The Colonel’s Pants

So before you read any further I must warn you that I am about to discuss some very obscure Star Wars material, and will be arguing a point that may very well only be important to me.

Now, when I say obscure I don’t mean a Wedge Antilles or Bossk level obscurity, think more obscure!  I’m talking about a specific character so minor that they only appear on screen for a few seconds and have absolutely no dialogue.  On top of that I’ll be nitpicking the details of that characters costume and posit some ideas which may go against the standard conventions for said character.

So if you’re not ready for some serious Star Wars deep cuts then get the fuck out!

Ok let’s talk about Colonel Wullf Yularen.

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That is a name which in recent years has become only slightly more recognizable with Star Wars fans.  Before that Colonel Yularen was a character with very few background details and even fewer fans who seemed to give a shit about him.

In the original Star Wars (A New Hope) from 1977 Colonel Wullf Yularen appears in a single scene (though later in this essay I will put forth the theory that Yularen actually appears a second time in that film).  The colonel’s only film appearance (though possibly first of two, see previous parenthetical) is during the infamous Death Star Conference Room scene where Grand Moff Tarkin informs his heads of staff that the Emperor has dissolved the senate and later Darth Vader chokes a guy.  Sitting directly next to Admiral Motti (the haughty Imperial who gets Force choked by Vader) you will see Colonel Wullf Yularen in his distinctive white uniform jacket.

yularen20.png

From the years of 1977 to 1995 the character was left unnamed and without a title or any background information whatsoever.

However in 1995 Colonel Wullf Yularen was first named and given a brief biography within the Star Wars Customizable Card Game put out by Decipher.  At the time the names and lore text of those cards was considered canon and it was there stated that the colonel was a leader of the Imperial Security Bureau contingent aboard the first Death Star.

After his inclusion in the card game the character found his way into subsequent Star Wars encyclopedias and information tomes that would be published later but little was done to further his biography.

yularen4

The Colonel Wullf Yularen card was printed in the original release of the Star Wars CCG

It was from this glance of the character of Yularen in the CCG and his concise but interesting biography which really made me a fan.  I would often try to include the colonel in my Star Wars decks despite the fact that he was not that powerful and his abilities not all that impressive.

Regardless Yularen still intrigued me.

I mean this is the guy who was apparently briefing Grand Moff Tarkin on stuff and who was apparently in such good standing with the Emperor that he’s the one Palpatine sends to ensure everyone on board the Death Star is towing the Imperial line.

Eventually in 2006 an action figure of Colonel Wullf Yularen was created in a special boxed set of the Death Star Briefing Room.

It was a joyous day for Yularen fans in particular or Imperial officer completionists in general.

However despite my personal excitement I was confused by the look of the figure whose uniform was revealed to be entirely white, which is unlike any other standard Imperial uniform seen in the movies or the books.

In the expanded universe books Grand Admirals did wear all white uniforms but those uniforms were also adorned with golden epaulets and the corresponding double rowed rank insignia.

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“Oops looks like my pants got mixed up in Thrawn’s laundry again and his with mine!”

A mystery and controversy had begun.

The controversy lies with the fact that Yularen was clearly defined in the lore as being part of the ISB, the Imperial Security Bureau.  The uniform of the ISB would eventually become associated with the black cap, white coat, and black pants which is seen worn by various officers in various background shots of the first Death Star.

Conversely the black/white/black uniform of the ISB was always sort of a mystery because it only ever appears in the first Star Wars movie and is only ever seen on the Death Star.  Until it was established as the accepted ISB uniform those Imperials were simply known as “Death Star Officers” or “Imperial Fleet Officers.”  Now as stated before Yularen only appears in A New Hope and is only seen on the Death Star and was later established as a high ranking officer in the ISB.

Do you follow me so far?

So with all of that in mind shouldn’t the pants of the action figure for Wullf Yularen have been black, and not white?

To me the answer was obvious, and clearly Hasbro had made a mistake.  That being said however he is such a minor character and the pants in question are never actually visible while the character is seated at the Death Star conference table, so there is really no way to prove otherwise.  Oh well, what can you do?

The issue of the all-white uniform became further compounded when in 2008 a younger version of Wullf Yularen was included in the prequel cartoon series The Clone Wars.

In the series Yularen is given the rank of Admiral in the Republic fleet and works closely with Jedi knight Anakin Skywalker as they battle the forces of the Separatists.

Another banner moment for Yularen fans!

Who would have thought that we’d ever get more Wullf Yularen!  But alas this inclusion in the Clone Wars brings with it further Yularen scandal.

The wonderful Dave Filoni, show runnder of the Clone Wars and it’s followup series Star Wars Rebels, has stated that they decided to include the character of Wullf Yularen as a nod to the original trilogy and gave him the rank of Admiral in order to show his rise through the ranks to the position of Grand Admiral, a rank which the show’s creators mistakenly thought the character had attained at the time of A New Hope as signified by his white uniform jacket.

Once this mistake was realized a good old fashioned retcon was deployed which stated that Yularen had retired from the Navy at some point after the Clone Wars with the rank of Admiral but was later at the time of A New Hope was personally asked by the Emperor himself to reenlist with the ISB in a new position as colonel aboard the Death Star.

However the damage was already done.

Despite the relatively unadorned rank insignia of Wullf Yularen (three red squares and three blue squares) along with a pre-established history, the idea that Wullf Yularen was a Grand Admiral at the time of A New Hope seemed to have found a foothold within the fandom.

Until now!

It is at this time that I would like to get to the point of this entire post and present my evidence of precisely how Colonel Wullf Yularen should be depicted and to firmly establish his position as colonel within ISB operations.

First of all as most of us know by now the Expanded Universe was completely wiped out just prior to the release of the newest Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens.  That meant that pretty much anything was once again up for grabs in the Star Wars universe and unless something explicitly took place in the first six movies or the Clone Wars cartoon it was no longer considered Star Wars canon.

The first expanded universe book of this new canon was titled “Tarkin” and documented the rise to power of the titular character.  In that book Wullf Yularen made a few very minor appearances and thankfully was firmly reestablished once again as a colonel in the ISB (and also, yay more Yularen!).

So that bit of business is taken care of.

Now for his uniform.

A couple of years ago I put together an ISB uniform of my own to wear to conventions, Death Star briefings, or fancy dinners.  I figured an Imperial officer costume would be a nice alternative to my much more cumbersome stormtrooper armor.  Wanting to do something a bit more unique then the typical grey fleet officer I decided to go with the Imperial Security Bureau look.

Black cap, white officer jacket, black pants.

As a fan of Yularen I gave myself the rank of colonel and adorned my costume accordingly but I wanted to examine the movie with a fine toothed comb and seek out as many of the ISB uniforms as possible in order to make sure the details of my costume were precise.

Through my observations I found that there are actually two variations of the ISB uniform in A New Hope.  One with the typical imperial cropped riding pants and tall boots and another with a straight legged pant and dress shoes.  Not a huge difference and from all observations my costume was spot on.

Below are most of the uniforms appearances in the film.

 

Now here’s the big moment!

As I was going, frame-by-frame, looking for ISB officers aboard the Death Star I came across the scene where Han and Luke, disguised as stormtroopers escorting Chewbacca, are awaiting a turbolift to the detention area.

In that scene our heroes are passed by a pair of ISB agents.  These two agents are actually the clearest examples of the uniform in the movie and as I was examining them I realized something.

The officer on the right is Wullf Yularen!

Could that be?

Is that Colonel Yularen out and about walking the Death Star corridors?

It certainly appears that way to me, despite the addition of the black cap everything is exactly the same down to the rank insignia.

Unless there were two actors with the same face and same pristinely trimmed mustache on the set of Star Wars then I had to be looking at what was essentially an unacknowledged second appearance of Wullf Yularen!

Here take a look at the side by side comparisons.

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A second appearance by the colonel is completely in keeping with the rest of the film seeing as several of the Imperials from the conference room scene appear later in the movie.

Admiral Motti and General Tagge discuss the fate of Princess Leia with Tarkin and Vader after the conference room scene.

Chief Bast is seen in several scenes before and after, most notably as the officer who warns Grand Moff Tarkin that the Rebel’s attack against the Death Star might be more dangerous than previously expected.

What this whole long drawn out rant is trying to explain is that Colonel Wullf Yularen wears black pants and it’s irrefutably proven in one quick scene.

With the discovery of that full body shot of the colonel those black pants should now be considered official canon, despite the implications of the white panted action figure.

From everything that I’ve researched no one seems to have realized that one quick corridor scene is in fact a display of Wullf Yularen’s full uniform in motion.

So in the future whenever you’re discussing Star Wars or Star Wars Costuming with your friends, family, and colleagues and find yourself in an argument over the uniform of Wullf Yularen or of the ISB in general (as I’m sure happens on at least a weekly basis) feel free to point them in the direction of Mindless Philosophy and I’ll be glad to set them straight!

 

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A piece of fan art in the Clone Wars style which incorrectly depicts Wullf Yularen wearing white pants.

 

That is all!

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George Lucas Doesn’t Hate The Fans, He’s Just A Terrible Artist

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.

—-Leonardo Di Vinci

“Star Wars is like a woman who was once vibrant and beautiful but who has had an obscene amount of plastic surgery and hasn’t been allowed to age gracefully.”  —-Some Guy on a Star Wars Forum

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or simply aren’t a Star Wars fan or geek of any ilk, you most likely have been hearing the complaints about the changes made to the Star Wars movies in their upcoming blu-ray release.  Most of the recent controversy has centered around some added bits of dialogue given to Darth Vader during the climactic final battle between Vader, Palpatine, and Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi.  In this newest version Darth Vader screams “No! Nooo!” as he picks up his Sith master and gives him the shaft.  A phrase that has already garnered some fan ridicule when it was used in Revenge of the Sith and now has them outraged due to its insertion into the iconic ending of the original trilogy.

Cover of the upcoming Star Wars Blu-Ray

Now many Star Wars fans out there already have several complaints to bring up against Uncle George, the bearded creator.  This recent tinkering with the saga seems to be the straw that infuriated the camel’s core fanbase.  Many other blogs and commentaries seem to imply that they feel George Lucas hates the fans, cares nothing for the Star Wars saga, and thinks that adding to, and messing with, the movies will encourage us gullible fans to shell out a few extra bucks in order to collect a newer version of the films.

But here’s how I see it.

From what I can tell George Lucas does NOT hate the fans of his movies, or think that they are fools.  On the contrary Lucas seems to take quite an interest in the fans and their activities.  He has personally attended several of the Star Wars Celebration conventions and I have personally seen him speak twice.  From all indications he seems actually quite congenial to, and appreciative of, his fans.  One quick example that comes to mind is when Uncle George was taking questions at one of the previously mentioned Star Wars Celebrations, when one particularly stereotypical geeky fan asked a very specific and involved question about buzz droids and particle shielding on Jedi starfighters.  George took a breath and was about to answer the inquiry before the other fans in the auditorium booed the awkward questioner down from the mic.  I remember personally yelling something along the lines of “Ask that kind of shit at a Trek convention!”  George Lucas however said nothing, and simply shrugged as if disappointed he didn’t get to answer.

George Lucas shakes hands with a young Jedi fan

What I’m getting at is that George Lucas could be so much more standoffish with his fans, he could be like the Emperor, mysterious and removed from the people.  Instead he seems to make appearances quite often, has dialogues with the fans, and has even given his take on a few of the popular criticisms about his work.

That’s not to say that George Lucas hasn’t made some mistakes in his work.  I am in no way simply pardoning Lucas for everything just because he takes a few minutes to chat with the fan boys.  Jarjar was waaaaay overdone.  Episode II is terrible.  Han shooting first was stupid.  He shouldn’t have directed the prequels.  And Indiana Jones 4 was total shit (but actually I put most of the blame for that debacle on the other major players involved with that one, Lucas’ story could have been one of my favorite Indy movies, but the execution was atrocious!)

Now onto the idea that Lucas hates the Star Wars universe, or simply has no regard for the established universe that is Star Wars.  I’ve commented on this before in my post about Lucas VS the Fan Boys.  Without repeating myself too much I’ll just restate that I’ve never felt, nor have I really seen any evidence to support the idea that Lucas simply doesn’t care about what changes he makes to the Star Wars universe.  On the contrary I have to say that if you’ve read any interviews with Dave Filoni, the director of the Clone Wars cartoon, or George Lucas himself, you’ll discover that there is quite a bit of thought and effort put into what new elements are added to the Star Wars universe through the cartoons, and film changes, and how those elements fit in with the existing Star Wars realm.  Sure Lucas makes changes to established and iconic scenes, and tinkers with works he’s already completed but I attribute that more to the idea that Lucas is a perfectionist who regularly thinks about how he wishes this or that scene had turned out better.  I don’t believe he makes changes on a whim, but instead foolishly makes these edits based on his current state of mind, and not his original inspired direction.  As a writer myself I can sympathize with wanting to tweak your work to make it just right.  That however has to happen before it is unleashed upon the world.

Which brings me to the last part of my rant.

“Lucas just wants to make a quick buck off the fans by making some unnecessary changes and putting the movies out on a new format.”  George Lucas knows how to make a buck, there is no denying that.  That son of a bitch is the grand master of merchandising and he established the style of promotion and rebranding that keeps a product fresh in the mind of the consumer.  He knows how to stretch something out and get the most from fan expectations and desires.  I’m convinced that the only reason we haven’t seen the live action Star Wars television series yet is because the Clone Wars was far more popular and successful than originally anticipated, so why show all your cards at once?  Get the most of the Clone Wars and when that winds down, ramp up the live action show once more.  Some might say it’s a dick move, but it’s just good business.  Hold onto those good ideas until you need them, and keep the product going.  It’s America, it’s capitalism.  So all our Star Wars dreams aren’t coming true all at once, too bad.

I believe Lucas does what he does in terms of changes, additions, tinkering, etc. because deep down George Lucas is still clinging to his indie film school roots.  Somewhere deep down there is still good in Lucas, he pictures himself as a hipster film geek who praises 2001: A Space Odyssey and Kurosawa movies.  He wants to try to perfect his art however and is afraid to let things go until they are “done right.”  The problem is of course that things are never done right, they’re just done as best as they can be.  As the above quote states art is never finished, only abandoned.  This of course means that George Lucas is a terrible artist in that he just can’t let go.  I’m not saying he shouldn’t have made the prequels or has done too much with the Clone Wars, on the contrary, for the most part, I really enjoy these new segments of the Star Wars saga (glaring annoyances aside.)  It just means that Lucas has to learn to let go.  When he stepped back from the directors chair on the original movies we found that his vision could be fulfilled just as well, if not better, through a different set of eyes.

A young George Lucas with his friend, a young Francis Ford Coppola

It is my theory that George Lucas is not a spiteful person, nor a solely greedy one.  If any maladjustment can be assigned to him I would say he suffers from excessive vainglory.  He wants his works to be the best, and remain the best.  Star Wars, his inarguable pinnacle achievement and best known creation was once the apex of movie making, a groundbreaking achievement in film.  He is slow to relinquish that glory and so attempts to make his art a continual work in progress, slowly adapting the state of the art practices of the present to his masterpiece of the past.  Without a doubt Lucas has been a pioneer in new technologies and styles of film making, but he is unable to completely let go of his pride and the earlier works that got him there.

That is why you fail.

That is all!

Star Wars Episode VII: Cry of the Fanboys

     Everyone knows I am a huge Star Wars fan.  I live and breathe Star Wars.  I know the movies by heart, I can name just about any background character in every scene, I know the comics, and I read the books.  I own the ewoks movies and have both the ewoks and droids cartoons on DVD.  I even have a bootleg of the Star Wars Holiday Special (gasp!).  It is fair to say that I have an extensive knowledge of Star Wars that goes far beyond the depth of the films alone.  I however don’t know everything.  I wouldn’t say that I am an unparalleled expert in the Star Wars mythos; doubtlessly there are many others out there who know more about the ever expanding galaxy far, far away than I do.  For instance I have not read every single book in the now extensive Star Wars library.  There are just some that don’t interest me, and it’s tough to keep up on the ones that do.

The Thrawn trilogy are some books almost all fans praise

     One of the biggest things going in Star Wars today is the Clone Wars series on Cartoon Network.  I have loved what they are doing with this show and I have really grown to enjoy the creative team that is involved in bringing this aspect of Star Wars to the small screen.  Lead by director Dave Filoni the show has only grown stronger as far as I’m concerned, in both look and story.  After a shaky start with the release of the less then stellar Clone Wars movie they have continued to surprise me with the quality and depth of the developing tone of the show. 

     The Clone Wars has really brought to light a tremendous new niche in the hefty Star Wars EU.  For those who might not know “the EU” is a term used by Star Wars fans, and others, to refer to the Expanded Universe of the franchise, i.e.; the aspects of Star Wars that are not explicitly detailed in, or are altogether separate from but remaining tied to the universe of, the Star Wars movies.  To call the movies canon and everything else EU is not exactly correct though, because every officially published Star Wars work is considered canon, though subordinate to the six movies, and the whims of George Lucas himself.  The EU started small with a few spin off movies, a run of comics, and several book trilogies and has exploded into cartoons, video games, several ongoing comic books, and hundreds of novels and reference books.  It is safe to say that today the material of the EU far outweighs that of its parent films.

The legitimacy of the canon from the Droids cartoon is on shaky ground.

     Well the Clone Wars cartoon has proven to be something of a unique outing for the EU in that the canon of this particular show seems to have a greater weight to it due to the direct involvement of George Lucas.  This cartoon is a strong collaboration between Dave Filoni and his team and George Lucas and his extensive resources.  I would go so far as to compare this project to Lucas’ days during the Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi where Uncle George stepped out from the role of director and instead focused his attention on story and overall look and feel of his universe as executive producer.

George Lucas and Dave Filoni

     This “word of Lucas” canon vibe of the Clone Wars has rekindled a fierce EU vs. Canon debate that has been brewing amongst Star Wars fanboys for decades.  Strictly from my personal take on the whole thing it seems like some people are Star Wars fans, enjoying the high adventure and sci-fi/fantasy blend of the movies while others are fans of sci-fi, who happen to enjoy Star Wars more or less because of the sci-fi elements of the movies.  I could go on and on about this debate but my feelings are George Lucas runs the show, he created Star Wars and allows the EU to even exist, Lucas giveth and Lucas can taketh away.

     For the most part Star Wars fans have eagerly embraced the Clone Wars, but there are a few things that have ruffled the feathers of the EU purists.  The first major issue that I became aware of was a three episode story arc in season two that featured the planet Mandalore and the Mandalorian warriors which are fan favorites.  Of course the Mandalorian lineage provided Boba Fett with his training and distinctive armor.  As we all know, any time Boba Fett is involved Star Wars fans go ape shit and express their very adamant opinions about the character.  In fact allow me to take a second to talk directly to the Boba fans out there.

     Hi gang, personally I like Boba Fett, he’s a cool character, and he’s got some nice armor but enough already!  Put an ice pack on those Boba boners and get over it!  There is nothing in those Clone Wars episodes that ruin Boba Fett or his history!  The information that deals with Boba Fett is given by the episodes villain who does nothing but lie and deceive about his activities!  Clearly he wasn’t a fountain of truth, and because he was trying to hide his criminal activities he of course is not going to link himself with a known criminal such as Jango Fett.  So what if Jango’s blue color scheme is part of a group called Death Watch?  They’re still Mandalorians, and Mandalorians who have taken up the battle armor of their people in an effort to reclaim their warrior past!

"Ugh! Now my cross stitched Fett family tree will have to be completely redone!"

 

Sorry, just had to take a moment and share a few thoughts with those fans. 

     Another more recent tid bit that has people all worked up is the death of Jedi Master Even Piell in one of the latest episodes.  Master Piell is not one of my favorite Jedi.  He appears in Episode I and did not return for Episode II and to be honest I didn’t give him much thought, I never liked his character design and his backstory was “blah.”  But apparently his death in the show went against an EU depiction of his death (although there is some vagueness in these claims) and fans are up in arms about this.  Some fans are waiting to see how Dave Filoni will try to explain it and wondering why they would so blatantly go against the EU.  For more on this development check out this discussion thread on wookieepedia.com HERE.  A little ridiculous.

This guy = controversy

     Once again I state that George Lucas can and will do whatever the hell he wants to do and he should be allowed to.  This is his playground; just because he let someone else build a sand castle doesn’t mean he has to let it stand forever if it gets in the way of him building an even cooler sandcastle that a greater number of people can enjoy.  Frankly the EU lost me after one of the earlier books tried to tell me Boba Fett’s real name was Jaster Mereel.  First off why would Boba Fett need a secret identity?  He’s not a super hero.  And second that’s a terrible name.  All of that has been retconned nicely these days, even fitting in with the whole Death Watch fiasco.

     I don’t want it to seem like I am not a fan of the EU stuff, I really am, but I am also comfortable with the fact that the EU does not have the final word on Star Wars, George Lucas does.  There is a lot of good EU works out there, I especially enjoy the comics.  There is also a great deal of bad EU stuff out there, and I’m sure fans of the EU would argue that there are a few bad Star Wars movies out there as well.  My personal problem with the EU comes down to the writers trying to write Star Wars as a strictly sci-fi genre by detailing the aspects of hyperspace travel, or trying to discern the illogical ranking system of the Empire.  For me Star Wars EU is at its best when it takes something familiar and interprets it through a Star Wars filter, taking into account the equal parts sci-fi and fantasy.  Dave Filoni and his Clone Wars team understand this.  The Clone Wars has allowed Star Wars to put its spin on the horror genre, giant monster movies, westerns, and much more.   Essentially that’s what Star Wars is all about, the movies were not wholly original in their concepts, they are full of old school high adventure fantasy, gritty noir gangster and war films, and serialized hits like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers.  Lucas took all those elements and transformed them into this new imaginative universe.  It was his execution and the interpretation of his ideas that was important.  If you try to later breakdown that universe through EU works it just gets tiring and stops being exciting, especially when it loses that fantasy sense of the unknown.

Anyway enough ranting for now, I’ve gone on far too long!

That is all!

My Pop Culture Ups and Downs

So as I sit here today miserable from my stochastic allergies which have decided to strike, I think about some of the current trends in some of my favorite realms of geekdom, namely the Star Wars universe and Marvel comics.  There are some great things happening, which I am very excited about, as well as some things that I’m not at all happy about and which in fact slightly infuriate me.

First let’s talk about the good.  Star Wars.  My favorite sci-fi universe in film, television, and comics.  I can not get enough Star Wars, and thankfully things are on a major upswing for us loyal Lucasites.  There of course was a great deal of grumbling during the prequel years, some of it justified I will admit.  However one thing I will argue is that Uncle George is not the money hungry tyrant some fans make him out to be.  From everything I can tell he is an excitable story-teller who has a plethora of yarns to spin in the epic universe he has created, and he enjoys pushing the boundaries of film making especially in the special effects department.  Has George Lucas in the past pushed progress too much to the overall detriment of story?  Perhaps.  But that’s not what I’m getting at, the point I am making is that I believe George Lucas’ true strong suit lies in the production aspects of his projects, not in the directing chair.  His ability to guide the design and art teams that bring his projects to life is phenomenal, he has a vision and he is able to get that across.  He puts out great ideas and places the right people in charge to bring it about, with a guiding hand that does far more good from a distance, with all due respect to him. 

Well anyway such is the case with The Clone Wars series.  This show has been very surprising, and continues to bring out the best of the Star Wars universe even as it continues to expand the epic sci-fi landscape.  Initially I was rather upset by the continued riffing on the whole Clone Wars aspect of the movies.  I thought the Tartakovsky Clone Wars was great, and was a little peeved they were going to more or less do away with the events of that series in order to create this CGI weekly cartoon.  I was also a little annoyed that Lucas wasn’t focusing on the long-awaited live action Star Wars show which is to take place between Episode III and IV.  All that being said the Clone Wars is awesome.  Not only have the storylines continued to evolve and experiment with different genres and aspects of the Star Wars universe, but the animation and art of the show has really grown more detailed.  The characters have evolved and have gradually come closer to their appearances in Revenge of the Sith.  And of course everyone is interested to know just what will become of young Ahsoka Tano, apprentice of Anakin Skywalker.  Surely there isn’t enough time between Episodes II and III to fully train the padawan into a full Jedi Knight?  Mysteries abound.

At the same time however mysteries are being revealed.  In the second half of this third season of the Clone Wars (which I have yet to see any episodes of, I’m waiting for the DVDs) we will get two cameos from two major Star Wars personalities.  First in an upcoming two-part storyline we will run into Captain Tarkin, yes that Tarkin, future Grand Moff and head of the Death Star, Wilhuff Tarkin.  Then in the multi part season finale Ahsoka runs into everyones favorite wookiee, Chewbacca.  Frankly I think Chewie’s uncanny ability to have run-ins with major players in the galaxy at key moments is a bit overplayed, and though I am more eagerly anticipating the added screen time of Tarkin, this wookiee cameo is also a welcome one.  Anything that ties the prequels closer together with the original movies is ok in my eyes.  The love and breadth of understanding director Dave Filoni and his team have for the Star Wars universe is immense and I have respected their ability to interpret the galaxy far, far, away as they tell their new and exciting stories.

Captain Tarkin as he appears in the Clone Wars

 

Now onto the bad . . . .

Marvel comics, my first loyalty when it comes to comic books, seems to be losing some of their foresight when it comes to storytelling and strategizing for future book sales.  They recently snuffed the Human Torch, bringing the Fantastic Four down to three.  This attracted a small amount of media attention, but nowhere near the amount when Captain America was killed off.  Without pause I thought this was a stunt, pure and simple.  Captain America’s death was something special, quite epic, and with a great amount of expert buildup to the event as executed by the awesome Ed Brubaker.  I couldn’t even tell you who’s witting FF at the moment.  Granted I have been out of comics for a while, due to monetary restraints, but the point is this came out of left field.  There was no previous buzz about the current Fantastic Four story arc, no tremendous waves of fans flocking to the series like Brubaker brought back to Cap.  A stunt pure and simple.  Now I know that these stunts are expected regular occurences in comics, I get it, and some times they even work and make for a good superhero tale, but I think not here.  Here’s how I see it.  FF sales were slumping.  Sue Storm died in a one-shot alternate universe issue recently, so can’t kill her, too expected.  Thing died in the Straczynski run of FF, so can’t kill him again.  No one cares enough about Mr. Fantastic (except me, love that character), so “Hey!  Let’s kill the Human Torch!  Ok sure.”  Blamo, team shattering event that will change the FF forever (aka sell a few books.)  But wait that’s not all!  What do we do when a new book is introduced OR when an old book is slumping?  That’s right send in Spider-Man!  Just a few days after Johnny’s death Marvel announced Spider-Man would be rounding out the FF (which now stands for “Future Foundation?”)

Now Marvel tells us this death will bring about some good, exciting new storylines dealing with the ramifications of the Human Torches death.  They try to convince us this isn’t a stunt, but rather a needed sacrifice in order to tell great stories.  Ah, bullshit.  Stunt!  Stunt I say!  And here’s the proof!

    http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/GulfCoastAvengers/news/?a=29976

Yeah that’s right Marvel clearly and loudly declares that they intend to kill more major characters in the coming months, all in the name of sales . . . . er, I mean, story telling and the creative process!  

Things like this work for creating storylines in team books like the X-Men.  When Jean Grey died there was a great deal to write about with that scenario.  But unlike the X-Men, the Fantastic Four is not a team, they are a family.  The comic is based on a static roster of four characters who the readers have come to enjoy and expect to see when you read the Fantastic Four.  Characters in team books, come and go all the time.  The Avengers are always knighting new members into their ranks, Chuck Xavier is replacing X-Men left and right.  The Fantastic Four however, is the Fantastic Four, and is not the same without the Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch.  The Fantastic Four don’t need stunts, they need good stories, and good adventures.  When I see something along these lines happen to a book such as this, I simply shake my head and think “Lazy writing.”  It’s always easier to take a chainsaw to a piece of wood then a pocket knife, but with the knife you can take your time and carve something cool to look at.

And PS they have just shown the first pictures of the FF + Spider-Man’s new costumes.  Awful.  That is all!

Ugh . . . .