book reviews, Comics, Uncategorized

Journey to Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker: Allegiance

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45485630Journey to Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker: Allegiance 
by Ethan Sacks (writer), Luke Ross (artist)

Rating: XXX

Published November 19th by Marvel Comics

“I wasn’t going to allow my friends to suffer while I can do something about it either”

BEFORE THE EXCITING EVENTS OF STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER! Hounded by the FIRST ORDER across the galaxy, the RESISTANCE is in dire need of ships, weapons and recruits to make a final stand against KYLO REN’S forces. Desperation drives a delegation led by GENERAL LEIA ORGANA and REY to entreat the Rebel veteran’s one-time allies, THE MON CALAMARI, to join the fight – but decades after Imperial occupation enslaved their planet, there are those willing to stop at nothing to prevent another war from bloodying the waters of Mon Cala. A system away, POE DAMERON and FINN have their own mission: to hunt down a weapons cache on the remote moon of Avedot, unaware that they are being hunted by the most notorious criminal gang in the galaxy!

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So although the Journey to The Rise of Skywalker content is meant to be read before the film is released, I had only read Resistance Reborn before going into the cinema and instead found that I tried to read through some of the Journey content afterwards instead to fill the hole where the film novelisation should be. The Allegiance comics are one such distraction and I haven’t read a Star Wars comic in a good long while with the exception of the first Poe Dameron comic last year (or maybe even the year before…it’s been a while) so I wasn’t sure what to expect, not to mention obviously things will change with different writers and artists. This review covers issues one to four of the Allegiance comic series designed to link the events of The Last Jedi to The Rise of Skywalker.

At the start of the comic, we get one of the iconic Star Wars scrolls and honestly this was a brilliant start and feels better than the one we got at the beginning of TROS (The Rise of Skywalker). Not everyone reads every single bit of content or plays Fortnite (yes I’m still salty we got the emperors “returning speech” in a Fornite event okay…) so I was immediately pretty done with the TROS crawl but this one feels relevant and I feel actually does a good job, off to a very good start!

If you’ve read Resistance Reborn then this whole scenario probably sounds quite familiar, Leia appealing to others for aid, Finn and Poe off an a side quest for the rebellion somewhere and it’s very much the same here which has the unfortunate effect of making Allegiance seem like a heavily watered-down version of the novel with the novel having better emotional stakes and pay off. These comics were released first but I think in the timeline the novel comes first as it’s pretty much directly after the end of The Last Jedi but who knows, as it always is with Star Wars, the timeline is a little hazy.

On its own, however, Allegiance is not a bad read, there are no especially huge moments but I think they’ve done pretty well to get through two stories with some interesting character interactions and such within the space of four issues. Saying that, the story is relatively paper-thin but honestly a little fun and they really reminded me of the old weekly Star Wars comics  I used to read when I was a kid. The characters have missions to complete, they attempt to, trouble happens, they get out of trouble simple and easy, a bit like the equivalent of the “monster of the week” style you find with some TV shows and the first few seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Honestly, it works though and it was only really on reflection for this review that I realised how little story there really was. It was by no means mind-blowing but it was enjoyable and as a result, I ended up ordering some more Star Wars comics and I do think I’m ready to see TROS again at some point in the future so I guess it did its job? Not to mention it explains a couple of things like the inclusion on the Mon Calamari forces in TROS and the presence of Admiral Ackbar’s son who has a few lines in the film.

With not a huge amount of story there were a few other things we managed to get out of the Allegiance comics, one of which was more Rose Tico and not only more Rose content in general but alongside Rey! She doesn’t play a massive part but is integral and has some brilliant characterisation that was sorely lacking in the film. Her personality really shines through and it seems like she and Rey have become good friends which was lovely and honestly, I’d read a whole comic about them two hanging out and going on missions etc.

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Essentially being one of the main characters of the sequel franchise Rey obviously gets a lot of page space and we get to see her doing a little force training as well as a fair bit of fighting (again like the older comics, we get a large amount of action), during which we see her beginning to use the force a lot more which I enjoyed. One thing I really noticed about her character was just how angry she was which felt very at odds with how Rey is portrayed in the films, sure she gets angry but she spends so much of these comics making threats and barring her teeth in 80% of her scenes that just seemed a little out of character although it does harken back to a lot of Anakin’s reactions in Revenge of the Sith so maybe this was the idea? To spread a little seed of doubt as to Rey’s “place” in the force in addition to the “Dark Rey” we see in the trailer.

Rey was also one of the only characters I had any problems with art wise too as she just seems like someone decided to see how many action figure poses they could put her in instead of just standing normally like an actual person and not a power ranger (see above image).

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I haven’t really mentioned the Finn, Poe and BB8 side of things for which I would be remiss but there’s unfortunately not a lot to say about it. It’s good, it’s fun and we are treated to the usual Finn and Poe b/romance banter but it does sadly feel largely unimportant and unneeded which is a shame as they’re really fun characters.

Overall this was an enjoyable read and it certainly scratched an itch but just wasn’t satisfying enough for me. Definitely not required reading for TROS in any capacity other than understanding the presence of the Mon Calamari.

 

book reviews, book talk, Bookish Discuussions, Comics, spoiler free

Captain Marvel: Liberation Run

42583944Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by Tess Sharpe

Rating: XXXX

Published: February 26th 2019 by Titan Books

But nothing can resist the stars for long. And she was made of battle-worn-starlight – her own kind of fire, one that never went out.

Carol Danvers–Captain Marvel–narrowly stops a spacecraft from crashing. Its pilot Rhi is a young Inhuman woman from a group who left for a life among the stars. Instead, they were imprisoned on a planet where an enslaved Inhuman brings her owner great power and influence. Horrified by the account, Carol gathers a team–including Ant-Man, Mantis, and Amadeus Cho–and they set out to free Rhi’s people.

I was gifted this gorgeous finished copy of Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by the publisher, Titan Books in exchange for an honest review. When I was offered this book that comes out under two weeks before one of my most anticipated Marvel film releases, Captain Marvel hits cinemas across the world I thought this would be a great opportunity to really dip my toe back into the world of Marvel comics and familiarise myself with the story of Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel. I’m usually very much a DC Comics reader (Give me Green Lantern or Gotham City Sirens any day) but the films we’ve seen from Marvel over the past decade have really piqued my interest and I’ve found my way to reading a few of their titles. I was excited however to find an entire story in one novelised volume instead of having to wait months for any kind of conclusion such as we often find in comics (I’m impatient okay?).

In the comics… Labelled as Marvels biggest female hero and quite possibly the Marvels mightiest Avenger, Carol Danvers  first entered the Marvel universe in the 1970’s as the security chief of a restricted military base and later in 1977 took on the title of Ms Marvel in her own self titled series after she effectively became a human-Kree hybrid thanks to being exposed to energy from an explosion of a device that tried to meld her genetic structure to that of  the Kree hero, Captain Marvel who was also in the vicinity. Despite some horrific treatment to her story in the 1980s, which even the former writer considered “inappropriate”, the title alone was socially progressive for its time by using the title Ms. which was then associated with the feminist movement. In 2012 after going through a lot of changes and different appearances, Carol returns with the title Captain Marvel in a new series written by Kelly Sue DeConnick which leads the way for a newer, more progressive side to the character and a slew of female writers. Fast forward to July 2018 and we get a “retelling” of Carol’s origin story with her mother instead being of Kree origin and the explosion merely unlocking her latent abilities, writer Margret Stohl has also commented on the fact that the series will share some similarities to the upcoming film although that is still “it’s own thing.”  Currently, Captain Marvels (and Carol’s) story is being written by Kelly Thompson (of Hawkeye and Jem and the Holograms fame) and illustrated by Carmen Carnero.

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Captain Marvel: Liberation Run was everything that I could have hoped for in that it felt like your typical but enjoyable YA storyline but became so much more with the addition of Carol and the team she assembles to aid Rhi, an inhuman girl who, along with her people have been trapped in a hellish prison disguised as a “safe place” for the powerful women of her kind. Not only do we get a well written, moderatley paced and interesting storyline with Rhi and the other inhumans but we also get to see a little into the lives of Carol and Scott Lang (Ant-man) as well as some great story and dialogue from Mantis, Hepzibah and Amadeus (with a hint of Brawn).

The only thing that I found irked me about this book, and it completely a problem of my own making, was that I wanted to know more about each character. If you’re an avid comic reader you will probably recognise all, if not most, of the Alpha Flight characters but as someone who only dips their toe in here and there with the occasional series that interests me I had to rely on my knowledge gleaned from the popular films which are not always entirely in line with the comic releases. Although each character does get a bit of an explanation as to their powers etc in the story, at times it kind of felt, to me, like the name was dropped and we should know everything we need to know about from just that and to be honest that is a fair assumption as someone who is picking up a Marvel novel will more than likely have at least a passing knowledge about it’s characters. I do think there maybe could have been an additional glossary type feature with a little explanation of each of the “superhero” characters – I just want to know how they got their powers is that so much to ask? – but as I said this is a problem that not everyone will have and is more to do with my inherent need to know backstories than any real problem.

Aside from the characters themselves, the story holds well, even on its own, I may have been less inclined to have picked this up without the Captain Marvel name but it does read very much like a YA story I would happily read and enjoy outside of the Marvel universe as well. I think this is one of the most enjoyable feminist books I’ve read in a while too, it really hits the nail on the head with a lot of its points and moments that I really connected to without feeling like it was steamrolling over the plot, it was a part of it that helped make it a whole instead of taking centre stage.

Captain Marvel: Liberation Run has definitely made me more excited about the upcoming film and has certainly piqued my interest in checking out the comics, I just need to decide where to start!

Have you read a novel based on or tied into a comic at all? How did you find it and had you read the linked comics beforehand? Let me know in the comments and sound off if you’re also looking forward to seeing Captain Marvel on the big screen on March 8th! Don’t forget Captain Marvel: Liberation Run is out today!

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