Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
Well, here we are, at the end of the Legacy run! After the initial 50-issue ongoing series came to an end in August 2010, there was a short gap before the six-issue miniseries War picked up the tale to draw things to a close. Interestingly, the same thing happened to the Knights of the Old Republic ongoing series, which ran pretty much concurrently with Legacy throughout, and was wrapped up by its own War miniseries. But that will be a subject for another blog!

Volume Eleven: War

Darth Krayt has returned! He travels to Coruscant to confront Darth Wyyrlock, and kills him in single combat, taking back control of the Empire to lead a new crusade against the galaxy. Antares Draco, held captive on Korriban, has eventually broken under the torture of Darth Havok, and divulged the location of the hidden Jedi temple on Taivas.

The Sith plot to destroy the Jedi once and for all, and send a combined task force under Darth Stryfe, while also dispatching Darth Nihl at the head of his secret Sith Dragon ships. However, the Jedi launched a defense alongside Gar Stazi and the Fel Empire. Just when the Alliance seemed to come through victorious, the Dragon ships appear and turn the tide, but the tide turns again when several Sith Imperial ships, including Moff Yage, defect back to Roan Fel’s side.

Fearing an assault on Bastion, Fel decides to lead an assault directly on Coruscant. It turns out that Darth Maladi had been captured, and was working with Fel to create a biological weapon designed to attack the Sith. A strike team, led by Cade Skywalker, sabotage the orbital defense network to allow the fleet to arrive in-system. Cade then infiltrated the Sith temple to confront Krayt. During the duel, Cade witnessed Krayt’s vision for the future: Darth Maladi’s toxin is actually designed to kill everyone except the Sith. Seeing this vision, Cade finally knows his place in the galaxy and kills Krayt, declaring himself to be a Jedi.

However, feeling Krayt’s spirit in the back of his mind, Cade knew that the Sith Lord would be able to heal himself once more, and so determines to fly a ship into Coruscant’s sun, destroying them both. However, the spirit of Luke appears to him once more, and urges him to trust in his friends. He ejects, and Jariah Syn picks him up while Krayt’s body is incinerated in the sun.

And with that, the Legacy series comes to an end!

This was a pretty action-packed ending to the series, bringing everything together into a nice (too nice?) package. I’ve glossed over a lot of details here, of course, but there is a lot going on in this book, although I think it succeeds in not feeling too rushed. The book covers a lot of space battle over the hidden temple, living up to the title at least! It’s pretty epic, and I think we could perhaps have seen more of these types of all-out battles throughout the main series.

Cade goes through a bit of a metamorphosis in this one, as well. His creepy leer still pops up of course, but he does become more noble, somehow – I think the death of Bantha Rawk during the assault on the hidden temple has a lot to do with that, but he does give up with his “I don’t want anyone to die for me” to some extent. I talked about the whole Grey Jedi thing in my previous blog, and this miniseries does go some way to mitigate that, by making him follow the Jedi path more consciously, and walking in the Light, etc. I do appreciate the fact that his character has “resolved”, therefore!

Darth Krayt is something of a problematic character for me, though, although I suppose it has been explained to some degree why he has done what he has done. Some of his outbursts, about making the galaxy suffer, and so on, do seem to be a bit inconsistent with the Jedi Master who fought during the Clone Wars, but we learnt that a lot of his world view was shaped by Vergere in the embrace of pain. I guess I compare it a bit with Jacen Solo in the Legacy of the Force novels, and while Jacen’s descent into Darth Caedus was maybe unexpected, it was handled so well by the authors of that series that he never felt like the pantomime villain that Krayt sometimes is.

I should probably re-read the LotF novels at some point – maybe next year!

I’m glad I’ve re-read the series, and have actually read it through to conclusion, because some of the later arcs I don’t think I read back in the day! While some of my affection for this series was probably borne from nostalgia, along with a fair dose of it being so novel when it was first published. Now, though, even given the fact that it’s a Legends series so these things don’t really matter, I do feel that it falls short of the mark, in the main due to the fact I hate the main protagonist!!

But let’s end this on a high – seeing the fallout of the Yuuzhan Vong war was cool, and some aspects of the series, such as the Hidden Temple of the Jedi, were great!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
We’re on the home strait with the Legacy series now! There has been a lot of nostalgia for me in re-reading these comics, but at the same time, it has felt like a bit of a slog, as I’ve not really enjoyed it as much as I thought I would. But we’re getting there, so let’s crack on!

Volume Nine: Monster

This is a very intriguing storyline. Rav shows up again, and offers his erstwhile pirates an offer they can’t refuse. They head to Wayland, one of the first sites of the Ossus Project, and the site where that project first showed signs of failure, but it turns into a trap. We learn (finally!) that the Ossus Project was sabotaged by Zenoc Quah, a Yuuzhan Vong Shaper who believed surrender to be a betrayal. He collaborated with Darth Maladi to sabotage the Project, which led to the Sith-Imperial War that saw the end of the Jedi all the way back in volume one.

Quah captures Deliah Blue and puts her in the embrace of pain, and together with Maladi, they attempt to lure Cade into a trap. Maladi does not trust Wyyrlok, and has sent Darth Nihl to Korriban to see if Darth Krayt is still alive; meanwhile, she is developing a bio-weapon that will keep the rest of the Sith in check, but needs to test it on a Dark Side user, and Cade is a perfect test subject. However, Cade is able to fight his way through, and Jariah Syn kills Zenoc Quah with an amphistaff that he has mastered. Maladi escapes in the chaos, detonating her laboratory, while Cade is able to free Deliah and, using the Light Side for the first time to do so, heals her in the Force.

Meanwhile, the Jedi and the Fel Empire attempt to broker a treaty on Agamar, but word is leaked to the Sith and they attack en masse, capturing Princess Marasiah and taking her to Korriban.

Star Wars Legacy

The storyline for this one was really good, I thought, as it delved a lot into the post-war landscape. We learn much more about the Ossus Project, too, which is something that I’d been wanting for most of the series up to this point! I think the blending of Yuuzhan Vong with the rest of the galaxy works well to provide that sense of distance that makes the Legacy comics feel apart from the New Republic era stories. There is that patois the Mynock crew (and others) use, which feels at times like the attempts to blend in Chinese with English in the Firefly series, but there is very little to otherwise distinguish the era from that of the height of the Empire. Seeing the devastation wrought by the Yuuzhan Vong, who apparently conquered and terraformed millions of worlds, is a nice attempt to give that distance.

Volume Ten: Extremes

The series comes to an end with the three-part Extremes arc! All hell breaks loose here, as the storyline attempts to live up to its name. Cade and his crew are on the trail of the Sith scientist Vul Isen, as they try to track down “the Butcher of Dac” and hold him accountable for his crimes. They travel to Daluuj, but are ambushed by a group of Sith who are clearly waiting for them – but Cade is able to easily escape the trap. Isen had maintained a laboratory there, which they destroy, but the trail goes cold until the Hutts – mainly fan-favourite Queen Jool – inform Cade they have lured Isen to Utapau.

It’s nice to see movie locations revisited like this, though sometimes they appear to be carbon-copied from the movies, as if time has stood still. That feels like the case here, sadly, and even the port administrator of Pau City recalls the previous holder of that title from Revenge of the Sith!

So Vul Isen is attempting to poison the world and kill Gar Stazi, who is currently based on the planet, but Cade thwarts the scientist’s plan with the help of his old master, Wolf Sazen. Additionally, Antares Draco leads a strike force to Korriban in an effort to rescue Marasiah from the hands of Darth Havok, and he learns that Havok is none other than Eshkar Niin, a former Imperial Knight who killed the wife of Roan Fel as part of his fall to the Dark Side. Part of me feels that this would have had more impact if the Fel Empire had had more exposure than it had, but I feel that throughout the series, it has always been in the background, with little development overall. Meanwhile, still on Korriban, Darth Nihl arrives to discover that Darth Talon is guarding an empty stasis chamber – Darth Krayt has disappeared! Nihl pursues Talon into the Valley of the Sith, where they both discover the resurrected Krayt, who sends out a psychic message to all Sith to inform them that he has returned…

The arc ends with Cade having a disturbing vision of the future: Darth Krayt reborn, then nothing.

Star Wars Legacy

Phew!

It’s a series that I remember enjoying a lot, back in 2008-2009 when I was initially reading them, but one that has now somehow felt much less so. I think I’ve possibly come to expect more from my Star Wars, of course, but a lot of the core storyline that follows Cade just feels really bad, like Ostrander and Duursema wanted to write about pirates and bounty hunters, but also wanted to involve the Jedi. I think if this had been a series about Cade purely as a bounty hunter, it could have worked much better. Maybe he’s angry and bitter because the Force has passed him over, despite being the heir to such a strong Skywalker tradition, and so on?

Grey Jedi are of course a thing at this time in Star Wars publishing, and I suppose that was the thing they were going for. It’s an interesting spin, but the execution tends far too much towards the frat boy jerk that I find myself cringing so much throughout.

The Imperial intrigue, around Nyna Calixte and Morlish Veed, was quite interesting for a time, and seeing the completely different take on the Empire under Roan Fel was quite refreshing. The Imperial Knights are an interesting blend of the Royal Guard and the Jedi, with a martial tradition of their own, and I think it could have been developed more if we weren’t always being treated to the soap opera of Antares Draco and Marasiah Fel!

The wider galaxy did seem to go unexplored, however, and I am quite sad about that fact. We visit plenty of worlds, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of the story is told from the galactic fringe, and part of me would have liked to have seen more of what the galaxy was like prior to the Sith-Imperial War. Of course, I guess a lot of this is left unexplored simply to allow room for further storytelling, as no doubt the writers couldn’t show something to be true, only to paint other authors into a corner if they chose to follow up the Legacy of the Force series, for instance. Instead, we get the vague “Galactic Alliance” that was almost entirely wiped out at the start of the war, leaving Gar Stazi as the sole representative of the former New Republic. The main interest seems to come from the split Sith Empire and the Fel Empire, and Cade’s group, with occasional help from the Jedi remnant. It feels somewhat lacking – much like The Force Awakens, we take a leap forward in time and have very little context to hang the story on.

So there we have it, ten trade paperbacks later, the Legacy series is at an end! For now, at least. Following the initial 50-issue run, there was a four month break before the six-part Legacy: War miniseries capped things off from December 2010. But that’s for another blog!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
I’m getting close to the end of the Legacy series now! I’ve made it into the final third now, which to me form something of the nadir of the series. Let me explain…

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Seven: Storms

The seventh volume is comprised of a couple of two-parters, which takes us back into the wider galaxy with Fight Another Day, where we follow the Sith extermination of the Mon Calamari people. Fighting alongside the Mon Calamari Rangers is the Imperial Knight, Treis Sinde, who is recalled by Roan Fel but decides to go against his orders and help the Mon Cal people, especially when it is discovered that the Sith have unleashed a creature of legend, the Sith Leviathan, upon the world. I’m not a big fan of the artwork in these issues, although it does take me back to some of the Republic / Clone Wars era comics, which I seem to remember were enjoyable back in the day!

Of course, I thought the same about the Legacy series, and so far I’ve not been all that favourable this time around!!

The next two-parter is the eponymous Storms storyline, where Cade and co travel to Kiffu, where he hopes his uncle Bantha Rawk can help with healing Azlyn. Cade goes off the rails in this one, and the whole storyline is a bit bonkers if I’m honest. He tells Bantha and Droo that Azlyn wants to survive, despite the fact she has made her peace with death, and alienates Droo by putting his desire above that of the patient. He and Jariah Syn then go into town and get into a drunken brawl, and he comes very close to killing his own cousin, who is working for the local law enforcement.

Meanwhile, Darth Wyyrlock assumes control of the Empire as the mouthpiece of Darth Krayt, and bestows the title of regent on Morlish Veed, although Nyna Calixte is suspicious of the Sith’s motives, fearing that Veed will become the face of the Sith atrocities throughout the galaxy.

If ever there was a storyline to make me hate Cade, this is it. He drifts so far from the path of the Jedi it’s unreal, and he becomes such a reprehensible human being that it’s now hard to feel anything except distaste. He’s always had the look of the douchebag about him, but his scumbag leers are really just too much this time, when coupled with what he actually gets up to. I thought the Ossus storyline was supposed to see him hit rock bottom, then pick himself up again, but here he’s just an absolute dick.

Volume Eight: Tatooine

Cade & Co have started pirating Black Sun, who are themselves pirating the Empire’s supply lines. You know, as you do. Realising that he’s still public enemy number one, Cade goes to ground on Tatooine, though he is pursued by Anzati bounty hunters working for Black Sun. Nyna Calixte sends her daughter Gunner Yage to bring Skywalker in, going herself as Morrigan Corde once more. Turns out the Imperial Moff on planet is as corrupt as any Moff based on Tatooine, and was working with Black Sun to profit from letting Imperial shipments fall into criminal hands.

This one should have been a much more enjoyable storyline, as we get to visit a classic movie location – Cade even holes up from a sandstorm at the Lars Homestead – but it is once more a bit of a let-down, as Cade continues to prove that he’s the galaxy’s cheapest skank. The scumbag leers abound, and his seeming efforts to flirt with his half-sister are just cringeworthy.

Star Wars Legacy

Somewhere in here, though, there is a storyline that was fairly decent. The war profiteering by Moff Nieve Gromia was a nice mirror to the old days with Prefect Talmont. I can’t recall if I mentioned this in previous books, but I find it quite interesting that Black Sun is still a going concern in the Legacy era – criminal empires that long-lived would strike me as being a rarity?

At any rate, we’re approaching the end now, and hopefully we’ll see things pick up as we reach the finale! I’m pretty sure, when I first read this series, I didn’t get further than the Tatooine arc, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all ends!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
We’re back with the great re-read of the Star Wars Legacy series!

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Six: Vector

The Vector storyline was a year-long event in Star Wars comics publishing, back in 2008, where each of the four ongoing storylines – Knights of the Old Republic, Dark Times, Rebellion, and Legacy – would be touched by an ongoing crossover event. Given that more than 4000 years separates these lines, in-universe, that was quite the prospect at the start! However, it was effected really well, with the Jedi Celeste Morne being kept in stasis following the initial four-part storyline in KotOR, and being awoken by Darth Vader thousands of years later.

By the time we get to the Legacy part of the story, Morne has a star destroyer full of rakghouls floating in deep space, where Cade and his crew come across her and hatch a plan to use the rakghouls and the Muur talisman to destroy Darth Krayt and the One Sith. They travel to Had Abbadon, where Krayt and his inner circle find them and do battle. Roan Fel, hearing of the talisman, sends his Imperial Knights to collect it, thinking he can use an army of rakghouls to defeat the Sith and reclaim his throne.

Azlyn Rae manages to land the killing blow on Krayt, and his body is Force-pushed off a cliff, however she herself is mortally wounded. Karness Muur is disappointed that Krayt has been taken out of the picture, but he senses the darkness within Cade and attempts to bond his spirit with Skywalker’s. Cade, however, uses his Force power to shatter the talisman, destroying Muur for good.

The storyline concludes with Darth Wyyrlock collecting the body of Darth Krayt, only to discover that he is clinging to life – and so he uses Force-lightning to finish him off.

Dun dun dun!

Star Wars Legacy

It’s a strange one, this, because it forms something of an end-of-act storyline for the Legacy series, as well as the finale to the Vector storyline, but it does so quite well, if I’m honest. Putting aside the strangeness that we see from having a Jedi from the Old Republic era surviving for so long, and the whole thing with Roan Fel thinking it would be okay to unleash the power of the Dark Side on the galaxy if it gets his throne back (to say nothing of Antares Draco’s thoughts on getting the talisman as a way to get Marasiah into bed), the story was interesting in bringing together a lot of the major players once again. Definitely felt like an “event” storyline!

I still find myself bored by Cade forever coming across as a bad-boy type while also having these noble ideas of killing off Krayt and removing the threat of the Sith from the galaxy. It almost cheapens that threat, really, if they can be taken out by a Jedi drop-out like Cade. Remember, this is the Sith that removed the entire Jedi Order that had been rebuilt by this point. It just doesn’t ring true and I find myself having to really suspend that sense of disbelief that is normally pretty strung out with Star Wars, anyway!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
The great Legacy read-through continues!

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Four: Alliance
After the dramatic events of the previous book, we have a swift change of pace now as we look to the wider galaxy, and catch up with what’s happening with Admiral Gar Stazi of the Galactic Alliance. The Empire attempts to trap Stazi by presenting him with an irresistible target, a new Star Destroyer being built at the Mon Calamari shipyards, the Indomitable. Stazi doesn’t disappoint, and the Empire think they have him in their clutches only to have the tide turned on them, and the Alliance makes off with the ship. In retribution, Darth Krayt personally initiates the mass-genocide of the Mon Calamari people. Stazi decides it might be time to once again pursue an alliance with Roan Fel.

There is also a one-shot issue that follows Darth Wyrlock as he attempts to find answers from the holocron of Darth Andeddu to help him deal with his master Darth Krayt’s impending doom.

To begin, I just want to say that the artwork in this volume is not my cup of tea. At times it was far too cartoon-y and stuff, and I really didn’t appreciate it overall. In addition, I wasn’t a huge fan of the storyline – I can remember reading this one back in the day and enjoying the fact that we were getting to see what was happening in the wider galaxy. I found there to be several missing links in the history that I wanted to see resolved, but now I found that I was just getting confused by things. There are a lot of flashbacks to the earlier war between the Galactic Alliance and the Empire, but nothing seemed to be really explained, which left me with a sense that the war was simply there as a device to have the galaxy in the state that it currently is. I can’t remember if there is any more detail to come, but I am a little deflated at this point in the timeline, trying to work out what on earth the backdrop to these events was supposed to be!

Volume Five: The Hidden Temple
We’re back to Cade and Co for the fifth volume in the series, as we catch up with the crew of the Mynock after their escape from the Sith Temple on Coruscant. Deciding to lie low for a while, they head to the moons of Iego and Cade’s uncle, Bantha Rawk, formerly Jedi Master Nat Skywalker. Bantha has left the order following the Ossus Massacre, and has established a life for himself with his family. When they arrive, however, Black Sun have been attacking the retreat and the Mynock is instrumental in fighting them off. It turns out that there is a bounty on Cade’s head and a lot of people have been looking for his known haunts to see if they can get ahead of him. Unbeknownst to everyone, however, someone else has arrived at Rawk’s Nest, Cade’s former fellow Jedi apprentice, Azlyn Rae. When the Empire turns up looking for Cade, the crew of the Mynock realises that this isn’t safe, so Bantha agrees to lead them to the Hidden Temple of the Jedi to see if they can help.

However, Azlyn is serving new masters these days, and helps to lead the Imperial Knights to the Temple in an attempt to broker an alliance between the Jedi and Roan Fel. Cade further expounds his plan to assassinate Darth Krayt, in the hope that the One Sith will fall in on themselves and eliminate that threat. The Imperial Knights feel this could well work in their favour, also, as it would allow Fel to reclaim the throne. Princess Marasiah stays behind at the Jedi Temple while Antares Draco and Azlyn Rae accompany Cade and his crew to the deep core, with Shado Vao also coming along to keep an eye on Cade.

After the previous volume, it felt good to be back to what seems to be the main storyline, seeing Cade, Jariah and Deliah going off on their adventures. We also get further backstory on Rav and his pirates, learning more about Jariah Syn and his hatred of the Jedi along the way. More character development is always a good thing, of course, and as the story moves along we see Cade embracing a little more of the fact that he can use the Force.

Star Wars Legacy

Jedi-wise, Master K’Kruhk is back, and it’s also really nice to see T’ra Saa from the Republic series coming back here. Of course, it is somewhat arguable that bringing back so many Jedi from these previous stories makes one question how effective Order 66 really was, but also it serves to show how the Jedi were able to come back in such force so quickly after the fall of the Empire. So I guess there are multiple sides to that.

I can’t help feeling as though the story is feeling a little rushed at this point, though, with Cade having gone from being the fringer nobody to suddenly thinking he has to solve the galaxy’s problems. True, he’s doing it to stop the Sith hunting him, but it all feels just a little bit like there should have been more reconciliation between his character at the start of the series, and how he is now. But maybe I’m expecting too much?

That said, though, I think the story moves along much better when it has this focus on Cade & Co, as if Ostrander and Duursema are much more at home telling the tale of their team, rather than trying to hang that story in the wider galactic context.

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
It’s time to get back to more Star Wars: Legacy, as I continue reading through the eleven-volume series, today getting to volume three: Claws of the Dragon!

Star Wars Legacy

Volume Three: Claws of the Dragon
This book forms a real turning point in the history of the Legacy era, as we get a lot of answers to a lot of the questions that may have been bubbling away up to this point, as well as seeing the storyline placed firmly on a new heading.

Cade, determined to make amends following his drug-induced vision on Ossus, and rescue Hossk Trey’lis from the Sith Temple on Coruscant. As it has been built upon the former Jedi Temple, he knows some secret ways in from the underworld, and makes contact with a Hutt information broker, Queen Jool. He finds his way into the chamber where Trey’lis is being held, but is set upon by Darth Talon, and captured. Darth Krayt then reveals that he wishes Cade to join the ranks of the One Sith, and we get a lot of exposition from him when he reveals his identity as none other than A’Sharad Hett.

The first time I read this book, my mind was utterly blown! Hett survived Order 66 and spent time on the galactic fringe, learning of the ways of the Sith before being taken prisoner by an advance party of Yuuzhan Vong, where he encountered Vergere. We learn that Vergere was trained in the Dark Side by Darth Sidious, and she attempts to further turn Hett to the Dark Side. However, Vergere is forced to move on when the priestess Elan is reassigned. Hett is experimented upon by the Yuuzhan Vong Shapers, and implanted with coral seeds that he has been attempting to resist the effects of since escaping from his captors. Hett formed the One Sith while the eyes of the New Republic were on Darth Caedus and Lumiya, and he needs Cade’s healing abilities to help rid him of the coral seeds. Jariah Syn and Deliah Blue are discussing options to rescue Cade when they are joined by Morrigan Corde, who comes up with the plan after explaining she is Cade’s mother. Cade refuses to heal Krayt, and duels both Darth Talon (wounding her) and Darth Nihl, before taking on the Sith Emperor himself. However, he is able to be rescued by Syn and Blue before Krayt is able to defeat him.

Star Wars Legacy

This is quite the pivotal issue, as I said, and covers a lot of ground with explaining what has happened to get us to this point. A good chunk of the trade paperback is taken up with Darth Krayt’s exposition of how he came to be at the head of the One Sith, of course, and it doesn’t feel too contrived somehow, given that Hett has basically been away from the main galactic events that we’ve seen covered by the novels following Order 66. It’s also useful to have a kind of bridge for readers to get the main beats of galactic history to show what’s been going on and help to provide some more context for the stories that we’ve had between the Prequels and this series. Of course, he is yet another Jedi who managed to escape the so-called Purge, which makes you wonder whether the Emperor could have done a better job.

Reading the series this time around, I feel really disappointed with Cade’s story arc. He’s forever being portrayed as the half-Jedi bad boy, and yet is able to go toe-to-toe with Darth Talon, who was previously built up as a deadly assassin, and survive. To say nothing of his later duel with Krayt, although that was on the back of his Sith training, so I suppose could be excused. I didn’t get the impression that he actually completed his training on Ossus, so not sure what to think of that. It’s almost like he’s being used as a tool to tell the story, and having all of these really interesting and cool scenes and interactions, but he is entirely the wrong sort of character to be in these scenes.

It also doesn’t help that he has a lot in common with Quinlan Vos from the Republic series, but Quinlan’s arc was much more in keeping with the character established for him!

I think I’ve found this re-read of the Legacy series a bit disappointing so far, as I have such fond memories of reading them the first time around! It’s actually in my top ten Star Wars comics, and I think that’s a reflection of the fact that it felt, at the time, like we were seeing the galaxy being brought together into a cohesive manner. Maybe I’m feeling like I want more from my Star Wars fiction, but I think Cade Skywalker just isn’t the right sort of character to be having this sort of adventure. There is still a lot to enjoy though, and there is a lot around the outskirts of the story that I did still like, such as the Coruscant underworld scenes, and a lot of the Imperial scheming is very engaging.

On to volume four!

Star Wars: Legacy

Hey everybody,
As promised last month, throughout December I’ll be re-reading the Star Wars: Legacy comics series from Dark Horse, published between 2006 and 2010, with an eleventh volume that ran into 2011. I first read these books about two years into the run, so had a decent number of issues to sink my teeth into.

The story was quite controversial at the time, being pushed so far into the future of the expanded universe – the first arc, Broken, starts in 130ABY (after the Battle of Yavin) and predominantly takes place in 137ABY, while up to this point the furthest into the future we’d been was to 29ABY with the end of the New Jedi Order. A lot of people were a bit disappointed with the fact that the galaxy doesn’t feel particularly different, with having the Empire still around (and still in olive fatigues), and so on. There’s definitely merit in that argument, but it’s also only just over 100 years following the end of the Yuuzhan Vong war, and I suppose we can’t expect things to have moved on to the point where things are so unrecognizable.

There are plenty of tie-ins to the NJO here as well, as pretty much the entire foundation for the series starts with a Yuuzhan Vong terraforming project gone wrong. Let’s take a look at the background now…

Background
The Ossus Project was an attempt to reconcile the Yuuzhan Vong with the wider galaxy by using their terraforming technology to repair the ecosystems damaged during the war. Seeing the results on Ossus, the galactic community was impressed and hundreds of worlds tried to secure the Yuuzhan Vong’s efforts. While initially things went smoothly, suddenly worlds like Wayland saw deformed plant growth, and native inhabitants began to grow spines such as had been seen during the mass slave-taking at the height of the war. While the Jedi suspected the project had been sabotaged, several hard-liners from the Empire, who had chafed under the terms of the peace brokered between Gavrisom and Pellaeon, and who wished for the Empire to once more become the main military superpower in the galaxy, declared war on the Alliance for defending the Yuuzhan Vong.

Star Wars Legacy

Volume One: Broken
The story begins with the attack on the Jedi Temple at Ossus. Several Sith lead the assault, killing many Jedi, including Kol Skywalker, leader of the Council and descendant of Luke Skywalker. Skywalker’s son Cade manages to escape with several apprentices, but the light of the Jedi appears to have gone out in the galaxy once more. In the Empire, it is revealed that the war was largely a success due to the intervention of the Sith, who allied with the hardcore of the Moff Council, against Emperor Fel’s wishes. The Director of Imperial Intelligence, Grand Moff Nyna Calixte, personally brought the Sith over to assist the Empire, in the hope of furthering her lover Grand Admiral Morlish Veed’s ascension to the throne. However, Darth Krayt, leader of the One Sith, murders Fel and assumes the throne, only to discover that he has in fact killed a body double. He orders Darth Talon to hunt down the real Fel, lest he form an alliance with the Jedi against him.

Seven years pass.

Cade is now working as a bounty hunter, having hidden himself from the galaxy and fallen in with his fellow hunters Jariah Syn and Deliah Blue. Collecting the bounty on a scavenger, they come across the Bothan Jedi Hossk Trey’lis, and capture him as well, taking him to Rav the pirate and go-between on the planet Socorro. Also on Socorro is Princess Marasiah Fel, whom Darth Talon has been tracking in an effort to locate her father, Roan Fel. Marasiah is able to escape the planet with a member of the Imperial Mission, Astraal Vao, on Cade’s ship the Mynock, whereupon she makes arrangements to meet with Vao’s brother on Vendaxa. There, it transpires that Vao’s brother is Shado Vao, Cade’s former Jedi classmate, who is there with Cade’s former Master, Wolf Sazen. When the Jedi’s transport is destroyed by Darth Talon, Cade ends up taking everybody to Bastion, where Roan Fel has re-established his base.

Star Wars Legacy

As an opening arc, this is fairly explosive, let’s be honest! I think this is probably going to be an ongoing issue with a lot of these blogs, but there is the element of all of this coming out of nowhere – we don’t get the background on the Ossus Project until well through the series, for instance.

Volume Two: Shards
The second book does begin to deepen the narrative, though, as we delve into the relationship between the Sith and the Empire, as we see the tension between Darth Maladi and Nyna Calixte. Learning that Cade is a Skywalker, the Sith have got a not insignificant interest in him. Calixte sends her own Intelligence operative to find out what is going on, and dispatches Morrigan Corde on Skywalker’s trail. However, we learn that she is none other than Cade’s mother and, working with the Sith spy Jor Torlin, they track him to Ossus but Corde kills Torlin rather than allow the Sith to discover his location.

Along the way, we meet Admiral Gar Stazi, the last surviving military leader of the Galactic Alliance. Attempts are being made to form an alliance between Stazi’s fleet and Emperor Fel, but these attempts are foiled by Corde and Torlin. We’ve not seen the end of Stazi though!

Having left Bastion without his crew, Cade has drifted to Ossus in an attempt to lose himself, and finds himself haunted by the Jedi of his past – specifically, Luke and Kol Skywalker. However, the Jedi of the present also catch up with him, Wolf Sazen and Shado Vao, and Cade realises that he must make amends for the mistakes of his past, and completes his training under his old master.

I remember the Ghosts two-parter being a real stand-out arc for me, back in the day, as it was the first time we had properly seen Yuuzhan Vong in a visual format. We start to explore the Ossus project, and the possibility that it had been sabotaged as a catalyst for war, which is good because it’s nice to get more of that depth for the story. As a bit of a blast from the past, we get to see Jedi Master K’Kruhk return from the Dark Times series – seems he’s pretty much indestructible at this point!


I have some very fond memories of reading the Legacy comics back in the day. I’d been collecting them for months, along with the Knights of the Old Republic series written by John Jackson Miller, and went away for Christmas to a small stone cottage in rural mid-Wales, where I would spend the evenings alternating my reading through the two series. I enjoyed the books when I read them at the time, but hadn’t come back to it since. Reading it now, though, I’m not sure it’s got the same appeal for me. I think, in part, it feels a bit like the comic set out wanting to tell a story about a bounty-hunting fringe type who becomes a Jedi and takes on a new army of Sith – and as a result, the setting is almost tacked on. I mean, it does tell an interesting story when it gets going, but taking such a big leap into the future of Star Wars, it needs a lot of world-building, and I don’t think it really takes enough time with this from the off.

But I’m going to go through the whole eleven-volume series, so stick with me! I should probably read more of the Legends stuff for the blog, to help all of this make sense…

Hellboy (2004)

It’s time for Birthday Week to go to the movies! Continuing my obsessive look at all things Hellboy this week, I thought it high time I took a look at the movie that, for me, started it all. Of course, the comics pre-date the movie by more than a decade, but I wasn’t familiar with them before seeing Big Red in action here…

Hellboy (2004)

The movie is basically the origin story of Hellboy, picking out a lot of the threads that we see in the comics, and building on the Seed of Destruction storyline to give a satisfying main story overall.

We start with the Tarmagant Island incident in 1944, with Rasputin opening a portal and bringing forth Hellboy from another dimension, then we fast-forward to the modern day and the BPRD, with a new recruit John T Myers joining the team to work as Hellboy’s liaison. Very quickly, the action moves to a museum break-in where an ancient daemon known as Sammael has been awakened by Rasputin and his disciples, Ilsa and Kroenen. Sammael goes on a rampage, and while the Bureau believe it to have been killed, in actual fact two more have been birthed from its carcass, thanks to Rasputin’s curse of multiplicity.

Myers works to bring Liz back to the team, as she had previously left due to mistrusting her own powers of pyrokinesis. The team are sent into the sewers to attempt to destroy the Sammael eggs, and while most of the agents that accompany them are killed, they also manage to capture Kroenen. In reality, Kroenen had given himself up by feigning death and, once inside the Bureau, manages to kill Professor Bruttenholm. The Bureau is taken over by FBI agent Tom Manning, who directs a mission to Moscow to end the Sammael threat and, hopefully, that of Rasputin and his followers.

In Moscow, the team tracks down the nest in Rasputin’s mausoleum, and while Liz manages to incinerate the eggs, they are captured. Rasputin sucks out Liz’s soul from her body, and uses it to cause Hellboy to use his stone right hand to awaken the Ogdru-Jahad and bring about the apocalypse. Myers manages to reach out to Hellboy, however, reminding him that Bruttenholm raised him to defy his destiny and choose his own path. Hellboy stabs Rasputin, whose death throes release a tentacled monster that Hellboy manages to defeat by detonating a belt of grenades inside the beast.

Hellboy (2004)

For me, this movie really encapsulates the feeling of Hellboy from the comics. We’ve got the half-demon wandering about in graveyards and reanimating corpses, we’ve got him hunting disgusting daemon creatures – it’s really fantastic. While Ron Perlman does steal the show as the titular character, Doug Jones as Abe Sapien, and Selma Blair as Liz Sherman, also have their parts to play – though due to going through the backstory, I think Liz is definitely the more short-changed of the two. John Hurt’s Professor Bruttenholm lends a dignified presence to the movie, though I think it’s really the villains that provide so much of the enjoyment here.

Hellboy (2004)

Rasputin is quite the character, and Karel Roden’s performance is quite chilling at times, especially when he’s in his suit doing his puppet-master routine. Ladislav Beran as Kroenen is a whole different kettle of fish, though – creepy doesn’t even begin to cover it. Beran has a fluid grace that really sets your teeth on edge, and when he’s gliding down those stairs in Bruttenholm’s office… urgh, gives me chills to just think about it!

Hellboy (2004)

Kroenen is definitely the character that benefits the most from his movie incarnation. Everybody comes over from the page to the screen fairly similarly, but for Rasputin’s lieutenant, we have a sort of amalgamation of a couple of the comic book characters. He’s part Nazi scientist, with his surgical compulsion and all, and an expert assassin – a less-mad Red Skull, I suppose. He’s the embodiment of almost the entire Nazi scientist enclave that exists within the comics, and I love how del Toro has managed to distill so much down into the character. Truly wonderful.

Something should also be said for the way the story is handled. It is often said that this movie takes Seed of Destruction as its starting point, but the Sammael threat is so far removed from that of the frog monsters that I don’t really think we can talk about them together. The story is an original one that nevertheless takes the essence of the comic book story and makes it work.

Hellboy (2004)

I’ve not seen the new movie, but while this one exists, I don’t think there’s a need for it. I’ve read the film was a flop, which is a shame, as I think the Hellboy universe really would benefit from a big screen showing, branching off into the BPRD proper and all, but part of me wonders if this failure might then allow for del Toro and Perlman to come back for the Hellboy 3 that we’ve heard teased over the years?

Hellboy: part two

Hey everybody!
It’s still birthday week here at spalanz.com, and all week I’ve been rambling about Hellboy in my own, inimitable style! Today sees a return to the comics that started it all, as I turn my gaze onto the third and fourth books in the trade paperback series!

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Unlike the first two, these books are basically short story collections, bringing together one or two-issue books into the trade paperback format. The stories span a wide expanse of both releases and also points on the Hellboy timeline, with escapades from the 1950s right up to the 1990s, in-universe. They’re a mixed bag, ranging from the two-page Pancakes right up to such monumental stories as Box Full of Evil. I’m not going to attempt to cover all of the stories contained in the books, but instead touch on a couple of what I consider my favourites…

The Chained Coffin & Others collects seven stories, of which we have Mignola’s favourite, The Corpse, as well as three fairly substantial stories that have a long reach throughout the lore. The titular Chained Coffin story tells something of the origin of Hellboy as a half-daemon, following Hellboy as he returns to the ruined church in East Bromwich where he first appeared in 1944. He has a dream of a woman recanting on her deathbed her sins of being a witch, only for her soul to be claimed by the daemon Azzael who then turns to Hellboy, calling him “my favourite son”. It’s quite a short one, but we learn a bit more about Big Red’s ancestry, so definitely worth a mention!

the wolves of saint august

The Wolves of Saint August is a werewolf story that has a bit of a creepy feel to it, but then I suppose that’s true of most of these stories! There is a very definite sense of atmosphere in the tale, as we follow Hellboy and Kate Corrigan as they investigate an abandoned village in the Balkans. It’s really very creepy and atmospheric, and well worth the read to see how the tale unfolds for itself! Finally, Almost Colossus follows on from the events of Wake the Devil, as we see the homunculus from Czerge Castle run amok with Liz Sherman’s powers. The team track it down in order to restore Liz’s powers, as the homunculus has been sapping her will to live. We get a bit of backstory on the whole thing, and the hilarity of the fact that Hellboy names the chap Roger… anyway!

The Right Hand of Doom is a similar collection, bringing eight stories together in roughly chronological order, starting with the two-page Pancakes story and building up from there. There are plenty of short tales that often feel more like vignettes from the universe, as we see a lot of stuff breeze by like the Japanese floating-heads story, the St Leonard’s Wyrm story, and the Vârcolac story. They’re stories that were written for much larger collections, and serve in their original outing to give a sense for what Hellboy is all about. Reading them in this format doesn’t really work, for me, as they all just feel a bit like throwaway adventures that don’t feel like they add too much to the overall storyline, as much as any such thing can be said to exist in this sense.

right hand of doom

The final two stories, however, are a bit more meaty. The Right Hand of Doom does go someway to address the existence of Hellboy’s stone right hand, though it is yet another account of Hellboy’s history up to this point, as Hellboy explains his story to the son of Malcolm Frost (one of the three paranormal investigators present in East Bromwich on the night Hellboy first came to earth). Not an origin story per se, but certainly hitting all of the story points that we’re by now familiar with.

Box Full of Evil is the final story, and finally we get Hellboy and Abe reunited for an adventure! The two are investigating the strange reappearance of Igor Bromhead after his release from prison. Bromhead, using a hand of glory, has broken into an English mansion and removed a small box and a set of tongs, which the two BPRD agents immediately realise have links to the legend of St Dunstan, who is said to have trapped Satan in a box. Bromhead releases the devil, taking the form of the daemon Ualac, and when Hellboy arrives, his destiny to bring about armageddon is once again addressed. The story is really quite involved, and feels like it has a lot more substance to it than the others that appear in the volume, so was definitely a fitting finale!


I think I definitely prefer my Hellboy stories to be longer tales than the sort of one-shot stories we have collected in these two books! That’s not to say that they’re bad, per se, it’s just a lot more satisfying to read a fairly meaty story that can bring the full depth of Mignola’s talent for weaving folklore and myth into his universe. Wake the Devil is the archetypal story at this point in the lore, and I feel like most of these other tales are merely background.

Nevertheless, I enjoy seeing Hellboy taking part in an adventure that manages to pull together one or two elements of folklore and superstition, and it all helps to add to the character overall.

I think it’s quite informative to fans of the board game to read these stories, as they go a long way to explaining a lot of the enemy miniatures that have been included there. I must admit to feeling a bit puzzled when they revealed minis for things like the monkey with a gun, or St Leonard’s Wyrm, as they’re hardly the more important aspects of the Hellboy mythos. However, as I said in my blog about the game, the Hellboy comics are – largely – made up of these sorts of vignettes and short tales that feature Hellboy going up against some aspect of folklore or myth, which is why the modular design of the game and its one-shot-style play fit so well. If you read the comics, you realise that this isn’t really a campaign, but instead a series of standalone adventures with a rough chronology that can, on the whole, be enjoyed by themselves.

They’re definitely worth a read, anyway!!

Hellboy: part one

Hey everybody!
This week marks my fifth year of blogging here in my quiet corner of the internet, and to celebrate, I’m taking a look at one of my favourite comic books, the classic Hellboy. Let’s start with the first two books, Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil.

Hellboy 1 & 2

Seed of Destruction is very much the origin story for Big Red, and while creator Mike Mignola had previously written a short story introducing his concept for the character, it’s here that we start his story proper. Back in December 1944, in East Bromwich, England, American troops and three paranormal investigators are drawn to a convergence of energy that seems to indicate something is about to happen, thanks in part to the precognition of England’s premiere medium, Lady Cynthia Eden-Jones. However, at the critical moment, Lady Cynthia realises it is far to the north that a second epicentre has opened – it is there that the Nazis have gathered, led by a mysterious monk figure who is intent on opening a portal to another dimension to bring about the end of the world and allow the Nazis to claim victory in the war: Project Ragnarok.

While the portal is opened, it is in East Bromwich that the agent of that doom appears – a tiny red “ape” with a stone right hand. The Americans dub him Hellboy, and take him with them back to the USA, and the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD).

Years later, Professor Bruttenholm finally returns from a two year polar expedition. Bruttenholm, one of the investigators from East Bromwich and Hellboy’s surrogate father, is recounting some of the adventure to the now-mature half-demon when frogs start appearing, and the professor himself is killed by a frog-monster. Hellboy manages to kill the creature, however.

Following the trail of the frog monsters, Hellboy and his colleagues Liz Sherman and the amphibious Abe Sapien travel to Cavendish Hall, home of two of Bruttenholm’s companions on his polar expedition. Lady Cavendish reveals that her family has been inexplicably drawn to the arctic for generations, but the death of her two sons on the expedition might finally mean an end to this. Further investigation brings Hellboy into direct conflict with the monk-like figure who led the Nazis in 1944, none other than Rasputin. He wishes to awaken the Ogdru-Jahad, the seven gods of the apocalypse, and destroy the earth. Rasputin has captured Liz, and attempts to use her fire-control abilities to augment his own and awaken the Sadu Hem, a mystical totem brought back from the arctic by Bruttenholm and the two Cavendish brothers before they were transformed into frog monsters. The Sadu Hem should then have the power to awaken the Ogdru-Jahad, however Abe manages to spear Rasputin through the chest (with the help of the zombie-like Elihu Cavendish, founder of the dynasty) and rescue Liz.

Wake the Devil pretty much picks up where Seed of Destruction ended, with Rasputin’s disciples from the 1944 project – Ilsa Haupstein, Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, and Leopold Kurtz –  coming out of a deep freeze in a castle high up in Norway. Meanwhile, the Bureau is tasked to track down the body of Vladimir Giurescu, an almost-mythological figure who is believed to be immortal, and was once hoped to head up one of the Nazis many doomsday projects, ‘Vampir Sturm’. The BPRD teams up to track the body to three separate locations within Romania, where Hellboy quickly finds himself at the correct location, coming face to face with Ilsa Haupstein, and her attempt to revive Giurescu.

Others on the team land at different sites in Romania, and Liz’s team discover an unusually large homonculus in the ruins of Czerge Castle. The homonculus attacks them, attempting to drain Liz’s energy, until Bud Waller manages to shoot it, causing it to run off. Meanwhile, Ilsa sets the cyborg Nazi Unmensch on Hellboy, the two having a massive fight that eventually leads Hellboy to a room in the castle where Giurescu is being revived by the goddess Hecate, who turns out to be Giurescu’s mother.

Hellboy battles Hecate, while Rasputin promises Ilsa immortality if she is willing to step into an iron maiden. The torture device kills her, but is placed at a crossroads with a chained Hellboy just as Giurescu comes back to life and tries to kill him. Hellboy defeats Giurescu, a fragment of whose soul then enters the iron maiden. However, in the extraction from Romania, the BPRD manage to lose the body of Giurescu, and the iron maiden mysteriously disappears.

Hellboy frogs

The first two books in the Hellboy series are absolutely cracking. While the first story remains relatively straightforward in the telling, with some folklore thrown in among the tale, by and large it is the story of a mad monk attempting to bring about the end of the world, using frog monster minions to do his bidding. The initial backstory of Project Ragnarok is there, but only to form the initial backdrop to the main tale.

In the second book, we have what Mignola is perhaps best at, weaving mythology and folklore into a story that also takes in the mysticism of the occult and linking strongly with Nazi scientists, to provide a wide-ranging, highly-textured and detailed storyline. While Seed of Destruction is perhaps required reading to give you the background, Wake the Devil is really what Hellboy is all about, and manages to encapsulate the character and the series in just one book.

I think it’s incredibly impressive the way Mignola manages to treat all the various threads of folklore into the narrative, and it’s a bit of a treat to see the way these tidbits manage to make it into the storyline. Overall, the dark gothic feel of the Hellboy universe is wonderful and these first two books in the series really help to put you on the road that the Hellboy books travel.

There is so much to enjoy in these books that I can barely convey the breadth of the story in this review. I’ve tried to hit a lot of the points because I think there will be significant mentions and stuff later on, but I’m now a bit worried that I’ve made it sounds slightly muddled in the re-telling!