Tag Archives: Star Wars Beyond the Films

Star Wars: The Face of Evil – A Beyond the Films Review

With a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soonStar Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler is now posting short, non-spoiler reviews for many new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will often follow in the weeks thereafter on the podcast. (In the case of minor releases, that discussion may be kept for a Year in Review series of episodes.)


faceofevil

The Face of Evil by Landry Q. Walker (ebook, 2015)

In April 2016, a new anthology – something Star Wars fans have long been hoping for – will be released. The book, Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens will include six stories, four of which were recently released as separate ebooks, months before seeing physical print. Unlike in previous anthologies, all of the stories in this new tome will be written by a single author, Landry Q. Walker. Each story will feature alien characters from The Force Awakens. This review focuses on one of the four stories released in December 2015.

The Face of Evil

Short stories in Star Wars tend to be fairly straightforward, and horror/thriller tales in Star Wars rarely actually creep me out or surprise me. The Face of Evil managed to pull off that rare experience, while seemingly being just another straightforward tale as it began.

The story follows criminal Ryn Biggleston, partner of BeeLee Amdas. During a recent job, BeeLee was spotted by security cameras, leading Ryn to steal her part of their loot and leave her to die. Now, Ryn has come to Takodana with her identity and most-wanted status revealed to the sector in one last act of defiance by her dying former partner.

Escaping the many individuals on her tail means a change of identity, and no one at Maz Kanata’s castle is better at giving clients a new identity than the Frigosian “mad scientist” cryptosurgeons, Thromba and Laparo.

To go into any more detail would spoil some great moments in this story that make it feel straight out of an old episode of Tales from the Crypt. It is a fairly simple premise to start, and the Frigosians are rather strange, which can make them tough to get interested in at first. Stick with the story past the first couple of chapters, though, and you are in for a treat.

Does the Label Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens Actually Fit the Story?

Unfortunately, like most stories in our “journey” to the new film, this story has no real relevance to the movie at all. Like with other stories in the line, this is a Tales from Mos Eisley (et al) style short story to give us an adventure for some of the aliens seen in Maz’s castle in The Force Awakens. Unlike the anthologies of the 1990s though, no attempt is made to actually tie the actual story into the film beyond shared characters. The label simply does not fit the content.

The Verdict

The Face of Evil was a pleasant surprise and certainly the high point of the four ebooks released that will later be among the six in Tales from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens. At only $1.99 currently in ebook form (or as part of the upcoming anthology), fans who enjoy a good Tales from the Crypt-esque story now and then should definitely check it out.

Recommended for: Those interested in a creepy Star Wars tale that is reminiscent of the old Tales from the Crypt series.

Not recommended for: Those looking for something that truly ties directly into The Force Awakens or those who are squeamish.

A retail purchase ebook (on Nook) was used for this review.

The Last Padawan (Kanan Part 2 of 2) – SWBTF #192

Remember when Kanan Jarus was a Jedi Padawan named Caleb Dume? Before Order 66 turned his life upside down and left him on the run and hunted. Learn all about his fateful last days as a Jedi, and so much more! All on the next Star Wars Beyond the Films. YOUR Star Wars discussion podcast! YOUR Podcast of Legends! YOUR ticket to that Galaxy far, far away! Your Fandom lies Beyond the Films.


This week true believers, Beyonders, Fanboys, Fangirls, respected aliens around the galaxy, The Champion of the Multiverse; Mark Hurliman, and your Count of Continuities; Nathan P. Butler are joined by the original Rebels Roundtable mastermind, Jonathan Brenner, as they sit down to discuss part two of their Kanan: The Last Padwan coverage. So strap in and tighten your crash webbing Fandom, Star Wars Beyond the Films is setting off on another rapid-fire trip into the galaxy far, far away!Kanan1

This episode your hosts discuss: Continue reading

Run Caleb! Run! (Kanan Part 1 of 2) – SWBTF #191

Kanan, Cowboy Jedi, Last Padawan, on the run and hunted. As well as questions like, what does it take to be considered a Jedi?, does Star Wars do flashbacks?, and if it was anyone other than Kanan, would we care? …all this and so much more! All on the next Star Wars Beyond the Films. YOUR Star Wars discussion podcast! YOUR Podcast of Legends! YOUR ticket to that Galaxy far, far away! Beyond the Films lies your Fandom!


This week true believers, Beyonders, Fanboys, Fangirls, respected aliens around the galaxy, The Champion of the Multiverse; Mark Hurliman, and your Count of Continuities; Nathan P. Butler are joined by the original Rebels Roundtable mastermind, Jonathan Brenner, as they sit down to discuss Kanan: The Last Padwan! So strap in and tighten your crash webbing Fandom, Star Wars Beyond the Films is setting off on another rapid-fire trip into the galaxy far, far away!Star_Wars_Kanan_the_Last_Padawan_TPB

This episode your hosts discuss: Continue reading

PODCAST INTERVIEW: Before the Awakening – SWR #202

An interview with Greg Rucka, Finn, Rey, and Poe: Before the Awakening, as well as a look at Shattered Empire, Smuggler’s Run, and a glimpse at the inner workings of the Story Group, all this and more on this week’s episode of The Star Wars Report! beforetheawakening

Mark had a chance to check out Greg Rucka’s new book Before the Awakening and sit down to chat all about it with the author!Greg Rucka

This week’s topics include: Continue reading

Star Wars: Before the Awakening – A Beyond the Films Review

With a backlog of recorded episodes and episodes to record very soonStar Wars Beyond the Films‘ Nathan P. Butler is now posting short, non-spoiler reviews for many new releases. Spoiler-filled discussion will often follow in the weeks thereafter on the podcast. (In the case of minor releases, that discussion may be kept for a Year in Review series of episodes.)


beforetheawakening

Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka (hardbcak, 2015)

On Force Friday, Star Wars fans were introduced to Greg Rucka, author of Smuggler’s Run (which I recently reviewed). Just a few days later, Rucka’s Shattered Empire began with its first issue from Marvel Comics. He is quickly becoming a mainstay of publishing surrounding The Force Awakens. On the same day as the film’s release, a third Rucka release (if you’ll pardon the alliteration) hit the shelves: Before the Awakening.

Before the Awakening is precisely what its name suggests: a set of stories taking place prior to The Force Awakens, featuring the three major film characters on its cover. The book features the stories of FN-2187 (“Finn”), Rey, and Poe Dameron in the days and months leading up to the film. It does so with varying degrees of success, though none failing to fit the bill.

Finn’s story follows the stormtrooper through the latter parts of his training, giving us a glimpse into his struggles with empathy vs. duty. While the attack on Jakku in the opening of The Force Awakens is indeed his first mission as a true, full-fledged stormtrooper, this was not (as reviews of the film often blast) an “out of nowhere” change for the character. His struggles began earlier, and the strike at the village of Tuanul in the film is simply the last (and most egregious) straw for the character. The insight into the character here should be enough to silence many of the naysayers about the speed of the character’s change of heart in the film.

Rey’s story spans a matter of months, as the scavenger on Jakku makes an impressive find and works with two marginally-trustworthy “friends” to make the most of that find. Unlike Finn’s story (and Poe’s, discussed in a moment), this story does not feel like it is leading directly into the film. Instead, it feels like a throwaway story sometime in the year prior to the film that serves as a means of providing us with more details about Rey, including where she developed some of her piloting skills (something else negative reviews of TFA tend to target). It is mildly enlightening, but not nearly as much so as Finn’s adventure, which clocks in at about twenty pages shorter than Rey’s.

By far the longest of the three stories in Before the Awakening (clocking in at about double the length of Finn’s tale) is the backstory of Poe Dameron. Spanning months like Rey’s outing, Poe’s adventure follows him in Rapier Squadron on missions for the New Republic and provides the “origin story” for how he becomes a pilot for Leia Organa’s Resistance. Moreover, it leads directly into Poe’s mission in the opening minutes of The Force Awakens. It is by far the most interesting of the three stories in the anthology, and we learn enough about Poe and the relationship between the Republic and the Resistance to, again, help silence some of those arguing that the relationship is unclear.

Ironically, this book does not carry the The Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens product line label, but it is the book that exemplifies that concept leaps and bounds more than any of the products that actuallly do bear that moniker. This is what people reading the “journey to” line actually expected to read.

The Verdict

Before the Awakening is a must-read for fans of The Force Awakens. You could almost skip Rey’s story and feel as though you missed very little, but the Finn and Poe tales provide enough detail and backstory to making this a “young adult” book that adult fans should definitely check out.

Recommended for: Those interested in the backstories of Finn and Poe from The Force Awakens. (Oh, and Rey a little too.)

Not recommended for: Those expecting huge revelations about Rey. Those are almost certainly being held back for future films.

I purchased a copy of this book at release, though Disney Lucasfilm Press later provided a copy for review.