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Andy’s Read Pile: Star Wars, Rebel Heist

IMG_5389May the 4th with you all today, on this one of the most celebrated days of the year for Star Wars fans like myself!

Yep, it’s weird how humans work in that the word “fourth” and “force” sound somewhat similar so we adopted this particular day to be the date in which we all pay homage to this cultural phenomenon like no other. I actually did some research to find out what was the first reference to “May the 4th” in the popular lexicon.

According to internet sources (which are as reliable as a kettle of old fish), although the term was used sparingly in the decades before, it was in 2008 that social media groups on the blossoming Facebook empire first started sending out memes en masse celebrating it as “Luke Skywalker Day”.

This then was picked up by college kids everywhere…ummm…a couple years later (as college kids are a fickle group of muckheads), and by 2013, The Walt Disney company was riding on that public opinion gravy train in promoting the day as the official Star Wars day (conveniently shortly after they obtained the rights to the Star Wars Franchise and they could see a marketing scheme in the making).

Regardless though of where the trend started, I’m continuing it here at GotS with a second read pile for this week, and a Star Wars related one to boot!

Now of course, because this particular comic  book was released in the years prior to Disney buying Star Wars, this story has been regulated to non canonical “Legends” territory but it’s a still a pretty decent modern tale about our favorite “A” team characters from the original trilogy. So without further ado, here’s a review of the 2014 Dark Horse Comics presentation of “Rebel Heist” by Matt Kindt & Marco Castiello.


Synopsis:

Told from the eyes of various smugglers, spies, Imperial defectors, and straight up bounty hunters, Rebel Heist is really the story of how our favorite Star Wars “A-Team” stole the shield generator that was eventually used to protect the Hoth base during Empire Strikes Back.

However, there is a tangled web of events that led to this ultimate success, including Han getting faux arrested after a speeder bike chance, Leia liberating the previously mentioned imperial defector from a mega gangsters headquarters, Chewie fighting Gamorrean Guards in the Outer Rim, and Luke rescuing everyone in the end.

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And it’s this tangled web and how it is viewed by these various supporting characters as they slowly see how effective these Rebel heroes are and most importantly how much they care for each other, that is the real heart of the story.

It’s the dedication and camaraderie that our heroes display in all of their actions, which is the true point, and inspires all of these supporting characters that our heroes interact with to become not only members of the Rebel Alliance, but some important ones at that (as the one bounty hunter character that was shadowing Luke, ends up being one of the spies that discover the plans for the second Death Star).


Things I Liked:

Well, I can definitely say my single favorite issue of this 4 parter was the spotlight story on Princess Leia. Leia has always been a integral part of the Star Wars story, however, I won’t lie, growing up there was no question who was the cooler of the two Skywalker twins. Luke had the lightsaber, the force powers, got to fly everywhere and blow up Death Stars. Yep, it’s really hard to compete with that.

However, that entire notion got turned around a bit when I was reading issue 2 of this series. You see, the issue starts out with this pretty bad ass female Twi’lek spy who asked for help from the Rebel Alliance in completing her mission. Of course, she’s somewhat disappointed when they send Leia as her back up, thinking that she’s just a princess and nothing more than a figurehead.

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The rest of the issue sets out to prove that notion wrong, as Leia plays more James Bond than Queen Elizabeth, poisoning potential assailants, jet packing into a criminal headquarters, before removing her stealth gear to reveal a gorgeous party gown from which she plays the part of sexy femme fatale perfectly. It really does show the versatility of Leia in terms of her abilities as a solider for the Rebels, instead of how she’s often portrayed as a commander.

Sure, some readers might scoff that this entire issue is just an attempt to pump Leia’s tires  by giving her these really cool spy bits, that may or may not be seen as out of character. But for me there’s no question that Leia is capable of everything seen on screen. After all, she is a Skywalker at heart, and has latent force powers, regardless of whether she knows them or not. That I feel allows her the lee way to be seen doing somewhat acrobatic and athletic moves as well as using her powers of persuasion to bluff her way passed the Imperials despite being one of the most wanted fugitives in the galaxy.

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I mean, the rest of the issues in this mini series deal with Han, Chewie, and Luke doing bad ass things that we’ve seen in countless other Star Wars stories since the early days of the original Star Wars series at Marvel Comics. Nothing new there.

But that Leia issue is something special and stuck with me because it seemed so freeing and unlike any other Leia stories I had seen recently. It’s nice to see this character to be given a chance to be an action heroine for once instead of just a damsel in somewhat distress (I mean let’s face it Leia never really needed rescuing even in the original movies).

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Plus the actual Twi’lek spy also gets some super great action/adventure set pieces as well, so kudos for giving us some women that are more than just pretty faces.


Things I Didn’t Like:

Well, as much as I did like the above mentioned stroking of Leia’s legendary status as an integral part of the rebellion, the rest of the book is somewhat unnecessarily heavy in the praise for these famous heroes from a long time ago.

It pretty much presents the 4 main members of our Star Wars “A” Listers: Luke, Han, Chewie, and Leia as god like beings that all of the rest of the galaxy should be in awe of. These infallible legends seen through the eyes of these poor everyday shlubs that they are forced to team up with could never hold a candle to their greatness. And after page after page of reading about them, told through the eyes of these unworthy wretches, it does come off more than a little fan boy wanky.

Like there’s this one scene where Luke Skywalker deflects multiple blaster bolts from the “most feared bounty hunters in the galaxy” (none of whom were Boba Fett…mind you). Sure, that’s a “Luke” kind of thing to do, and he’s probably capable of it.

However, the way it’s written makes it sound more like:

“OMG!! that was the most incredible thing ever…and I’m like the best person to judge those things…’cause I’m also like…the best! SQUEEEE!”

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Another moment like that was with Chewbecca, who we all know is pretty damn bad ass. But it’s a softly stated bad assery, like we don’t need to see Chewie rip someone’s arms off with he loses, we just know it’s a fact.  Remember the real tough guys don’t have to flex, because there’s no need to overstate the obivous. However, instead of that approach, instead, we get the somewhat ridiculous scene of Chewie cutting a Rancor monsters arm off and beating him to death with it.

Okay, so maybe I made the beating him to death with it thing up, but I still was like: Do you know how hard it is to kill a Rancor? It was Luke’s final heroic test to become a Jedi. Into the cave. Slay the Dragon. Gripping stuff from ROTJ.

But here, Chewie makes it look like a Rancor is a Shetland Pony or something, forever nerfing that great and mighty beast for all time. And then you have the icing on the cake with the “Unbelievable” quote from the supposed hard ass Imperial Death Trooper defector, again to reinforce how utterly god like Chewbecca is and how we should all bow down in homage.

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Sure, I’m a Star Wars fan boy, but even I was a little uncomfortable with all the myth stroking. I often wanted to ask whether the author wanted to be alone with his Star Wars toys for a moment. I mean, Sheesh…get a room.


Fun Facts:

Since Star Wars day is all about self promotion of the Star Wars brand, excuse me if I don’t capitalize on the wave of self aggrandizing to promote some other great Star Wars related blogs that I’ve written here at GotS that you might enjoy reading after this one.

1) Women & Star Wars

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One of my personal favorites. This article deals with reviewing the various movies and TV shows of the Star Wars Universe through the Bechtel Test in terms of female characterization. Lots of wonderful comments from the Star Wars community on this one!

2) A Podcast review of Solo: A Star Wars Story.

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If listening rather than reading is more your bag on this May the 4th, check out our podcast review of the last Star Wars film, Solo: A Star Wars Story, on this episode of the GotS show from last summer. It’s still super relevant especially if you just happened to watch this movie recently in order to celebrate your Star Wars Day!

3) The Star Wars Micro Collection Toy Line

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A review of one of the lesser known but still super cool toy lines that sprouted up around the Star Wars franchise, this loving tribute to these awesome die cast metal miniatures from my youth is sure to spark some nostalgia in some of you fellow Gen-Xers out there that might too have fond memories of the toys that Kenner was pumping out during the Star Wars hey day!

4) A Princess Leia comic series review.

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As I mentioned before in my “Things I liked” section, if you were a fan of this review (in particular the wonderful stuff on Leia), here’s another one I wrote previously our favorite princess with a comic book limited series written by comics legend Mark Waid with fantastic art by a GotS favorite in Terry Dodson. I spent most of last December writing Star Wars Comic articles so if royalty isn’t your bag, I’ve got the flip side with some reviews of Doctor Aphra as well!


Final Thoughts:

I am a bit torn over this book. I did enjoy the art a lot from Marco Castiello, especially in regards to his Princess Leia, whom as I mentioned before was drawn as both strong and sexy, which was welcome to this old cowboy. Additionally, some of the set pieces were exciting like the Han Solo Speeder bike race, and Luke Skywalker taking down the roof assassin.

However, as I said, I was really turned off by how fan wanky the whole series seemed at times. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but it just seemed like again, the author went out of his way to write all of the supporting characters as reluctant devotees to the first Church of the Rebellion. They are all in stereotypical fashion initially skeptical of how awesome Han/Leia/Chewie/Luke are, but then by the end of their chapter, have become their number 1 uber fans.

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It’s a bit laughable, as it’s somewhat like a high school kid’s approach to life where they are like “Hey, you guys are super lame. I’m too cool for all this” and then by the end it’s like:  “Whooooa! I heart you guys. ‘Da BEST!”

It’s almost like a hardcore Star Wars fan was writing about their experience with introducing the original trilogy to a non fan. Like this is someone’s Star Wars conversion story only told through the lens of being the perfect scenario comic book.

Like they met some person that was completely convinced about how Star Wars just wasn’t their bag, but against all odds, through the undeniable power and passion of  their fandom, they made that person see the error of their ways.  We’ve all had those wet dreams, right, fanboys?

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Because that’s all this is at times. It’s just a bunch of non fan characters becoming fans of the exploits of these heroes by the end of the story. And it’s a little obvious that this is what it is at times to the point that it becomes a little creepy. Not enough for me to stop reading it, but enough for me to really notice.

But regardless of all that, in the end, I feel this wasn’t the worst Star Wars tale I’ve read by any stretch of the imagination, and there were some definite exciting worthwhile parts. However, given my issues with the rampant fanboygasms throughout getting in the way of a better narrative, I can’t give this book any better than an average rating.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think the popcorn is done popping so I’m off to watch Empire Strikes Back for the 8 millionth time with my wife and kids to polish off this Star Wars Day for 2019.

May the Force be with you all!

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Andy’s Read Pile Grade: C


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