R.J.’s REWRITES – THE FORCE AWAKENS PT. 2

Hey and Welcome Back to R.J.’s Rewrites.

R.J. rewrites — The Force Awakens (pt. 2)

Welcome to Pt. 2

Last time, things got a little lengthy so I decided to split it. PREVIOUSLY:

Again, a disclaimer,

*I ENJOY THIS MOVIE. IN SPITE OF HOW I MAY FEEL, I, IN GOOD FAITH, CANNOT SAY A FILM IS BAD IF I SPENT MY OWN MONEY TO OWN A COPY OF IT*

Again, I won’t be going over everything in the film, just the things I would change. Assume everything else works just the way it is.

That said… Let’s get back to it!

  • TRASH COM-PHASMA
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Finn, Han and Chewie all get aboard the base and still tackle Phasma just the same. They remove her helmet as a way to get a mean stare down and for us, the audience, to actually SEE Gwendoline Christie in costume.

This whole star-studded cast and she could’ve been anyone with all of her lines dubbed in later with ADR. Let’s see her!

Anyway, scene plays out like normal, only now, instead of being remarkably compliant, she starts to lower the shields…then, as the three are discussing plans, when Finn says, “Solo, if this works, we’re not going to have a lot of time to find Rey”, she tries to quickly tries to fire a hidden, side blaster, but quickly has her cheek sizzled by a scathing shot!

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Behind her, a hole in a wall steamed and Han is seen with his blaster. (Yes, he shoots first.) Finn knocks her out with a rifle butt and, as the sequence was already started, they finish it and still wind up putting her in the trash compactor.

Minor tweaks, but for the love of God, let’s SEE Phasma DO SOMETHING.

ALSO, again, I’m saying this with the benefit of hindsight, IT’S REVEALED IN THE LAST JEDI THAT HER ARMOR PLATING REFLECTS BLASTER BOLTS!

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SHE WAS NEVER IN ANY DANGER! WHY WAS SHE SO COMPLIANT THEN? IF FINN THREATENED TO “BLAST THAT BUCKET OFF YOUR HEAD” WHY DIDN’T SHE JUST SAY YES AND LET IT RICOCHET!??

YEAH, FINN EVENTUALLY DOES PUT THE BLASTER UNDER HER HELMET, BUT THAT’S WAAAAY AFTER THE FACT.

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…I’m sorry.

  • HAN SO-LONG
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…okay, there’s no way to do this without laying down some ground rules. Okay, first off, Kylo killing Han? I’m okay with. It served his character and affected him all the way into his sequel. It mattered. Did I want it? Not particularly, but Harrison Ford apparently did and I respect his decision and everyone’s involved to honor it and not have him…well, fridged.

Now, this can work one of two ways, one of them being the way that it was filmed and leave it as is. I’m still seriously okay with it. Maybe telegraphed, maybe easy to see, don’t care. It worked for me. I’m fine with it.

However, if I were to change it, it would all be the same up until that pivotal moment.

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“I know what I have to do, but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it… Will you help me?”

“Yes. Anything.”

Kylo pulls out his lightsaber hilt, starts to hand it to Han and when the light fades…

BAM!

To his knee, Ben is shot on his side! From above, from Chewie’s bowcaster, he fired.

“Chewie could always tell when he was up to no good…”

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 It shocks both Han and everyone around them, but the commotion snaps Han out of it and he runs back to everyone else and everyone runs away like normal, only, now, Kylo is more furious because he didn’t kill Han Solo when he could have and he sees the one directly responsible.

  • DARK FOREST
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They all make for the Falcon with Han being told to go as he’s the one Ren wants. He reluctantly goes but Chewie, Finn and Rey all stay behind. Chewie sees Ren, is the first to shoot, but, anticipating this, Ren reflects the bolt back at him and holds him with the Force and sends him flying past countless trees until he hits the trunk of the thickest one, knocking him unconscious.

“We’re not done yet.”

“You’re a monster!”

“It’s just us now. Han Solo can’t save you!” He says as Han is away getting the Falcon. Punches his side, indicating he’s still bleeding out.

Rey tries to fire, Kylo NOPE’s her into a tree, like Chewie and the fight ensues again, only this time with the GREEN lightsaber. Seeing it, Kylo still says,

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“That lightsaber… It belongs to me!” This would play into the fact that Kylo, feeling triumphant and bold in his attack on Luke and his temple took Luke’s lightsaber, much like Vader did after killing Jedi in his time.

Finn has his trophy and he wants it back.

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“Come get it!” They fight. Finn, after already learning how to use it on Takodana, fares much better than before, but the fight still ends the same. 

  • REY OF HOPE
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Yeah, no. I’d change NOTHING about the way she grabbed the lightsaber. Going with how she experimented with the Force before and even now, in the film as is, she looks at it confused and looks at Kylo Ren SCARED AS HELL! She’s CLEARLY out of her element and not one part of that looks like she’s ready to take dude on.

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Grade A shit there, guys.

Before I continue, we ALL seem to forget how the fight starts and just linger on how it ends. She’s swinging it wildly and unfocused. Yeah, Ren is doing so, too, but, remember the fact that HE’S LITERALLY DYING!??

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He’s bleeding out!

There’s a lot of space between them. Kylo has proven he has a temper, but this kid isn’t trying to kill her. He is just sizing her up.

Again. Grade A shit.

So, what I would change is after Rey strikes Kylo and he finally falls, she would go over to him and try to finish him off, showing more anger in the moment as Kylo tried to kill the only father she’d ever known, but that is when the ground splits and everything is as follows.

The whole “you need a teacher; I can show you the ways of the Force” would be more natural now because her moment with Kylo and experimenting with it from the interrogation scene already transpired.

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With Rey being driven with anger and her proclaiming he was the monster, she would show signs of parallels, questioning who is really right and wrong.

  • CHEWBY-GONE

Hux goes to Snoke and gets Ren so he can finish his training and Han goes to get Finn, Rey and Chewie, but the ground is splitting far too much for any more time to be spent.

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Han tries to get him, screaming at Chewie to come on, but Chewie knows he can’t. This is it for him. He roars at him to go and the three in the Falcon reluctantly leave Chewie behind.

It’s just to pay homage to Chewie’s death in the books, and, hey, it’s better than a moon being thrown at him, amiright?

  • RESISTANCE – REGROUP
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The survivors regroup on the base and Han and Leia hold each other knowing their lifelong friend is gone. Finn gets taken care of and Rey, with Han now, boards the Falcon to go find Luke.

  • DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
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Rey climbs all the steps to find Luke standing solemnly alone. Dude turns around and he sees the hilt of the GREEN LIGHTSABER in her hand, knowing it was taken when Kylo had his crusade against him and his temple.

She looks at him, longingly as a long-lost relative finding a home, or she looking for a place to belong.

But Luke doesn’t look back.

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The last shot of him we’ll get is him turning away, eyes heavy as if negativity and The Dark Side itself is weighing him down.

That lost look, with Rey still reaching out is how it…

ENDS!

So, what do you think? Would you change anything? Love it? Hate it? Give your honest opinions and more in the comment section or on my twitter @RJFAQS

May the Force be with You…because we’re gonna need it to get through the Rise of Skywalker.

COMING SOON . . . !
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R.J.’s REWRITES – THE FORCE AWAKENS

Make the lightsaber green!

Hey and Welcome to R.J.’s Rewrites.

R.J.’s rewrites – The Force Awakens

As this is a new thing I’m trying out, I don’t have a set formula or way to do this, but I do feel like I should start with a disclaimer:

*I ENJOY THIS MOVIE. IN SPITE OF HOW I MAY FEEL, I, IN GOOD FAITH, CANNOT SAY A FILM IS BAD IF I SPENT MY OWN MONEY TO OWN A COPY OF IT*

As no film is perfect, I feel just a few minor tweaks could make it work just a little bit smoother. There’s nothing about this film, (well, okay ONE thing) I truthfully can’t accept and I am in no way saying I could’ve done better as I’m looking at it from a place of hindsight of over 3 years. Everything works and works well enough for its trilogy, and in turn the galaxy’s newer direction/canon, to grow from.

Also, I won’t be going over everything in the film, just the things I would change. Assume everything else works just the way it is.

That said… Let’s get into it!

  1. PHASMA SHOOTS
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During the opening battle, we see the First Order Stormtroopers lay waste to the village. It’s pretty graphic and solid and getting the point across that the First Order isn’t to be trifled with. It’s in this scene we see Finn, or FN-2187 as he’s initially called, refuse to shoot.

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In my rewrite, I’d have the scene continue as usual, but when Kylo turns to stop Poe’s blaster bolt, in his moment of distraction, have other people from the village rise up and try to take out Kylo at his flank.

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FN-2187 is closest so he’d be the one to shoot, but he hesitates, but Captain Phasma picks up the slack and headshots them all before anyone has a chance to react – this would lead into her having suspicions of him and also gives us a chance to see Phasma’s skills and why she’s the ranking officer.

  • REY + FIN + MAP
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Their meetup would be largely the same, however when Finn reveals he’s “with the Resistance”, she mentions BB-8 having a map to Luke Skywalker. Originally, she says, “Luke Skywalker… I thought he was a myth.”

In my version, she would say “I thought he was just a Legend”. Just a nice little nod to the canon that came before this newer version and also works better into how the veteran characters (Luke, Han, Leia, etc…) will be seen from the characters/audience’s eyes.

  • HAN SOLO & CHEWIE = 0 RATHTARS
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Like most, I had a grin on my face seeing Han again. It was only undercut a bit when Rey said, “This is the Millenium Falcon? You’re Han Solo?” It only confuses me a little because she knows (of) Luke Skywalker, but not Han? But she follows it up by saying he was a smuggler.

Okay, well, you know of his stories but not he himself?

I suppose it could happen. Not too big of a deal there, just roll with it.

The biggest eye-opener is when he says “I used to be”. Going, again, in line with being a Legend, Han shunning away from the bright lights of fame that comes with being a war hero could’ve made this scene just a tiny bit smoother.

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When Finn says “You knew him”, referring to Luke and Han says “Yeah, I knew him”, the pace of the scene is immediately cut by the rathtars that do nothing for this film in any regard. I know it’s good Star Wars fun…but it really has no point.

Yes, we have that funny dialogue moment where Han talks his way out of Kanjiklub and they send a message to the First Order on the whereabouts of the BB unit, but why couldn’t/wouldn’t Unkar Plutt do that?

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They just left Jakku, in a high-speed chase from the First Order in “HIS” ship. He seemed to already have an interest in BB-8 so, again, why…rathtars?

If you take it out, the narrative beats are all the same and you lose nothing but a few, roughly five, minutes of screen time that can be dedicated to Han with better character moments.

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They can ask him what he’s been doing, how life’s been for him and he could confess…

“Things were fine for a while. Settled down…had a wife…a son…” You can tell how his speech slowed that he’s trudging on sensitive topics.

“You had a kid?” Rey asked, kind of filling in holes where she feels she herself could fit.

“Oh, yeah,” Han would say scoffing at old memories. “Chewie knew him, too. Used to always get into trouble. I could never bring myself to discipline the kid; the wife was the stricter one, but not me. Hell, even got Chewie in on it, too. I was blind to it, but Chewie could always tell when he was up to no good…”

“What happened to him?” Finn would ask. Chewie would look away. Han’s smile fades. And he says…

“I lost him…a long time ago…”

  • VISIONS IN THE FORCE
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So, we get to Takodana, Rey goes a-walking and she eventually finds Luke’s lightsaber. Now, we’ve come to the part where I ONE thing I can’t accept – Luke’s lightsaber should be his second, the one he constructed in Return of the Jedi.

When he fought Vader in Empire, he got his hand amputated and, with it, went that lightsaber. For it to turn up in this film with the explanation on how it got there, the answer, “A good question, for another time…” just means “I don’t know, don’t ask questions! STAR WARS!”

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Luke himself didn’t know where that lightsaber was, hence him making another. What’s so special about this lightsaber that it calls out to Rey, but not Luke himself? What’s worse is that the lightsaber being in this film does nothing for the plot.

Yeah, it’s nostalgic and iconic, even, but what purpose would that serve rather than having the green one? Nothing. Maz Kanata mentioned it being Anakin’s before Luke’s, so, if you’re going for a lineage/passed down angle, again, it falls flat because Anakin/Vader himself didn’t have sentimental ties to the blade.

It just doesn’t work.

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And, admittedly this part is the benefit of hindsight but, Luke doesn’t even use his lightsaber, either of them, in The Last Jedi. Why bring it back just for him to not use it? Why not have him have his green lightsaber so that he couldn’t use it?

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I don’t know…

Make the lightsaber green!

Moving on.

  • FIRST ORDER INVADES TAKODANA

Again, most things about this scene work really well, but the major difference will be when Finn activates the lightsaber, it will be GREEN and, yeah, be a little bit clumsy with it at first.

His line, “I NEED A WEAPON!” shows he doesn’t even know what a lightsaber is, much less how to use it.

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There’s some speculation as to how he was able to use it as effortlessly as he did and as well as he did, so, to show growth, he stumbles through a couple of fights, but by the time he gets challenged by that one stormtrooper, he feels he can hold his own.

And that random stormtrooper will be none other than CAPTAIN PHASMA herself. Again, the scene was fine, but it would’ve been a perfect opportunity for us to see what made her so special – AND, with the conflict from the beginning of the film, she would see him as a traitor and a mark on herself as he defected under her platoon. The fight would matter so much more if she were involved and even got the better of him during.

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How does the fight end, you say? That’s where Poe and the Resistance would come in, just like the original film. Her armor may reflect blaster bolts, but…from an X-Wing?

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Not so much.

  • REY & KYLO REN
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So, Rey gets kidnapped and taken aboard Starkiller base, but isn’t a damsel in distress because she winds up breaking out. In truth, I’m cool with most things that happen in this scene between them; yes, even the Jedi Mind Trick part.

At first, I wasn’t, thinking she needed training to pull that off, but then Cosmonaut on YouTube so eloquently pointed out it’s a much more common trick than I originally thought.

The video is over 20 minutes long and, while I’d recommend watching it entirely, I understand not everyone has that free time so, to jump to the point I’m referring to, it starts at: 18:44 ( https://youtu.be/36lEg63hpL0 ).

I won’t talk about if she’s a Mary Sue or not. It’s been debated to death. My point to rewrite the smaller details of the scene would be when they’re using the Force against one another in a battle of Whills (ha!).

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I still believe Kylo should have a leg up over her considering, yes, he was trained by Luke. Rey does show to have an affinity for the Force and the history of the Galaxy upon meeting Han Solo, so she’s not completely lost in the dark, but it’s natural talent vs. trained skill at that point.

So, Kylo probes her mind, she pushes back. He can’t get in, but she can’t either. No talks of his fears, or Darth Vader parallels. We got that from his moment with Vader’s helmet. We know his fears and when he goes up against Rey, those would be reinforced without her having to know because, yeah, he’s ALREADY INSECURE.

So, Kylo can’t get in, but neither can she. He leaves all salty, but as soon as he leaves, Rey relaxes in her…stretcher (for lack of a better term) and loses consciousness.

Yeah, she fought to meet Kylo…but she’s exhausted from it.

THAT makes things fair, to me. Rey still has her talent, but Kylo is in another league at this point.

Anyway, she eventually comes to, in shock from what took place before, but recalls what she and Kylo did and then tries to push her limits, see what she can do. Maybe sees a small object and tries to push it forward. Doesn’t work, but it does budge a little bit which makes her want to try the Jedi Mind Trick.

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Again, tiny little things (probably nit-picking) but it would help.

So, this is getting pretty lengthy and, unfortunately, I’m gonna have to stop here and pick it back up next time!

What comes of Captain Phasma? Does Han Solo die? What about Luke?

You’ll have to tune in and find out!

So, what do you think? Would you change anything? Love it? Hate it? Give your honest opinions and more in the comment section or on my twitter @RJFAQS

RJ UPDATE:

I didn’t think much of it because I was just a fan of his work and since I’m still new at this with less than 20 followers, I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it, but…

MAN am I glad I’m wrong.

Hey and…I don’t have a lesson for today, or even a “lecture” (still working on that name). In all honesty, I just have a little bit of an update.

I know I didn’t post last Thursday so hopefully this will make up for it in some regard.

..

When I started blogging, I didn’t really have any direction, ideas or really anything – but I knew I had something to say and no one to talk to. In truth, if anyone has anything to say, you go to the internet. And, again, I didn’t really know what to do or what to say or how to say it, but I just started.

August came and I looked up what August was the month of and it happened to be Black Business Month. From there, it was simple.

It started writing posts about indie Black comics and, man, I felt…GOOD. Like, I got to reach out to creators. I got to read their work and they responded which is something I was never expecting, but man, when I reached out to Etan Comics – everything changed.

Beserat, the founder and creator of both Hawi and Jember, was hella humble and mad cool to talk to. I didn’t think much of it because I was just a fan of his work and since I’m still new at this with less than 20 followers, I wasn’t expecting anything to come of it, but…

MAN am I glad I’m wrong.

Since then, he offered me a proposition to contribute to his site! I’m now the official blogger for ETAN COMICS / etancomics.com

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Together, he and I have been drafting up ideas for a new segment for his site called BLACKLIGHT.

I won’t say too much about it, but it’s something that I feel, in my power, I can do to give what I feel is long overdue.

Just sit tight, my FamiLee members, and just be a little more patient.

I won’t have you guys waiting much longer, I promise.

As for what’s next for this blog?

I’m in a Star Wars mood so, in anticipation for The Rise of Skywalker (still hate that title), I’m gonna look back on the entire sequel trilogy as a whole and see…if a Force for Change, is a Force for Good.

Well, that’s all for now. So, until Disney lets HBO make live action Old Republic show or Anakin Solo becomes canon, I’ll see you for the next lesson.

Until then, class dismissed!

COMING SOON . . . !

STAR WARS: IS CHANGE GOOD?

Evil Rey.

I’m not gonna talk too much about it because…whatever. […] However, the thing that gets me the most is her lightsaber.

I…CAN’T get with it.

Hey and Welcome to the next “lesson”.

Look, y’all, I know this isn’t like one of my usual “lessons”, but I gotta talk. It’s a big enough topic in my head that warrants discussion so…consider this a lecture hall.

LECTURE HALL — STAR WARS: IS CHANGE GOOD?

Soooo…

I like the rest of – well, half of rest of the world thanks to The Last Jedi – love me some Star Wars and, yeah, in spite of even some of the more divisive choices, some part of me still enjoys the Sequel Trilogy (overall) and with D23 just finishing, Disney wasted no time showing a teaser of The Rise of Skywalker.

I…hate that title.

But, anyway, let’s just get to it.

STAR WARS EPISODE 9: RISE OF SKYWALKER
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Evil Rey.

I’m not gonna talk too much about it because…whatever. Not gonna happen. Potential biggest plot twist in a TEASER? I’m in…sooooo much suspense. However, the thing that gets me the most is her lightsaber.

I…CAN’T get with it.

It’s redundant and stupid. I just SERIOUSLY can’t see the practicality of it. It got so bad to the point where I started thinking if I was the problem…

Let me explain.

Ever since Empire, Star Wars has always added a newer element to its galaxy. Empire, Force Pull & Vader being Luke’s father.

DELETED SCENE FROM RETURN OF THE JEDI
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Jedi, new lightsaber AND Force Lightning – something that became a staple Sith move ever since.

Even the prequels added its fair share of new changes (that aren’t CGI). Before Phantom Menace, who knew that a lightsaber could be double bladed?

STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE
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Attack of the Clones, lightsabers can come in purple, too!?

STAR WARS: ATTACK OF THE CLONES
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I could go on, but the point remains, change IS a part of the Star Wars canon. In fact, one could even argue that it’s its central theme, but then I had to ask myself, does that make it good?

Since the sequel trilogy hardly has notes that require deeper discussion, at least not nearly on the level of the prequels, it stood to reason that I nitpicked something that, honestly didn’t even matter.

So, what if Rey has a new lightsaber. New lightsaber designs are nothing new, but would this fall under the thematic change or just a spectacle one?

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
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Admittedly, this all started when Kylo Ren’s saber was teased a few years ago. You never saw his face, but you saw an ominous, dark presence who thrust out his blade and, for the first time, we saw a crossguard design.

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Then the reactions came out and, hell, even Stephen Colbert defended it. While I’ll go on record saying that I didn’t think it looked like a lightsaber, it did prove itself when it never really had to.

Its striking blade poses as conflict within Kylo Ren and the cross guard was used in that same film as a means to burn Finn when their blades were locked.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
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Love it or hate it, it makes sense. And, with that film’s success, it seemed even the animated features caught on.

STAR WARS REBELS
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In Star Wars Rebels, Ezra was seen holding one with the same design. It was a nice nod that made the galaxy feel a little more connected… but at what cost?

STAR WARS REBELS
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Speaking of Ezra, when time came for him to make his own lightsaber, he had one with a blaster hilt attached to it.

Again, not my style, but it would easily prove useful if caught in a locked position with another duelist, he could fire a blast and they’d be defenseless to guard it. Another plausible choice.

And then this happened…

STAR WARS REBELS
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Now, on one hand, I can see how this could be a good design as spinning rotors could make for an advantage when in battle, but the Inquisitors (owner of the blade) use it, it can also help them take flight small distances…

STAR WARS REBELS
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WHY!?

I’m all for new designs, but what’s the point of that? It just comes off ridiculous and even shallow; change for the sake of change is worse than no change at all.

And, since Rebels, who’s just on a ROLL at this point, they roll out this design, too.

STAR WARS REBELS
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And thus, brings us to Rey.

Now, again, I’m all for good designs and change if they serve a purpose. This design simply doesn’t, not like Darth Maul’s which worked effectively well.

First off, having a dual bladed lightsaber creates a newer danger when dueling. Even in canon, no one had seen a Sith in 1,000 years so when Maul popped up again, they were already at a disadvantage.

STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE
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When dueling, Obi-Wan had multiple dangers to look out for. True, if he knew where one blade was, he by proxy knew where the other was, but that didn’t make it any easier. Look at this piece, they’re dueling  and Obi-Wan has to worry about two blades and being attacked from one end or its base.

STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE
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Even when he managed to cut the blade in half, Maul still had one working saber and was still in the fight.

STAR WARS: THE PHANTOM MENACE
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What’s this all have to do with Rey? Because her lightsabers are REDUNDANT.

When she first shows them, there are two blades pointed in the same direction. Now, as far as I know, the attacks of lightsabers aren’t depended on the force of a swing. They’ll do just as much damage as they would if it slipped. If that’s correct, having two blades in the same direction doesn’t really add any new advantage.

STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER
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And shortly after, she flips it open to reveal a similar design to Maul’s as it has a blade on two different ends. And, aside from a new visual, again, what’s the point? If it’s about coverage, why not just have a regular hilt like Maul? Both blades don’t have to be lit.

STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC
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One could present the argument they come apart. Asajj Ventress’ blades are separate but capable of doing so, but, then I’d ask why swing it at all?

I WILL ADMIT the most interesting thing about it, I’d say, is the fact her blades crackle just like Ren’s…

While it is just a teaser and this is all just speculation, I don’t know whether this is a good thing or not. While it is a new design, I just don’t see the point. In fact, this entire trilogy seems to be one bad balancing act of change and homage.

Whether just for spectacle or a true character turning point, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Until then, I have a bad feeling about this one…

LESSON 11: HARRIET TUMBAN – DEMON SLAYER

Well, in spite of its…questionable nature, I gave it a read.

And…man…

Hey and Welcome to the last Lesson in BLACK BUSINESS MONTH!

Slavery. Sister, Sister. Katanas.

Trust me, that’s the BEST way I could start this lesson off.

HARRIET TUMBAN: DEMON SLAYER BY DAVID CROWNSON & COURTLAND ELLIS

HARRIET TUBMAN: DEMON SLAYER. (#1)

Harriet Tubman is written by David Crownson and drawn by Courtland L. Ellis and…is definitely a dodgy subject.

Things regarding history and retelling it, with a change of superpowers can, though be a great action to read, come off insulting to those of us who come from that same line of disenfranchised ancestors, people who, for a time, couldn’t even be considered people.

To come in and rewrite to say “hey, there was an answer here the whole time” can be rather tone deaf to the very same audience you may hope to reach.

FOR FREEDOM

Now, this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard of something like this, creators coming up with new twist of historical times, namely Lincoln: Vampire Hunter & the graphic novel Strange Fruit being just a couple, but…Harriet Tubman? Well, in spite of its…questionable nature, I gave it a read.

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And…man…

*DISCLAIMER! THIS STORY IS DEPICTED OF AMERICA DURING ITS SLAVE YEARS AND DIALOGUE AND MANNERISMS WILL REFLECT THAT SETTING. I WILL NOT BE CENSORING ANY OF IT BECAUSE TO DO SO WOULD BE TO ACT LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED. READER DESCRETION IS ADVISED.

From the first panel, you’re thrown right into it. A father is attempting to flee with his wife and daughter and there’s no room for misinterpretation. The room is dark, it’s close, it’s claustrophobic and, even without establishing the danger (save for a minor jump scare), you feel a sense of urgency and uncertainty.

It’s a tone that sets the pace and yet isn’t compromised when given moments of levity with slight humor and bathos.

Also, trees. I had no organic way to segue into that, but now that we’re here, artist Ellis has a way with mixing real, almost with an uncanny specificity, with the comic, splashing in emotes not far off from what you’d see in the Teen Titans cartoon. ( #ComeBack )

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From this panel, you see the twigs and branches are done very specifically, like one stroke from a paintbrush was used for each one. What I see are strips of duct tape used to peel off paint and their trail is what remains. I never would’ve thought of that but it’s instantly recognizable to me. It’s small, but I dig that!

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So, the story continues and the family you’re following are about to make their daring escape when they’re stopped by white men with no qualms of being…impolite.

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They further taunt the slaves with knowledge of spelling, a language art they didn’t even have the tarp for. This is especially damning because on one hand, slaves weren’t taunt these things to keep them dumb so that they may never overthrow their masters. On the other, and even worse so, if a slave did know how to spell, who knows what their punishment would be?

It’s truly f*cking evil.

They say they can’t leave, but when you’re as driven as they were, nothing would stop them. And they UNLOAD on them in what’s honestly a pretty badass moment.

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Everything seems fine once the shooting stops until—!

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While not a particular fan of the dialogue choice, even given the time period and setting, I have to say, this is not only an “oh, shit!” moment, it’s also one of the cooler ones once I thought about it more.

With the reveal of the slave masters being literal vampires, or demons as the title would have you believe, it paints a truth that some of us know as objective, rather than subjective.

I refuse to get political on this blog. That’s not what this platform is for.

So, I only say that to say this: there are some of us Americans that still revel in holding on to items in the past, some that are borne of great shame and hatred to descendants that those relics were used to oppress.

To those descendants, we could see these people as demons, “a cruel, evil, or destructive person or thing” by definition. While it doesn’t change the past, it does paint it…a little differently. And, honestly, I’m okay with that because what follows makes it allllll worth it.

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Wait for it…

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Wait for it…

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Wait for iiiiiiiiit…

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BOOM, GOTEM!

THAT’S RIGHT!

Challenging her inner Yoda from Attack of the Clones, one of a humble personality comes in and dominates, seemingly effortless, the opposition our protagonists did NOT see coming. Fam, I was SHOOK.

I was shook!

So our mystery protagonist takes no time delivering a big ol’ can of whoop-ass with a side of just desserts.

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And honestly, I like this. A LOT.

Granted, I still stand by my original statement that rewriting history isn’t something I’m necessarily for, but this doesn’t seem to do that.

It uses real people, sure, but that’s about it. From the action, to the very way the story is told, it’s just done in an action-packed, enthralling way that history itself isn’t really to be tampered with.

This entire sequence is fun, tightly paced (thanks also, in part, to comixology’s guide view) and doesn’t come off pandering in the slightest.

It’s not meant to be taken seriously nor is it a way to reeducate us on what “really happened” in our history.

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Crownson and Ellis take what we know about history and alters it only to give a metaphorical/unsung hero a literal reinterpretation. It’s a story I’m glad I was informed about. It doesn’t linger too long on the darker truths of the past nor does it pretend to be anything that it isn’t:

Amazing.

This is one unsung hero I can’t sing praises of enough.

And, oh, one last thing –

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Told y’all it was Sister, Sister

If YOU would like to support and read more of their work, you can find his issues on:
https://www.comixology.com , Crownson’s twitter @Dcrownson & Ellis’ info at: http://cle2.daportfolio.com and his twitter @illesigns .

Well, that’s all for now. So, until Lincoln Vampire Slayer crosses over with Harriet Tubman or someone makes fanart with Blade and Harriet, I’ll see you for the next lesson.

Until then, class dismissed!

COMING SOON. . . !

LESSON 10: BILL MASUKU

While I often credit some of my favorite artists in the comic industry […] it’s almost expected […] to almost get used to seeing a kind of art. […]

Not with Masuku.

Hey and Welcome to the next Lesson in BLACK BUSINESS MONTH!

BILL MASUKU

Today’s lesson is…going to be a little different. Rather than speaking on a specific comic or publisher, I wanted to highlight an artist, and fellow wordpress blogger (whattup!) by the name Bill Masuku.

Another African derived contributor, Masuku has an artistic style that isn’t far off from many familiar projects. Ranging from anime, to cartoon – you’ll find his Zimbabwe’s touch, much like the varying countries in Africa, stands out, but keeps its own familiar touch.

On his gallery page: ( https://www.billmasuku.com/rm/index.php/gallery/ ) you’ll find countless pieces of his work. While some art is strong, albeit displayed in a teasingly-small fashion (I see what you doin’! Make us buy to get the full scope!) not one piece looks any less genuine that its previous. As I’m learning more about African countries and their art and how that can be transferred into their artists, Masuku spares no expense in spreading his wings.

GALLERY OF BILL MASUKU — ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Masuku provides work that should be found in Black Comix’s next volume (seriously, that needs to be a thing). While I often credit some of my favorite artists in the comic industry: Jamal Campbell, Jim Lee, Kenneth Rocafort, Jamal Campell, Brett Booth, Frank Cho, JAMAL CAMPBELL – it’s almost expected, when one hones their craft, to almost get used to seeing a kind of art. Great art, but expected nonetheless.

Not with Masuku.

One thing I can credit him for is having variety. Had I not been pointed in his direction, I would never guess all art is done by the same man. Easily going from Pokémon, to Steven Universe to what I think resembles Static Shock (whoop-whoop!), Masukuk proves he has no bounds.

What’s most drawing to me is, again, his variety, but not only in his skills with the pen.

Masuku does it all from drawing, to storyboarding, to writing, to blogging, and self-publishing – the dude can’t be stopped! What’s most appealing is he does Q & A’s, GIVING ADVICE, which provides a nearly unseen touch to his work that I find is rare to come by, even in the indie scene.

He does it all even commissions, but also sells his art in a separate book all together. Masuku’s work ranges from guest appearances at cons, workshops on comics and his latest comic was released earlier this year: CAPTAIN SOUTH AFRICA.

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This is one of many comic creators you DON’T want to miss.

If YOU would like to support and read more of his work, you can go to his site at:
https://www.enigmacomix.com/e-shop , their twitter @enigmacomix or contact him via email: masuku.bill@gmail.com .

Well, that’s all for now. So, until Captain South Africa crosses over with Jember or thinking becomes illegal, I’ll see you for the next lesson.

Until then, class dismissed!

LESSON 9: GUARDIAN PRIME

We do have alternatives, but that’s missing the point.

A case can be made we don’t have THE BIG GUY.

Guardian IS that big guy.

Hey and Welcome to the next Lesson in BLACK BUSINESS MONTH!

LESSON 9: GUARDIAN PRIME

Today’s lesson is on Comic Republic’s very own “Might of Guardian Prime” created by Jide Martin, Michael Balogun & Ozo Exeogu.

This is the first product by this publisher that I’ve come across and, from the start, it gives me nostalgic vibes. Just by looking at the cover, you can see it’s a blend of penciling and 3D rendering on his suit to give it a more authentic feel. It honestly reminds me of sketches I used to make as a kid to make more Black Superheroes and, while it can come off a bit dated, I want to, again, compliment seeing things like this.

Even six years ago, the artist knew things about proper shading techniques and had a bigger drive to make art pop rather than two drawings meant to display 3D characters. It’s a step in the right direction and you get that all from the cover.

GUARDIAN PRIME

The issue is short, but nothing short of stunning. The closest and best analogy I can give it is it reminds me of the Gods Among Us montage in Zack Snyder’s “Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice” AND BEFORE YOU UNSUBSCRIBE HEAR ME OUT!

I won’t argue your stance on that movie or its merits; I just wish to call attention to one specific scene – easily one of its best. There’s a scene where Superman is shown all over the world saving various lives will news personalities debate over the merits of his work.

This entire issue reminds me of that scene.

If it’s one thing that can’t be taken away from Snyder is his visual mastery of scene and Guardian Prime is second to none because of it. Through it all, we see Guardian perform heroic deeds just for the fact he refuses to stand by.

There are plenty of callbacks and homages to Superman as a mythos and I can’t be any happier. Reason being, as a Black man, we don’t really have a “Superman”.

Calvin Ellis & Val-Zod

Don’t get me wrong, there are Black Supermen such as Calvin Ellis of Earth-23, Val-Zod of Earth-2 and Sunshine Superman, but all of those, you have to go looking specifically for and are hardly brought up in regular conversation.

Hell, even on Marvel’s side, we have Blue Marvel.

ADAM BRASHEAR AKA BLUE MARVEL

Other than them, we have Meteor Man (shout out if you know who that is) and… Hancock. As entertaining as that movie is, he’s a drunk halfway through it.

We do have alternatives, but that’s missing the point.

A case can be made we don’t have THE BIG GUY.

Guardian IS that big guy.

Artist JIDE MARTIN takes clear inspiration from respected comic artist Jim Lee and there isn’t a better person to get your Superman inspiration from.

SUPERMAN BY JIM LEE
GUARDIAN PRIME

What I like about how compact this issue is without a complex, drawn out backstory – we get to it immediately. It isn’t jarring at how the story is told and you’re welcomed into this new land in the shortest, cleanest way possible.

Without words, you see Guardian for what he is through his actions, you hear his thoughts in the boxes and you know EXACTLY what he’s about.

“I won’t stand by.”

“I am Nigerian.”

“I am…”

Yes, you’re given the title which is meant to imply that he himself said, if not thought, the words “Guardian Prime”, but as it wasn’t given its own box, it can also be seen as him making a nod to God’s word and, given its provided information, I would be hard-pressed to not draw parallels.

“He is the perfect man, created how GOD intended man to be (in his image).”

Whether big or small, it’s a note that I couldn’t help but linger on and this was created over five years ago! I can’t wait to read more.

Before I close, I want talk about something else really quick – Comic Republic recently launched an app of their site. It’s the first time I’ve seen their site and, just from using their app, their work is incredibly user-friendly and remarkably easy to work.

Their actual site, for those who don’t have their app, operates so smoothly. All their work is laid out uniformly on their home page and not one link is out of place. I wanted to stress this as this was one of the best sites I’ve been to while researching indie comics and I cannot stress ENOUGH how great their work is.

If YOU would like to support and read more of their work, you can go to their site at:
www.thecomicrepublic.com/ or their twitter @comicrepublicng or their Instagram @comicrepublicmedia .

Well, that’s all for now. So, until Guardian Prime gets his own show or Spider-Man comes back to the MCU, I’ll see you for the next lesson.

Until then, class dismissed!