Thursday, January 15, 2015

Marvel Star Wars #1 Arrives!

Star Wars #1 (2015)
Marvel Comics was the first company to print Star Wars comics back in 1977 and continued the series until 1986 along with the Droids and Ewoks comics until 1987. After a few years of no Star Wars comics at all, Dark Horse Comics began its own very successful storytelling in the galaxy far, far away from 1991 to the end of 2014. 

Star Wars #1 (1977)
Hundreds of stories later, Star Wars returns this week to its original comic home as Marvel releases yet another comic entitled simply Star Wars #1.

The 2015 Star Wars series kicks off a brand-new storyline set between Episodes 4 and 5. The first Death Star has been destroyed, Han and Chewbacca are getting used to be being good guys, Luke hasn’t met Yoda yet and Leia has resumed her role as a leader of the Rebellion. 

This is the same time period of the original Marvel Star Wars comics of the 1970’s, as well as many books like the Rebel Force series of kids’ novels.
Rebel Force: Target

The comic is well-written by Jason Aaron and drawn by artist John Cassidy and has many fun twists even within the first issue. You can read detailed reviews elsewhere but the real question for us is: Is it appropriate for kids?

The first issue comes with a Teen rating and earns it with a degree of violence similar to what you’d see in the movies. The story is not inappropriate for older kids who love the movies. Kids are just not the main intended audience. Shootings, slavery and lightsaber slicings happen, as you would expect in a Star Wars story along with comedic moments as part of the adventure. 

Star Wars #1 isn’t a kids’ comic book but for young readers who enjoy the movies, this is a great time to start enjoying monthly adventures in the galactic battle between Dark and Light.

In this issue is also a sneak peek at the upcoming new Darth Vader and Princess Leia comics, coming soon along with a series focusing on Kanan from Star Wars Rebels. No word if Marvel has plans to make comics specifically for kids but of course that would be mentioned here if/when that happens!

-Chris @SWKidscast

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Read, You Must: Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

As part of a series of new books retelling the Star Wars saga for young readers, Disney Books begins with Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight written by popular children’s author/illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi and illustrated by the late Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who defined the look of the Star Wars universe more than anyone else. 

Despite the very long title, the story compacts Luke Skywalker’s heroic journey from Episodes IV, V and VI into one 64-page picture book.

Like Pablo Hidalgo’s Star Wars Rebels: A New Hero, this book is illustrated using “pre-production” or “concept” artwork - images created early in the making of a movie or TV show to give an idea how it will look later.

Tony DiTerlizzi, best known for creating fantastical, detailed worlds in the middle-grade novel series The Spiderwick Chronicles and more recently the WondLa books, condenses the three-movie story by focusing mainly on moments Luke was around. The word “adventures” is in the title on purpose as DiTerlizzi briskly focuses on key action scenes.

For some fans, this book is worth having simply as a collection of Ralph McQuarrie artwork. Most of this art has been used before on posters, book covers or featured in books and magazines about the making of Star Wars. However even this long-time fan discovered some images I’d never come across before! Having them all collected in an inexpensive hardcover book is a wonderful alternative to earlier coffee-table books.

Early version of what Yoda might've looked like, by Ralph McQuarrie
Other fans may be puzzled by the images that, while beautifully painted and reproduced, often don’t quite match what is seen in the movies. Yoda, Lando and C-3PO in particular may look odd, even “wrong”, at times. I remember having that reaction as a kid when many of these early paintings were on trading cards, before I learned what pre-production meant.

As wonderful as it is to see Ralph McQuarrie’s art in a new setting and presented to a young audience, Tony DiTerlizzi is an amazing artist himself and hopefully he will create some Star Wars artwork in the very near future! 

Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight is as much an impressive art collection for nostalgic parents as it is an engaging introduction to Luke Skywalker’s story.

-Chris @SWKidscast

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Questions and Answers from The Force Awakens Official Teaser Trailer!

On Friday November 28, the world saw its first official glimpses of the next Star Wars film: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, due in theatres Dec 18, 2015. The key word here is “glimpses” because this was what’s known as a “teaser” trailer - just a few hints and peeks at what’s to come to get you excited, but not enough to give away anything major. Remember at this point the movie is still another whole YEAR away! 

If you haven't seen it yet here it is:

So what are some of the questions you might have after watching it?

Who is talking? Who is he talking to? What does he say?
It's not certain at this point who the character is (he may be the mysterious character in black) but he sure sounds evil and in Star Wars, evil people usually have an apprentice or two, so get ready for some new bad guys!

He says: "There has been an Awakening. Have you felt it? The dark side...and the light."

It's COLD here! Have you felt it?

Who is the man in the desert? Is he a stormtrooper or clone trooper? Why doesn’t he look like a clone from The Clone Wars?

Well it's sure hot HERE!
Few people know exactly who he is or what his role in the story is. He could be a rebel in a stormtrooper uniform (like Luke & Han inside the first Death Star) or he could be an Imperial but he is clearly not a clone trooper. This movie will take place many years AFTER Return of the Jedi, and the Clone Wars happened many years BEFORE that. The Empire did not use clones much (if at all) after the Clone Wars ended and so stormtroopers can be any race, gender, or species. Some of this is being shown already in Star Wars Rebels.

Remember, the use of clone armies was one reason that particular galactic war was different than others in Star Wars history, so that is why the term “Clone Wars” was specifically used for that time.

Why are there stormtroopers and TIE fighters? Wasn’t the Empire defeated in Return of the Jedi?

We’ll have to wait and see what the official explanation is but not every general, soldier or spaceship of the galaxy-wide Empire was there at the battle of Endor. Perhaps some parts of the Empire survived and held power on some planets?

What’s that new droid that looks like R2-D2 on a ball?

Merrily, we roll along...
Some are already calling that “soccer ball droid”! It’s not a droid seen before in a Star Wars movie or TV show, but its sort of similar to a rolling destroyer droid with an R2 head, isn’t it? The real question is: what is it running from...or such a hurry?

Where’s Luke, Han, Leia, Chewbacca, C-3P0 and R2-D2?

Patience : )

Where’s the space battles & aliens?

Again, patience. It’s all coming! The next trailer will reveal much more, hopefully coming Spring 2015.

No caption needed for this one!
Do you have any other questions about the teaser trailer or The Force Awakens in general? Post them here or leave a voice mail on the app on the right side. We’ll do our best to answer them!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Read, You Must: Star Wars in 100 Scenes

Star Wars In 100 Scenes is a brand new look at the entire Star Wars movie saga (so far) in one hefty, photo-filled volume from DK Publishing. 

The six movies are broken down into a series of two-page spreads highlighting key moments, character introductions and a little behind-the-scenes trivia. The storyline is summarized scene-by-scene by author Jason Fry (Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episode Guide, Jupiter Pirates) as he offers insights gathered from the movies, books, comics and other sources. It is more of a guide book than Fry’s 2011 Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Scholastic), which told the same story but in a much more illustrated storybook way.

The images are stunning of course, and every page is FULL of pictures. Like many other photo-rich DK books, moments that quickly go by on screen are frozen here and allow you to notice details you may have missed no matter how many times you see the movies.
Obi-Wan has a lovely time with the Fetts!

Star Wars in 100 Scenes is written to be appropriate for 7-15 year-olds but fans of any age, including adults, would get something out of this.

Vader's big entrance: dum dum dum DUMMMM!
The emphasis is on action and excitement, as the cover suggests: “Experience the Excitement of the Epic Saga”. Among the 100 exciting scenes highlighted there are some notably absent character and story moments. For example, Anakin meeting Padmé for the first time is never mentioned or shown (pretty vital to the entire overall story) nor is Han Solo’s encounter with Greedo in the Mos Eisley cantina. Understandably, boiling the six films down into 100 scenes meant that some scenes would not make it in. I’m sure there were many debates before the 100 were chosen.

This is a gorgeous book that belongs on any Star Wars fans’ bookshelf. However the best use for this book may be this: if you have a friend or relative who isn’t willing or able to sit down and watch six whole movies but asks “why do you love Star Wars so much?” hand them a copy of Star Wars In 100 Scenes. You’ll likely create a new fan right there!

-Chris @SWKidscast

Monday, September 22, 2014

Origami Yoda Series & Tour Concludes

Bursting with even more energy than his enthusiastic fans (often referred to as Superfolders), Tom Angleberger concluded his promotional tour on Sunday for the latest (last?) book in the best-selling Origami Yoda series here in the Vancouver area. 

Appearing at the North Vancouver library (with thanks to Kidsbooks) Angleberger discussed a little about Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus, juggled with his old mentor, had a paper-airplane contest with origami artist Joseph Wu, and taught everyone how to fold an "emergency five-fold Yoda", useful when no other Yoda is available.

Unlike most authors who talk a little, read an excerpt, then answer a few questions, Angleberger encouraged plenty of noise and participation and actually didn't read from his books at all. Having now released the sixth book of the series he seemed comfortable to assume most kids there had read them so there were plenty of inside jokes. It would be a safe assumption considering how many of the kids brought their entire set of the books to be signed, and how many brought BAGS full of origami characters, Star Wars and more, to share. 

The "Final" book...or is it??
These kids were excited to meet the author of books that truly meant something to them. Tom Angleberger's Origami Yoda series is certainly an entertaining read, but without ever getting preachy, each book has something to say to young readers about a variety of heavy topics. For example, a lot of books for middle-graders contain bullying as a plot device, but amid a fun book like Darth Paper Strikes Back, Angleberger is able to go deeper and look at what happens when complicated issues are handled by well-meaning adults looking for easy answers.

Star Wars Kidscast hasn't posted a review of the individual Origami Yoda books simply because most of them were released before our launch. Reviewing only the last book seems a little odd - sort of like ONLY watching Return of the Jedi and skipping the other movies. Let's just say the entire series is recommended for any strong readers interested in the drama and laughs of middle-school and to adults who are curious about the only Star Wars-related novels set on Earth (so far).

Serious paper-airplane folding!
You don't need to be a Star Wars fanatic to enjoy the books but it sure would help, particularly as the series goes on and more obscure characters and moments are referenced. But what do squirrels, Cheetos and a foul-mouthed monkey named Soapy have to do with all of this? You'll just have to read the books to find out! 

For our interview with Tom Angleberger earlier this year click here!

Origami Yoda may be over as a series but there's more Star Wars coming from Tom Angleberger. New book adaptions of the three original Star Wars films (Episodes IV, V & VI) are coming soon from Disney Publishing, and guess who is thrilled to be writing a version of Return of the Jedi?

During the question portion of the event on Sunday, Angleberger proudly discussed this new book project and suggested that in his version, we'll finally know how an Ewok is able to take down a Stormtrooper!

Tom was happy to sign and draw something for everyone!

And there was quite a line-up!
Thanks Tom for a wonderful afternoon, but more importantly thank you for your contribution to spreading the love of Star Wars to a new generation!

-Chris @SWKidscast