Welcome to SWRepMatters.com

By Jess Shitara

If you’ve made it this far, you’re probably heard a little bit about #SWRepMatters. In essence, we are a grassroots campaign advocating for representation and inclusion for marginalized groups in entertainment. We love fictional media, namely Star Wars, and we want that far, far away galaxy to be better. We want it to show our world as it actually is: diverse, queer, multifaceted, complex, with people thriving despite many intersections of oppression. We desire acknowledgement of nepotism, privilege, and systems of oppression that need to be overcome so more stories can be seen and heard. We know media is a huge source of learning for the Western world—we want it to reflect the consequences of colonization and diaspora that many people globally experience.

This may seem like a heavy directive, and perhaps it is, but only because no one seemed to be asking the hard questions collectively. It’s hard to be a lone voice in a sea of privilege and outright blindness to oppression. We knew we needed to come together to be louder, and now we are ready to do more. #swrepmatters was born out of a group seeking to have conversation, and we want that group and conversation to grow through www.swrepmatters.com.

We started as a small team facilitating a conversation on Twitter in 2017, shortly before Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released. And as of July 2019, this campaign has hosted conversations online and on stage with multiple panels, including one at Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019, and been featured in various articles, and many team members have given interviews across the podcast world to educate others on the need for representation.

None of these things would’ve been possible without all the support from the Star Wars Twitter-verse and many members of Lucasfilm. This was a collective effort, and we hope that by expanding to other mediums, we can continue to center the conversation around marginalized voices, and demand change. Thank you for all of your support, and for knowing that representation matters.

Making Diversity Seen and Heard: Why Star Wars Must Fully Embrace its Multimedia Identity

By Kate Sedor

While George Lucas’s famous introduction to the Star Wars universe tells viewers they are light-years away from anything they’ve ever known, one of the reasons the film immediately resonates with such a broad fan-base is because, despite the star ships and futuristic setting, children and adults alike see themselves in Luke, Leia, and Han’s struggle. We see not just a story about a rebellion fighting for freedom—we see a coming-of-age tale, and characters lifting themselves up to fulfill their destiny. Or, at least, white fans have been able to see themselves reflected on screen; the franchise’s millions of fans of color, and particularly femme-identifying fans of color, have been forced to make do with a love of the stories and the strength of their imaginations.

Until recently, the only place fans could see major characters of color play a leading role was in various novels or spin-offs that never made it into the mainstream consciousness. But with the diverse casts of the new Disney-owned films, and the recent photo (courtesy of director Ron Howard) of Thandie Newton in what appears to be an Imperial uniform, there’s never been a better time for Lucasfilm to not only start featuring women of color in starring roles, but also to draw those characters from a familiar source – the canon Star Wars novels and comic books.

Read the rest over at Eleven-ThirtyEight!

Star Wars Resistance to End After Two Seasons (and We’re Real Mad About It)

By Kate Sedor

Starwars.com announced the return of The Emmy-Nominated series Star Wars Resistance on October 6th, 2019 to the Disney Channel today. Sadly, we also learned that this will be the final season as well.

The news about Star Wars Resistance is heartbreaking for many of us who care about diversity and inclusion in the wider franchise. The show, anchored by a main cast featuring mostly actors and characters of color, was a thrilling breath of fresh air in a galaxy still heavily populated by white, straight, cis, able-bodied men. Neurodivergent fans have also noted that Neeku displays traits similar to folks on the autism spectrum (although this is one area where the show has notably fallen short in terms of respectful portrayals).

These characters, most importantly, were allowed to be complex, morally ambiguous, conflicted and in conflict. Tam Ryvora is one notable example; her defection from the Colossus to the First Order was not a sudden flip from “Good” to “Evil,” but the reasonable choice presented to a person feeling betrayed by her found family and unsure of what is true. Torra Doza, a fan favorite, is perhaps the first female Latinx character in Star Wars, and even this happy-go-lucky ace pilot has to contend with her family’s dark Imperial past. The show’s treatment of these fascinating women is, mercifully, a far cry from, say, Val’s nonsensical fridging in Solo, or even the complete nerfing of Padme Amidala’s character in Revenge of the Sith.

Even behind the scenes of Resistance, it’s obvious that representation was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Showrunner Justin Ridge has said one of the show’s goals is to emphasize “character diversity,” a thought that has also been echoed by executive producer Athena Portillo. It’s one of the reasons why Resistance‘s actors love the show: Bobby Moynihan, who plays Orka, a character who has been coded as queer, highlighted the show’s diversity during the official Star Wars Celebration Chicago panel, and Christopher Sean, who has been a vocal advocate for Asian-American representation throughout his career, has repeatedly mentioned inclusion as being one of the show’s strengths.

Resistance might not be a perfect show, but in terms of diversity, it’s leaps and bounds ahead of almost everything else Lucasfilm has released recently or has in the works.

So, what does its ending mean for fans from underrepresented groups? It’s hard to say.

Sure, Del Rey has lately been doing a marvelous job on the representation front, and we’re beyond excited to see Pedro Pascal as The Mandalorian. But the question is, what next? Movie series helmed by Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones‘ David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, respectively? It’s hard to say we’re thrilled about any of these developments, all of which received significantly more fanfare than Resistance, a show that was relegated to a late-night time slot on a kids’ channel; received not nearly as much marketing as Star Wars Rebels or the upcoming final season of The Clone Wars (a show, it should be noted, that is beloved of white Star Wars bros); and had a Celebration panel time that almost seemed like an afterthought. The unequal treatment the show received from Lucasfilm higher-ups is blatant and disappointing.

Star Wars Resistance remains a beacon of what the galaxy far, far away could look like–and what it could look like is all of us. We hope to see its characters pop up in other prominent places in the franchise. More than that, we hope it’s just the beginning of a larger push for diversity at Lucasfilm…but we’ll be honest: We’re not holding our breath.

Our Emperor, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane

By John Robinson, IV

She was born on Ganthel, nearly 20 years before the Clone Wars. As a young adult she joined the Galactic Empire as a Naval officer. By the time she was 30 she captained the Star Destroyer, Ultimatum. By the Battle of Endor, she’d become a Vice Admiral. Then, even after the Empire was defeated she was able to obtain the rank of Grand Admiral, and eventually went on to start what is now known as the First Order. Being so well distinguished, capable, and influential on major key threads that link the original and sequel trilogies together, why then does they world know so little of Grand Admiral Rae Sloane?

The Intersectional Black Woman

The primary architects of Rae Sloane’s story and plotlines have been John Jackson Miller, who wrote her debut in the novel A New Dawn, and Chuck Wendig who continued her story in his Aftermath trilogy, which covers the events following the destruction of the second Death Star, eventually leading up to the Battle of Jakku. These writers fashioned a new image of an Imperial officer, and with their perspective, showed the rest of the world what Star Wars truly should be, which essentially, is diverse.

In the above description, I failed to mention the fact that Rae Sloane is black, queer, and (though I’m sure you guessed by the pronouns) a woman. These particular traits have nothing to do with her success or matriculation through the ranks of the Galactic Empire. Her personal relationships or skin color don’t make or break anything about her character and yet, at the same time, they are so important. They hit several intersections that Star Wars has never hit before and that most popularized media in general seems to avoid. Furthermore, she isn’t simply a tool to elevate other “default” characters. She is established as a main character herself, with complex background and ideology. What makes Rae so important is that it shatters the image of what an Imperial (or any) Star Wars character is supposed to look like, and establishes an entirely new spectrum of possibility.

I know some of you are wondering “If her being a queer, black woman, has nothing to do with her character in a far, far away galaxy, why are we discussing this?” This is a common question because some individuals simply don’t understand what it’s like to be a fan of something, but never see yourself in it. Changing these simple traits creates a new vector of representation. Where the average Imperial is a stiff old white guy with grey cresting his hair, we now have Rae that reminds fans that other people actually exist in this universe, and that those people can be the best of the best. To the people whose identities sit at those intersections, she is exactly what they want to see. To others, she should be a welcome change in the status quo, and an example of what future Star Wars characters could look like.

Why Isn’t Rae Sloane on Screen?

And yet, many Star Wars fans don’t know about her. It may be understood, that every character that exists in the books, does not have to exist on screen. We understand that every character, while sometimes referenced, does not have to appear across all forms of media. However, when it comes to black women specifically, until the announcement of Naomi Ackie’s Jannah in Star Wars Episode IX, we have not seen black women in any prominent role (and don’t dare try to mention Thandie Newton’s Val, in Solo, because that’s just disrespectful). This isn’t an accident. While Star Wars has been making strides in diversity, the filmmakers have been apprehensive about black women on screen.

Grand Admiral Rae Sloane was the most powerful Imperial following Endor. It was said that she started the First Order. And yet, there hasn’t even been the mention of her name in the sequel movies, where the First Order is the authoritarian antagonistic force. She hasn’t even been hinted at in possible casting choices for IX. She brought the Empire to where they are now (as the First Order) and it isn’t even acknowledged.

It may be that they are being careful with story conflict. It may be that they never intended to show characters who didn’t originate in the movies on the big screen, but I’m more inclined to believed that along with those factors, is the pure systemic aversion to anything that runs too far from Hollywood’s default- the straight white man. They inch with women. They inch with black men. They inched with Latinos and Asians (to the bear minimum). But black women? Apparently, that’s too “radical.” I think that they are afraid for someone as powerful as Rae Sloane to be on screen, with her demographics and intersections. Right? Sure.

Behind the Scenes

Before we close, it’s imperative that we to hit on another topic that is often swept under the rug. What of the voices behind these characters? We love John Jackson Miller, and we love Chuck Wendig. Their creation and contribution to the legacy of Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is much appreciated, so their is no slight intended when I say that they are still the default that white males that were given the opportunity to create her. Now that they have used their privilege for good, it’s the proper time for a new voice should be introduced to this character. I’m talking about a black, queer woman’s voice, or any of the demographics thereof at the minimum.

The fact is that from every level from movies down to books and comics, the white male still dominates. Then the white woman. Why, with so many woman of color fans and talent out there, haven’t we had the opportunity to read a Star Wars book or comic, or watched a show/movie, written or directed by a black woman? In order to fix this issue, we must actively fight back against it by seeking out those talented individuals looking for the opportunity.

There are aspects of Rae’s character that as black, woman, queer, or a combination thereof, a white man just may not be able to see. There is nuance and details that they wouldn’t even know to think about. They’ve already written great stories with Rae, but what might that demographic lens and perspective put on the character? Put more diverse people behind the scenes and natural you’ll get more diverse character writing.

Give Grand Admiral Rae Sloane the respect she deserves, and remember to the crew at #SWRepMatters, Grand Admiral Rae Sloane is our emperor.

REVIEW: Vader Immortal, Episode 1 – Vader May Be Immortal, But Is He Accessible?

By Chris Sedor

A few months ago, Lucasfilm and ILMxLAB introduced the world to Vader Immortal, their trilogy of virtual reality Star Wars experiences starring the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. With episodes II and III coming soon, VR as a new storytelling medium seems firmly entrenched in the galaxy far, far away. And why not? Who doesn’t love swinging a lightsaber and using the Force from their living room?

Those who can’t, probably.

For all of Vader Immortal’s achievements — and it certainly is an impressive experience — the simple fact is that very few Star Wars fans will ever have the chance to experience it, due to the prohibitive cost of buying the game and the physical demands of playing it.After all, Vader Immortal takes way more than the $10 download to actually play the game. It requires an Oculus Quest, a brand new, standalone VR headset that retails for $400. While that may be a standard entry fee for a new gaming console these days, buying a brand new piece of technology that there’s no guarantee of playing for more than an hour is a far cry from investing in the next Playstation, which by its very nature comes with games and technology to make the purchase worth it. $410 for a one-hour experience with Episode I (you can spend extra time in the Lightsaber Dojo, but the plot itself is relatively short) is a price that only a select few can pay, limiting accessibility to the  awe of fighting alongside Lord Vader only to those in top income brackets.

Even more limiting is the technology itself. I, personally, had a blast playing through the story, parrying attacks with my saber and pulling levers to jump to lightspeed. I’ve spent multiple hours working my way through the Dojo, keeping on my toes as enemies surround me on all sides. The problem is: I’m an able-bodied man with the physical ability to stand for an hour at a time. If you aren’t, your experience will be quite different.

While I’m sure there are many out there who could work through the physical limitations, it seems nearly impossible for someone with limited mobility — or no mobility at all — to perform the walking, turning, and slashing required to play this game (though he wrote this piece before Vader Immortal came out, A.J. Ryan at AbleGamers.com walks through the myriad concerns that VR presents for people with disabilities). And even for those who are physically able to stand and walk, a lack of fine motor controls in the arms or hands could lead to dangerous collisions with walls or furniture (I’ve absolutely hit a wall or two in the heat of the moment). Vertigo, for those who suffer from it, would be an issue as well — looking out over the Mustafar lava fields and “balancing” your way across a maintenance pipe are realistic to the point of being dizzying for those who are unprepared.

All of these limitations add up to create an experience that only the financially and physically privileged can actually play: the upper crust of Star Wars fandom, as it were. Even the game’s demo at Star Wars Celebration Chicago could only be played by a select few who were able to run to the ticket line early enough in the morning to reserve a time (and those were the fans who could afford to be there at all).

Vader Immortal is, by any measure, a crowning technological achievement and a giant leap forward for the potential of Star Wars stories. It is a truly unique experience that puts you in the middle of the action, and makes even a cynic like me feel like we’re truly living it. And that’s a good thing; as a Star Wars fan, I want Lucasfilm to push the envelope. I want them to do things I didn’t know were possible and, to borrow from another fandom, to take Star Wars and the media of storytelling where they’ve never gone before.

But as we move into this exciting future, and creators get so caught up determining whether they can do something, it’s fair to ask who gets left behind. Star Wars is universal — it has been since 1977 when kids and adults around the world watched in awe as Luke blew up the Death Star. If the franchise loses those shared experiences that bind fans together as closely as does the Force itself, it runs the risk of not being a global phenomenon anymore. If Star Wars leaves lower-income or disabled fans behind, then the Emperor has already won.

Star Wars is for Everybody: The #SWRepMatters Panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago

The following coverage of the #SWRepMatters panel from Star Wars Celebration Chicago, written by Ross Brown and edited by BJ Priester, is republished from FANGirlBlog.com, courtesy of Tricia Barr. Click here for the original article

“Star Wars is for everybody,” John Robinson, a panelist, stated early in the #SWRepMatters Panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago (“SWCC”). It is the underlying belief behind the hashtag #SWRepMatters, which began more than a year and a half ago as the brain child of Kate Sanchez, Swara Salih, and Jessica Shitara. The hashtag quietly took on an increasingly larger presence on the Twitter platform through monthly campaigns focused on the absence or paucity of marginalized groups in the Galaxy Far, Far Away.  Undoubtedly due to its popularity, the organizers requested and were granted one of the highly coveted slots in the Celebration Fan Stage schedule. Convened before a packed crowd of fans and onlookers on April 14 in the early afternoon, the panel assembled may have represented the most diverse and inclusive membership of any panel at SWCC.

Moderated by Salih, the panel represented people of color as well as individuals who identified as LGBTQ. An early question to Connie Gibbs prompted a response that highlighted a virtue of the hashtag: that it introduced people like herself to characters in the Star Wars universe that she might have not otherwise had been aware of because they are not promoted in mainstream spaces.  Likewise, John Robinson noted that the hashtag helped highlight that there were other people like himself who had the same love of the franchise. When polled about their favorite characters, Gibbs referenced Jannah, the newest woman of color to appear in a Star Wars film. Likewise, Robinson spoke about how much he appreciated Finn, a fellow black man with a military experience like his own. Shitara praised Rose Tico, an Asian-American woman character who was presented without an accent or being of an Asian-based culture, something that she had not seen anywhere else.

Part of the panel involved a slideshow organized by Salih of Twitter responses and participation with the hashtag in past campaigns. The tweets covered a diverse group of fans who noted the wonderful presence of disabled characters, characters from marginalized groups, and different sexual orientations. Salih remarked that this was one of the best parts of the #SWRepMatters campaign, providing a space for voices that otherwise might never be highlighted, never be heard.

The question of representation on the creative and production side was brought up, and it underlined the importance of different voices. Gibbs emphasized how the absence of a diverse and inclusive creator/production naturally leads to blind spots. Robinson followed up by noting that creators without a more diverse or inclusive insight had led to appropriation of different cultures without adequate representation of those culture’s members in the films. Kate Sedor pointed out how instrumental the editing of Marcia Lucas played a role in the original trilogy’s success, as well how Carrie Fisher made Leia Organa into the character beloved by millions.  The question was left lingering how much better the franchise could have become if it had included more voices like theirs in the creative process. Maia Mrkvicka chimed in about how it was great to see that women directors were being given a chance with The Mandalorian, but that more women need opportunities within the franchise.

One of the last questions of the panel noted the representation of LGBTQ+ characters in the Star Wars comics and books, such as Dr. Chelli Aphra and Sinjir Rath Velus, but asked why there wasn’t representation in the films. Gibbs noted that unfortunately such inclusions still made some people mad, and the money at risk in a film led to the powers being simply unready to take the same risks as publishers. The effort to include representation by the editors of Del Rey was praised by the panel, as was comic writer Greg Pak, who strove for diversity in his works on the premise that having just one individual from a marginalized group forced that character to carry all the expectations of that group on his, hers, or their shoulders.

The #SWRepMatters panel concluded with a Q&A and book giveaway, as well as a loud and lengthy applause. The audio for the panel is hosted by the podcast Lousy Beautiful Town hosted by Jessica Shitara and Abby, and can be found here.  Even though the panel is over, along with SWCC, #SWRepMatters continues on with its monthly campaigns on Twitter. As on the social media platform, the panel represented a call for more inclusion and more diversity within the Star Wars universe, be it the creators or the characters.  Star Wars, after all, is for everyone.

Autistic Character Highlight: Kaz and Neeku “Star Wars: Resistance”

By Megan

As you might have heard, Lucasfilm not only recently dropped a trailer for season two of Resistance, but also the news that this will be the final season of the show. As of now, it is unknown how many episodes will be in the final season or how they will be aired, simply that unlike its predecessor shows Clone Wars and Rebels, it will have the shortest run.  For fans such as myself, who began watching only as a way to keep up with the rest of the Star Wars community, and have since been won over, this news is heartbreaking, but not surprising, mainly due to how tied into the main Skywalker saga the show is. With that story ending on the big screen in December, what point is there to continue the Resistance story, that only ends up acting like a loose end? None really. Using the past two trilogies as an example, after Episode IX, it would simply be more of the same, i.e. Empire/First Order/etc…comes in and takes over while rebellion fights back against them. While these characters would be nice to see post Rise of Skywalker, once the movie ends, it’s time to begin moving on and seeing what other possibly amazing stories are waiting to be told both on the big and small screens.

Until then, it’s time to highlight two unique characters that autistics likely gravitated toward and identified the most with, Kazuda “Kaz” Xiono and Neeku Vozo. While the former is a human male, likely in his late teens to early 20s, the latter is a member of the alien species known as Kadas’sa’Nikto or more commonly shortened to Nikto. He also appears to be in his species’ youthful stage. Throughout the course of the show, both have shown various autistic traits without necessarily being such themselves. Starting with Kaz, here is a countdown of times the two exhibit autistic traits; the numbers will trade-off before ending on their most autistic moment together. Just as a note, I feel more than qualified to do this due to my personal diagnosis with Asperger’s Syndrome (aka high functioning autism) over ten years ago now. Thanks to that, I have many personal stories and a whole host of knowledge gained from talking and working with others in similar and more severe situations, from which to draw.

Number 5

Kaz openly talks to BB-8 about being a resistance spy where anyone could hear him.

Basically, anytime Kaz has to attempt to act like a spy towards the beginning of the first season. Even coming from the viewpoint of a high functioning autistic it was difficult to watch. Especially growing up in the upper parts of society with all amounts of wealth and luxury, one would think that Kaz would have watched one or more spy movies and at least learned something from them. Hell, if necessary, I likely could have done a better job at the beginning than he did. This is not to complain, simply point out how his naivety demonstrates part of his potential autistic traits. I can speak from personal experience that autistics take longer to mature than their more “average” peers. Even while I was in high school/early college (aka when I was around Kaz’s age), I likely would have been able to keep attention off me and complete my job as a spy to at least average decency aka manage to not get myself captured/killed. When thinking of Kaz, the first thing that comes to mind is how much he struggled not to blow his cover at the beginning of the first season.

Number 4

Neeku being confused about Yager being happy about a piece of news

Anytime Neeku attempts to understand humor/jokes. Autistics, very much unlike myself, are known to struggle with understanding these things and have been known to take jokes and sarcasm seriously. In other words, if you were to say, “Well, that’s just great!” after getting locked out of somewhere, or something were to fail on you at the exact wrong moment, an autistic, depending on their placement on the spectrum might take you seriously and wonder why and ask you to explain why the dreadful situation is so “great”. This is much like Neeku whenever he tries to understand a joke someone is making. Take episode eight, “The Platform Classic,” for example. After Kaz remarks about how happy his boss (and only person on the station at the time aware of Kaz’s true identity) Jarek Yeager will be after hearing a bit of news, Neeku responds, “…Oh, I get it, you are proposing another joke”, being as Yeager is typically known to be a more serious type of person. In the show, this is simply how his species is, whereas here on earth, such a thing could and likely would be seen as an autistic individual attempting to make sense of something they had just heard.

Number 3

Kaz successfully pulling off a maneuver he had failed at twice before

As for something more subtle, take Kaz and his love of flying. While anyone can love something, autistics go one or more steps further and take whatever measures needed to live their, at times, obsessions. Kaz’s devotion and skill with flying is just one example of this which really appears in the episode titled “Signal From Sector Six.”After practicing a certain maneuver only twice at the beginning of the episode and failing to pull it off perfectly (as just about any pilot would), he finally gets it toward the end of the episode. For a rookie pilot who hasn’t flown these types of flights before, this is amazing and something that typically only seen in those born with innate skills that are honed through life. This is especially so considering how young Kaz is. In the non-autistic world, skills such as these typically take months or years to master, not a few hours or even a few attempts as he had. To brag just a bit, this is similar to me. While apparently both my maternal and paternal grandmothers were writers who simply didn’t pursue it due to life not allowing them to at the time, this was a skill I was apparently born with. For the sake of debate, we will assume a similar situation for Kaz, individuals genetically close to him were great pilots. That established, piloting for Kaz and writing for me, are both skills that were and still are practiced through our years of growth, schooling, and life. If not for my innate skills with this craft practiced over the years, I, like Kaz, would not be where I am now.

Number 2

Neeku being shocked after Kaz failed to hand him the sub loop spanner

Also like an autistic in their element, give Neeku an engine or something mechanical to build/repair and he’s your guy. He can get so sucked into his task that he can forget the world around him. After watching him for an entire season, I can safely say that the chances of him being able to explain the inner workings of a given ship’s engine block, for instance, is incredibly high. Anyone outside of other experts’ chance of understanding it…not so much. Often times, autistic personalities lean toward math, science, technology, or engineering to a point they are able to explain it to a level ordinary people struggle to understand or keep up. While this is not always the case (autistics such as myself can be into the arts, and they are not always super smart), it can and does happen. For me, it’s not so much that I’m smart or knowledgable about writing, so much as it’s something I can do and am good at. Again, I wouldn’t have been able to come this far if I wasn’t.

And the number one moment that highlights both Kaz and Neeku’s autistic traits is……..

Neeku questions Yeager as stormtroopers fire at them

Kaz focusing solely on wanting to rescue Tam from the First Order after they arrested her thinking she was a spy along with her co-workers in the episode “Descent,” and prior to that, Neeku being confused by Yeager’s order to open his office and hide in there. While that is normally the man’s personal space that no one enters without his permission, the fact that they are being shot at by stormtroopers and need a place to hide should logically override that. For a typical person, they would hear the order to open the office and simply look for a window in the shooting to dash over and do it, no questions asked. Just open it, jump in and survive, everything else can be figured out and dealt with later. Jumping back to Kaz, his single-minded devotion to saving his friend, while admirable should not be the most important thing at the moment and is definitely an autistic trait much like when I obsess over my favorite show. It is likely due to this autistic trait that I know as much about pop culture as I do, I’m obsessed with it. Obsession/fixation on a single object, idea, etc…is a well known autistic trait.

Closing Words

Even with all that said, I am not mad, angry, upset or any other negative word about Resistance ending after this season. I will say though, that it feels abrupt after the previous two Lucasfilm TV shows having three+ seasons, but not completely unexpected. If anything, that was what I was most shocked by when I watched the trailer for the first time, the abruptness of its end. It makes sense but is still jarring. I love these characters, as evidenced by this over 1400 word post about them, and will completely miss them, but it just makes sense. Once Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker ends in December this would be a loose thread. Doing trilogies seems to be Lucasfilm’s thing and using both the original and prequel trilogies in this franchise, we can pretty much guess what comes after. As a result, it makes sense to end the series here and explore other time periods, situations, and conflicts in the Star Wars universe on the big and small screen.

Thoughts on Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker | D23 Special Look

By Mel Perez

Star Wars, later dubbed Star Wars: A New Hope, was released in the summer of 1977 to great fanfare. It was something fresh, something that people had been craving without knowing it. It reinvigorated the imagination of a generation and the generations to follow. Now that story will end 42 years later.

At the D23 convention this weekend, a special look at The Rise of Skywalker, the last story in the Skywalker saga, was revealed to excited audiences. It begins with the iconic scene of Luke Skywalker watching the duel sunset on Tatooine. The scene has come to represent Star Wars and it’s fitting that it’s showcased here at the end of the saga. We move onto shots of characters we’ve come to love from A New Hope. Obi-Wan revealing himself. Leia looking fierce with her blaster. Han, smooth and sneaky in the cantina. Sadly most of them are no longer with us. Then it’s onto to scenes from The Empire Strikes Back – Han and Leia kissing before he’s frozen in carbonite and Luke learning the truth of what really happened to his father. These scenes are building the legacy of the Skywalker saga – taking us back in time so we can better understand where we’re going.

As we move onto scenes from Return of the Jedi, in an emotional bit of editing Luke’s narration from The Rise of Skywalker trailer rises above the score as the shot lingers on a young Luke. “We’ve passed on all we know.” The knowledge gained from the Jedi and the Sith in the prequels, the fall of the Republic and the rise of Vader and the Emperor. Luke tells them that this is their fight now as scenes The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi focus on the connections between characters. No one is in this alone and it is these connections that will make or break them. It ends on the scene of Rey first becoming one with the force. We have watched Rey grow in these past two movies, how much further will she go in this one?

This first look isn’t only a gaze back at everything we’ve experienced so far. We treated to new scenes from The Rise of Skywalker. Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca and C-3PO gaze on an open desert market. It’s not clear how much a role Leia will have in this movie but every sighting of her is a joy. Leia and Rey both appear in forest scenes. Is it possible Leia is training her? The Last Jedi revealed how strong she is with the force. The Rebels aren’t out of the fight yet but they are hopelessly outclassed by the sheer power of the First Order. Finn and new and mysterious character Jannah sit together in a cockpit. I wasn’t prepared by how much the sight of two Black characters together in a Star Wars film would move me. What is the significance of C-3PO’s red eyes?

Palpatine picks up the narration towards the end of the trailer. “Your journey,” he says as a determined Kylo Ren walks across a desert landscape before flashing to a scene of Rey and Kylo fighting with sea waves crashing around them. The clash between these two is inevitable but is the movie hinting that it won’t end as we suspect? The screen fades to black as Palpatine concludes with “Nears its end.” The scene comes back to the shocking sight of Rey in a dark hood holding a double red lightsaber. A hooded cloak that is reminiscent of one worn by Padmé, another tie to the Skywalker family. Is this a vision or will The Rise of Skywalker end with Rey turning towards the darkside? What will this mean for the fate of Kylo Ren and the Resistance? And will the Rise of the Skywalker end up being the rise of the darkside?

This sizzle reels gives us a nostalgic look at what has come before while teasing us with what is to come. There are more questions than answers and I suspect we will all spend the next few months speculating over every bit of this and the news to come. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases December 20, 2019.

WRITTEN BY MEL PEREZ, Co-host and writer for the Nerds of Prey podcast. Mel fell in love with the world of Star Wars and it’s intriguing characters as a young child and hasn’t looked back since. She eagerly devours the movies, books and comics. Luke and Leia have always been her favorite characters but she’s developed a soft spot for Finn since the new movies have been released. Her dream job would be following in the footsteps of Jocasta Nu and becoming the Chief Librarian of the Jedi Archives.

4 Finn Stories You Might Have Missed

by Yogi Kai

There are so many pathways to be a fan in the age of the sequel trilogy. I have always been drawn to Star Wars books and comics, and though I believe the films should stand on their own as far as telling a cohesive story, there are some great insights to characters past and future you can find in the pages of comic and books. Here are some stories that delve a little deeper into Finn’s story.

Before The Awakening

Before The Awakening shares three stories that take place before the events of The Force Awakens.

Finn’s story gives us more insight into his decisions in The Force Awakens, but more importantly, the core of his personality. One of the things we learn in this story is that FN-2187 is a big deal as far as his team members and the First Order are concerned. Finn is exceptional in blaster and hand to hand combat. He has strong leadership capabilities, and compassion.

Finn’s strong sense of loyalty, compassion for others, and the potential for great empathy are not a requirement, or even necessarily desired traits, in the First Order. Noticing this, his commander, Captain Phasma, send Finn’s team on a mission to subdue defenseless miners on strike. Finn’s actions on the planet, how he versus the other First Order stormtroopers react, are the foundation for Finn’s actions at the opening of Episode 7. It is enjoyable to get a look into Finn’s inner thoughts and see how his instincts begin to override his First Order conditioning.

Star Wars Adventures Issue 3

Star Wars Adventures  is targeted towards younger readers but the stories are universally enjoyable. The framing story is about a young explorer who likes to share stories of characters all across the saga. In issue three we get a Finn story that is set some time before The Force Awakens. Finn is on custodial duty cleaning a shuttle when a strange creature leaps out and steals his helmet. This leads to a hilarious chase sequence that has Finn trying to not get caught by Phasma while trying to recapture his helmet. The story ends with Finn barely avoiding harming the creature when he is ordered to destroy it. Only Star Wars Adventures could turn time on a First Order destroyer into such a fun story and also provide additional insight into Finn’s character.

Age Of Resistance: Finn

In this Age Of Resistance one-shot we see Finn once again on Starkiller Base. He has been sent with a crew to clean out an infestation of vicious winged creatures that have taken over a dark level of the battlestation. Finn’s natural sense of curiosity leads him to discover the real reason behind the creatures viciousness and he becomes determined to save them. I enjoyed this story but it’s very reminiscent of the tale from Star Wars Adventures though a bit darker. Galactic Creature Protector seems to be a trend with our young Resistance hero. I would love to see him interact more with creatures in Episode IX, maybe Porgs?!!

Poe Dameron, issues 26-28

These three issues of Poe Dameron are unique because they take place immediately after the ending of The Last Jedi. The issues involve Rey and Poe getting to meet each other and Finn sharing his adventures with Rey and her piloting skills. There is a really pleasant banter between the trio, and it makes you realize how non stop the pacing was in The Last Jedi. Here, the trio finally get to relax for a bit as they try to figure out the next step of their journey.  I really loved these stories, especially the small interludes with Poe and Leia.  It is worthwhile to see Finn back with Rey, whom he had originally set out to save at the start of the last film.

All of these stories are worth seeking out and all of them except the Age of Resistance: Finn should be available at your local library. Hope you check them out!

Review: Age Of Resistance Poe Dameron

By Yogi Kai

Tom Taylor: Story, Ramon Rosanas: Art, GURU-eFX: Colors, Travis Lanham: Lettering, Phil Noto: Cover Artist

I belong to the stars”  Poe has a touch of the dramatic in him. These first words are uttered by Poe as he stares longingly out to space, a soldier without a mission.

This story is set before the events of The Force Awakens. Poe is a Republic pilot on the Space Station Brooksdion. He is bored and thus reflecting on why he needs to be out in the galaxy when an alarm summons his squad into action.

A bold thief has boarded the station and stolen the head of an admiral’s protocol droid. Poe’s squad is quickly on the chase. When the thief enters an asteroid field, Poe orders his team to fall back while he enters the field in pursuit.

The visuals in this story really immerse the reader in the dangers of the asteroids. Bold reds and blacks against the backdrop of one lone X-wing, set an ominous mood. Poe is calm in the midst of the danger until he  almost pays the price for his rash action. It takes skillful flying and the navigational advice from the ship he is pursuing to get Poe safely to the other side of the asteroid field.

Like all the books in the  Age Of Resistance series this story is tied up in one issue. It fits nicely with the character arc we see Poe experience in Episodes 7 & 8. I really enjoyed seeing a bit of banter between Poe and the rest of his Rapier Squadron.

I’m so pleased that all the diverse characters in the new trilogy have gotten their own standalone one shots,  or cameo appearances. Some have even appeared in more than one story, like the mysterious thief  in Poe’s story. This book really is a solid blend of excellent art and story. I especially enjoyed Taylor’s script. He really captured the essence of Poe’s on screen personality.

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