Star Wars: The Last Jedi: My thoughts Part One-Luke-MASSIVE SPOILERS

His Compassion for you will be his undoing.-Palpatine

 

Remember, real heroes are never as polished as the legends that surround them.-Big Boss, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker

In my 400th post ūüôā I’m going to look at the latest installment in the Star Wars saga, and perhaps the final one in the Skywalker side of things….well, at least the ‘light side’ of the Skywalkers, that is.

I’ll start with Luke, and eventually do further character/plot/setting reviews in future posts.

Luke Skywalker

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Luke’s the big macguffin here, but he’s initially portrayed as a broken man, and far less idealistic than he was in the OT. He’s a bit like Yoda in ESB, somewhat reluctant and with a more mischievous sense of humor than we’ve seen before (although he probably picked up a bit of that from Han). Although with Yoda, he was mainly testing Luke’s patience, and found him lacking, but trained him anyway with a slight push from Obi-Wan; Luke just doesn’t really want to get involved anymore. Even when he does agree to train Rey-with R2-D2 showing him the old “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” message, he only does it to show that while she has the gift and all, generally bringing back the Jedi is a bad idea, as it also allows the Dark side to gain ascendance (With the old Jedi Order being responsible, in part, for the Empire being formed, and his own failings helping give rise to the first order). Although Rey manages to rekindle at least part of his connection to the force (As he’s shut himself off) and at least reconnect with the comatose Leia (Perhaps helping her to regain consciousness), in a scene somewhat reminiscent of another mid-trilogy moment, when he had his other darkest hour…..

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After Rey leaves in an attempt to try to save Kylo Ren, somewhat similar to his own quest in ROTJ, Luke just wants to torch the old Jedi tree library (although it appears Rey took the books with her for some reason, as they’re seen later in the Falcon close to the end of the film.) when Yoda appears as a force ghost (as predicted by Obi-Wan in ROTJ) …

 

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….shows up and pretty much does the job for him, seemingly repeating another ROTJ qoute: “Already know you that which you need” but referring to Rey’s abilities, as well as reminding Luke to focus on the here and now instead of worrying about the future . (I’ll deal with more of Yoda’s presence in this film in the future.)The film also shows Luke as even more flawed. While it’s clear in the first two films he was a bit impatient and occasionally ‘cocky’, the film reveals that in a way, that he shares some of the blame for Ben’s fall and the state of things-in part, because he had compassion….and cared for his nephew in a similar fashion to the way he cared for his father, despite the darkness in both, and couldn’t do a killing a blow. But while Luke staying his hand resulted in the light awakening in his father and Vader selflessly giving his life to take the Emperor down, here it only awakened more darkness. The Force awakens, indeed.

 

 

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Luke seems to accept that this time, there’s no way to turn Ben back to the good side, something Rey also learns (although episode 9 will probably answer that question for good), and we see him with a look resembling his ROTJ appearance-cropped hair, black suit etc….although much older with a beard. It’s a nice nod to when we last saw him. Looks like he got a quick haircut too from his time on Ach-To.

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When things seem kind of really bad for the resistance, the Prodigal son (of Vader) returns, and has a nice moment with Leia, with the ROTJ brother/sister theme playing, and Luke handing her the Millenium Falcon’s dice (sort of) as a bit of a reminder of their shared friend, Han. Also pretty great is Luke’s wink to C-3PO, with one final “Master Luke”.

Luke’s last stand is pretty spectacular, with the Walkers against the setting sun. And although Luke doesn’t really take down any walkers, I can’t help but be a bit reminded of this scene with Luke facing a Walker in the now non-canon EU, “Dark Empire”.

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(Although he was certainly no slouch in ESB either, but he didn’t use the force.)

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Despite a massive barrage, Luke is unscathed. While we’re led to believe this is mainly the force shielding him from the blast perhaps, but even more anomalies show up, as Luke has the saber-broken on-board the Supremacy-fully working.

The duel isn’t really meant to be spectacular or flashy, and the blades hardly connect-indeed, Luke is pretty much dodging them altogether to keep up his illusion to allow the Resistance/New Rebellion to escape. It’s perhaps the closest we’ve come to a mexican stand-off in a lightsaber duel in this films, which is kind of funny since the old Eastwood Westerns were certainly an influence on the original films (and the Western films-particularly the late 60’s ones-borrow heavily from Asian cinema such as Kurosawa movies, another inspiration.)

 

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Although certainly there were elements of such a stand-off in TPM’s “Laser gate” sequence.

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But it turns out to be a ruse, and Luke was never there, and it’s Luke ‘broadcasting’ himself from Ach-To. It’s certainly something that’s been used in the Expanded Universe a lot…including the current Disney canon, where it was a Sith power…but I’ll get more on that later.

Luke’s last words,

“See you around, kid” seem to hint that, as he says he’ll be a presence in Kylo’s life going forward, although it’s unclear if it’ll be something that’ll weigh on his consciousness like his father’s death (Luke seems to indicate so when he states “If you strike me down in anger, I will always be with you. Just like your father.”

Luke then looks up at Ach-to’s twin suns (although this seems like a bit of a cheat-while it made sense for Tatooine to be a dried-out desert planet because of it’s two suns, Ach-To is pretty much the opposite….maybe they’re less powerful stars.), in an echo of course of that classic sequence…

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His journey, in a way, ends where it begins, although it’s possible the journey isn’t over yet, and maybe he’ll help the Rebellion in some fashion as a force ghost-as we saw with Yoda, it’s still possible for these ghosts to imprint on the physical world in some way, at least through the force.¬† Although we sort of saw this in ROTJ, with Obi-Wan at least being able to sit.

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And of course, in many ways having Leia still surviving sort of fits  ROTJ dialogue,

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“If I don’t make it back you’re the only hope for the alliance.”

Although due to unfortunate real-world events, this will not perhaps unfold that way. However, as we see towards the end of the film, Luke is no longer the last Jedi, Rey at least has “That what she needs” as Yoda would put it; and take the place of Luke as the Rebel’s Jedi inspiration….

 

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….and perhaps she can pass her knowledge on, as the end of the film hints that-despite their allies not responding, the legend of Luke facing down the Walkers and Kylo Ren has begun to grow among the orphans on Canto Bight, who wear the symbol of the Rebellion/resistance. So, like his father’s sacrifice, Luke’s sacrifice might eventually have deeper meaning, and allow for a true new beginning for the galaxy.

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Star Wars: Return of the Marvel Part II: Vader in the dog house

Marvel’s “Darth Vader” series ran cocurrently with their Star Wars comics, featuring at first, the tale of Vader’s humiliation after Yavin and his attempt to discover the identity of the mysterious boy who destroyed the Death Star and-as related in the Star Wars monthly-possessed his old lightsaber and was trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi.

 

Kieron Gillien, who was noted for his runs on X-men and Iron Man, became the writer (and now he’s currently writing the latest arc of the Star Wars monthly) while Salvador Larocca-also an X-men vet-was the artist.

 

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Following Vader screwing up both the Death Star *and* Cymoon-1, Palpatine is of course not pleased, and technically demotes Vader, placing him under the authority of General Tagge, the officer in Star Wars who warned Admiral Motti that the rebellion was no laughing matter. Turns out he left the station before it was destroyed (Which makes sense, as he doesn’t appear in that many later scenes along with other members of the DS council-Motti, Bast, and of course, Tarkin).

 

I can’t help but wonder setting up Tagge as a rival for Vader here was a nod to the old Marvel comics, where the Tagge family became a major thorn in Vader’s side. (Although in that continuity, now “Legends” Tagge died along with Tarkin and Motti on the Death Star).

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Vader-somewhat unnerved by this and the Emperor talking with another agent-a man called Cylo with an alien eye and other enhancements-he heads to Tatooine, appearing before Jabba the Hutt much like his son would years later-in part, to request a deal for his resources as had been the intention on Cymoon-1, but also to gain two bounty hunters-Boba Fett and the Wookie¬†Black Krrsantan-to aid him. Fett would try to find the identity of the boy (Luke) while Krrsantan would try to uncover what was up with the Emperor’s agent.

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Vader also takes the time to indulge in his favorite Tatooine past-time. No, not Podracing…

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Vader-not too pleased with servitude under Tagge and seeking to earn his way back into the Emperor’s favor, starts to work to undermine the “Grand general”‘s authority, using a pirate attack to frame Tagge’s agent….

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…As well as meeting some old Clone Wars enemies (although modified)

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Vader, impressed with the souped-up Droidekas, decides to find the woman who had modified and programmed them- Doctor Aphra, a former archaeologist and droid programmer (and now a lady with her own comic, but I’ll get into that a bit later).

 

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….but soon he’ll have to content with his rival for the Emperor’s favor-Cylo IV-and of course, certain personal revelations coming to him via Boba Fett very soon…

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Star Wars Comics history-Return of the Marvel Part One)

*Jumping ahead a bit here from the other Star Wars comics history, but don’t worry, I’ll get back to the many Dark Horse Star Wars comics eventually!*

In 2009, Disney studios bought Marvel.

In 2012, in a surprising move, Lucas sold the rights to Star Wars to Disney, launching new films (Of which we now have III). For over twenty years, Dark Horse comics held the licence to the comics, mixing post-ROTJ fiction with spin-off stories such as Crimson Empire and Rogue Squadron, as well as a great deal of prequel tales, with some of their continuity bleeding over to the films themselves (The blue Twi’lek Jedi, Aayla Secura).

However, by 2014 the licence shifted back to Marvel, along with much of Dark Horse’s canon relegated to non-canon status (or “Legends”) . Marvel’s initial line-up for the series was an ongoing monthly series, a 25 issue Darth Vader series that pretty much tied in with that series (A second Vader monthly was launched recently, but is set at an earlier time after ROTS, although “Doctor Aphra” continues the adventures of characters introduced in DV, although with fewer appearances by the Man in Black) and a rotating series of limited series focusing on a character, starting with Princess Leia.

 

For this article we’ll focus on the first few arcs of the ongoing monthly.

 

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The series was written first by Jason Aaron, well-known at Marvel for his X-men and Thor work. It was drawn by John Cassidy, who had a memorable run on Astonishing X-men with Joss Whedon.

The series begins with the rebels, fresh off the Yavin victory, heading towards Cymoon-1, an Imperial factory world, in order to destroy it. Han-not quite on the Empire’s most wanted list yet-tries to pose as an emissary of Jabba the Hutt, while Luke and Leia try to destroy the facility and also free Imperial prisoners at the same time. Unfortunately, the mission quickly goes south when Vader arrives, and Luke finds himself meeting his father in person for the first time. Except he doesn’t know it yet. Vader however, is kind of puzzled that the boy has his old lightsaber, although he does get a partial answer-that he was trained, in part, by his old friend turned enemy Obi-Wan.

 

 

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Before Vader can interrogate Luke any further, however Han literally crashes the party by commandeering an AT-AT. He also attempts to smoosh Vader with it, but Vader’s got an advantage…..

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Although he doesn’t get stepped on, Han uses the AT-AT’s blasters on him which knock his helmet off-and once Vader recovers, isn’t too happy about that and would rather not his face be shown. Scratch one Stormtrooper witness.

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Eventually, the factory is destroyed and the group escape, although this encounter leaves Luke and Vader with more questions about each other’s identity. Luke takes a leave of absence for the alliance, while Han and Leia go on a scouting mission of their own, but end up getting shot down by TIE fighters. Their unlikely savior? Solo’s “wife” Sana, although this in fact part of a con he had pulled years before.

 

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Meanwhile, looking for more answers, Luke goes back to Tatooine to see if he can glean anything from Obi-Wan’s hut (He does find a journal). However, Vader has also hired Boba Fett to capture him. Although he’s unable to capture the young jedi, he’s able to glean something else from one of Luke’s fellow Tatooine youths. A name: Luke Skywalker.

 

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These events sort of match up with the “Darth Vader” monthly, in which Boba tells Vader the name of the youth (I’ll cover the DV issues a bit later). Vader-shocked by this revelation and that the Emperor sort of lied to him, uses his force powers to crack a Star Destroyer window, and vows to not only make Luke his, but the Empire as well….

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The Walking Dead-All out War and Pieces-Thoughts on the season so far-and going forward. *MASSIVE SPOILERS!!

 

So now that the Walking Dead season 8 finale is half-done, here’s a few thoughts.

-Carl’s been bit, after helping a fellow survivor, Siddig, he appears to have suffered a bite wound. Now, unless there’s some explanation as to it not being infected or something (and believe me, there are already some fan theories in that direction) it’s not looking good for Carl, as he looks somewhat super-sweaty (probably due to the fever caused by the bites), and pale.¬† Especially since the season 8 February teaser shows Rick and Michionne standing over a makeshift cross in what looks to be the damaged ruins of Alexandria. So I seriously doubt this is a “Glenn under the dumpster” situation.

Rick and Judith are now the only survivors of the Grimes family (and it’s still debatable whether Judith is his or not)

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Carl of course has had quite a few close calls before, and the death of Lori and Carl’s other close calls (Dealing with the ‘claimer’ gang and later the gunshot wound to his eye) really let Rick go full ‘berserker’ mode. Up till now Rick tries to keep this war fairly organized and according to plan….but now perhaps the really unhinged Rick is going to emerge.

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Which brings us to another point. with Rick maybe unstable and Ezekiel captured and feeling somewhat demoralized (Both after their personal losses), it might be time for Maggie to take even more of a leadership role for all the survivors, as well as Carol. After all, this was a woman who, after the death of her husband via Lucille and very ill, still felt that they needed to fight right away, with Rick only coming around to her way of thinking mid-season 7. Maybe Rick’s words here will have double meaning later on.

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-The Alexandria group is hiding in the sewers, which as we’ve learned, had some really nasty (and somewhat hard to see) walkers, but then again giving that Rick pretty much improved the town’s walker defenses since the horde attack a few seasons back, they’ll probably be ‘clear’. Unless of course Negan somehow screwed that up too.

 

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-There’s still two variables. Oceanside, who Aaron and Enid attempted to contact, but their meeting didn’t go too well as Enid accidentally shot the leader Natania. Enid also might take a more prominent role as a leader, especially since with Carl gone she sort of shares something in common with current friend Aaron, who lost Eric earlier in the season. Provided they get out of Oceanside first.

 

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And then of course there’s the junkyard group, who seemed to be willing to work with Rick, but kind of got out of dodge quickly when it turns out things didn’t quite work out.

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The Saviors themselves are a bit of a factor too. Sanctuary is still in a bad state (although they plan to move operations to the Kingdom which might prove tough if Carol takes charge), but one has to wonder what effect the war has had on them. Dwight of course is pretty much fully defected now, and Eugene seems to be still sort of playing both sides (although he did *something* that got the Saviors out…another drone with music somehow?) as he’s given Gabriel (The source of his illness yet to be disclosed) and Dr. Carson a window to escape.

I guess we’ll find out next season. To be fair, some of the speculation in my last article didn’t exactly work out, although two parts-Andrea’s death being given to ‘someone else’ close to Rick-was part right (I just assumed it was Michonne), as well as the “Old man Rick” scene probably being a dream sequence/hallucination of some kind (It’s worth noting in that scene that Carl’s face isn’t seen…a subtle hint?). Although there is still half a season to go…

 

https://chrism227.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/walking-dead-season-8-who-will-die-spoilers-and-possible-spoilers/

 

In any case, we’ll see what happens next February.

Marvel after “Infinity War” I-Fantastic Fourth Times the charm?

It’s been stated that the upcoming Avengers films-the third and fourth-will be a sort of ‘back to back’ production dealing with the team and their allies (including the Guardians of the Galaxy)-battling the “Mad Titan” Thanos, a character that’s been sprinked through the Marvel films. Thanos’s guest is mainly to assemble the six Infinity gems-each controlling an aspect of the universe with almost limitless power. Once he gets all six, he’s pretty much omnipotent. The movie’s storyline-of course with some changes-is based on the “Infinity Gauntlet” series and it’s sequels, which came out largely in the 90’s (although they still have the occasional sequels today).

 

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It’s been stated by Kevin Fiege that the films are sort of a “finale” but that Marvel has at least twenty films planned after that. Here in these articles, I wonder what’s left for them to cover….starting with Marvel’s “First family”.

 

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Fantastic” Fourth time’s the charm?

Reportedly, Disney is doing another round of negotiations with at least the film division of twentieth century Fox, which has been holding on to the film rights of the Fantastic Four and the X-men for quite some time. Such a deal would-presumably-bring the FF back under the umbrella of Disney and Marvel studios. Fox’s attempts to adapt the team to film have had somewhat of a mixed reaction; the 2005-2007 releases were OK, but the 2015 Josh Trank film was a legendary flop. IMHO, having them integrated into the MCU sounds a lot better than the rumored “Franklin and Valeria” or “Doom” spinoffs FOX is planning to do on it’s own.

Bringing the film back into Marvel could have some more reference for the source material, and it also works because the FF are more ingrained in the going-ons of the Marvel Universe in the comics (Not now of course, as the title has been canceled for a while, but in the past), while the X-men have largely been doing their own thing. Pretty much every FF member for instance, has been an Avenger at one time or another, and even some Avengers have crossed over to the FF.

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Plus why not finally see on screen one of the greatest comic book rivalries of all time?

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Also, many characters and aliens introduced in FF have been integrated into the MCU already. Ronan the Accusser and the Kree race for starters…

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and the Inhumans…

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Plus, y’know, it’d be great to have a decent Doctor Doom for once….

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And especially Galactus.

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Yeah, the general look of Galactus might need some tweaking, but I think Thor Ragnarok in particular managed to capture the “Kirby” look without making it look too silly. And anything’s better than that cloud.

 

 

Speaking of Avengers joining the FF…

 

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She-Hulk

Jennifer Walters is Bruce Banner’s cousin, a lawyer who was shot, and then who got a blood transfusion from him, turning her into the She-Hulk. However, unlike her cousin, she mostly retains her personality (although a bit more uninhibited), and the transformation, while making her more muscular, taller, and with often longer hair, doesn’t look as somewhat neanderthalish as the Hulk does on ocassion.

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Her various series have also tended to be more based on comic relief, and her appearances in the other titles have her be more of an active, responsible hero than her unpredictable and often dangerous cousin. (Although this has lately changed in the comics, much to the chagrin of some fans like myself). During a large chunk of the 80’s, she became a member of the Fantastic Four when the Thing decided to self-exile himself on Battleworld…..

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Since then she’s ocassionally stuck around as a reservist, in particuarly when the main FF were off on an outer space adventure for a bit.

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The problem with a solo She-Hulk film may be in She-Hulk’s look herself. While the CG used for Hulk is pretty good, It’s partially because the Hulk isn’t a very realistic character. Lou came close of course….

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but I think it’s generally agreed that the Rufallo Hulk looks more like the actual comic character.

 

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However, the more human appearence of She-Hulk might be a bit more of a CG hurdle. Granted, the films have done well with CG,¬† managing to shrink Chris Evans for a good deal of the FF movie. Perhaps have the ‘full’ She-Hulk be mainly a tall woman in green makeup.¬† After all, they have some experience with that already…

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There actually was one previous attempt at a She-Hulk film, with Brigette Nielsen in the role. However, the film was never made, apart from these makeup tests here.

 

Metal Gear Profiles: Professor Galvez/ Vladimir Zadarnov

 

“Let the Age of Deterrence be Undone by the Deterrent Itself – such is the Kremlin’s plan”-Zadarnov

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Posing as a pacifist professor of peace at a “Peace university”, “Galvez”-who wore a cybernetic hand with a built in lighter and rocket function, the man known as Vladimir Zadarnov was in fact a member of the KGB, who wanted to bring Latin America more fully into the cold war, specifically Costa Rica-giving the soviets an advantage right on America’s doorstep. Although Costa Rica had no army, Zadarnov had two proxies-Peace Sentinel, part of the renegade CIA group led by Hot Coldman, who were creating the Peace Walker project; and Militaries San Frontieras, Big Boss’s small group of mercenaries.

 

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In order to bring Big Boss to his side, he gave him tasty bait-a recording of Big Boss’s mentor, The Boss, recorded nearby, as well as the means to expand his mercenary group using an offshore plant-the future “Mother base”. He was also accompanied by his “student”, Paz.

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Big Boss and Kaz found his story suspicious, but decided to investigate the recording and the group behind it, Peace Sentinel. In fact, Zadarnov was also conspiring with Hot Coldman, and helping to develop the Peace Walker-but only so he could take over the project and Peace Sentinel for Russia’s own ends. He finally staged this coup when Big Boss infiltrated Peace Sentinel’s Nicaragua base, and planned to nuke cuba and blame it on America using Peace Walker. He also planned to make Big Boss a martyr for the communist sandanistas, but Amanda realized his duplicity, and stormed in with her sandanistas and the MSF, and declared:

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Zadarnov then was brought into MSF custody, but somebody kept letting him out, where he tried to escape to the mainland. Eventually, after several attempts, he was cornered by Big Boss in the target practice area of Mother Base. He was fatally shot by Big Boss, but still declared that his work was done, and then tried to kill Big Boss with the cybernetic hand, using it’s rocket function.

 

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As it turns out, Zadarnov was continually freed by Paz, who was not only working with him in the KGB, but was actually a triple agent for Cipher, who briefly took control of Big Boss’s Metal Gear ZEKE.

Big Boss later used Zadarnov’s hand to light his cigar. The consequences of Zadarnov helping to build MSF-something Kaz Miller was partially aware of-helped form it-and later Diamond Dogs, into Big Boss’s idea of an army without borders-“Outer Heaven”.

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Years later, Venom Snake would gain a similar cybenetic attachment.

 

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Star Wars comics history-Experience it for the first time in 3D!

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Star Wars has had an interesting history with 3D. While the current Disney films are of course 3D (It’s hard to think of big budget blockbusters these days which *don’t* have a 3D option, save maybe the Bond films which have stayed away from the trend), Star Wars has dabbed in it long before Disney.

TOPPS has of course made many card lines using “lenticular” technology-something that’s often used on Blu-Ray/DVD covers (especially the 3D ones, naturally).

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And of course, there’s this-The 2012 re-release of The Phantom Menace, which also featured a lot of heavy marketing-and of course, a heavily mixed reaction. Lucas also intended to 3D the remaining episodes as well, but only II-III seemed to have finished conversions, which were never released wide and screened only at conventions (I think).

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I can’t help but wonder if the lukewarm reaction to the film was one of the reasons George decided to sell the franchise to Disney later that same year.

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But anyway, back to the comics. Blackthorne Publishing, a short-lived comics company known mainly for reprints of classic comic strips and 3D comics for various franchises at the time, did a short Star Wars 3D comic, using the traditional 3D “tech” of the time, with red/blue pages.¬† This came out during Star Wars’s 10th anniversary, and between the end of the original Marvel series in 1986, and Dark Horse acquiring the license in 1991 (and keeping it for the next 23 years).

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The comics are set between “A New Hope” and “The Empire Strikes Back”, and tell of the Rebels fleeing to Hoth, although the first issue has Luke revisit Tatooine and give the Lars farm to an alien.

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The series ends with Luke confronting Vader on Dantoine (Site of an abandoned rebel base, as mentioned in the original film.) Further issues were planned that would’ve dealt with the Bothan spies (Those guys from ROTJ that either resemble elves, camels, dogs, or horses depending on the artist), but ultimately the series was cancelled.

These comics are pretty much mindless fun, and nothing too special. It’s worth noting however that the writer was none other than the late Len Wein, the same guy who co-created these guys…

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In addition to that, he incorporated Wolverine into the relaunch of the X-men….which also featured the debut of Storm, Collosus, and Nightcrawler, as well as the ill-fated Thunderbird (Two other members, Banshee and Sunfire, had appeared earlier in the series). Although the first writer on the series, Chris Claremont pretty much took control of the series after this, although he heavily credits Len for giving him a starting point.

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Although these are far from Len’s only contributions to comics, as he wrote for years on various titles for DC, Marvel, and other companies, as well as for various animated TV shows (Including the animated X-men).