Showcase Presents: Dial H for Hero Review

This was a lot of fun to read, and write. Dial H for Hero was a crazy comic from the 1960s that the era did so well. DC Comics are relaunching it in May, but here’s my article looking back at the whacky fun of the original series.

Also at Broken Frontier is my review of the latest issue of the Star Wars mini-series, Iron Eclipse.

 

 

Rejected Star Wars Toys

The title says its all, but check out these mostly awesome looks at what could have been. Some of these seem so obvious (Jabba beanbag) and some seem weird (Han Solo in Carbonite popsicle), but they all point to the creativity of the marketing team around the time of Episode 1.

Plenty more pics here and if you think there’s far too much Star Wars branded merchandise already, well, be thankful that there isn’t more, although I would like a Death Star basketball.

Batman and Star Wars Fan Films

Batman seems to get more fan films than any other comics character. Here’s the latest one. It’s called Death Wish (no, Charles Bronson isn’t in it) and is just over 12 minutes long. It’s not too bad and stars Batman and Robin (both in their Batman Forever costumes), Nightwing (the adult former Robin), Oracle (the former Batgirl), the Cassandra Cain Batgirl and a host of baddies.

Star Wars Uncut is an ambitious project that has now been finalised after years of work. Basically as part of its crowdsourcing venture, people across the globe remade Episode IV in 15 second segments, and here is the diverse, final, 2 hour result.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire #1 Review

Or, Star Wars: Agent of the Empire-Iron Eclipse, to give this new 5 issue mini-series its full name. I must say, I was pretty keen to read this, although the majority of my admiration for Star Wars has been tied to the original film trilogy, Dark Horse have shown that they are a very worthy gatekeeper of George Lucas’ creation.

Since 1991’s Dark Empire they’ve produced some great comics set in the galaxy far, far away and have covered many new characters and eras. Writer John Ostrander has written a lot of those comics, including Legacy, and February’s Dawn of the Jedi series which is set to do exactly what the title says.

Agent of the Empire brings a great, swashbuckling, James Bond level of derring do and it’s such a perfect fit that this debut ish will remind many of how they felt after seeing the first film back in the day. Focusing on secret agent Jahan Cross, who works for the evil Empire to give this two unique points of view is a daring, yet creatively satisfying decision. I mean, “Stormtroopers are the Empire’s hammer. This man is its scalpel.” How cool is that?

We are introduced to the suave Cross as he accuses a Colonel of dealing in the black market for his expensive tastes. It’s a great scene in which Cross’ status as an Imperial Intel agent (kind of like Internal Affairs) is established and is swiftly followed by an even greater action scene in which Cross vaults across a table and orders his faithful robotic servant IN-GA 44 to go into battle mode. Handy.

The next few pages unfortunately slow right down, as Cross reports to his superior and lots of exposition unfurls about what the Iron Eclipse is. A few pages later though and we are introduced to an obvious Bond homage in the form of the snake-like Alessi Quon, who is essentially the Q, or gadget provider, to Cross.

Ending with a cameo from two of Star War’s most loveable characters seem slightly out of place, but Ostrander handles the pair splendidly, so it’s not as awkward as it could be. Cross, although he works for the bad guys, is a likeable lead. Star Wars already has a multitude of crazy cool characters, but Cross can definitely now be added to that list.

French artist Stephane Roux’s work has always been deft, light and packed with motion. This is a rare interior art assignment, as he’s mostly known for his great covers for DC Comics on runs like Birds of Prey, and Supergirl. Unfortunately he won’t be doing issues 3 and 4, but will be back for the concluding 5th issue. His style fits perfectly with this unique approach to Star Wars. Roux brings a great sense of playfulness to the characters’ interactions, fun to the hectic action, and gorgeous spectacle to the universe spanning settings.

This is a great premiere of another bold entry in this sci-fi franchise that proves there’s much life in the galaxy yet. Although it briefly falls into the trap of setting up the series premise with some slightly boring and lengthy dialogue at times, Ostrander and Roux bring an entertaining charm that promises more great visuals and excitement in the remaining issues.

We all have one of those friends who just doesn’t ‘get’ Star Wars. Give this issue to them and watch them change their minds as they see the light (side of the Force, that is).

You can catch a preview below and Ostrander’s rundown of this series’ main players here.

134 Star Wars Comics for $100

Now that’s a bargain.

STAR WARS BLACK FRIDAY

DARK HORSE DIGITAL OFFERS 134 COMICS FOR $100!

Dark Horse Comics is joining in on the Black Friday madness with a very exclusive limited offer to their digital comics readers…

On Black Friday, for 24 hours only – Dark Horse Digital will offer 134 single-issue Star Wars comics for $100!  A savings of over $166!

This sale will begin at midnight (PST), November 25th!

Dark Horse Digital is available through all modern web browsers and as an app in the iTunes Store for Mac devices. 

Stop by https://digital.darkhorse.com and get all the Star Wars comics you could want and more! 

Star Wars Mania at Dark Horse

Dark Horse have gone nutso with Star Wars announcements at New York Comic Con this week. All the official lowdown of next year’s SW action below, including another series from Invasion scribe Tom Taylor, and Dawn of the Jedi which gives the Jedi an origin for the first time. Awesome.

 

STAR WARS™: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC—WAR!

A NEW BEGINNING FOR THE OLD REPUBLIC!

Straight from New York Comic Con, Dark Horse Comics is proud to announce the next addition to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic . . .

War!

The Knights of the Old Republic video games and comics chronicle one of the most popular eras in Star Wars, making Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic—War the perfect entry point into the Star Wars galaxy!

The Republic and the Mandalorians are at war! Following the charismatic Revan, Jedi are joining the fight, despite the noninterference stance of the Council. One Jedi, however, has found himself on the front lines against his wishes—the peace-loving Zayne Carrick has been drafted!

Written by Star Wars master John Jackson Miller, with cover art by Benjamin Carré and a variant cover by Dave Wilkins, Knights of the Old Republic—War doesn’t just mark the return of one of the most popular eras in Star Wars video games and comics—it is an entry point for any reader interested in Star Wars!

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic—War is on sale January 11, 2012!

DARK HORSE ANNOUNCES STAR WARS: DAWN OF THE JEDI

TAKING YOU BACK TO THE BEGINNINGS OF THE JEDI!

Direct from New York Comic Con, Dark Horse Comics announces its most exciting Star Wars title for 2012! A brand-new series that establishes the beginnings of the Jedi!

Series creators John Ostrander and Jan Duursema have gone from the future of Star Wars (Legacy) to the beginnings of that galaxy far, far away to reveal the mythic age of the Jedi’s origin. This is the Star Wars era of legend! Launching with a #0 issue, which will serve as the official guide for readers -Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi is the perfect jumping on point for any fan of Star Wars.

Here’s your first look at the Star Wars of 25,000 years ago—before there were lightsabers, when the ties to the Force were new, and before the Jedi spread out into the galaxy. It began with the mysterious pyramid ships—the Tho Yor—scattered to the eight corners of the galaxy, and ended with the establishment of an Order that would change the universe forever.

On the planet Tython, in the center of the galaxy, an order of warrior monks strives to maintain peace and to balance the mysterious power known as the Force. But a stranger is coming—one who will destroy both peace and balance, and open the galaxy to exploration and conquest. This is where it all begins!

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #0 is on sale 1 February 2012.

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi—Force Storm #1 is on sale 15 February 2012.

DARK HORSE ANNOUNCES STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE GHOST PRISON!

Darth Vader is back and kicking ass in the brand new series announced today at New York Comic Con by Dark Horse Comics.

The upcoming 5-issue series is slated to be released next May and will be written by Haden Blackman, with artwork by Agustin Alessio.

Ghost Prison takes place a year after Revenge of the Sith and will showcase Darth Vader’s impact on the galaxy in ways fans have never seen. Darth Vader will serve the Emperor to the best of his abilities, after all – Darth Vader makes no mistakes.

Ghost Prison also marks the return of Star Wars character Moff Trachta who will be vital to how the series unfolds.

Star Wars: Darth Vader and The Ghost Prison is in stores May 2012.

DARK HORSE ANNOUNCES NEW KNIGHT ERRANT & BLOOD TIES SERIES!

Fresh from the panel at New York Comic Con, Dark Horse Comics is back with new series arcs from two of their most popular Star Wars books!

Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett is Dead

Established Star Wars writer Tom Taylor is back with another stunning Blood Ties series to be released in April 2012.

“Boba Fett is dead. The most infamous hunter in the galaxy has been hunted. He’s lying, broken, on the desert floor. He’s more blaster-holes than man. It’s the ultimate ending. However, this is just the start of our story. With the fall of Fett broadcast across the galaxy, someone rises to avenge him. But who would care about the death of a man like Fett? Bounty hunters aren’t exactly known for their enduring, close friendships but even a man like Boba Fett has family… and now a Blood Tie demands blood.” -Tom Taylor

Star Wars: Knight Errant – Escape 

The next installment of the sunning Knight Errant series was announced today. Star Wars: Knight Errant – Escapewill launch in June 2012 for a 5-issue arc.

Fan favorite John Jackson Miller is writing the series, with artwork from penciller, Marco Castiello, inking by Vincenzo Acunzo, colors by Michael Atiyeh and lettering by Michael Heiser.

John Jackson Miller’s Knight Errant novel for Del Rey was a New York Times Bestseller.

Jedi Knight Kerra Holt continues her one woman crusade against the Sith from behind enemy lines on her most dangerous mission yet!

My Star Wars Thoughts

3 weeks ago we did a Star Wars special for the Extra Sequential podcast. Well, I saw ‘we’ but I was sick, so my usual co-host Mladen was joined by fellow Perth podcaster Luke Milton. They did a great job talking about all things Star Wars-y, but since I already prepped my notes I thought I’d put them up here. They are a bit ramshackle though, and Mr. Milton has some great thoughts on the Star Wars Blu-Ray at his blog. Ok, here we go…

I’ve only seen the original trilogy and most of the extras on Blu-Ray, but the films look awesome. They’re the best looking SW films I’ve ever seen. In fact, they could be the best looking films I’ve ever seen. From the first second you notice how different they look. This is a great visual upgrade and worth the price just for that. When R2-D2 and C-3PO first appear, they look dirty, lived in – real. The extras are OK, but there’s not  a lot of new ones made specifically for this release. In fact, the extras on the DVDs, particularly on the prequel trilogy, are much better. It is very exciting to see the mythical deleted scenes on the original films though, even if they’re not the best quality. Some introductions from George Lucas as to why they were left out would’ve been good, although it’s kind of obvious to anyone who’s seen the films a few times that they would’ve slowed the pace. The three major changes that have received the loudest complaints aren’t actually that bad in the context of the films. Obi-Wan’s weird noise in scaring off the sand people, Vader’s “NOOOO!” cry and the blinking Ewoks are OK. In fact, I think only Wicket now CGI blinks, but it looks fine. Yes, Vader’s cry as he kills the Emperor was unnecessary, as we don’t need his inner turmoil spelled out for us. His original silent reaction was enough, but his first “NOOOO!” in Revenge of the Sith is much more annoying.

HOW I FEEL

Star Wars was the first film I ever saw (on VHS) and one of the first films I saw at the cinema was the Ewoks film Caravan of Courage. The original trilogy are so magical because they comfortably cover so many genres. It’s funny, mainly thanks to Han’s dialogue, ie, “Who’s scruffy looking?”, “We’re all fine here, how are you?” after he blasts the communication panel, and of course there’s healthy elements of adventure, sci fi and fantasy. When Luke swings across the chasm with Princess Leia at his side, and John Williams’ magnificent theme swells – ah, what’s not to love?

A FEW FACTS

The first film debuted in 1977 on 32 screens.

It made over $307 million and held highest grossing film title for next 5 years.

6 films over 18 years, making $4.5 Billion in movie ticket sales, and over $13.5 Billion in merchandising sales.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” and variations thereof has been spoken in every SW film, and even in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Lego SW games have sold over 20 million copies.

WHAT IF?

As I begun compiling my notes and thoughts, I began to wonder, “What if the first film wasn’t a huge success and it was just another forgotten ‘70s film? Where would George Lucas be today?’

No-one expected SW to be a success, even Lucas bet 2.5% of film’s profits against Spielberg that his Close Encounters would make more money, so Spielberg still gets proceeds from the first film.

EXPANDED UNIVERSE

This year is 20th anniversary of the Expanded Universe, which really kicked off with Timothy Zahn’s novel, Heir to the Empire. There have been dozens since in the intervening years and I’ve read a few which feature Luke’s family, and Han and Leia’s kids battling the cruel Yuuzhan Vong, which are now featured in the Invasion series of comics by Tom Taylor and Colin Wilson, which are awesome.

Lucasfilm has to authorize everything, but there’s still continuity errors like Chewie in Episode 3, as he shoulda been a baby, not  an adult.

If you like SW, you must read the comics and books of the Expanded Universe. They range form being set 25000 years before Ep. 4 until abt 50 years after, which is the best period.

COMICS

Tag & Bink are Dead in 2001, written by Kevin Rubio (Troops from 1997). The pair caused all the major events in the films via their stupidity. The last one was 2006’s prequel Revenge of the Clone Menace.

Star Wars Infinities – 1 for each of the original films. 4 ish mini done in 2001 and 02. Alternate realities of the film’s events. The first one is written by Chris Warner, with art by Drew Johnson and Al Rio. Opens with the assault upon the Death Star, and Luke’s 2 torpedoes go in the shaft, but malfunction and blow up too early, meaning the Death Star doesn’t blow up and destroys the rebel base on Alderaan. Luke thinks Leia is dead and goes nuts. He goes to Dagobah and continues to wrestle with his anger. 5 years later he learns Leia is alive and has been brainwashed and is now a representative for the Empire. The Emperor wants Vader’s heir to replace Vader as his apprentice, so if he can’t have Vader’s son, he’ll have Vader’s daughter.  Yoda uses Force suggestions against Admiral Tarkin, who uses the Death Star to destroy the Empire fleet. C3PO was reprogrammed for the Empire, but he and Leia are eventually redeemed.

Empire Vol. 2 Darklighter – collects issues 8-12 and 15 of Star Wars: Empire. Written by Paul Chadwick with art by Doug Wheatley. It focuses on Biggs Darklighter (seen in the Ep. 4 deleted scenes), his acceptance into flight school in the Empire, forming a small rebellion, and his sacrifice during the Death Star battle. It’s very Star Wars – familiar characters, vehicles, planets. Luke’s not in it much, but we do see their friendship. We also see a Womp Rat (perhaps for the first time?). Superb, dynamic art. A must have for SW fans.

Dark Empire 1. Been 3 volumes so far. Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy. The TPB collects 6 ish mini. Set 6 years after Return of the Jedi. Luke, Han, Leia, and the usual gang are all in it. Light, almost ‘80s art, kinda like Bill Sienkiewicz. It was OK, but I preferred Darklighter. It was first published in 1991 and 92, and is the first Dark Horse series after they got the SW rights. Palpatine is back as a spirit and lives on in a series of cloned bodies. Han, Leia, and Chewie rescue Lando and Luke who were shot down. All pretty intense and epic.

Invasion. As I mentioned, the thirds series of Invasion (subtitled Revelations) is out now, and Trades of the first 2 series are out. Dark Horse pump out some high quality SW comics and you can find them all right here. Their newest one is called Agent of the Empire-Iron Eclipse. It’s a 5 ish mini-series by John Ostrander and Stephane Roux. It’s set inside the Empire and has a James Bond vibe to it. Sold! The first 40 page ish comes out on December 14 and can be ordered form your LCS (local comic shop) now.

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