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SWNN Review: Tales From A Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens (Pt. 2)

Discussion in 'Star Wars: Books & Comics + Legends' started by Hard Case, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. Hard Case

    Hard Case Porg Whisperer
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    A western, a horror story, a fable, and a swashbuckling pirate tale…that’s what author and comic book writer Landry Q. Walker brings to the table of the Star Wars universe in his series of four short stories - Tales From a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Aliens – a part of the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing project. Read on for part two of this review, featuring All Creatures Great and Small and The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku.



    All Creatures Great and Small

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    This short fable features the alien creature Bobbajo, who was the first character we ever saw from The Force Awakens in a Force for Change video. Bobbajo is a Nu-Cosian, which seems to be an off-shoot of the Cosian species which first appeared in the Clone Wars series with the introduction of Jedi Master Tera Sinube. An ancient being with a calm demeanor, Bobbajo carries a host of rare creatures in cages on his back and occasionally comes to visit the small town of Reestkii (about four-hundred kilometers from the only notable settlement on Jakku – Niima outpost) to the delight of the locals young and old. Known by the residents of Jakku as the Storyteller or the Crittermonger, Bobbajo is the “Gandalf” of Jakku, telling stories of ancient times and mesmerizing the children with his creatures and his lovely tricks. When Bobbajo comes to town, the locals tend to gather around him.

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    The story begins with one of these visits, a visit that is quickly interrupted by the arrival of a Zygerrian cruiser operated by a band of slavers well-known for attacking remote outposts on backwater worlds and kidnapping its citizens. Forced into the town hall and on lockdown, the people of the small settlement begin to panic, terrifying the children. Bobbajo rises to the occasion and calms the children by assuring them that help is coming and begins to tell them a story in his slow gentle voice.

    Bobbajo begins to tell the tale of a small rodent creature, a thwip, named Smeep, who is on a mission aboard what seems to be an imperial installation. The rodent makes its way through the ventilation system looking for a specific series of electrical wires. Along the way, the creature sees two stormtroopers escorting a bandolier clad Wookiee and soon hears blaster fire coming from the nearby detention block. When Smeep finally reaches the wires, she begins to chew the wires in two – eventually releasing her friend, Bobbajo, from his cell.

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    In obvious disbelief, the skeptics in the room point out the inplausibility of Bobbajo’s tall tale. But nevertheless, he went on with his story. Bobbajo continues the story with another of his creature friends, a tiny fist-size flying creature, a snee, named Qyp. Bobbajo sent him on a mission with specific instructions to deactivate the tractor beam, and after an eventful journey, the little critter finds the tractor beam already deactivated. However, the automatic security field that would blast any escaping ship with an ion pulse was still activated, so Qyp took care of that before meeting back up with his friend to continue their escape.

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    After many raised eyebrows and doubtful comments, Bobbajo explains that Qyp was quite clever and any snee if properly trained, could have done the job. His distraction seems to be working as the children have almost forgotten about the situation at hand and are completely engulfed in his tale.

    After sending out yet another creature, Bobbajo encounters some difficulties in his attempt to cause chaos on board the Death Star and soon learns that the battle station is on approach to Yavin to destroy the Rebel base. I won’t spoil the rest of the story, but let’s just say that it makes you question what you already know about the conclusion of A New Hope and leaves you with all sorts of questions.

    This story is presented as a bedtime story you would tell your children. It is full of wonder, adventure, and at times is admittedly hard to believe. But then again, aren’t all fairy tales? After reading the story in its entirety, I have to say that Bobbajo is a very interesting character and I wonder if he will be a player in The Force Awakens or if he will just be a passing character in the background of Jakku. I don’t buy into the truthfulness of his story for a second, but it was a fun read and served within the story as a beautiful distraction from the commotion outside, as well as cause the residents of Reestkii to doubt the history they knew from the old holos.

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    The fact that Bobbajo knew so much about the events on board the Death Star tells me that he personally knows one of the main characters from the OT, likely Han Solo, and possibly even Luke Skywalker, as he probably used their story to come up with his own. This is the conclusion that I am drawing from the story anyway, as the only other explanation takes away from the importance of the Battle of Yavin and Luke’s victory in my opinion. But you never know…as Bobbajo says in the end, “History…is an interesting thing. We know only…the versions we are told. It does not mean…that there are not…other truths.” So maybe it actually happened. Regardless, the story succeeded in adding mystery and wonder to the character of Bobbajo and made him an all-around likeable character.


    Verdict:

    I didn’t love this one, but I didn’t hate it either. Let’s just say it was in the right format. I don’t know that I could read a full novel about the exploits of Bobbajo and his creatures on board the Death Star, but this being a short story made the brief glimpse at the character fairly enjoyable, and learning more about Bobbajo and life on Jakku were the highlights of this one. There’s not much in the way of spoilers for The Force Awakens save the details on Bobbajo’s character, and I wouldn’t call this one a must-read – but, if you’re wanting something else to occupy you until the film’s release and you’re dying to know more about Bobbajo – you might want to give it a try. But don’t worry if you miss out on this one.




    The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku

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    This short pirate adventure follows the crew of the Meson Martinet and its captain, Sidon Ithano – perhaps better known as the Crimson Corsair. The Crimson Corsair was first revealed in the SDCC reel and later in full costume in the Vanity Fair group photo from Maz Kanata’s castle, and his design was actually the one that caught my eye and interested me the most (likely due to the striking red color of his stingray-shaped mask), so I was more excited to read about this character than any of the others in this series.

    The mask that Sidon Ithano wears is identified as originating with the Kaleesh species, the same species as General Grievous of the CIS droid army during the Clone Wars. Ithano seems to be an alien, but his species is not yet confirmed. His physique is very different from Grievous' prior to his cyborg transformation that was revealed by a statue in his castle in the Clone Wars. It is possible that the Corsair is an off shoot of the Kaleesh species or that the Kaleesh have variations we aren't aware of, but he likely is a different species altogether and just likes to wear the mask. The Corsair is a man of few words and is described as the most dangerous pirate ever to sail the Lost Clusters beyond the Outer Rim.

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    The story begins with a prologue set in the Clone War era on a Separatist battle cruiser that is being overtaken by the Republic. In a last ditch effort to keep Count Dooku’s special cargo out of Republic hands, a battle droid – following protocol established for such a situation – makes a blind jump through hyperspace to an unknown destination and crash lands on the desert world of Ponemah.

    If Tatooine is the farthest planet from the bright center to the universe, then Ponemah is in its deepest and darkest hell. Of all the desert worlds in the Star Wars universe, such as Tatooine, Jakku, and Geonosis, Ponemah may just be the most inhospitable one yet. It’s on this tempestuous world that we are introduced to the Crimson Corsair and his crew, who have just decoded a transmission from a Clone War era Separatist ship that crash landed on the planet half a century before, with a hint about some mysterious cargo that previously belonged to none other than Count Dooku of Serenno.

    In hopes of getting their hands on a priceless treasure, the band of pirates sets off in their sail barge, the Shrike. The only problem…the Corsair’s crew weren’t the only ones who were able to decode the message. The tale that ensues is frought with peril, adventure, and exitement as the pirates race across the Sea of Sand facing impossible odds along the way. The Sea of Sand isn’t just a vast expanse of sand dunes, but a literal sea with giant rising and falling waves of acrid sand, lava geysers, giant worms, and a never-ending storm of ionic lightning filling the dark sky above. To make matters worse, the competition is also fierce as a rival band of Weequays (whose captain has a particular vendetta against the Crimson Corsair), a biker gang called the Gray Gundarks, Toltek the Devaronian, and an Ortolan named One-Eye (who drives a souped-up flame shooting sandcrawler across the desert while blaring angry sounding music) all join the hunt.



    Verdict:

    At nearly 60 pages, this tale is the longest of the four short stories in this series, and was a joy to read. It’s hard to say what elements will make it into The Force Awakens, but this story continued with the trend of the other Journey short stories by taking what is most likely a fringe character in the film and expanding upon his own personal story. If you’re a fan of the Clone Wars (especially the Hondo Ohnaka episodes), or if you think a Pirates of the Caribbean / Mad Max hybrid set in the world of Star Wars sounds interesting, you will probably enjoy this little tale. The pace was pretty good and kept me entertained throughout, and the characters were pretty interesting, however short-lived some of them end up being. The conclusion of the story was pretty satisfying and you may be surprised to see what treasure is found in Dooku’s vault. Let’s just say Clone Wars fans will get a kick out of it.


    Conclusion:

    These short stories, like the novels in this series, are marketed at young readers age 9-12. But like the novels before, these stories – although easy for a young person to read – are not inherently “kiddy” by any means, and I think most adult fans of the property will enjoy these as well. All in all, this was a fun series that was very reminiscent of the old EU stories like Tales From Mos Eisley and Tales From Jabba’s Palace. I just wish they were presented in a collected volume instead of four separate purchases. They also are only available in the digital format which may be a deterrent for some who prefer to hold an actual print copy in their hands. But honestly, at just under a dollar a piece, it’s a really hard deal to pass up as we endure the next two and a half weeks of waiting for The Force Awakens. These may not be the best Star Wars stories you’ll ever read, nor are they really that important to the overall story, but they are well-written and Walker accomplishes with them exactly what it seems he set out to do – playing with different genres to tell some fun stories set in that galaxy far, far away.

    None of these stories are complete misses, but they don’t all exactly hit their mark either. Mostly, however, this series succeeds, especially with High Noon on Jakku and The Crimson Corsair and the Lost Treasure of Count Dooku. Even though I didn’t enjoy the other two as much, The Face of Evil and All Creatures Great and Small are certainly not without merit. But don’t just take my word for it. Check them out for yourself while you wait for December 18th to roll around. You’ll be glad you did if you happen to enjoy them like I did, and for the price, you won’t hate yourself if you don’t. All four ebooks can be purchased from Google Play or Amazon.com.
     

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  2. odmichael

    odmichael Rebel Official

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    Now I want to know what the treasure is!
     
  3. Hard Case

    Hard Case Porg Whisperer
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    It's not so much a what as a who. And my statement about Clone Wars fans getting a kick out of it was an intentional pun. ;)
     
  4. DarklightkillerX1

    DarklightkillerX1 Rebel Trooper

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    I wasn't a fan of the alternative death star stuff but the character of bobbajo and his many creatures were good. There was a quality of kindness and patients that I enjoyed. A recipe for death and true love weren't very interesting to me. Crimson Corsair along with high noon were the best of these stories. Crimson was good pirating fun. Quite enjoyable, the one to read if you must choose. The twist ending is a must for clone wars lovers.
     
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