Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Changing Seasons

Journal Update
12-4 months BBY

The keen eye will notice I took the "weekly" out of the subtitle for this blog. That's because the "weekly journal" updates will have to go on indefinite hiatus, as my school work-load this quarter is on the crazy side. My Star Wars reading will, of course, suffer for it.

On the bright side, I feel like this gives me an opportunity taking a more creative (somewhat anthropological and political) look at how the galaxy as a whole is changing, as well as its key villains and heroes. Thus, I'll try to incorporate the smaller things into a new format for my posts. And, as usual, I'll keep up the major book/comic/game reviews as I go.

Well, on with it then!

As I get closer and closer to Episode IV, events continue to take on a very familiar taste. I've really been able to see the contrast between the blooming Empire of 19-2 years BBY, versus the cold and callous regime we all remember in the OT. Let me expand on that. Looking back at pieces of EU material like Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, The Force Unleashed, or the Last of The Jedi series, the Empire was significantly more jumpy and extreme. Not only were they struggling to establish a whole new Galactic Order, but even the dealings of the Vader and Palpatine were shrouded in uncertainty. A case in point example is Vader's questioning of his role in relation to Palpatine and to his old identity. Could he defeat him alone? Does Palpatine see him as an equal or is he just a place-marker for a "far younger and more powerful" apprentice? Finally, how can Vader, so plagued by attachment, let go of the Jedi he used to be or the woman he loved? These particular dilemmas are rife in all of the titles listed above.

But the nature of the Empire has changed in both subtle and dramatic ways. As I am mere months away from A New Hope, the Empire has really become that cold, calculating, and arrogant dictatorship that we saw in the original film. Although the Rebel threat is bigger than ever before, so seem to be the egos of the Imperial rank-and-file. While Vader and Palpatine are surely worried about the Rebellion that they have "unwittingly created" (The Force Unleashed), there is a sense that even they have fallen into a bit of complacency. One clear cause of this is that Vader has seriously scaled down on the Jedi hunting, as they are almost completely wiped out. Grand Moff Tarkin has also inched closer and closer to the center stage with his "Doctrine of Fear" ("Fear will keep the local systems in line"- ANH). His journal entries in the Death Star Technical Companion exemplify his growing confidence that once the Death Star is created, no force would seriously threaten or dare challenge the Empire.

So what do stagnant imperial leaders do while they laze around on their hover-couches? Plot against one other, of course! Recent readings have really highlighted the ruthless nature of Imperial complacency. Empire Volume One: Betrayal speaks for itself as a group of Grand Moffs try to assassinate the Emperor, but only succeed in assassinating themselves. Given this new air of treachery, Darth Vader is given a new task by the Emperor- keep an eye on Tarkin and his new toy. As revealed in Mara Jade: By The Emperor's Hand #0, Palpatine does not take an optimistic or idealistic view of Tarkin's rise to prestige.

But the Empire isn't the only one playing hard-ball. In Rebel Dawn, Jabba essentially murders his Aunt Jiliac and his infant cousin, insuring his place as leader of Desilijic. At the same time, Bria Tharen breaks the last straw with Han Solo by flat-out using the smuggler and his allies to further the causes of the Rebel Alliance- with no reward. Not to mention attempts by Bib Fortuna to wipe out his slimy master in Jabba The Hutt: The Art of the Deal.

But how will the Empire change when the Rebel Alliance achieves it first great victory? The Death Star, one could say, is a symbol of Imperial complacency. What will be the crucial differences in the political setting of the Empire or the GFFA as a whole when we finally come to Episode V?

Well, I hope you've enjoyed a change of pace! Let me know what you think of my new direction. More coming soon enough!

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