Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Star Wars Manga

I just put down Star wars Manga: A New Hope. I enjoyed the black and white comic book very much. It took some time getting used to the action. The scenes were cut differently and there were many blurs. So it took time to figure out what happened despite the fact that I have seen the movie so many times.

the story does follow the movies closely. The artwork is real dope. Then again for all of you Japanimation fans, this is the one for you. It's ill to see how folks from other countries view the SW universe. Online you can get several book covers from various countries. Of course the images of the movie figures look the same but the way they flip the vehicles and EU characters is much different.
I enjoyed the fact that they put in Biggs Darklighter into the storyline. You learn more about the relationship between Luke and Biggs. They start the story with Luke looking into space using binoculars and he watches Darth Vader's Star Destroyer attacking the Vantive IV. They drew Obi Wan like an old samurai. I thought that touch was real tight.

Overall, it is rather expensive to cop. Although I enjoy it, and i know it will cost loot in the future, I don't think its a MUST HAVE...


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Chosen One

On the latest Ep III DVD, there is a second disc with several documentaries. One of them is called the Chosen One. We discussed the topic of Anakin being the Chosen One in this entry. Lucas confirms that Anakin is the Chosen One since he does kill Palpatine in Ep VI. In the process, he helps to destroy Darth Vader and himself at that. Thus the prophecy, which I think was installed by the Sith but that is another debate for another entry, is fufilled.

I think that the Jedi of the Old Republic had to be purged for several reasons. I hate to sound like a Sci Fi Hitler when I say that. There were plenty of Jedi who i felt should not have been killed (such as Mace Windu, Luminara Unduli, Barriss Offee, Plo Koon, and a mob of others). Let me rephrase that: the ways of the Jedi during the Republic should have been rehashed. THey had too many rules. They did many things that were unethical whether they were forced to or not. They took sides and definitely worked for the Republic. So I should be saying that many of their ideals and decisions should have been purged.

I think many of their training methods should have been discarded as well. In a way, I think its a good idea that much of the information from the Jedi Temple was lost so that Luke could pretty much re-think the strategy and methods to train the Jedi (and if Book I of the Joiner King series demonstrates -- it's a dope concept). The idea of taking babies away from parents is borderline kidnapping (I know some of the Force sensitive infants were saved from a life of squalor and hunger). Luke revamps this by allowing the parents to work in the new Jedi Temple so that they can see their child often.

What do you guys think?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Preguntas de Guerra de las Estrellas

Amadeo asked: I was playing Star Wars Battlefront 2 and between the missions one of the troopers speaks about some of the events. After the fall of the republic he talks about the Kaminoins created more clones to resist with and afterwards the Empire started using different templates (people) to clone from. My question is this did they document the shift from clones?

Our response: This is a tough one for real. We tried to touch on it here. Before the second trilogy came to the theatres, Lucas did not want to let anyone in on the Clone Wars situation. In the Dark Empire series, Palpatine clones himself and pours his essence into them. Everytime he is killed he does the same thing. Luke goes and allows himself to fall to dark side. He enters Palpatine's facilities and destroys it all. We do know that was not where he created the clones from the Jango template after the movies came out.

In the Thrawn series, we are introduced to Jorus C'baoth, a Jedi from the Old Republic era. What we learn is that he is a clone since the real C'baoth died in the Outbound Flight Project (the book will be coming out real soon on this one folks). We do not know however, how he was cloned. We also learn that Admiral Thrawn finds a clone facility on the planet Wayland. C'baoth actually guarded it. C'baoth was cloned but somehow went mad because of the flawed cloning process. In the Thrawn series we learn that the Emperor frowned on cloning for two reasons: the accelerated cloning process had too many problems and if the information fell into the "wrong" hands someone else could build an army. The latter is the reason why Palpatine banned droid armies.

Later on, Palpatine slowly recruited and drafted born humans into Storm Trooper ranks on the planet Carrida which Kyp Durron destroyed using the Sun Crusher. But before he did this, he did use clones from other templates after all the Jango Fett clones died from old age or went into retirement (quite a few of them did). Yet these batches also had flaws (see the Star Wars insider #84 for more info on the GAR-- Grand Army of the Republic ).

A main problem was keeping them sane. Many clones went beserk. The Kaminoans were able to narrow this down to affecting only 1% of their clones. The acceleration process and the "downloading" of information into a clone brain caused many of them to go insane.

In Ep II, we learn that the Kaminoans are the best cloners in the galaxy. And now we know that in Battlefront, Palpatine sends the 501st led by Boba Fett to destroy the clone facility on Kamino. I am sure this is where all the clone templates are kept and destroyed.

We hope that answers your questions.

Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Alien Species by Ann Margaret Lewis

My Review (Dan Tres OMi)

editors note: even though the book was published in 2001, right after Episode I and during the Yuuzhan Vong War, we felt it was important that we cover it.

First, I must commend anyone who sits down, consults, researches, writes, consults again, and puts together an essential guide on a universe that continues to grow. Even when it was published, I am sure it was outdated the first day it arrived at the bookstore. So much has gone on since then, that Del Rey is bound to update this one. So, this book will fall in value when the new one is announced. Still for any SW fan, this book is a must.

Did you know that the Bith (we all remember one during the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in Ep IV) have lost the ability to reproduce and do it via artificial insemination? Or that the Falleen (remember Xisor from Shadows of the Empire?) rarely travel outside of their home system? Did you know that Hutts are amongst the longest living species in the galaxy living up to 1,000 years? How about the idea that Toydarians (remember Watto from Eps I & II) fly at birth? All these little tidbits of information are found here.

What makes the book work is that they are tied into histories that transpired before Ep I. So you learn how it all ties together. There are species that are shown in the movies, comic books, RPG (role playing games), video games, and books. So everyone gets a chance to see the connections.

Its amazing how these authors come up with these stories. This is what makes the SW universe wonderful. It is books like this one that bring that out. The book is highly recommended and can help those SW buffs build up their trivia knowledge.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Where did it all begin?

(here is my mom and I. This was taken when i was about 3. Notice my mother using some invisible force lightning to get me to chill)
Good question... right?

It started way back in '77. I attended El Concilio Puertoriqueno Day Care Center in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. A very good program for children of immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Someone decided it would be a good idea to take us to see a movie. Thus, at age four and a half this would be my first movie. I remember standing under the marquis on 42nd Street (way before crack -- big up to Jamel Shabazz).

After the release of the movie, i was caught up in all the hype. I wanted to be a jedi and i wanted the Millenium Falcon. My mom thought i was just following the fad so she got me a few figures on her meager salary. I remember her rocking this very thin jacket she got from Chinatown. She rocked that one for many years.

My mother, as usual, was right. I forgot all about Star Wars until Episode V was released. I was open. Personally, I felt that was the best movie I saw in my life. The good guys losing? when does that happen? I thought Boba Fett was the man. I wanted to know who this Jabba the Hutt guy was. Plus I learned about the Force!

I remember getting the Star Wars twin bed set. I also had that Darth Vader carrying case that my dad got me. He said he found it in the trash. But my prize possession was a metal Star Wars lunchbox and this Lukey Skywalker figure that had a hidden lightsaber built into his arm. I loved those two things. My mother would beat me for just walking around with my lunchbox after school. But I loved that damn thing.

When Episode VI came out, I did not want the story to end. Rumors of a Episode VII coming out kept me up at night. I was never able to afford to be a collector. So I disappeared from the SW Universer altogether. It was not until I was discharged from the Navy and I came across the Admiral Thrawn series. I seen the books in the stores before that but ignored it. Once I read the Thrawn series back in 1997, I was hooked. I started reading anything I could find on the EU. I was open.

Been here ever since...

Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno

(picture taken from Starwars.com -- from Cartoon Network's Clone Wars)

Review by Dan Tres OMi (your friendly neighborhood Afro Latino Jedi... go figure!)

Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno was released earlier this year (2005) as a hardcover. It was sold in book stores months before the final installment of SW hit the theatres. Del Rey finally published it in the paperback edition. For those of us who are fans of the SW universe but have to watch our pennies during the Bush II regime (I had to throw that in there, huh?), the paperback came at the right time.

Luceno is no stranger to the EU. He has written a few New Jedi Order books and is slated to pen the upcoming
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader . Lucas was in his right mind in booking Luceno to author this prequel.

The story starts a few weeks before the events in Ep III and end right before Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker fly into the battle over Coruscant. It flows well and leaves the reader waiting and wanting for the movie. Luceno reveals so many things that were a mystery to SW EU fans. He really sets us up for the movie.

We learn more about General Grievious and his hatred of the Jedi. We also learn about Sifo Dyas and his relationship to Count Dooku. Palpatine's plot continues to unravel as the Jedi start catching up to him. Before they can finally get the drop on him, Palpatine makes his move. This provides us the backdrop to why the Separatists played their big card and tried to invade Coruscant. When Palpatine realizes that his cover is about to be blown, he convinces Dooku to launch an attack (something not explained in the Clone Wars cartoon series).
We also learn that the Separatists were really on the run during the entire war. It is true that many systems rallied to their cause and they did invade several others, the Separatists never really had a chance of winning. Dooku had hoped that the Republic would split with several factions fighting against one another. It did not work that way. This shows how clever Palpatine's plot really was. It truly was a Labyrinth of evil.
The book also demonstrates the growing resentment and suspicion that people have of the Jedi. While Anakin soaks up all of the publicity, the other Jedi are either kept out of the holonet news or someone is railing against them. By the time Palpatine has the Senate in the palm of his hands. Despite this, he plays the innocent executive power who is forced to do some unethical things.
The highlights are the fight between Mace and General Grievious and Kenobi and Skywalker fighting some murderous bounty hunters on a snow covered planet. We see some real martial arts in those scenes. Unfortunately, some of the scenes were done in the Clone wars cartoon and seem to conflict. The book loses some continuity. It leaves the reader wondering who is right and who is wrong. Overall the book gets 3.5 out of 5 stars. It is a must read since it connects a few dots.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bringing Balance to the Force

Mas Preguntas... (I wish i can say that in Huttese)

Amadeo asked: Bringing Balance to the force. The Jedi believed that Anakin was chosen to do this, however, at the same time they were just finding out that there was a living Sith Lord. They believed them to be extinct. It stands to reason that bring balance to the force during this time would have meant bringing forth the Sith or diminishing the Jedi. In essence, didn't Anakin fulfill the Prophecy?

Our response: The Jedi never believed the Sith to be extinct. After the final Jedi/Sith War about 2,000 BSW, Darth Bane was the only surviving Sith lord. He took one apprentice. Darth Bane understood very early that there was just too many Sith. They could not get along and were always fighting amongst themselves. The Jedi knew that Darth Bane still lived and had an apprentice but could not find him.

For the last 1,000 years before the Clone Wars, it seemed like the Sith just removed themselves from the galaxy. It is not until the near conclusion of the Clone Wars, did the Jedi realize the peril they were in. Unfortunately, the movies did not give the full prophecy. In The Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno, the prequel book to Episode III, Yoda states on page 64:

"The larger prophecy: that unfold the dark times would. Born into their midst the Chosen One is, to return balance to the Force."

In the book adaptation of EP III, there is even a hint that the prophecy may have been planted by a Sith lord. It definitely begs the question. During Ep III, Mace Windu finally realizes what's going on. He and Yoda realize that the entire Clone Wars was a set up to bleed the Jedi dry and make the public suspicious of them. But it's too late. The damage was done. The things were already set in motion.

Anakin did bring balance to the Force because he purged the Jedi. That's why the new series is called the New Jedi Order. Here they are allowed to marry and have children. They are allowed to study and travel as they please. We will learn that the Jedi of the Old Republic were flawed in several ways. many of you noted the concept of detachment and how terribly imperfect this is. If you read some of the prequel books and comics, you will note how the Temple seperated itself from the rest of the people. They ignored poor folks throughout the galaxy. This leads to our next question....

Michelle Pessoa stated: I’m troubled by the clones in the prequel movies. Simply put, the clones of Jango Fett are slaves. They were purchased from the Kamino government, they were bred to fight and they didn’t get to decide what they want to do with their lives.That’s the definition of slavery.If the Galactic Republic was worth fighting for, free people should have been fighting for it, not people who had been enslaved.Why was this okay with the Jedi? How come they didn’t object to becoming generals leading slave armies? Shouldn’t they have found that repugnant?

Our response: First, when Obi Wan "found" Kamino and stumbled upon an order of clone soldiers, it just does not seem like a coincidence. So we have to go over that. Master Sifo Dyas did order those clones. Sifo Dyas and Dooku were very close friends. Both knew that the dark side was growing and were upset at the fact that the Jedi did nothing but wait around for this Chosen One (this is explained in Luceno's "Labyrinth of Evil" which is now on paperback).

Sifo Dyas went ahead and ordered a clone army in preparation for this. By this time, Dooku was working for Sidious. Sidious asked Dooku to kill Dyas to prove that he was ready to come to the dark side. In doing so, the order of clones remained a secret until just the right time.

Now in Ep II, the Jedi were forced to use the clones. At the end, you can tell by Yoda's reaction that the first battle was actually a loss because the Jedi became something they were not. Mace Windu even states that in the Ep III book adaptation. We do learn that several Jedi left the order because of the stance that the Jedi took. Some felt that they should remain neutral. Many agreed with Dooku that the Jedi were just mercenaries for the corrupt Republic. Quite a few joined the Separatists whose argument was that the Senate was too corrupt. Of course, the Separatists had their own agenda but some systems joined for this reason alone.

Several of the Jedi who left the order survived the first purge. The later issues of Star Wars: Republic and the book series Coruscant Nights will deal with several Jedi who left the Order. Ferus Olin is a good example of a Jedi who disagreed with much of what the Jedi's were doing.

On the slavery question, I wholeheartedly agree. Clones are still sentient beings with feelings. They think, suffer, feel joy and pain. We see several Jedi creating lasting bonds with them (go figure). Some considered them flesh droids because they were programmed to do one thing. I think it's a tragedy that they only live for half the time that normal humans do. Just imagine knowing that you will die within 30 years and all you do is fight. Then again, they were not programmed to even think outside of that.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Battle Meditation

The art of jedi Battle is a Force ability that allows a Force user to change the outcome of an entire battle (as in, war kind of battle, involving thousands or millions of soldiers) through his or her will alone. What it actually does is strengthen will and coordination in friendly forces, while doing the exact opposite with your enemy forces. An army with someone using Battle Meditation boosting it is almost impossible to beat, even when outnumbered. Very few Force users can use this ability for the most part, jedi in the old Republic receive more training in this technique than in the days of the clone wars due to fact that one of the bad things about war is that you lose focus on learning because of the need to just survive.

Generally, strong minded or Force-using opponents are not affected by the negative effects of Battle Meditation, but the positive bonuses to friendly troops make it worth using anyway. (Ex: Oppio Rancisis Battle Meditation would not have worked as well against the Chiss or Mandalorian army as it would against, say, Republic soldiers, because Mandalorians are generally strong-willed, strong-minded people. However, it would still be worth using, as the army facing said Chiss or Mandalorians would become a much more dangerous fighting force.)

During the time of the Clone Wars Jedi Master Oppio Rancisis was the Master Battle Meditation, Master Yareal Poof was also gifted in this art this is one of the reason that they were early targets and skillfully taking out. Palpatine was also gifted in the art of affecting Battles. A little known fact is that he had a force user during the battle of Endor named Grand Admiral Nial Declann that was gifted with this ability but when vader threw the emperor down the shaft Declann lost concentration due to his connection to the Emperor Palpatine and thus the rest is history.

The first mention of this Force power was in Tales of the Jedi, Jedi Master Odan-Urr Jedi Master Thon who taught perhaps the greatest Jedi in this field Nomi Sunrider (what a dope name) also the great Nubian Jedi Dace diath and Oss Wilum was also gifted with this gift. One thing that I must mention is that a jedi can not physically be in battle and use this gift as he or she must be in meditation hence the name, and also while they are in Battle Meditation they are vulnerable to attack.

I have not read of any gifted New Jedi Order in the art of battle meditation but Princess leia has used the technique in the dark empire comics and the jedi in the NJO series used a Battle Meld not to be confuse with this force power as a meld is similar but you are in battle and it affect a group of force users (by letting each other in one another mind) and not the enemy.