Category Archives: General Star Wars

Revenge, Money or Something Else

Even though it’s been with some nervousness, I have been looking forward to the release Solo: A Star Wars Story. So I thought I’d mark the opening day of the movie with a different kind of Aurebesh recreation.

Rather than translate something from Aurebesh into English, let’s try it the other way around!

It’s obvious to me that the controversial Solo teaser posters were directly inspired by/ripped off from a series album covers designed by Hachim Bahous for Sony Music. On the one hand, it’s a terrific design, but it’s laughable that whoever was responsible for the plagiarism thought that no one would notice. I hope Bahous and his team received significant apologies and compensation from Lucasfilm.

For my version, I made sure to include elements from Bahous’ design to pay tribute to his work, but with a SWTOR spin. To be honest, I originally hoped to feature Malgus or Satele, but their names were just too long. Good ol’ Darth Marr, however, was a much better fit.

Here’s to what will hopefully be a fun time at the movies this weekend!

 

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Jax’s Back

This month, in the comic book pages of IDW’s Star Wars Adventures 2018 Annual, saw the return of one of the most infamous characters in all Star Wars lore: Jaxxon, the green haired, rocket-rabbit from the very earliest days of what would become known as the Expanded Universe.

Jaxxon and his partner Amaiza (who also returns to the four color limelight), were one quarter of the “Eight for Aduba-3“, one of the first original Star Wars adventures in any media after the release of the movie. Before I wax too nostalgic, I should point out that the Aduba Saga has fairly earned its controversial reputation. Writer Roy Thomas saw in the first Star Wars movie a mix of Flash Gordon serials, samurai, western and World War II movies, and decided to do his own riff on The Magnificent Seven, adding elements from Godzilla movies, Warner Bros. cartoons, female professional wrestling, and even Cervantes. The end result, however, is an over-stuffed, under-cooked mess. In the years to come poor Jaxxon would be singled out by both official sources and fans as an excuse to dismiss the whole Marvel series. This is ironic because, until this month, there was literally a four decade gap in Jaxxon stories, and his last appearance in 1978, issue 16’s “The Hunter” is one of the strongest tales in the original run.

No doubt, these comics are very much of their time, and may not be to modern tastes. The earliest stories between Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back tended to be illustrated in a broad Silver Age style: Luke and Leia had the physiques of super-heroes, almost no effort was given to make the characters look like their actors, and the action was very exaggerated and over the top. What was proper Star Wars was still being discovered back then, and sometimes those old comics wouldn’t fit in continuity, used concepts from the movies weirdly or were just too comic-booky. “Eight for Aduba-3” fits all those bills.

And yet…

The giant monster stomps things, Jaxxon cracks wise, Amaiza kicks butt, Don-Wan Kihotay is clumsily heroic, and Han Solo saves the day in spite of himself. What more could an eight year old ask of a Star Wars comic? Nowadays when some folks are genuinely asking if there is too much Star Wars, it’s hard to imagine what is was like back then to be a fan starved for new adventures after just one movie. Splinter of the Mind’s Eye smacked of the low budget sequel it was intended to be and the wholly bizarre Holiday Special left a generation of kids shaking their heads in confusion. But in the pages of Marvel’s Star Wars comics, that’s where the action was. If you wanted to see all the heroes from the movie exploring new worlds, encountering scores of new aliens and playing with all manner of new ships, droids and weapons, Marvel had you covered.

Even as a big fan, I cannot deny that those old Marvel stories have a host of issues, but I think their flaws were more of execution than ambition. Some stories were misses, sure, but they were big misses. And there were plenty of hits too: stories that made the wait between movies easier to take, and stories than even now stand tall in the legendary array of Star Wars canon.

So I’m thrilled to see Jaxxon and Amaiza have another day in the sun. Over the years, there has been the odd sighting in roleplaying game supplements, inside jokes and background references, but the cartoony style of Star Wars Adventures is a natural fit for Jaxxon. The story by writer Cavan Scott, illustrator Alain Mauricet and colorist Chris Fenoglio is a delightful romp with action, betrayal and a charming reinvention of these old characters. You don’t have to know who Jaxxon and Amaiza is to get a kick out of the story, but there are some literal and figurative easter eggs for old timers like myself to enjoy. I do hope they check in with these two star-hoppers again, at the very least they have some unfinished business. Jaxxon is silly and dumb like Star Wars can be sometimes, like Star Wars should be sometimes. If you’re cool with that, by all means, check it out!

Black Hole Redux

This week’s Aurebesh recreation continues my tribute to Jaxxon and Amaiza. Back in the day, Han Solo knew Amaiza as the “den-mother of the Black Hole Gang” so a return to my favorite daily quest hub seemed appropriate. The Jaxxon connection is obvious upon discovering the translation of this sign.

The sign is one of many advertisements for the HyperMatter Corporation and at first glance seems to tout the company’s commitment to the environment. However, anyone who has quested through the zone probably knows that the color in question probably refers to the radioactive glow that one might develop after spending too much time in the Black Hole.

I must admit I missed this sign during my first survey of the zone since it is posted somewhat out of view in the Imperial section of the Black Hole and does not seem to be used elsewhere. The sign itself hangs high on a building and is easy to miss if you don’t look up or don’t back track while completing your weekly quests. I only recently discovered it myself while exploring the area on an Republic character. It’s like Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

 

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Godspeed, Rebels

Star Wars: Rebels ended its four-season run Monday night, and I thought I’d share my thoughts about the show. While I generally enjoyed its predecessor, The Clone Wars, the quality of stories could swing wildly from one arc to the next, so I wasn’t sure what to expect of Rebels at its launch. However, Dave Filoni and the whole Lucasfilm animation team really took what they learned from The Clone Wars and refined it into something special.

Rebels had a tighter focus on the crew the Ghost, and the art team did a great job playing to their strengths. Drawing inspiration from Ralph McQuarrie’s original designs, we got to see early iterations of many  iconic Star Wars creations, from the Imperial speeders and walkers, to a more angular Darth Vader and a proto-Chewbacca who came to life as Zeb. The world the show created was immediately recognizable as Star Wars, but unique enough to always feel like its own thing.

With the show set in the era of Rebellion, it’s clear that everyone involved was eager to play with all the classic Star Wars toys, and they dove in with gusto. Fan service or not, I’ll never get tired of seeing the alphabet soup of Wing fighters in action. Everyone loves Boba Fett, but Sabine’s Mandalorian armor is a wonder of design, stripped down to its essentials, but with a distinctive Pop Art flair. As for the show’s central ship, the Ghost, I’d argue that it’s cooler than any vehicle or ship we’ve seen in any of the three most recent Star Wars movies.

The core of the show, of course, was the crew. On the one hand, we’ve seen these character types before: the boy hero, the spunky girl, the gruff but loveable tough guy, the patient maternal figure, the haunted veteran, and the scene-stealing droid but the show forged them into a family unit, and the affection these characters had for each other felt genuine. They cared about each other, so I cared about them.

My favorite character was Hera. It’s rare in Star Wars to see a mother figure play a central role in the story, and Hera was the heart and soul of the show. She was the bad-ass mom the Ghost crew needed to help find their place in the galaxy. Coming in second, obviously, is Chopper. He is an unrepentant and unreformed forking son of a bench, and I love him for it. I doubt we’ll ever see his like again.

Rebels did a good job keeping its focus on the main characters and their journeys, even when it touched on other aspects of the larger Star Wars mythos. Filoni got to tie up some dangling plot threads from The Clone Wars with the return of Ahsoka and Rex, but those characters felt like additions to the cast, not distractions from it. Rebels also came to be something of a prequel to Rogue One, but in a way that I think mostly felt natural to the story Rebels was already telling.

Some of Star Wars’ heaviest hitters also stopped by, and it’s a credit to the show’s creators that visits from Darth Vader, Yoda and Ben Kenobi were handled with fantastic drama but still a light enough touch to not overwhelm the course of the show. And I’m impressed with the job they did bringing Thrawn to life as an intelligent and formidable antagonist for our heroes.

I was sometimes frustrated that Rebels would bump up against the limits of what a kid’s show would allow, acting a little too coy about Kanaan and Hera’s relationship and lacking real narrative stakes when most every adventure had to have a happy ending. As a viewer, I could also see the creators straining against the schedule and budget limits of a TV production, but I also appreciate that over the course of 74 episodes, we really got to explore the characters and their settings in a way that movies just don’t have time for.

In the end, however, I’d say Rebels hit the marks it was aiming for, and is a most worthy addition to Star Wars lore. I don’t doubt for a moment that Filoni and company have more stories to tell, and I’m eager to see where they take us next.

 

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A Mote of Dust Suspended in a Sunbeam

Hello there. This past month was busy, and I confess the end of expansion lull has me logging on a bit less these days, so I’ve not been as diligent in my blogging as perhaps I should.

To get back into the swing of things, this week’s recreation is fairly straight forward. This sign with its large planetary graphic is probably most familiar to Republic players who keep up with the Black Hole Weekly since it can be seen by the irradiated zone near the Hyper Matter Tower. It also can be found elsewhere around the galaxy and as a stronghold decoration.

The sign’s content and layout echo numerous others around the game. The use of prominent and seemingly random double letters is common element in many, many, many other signs we’ve seen, as is the featured use of the “D” glyph, Dorn. The planet symbol is also a recurring motif. The awkward English translation is also not uncommon. Threepio is most assuredly disappointed, but this sort of thing must be expected when working with alien languages. That said, even the Aurebesh on display here is somewhat distorted. The “Q” glyph, Qek has been slightly truncated with the downward stroke on the right side of the letter trimmed off, probably to make it fit on the sign. The kerning of the original Aurebesh font is pretty sloppy, so reshaping letters for design reasons seems fair.

It’s Fine. We’re Fine.

There has been a flurry of Star Wars news recently, and I thought I’d toss in my two truguts.

First up, SWTOR released game update 5.7: Legacy of the Creators. The Scyva encounter is neat and not too rough on storymode. If you can do Nahut, learning Scyva should be easy. Since I’ve only completed the Fallen Empire story on two characters, neither of which are a Smuggler or Inquisitor, I have not yet tried the new story content. That I haven’t been running all my characters through the story should not be taken as criticism. I think Breaking Bad is one of the best TV shows ever made, but I’ve still only seen most episodes once. When it comes to alts, I tend to run through the story super-duper casually: maybe a chapter once a week, sometimes not even on the same character. I’m happy to run stuff at my own pace, and I’m not ever going to spacebar-mash my way through just to be caught up. However, my story main is my Consular, and she is definitely feeling a little left out, but I’m certain Tharan Cedrax’s return will be EPIC. In the meantime, I am eagerly anticipating the next road map.

This week also saw the reveal of the long awaited or perhaps over-due trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story. I won’t go too deep, since predicting anything about a movie from its trailer is a fool’s errand. Any Star Wars fan with access to the internet knows that this movie has seen more than its fair share of behind the scenes drama, and I’m reluctant to get too hyped about a movie that may turn out to be a total mess. My expectations are not high, but Ron Howard is a reliable and experienced director who knows how to work within different genres, so I’m not without hope. I’m also down with Alden Ehrenreich. He looks as much like Harrison Ford as River Phoenix did, and what snippets of him we get in the trailer do seem to capture Han Solo’s mix of cockiness and dumb-assery, so I’ve got no issue there. And, c’mon, Donald Glover as Lando? Hell, yes.

And, if nothing else, the trailer confirms that the Terror from Beyond is canon.

Finally, it was also announced that David Benioff and D.B Weiss will be writing and producing some Star Wars movies. As a long time Game of Thrones hate watcher, I’m less than psyched, but I can see why they might be appropriate picks for a big franchise like this. There are a lot of Star Wars stories out there, and I don’t have to love them all. I’ll like what I like, and not worry about the rest.

 

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The Last Jedi Review

I’ll come right to the point. I loved The Last Jedi. Maybe it’s not a great movie, but it’s a great Star Wars movie. I think it’s the best looking one of the whole lot. Obviously, the Ramming Speed! collision is a show stopper, but the white and red salt flats, Snoke’s throne room and Luke’s island are all beautifully realized set pieces. All the performances are good, and Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver do a terrific job holding the center of the story together.

Beyond that, the movie really pushes the characters to grow. One of the things I like about The Force Awakens is that it took the character types from Star Wars, but mixed them up. Poe thinks he’s the Han Solo, but he’s really Princess Leia, and in The Last Jedi Leia herself is kicking his ass to make him accept that truth. Our heroes eventually figure things out, but not by succeeding. Pretty much every plan made in this movie falls apart, but Rey, Finn, Poe and even Ben take their lumps and get back up again. I don’t know if Rose has a story arc, but I don’t care, she’s adorable.

As for Luke, the embittered old hermit, I buy it completely. I’ve always seen Luke as a loner; this is something I don’t think the Expanded Universe ever really got right, so I don’t think it’s out of character for him to retreat to the kind of life he saw Obi-Wan and Yoda living when things went bad. In Return of the Jedi, Luke’s heroic act is rejecting both Yoda and Obi-Wan’s urging to kill Vader and the temptation to the Dark Side. That he struggles to keep his own standards as a teacher is Old Luke’s tragic flaw, and it seems to me that Rian Johnson wants to call out Luke in a way that Obi-Wan and Yoda never were, and to force Luke to take responsibility for failing Ben instead of letting Rey do his dirty work.

I think that Leia was handled much better here than in The Force Awakens (or Return of the Jedi for that matter). I really believed she was leading this rebellion and not just a figurehead in the room. And her big moment seems to me to be the most impressive thing we’ve ever seen done with the Force in any of the movies. If we have to say good-bye to Carrie Fisher, I’m glad it was this way.

It’s not without flaws to be sure. By breaking up the band, the easy rapport between Poe and Finn and Rey, which was such a big part of what made The Force Awakens so enjoyable, feels like a missing piece. There are lots of characters, ideas and stories flying around here, and maybe some of it could’ve been trimmed. This density causes The Last Jedi to not have the same momentum as other Star Wars films, but, it does allow room to explore the Force more than any other movie in the series. And if the Canto Bight section drags, I’m willing to forgive it because it sets up the film’s coda. I think the scene with the kids is not only one of my favorite parts of the movie, but one of the best Star Wars moments ever.

Ultimately, The Last Jedi just works for me. It leaves me wanting more, but also feels complete in its own right. I like and care about Rey, Finn, Poe and Rose. I understand and pity Ben, I mourn the loss of Luke and Holdo. And Carrie. We should remember the truth of them as people, but we should also print the legend.

With that, I’ll bid adieu to 2017. I want to thank everyone for visiting and every bit of feedback from a like on Twitter to an award on reddit. I appreciate it all. Have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!

 

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Your Number is 2187, Isn’t it?

Your humble blogger is feeling a tad under the weather, so this week I thought I’d choose an easy sign to translate. While the recreation was a fairly simple task, this sign did lead to an aspect of Star Wars history to which I had not been aware prior to researching this post.

This sign is similar in style to many others found around Coruscant and other developed worlds of the Republic. It contains the usual bits of random letters and numbers, a neat calibration icon, a warning about stellar regulations, and a gentle reminder to always secure your safety harness when traveling by speeder.

While the large numbers atop the sign may seem random at first glance. They are far from it. Many fans will recognize them as the number of Princess Leia’s cell in Star Wars. And the numbers would come to even further attention as Finn’s stormtrooper designation in The Force Awakens.

The number’s true origin lies in the name of a short film titled 21-87 by Arthur Lipsett. This film had a profound effect on George Lucas as a young filmmaker, influencing Lucas’ aesthetic style and his habit of titling his early movies with numbered sequences; perhaps most importantly the film provided Lucas with the initial inspiration for the concept of the Force, which would lead directly to our beloved Jedi heroes and Sith villains.

The movie itself is quite abstract, occasionally disturbing, and definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s interesting to see something that had such a seminal influence on Star Wars. “In terms of understanding the power of sound and picture relationships there is no one better than Arthur Lipsett,” George Lucas said of the man who created 21-87.

 

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Just Breathe

My pledge to take the week off has faltered yet again with the release of the trailer for The Last Jedi and its inclusion of Aurebesh on Finn’s medical pod.

Much of the text is so blurry and distorted that it is difficult if not impossible to decipher. Moreover, what is readable, specifically the sets of four characters that shift during the second or two this shot is on screen seem to be random characters. This information can easily be chalked up as medical jargon and acronyms obscure to all but the most seasoned of medical droids.

The information at the top of the red block, however, does seem to be translateable, and might constitute a very minor spoiler, so Caveat Clicktor!

As is often the case with Aurebesh ligatures, they are not used as letters but rather the English keyboard symbol that the font uses to generate them, so I translated the Cherek and Shen glyphs as brackets.

There seems to be more Aurebesh in white on the right side of the pod, but it is far too blurry for me to take a stab at.

To make sense of the Aurebesh in the screen shot, I did have to apply some technical jiggery-pokery in Photoshop. Even so this translation involves more guessing and perhaps wishful thinking than usual. Other translators may very well come to different conclusions.

 

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Why SWTOR Should Pay Tribute to Carrie Fisher

I hadn’t planned to post anything this week since I saw no point in competing with the news from Star Wars Celebration, but then I saw this and it genuinely choked me up:

It reminded me of the suggestion that many folks made that SWTOR should add a memorial to Carrie Fisher to the game. I don’t recall anyone at Bioware mentioning one way or the other about whether it would happen, but I figured I’d use my teeny, tiny soapbox to add my voice to those who have already suggested it.

A statue of a princess and a loyal astromech at House Organa on Alderaan has been the most common suggestion, and this would also be a fitting tribute to Kenny Baker who passed away last year as well. Certainly it could be done in a way that wouldn’t violate continuity any worse than “Hun Duo” and “Greepo” in the cantina on Hutta or the tableau of bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back on the Ziost Shadow.

But even if it did rip a hole in the time-space continuum, I wouldn’t care. SWTOR is not a transmission of historical documents, it’s a work of fiction, a game played and made by people in the real world. It’s only natural that it should pay tribute to someone whose contributions to Star Wars had a real effect on generations of fans.

So, of course, it should happen and I would hope the good folks at Bioware agree.

 

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Falling Down a Bottomless Pit is Never Fatal

A friend of mine who got an invite to the PTS for the upcoming patch 5.2: The War for Iokath sent me this screenshot from the new daily area’s imperial quest hub. He doesn’t know Aurebesh, but figured I could translate it for him so I thought I’d give it a go.

At first glance this seems like a bog standard Imperial recruitment poster featuring one of the game’s most beloved Dark Lords. It’s topped with an invocation of the Sith code, but its tagline, however, is a different thing entirely. Not only does it have significant implications for the future of SWTOR but for the entire Star Wars saga.

Whether this is an inside joke for folks on the PTS or kind of a big spoiler, I cannot say. Click on the thumbnail and see the translation at your own risk. You’ve been warned!

 

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The Last Jedi

As a long time fan of Marvel’s Star Wars comics of the 70’s and 80’s, I’m always amused to see how prescient those old four color classics were in ways large and small. We are not likely to see Jedidiah on the big screen next December, but it’s neat to be reminded of one of Expanded Universe’s better Star Wars stories.

Central Circle

It is a real thrill to be included amongst the fine group content creators featured by SWTOR Central’s first installment of Central Circle. Sam is easily the most enthusiastic evangelist of SWTOR out there, and his videos are always an entertaining and even handed look at the game. The other creators’ content featured in this video are also worth your time from yet another great guide by Swtorista, FibroJedi’s tips for saving credits, OdBucko’s progression videos, and Aravail’s fantastic commentary on Galactic Command which I really, really hope the good folks at Bioware watch.

I’ll be translating more Aurebesh later the week as I keep my fingers crossed for good news from Thursday’s Bioware livestream.

 

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