin on the Star Wars saga. Punctuated with stunning illustrations inspired by the terracotta art of Greek antiquity, The Odyssey of Star Wars: An Epic Poem presents the greatest myth of the 20th century as it would have been told nearly 3,000 years ago.”

September 29 – Star Wars (2020) 17

Charles Soule’s Star Wars mainline series caps off the month of September with its 17th issue. The publisher’s summary is as follows: “THE CHASE! SITH LORD DARTH VADER has discovered that his son, Jedi Knight LUKE SKYWALKER, is finally within striking distance. He will pursue him to the very ends of space…Who is hunting whom? Meanwhile, LEIA ORGANA battles the forces of CRIMSON DAWN to regain her lost love, HAN SOLO.”

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

September 1 – The High Republic 9  

September 1 – The High Republic Adventures 8  

September 7 – Life Day Treasury  

September 7 – Star Wars: The High Republic: The Edge of Balance, Vol. 1  

September 7 – Dark Force Rising – The Essential Legends Collection

September 7 – Darth Bane: Rule of Two – The Essential Legends Collection

September 7 – X-Wing: Rogue Squadron – The Essential Legends Collection

September 7 – Star Wars: The Mandalorian Sticker Art Puzzles  

September 7 – Star Wars: The High Republic Vol. 1 – There is No Fear  

September 8 – War of the Bounty Hunters 4  

September 8 – Doctor Aphra (2020) 14  

September 8 – Star Wars Adventures (2020) 9  

September 14 – Rebel Hero Journal  

September 14 – Star Wars: The Galactic Advent Calendar  

September 15 – War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh 1  

September 15 – Darth Vader (2020) 16  

September 15 – The High Republic Adventures — The Monster of Temple Peak 2  

September 22 – Star Wars: Visions

September 22 – Bounty Hunters 16  

September 22 – Star Wars Adventures: Ghosts of Vader’s Castle 1  

September 28 – Star Wars Insider: The Fiction Collection Volume 2  

September 28 – Star Wars: I Wish I Had a Wookiee  

September 28 – The Odyssey of Star Wars: An Epic Poem  

September 29 – Star Wars (2020) 17  

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm, Disney+, Del Rey, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, Viz Media, Abrams Books, Quirk Books, Studio Fun International, Insight Editions, Thunder Bay Press, and Disney-Lucasfilm Press

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 16

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Season 1, Episode 16: Kamino Lost

With the beautiful structures of Tipoca City toppling into the ocean and the titular crew reunited, Star Wars: The Bad Batch wraps up its incredible debut season in entertaining, albeit underwhelming, fashion. Part two of the finale, titled Kamino Lost, picks up where its predecessor left off as the Bad Batch desperately try to survive after the Empire’s destruction of their home world.

Kamino Lost is a beautifully animated and suspenseful episode that would have worked better in sequence with Return to Kamino, rather than a standalone episode. Much of the emotional weight and more introspective topics this final arc of The Bad Batch had to offer was delivered in Part 1 of the finale, with this second part largely serving as an action-packed aftermath of sorts. There’s nothing wrong with this idea in concept, as we see Kamino’s fall not only offer some brilliant constructed action sequences, but also symbolizes the change in the galaxy with the definite fall of clone troopers. However, splitting these two episodes up ultimately makes Kamino Lost feel somewhat anticlimactic. The episode’s few intimate character moments are great, yet pale in comparison to similar scenes in Return to Kamino. All in all, Kamino Lost would’ve worked better if it was merged with Return to Kamino into a single episode.

Nonetheless, Kamino Lost still has plenty of enthralling scenes to offer and interesting themes to explore. The bulk of the episode follows the Bad Batch (newly reunited with Crosshair) as they desperately escape the demolished cloning facilities of Tipoca City. The action is tense and suspenseful, and offers a number of touching moments, including Omega saving Crosshair and Crosshair saving Omega and AZ. We’ve seen the quirky little droid in previous episodes of Star Wars animation dating back to The Clone Wars, but AZ is given a terrific chance to shine in this episode. His sacrifice for Omega was touching and it was such a relief to see Crosshair step in and save the droid.

As for the other characters, Omega and Crosshair are at the center of the episode’s most intimate moments. Over the course of the season, Omega has developed into a curious, strong-willed, charming, and genuine character. From the get-go, Omega has been the highlight of The Bad Batch’s first season and the season one finale affirms, once again, why this is the case. Omega’s care for and kindness toward others is infectious and, as much as Clone Force 99 have helped her, she’s certainly helped them in more ways than one.

As for Crosshair, the motivations underlying the ‘betrayal’ of the former member of the Bad Batch are explored a little more in this episode. Last week’s reveal that is a clash of philosophies, rather than the influence of an inhibitor chip, was unexpected and made Crosshair’s actions all the more heartbreaking. In Kamino Lost, we see Hunter and Crosshair trade verbal blows about their different stances. And Tech perhaps delivers the best line of the episode when addressing Crosshair’s conflicting views: “Understanding you does not mean I agree with you.” The episode ends on a somewhat underwhelming note of Clone Force 99 flying away, leaving Crosshair behind as he has made his decision to fight with the Empire. It’s obvious the series will continue to explore this strained relationship and dueling ideologies; it’s just a shame the finale didn’t deliver a more emotionally satisfying wrap-up to the conflict between Crosshair and the Bad Batch this season.

Thematically, Kamino Lost marks a significant shift in the state of the galaxy. Kamino’s cloning operations are destroyed, plummeted to the bottom of a deep and dark ocean. The Empire has moved on to cheaper and more numerous conscripted soldiers as they dispose of the cloning facilities they now deem redundant (for the most part that is). This is a big moment in Star Wars canon, and one that has been theorized about for decades now. The fall of Kamino is symbolic of the changes in the galaxy at this time. The Bad Batch’s exploration into changes in daily life, military operations, chain codes, the underworld, and more have provided some great insights into the galaxy under Imperial rule, but nothing in the series has been so dramatically evident of change as the events in Kamino Lost. After the recent announcement of a second season, we’re hoping The Bad Batch continues to delve deeply into the aftermath of the Empire’s takeover with an emphasis on clone troopers. How do other clones feel about the Empire’s decision to switch to conscripted soldiers? Do they feel betrayed? Angry? And now that the clones are disposed of, how does the Empire go about building an army that spans the galaxy? We hope all of this and more are given attention heading into season 2.

It wouldn’t be a Star Wars series without ending on a tease of what’s to come and The Bad Batch is no exception. Nala Se is delivered to an Imperial facility as she is still deemed valuable to the new regime. The Imperial officer’s uniform here is near identical to the uniforms worn by Dr. Pershing and colleagues in The Mandalorian, posing a host of questions moving forward. Broadly speaking, it’s brilliant to see shows like The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian complement one another in such a way. And, now more than ever, we can’t help but think the Empire’s interest in Grogu in The Mandalorian has something to do with cloning.

Verdict: 7.5/10

The Bad Batch caps off it’s first season in characteristically beautiful fashion in an episode that, despite some touching moments and an intrigue closing tease, would’ve benefitted from being merged with its predecessor. Crosshair’s decision is given more attention, as is the kindness and innocence of Omega. And, although somewhat underwhelming, Kamino Lost provides a satisfactory wrap-up to many of the first season’s plot threads, setting up nicely for season 2 coming in 2022.

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+

Categories
Star Wars Holocron

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 15

by @holocronGeorge for @sw_holocron

WARNING: This review contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Bad Batch – Episode 15: Return to Kamino

As Clone Force 99 returns to Kamino and the long-awaited confrontation between Hunter and Crosshair occurs, Star Wars: The Bad Batch’s first season draws to a dramatic close in Part I of a two-part finale. Titled Return to Kamino, episode 15 sees Echo, Tech, Wrecker, and Omega journey to Kamino to rescue Hunter. Meanwhile, Crosshair and the Empire have plans of their own.

Return to Kamino feels like a perfect, poetic start to a final arc that ties together the different emotional threads and plot points of The Bad Batch’s debut season. The long-awaited confrontation between Hunter and Crosshair that the series’ pilot brilliantly set up is executed with tremendous and emotionally poignant effect in episode 15. Although Crosshair’s “turn to the dark side” was a shock in the first episode, the former member of Clone Force 99 has largely played a backseat role in the show’s first season. While, at times, this has been a bit disappointing, it made the emotional payoff in Return to Kamino all the more impactful after weeks of waiting. The big moment in this episode comes from Crosshair’s reveal that his alliance with the Empire was not driven by an inhibitor chip, but, rather, by a deep-rooted philosophical difference in how he perceives their role in the galaxy. To Hunter, Crosshair was a man who (unwillingly) betrayed his family for the sake of a regime deprived of all moral standing. But, to Crosshair, he was abandoned by his family for simply following orders in an effort to restore order to the galaxy. As viewers, we obviously know that Crosshair’s reasoning is weak to say the least and, nonetheless, this is still a powerful scene. Crosshair is not a mindless villain following orders against his will; he made a decision of his own volition that led to his separation from those closest to him. This reveal makes the events of this scene all the more heartbreaking, while interestingly setting up this plot moving forward as Hunter rescues Crosshair rather than leave his brother behind.

It probably goes without saying at this point, but the animation on display during this sequence and the entire episode is stunning. Kamino comes to life as it did in Attack of the Clones in beautiful fashion. And the Kiners brilliantly recall John Williams’ theme from Episode II, which adds yet another cinematic quality to the episode. There’s still mysteries of Kamino to unpack in this episode as Omega introduces the crew (and the audience) to the underground tunnel system on Kamino. Here, Omega introduces the Bad Batch to their place of birth. There’s a lot of intrigue and mystery surrounding Omega’s origins and scenes like this showcased how we’re likely to get even more reveals next week. And, poetically, we’re left on a somber note of the destruction of Tipoca City. Glimpses into the empty halls of the cloning facilities were haunting and continued the long-standing theme in the series of exploring the state of the galaxy after the fall of the Republic.

We’ve always known that clones were faded out by the time of the original trilogy, but how we ended up there always remained a mystery. The Bad Batch has deftly explored this topic so far, with the introduction of conscripted soldiers and the swift closure of Kamino’s cloning operations seen in previous episodes. The destruction of Kamino’s capital city in episode 15 was the icing on the cake, figuratively and literally showcasing how the Empire is remaking the galaxy according to their wants and wishes. It’s terrific storytelling that interconnects the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy era by addressing long-standing questions of the transition from clone troopers to stormtroopers. There is surely more to come with this thread, but needless to say The Bad Batch’s exploration of different facets of life and business in a quickly transitioning galaxy has been a highlight of the first season.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Images courtesy of Lucasfilm & Disney+