Friday, 21 November 2014

Fantastic Four Vol. 1: New Departure, New Arrivals (Marvel NOW!) Review

Fantastic Four Vol. 1: New Departure, New Arrivals (Marvel NOW!)

There's a lot of confidence in that caption
up the top.
Writer: Matt Fraction

Artists: Mark Bagley and Micheal Allred

Collects: Fantastic Four #1-3 and FF #1-3

Background Information:

I don’t think there was a single comic more significant to Marvel’s history than Fantastic Four. They’ve been called Marvel’s First Family for a reason after all, and they were, to my knowledge, Stan Lee’s big debut to comics.

In terms of their history, Reed Richards, his buddy Ben Grimm, his love interest Susan Storm and his love interest’s brother Johnny were on a space adventure when hit by a strange power source- it did crazy things to the molecules in their bodies giving them each a very distinctive power. Now Reed is Mr Fantastic, able to stretch his… everything, Susan, now married to Reed, can turn invisible and create forcefields as the Invisible Woman, Ben, the Thing is a walking, talking, clobberin’ rock and Johnny calls himself The Human Torch when he lights himself on fire.

Oh, and side note- their book’s officially cancelled.

Review:

Hey, look; it's She Hulk, Medusa, and people who have an
uncertain future in film!
Let’s face it; comics are generally a very fighty medium. The high point of each issue is usually when characters are hitting each other. It speaks a lot about our modern culture, I think, that we often fail to envision adventure without violence or tension without fighting.

Yet that is exactly what New Departure, New Arrival does, and even though this is by no means a great book, it’s more than a little bit fun to read.

Even though this collection contains issues from two different series, FF and Fantastic Four, both written by Matt Fraction (who wrote the awesome Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon and the comparatively underwhelming sequel Little Hits), there’s still a single, coherent story that runs throughout. Reed Richards is dying, the power source that gave him his abilities is finally back to get him and now Reed has no idea how much longer he has to live. Instead of telling anyone about it, he takes the entire Fantastic Four and his two children for what’s billed as a “holiday” in the unknown universes. While they gone, they get other heroes (Ant-Man, She Hulk, Medusa and Johnny’s girlfriend, Darla) to watch over earth for them. Sure, Reed only thinks he’ll be gone for four minutes, but just in case, right?

The only real, this-bothers-me problem is the assumption that earth in the Marvel universe needs to be “watched over” because the Fantastic Four aren’t there. I mean, their home of New York has the Avengers, multiple teams of Avengers; what do they need the Fantastic Four for, exactly? It’s an error that, for me, makes the whole story less credible.

Be that as it may, though, New Departure, New Arrivals does plenty right. For starters, it’s a surprisingly fun book. I can’t remember reading a title that was this light-hearted. Not just in the sense that there’s the occasional joke, but everything is just plain light. There is literally no darkness here. It’s refreshing to see this kind of storytelling, and it’s helped by the fact that there’s very little violence in the whole collection. The Fantastic Four’s journey features no central villain, and really focuses on the escape from a monster rather than killing one. It makes this collection one of those ones that you have no problem showing to the kids.

This is as much stabbing as you're going to see in this book.
That said, the Fantastic Four portions of this collection really get outshined by the FF issues. Fraction is at his best as a writer when writing these issues that actually mirror the feel of his work on Hawkeye, and the art by Allred is so much more distinctive than Bagley’s, which feels too much like it’s playing by Stuart Immomnen’s rules.

New Departures, New Arrivals isn’t going to make you fall head-over-heels in love with the Fantastic Four, but it’s a fair title and recommended for readers who want to get a feel for the first family. It gets a three out of five Avengers who apparently aren’t watching over earth.

+ Actually fun.

+ Accomplishes Excitement without villains.

- One major plot hole.

- FF chapters outshine Fantastic Four ones.

Alternate Option: Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon

Fraction’s best writing to date. Read this.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1: Fearsome

Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1: Fearsome
Featuring Guy Gardner pooping!

Writer: Peter J Tomasi

Artists: Fernando Pasarin and Scott Hanna

Collects: Green Lantern Corps #1-7

Background Information:

New readers need to be aware of two things, really.

Firstly, there is more than just one Green Lantern out there, even when you just restrict yourself to human ones. Alongside showrunner Hal Jordan are youngster Kyle Rayner, and the second and third GLs Guy Gardner and John Stewart. The latter two are the focuses of this book.

Secondly, even though DC claimed to reboot everything with the New 52, the Green Lantern franchise was really overlooked in the process. It picked up right where the old DCU left off, so don’t expect this series to be new reader friendly in the sense that it offers origins for these characters.

Review:

I’ve gotta admit, I hate Guy Gardner. The dude’s a little full of himself and I don’t see it being deserved. I also don’t really like John Stewart. I know, he was in the Justice League cartoon and IGN keep pushing for him to be the DC cinematic universe’s new GL because Hal Jordan is “tarnished” by a bad movie, but I haven’t ever been particularly interested in the guy.

So it’s significant that a book staring my two least favourite lanterns ended up so entertaining. I still prefer Hal and Kyle, and this collection is far from perfect, but it’s a pleasant surprise.

I hope you like green, you'll see a lot of it.
So Guy and John, after failing to fit into normal society, are called to investigate an alien threat obsessed with stealing natural resources, killing GLs and ultimately getting revenge on the Guardians. There’s more to it than that, but I like my reviews to be as spoiler-free as possible.

First thing I have to say about this book is that it’s green. I mean, it’s really, really, REALLY green. That shouldn’t come as a surprised, I mean, it’s a Green Lantern book, but the core Green Lantern title was at least able to tone it down a little bit. Aside from that, the art is serviceable, but not great. I’m not a fan of the way the artist in this volume draws human faces, it comes across as grotesque, and characters that are meant to look angry look violently constipated instead.

Art aside, though, there’s plenty to enjoy in the story. Writer Peter J. Tomasi delves pretty deep into GL mythology to give us a side to the Guardians’ history that I, for one, never really considered. I won’t ruin it, as it’s probably the best part of the book, but it’s one you’ll definitely want to know more about.

By far, the best part about Fearsome, though, is that it makes me respect Guy Gardner. He’s still not my favourite Lantern, but at least I don’t find him as annoying any more. We get to see some real resourcefulness in Gardner’s character, and his habit of breaking rules and his cocky attitude is more charming here than it was in Green Lantern: Rebirth. I’m glad that Tomasi was able to do this for Guy, even though John is left somewhat on the wayside for this volume (thankfully, it looks like he’ll get some more spotlight in Volume 2).

The gangs all here.
My real problem with Fearsome, though, is that I’m not really sure that it knows what it is. The book starts as a buddy-cop story and would have worked great as such. Not far in, however, it becomes a war story- centred around Guy and John taking platoons on special operations behind enemy lines (at one point, even with machine guns). The book then changes again into a character drama. None of these styles are bad on their own, but you just end up wanting Tomasi to pick one style and stick with it.

Overall, though, there’s no reason new readers can’t enjoy in Fearsome. It gets a three and a half out of five constipated faces.

*** ½

+ Adds to mythology.

+ Makes you like Guy Gardner.

- Art is average.

- Book doesn’t quite know what it is.

Alternate Option: Green Lantern: Sinestro
If you read one Green Lantern book, you suddenly find yourself having to read them all. Proceed with caution, but they're all a blast to read.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Superior Spider-Man Volume 3: No Escape


Superior Spider-Man Vol. 3: No Escape

SUPERIOR... y'know what? This joke's
getting tired.
Writers: Dan Slott and Christos Gage

Artists: Guiseppe Camuncoli and Humberto Ramos

Collects: Superior Spider-Man #11-16

Background Information:

I know what the haters are thinking;

WAH, WAH, WAH… Superior Spider-Man is different to the Spider-Man I knew when I was eight. WAH, WAH, WAH… Dan Slott changed a character. WAH, WAH, WAH!

Okay haters, first thing; don’t cry on the internet- it makes you look silly. Secondly, shut up; Superior Spider-Man represents the best of Dan Slott’s run. Don’t believe me? Check out what people are saying about Slott’s current run on Amazing Spider-Man.

For those wondering, Otto Octavius’ mind is now in the body of Peter Parker. That’s Superior in a nutshell.

Review:

By now, you’d expect that Superior Spider-Man would have become stale as a concept. We’ve seen Otto as Peter in two volumes already. Surely there isn’t that much in that concept, right?

WRONG!

Slott’s showing us that the character of Otto has more than enough depth for many more stories to come. By now, I’ve reached the middle of the series, and it’s disappointing that the ongoing ends with volume 6, because there’s so much good here!

"So, I was thinking about power and responsibility the other
day..."
So, Otto/Spidey’s been called in to oversee the execution of Alistair Smythe, the Spider-Slayer, the guy most recently known for killing the wife of now Mayor J. Jonah Jameson and commonly known for creating robots designed specifically to kill Spider-Man. Smythe’s meant to be executed at an island prison known as The Raft, but thinks taking the prison over sounds rather more fun. Hell, he even releases Boomerang, the Vulture and the Scorpion to raise a special kind of hell. Naturally, Otto has to take them down in his own particular manner.

Yep, you’ve heard this plot before; it’s the story of the video game, Batman: Arkham Asylum. That’s my only real issue with this collection. See, Dan Slott tries really hard to convince us that he thought of this story all on his own; using the event to change the status-quo between Otto and Jameson. I find it hard to believe that anyone’s convinced it’s his own idea, though. Plagiarism has been fairly common in Marvel NOW!, Avengers Academy is a blatant rip-off of The Hunger Games. At least Avengers Academy admitted its influence. No Escape doesn’t even try to cover itself, and it’s disappointing, to say the least.

But that’s really the only problem here, as Slott goes back to what he’s been doing best; giving us a Spider-Man who fights crime using the same tactics that Otto used as a villain. This issue sees Otto get his own secret lair, massive spider-like tanks and an army of minions. It’s really fun to read and seeing Otto really put himself into Spidey’s role gives the book a great amount of character development not seen in other titles.

The fact that they look more like ticks
than spiders aside... this is pretty cool.
Throughout the whole of Superior Spider-Man, Slott has been teasing an eventual takeover of New York by the Green Goblin, and No Escape gives us the biggest developments for that eventual moment yet. I won’t go into it, as I’ve probably spoiled the series enough already. Suffice to say it is well worth your read.

Art here is up to its normal standard. I love seeing the exaggerated lines and expressions on these characters. A real stand-out for me has to be the faces drawn by Camuncoli and Ramos when Jameson freaks out. His face contorts in all different, hilarious angles. You’ll want to go back to these pages.

Overall, No Escape continues to be one of the best books in Marvel NOW! It’s a crying shame that the series is now over, especially considering the lukewarm reception given to the new Amazing Spider-Man. This collection gets a four out of five Arkham Asylums.

****

+ Otto as a hero is amazing.

+ Expressions are drawn excellently.

+ Building up to something awesome.

- Way too similar to a game based on a game for a certain Distinguished Competition…

Alternate Option: Superior Spider-Man: My Own Worst Enemy.

Start from the beginning. You’ll be glad you did (okay, so the technical beginning is actually The Amazing Spider-Man: Dying Wish, but you’ll know all you need in this one).

Friday, 17 October 2014

Confessions of an Awesomntic Blogger


Here’s the thing;

I know that in a world of around seven billion people, only a miniscule amount are actually comic fans. But not all of them think the same. There are a few misconceptions that the comics industry kind of takes for granted; We all want to see another rendition of Batman beating up Superman (my only problem with BvS so far is that it will probably be a Batman victory); we all love Deadpool, we all wanted Superior Spider-Man to end.

The comic fanbase is diverse enough to have different opinions. Unfortunately, most of them get drowned out by a very vocal group who dominate conversations in comics. So consider this my stepping out and admitting some things that, it seems, comic fans aren’t supposed to think (at least, if the IGN message boards are any indication).

 
Yay... Batman beats Superman... No way is DC
gonna force THAT down our throats...
for the next 30 years Right?
Neither Frank Miller, nor Alan Moore have done all that much for me.

I tried Watchmen, but had to stop reading before I threw up. I really wanted to like The Dark Knight Returns, but ended up having to force myself through it.

I know, I know, Watchmen is a classic, and The Dark Knight Returns established Batman as a dark character. But you know what? Both books were pretty boring. Sure, there were scenes from both that I didn’t hate, but that doesn’t make them enjoyable.

I’m aware that, according to WB, I’m actually supposed love at least Frank Miller’s work, but honestly, it does nothing for me.

I actually DON 'T hate these designs, though I wish
Wonder Woman kept the pants.
 
I actually like the New 52

Dead set; the New 52 got me into reading DC. And I’m not even talking about the highly acclaimed ones like Snyder’s Batman. It was Kyle Higgins’ Nightwing. There are plenty of people who really want the New 52 to be a failure. People who don’t want anyone to know that some people enjoy the new status quo in the vain hope that it will mean that they get their white Wally West back along with underwear on the outside, but I can’t help it; I’m just as invested in this status quo as others were in the old ones.

I’m under no delusions that every New 52 book is a gem. I have a bit of buyer’s remorse with Teen Titans, am glad I only borrowed Batman- The Dark Knight from my library and am proud of myself for never having picked up Savage Hawkman. But there are plenty of New 52 runs that I have loved- Grant Morrison’s run on Superman- Action Comics, Buccelato and Manapul’s run on The Flash and Geoff Johns’ Aquaman are amongst my best-loved books. Getting rid of it all so that older fans can go back to their comfort zones feels a little like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

These guys are genuinely shocked that I didn't like this movie.
I wasn’t a fan of The Avengers movie! There, I said it.

I heard the hype, I wanted to like Whedon’s take on the team, but ultimately, it fell flat.

Not that it was a bad movie- it wasn’t. But after hearing everyone harp on and on about how great it was, I saw the uneven focus (“let’s make it all about Iron Man, since Iron Man 2 was such an awesome movie!”), the throwaway explanations (“I’m always angry… I’m not always the Hulk, who I turn into when I’m angry… but I’m always angry!”) and the boring, unintimidating aliens (who, to my memory,  blew up nothing and killed nobody; seriously, was New York being invaded by Canada?). I came away thinking the same thing that I thought about Eminem, Jonny Depp films and people’s love/hate for Justin Beiber; “Really? That’s what we’re on about? That’s the big thing?”

I’m not saying that the DC movies are necessarily “better” (I did enjoy Man of Steel, but that was pretty much an opposite experience to The Avengers- everyone was talking about how bad it was, and it wasn’t as bad as people claimed), but I would consider them on par with each other.

Either way, give me a comic over the film any day.

So those are my current confessions. If you run a comics blog, I’d love to see you write a post where you put down your confessions. Let me know if you do.

Talon Vol. 2: Fall of the Owls (The New 52) Review


Talon Volume 2: Fall of the Owls (The New 52)
An accurate representation of books that
guest star Batman.

Writer: James Tynion IV

Artists: Miguel Sepulveda, Szymon Kudranski and Emanuel Simeoni.

Collects: Talon #8-17 and Birds of Prey #21

Background information:

Fair warning: This isn’t a new reader’s book. Understanding it requires you to know the first two volumes of Scott Snyder’s Batman run, as well as the first Talon volume, Scourge of the Owls.

But basically, the Court of Owls, a secret society that has been ruling Gotham for centuries, has been knocking off people they don’t like with assassins called Talons. For years, there had only been one Talon at a time who would be recruited from young performers at Haly’s Circus. Calvin Rose is one such Talon. An escape artist, Calvin’s first mission was to kill Casey Washington, the new CEO of her dead father’s security company and her daughter, Sarah. Calvin refused to kill the girls, and instead went on the run with them. Six years later, the Court of Owls has revived the Talons, giving them Wolverine-like healing powers and sending them after Calvin. Thus began his mission to bring the court down; a mission that eventually saw him betrayed by his mentor, Sebastian Clarke and killed by Bane.

And yes, there’s still a story here.

Review

There were really only three things going through my head as I read Fall of the Owls

1)      I really like Calvin Rose as a character.

2)      Bane is so, amazingly boring. How do people like this guy?

3)      This should have been two volumes, not one.

And that last point is really what spoils an otherwise enjoyable read.
This is your Talon on drugs!

See, there are no less than four story arcs in Fall of the Owls. In the first, the Court of Owls revives Calvin into one of their own, undead Talons and sends them after Stryx, a fugitive Talon who currently rolls with the Birds of Prey. In the second, they send Calvin after Bane on his military-state island of Santa Prisca in search of Sebastian Clarke (which fails). In the third, they take on both Clarke and Felix Harmon (the big bad of the previous volume) as the two psychos try to destroy Gotham and in the fourth, Calvin searches for a cure for his immortality.

None of these stories are particularly bad, even if the first arc is the weakest point of the book, but there are so many of them that the whole trade just feels bogged down under the weight of its own cancellation. It really should have been two trades, with two story arcs apiece. I realise that would mean making one trade only five issues (something I hate when it’s done by Marvel), but it would actually be better here. You need that break in a series like this and having everything collected into one is really too much to take in.

Which again, is a pity, because there’s no real bad story here. Tynion manages to, again, capitalise on Calvin’s skill set as an escape artist (making it a weapon in some places, a plot device in others), the characterisation is still fun, and the over-the-top action is entertaining. On that last point, the last issue features Calvin THROWING A SHARK at a villain.

Yep, he done did that!

And it’s the kind of ridiculous moment that makes this book weirdly fun. It’s not something you tend to expect from a book this dark, but some of Calvin’s tactics in this trade really come out of left field. For example, the dude lights himself on fire so a freezing cube doesn’t affect his healing factor, but does take out the other three Talons around him.

I now present to you, the most stupidly-
cool moment in Talon.
That’s what there is to like about Calvin: he’s clever. He’s insanely resourceful, skilled at what he does and morally conflicted. I realise that I probably just described Batman to most of you, but the difference here is that Calvin’s still a nice guy. He’s obsessed with protecting those he loves and that often leads to some great moments for him.

I do have to talk about that Bane story arc, though. I rolled my eyes when I first read Bane’s appearance in Volume 1, and this arc really didn’t change my mind. It’s a good Bane story, but that’s like saying that you had a nice spew- it’s a really a matter of relativity. See, the last Bane story the New 52 had, to my knowledge, was in Batman the Dark Knight, which was awful. Even though the Bane story here is better, it’s still not great because it’s Bane. Talon confronts Bane. Cue Bane talking about his plans to take Gotham. Cue Bane standing over the guy who’s paying him. Cue Bane talking about how he was moulded in Santa Prisca. Essentially, cue everything Bane does in The Dark Knight Rises. As good as the story arc is, it’s not good for Bane’s presence.

It’s hard for me to go one way or the other in rating Fall of the Owls. If you like Calvin Rose, you’ll probably like the second volume of Talon, if you don’t, haven’t heard of him, or feel indifferent, you’ll want to stay away from a book that gets a three out of five shark-throwing contests.

***

+ Calvin is awesome

+ Action is weirdly fun.

- Bane… Bane…

- Way too many story arcs.

Alternate Option: Talon: Scourge of the Owls

Don’t even think about reading Fall of the Owls until you’ve read this one.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Real Relevance: The Fantastic Four


Seriously? Cancelled?
 
Yep, Marvel’s done it again. In a childish bid to shore up nothing but their cinematic properties, Fantastic Four is officially cancelled.

I know, I know; it was selling poorly, Mavel’s a business, it makes sense to the bottom line, blah, blah, blah…

The problem isn’t that Marvel is trying to make a buck; they’re entitled to make a profit. The problem is one of relevance. Something that goes beyond sales; beyond the bottom line. The First Family should matter to Marvel, even if Fox do have the movie rights.

A Matter of Legacy


It's almost hard to believe how many people
lost their minds over this.
If you spoke to newer fans like me, I imagine you’d be hard-pressed to convince them that the only reason Marvel made it off the starting line is because of Fantastic Four, but that’s the fact. Fantastic Four was really the first book of what became known as the Marvel universe.

Yep, you heard right; the reason we have Avengers, X-Men, Spider-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy is from what Marvel has, for years, been calling “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine.”

Despite what the sales figures leads us to believe, despite what Marvel seems to believe, legacy matters. The Fantastic Four are symbolic of Marvel’s success, and to deny what made Marvel successful in the first place is stepping into what, I think, is very dangerous territory.

A Matter of Adventure

But it’s more than just a symbol of Marvel’s success. Fantastic Four, more than any other book in Marvel’s line up, is about adventure- the kind of adventure, moreover, that doesn’t necessitate violence. I read the first volume of Matt Fractions Fantastic Four the other day and was amazed at how much I didn’t mind that the Fantastic Four issues didn’t feature, or need to feature a central villain. It was fine just being about exploring new worlds and getting into trouble- even if that trouble didn’t have a name. Nobody got punched in the face, decapitated, webbed-up or killed and I was more than okay with that.

That’s pretty significant. The world, young men especially, need to know that excitement doesn’t necessitate violence. Think about some of the greatest adventurers in history; Amelia Rinehart, Lewis and Clark, and many others. Who did they punch? Adventure, more often than not is about the triumph of will rather than muscle. That’s important too.

A Matter of Family

Seriously, who hates these guys?
The real reason that Fantastic Four matters though, has to do with family. It’s been a habit in comics for many years to do as much as they can to keep their characters youthful. If they’re married, get them unmarried (Spider-Man) and if they have kids, get rid of them (Ant-Man and Animal Man)- they ruin a character’s youthfulness so.

Not so with Fantastic Four not only are Sue and Reed Richards married, they’ve also had two, so-far-not-dead children. See, Fantastic Four is a family book- family is what it’s about and family is glorified. I’m a teacher by trade and I see too many kids from broken homes enter my classroom. I’m not going to go so far as to say that Fantastic Four will save the family, but anything that puts family in a positive light is more encouraging than the media world that constantly counts family as unimportant unless they’ve died (here’s looking at you, Batman).

The cancelling of Fantastic Four is a sign that Marvel doesn’t understand the power of its own properties. We’ll see them again, no doubt. But for now, it should be a sad day for Marvel fans.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic Volume 1: Commencement


Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic Volume 1: Commencement (Dark Horse Comics)


Ummm... guys?
Writer: John Jackson Miller

Artists: Brian Ching and Travel Foreman (that’s a name? Seriously?)

Collects: Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic #0-6

Background Information:

A long time ago in…

Actually, forget it. I’m not using that intro. In fact, y’know what? You don’t get background information this time. NO BACKGROUND FOR YOU!!!

Review:

There are three Star Wars movies.

There are only three Star Wars movies.

Anything made between 1999 and 2013 isn’t a Star Wars movie.

Yet, here we are, with a comic that’s essentially a prequel to anything made between 1999 and 2013. And, y’know what? I think it’s a Star Wars comic. But that would be impossible, because then I’d have to admit that anything made between 1999 and 2013 might be Star Wars movies. I don’t know if I could do that.

When I finish this review, I plan on sitting in the corner, rocking, singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow to myself and eating my hair.

Nothing remotely witty to say about this one... too much
going on...
This one focuses on Zayne Carrick, a Jedi padawan with absolutely zero prospects. He is the least accomplished padawan in his group and constantly messes up in the most embarrassing way. His life is turned more or less upside down when he enters his local Jedi temple and finds the local masters standing with sabres drawn over the bodies of other padawans, and so begins a very long, drawn out chase scene. It’s a fugitive story I’ve seen done better in DC’s Talon, but it suffices and it definitely gives everything a purpose.

One of the real saving graces for this comic is that it’s more Star Wars-y than the Star Wars prequels. One of the things that bugged me about the prequels was the “all-too-shiny” look of the ships and buildings. It was something that they slowly got rid of throughout the trilogy, but it still wasn’t dirty enough. The Original trilogy looked dirty. Ships looked cool, but they also looked ready to fall apart at any minute. It was an underground galaxy and that’s thankfully something we see in Commencement.

I also appreciate the fact that writer John Jackson Miller opted away from having many lightsabre duels here. Zayne gets by on his wits and help from his friends more than his ability to cut the other guy up. It makes for a book that feels closer to the original trilogy than the prequels.

That said, this is a book that feels like nothing is happening. The escape process takes the entire book to do, and by the end, you’re left wondering exactly what has happened. For all that occurs in the book, it still feels like we have a non-story here.
Yep... I got nothing today.
Thankfully, the art here does its job just fine. There’s not a lot to say about it- it looks like any of the millions of Star Wars books out there. Not bad at all, but fairly standard stuff.

And at the end of the day, that’s my biggest criticism of Commencement. It all feels too… standard. We’ve seen these characters in Star Wars-related media before (with the exclusion of one character that is too underutilised to matter). There’s the underrated young Padawan with the potential to kill us all, the seedy dealer, the tough angry female and the corrupt leader. It’s like they practically lifted these characters out of other Star Wars media for this book, and that’s just not very interesting. Even the action and humour is very stock-standard. It makes for a book that, while entertaining, is nothing amazing.

Commencement gets a two and a half out of five culinary bowls of hair.

** ½

+ Light on lightsabres.

+ Looks more like the original trilogy that the prequels.

- Too much that’s stock-standard stuff.

- Not much actually happens.

Alternate Option: Star Wars: Legacy

A far better book. This is what you should be reading if you want a Star Wars book.