Haikuesday: Jyn Erso

Rogue One: The Movie
Rogue One: The Rebel Call Sign
Rogue One: Jyn Erso

First year of Clone Wars.
Separatist world of Vallt.
Jyn Erso is born.

Mission on Alpinn.
Jyn travels with her mother.
Has and Nari, too.

Hiding on Lah’mu,
eight-year old Jyn Erso with
her loving parents.

“Koodie” the Tooka.
“Stormie,” “Wuzzwork,” and “Tinta.”
Some of young Jyn’s toys.

Star Wars Trivia:
Tookas are a subspecies
of the Loth-cat. Neat!

Stormie – stormtrooper.
Wuzzwork – looks like a Wookiee.
Tinta – a Tauntaun.

To Jyn: “Trust the Force.”
To Jyn: “I love you Stardust.”
Lyra and Galen.

Lyra’s sacrifice.
Jyn watches her mother die.
She runs and she hides.

A lonely bunker.
Jyn waits for a friendly face.
Reb: Saw Gerrara.

Age: eight to sixteen.
In the care of Gerrara.
Partisan Rebel.

Scene: planet Garel.
“Pick on someone your own size,”
Jyn tells some troopers.

A Heart of Kyber.
Erso rescues a Loth-cat
for a little girl.

Sabine runs into
an accidental ally.
Yup, it’s Jyn Erso!!!

I wonder why Jyn
was just hanging around on
the planet Garel.

Water drips. drips. drips.
Imperial prison cell.
A Rebel Rises.

Droid: K-2SO
A painful introduction.

Liana Hallik?
Nope, that isn’t her real name!
She is Jyn Erso!!!

“The luxury of
political opinions,”
Jyn has never had.

Mission to Jedha.
Cassian, Jyn, and K-2.
An occupied world.

Standing in a crowd.
Chirrut Îmwe can see Jyn
even though he’s blind.

Pendra Siliu.
Crying, caught in a battle.
Rescued by Erso.

Kicking trooper ass,
Jyn turns, shoots a KX droid…
…it’s not K-2. Phew!!!

Saw’s paranoia.
Convinced of Jyn’s betrayal.

Eadu Extraction.
Jyn and Galen reunite
as tragedy strikes.

Pleading for action:
“Rebellions are built on hope.”
Turned down by Rebels.

Rallying the troops.
Jyn leads a mission to steal
dreaded Death Star plans.

Scarif bound shuttle.
Jyn grasps her Kyber crystal.
The Will of the Force.

Citadel Tower.
With Cassian and K-2,
Jyn nears infamy.

How do they get in?
Clever disguises of course!
Jyn the Technician.

Hyperspace Tracking.
Navigational Systems.
Stardust, that’s the one.

Stardust discovers
that Project Stardust will turn
Death Star to star dust.

Warrior Daughter.
Jyn, standing before Krennic,
declares who she is.

Mission Accomplished.
Plans transmitted to the fleet.
A Heart of Kyber.

Scene: on Scarif beach.
Your father would be proud, Jyn.”
Two friends embrace death.

From a hidden base,
Rebels led by Jyn Erso
kicked ass and stole plans.

Star Wars: A New Hope
“Rebellions are built on hope.”
Jyn embodies hope.

Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Ahsoka Tano (March 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

The Truce at Bakura (June 2017)

Queen Amidala (July 2017)

Ryloth (August 2017)

Cloud City (September 2017)

General Grievous (October 2017)

Millennium Falcon (November 2017)

Poe Dameron (December 2017)

The Battle of Umbara (January 2018)

Hondo Ohnaka (February 2018)

Women of the Jedi Council

The Jedi High Council: the ruling body of the Jedi Order for millennia until the Order’s downfall at the end of the Clone Wars. Consisting of twelve Masters, these experienced and wizened Jedi deliberated the best direction and course of action for the Order they were tasked with leading. At the head of the Council was a Grand Master, and during the last years of the Old Republic – years we see unfolding in the Prequel Trilogy, The Clone Wars animated show, and through other storytelling mediums – that title/role was occupied by Yoda, the mysterious Jedi introduced in The Empire Strikes Back. But while Yoda may have been the oldest and wisest of the Jedi, commanding infinite respect, and his opinions on Jedi matters carrying incredible weight, he was surrounded by Masters gifted in their own particular ways.

It is at this point, though, that I must acknowledge my intention for this post. Rather than trying to weave a path towards my conclusion, highlighting all of the Masters and the way their stories have been woven into the fabric of Star Wars, it is far easier to be direct. In short, this piece is titled “Women of the Jedi Council” because, upon reflection, I found myself shocked that there are not MORE women on the Council.

Introduced in The Phantom Menace, the Jedi Council of the first Prequel film has only three female characters:

Adi Gallia
Depa Billaba

In Attack of the Clones, the Council again only has three women:

Shaak Ti  (who replaced Yaddle)
Adi Gallia
Depa Billaba

And, in Revenge of the Sith, the Council only has two women:

Shaak Ti
Stass Allie (who replaced Adi Gallia)

Over a 13 years period, from The Phantom Menace to Revenge of the Sith, the Jedi High Council only has five different women. And, one will notice from the small lists above that none of the women in The Phantom Menace are on the Council when we get to Revenge of the Sith. On the flip side, the male representation on the Jedi Council remains steady. The breakdown is as follows…

The Phantom Menace:

Mace Windu
Plo Koon
Saesee Tiin
Even Piell
Oppo Rancisis
Yarael Poof
Eeth Koth

Attack of the Clones:

Mace Windu
Plo Koon
Saesee Tiin
Even Piell
Oppo Rancisis
Coleman Trebor (who replaced Yarael Poof)
Eeth Koth

Revenge of the Sith:

Mace Windu
Plo Koon
Saesee Tiin
Obi-Wan Kenobi (who replaced Even Piell)
Anakin Skywalker (who replaced Oppo Rancisis)
Kit Fisto (who replaced Coleman Trebor)
Agen Kolar (who replaced Eeth Koth)
Coleman Kcaj (who replaced Depa Billaba)

Like I said, the male representation on the Council remains steady throughout, particularly among the first 5 male Masters in each list. In turn, whereas there are only 5 different women on the Council over the 13 year period, there are a total of 15 different men (a 3:1 ratio of men to women). Plus, there are three other curious things to consider about this male-female breakdown:

  1. While we do hear women who sit on the Jedi Council speak in The Clone Wars animated series (Adi Gallia and Shaak Ti), a woman NEVER speaks during a Council session in any of the three Prequel films. Notably, the only Jedi woman who speaks in the Prequels is the Jedi Archive librarian Jocasta Nu, but she is not a member of the Council.
  2. A woman NEVER replaces a man on the Jedi Council. In fact, the opposite is true, with Coleman Kcaj replacing Depa Billaba. 
  3. More men (6) are added to the Council over those 13 years than the total number of women (5) who sit on the Council over that same period.

So, what gives?

Well, first and foremost, I will return to my initial admittance: as I reflected on the Jedi Council I was shocked that women are so underrepresented, and I am guilty for not recognizing this sooner. While I was growing up when the Prequel Trilogy films came out (the years 1999, 2002, 2005), and was not prone to deeper reflections on the franchise I loved at that time, as an adult I can say I am disappointed in myself for not recognizing this woeful disparity and lack of female voices sooner. Better late than never, though.

Secondly, while I do not have direct insight into the thought processes of Star Wars creator George Lucas, the writer/director of the Prequel Trilogy, I am never-the-less left to wonder why it is he did not recognize this paucity of women on the Council. As he worked on the Prequels, Lucas clearly took for granted the uneven representation, the lopsided ratio of men to women. Perhaps if he, or others around him, had noticed it then something would have changed with more women added, fewer men speaking, and so on. Or maybe it was pointed out and he just didn’t care. Frankly, I cannot say. But what I can say is that, at least for me, this is glaring red mark against the Prequel Trilogy, and it is incredibly unfortunate that more attention was not given to creating a Jedi Council with equal representation. Which leads me to my third point…

…what does this imbalance of the sexes say about the Jedi Council? In some respects, I suppose it isn’t all that surprising. If art imitates life, then the Jedi Council imitates many corporate board rooms where men still outnumber women. Or, since the Jedi are a religious order, we can think of religions around the world which place greater emphasis on the voices/actions of men (the hierarchy of the Catholic Church being one example). But just because it isn’t surprising that the Jedi are governed predominantly by men doesn’t mean it isn’t disappointing. The Jedi Order is supposed to be built around principles of egalitarianism and, as such, one would presume that the High Council would strive for a balance of the sexes. In fact, I cannot help but wonder: if more women – and newer voices in general – had been present, would they have stopped the march to war in Attack of the Clones which was led by the Council’s longstanding (male) Masters, Yoda and Mace Windu in particular?

Shohreh Aghdashloo
Iranian-born actress Shoreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala in The Expanse.
Photo Credit: SyFy

This is certainly not the only question one could ask, and there are any number of answers that are possible. Yet, my intention is not to dig into every single question, or find every answer. Instead, in presenting what I believe is a truly unfortunate reality about the make-up of the Jedi High Council, the lack of women and their voices on that Council, I want to end with a suggestion. As the Star Wars franchise moves forward, with more films being added over time, my hope is that if a film is set in the days of the Old Republic, long before the events of the Prequel Trilogy, that the Jedi Council (if included in the film) feature a perfect distribution of 6 women and 6 men. To this, I would add my desire that the Grand Master of the Jedi Council also be a woman. If left to me, the actress I’d place in the Grand Master’s seat would be Iranian-born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, a woman with an incredibly commanding presence in SyFy’s show The Expanse. I am of the opinion that Aghdashloo is a natural fit for the Star Wars universe, and could be a remarkable Jedi Grand Master if given the opportunity. That said, there are many actresses who’d make great Jedi Masters if given the chance, and I hope the day it is not far off when we see them on the High Council and helping to lead the Jedi Order.

Haikuesday: Hondo Ohnaka

HELLOOOOOO FRIENDS! It is I, Hondo Ohnaka, businessman and sometimes pirate extraordinaire! Perhaps you have heard of me and my legendary exploits – battling Sithy Lords and clanking generals, running an honorable enterprise in the Outer Rum, throwing great parties for my Jedi friends!  One time, I even rescused Jedi kiddies who were in trouble, swooping in to save the day in glorious fashion when they fell under attack by…

Ummmmm Hondo, it’s me, The Imperial Talker. I thought I would interrupt you and remind you that you were actually the one who attacked the Jedi kids and put them in harms way.

WHAT!?!?! Oh how dare you accuse me of such horrific crimes! You will pay for such insolence, Imp….

Time out, did you just say I am being insolent? Because that is exactly what Darth Maul accused you of that time on Florrum. Remember, he called you insolent and you said you didn’t know what that word meant because you are a pirate?

Ahhhh I see that you have been following my glorious exploits Mr. Talker! I knew you were the right person to write tear-jerking poetry about me for Haikondoesday! Tell me, what grandiness of mine have you captured in syllabical fashion!?!?!

Well, one haiku…


Sorry, one “haikondo” is references that time you raided a village on Felucia and tried to…

My my look at the time Mr. Imperial! It is time your readers get to reading about the wonders of Hondo. It is also time I go find my dear friend Bridger and encourage him to join me on another fun-filled and not dangerous at all adventure! Oh, and Mr. The Talker I will bill you later for using my name to promote “Haikondoesday.”

Wait a minute!!!! I didn’t coin that! You just did! What the heck…he just ignored me and walked out. Ugh, whatever, I’m going to get a drink. Here are some Haiku about Hondo Ohnaka. 

Wonderful Weequay.
One hell of a gentleman.
Hondo Ohnaka.

He isn’t as young
as he used to be, but he’s
certainly older.

Insolent Hondo.
HAHA! He is a pirate!

Stories he could tell,
some of them are even true!
Legends of Hondo.

Morally neutral.
No, morally self-serving.
That’s how Hondo roles.

Scene – planet Florrum:
Hondo tortures two Jedi.
But we still love him.

Scene – on Felucia:
Hondo attacks some farmers.
But we still love him.

Scene – in outer space:
Hondo threatens Jedi kids.
But we still love him.

Scene – planet Florrum:
Hondo is a drug dealer.
But we still love him.

Scene – on Felucia:
“Die Jedi scum,” he exclaims!
But we still love him.

Scene – in outer space:
He tries to kill Jedi kids.
But we still love him.

Scene – on Onderon:
Hondo is an arms dealer.
But we still love him.

Scene – planet Florrum:
Hondo drugs two Jedi Knights.
But we still love him.

Scene – Drazkel System:
He tries to buy a Jedi.
But we still love him.

Here is my question:
Hondo does lots of bad shit…
why do we love him?

It’s his good looks, right?
His legendary exploits?
Perhaps his wisdom.

One hostage is good.
Two are better. And three, well
that’s just good business.

More of his brilliance:
Speak softly, drive a big tank.
Teddy would be proud.

Soft spot for children,
like the youngling Katooni.
Wit captures his heart.

Ezra and Hondo,
Brothers of the Broken Horn.
Adventures galore.

Ezra lies to him.
Hondo is a proud father.
Children learn so fast.

Reklam Station heist.
Stealing Y-Wings with Rebels.
And his Ugnaught pals.

The Ohnaka Gang.
Devious and deceitful.
But mostly stupid.

Maybe we love him
for all of his grandeur and

I like that Hondo
has an actual flying
saucer as a ship.

Describing his ship:
silvery and round, and it
spins and spins and spins!

Perhaps it’s his sense
of honor, the pirate code
he sometimes follows.

A Sith Lord captured.
Epic fight: cannons, blasters,
glowy thing, voom-voom.

Hondo and Aurra
sitting in a tree, K-I-

All the ladies love
Ohnaka, all the men too.
He is so handsome!

If I had to guess,
I’d bet that Maz and Hondo…
…imagine the rest.

Looking for advice?
The Partisan Cantina
runs Hondo’s column.

Ahsoka doesn’t
want to hurt Hondo and he
appreciates that.

Pirate and Jedi.
Ohnaka and Kenobi.
I think they were friends.

Jedi love Hondo!
He is always helping them!
Such a thoughtful guy.

Scavenging downed ships,
a special past time of his.
Find him on Jakku.

Hondo and Solo.
No doubt they met at some point.
Where is that story???

The Book of Hondo,
No! The Gospel of Hondo!
Sagacious Weequay.

Hondo on Florrum,
Brilliant and wise and sexy,
Hallowed be thy name.

Why do we love him?
We love him because he is
Hondo Ohnaka!

Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Ahsoka Tano (March 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

The Truce at Bakura (June 2017)

Queen Amidala (July 2017)

Ryloth (August 2017)

Cloud City (September 2017)

General Grievous (October 2017)

Millennium Falcon (November 2017)

Poe Dameron (December 2017)

The Battle of Umbara (January 2018)

An Ignoble End to the Skywalker Saga

Guest Talker: Nancy (of Graphic Novelty²)

This is not going to go the way you think.”  No truer words were said, and Luke Skywalker’s words proved to be prophetic as the movie The Last Jedi unfolded.  

I grew up on the original trilogy of Star Wars movies, with Luke being my first crush. Even as a child I was a practical lass, and the bad-boy swagger of Han Solo held no appeal to me. Instead it was humble and heroic Luke who held me enthralled.  Years went by; with the trilogy being the only Star Wars I knew until the late 1990’s when the prequels began. While the prequels have been derided for many deserved reasons, I still felt they were authentic to the Star Wars universe. George Lucas might not write good dialogue, but his vision held true, and there were many strong moments in the prequel trilogy.

When Disney bought out Lucas’s Star Wars movie rights and announced yet another trilogy with other stand alone movies planned, I was apprehensive but hopeful. The Force Awakens combined both the legacy characters and added some intriguing and strong new ones and I was thrilled with the new direction. It honored the past but looked towards the future, as did Rogue One. My first Star Wars movie review post on my blog about Rogue One  (https://graphicnovelty2.com/2016/12/22/rogue-one-movie-review/) said “if this storytelling continues, Disney will have handled the buyout of Star Wars beautifully.” It turns out I spoke too soon.

Photo Credit – Disney/Lucasfilm

*While I assume at this stage people reading this post will have watched the movie, I do want to warn you that there are spoilers ahead.*

I headed into the movie with incredibly high hopes, but twenty minutes into my first viewing of The Last Jedi, I was whispering angry thoughts about the movie to my husband. By the end of the movie I was seething. I felt it dishonored Luke’s legacy, and I was distraught.

Soon afterwards I contacted Jeff here at The Imperial Talker and Michael at My Comic Relief to vent. Both men are huge Star Wars fans and I wanted to see if I was alone in my thoughts. While I certainly cannot speak as to their reactions to the movie, my conversations with them were enlightening, and I watched the movie a second time on their recommendation. Once all the surprises were gone, I could concentrate more on the movie as a whole and get a more nuanced view the second time.

Afterwards, I gave myself some time to mellow, but then I struggled with writing this post. I hate to be provocative and feared a backlash of other bloggers who would vehemently disagree with me. I’m typically a go with the flow person, who rarely let’s people know if I’m truly upset (except my children- they know when I’m mad). This post was going to make me push my boundaries, and I did some over-thinking before I started to write.

But here we are, so let’s get into WHY this movie affected me so negatively. There were several smaller issues such as: Leia’s use of the Force, which was visually comical, Rose’s part, which ate up time that could have been given to already established characters, Chewbacca being treated as a pet/afterthought and the Rey/Kylo scenes (don’t even get me started on the connection through time and space!). On the other hand, there were many memorable moments, one of my favorites being when Poe is schooled on long-term strategy by General Organa and Admiral Holdo. I enjoyed the overriding idea that the rebellion is for everyone and that a small spark can ignite a winning rebellion.

But that’s not what upset me the most. It was Luke, all Luke.

As Star Wars has been around since 1977, there are now several generations of fans who have come into this franchise at different times.  So you have fans like me who grew up on the original, fans such as my children who watched the Prequels as they came out in the theatres, and now a new generation who will grow up loving the newest set of characters. You can even argue, as my oldest son observed, that I am a “purist,” for although I have occasionally read some of the Expanded Universe (now called Legends) books, the movies are really my only touch stone to the Star Wars universe.

Luke in yellow
Luke Skywalker at the end of A New Hope.
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

As such, I have always viewed Luke as the true hero of the movies. Whereas Anakin, Ben Kenobi and certainly the Jedi Council from the Prequels let pride, power or shame affect their judgment, Luke was pure. He came from a humble background, not knowing of his true parentage yet, and with little training was able to defeat Darth Vader and bring balance back to the Force.

This new movie gave us a nihilistic Luke, who years later, was filled with so much remorse and regret that he refused to leave his island where he had banished himself to wallow in misery. When the actor Mark Hamill, who has embodied Luke and will be forever connected to the role, tells Rian Johnson, “I think I fundamentally disagree with everything you’ve decided for me” that is telling as to how Luke’s hero arc was going to play out. Now I know there has been further clarification that MH has shared about this quote, and he supposedly stands behind RJ’s version…but, if his first thought was unhappiness, as was mine when I first watched it, then this viewpoint cannot be discredited.

Now this is where another quote can be used to explain the movie’s direction. “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to,” says Kylo Ren to Rey. I understand if Star Wars is to be a viable movie franchise, it needs to grow and change. Han Solo left us in The Force Awakens, and Carrie Fisher’s death meant that Leia’s arc was going to end earlier than expected. That left Luke. He was to be the torch bearer to Rey and the new Rebels. So why did his destiny need to end so ignobly?

In this role, Luke could not cope with the crushing disappointment of Kylo’s turn towards the dark side and the guilt he felt towards letting Leia and Han down. Yes, I understand that he helped the rebellion when he sent an astral projection of himself to the planet Crait and was able to distract Kylo and send his sister and the other rebels to safety. I even understand that he used his hard won wisdom to help and wasn’t the impetuous youth who left his training with Yoda early to help Leia and Han. On one level- I get it- but I didn’t like it.

Luke & Leia
Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

Luke’s and Kylo’s flashbacks to the night that Kylo destroyed the new Jedi Academy are what truly turned me against this version of Luke and led me to feel that he was dishonored in director Johnson’s interpretation. My Luke never would have considered killing his nephew. He put his lightsaber down in front of Darth Vader, and never gave up hope that his father still had a remnant of love left in him (Jeff’s post Luke Skywalker: A Farewell To Arms beautifully describes this moment). A wiser and older Luke would have tried anything to prevent Kylo from joining Supreme Leader Snoke. Killing him would not have been an option. I believe the quote “You were the Chosen One!” that Obi-wan Kenobi shouts at Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, is in fact a better one to have used to describe Luke. His entire character was crucified in this latest movie, and he deserved better.

In real life, there are times when things go to hell. Our lives do not turn out the way we envisioned. A great success can be eroded away with failures later in life, and becoming disillusioned can be a sad reality for some. Taking all that into consideration, Luke should have gone out as a battle-worn but still dignified warrior. I wanted him to have a loving goodbye to his twin (as I wrote about in this post: https://graphicnovelty2.com/2018/01/24/star-wars-comlinks-favorite-tlj-scene/ ) and for him to have been a mentor to Rey. This lack of a proper conclusion to Luke’s story arc was not a fitting end to the Skywalker saga.

I laughed at this meme about Luke, Ben and Yoda, for despite my opinion about the movie, I can see other perspectives!

Guest Talker Bio: Nancy is half of the writing team for Graphic Novelty², a blog that centers around graphic novels and geek life. She is a married mom of three who loves her job as a teen librarian and is a Star Wars & Star Trek aficionado.

No Place For Children

“War is no place for children.” – Toor Snapit, Jedi Scout

Locked in a deadly, all-or-nothing battle with the Sith Brotherhood of Darkness, the Jedi Army of Light is in need of soldiers to keep the fight going and is willing to recruit children into its ranks to do just that. This is the backdrop of Jedi vs. Sith, an Expanded Universe graphic novel written by Darko Macan which begins with young cousins embarking on an “adventure” that ends in tragedy. Hailing from the world Somov Rit, the cousins – Tomcat and Bug – are the first to be identified by the Jedi Scout Toor Snapit, himself sent to recruit force-sensitive children for the war effort. In turn, a third cousin – a young girl named Rain – is also taken by Snapit even though she has (seemingly) minimal Force-abilities.

That Toor Snapit has his doubts about taking children to war is obvious, commenting that “war is no place for children.” And yet, this doesn’t stop the elderly Jedi from taking the cousins from their home-world to battle the Sith on the planet Ruusan.  Nor, for that matter, did it stop him from taking the siblings Sladak and Slatva, twins whom the cousins meet on Snapit’s ship. The cousins (and the reader) only have but a moment with these twins, and as their vessel flies above the Ruusan landsccape, and the siblings express their excitement about their adventure, the ship is struck by Sith weaponry which kills Sladak and Slatva. Stunned, the cousins look on in horror, the excitement about their journey immediately giving way to the reality that has struck. In turn, as she screams that she “does not want to die,” the ship pivots and Rain falls through the hole in the side of the ship where the Sith had struck…

…and all Tomcat and Bug can do is look out the gaping hole with tears streaming down their eyes.

Rain's Fall 2
Tomcat (left) and Bug watch Rain fall from their transport.
Photo Credit – Jedi vs. Sith (Dark Horse Books)

Excitement and adventure are certainly themes in Jedi vs. Sith, but they are themes that highlight the naivete of children and a juvenile belief that war offers a thrilling escape from quotidian life. One can hardly fault children for this naivete, or even for the actions that they are forced to take as the story progresses, killing included. In fact, it is not long after Rain’s fall (spoiler: she survives) that Tomcat and Bug engage in their first skirmish, a skirmish which forces the children to kill a number of Sith soldiers. Neither are trained to fight, neither wears any protective armor, but they must never-the-less kill in order to survive.

Why they are killing – or rather, why they are killing Sith soldiers – is not clearly defined, though. While there is an obvious necessity in the moment to protect themselves, on a larger scale the reason the Jedi and Sith are fighting is never clearly defined. That is, it is not defined in any overarching ethical, moral, or political sense. Rather, the Army of Light commanded by Jedi Lord Hoth and the Sith Lord Kaan’s Brotherhood of Darkness are fighting because, quite frankly, that is what the Jedi and Sith do. And, in this sense, it really does not matter who holds the moral or ethical high-ground in this struggle. The Battle of Ruusan is about the Jedi vs. Sith, but which side one fights for is utterly pointless. Jedi or Sith, both sides are in the wrong because both sides are hellbent on one goal: destroying the other.

Although one could argue that the Sith do hold a sliver of ideological superiority to the Jedi. At the very least, dealing out death and destruction are what the Sith do best. After all, one can hardly fault a Sith for acting like a Sith. Then again, there is one Sith in the story who rises above all others, finding fault with his counterparts: Darth Bane. Scheming throughout the entire story, Bane is hellbent on one goal himself – not the destruction of the Jedi but the destruction of the Sith. Only after the Sith have been purged of their impurities – naemly, everyone but himself – will the Sith truly triump over their hated Jedi enemy. And, as Bane pushes Lord Kaan and the other Sith Lords towards a suicidal end, Bane will also happen upon a child on the battlefield: the girl Rain.

Rain’s Fall

That Rain is allowed to join the adventure of her cousins is shocking, a fact that is punctuated by her seemingly feeble connection to the Force but even more so by her youth. While all  three cousins are still children, Rain is the youngest and seeks to accompany Tomcat and Bug because of her childish desire to be part of the group. The Jedi Tor Snapit, having reservations about bringing children into a war zone, never-the-less acquiesces…and Rain pays the price when she falls from the transport ship.

But thankfully for her, she survives thanks to intervention of Laa, one of Ruusan’s native and sentient Bouncers. While her cousins continue on their journey guilt ridden and believing Rain fell to her death, the girl finds shelter and protection with Laa, traveling the planet with her new friend. Unaware of the deadly struggle unfolding on the world, Rain is once again saved by Laa when the Sith unleash a Force storm across the planet, burning the landscape and immolating other Bouncers in the process. Going crazy with feral rage, Bouncers which survived the destruction begin to attack Sith and Jedi alike, spreading panic among the combatants.

Rain's Fall
Rain attempts suicide but is saved by her powerful connection with the Force.
Photo Credit – Jedi vs. Sith (Dark Horse Books)

Following the devastation, as the battle on the world grows more intense, Laa – having foreknowledge of the future – tells Rain that she will become a Dark Jedi. Distraught, the child attempts suicide by jumping from a cliff, a shocking act and one that the reader can interpret as a continuation of her fall from the Jedi transport. Before her fall from the transport, Rain cries that she does not want to die. Now, confronted by Laa’s foreknowledge, Rain tells her friend that she wanted to die but changed her mind, realizing that she is incredibly strong in the Force and can destroy the Dark Jedi within her without killing herself.

Riding on Laa’s back as they seek out the Jedi, tragedy strikes when a Jedi arrow pierces her Bouncer friend, killing Laa and  sending Rain toppling to the ground (Rain’s fall is finally complete). Grief-stricken and angered by the loss of her friend, Rain unleashes her fury on the Jedi who fired the arrow, using the Force to snap his neck (and the neck of his accomplice). It is immediately after this stunning moment when Darth Bane will come across the child. Intrigued by the powerful girl who killed two Jedi, Bane will question Rain and, in turn, allows her to stay with him.

Seeds of Destruction

While Rain joins Darth Bane on his quest to destroy and reconstitute the Sith Order in his own image – imago Bane – her cousin Tomcat also joins the Sith, albeit earlier in the story. Disenfranchised by the Jedi and believing them weak, Tomcat murders the Jedi General Kiel Charny and agrees to become the apprentice of the Sith Lord Githany. In turn, this decision to join the Sith will set the stage for Tomcat’s fatal showdown with his cousin Bug.

Tomcat and Bug
Bug (blue saber) faces his cousin Tomcat (red saber).
Photo Credit – Jedi vs. Sith (Dark Horse Books)

Thus, the story comes full-circle. In the opening of the graphic novel, the adolescent rivalry of Bug and Tomcat is on display, the two engaging in normal behavior of youth jockeying to one-up the other. Now, the innocent cousin-rivalry gives way to an all-out battle of Cousin vs. Cousin – Bug vs. Tomcat – Jedi vs. Sith. 

It should never have come to this point, to a fatal moment where these opponents, once bound together in kinship, are now locked in a climactic struggle of survival and destruction. Rooted to the belief that they alone are right, the final battle between the rivals begins and ends in the only way possible: suffering and death.

Bug will die, crushed by a rock that falls upon him.

Tomcat will suffer, recognizing his errors when it is already too late to save Bug or Rain.

Rain will survive, not as an innocent young girl but as Zannah, Sith apprentice to Bane.

The cousins should have never been there to begin with. After all, the Jedi Toor Snappit was right, war is no place for children. 

Luke Skywalker: A Farewell to Arms

He hears the command the Emperor, the Sith named Sidious. The Dark Lord tells Luke Skywalker to “fulfill your destiny and take your father’s place at my side.” Young Skywalker, having battled Darth Vader, his father, had finally bested his foe. His “hatred made [him] powerful” and he had unleashed a dark-filled fury against his father, swinging and hacking with his self-crafted green lightsaber until a blow was finally dealt. Vader’s right hand severed, the father of Luke Skywalker lays prostrate, weaponless, and entirely at the mercy of his son.

Luke hears the Emperor’s command, he listens, but his disposition changes. Something within him stirs, a recognition we can see on his face. He is aware that he is on a precipice of falling into a never-ending chasm of darkness (it is little wonder the battle ended with Vader and Luke above an actual chasm, a clear metaphor if ever there was one). In this instance, looking down at the mechanical stump where he severed his father’s hand – and looking at his own mechanical hand, a result of an injury Vader exacted on him a year before – Luke makes his choice.

Turning towards the Emperor, Luke Skywalker will confidently declare to Darth Sidious that “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” But his words are only a part of this pronouncement, the exclamation point actually coming before he speaks when he willingly disarms himself, tossing away his lightsaber, the “elegant” weapon of a Jedi Knight. This is Luke’s active commitment to the Jedi, a practical statement of faith declaring his dedication to “peace and justice,” to “knowledge and defense, never attack.” It is the zenith of Luke’s story in the Original Trilogy, his narrative trajectory taking him from farm-boy on the desolate world of Tatooine in A New Hope to this decisive moment in Return of the Jedi as he stands in the Emperor’s throne room. 

Skywalker’s intentional disarmament is, in a sense, his Arthurian moment, or rather his reverse-Arthurian moment. While the legendary King Arthur inherited Britain’s throne by pulling a sword from a stone, Luke inherits the title of Jedi Knight not by grasping and brandishing his weapon but doing the exact opposite, ridding himself of it. With this simple but profound action Luke Skywalker fundamentally changes what it means to be a member of the Jedi Order and elevates heroism to an even greater level, a level which requires traversing a path of nonviolence, compassion, and mercy (even for one’s enemies). 

As a child I may not have been able to fully appreciate what Luke does in Return of the Jedi but today I am profoundly moved by Skywalker’s heroic choice. It is a stark reminder to me – and perhaps to you as well – that a farewell to arms is necessary in the pursuit of peace. Even when faced with our enemies and the possibility of death we must set aside our weapons of war with a willingness to sacrifice our lives out of love and not hatred. In this way, I interpret Luke’s act through the lens of Matthew 26:52 where Jesus tells a companion to “Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (NIV). Living by the sword, even a lightsaber, is no longer appropriate for a Jedi Knight; now, the only option is to walk the path of peace and justice fortified and armed with the Light Side of the Force. 

Haikuesday: The Battle of Umbara

Expansion Region;
Ghost Nebula; Umbara;
Confederate World

CIS Blockade
Tano and Offee attack
with Z-95s

The southern campaign:
Kenobi, Krell, and Tinn move
on the capital.

The northern campaign:
Skywalker engages their
foe’s reinforcements.

Umbaran forces,
technologically fierce.
Do they use clones too?

Haiku Addendum:
All Umbaran fighters look
exactly the same.

If I had to guess
I’d say yes, the Umbaran
militia are clones.

The 501st
lands in the north and a dark,
deadly fight begins.

A counterattack
catches Sky Guy’s troops off-guard.
Strategic retreat.

Abandoning ridge,
the 501st waits for
Odd Ball’s bombs to drop.

Anakin relieved,
ordered back to Coruscant.
Pong Krell takes over.

Pong Krell’s Strategy:
frontal assaults against the
dug-in Umbarans.

Key to invasion!!!
Krell scolds the 501st.
“Krell is such an ass.”

Into a minefield,
the clones march forward but are
ambushed and outgunned.

Umbaran airbase
supplying the capital.
The next objective.

With Rex in the lead,
half the battalion enters
a valley of death.

Caterpillar Tanks
greet the unsuspecting clones.
Casualties will mount.

Rockets do the trick,
the creepy crawlers destroyed.
Another threat looms.

Umbarans send in
their Mobile Heavy Cannons.
The clones are so screwed.

Dangerous mission:
Fives and Hardcase infiltrate
the Umbaran base.

Hijacking fighters,
Fives and Hardcase save the day!
MHCs destroyed.

Airfield is captured!
But another threat still looms:
A droid supply ship.

Atmospheric fight.
Separatist fleet battles
a Republic force.

Umbaran missles.
100 megaton yield.
Krell just doesn’t care.

I have to be frank:
100 megaton yield
IS NOT accurate.

The explosions
would be catastrophic and
utterly massive.

Protected droid ship
resupplies the capital.
But Fives has a plan.

Hijacking fighters,
Fives, Hardcase, and Jesse fly
into supply ship.

Hardcase shows courage.
“Live to fight another day…”
Hard-earned sacrifice.

Fives and Jesse found guilty.

Umbaran advance.
Disguised in clone trooper gear.
Brothers should beware.

Ambushed by their own.
Brothers battling brothers.
Carnage of Pong Krell.

Deception revealed.
Every clone prepares to fight.
Fives and Rex in charge.

General scorn.
He won’t go down easily.
Irate, Krell attacks.

Jedi on the run.
Kix and other clones pursue.
Lured into a trap.

Many dead brothers.
Nevertheless, they persist.
Outraged for justice.

Pong Krell lies in wait.
Quietly prepares…attacks!!!
Rex rallies the clones.

Sabers ballet death.
Tup with a plan, his own trap.
Unaware, Krell strikes.

Victorious clones.
Waxer’s justice will be swift.
Xenos Krell shot dead.

Who pulled the trigger?
Not throwin away his shot:
the loyal Dogma.

The 501st.
The Battle of Umbara.
Dark, Deadly Triumph.

Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Ahsoka Tano (March 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

The Truce at Bakura (June 2017)

Queen Amidala (July 2017)

Ryloth (August 2017)

Cloud City (September 2017)

General Grievous (October 2017)

Millennium Falcon (November 2017)

Poe Dameron (December 2017)

The (Mis)Use of Captain Phasma

So this post has spoilers from The Last Jedi but you probably guessed that already…

Following the release of The Force Awakens in December 2015, I was perplexed and annoyed by how small Captain Phasma’s role had actually been in the film. The marketing for The Force Awakens had led me to believe that Phasma, the villainous First Order stormtrooper wearing chrome armor and a cape, would play a larger part in the movie. However, that wasn’t the case, and I was left grasping for understanding about why Captain Phasma was underused. 

In a previous post – Star Wars: Phasma – I highlighted this disappointment, noting in that piece that “I was pretty shocked by how little she factored into the movie.” As well, I also noted my conviction that Captain Phasma would undoubtedly be a greater factor in Episode VIII. In fact, I wrote as much, stating that,

“…I can’t imagine a scenario in which Captain Phasma doesn’t play a larger role. It would be silly for writer/director Rian Johnson not to utilize Phasma in a more direct way, particularly now that Starkiller Base is gone and, presumably, First Order and Resistance forces will be fighting a dirty and gritty war. Besides, with many fans expressing disappointment over how little she appears in The Force Awakens, it would make practical sense just to give us more of her.” 

Well, Captain Phasma certainly shows up in The Last Jedi, but her appearance was woefully underwhelming, even more so than her brief appearances in The Force Awakens. Rather than “more of her” we actually get less, and while we do see her fire her blaster and watch as she battles Finn (one of her former stormtroopers) this hardly makes up for the brevity of her screen-time, not to mention the fact that she dies only a short while after she finally shows up. To say that I was left stunned by Phasma’s (mis)use is an understatement, and while my expectations were admittedly high and could partially be to blame for how I feel, it is never-the-less perplexing that this mysterious villain would be so quickly laid to rest in Episode VIII without her doing anything of significance in the developing war against the Resistance which would serve the First Order’s interests. In fact…

…I find it most perplexing that Phasma died right BEFORE the climactic ground battle the First Order launches on the planet Crait. With Resistance fighters staging a last ditched effort to hold off the First Order, this would have been a perfect and brilliant moment to see Captain Phasma in her prime, leading soldiers fearlessly into battle (*What could have been an engagement that echoed Rogue One’s gritty Battle of Scarif was more of an aesthetic homage to the film at large with the bright red mineral dust of Crait overwhelming the battlefield*). Captain Phasma charging into a battle against the Resistance, that was what I was hoping for, that was the expectation I had anticipated when Phasma was first introduced in the lead up to The Force Awakens. The set up was there, the pieces in place for the Captain to lead her soldiers into a deadly battle, and yet…

…what we get is Captain Phasma falling to a fiery death on a burning First Order ship after being struck by Finn. Talk about disappointing.

Captain Phasma battles Finn
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

The thing is, this disappointment is amplified by the fact that two stories about Phasma were released in the lead up to The Last Jedi. The novel Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson and Marvel’s Captain Phasma comic series offer readers a deep and intriguing look at the woman inside the chrome armor. In particular, we learn in these stories is that Phasma is a survivor, that she will literally go out of her way to stay alive. Having discovered that survival at all costs is her modus operandi, it feels out of place that Captain Phasma would purposefully put herself in harms way by engaging Finn in a fight while the ship around her breaks apart and burns. As well, that she lets her guard down once she believes she has beaten Finn is equally confusing, something she never would have done in her earlier life on the planet Parnassus. 

In laying out my disappointment, and my belief that she was misused in The Last Jedi, I will readily admit that a small sliver of my brain believes Captain Phasma survived her fall. Given all of the unexpected turns that happen in The Last Jedi it wouldn’t be surprising if Captain Phasma survived her fiery flirtation with death, and Phasma is certainly the type who could do so. If so, this could create a very interesting plot-line in Episode IX, with Finn realizing that Phasma is still alive, and a badly injured Phasma holding a blistering grudge against him for besting her. In fact, I am just going to go on record and say this:

I think we will see Captain Phasma again in Episode IX. 

If I am right, I hope Captain Phasma and her re-emergence is treated with incredible care, and that she isn’t misused once again. An opportunity exists to not only show audiences that Phasma is a survivor, but for her to use her survival as a means of rising within the ranks of the First Order, to challenge General Hux for the #2 spot behind the newly minted Supreme Leader Kylo Ren. In fact, I think it is safe to say that IF Captain Phasma survived, Kylo Ren will be pretty damn impressed she did. And I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Phasma were to execute General Hux with Kylo Ren’s blessing…

But if I am wrong, if we won’t be seeing her again in Episode IX, then so be it. While I believe she deserved far more treatment and was misused in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I am otherwise left with the worry that watching her fall to her doom was a cheap trick, a “gotcha” moment where she will return in IX just to be dispatched once again. At this point, while I have yearned for more of Captain Phasma on the big screen, and grew even more fond of her through the novel and comic series, I am otherwise just flat out tired of investing the time and emotional energy into this character….and I guess I will just leave it at that.

Haikuesday: Poe Dameron

Star Wars Trivia:
Poe’s parents fought for Rebs at
Battle of Endor

Mission to Jakku.
Poe handed crucial info.
First Order arrives.

A battle ensues,
Dameron sprints to his ride.
“Come on BB-8!!!”

His X-Wing damaged,
Poe passes the mission off
to his trusted droid.

Taking aim, Poe shoots.
A trooper is hit, goes down.
Blood. Pain. Death. Panic.

Lor San Tekka killed.
Dameron reacts, fires.
Frozen by the Force.

Torture. Pain. Resilience. Grit.
Kylo will break Poe.

“The right thing to do.”
“You need a pilot,” Poe says.
“I need a pilot.”

TIE Fighter stolen.
Dameron heads to Jakku.
Finn isn’t happy.

TIE Fighter crashes.
Poe is no where to be found.
His jacket remains.

I have to be frank:
I never understood how
Poe just disappears.

Fast-forward the film:
Now we’re on Takodana
and Poe reappears.

“Fighters incoming!”
“It’s the Resistance,” Han says.
Poe leads Black Squadron.

Star Wars Trivia:
Poe flies a T-70
known as the Black One.

Dameron blasts TIEs.
“That’s one hell of a pilot!!!”
Ace in a dogfight.

Poe and BB-8,
pilot and droid reunite
at Resistance base.

Finn looks on, sees Poe.
Dameron looks up, sees Finn.
The two friends embrace.

Scrubs: Turk and J.D.
“It’s guy love between two guys.”
Star Wars: Finn and Poe

I have to be frank:
Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe,
is one handsome dude.

Star Wars Trivia:
Poe flew with the Republic’s
Rapier Squadron

“Disable the shields.”
“Take out the oscillator.”
“Blow up their big gun.”

 Preparing to fight,
the Resistance springs to life.
Poe readies his ship.

Base to Black Leader:
“…go to sub-lights on your call.”
Poe gives his orders.

Leading the X-Wings.
“Hit the target dead center.”
TIE Fighters inbound.

Hole in the target,
Dameron creates a plan.
He just needs cover.

Into a long trench,
Poe is pursued by TIEs and
targeted by guns.

“I need some help here.”
Ello Asty is destroyed.
Black Leader persists.

Threading the needle.
Poe blasts the oscillator.
Proton torpedoes.

Thermal Exhaust Port
and Thermal Oscillator.
Thermal Bros – Luke, Poe.

“Starkiller” destroyed.
“Our jobs done here, let’s go home.”
Hard fought victory.

I’m of the belief
that Poe should be given the
nickname “Starkiller”

Leia: Huttslayer
Poe Dameron: Starkiller
You know you want this.

Haikuesday is a monthly series on The Imperial Talker, a new post with poetic creations coming on the first Tuesday of each month. The haiku topic is chosen by voters on Twitter so be sure to follow @ImperialTalker so you can participate in the voting. Now, check out these past Haikuesday posts:

Droids (February 2017)

Ahsoka Tano (March 2017)

Darth Vader (April 2017)

The Battle of Scarif (May 2017)

The Truce at Bakura (June 2017)

Queen Amidala (July 2017)

Ryloth (August 2017)

Cloud City (September 2017)

General Grievous (October 2017)

Millennium Falcon (November 2017)

The Talker Toy Challenge

In August, I published a piece titled “Star Wars Toy Giveaway Challenge.” Posted in conjunction with Force Friday II and the release of the toys associated with The Last Jedi, I explained in it that I had been stockpiling Star Wars toys which I would be giving away to children in need. In turn, I also challenged readers to do the same thing, getting involved in what I dubbed The Talker Toy Challenge (#TalkerToyChallenge). With the holiday season upon us, I decided now would be a good time to return to the topic of giving in the hope that YOU will get involved in The Talker Toy Challenge and help me bring a small bit of Star Wars joy to kids who are less fortunate.

So, how does The Talker Toy Challenge work? Simple: You buy Star Wars toys, find a charitable organization that takes toy donations, and you drop them off to said organization.

While I have chosen Toys for Tots, an annual toy drive conducted by the United States Marines Corps Reserve as the destination for the toys I have collected, there are many other organizations that take donations and will distribute toys to children in need. That said, while the spirit of The Talker Toy Challenge is grounded in my own love of Star Wars, it is equally my hope that my own actions – and, admittedly, my prodding with periodic posts – will spur others to get involved with helping others in some way, shape, or form. Naturally, I would love for thousands of Star Wars fans to buy great Star Wars toys and give them away to kids in need. However, compassion cannot be codified in a single way, and whatever way YOU choose to get involved with helping others is worthy of admiration in my book. 

Still, if you do get involved with The Talker Toy Challenge, I would love to know! If you have a Star Wars related blog or podcast (even if Star Wars is not your sole focus) and get involved in the Challenge, let me know and I will add a link to your site below. If you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other social media platform, post a picture or two of the toys you will be donating to kiddos (and be sure to use the hashtag #TalkerToyChallenge). Of course, while these are ways to help spread the word about the Challenge, I should note that these are hardly requirements for involvement. If you just feel inspired to buy a Star Wars toy (or any toy!) and donate without any fanfare, that is perfect too. No matter how you get involved, I hope you will take the opportunity to buy a Star Wars toy and hand it off to a child in need. 

Talker Toy Challenge Supporters

My Comic Relief

Star Wars is Love

Partisan Cantina

Hyperspace PodBlast

Just Dread-Full