Star Wars and the Power of Costume

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Discovery Times Square has become one of the hottest go-to venues for nerdy exhibits and traveling shows. The space recently hosted the incredibly high-tech Avengers STATION and has been home to a Hunger Games exhibition for more than a year now.

The newest exhibit to come through may have a clunky name, but – in short – it’s well worth your time and money if you’re in the city. Rebel, Jedi, Princess, Queen: Star Wars and the Power of Costume opened in November of 2015 and will remain on exhibit until September of 2016 (before moving on to the Denver Museum of Art).

The traveling exhibit was developed by the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service in partnership with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and Lucasfilm. Rather than focus on the narrative structure, special effects, or chronology of the Star Wars films, the exhibit instead turns its focus to the costumes created for the saga.

More than 60 different costumes, spanning all seven films, tell the story not of Star Wars but of the collective vision to develop that universe. The exhibit walks the visitor through the creative process of turning ideas into reality.

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LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia

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  • LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded
  • written by Hannah Dolan, Elizabeth Dowsett, Clare Hibbert, Shari Last, & Victoria Taylor
  • published by DK (2015)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

I don’t even know what to say about this one. If you like Star Wars, if you like LEGO, if you like awesomeness . . . then this one practically sells itself.

The LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia is essentially a comprehensive guide to every Star Wars minifigure every produced. And since it’s a DK book, that means it’s chock full of excellent photos and goodies. Each page features a close-up, highly detailed photo of one minifigure. Surrounding the photo is a bit of flavor text, describing the character/figure; a data file identifying when the figure was first released, which set it came in, and what accessories it came with; and information about any significant variations that have been released.

It’s basically more information that you ever wanted to know about LEGO Star Wars minifigures, but it makes for downright fascinating browsing.

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Ultimate Star Wars

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  • Ultimate Star Wars
  • written by Patricia Barr, Adam Bray, Daniel Wallace, and Ryder Windham
  • published by DK Publishing (2015)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

The ultimate Star Wars coffeetable book is just about the prettiest encyclopedia you’ve ever seen. Ultimate Star Wars came out earlier this year, but it’s certainly still worth a look. This gorgeous book is the latest title to attempt an encyclopedic look at the Star Wars universe, and it’s the first since Disney and Lucasfilm rebooted canon and relegated nearly 30 years of stories to non-canon “Legends.” Therefore, this book covers the first six films, The Clone Wars, and Rebels.

It was a monumental undertaking, and the book reflects a deep love for the subject. The text is incredibly detailed and presents both significant events and minutiae with equal aplomb. In addition, it’s just a downright beautiful book (if you’re a fan of Star Wars). Every spread – every page – is filled with full-color photos that make casually flipping through the book an absolute pleasure.

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William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return

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  • William Shakespeare’s The Jedi Doth Return
  • by Ian Doescher
  • published by Quirk Books (2014)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

So it comes to this: the last of Ian Doescher’s Shakespeare Star Wars trilogy. If you’ve read the first two books, then you know what to expect here. More of the same, plus a few surprises.

Check out our review of the first two books in this trilogy: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back.

—O, that laugh, it works me woe.
‘Tis too familiar in my memory,
And like a chime from Hell’s forsaken bells
Doth ring most evilly within mine ears.

Much more flowery and eloquent than “I know that laugh,” right?

You know the story here, so there’s no point in recapping the plot. So let’s dive in and look at the presentation.

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5 Questions with Jeffrey Brown

Jeffrey Brown

(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Jeffrey Brown, writer and artist on the adorable Darth Vader and Son, Vader’s Little Princess, Goodnight Darth Vader, and the Jedi Academy books.

We first became aware of Jeffrey Brown in 2012 when Darth Vader and Son was released by Chronicle Books. I got a copy for Father’s Day and instantly fell in love. Zoey instantly fell in love, too, though she loved the art and the fact that Luke and Leia were tiny and cute. She hadn’t seen the movies at that point, so some of the jokes went right over her head. But, she still laughed.

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William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back

  • William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back
  • by Ian Doescher
  • published by Quirk Books (2014)
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Following on the success of the first adaptation—William Shakespeare’s Star Wars—we are treated to the inevitable adaption of The Empire Strikes Back. The second film in the trilogy is beloved by most and usually regarded as the best Star Wars movie ever made (and one of the finest examples of adventure science fiction on film in general).

So how does The Empire Striketh Back compare? Quite well, thank you very much.

Ian Doescher continues to do what he did so well the first time around. The entire story is retold in iambic pentameter (with one notable exception) and has a genuine Shakespearean feel to it. Again, this feels like something Shakespeare could have actually written…if his imagination had conjured up wampa snow creatures and diminutive green warriors.

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William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

Shakespeare's Star Wars

  • William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope
  • by Ian Doescher
  • published by Quirk Books (2013)
  • Roar Score: 5/5

My patience runneth quickly out much like
The sands across the dunes of Tatooine.
So tell me, else thou diest quick; where shall
We find transmissions thou didst intercept?
What has thou done, say, with those plans?

I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to these. I first saw this book about a year ago when it first came out. I may have uttered the word genius when I read the description. And it really is. It’s fair to say that this first installment in the series lived up to my expectations.

Let’s get something out of the way, first, though. This is the Special Edition of Star Wars, complete with scenes of Jabba and Biggs. But I won’t hold that against the book. I promise. Those scenes are more a distraction than a flaw, though I do wonder why Doescher chose to include them.

Ian Doescher has done incredible work here. Some might say genius. He’s retold the entire movie, nearly line for line, not only in iambic pentameter but also with a genuine Shakespearean sensibility. If it weren’t for the fact that it’s…well…Star Wars, this feels like something Shakespeare could actually have written.

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Star Wars #9 (Marvel)

Issue #9 (March 1978): Showdown on a Wasteland World

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrators: Howard Chaykin & Tom Palmer

Previously in this series.

This issue begins with three solid pages of Han’s narration, bringing the reader up to speed on what happened in the previous two issues! I guess the creators weren’t confident enough that their readers either read or understood the nonsense that happened in those pages. Can’t say I blame them.

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Star Wars #8 (Marvel)

Issue #8 (February 1978): Eight for Aduba-3

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Artist/Co-Plotter: Howard Chaykin

Previously in this series.

Our story, as it were, continues. The promise of Jaxxon is finally fulfilled. I mean, look! There he is, right on the cover!

We pick up right where the last issue leaves off, with Han and Chewie doin’ a little harmless womanizing in the cantina. Well, not quite harmless. Remember the blue woman who wanted to “take a walk and swap life stories” with Han? Turns out she has a boyfriend.

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Star Wars #7 (Marvel)

Issue #7 (January 1978): New Planets, New Perils!

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Artist/Co-plotter: Howard Chaykin

Well, here we are. Finally beyond the movie. We finally get new stories! And….what a mixed bag we get.

The issue picks up where the movie left off. Han and Chewie say goodbye to Luke and Leia and blast off with their reward to pay off Jabba. Kudos to the writers for following up on this plot point. Beginning in this issue, we follow the exploits of Han and Chewie for a while. Why? They actually address this on the letters page:

For the present, in order to gain a breathing space while director/creator George Lucas himself is deciding where the movie sequel (and novelizations thereof) will head, the lads are concentrating a bit more on the adventures of Han and Chewbacca.

Apparently, at the time, no one thought Han and Chewie would play much of an important role in subsequent movies. Anyway, back to this issue…

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Star Wars #6 (Marvel)

Issue #6 (December 1977): Is This The Final Chapter?

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Artist/Storyteller: Howard Chaykin

In what’s starting to feel like a theme, we need to first address this cover. Last week, we were given a cover that was all about misdirection, and it must’ve worked (from a marketing perspective). I mean, of course it worked. Just look at the entire Silver Age. Anyway, take a look at this one. “See Luke Skywalker Battle Darth Vader!”

Well, I guess so, in a manner of speaking. I mean, Vader did chase down Luke’s X-Wing during the trench run, but they never actually “do battle.” I don’t think Luke even fires on Vader. And they certainly don’t have a lightsaber duel with a helpless Princess Leia cowering on the ground next to them. What a disservice to her character, especially since her tough, independent demeanor is actually represented in these comics.

Are you prepared for the “soul-shattering climax”? I know I am…

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Star Wars #5 (Marvel)

Issue #5 (November 1977): Lo, The Moons of Yavin!

  • Writer/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrators: Howard Chaykin & Steve Leialoha

Moving toward the conclusion of the movie. Before diving in, we’ve got another doozy of a cover. Talk about your misdirection! This is what I love about old comics like these. What you see on the cover was almost never what you found inside. I mean, c’mon, the Death Star is right there! It’s not in orbit; by all rights, it should be crashing into the planet at this point. But, oh no! Look out! It knocked over a wall with that laser beam!

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Star Wars #4 (Marvel)

Issue #4 (October 1977): In Battle with Darth Vader

  • Scripter/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrators in Tandem: Howard Chaykin & Steve Leialoha

This issue has a lot of exposition and covers a lot of ground. It’s also got some downright disturbing images. You’ve been warned.

Zoey was quiet for much of it, but she seemed to be involved with the story. As usual, much of the narration and dialogue is excessively pedantic. This is Star Wars Revised with a Thesaurus.

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Star Wars #3 (Marvel)

Issue #3 (September 1977): Death Star!

  • Scripter/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Artists/Illustrators: Howard Chaykin & Steve Leialoha

Issue 3 brings us halfway through the treatment of the first movie. First of all, take a look at that cover. Just soak it in. Look at the determination on their faces, especially Leia. I think we’re seeing more emotion in Luke’s face here than we actually see on screen in the entire movie! I kid.

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How to Speak Wookiee

Browsing the Backlist

  • written by Wu Kee Smith
  • illustrated by JAKe
  • published by Chronicle Books (2011)

What we have here is cute novelty. It’s part language guide to the Wookiee dialect and part guide to Wookiee culture. It also comes complete with an audio player set to play 10 distinct Wookiee grunts and howls (which is its primary selling point, as far as kids are concerned).

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Star Wars #2 (Marvel)

Issue #2 (August 1977): Six Against the Galaxy

  • Scripter/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrator: Howard Chaykin

Issue 2 picks up right where Issue 1 left off. In other news, the sky is blue and the sun will rise tomorrow.

Alert Star Wars fans–or really, anyone with a pulse–will immediately realize that the cover of this issue is a total bait and switch. “Luke Skywalker Strikes Back!” #1: Nice completely accidental foreshadowing there. #2: Really? Luke strikes back?

Why is Luke leading the charge in a cantina brawl? Why is Ben pulling up the rear? Why is Luke firing a blaster in the cantina? Wait…a cantina brawl? Did I miss something?

Also, they spelled it lightsabre. Huh, maybe Luke is British.

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Lego 75032: X-Wing Fighter Microfighters

Lego 75032: X-Wing Fighter / Microfighters

Our second Microfighters set was this stubby little X-Wing. Just like the Millennium Falcon, Lego has gone for style over substance, and the best way to sum this up is: cute.

Specs: 97 pieces (4 extras–nothing special); 2 bags; 20 steps over 25 pages; and it took the 5yo Roarbot about 30 minutes to assemble

Again, like the Millennium Falcon Microfighter, there are a ton of tiny pieces packed in here. In its final form, it’s a fairly solid little guy.

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Star Wars #1 (Marvel)

Issue #1 (July 1977): Star Wars

  • Scripter/Editor: Roy Thomas
  • Illustrator: Howard Chaykin
  • Letterer: Jim Novak

My daughter has been a Star Wars fan since before she could talk. She knows all of the characters (we’re talking original trilogy, non-EU here) and can quote entire scenes. But she’s never seen the movies. She’s 5. I’m holding out. I’m actually a little worried she won’t like it anymore once concrete images consume what her imagination has built up. We’ve read countless Star Wars books and listened to the old story records more times than I can count, but I like that the movies are still there….waiting. To be seen for the first time.

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Lego 75030: Millennium Falcon Microfighters

Lego 75030: Millennium Falcon / Star Wars Microfighters

The Star Wars Microfighters line is a new line of six small sets that retail for $9.99. This is fairly pricey for the size of the sets, but they’re just so darn cute. We’ve picked up a couple so far (the other is the X-Wing, which will be along here shortly).The size of the minifigure gives a good idea of scale for the whole ship.

Specs: 94 pieces (8 extras–nothing special); 2 bags; 27 steps over 24 pages; and it took the 5yo Roarbot about 30 minutes to assemble.

After only 4 steps, the distinctive shape of the Falcon was already in place. Despite being such a small set, there are a LOT of small pieces buried inside this guy. It took longer to put together than we thought it would.

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