Tag Archives: darth vader

Star Wars Day Resolutions- TWL #128

WampasLair_Square Continue reading

Review: Lords of the Sith

The following is the Star Wars Report’s review of Lords of the Sith, presented by Joseph Tavano of RetroZAP!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….

When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.

Lords_of_the_Sith-alt-

“It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted.”

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.

With Lords of the Sith Paul S. Kemp has written a wonderful book that is a true pleasure to read. (I told him so directly). I feel like Kemp must has relished the chance to write Vader and the Emperor doing something we have never seen before—going on an adventure. He nailed the voice of both of these characters, as well as the cadence of their relationship.

I see a consistency between the Palpatine of Revenge of the Sith and the Emperor of Return of the Jedi. His contempt and power are, well, palpable. Now deeply enmeshed in the dark side of the Force, this is the Emperor you expect: spiteful, challenging, and always in control.

Meanwhile, Darth Vader takes on the expected layers of complexity. Anakin is as gone as Anakin would ever be; Vader here is the personification of anger and a full devotee of the dark side. He accesses the Force only through anger, and any hint of his previous life brings only a cycle of pain and anger. What we, the audience, would see as a moment of clarity when Vader thinks of good things he once had, turns out to be a moment of distraction and confusion to Vader. It’s this turnabout of focus and worldview that shows us just how far gone Darth Vader is.

Internal struggle aside, Darth Vader is a mysterious wraith to the rest of the galaxy. He is the visage of death, unconquerable and rumored not to be human. Simply put—Darth Vader rips it up in Lords of the Sith. We see Vader the tactician; Vader the pilot; Vader the conquering warrior. Cham Syndulla and his crew are right to fear him. This isn’t the stiff figure of the OT, he can move with inhuman speed and power.

Kemp nails the relationship between the Sith master and apprentice.

Interestingly enough, Vader the Sith apprentice is a dual-edged sword. Again, Kemp nails the relationship between the Sith master and apprentice. The Emperor is forever needling Vader, stoking his anger and reminding him that he is a thrall to be destroyed at any time. And then there is Vader, who is an honest Sith apprentice; he is unflinchingly loyal to the power of his master, and at all times wondering if he can (and should) take him out. There’s more than a few tense moments where you wonder if the pot is going to boil over between these two. I’ll say no more.

Darth-hand-james-earl-jones-is-officially-returning-as-darth-vader-the-original-voice-of-darth-vader-isn-t-quite-so-intimidating

Maybe it’s just me, but I do feel like there is one thing lacking from the Palpatine-Vader relationship—when does Palpatine ever actually train Vader in the dark side? There is nothing of that in this story; Darth Vader is a complete and fully trained dark side adept. I had expectations that at this point in the timeline (less than halfway through the Dark Times), that the Emperor would be imparting more knowledge of the Dark Side to Vader other than reminding him that he needs to be obedient. Perhaps some discussion about Force lightning? If and when Vader can use it? Why purple energy wind escapes from Palpatine’s body when he dies? The dark side is a path many things some would deem to be unnatural, and I want to know more about that path!

There is one criticism I do have, and it has nothing to do with Kemp or the novel specifically. When the new canon was announced about a year ago, I welcomed it as the great opportunity that it is to finally tell one coherent, canon, and legitimate Star Wars story. Now, the medium did not matter; all stories put forth by Lucasfilm would work together to tell the complete history of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

This changes the storytelling approach quite a bit. Authors did not have to be constrained to telling a Star Wars story where 1.) Things began in a familiar place 2.) New characters were introduced to tell a unique story and not overuse the major film players 3.) New characters take up a large portion of the book, but inevitably die or recede into the background 4.) The overall story of Star Wars is not impacted by the end of the book.

Why have the first four books in the new Star Wars canon not deviated from this formula? With the editorial input of the Story Group, these stories can be so much more. I want Star Wars books to answer canonical questions and tell powerful impactful stories that focus on the characters we love. I don’t want them to hint and scratch at such things—after almost forty years, it’s time to dive in. A cavalcade of new characters are on the way, you know. I think that authors would relish that opportunity, and I hope that this is a trend we are moving towards.

Read this book. It is a worthy entry into the new canon, and you will get a great perspective into the relationship between the Emperor and Darth Vader, and to me, that is always essential reading. Oh, by the way, there are also Royal Guards that get to see some serious action on the planet of Ryloth, a rebel cell lead by Cham Syndulla (you know, Hera’s father), and one of the most inventive attacks on a Star Destroyer I’ve ever read or seen.

Also, minor spoiler here:

Vader uses the Force to rip apart his enemies while flying a TIE fighter.

I hope Kemp gets the chance to write more Star Wars books. He has an ease with the galaxy far, far away that feels natural and intuitive. And, if we get to see more of the relationship between the Emperor and Darth Vader, I would want him to be the person to write it.

Trilogy, anyone?

-JT

 

Roundup: Celebration Exclusives, Her Universe Sneak Peeks, and More!

The Star Wars Report’s merchandise roundup returns this month (April 2015), compiling the major announcements and latest developments related to Star Wars toys and other products. In addition to following @StarWarsReport, make sure to check out @yak_face and @JTArchives.

New Releases and Announcements

Square Enix recently unveiled an image gallery of the Variant Play Arts Kai Boba Fett and Stormtrooper figures. Darth Vader had been revealed back in December 2014. According to The Toyark (where you can see the image gallery), “The Boba Fett will include interchangeable hands, a heavy blast, a pistol, knives, flamethrower effect, jetpack effects and a figure stand. The Stormtrooper will come with interchangeable hands, a heavy blaster, a blaster pistol, a pistol effect piece and a figure stand. Each is priced at 12,000 Yen (about $100 USD) and are scheduled for release in July.”

The Hera Syndulla action figure has finally appeared on pegs and shelves in a variety of places, including HasbroToyShop.com. Though it is currently sold out in that location, check back frequently for more updates.

Funko reissued the Greedo POP! Vinyl figure to celebrate the highly anticipated film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Read more about the limited run over at Vinyl Pop.

Celebration Anaheim Exclusives

Funko announced five POP! Vinyl Bobblehead exclusives for Star Wars Celebration Anaheim: E-3PO, Unmasked Vader, R2-Q5, Shock Trooper, and R2-R9. Find Funko at Booth #1410 (and for the R2-R9 exclusive, visit the Toy Tokyo booth).

Funko also announced four Hikari Premium Sofubi Figure exclusives: Verdigris Greedo, Matte Black Boba Fett, Icey Stormtrooper, Star Clone Trooper. Stay tuned for one more Funko announcement as we get closer to Star Wars Celebration Anaheim!

Hallmark will be offering an exclusive pair of Hallmark Keepsake Ornaments and a pair of itty bittys plush collectibles at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim.

  • An Epic Vision is the name of the Keepsake Ornament two-pack that features Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader locked in a heated lightsaber duel as inspired by the styling of famed artist Ralph McQuarrie in preproduction art for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
  • Bossk and Dengar join Hallmark’s itty bittys line with a Celebration-exclusive two-pack of the fearsome bounty hunters seen in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.

Visit the Hallmark announcement for more information.

LEGO_logoAccording to Groove Bricks and Just2Good, LEGO will also have an exclusive at the fan event.

We’re only days away from the major event, and even though nothing official has been announced by the LEGO Group, both sites believe that a Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2015 exclusive set of the Tatooine landscape will be present.

jedi-temple-archives-posterJedi Temple Archives recently revealed their Star Wars Celebration Anaheim exclusive poster of the Vintage Kenner collection. JTA also announced an exclusive patch as their second exclusive.

“Our tribute to the Vintage Kenner collection of released carded figures! A beautiful full-color 18″x24″ poster featuring a total of 197 Vintage Kenner card backs. The full run of 196 card backs (plus one of the most famous figure variations) can be found featured in amazing detail seen together like never before! The GOOD NEWS is that everyone will have the opportunity to get this poster if he/she wants one! Click through for more details!”

Fashion

star-wars-celebration-anaheim-apparelStarWars.com gave fans a first look at the apparel that will be available to purchase at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim. The collection includes a variety of designs, but don’t be surprised if the Hera Syndulla shirt is the first to sell out, especially given how scarce she’s been in other Star Wars Rebels products. Check out the gallery over at StarWars.com and catch up with the latest sneak peek of the exclusive merchandise that will be made available to fans attending the event.

Also present at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim: Her Universe! Ashley Eckstein is bringing a brand new collection of Star Wars clothes to fangirls of all ages and sizes. The previews she drops on Instagram and her other social media channels sends fans flailing with excitement.

Pre-Orders

The following products are now available for pre-order:

  • Zam Wesell Statue from Gentle Giant: “The Zam Wessel Statue features the changeling assassin in her highly detailed costume holding her sniper rifle and container of Kouhun Worms. Zam also includes 2 interchangeable portraits, one humanoid portrait, and one Clawdite. Crafted using only the highest quality polystone, each limited-edition hand-painted statue comes individually numbered and is packed with a matching certificate of authenticity.”
  • Logray Star Wars Jumbo Figure from Gentle Giant: “Recreated here with his ornate churi bird headdress, medicine bag and walking staff, no details have been missed on this amazing figure. To further capture the vintage feel, Gentle Giant has packaged this figure with a Return of the Jedi -inspired backer card featuring original photos and artwork.”
  • Star Wars Villain 3 Pack Jumbo Figures from Gentle Giant: “Digitally scanned from mint 3 ¾” Kenner originals and reproduced in 12” scale to the rest of the jumbo Kenner line, no detail has been overlooked. Roto and injection molded and made of durable plastics, this fully-articulated jumbo figure includes faithfully re-produced accessories as well as Vader’s cape. To further capture the vintage feel, Gentle Giant has packaged this figure with a Star Wars A New Hope -inspired packaging featuring original photos and artwork.”
  • Darth Vader Premium Format Figure from Sideshow Collectibles: “Every detail of the Sith Lords costume, from his iconic helmet to his sweeping black cape, have been faithfully recreated as seen on screen in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi.”

Custom Figures

Darth Daddy created a custom figure of Zare Leonis in his Imperial cadet uniform. Zare appeared in the episodes “Breaking Ranks” and “Vision of Hope” in Star Wars Rebels. He’s also the main character of the junior novel series Servants of the Empire by Jason Fry.

Angriest Man Alive made a fully-articulated Inquisitor action figure, “Without writing a novel, it took some boiling, popping, cutting, drilling, gluing, and painting, but I’m reasonably pleased with how he turned out.” (via Jedi Temple Archives)

Customizer Jamie Follis will be hosting a panel on action figure customizing at Star Wars Celebration on Friday, April 17, from 12PM to 1PM. Find more details over at Yakface.com.

Roundup: New Rebels Figures, Star Wars Weekends Merch, and More!

The Star Wars Report‘s merchandise roundup returns this month (March 2015), compiling the major announcements and latest developments related to Star Wars toys and other products.

2015 TFNY Hasbro Q&As

In case you missed them, make sure to catch up with the Hasbro Q&As from February’s Toy Fair New York.

Sales

dorksidetoys-march-black-fridaDorksideToys is having a Black Friday sale in March! Click through the image above for additional details, and specifically, at what time the sale begins. Some items will be as low as $3.99! Star Wars toys on sale include:

Fashion

Norse Legion has a variety of licensed Star Wars jewelry, including Pandora style beads and charms. Fans looking to glam up their outfits should visit their collection and follow them on Twitter and Facebook. Norse Legion also has a small collection of Star Wars t-shirts.

Following the season finale of Star Wars Rebels, Her Universe unveiled a new shirt. Known as “Visions of Ahsoka”, the t-shirt has art designed by Dave Filoni. It’s currently available for $25 at the Her Universe website and it will not be available for purchase at Star Wars Celebration.

Announcements

In addition to the reveal of Ahsoka Tano and Darth Vader in the Rebels season finale, USA Today reported that Hasbro will released Ahsoka and Vader figures in the style of Star Wars Rebels later this fall. According to Yakface.com, the two figures will be sold together in the same package.

Funko announced that the POP! Slave Leia will be released from the Star Wars vault in celebration of the highly anticipated sequel. It will be the second POP! vinyl figure to return and it will only be available for a limited time with special packaging. The figure will be available in stores starting in April.

Coming October 2015 is the Snowtrooper 2-Pack ARTFX+ Statue by Kotobukiya. This reveal comes after the Star Wars Celebration announcement of the R3-A2 and K-3PO. Visit the Kotobukiya 2015 New York Toy Fair catalog for more information. (via Yakface.com)

The LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded will be coming out on April 28, 2015. The book contains 72 additional pages of new minifigures and includes an exclusive Prototype Boba Fett minifigure.

Star Wars Weekends 2015 returns Friday, May 15, to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Theme Park Merchandise is going to kick off the annual celebration with a ticketed event called “Galactic Gathering” on Thursday, May 14, from 10am to 3pm. The event will provide guests the first opportunity to purchase brand new products specially crafted for Star Wars Weekends. Visit Vinylmation World for more information.

Pre-Orders

You can now place pre-orders for the Darth Vader Premium Format Figure by Sideshow Collectibles and the Obi-Wan Kenobi Sixth Scale Figure by Hot Toys. The Vader figure is priced at $499.99 and the Obi-Wan figure is $219.99.

Other items available for pre-order, specifically at Entertainment Earth, include: