The Return of Luke Skywalker Made Me Weep

I’m late to the party on this one.

The season 2 finale of The Mandalorian titled “The Rescue” culminated with the ultimate surprise. Luke Skywalker made his triumphant return to answer the call put out into the universe by Grogu (Baby Yoda). 

Continue reading “The Return of Luke Skywalker Made Me Weep”

Looking Back at ‘Avengers: Endgame’ One Year Later

Hello,

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during these crazy times. With so much evil in the world right now, I wanted to do a quick write up about something fun. Then, I remembered that today is the one year anniversary of Avengers: Endgame. Continue reading “Looking Back at ‘Avengers: Endgame’ One Year Later”

NWA Means What Now?

The following is a personal story from my childhood that is wrestling related in the most unusual way imaginable. In hindsight, if you look at it from the perspective of a black nine-year-old who grew up in an all-white neighborhood, it’s quite funny.

Enjoy! Continue reading “NWA Means What Now?”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Review)

Welcome to my much-delayed review of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I needed a lot of time before penning my thoughts on the film. Some people love the movie, and some people hate it. However, after multiple screenings, it ultimately came down to three things for me. Continue reading “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Review)”

Star Wars: Resistance Reborn (Book Review)

Written for and published by Forces of Geek November 2019

We’re about forty days away from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hitting theaters. The conclusion of the Skywalker Saga has everyone wondering about his or her favorite characters.

Author Rebecca Roanhorse is new to a galaxy far away, but that doesn’t stop her from producing a tale that firmly outlines the grim state of affairs for the Resistance led by General Leia Organa.

Resistance Reborn starts days after the Resistance’s harrowing escape from Crait, seen in The Last Jedi.

Once the band of wounded soldiers, led by Leia Organa, find shelter, three simultaneous missions begin to restock on weapons, ships, and supplies and gather soldiers and leaders to take the fight to The First Order.

The ending of Episode XI made it abundantly clear our heroes have their work cut out for them. However, Rebecca Roanhorse fills in the details on how far the Resistance is behind the eight ball.

The First Order expeditiously took over the galaxy due to star systems hoping to avoid the same fate as the Hosnian System. There is no narrative jump between episodes seven and eight, so this horrendous act of murder is still fresh in everyone’s mind. One of the little nuggets of information revealed in the book is why Leia’s message on Crait went unanswered. It’s a logical explanation, which I’m not going to spoil here.

Roanhorse does a fantastic job outlining how demoralizing it is for the Resistance to start from scratch. No world is willing to take them in, and anyone even allowing them to land will face deadly reprisals as The First Order is everywhere. Shelter is eventually found on the Twi’lek homeworld of Ryloth. However, the Resistance is on the clock as the longer they stay, the more likely The First Order will find out. Leia struggled with this because of the substantial risk involved, showing the real sign of a leader.

Finn, Rey, Rose, and Chewbacca all have roles in the book to varying degrees. However, this is Poe Dameron’s story.

Poe is haunted by the lives lost at his command during the evacuation of D’Qar, and his defiance of Vice Admiral Holdo aboard the Raddus. Poe doesn’t want their sacrifices to be in vain, which fuels him to become a better leader. Learning to think things through makes Poe realize he must be more than a hotshot pilot who blows things up. This comes with its own set of challenges as Poe learns and grows throughout the story. By the end of the book, Poe has a better handle on what leadership truly means; however, there is still some emotional baggage, which could be part of Poe’s character arc in The Rise of Skywalker.

Leia and Rey have some short but sweet moments together. While Rey’s time in the story is limited, there’s a sense that she’s still trying to “find her place in all of this,” as she put it when training with Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To. Leia can’t put her finger on it, but she knows there is something special about Rey beyond the obvious.

Leia urges Rey to embrace what makes her unique. In many ways, their developing kinship with one another provides Rey with the solace she hoped to obtain with Luke. There are some allusions to Leia’s medical condition due to her time spent in the vacuum of space, which could be expanded upon further in the upcoming film, giving readers a trail of bread crumbs regarding a possible narrative fate.

One of the new Star Wars canon criticisms is that the connection between films, cartoons, comics, and books that were promised is few and far between…Not this time!

Rebecca Roanhorse produces a full-on love letter to the current canon with significant connective tissue to various forms of content. Poe’s journey picks up directly after the Poe Dameron comic book series. Zey Versio and Shriv from the Battlefront II video game serve as major characters coming off their mission at the end of the game’s single-player campaign.

They are also connections to previous novels, most notably, Bloodlines. Roanhorse incorporates these elements to create a story that is full of well-executed fan service that augments the book. Readers will appreciate the story, whether they’re familiar with these characters or not. This is where a large part of the narrative’s strength lies. Zey and Shriv’s bond is explored without exposition, which will ensure the uninitiated won’t feel left out.

While I mentioned earlier that Poe is the main protagonist, the returning Wedge Antilles is very much the heart of the story. Wedge and his wife Norra Wexley are retired, and everyday farm life suits them well. Wedge recognizes he’s was lucky enough to survive the galactic civil war while so many of his brothers in arms paid the ultimate price. Duty calls Wedge back into the fight, and this is done with a delicate sense of caution since Wedge has earned his rest. Wedge is a character fans have been hoping to see in the sequel trilogy. His inclusion and the way his story ends suggest he could make an appearance in Episode IX.

There is one thing in the book that’s disappointing, while another was kind of boring. The Maz Kanata we got in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi came off as two different people. Unfortunately, we get the Rian Johnson version of the character who is more zany than wise and does something rather disgusting with cat feces.

Yep, you read that correctly.

We also meet a new character who is an administrative records keeper for The First Order. The whole getting to know him phase was a chore to read since there were way more exciting things happening elsewhere. Things pick up with his story once it’s revealed how he tied into the overall plot.

The three Resistance missions are fantastic, and I couldn’t get enough of them. Two of them occur on Corellia, with teams led by Poe and Wedge. The third mission is led by Shriv and takes place on planet Braka, which will play a large role in the upcoming video game Jedi: Fallen Order. Roanhorse goes back and forth between missions seamlessly as each one has its own highly satisfying stakes.

If less is more, Rebecca Roanhorse didn’t get the memo as she packs a lot of content in a rather short book of 298 pages. Nothing about the narrative felt rushed, and every story, subplot, and character got ample time to marinate.

The book’s events occur the week following The Last Jedi, which means there are still 51 weeks of Resistance activity that we don’t know about leading up to The Rise of Skywalker. This week was hell for Leia and company, and it will give readers more of an appreciation for how the Resistance can rebuild their ranks come December 20th.

I wouldn’t call this a must-read book to get ready for the upcoming movie. However, I would call it the book you’ve been waiting for if connections to the overall canon are something you crave. While this was Rebecca Roanhorse’s first step into a larger world, I hope it’s not her last. Obviously, she has a lot of love for Star Wars, and I’d be interested in seeing some of the other stories she might tackle in the future.

DC’s Event Leviathan Flounders with Finale

Event Leviathan #6 | Written by Brian Michael Bendis | Art by Alex Maleev | DC Comics

The biggest mystery plaguing the DC Universe reaches its conclusion. Who is Leviathan? We finally get our answer.

“I’m sorry, I don’t recognize you,” unfortunately, encapsulates the magnitude of the reveal when Superman used his x-way vision to peek under the hood.

Unmasking the villain needs to be a shocking experience.

Instead, Bendis used the moment to bring an obscure character to prominence.

That could have worked.

However, we never saw Leviathan actually do anything. Explosions, weird energy fields, and the collapse of the intelligence community wielded massive results.

Yet, Leviathan is never seen pulling the trigger himself or getting his hands dirty. He talked a big game and had people do his bidding. If Leviathan was going to roll up his sleeves finally, this was the time to do it. Instead, he retreats once he realized Superman would never join his cause.

I’m sorry, but how many times has Superman been fed the “Tear down the world to make it better” speech?

A lot would be the answer.

Its as if the characters in the book failed to realize something the reader has known about Earth’s greatest hero. I thought something different would have presented itself. Perhaps an argument that was fresh and compelling. Something to make Superman waver, even for a few fleeting seconds, would have given readers something to chew on.

Leviathan was portrayed as someone who is always five steps; however, he put all of his eggs in one red and blue basket. That doesn’t sound very smart al all.

The leaks that appeared online last month regarding Leviathan’s identity were correct.

I hoped they were wrong; however, it seemed too apparent after really thinking about it. The ending of the book is the beginning, as there is more to come from Leviathan. That would have been cool if I actually cared about the person in question. Leviathan peaced out once Superman turned him down.

Why would I be intrigued about any threat he could pose to Supes or the Justice League going forward?

Bendis is in the Leviathan business for the long haul. I hope he can bring something that will have an impact because, unfortunately, this wasn’t it.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (Trailer Review)

The final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker dropped on Monday, and everyone has an opinion about it.

The first and second trailers each had that money shot moment with the reveals of Emperor Palpatine and Dark Rey. This trailer didn’t have that holy s— moment; however, it still gave me that epic feel of something special. Gorgeous imagery, powerful music, and what could be a sad goodbye from C-3PO latched on to the heartstrings like a vice grip.

One of the big questions surrounding the film was answered in the trailer as it was confirmed that it is the ruins of the second Death Star that will be explored in the movie.

Spaceships, spaceships, and more spaceships filled out the trailer, which hinted towards the space battle to end all space battles. I was delighted to see this because if this film is the end of the Skywalker saga, the climactic battle needs to be bigger than what we saw in Return of the Jedi.

It was kind of a bummer that absolutely nothing about the plot was revealed. Besides 3PO, there is no exchange of dialog between any of the characters. In fact, there was nothing revealed about the new characters and no footage of the much talked about Sith Troopers and Knights of Ren. There are a lot of quick cuts throughout the trailer, which leads me to believe Disney is keeping their cards close to their chest.

It’s risky move to hold back necessary information from a marketing perspective. Especially since The Last Jedi was incredibly divisive. Director JJ Abrams said the film will answer as many questions as possible. If that is true, the studio doesn’t want any of those answers revealed until the movie is released.

Overall, I liked the trailer. There were some missed opportunities, but it still got me super excited and counting down the days until December 20th. I really wanted to learn SOMETHING about the story. However, Star Wars is the only franchise in cinema that can release an all imagery trailer and still get people more excited than they were going in.

I already bought my tickets!

 

Star Wars: Triple Force Friday Toy Hunt

Last Friday, the Star Wars marketing machine turned on the ignition with ‘Triple Force Friday.’ This marked the initial release of merchandise for the upcoming Disney + show The Mandalorian, the video game, Jedi: Fallen Order, and of course, The Rise of Skywalker. The popular Black Series figures with special “carbonized” packaging were among the most anticipated items.

This was the fourth installment of Force Friday. However, there was a lack of participation from retail stores this time around. Walmart only held a handful of midnight release events, and Target didn’t have any at all. Those who went to a participating store during regular business hours discovered there weren’t that many items made available.

Reports indicate Disney held back nearly “70%” of the merchandise to avoid spoilers for Episode 9. Plus, the divineness of The Last Jedi some retailers cautious.

Unfortunately, Triple Force Friday might represent how far the franchise has fallen since 2015. Still, even with some hiccups along the way, I had a fun time hunting for the newest goods from a galaxy far, far away. I hope you enjoy my video, and may the Force be with you.

PS: I drop a swear at the 3:13 mark of the video.

Mera: Tidebreaker – Review

Written for and published by Forces of Geek March 2019

Mera: Tidebreaker is the initial offering from DC Comics’ young adult readers imprint, DC Ink. New York Times bestselling author, Danielle Paige, and animator Stephen Byrne collaborate on this tale featuring the future queen of Atlantis.

Yearning for a life that is truly her own, Mera sets out to bring peace between Atlantis and her home of Xebel.

She has to kill an unsuspecting Arthur Curry to accomplish her goals.

The reimagining of the Aquaman mythos doesn’t stop there. Arthur is sans the blonde hair, the inhabitants of the Trench are no longer monstrous creatures, and the beginning of a particular origin story underwent some minor alterations.

However, every change that was introduced is in service to the journey of the titular character.

Not to be stereotypical of the YA genre, but Mera and Arthur’s blossoming kinship was a given before the first turn of the page.

Strong character building by Danielle Paige established clear motivations that made the antagonists and protagonists earn every narrative inch. Obviously, Mera wasn’t going to kill Arthur; however, her observation of his kindness slowly chipped away at her cold murderous intent.

Make no mistake about it, Mera oozes teenage royalty. Still, while another princess might be overly concerned with their ensemble for the next big gala, Mera makes it clear that she is more than just a pretty dress. Light comedy sprinkled throughout the book such as Atlantean vernacular, “You got to be sharking me,” will bring about a few smiles along with some fish out of water hijinks.

It would have been easy for Mera to get lost in her own story, but Paige gives the multitude of subplots plenty of time to breathe and marinate. The final act is chock-full of revelations, but it is beautifully synchronized with the main story.

Stephen Byrne’s artwork exhibits a submersible pallet serving as a constant reminder of the books oceanic backdrop. Mera’s hair stands out like a red rose in a black and white portrait. This creative choice augments her presence, especially if the reader remembers nothing about Mera’s heroism and convictions.

Despite Aquaman being massively popular right now, producing a Mera-centric story was a gamble. Mera is a secondary character who doesn’t have a celebrated story such as Supergirl, Catwoman or even Black Canary. Geoff Johns made Mera an essential part of Aquaman’s New 52 run. However, no one has ever talked their favorite Mera moments on the playground.

Danielle Paige’s story is a big leap in that direction. The exploration of duty, love, valor, and liberty through the eyes of underwater royalty works exceptionally well. If the goal of this graphic novel is to make the reader a bigger Mera fan than they were going in, mission accomplished.

The New UFC Legacy Championship Belt

The UFC unveiled their new Legacy Championship belt, which will be awarded to those who win title bouts and used for the duration of their career inside the octagon. The belt is customized for each individual champion by the athlete’s country and weight class. The red stones on the side plates represent each title defense.

The women’s championship belt will be slightly smaller. However, identical to the men’s belt in every other detail. Each belt comes with a plate on the backside with a unique serial number assigned to the specific champion. UFC President Dana White’s engraved signature is also included for authenticity.

The first eight countries that were home to UFC champions will represent flag iconography on the belt. USA, Canada, Brazil, Netherlands, Poland, Belarus, UK, and Ireland. Mark Coleman (USA) was the inaugural heavyweight champion.

The first belt will be presented at the UFC’s debut on ESPN+ streaming service when Henry Cejudo defends the flyweight title (125 lbs.) against bantamweight king (135 lbs.) T.J. Dillashaw. Both fighters will enter the octagon with the proceeding title belt, which the new legacy design and awarded to the winner.

The global motif of the belt is representative of a true world championship. The belt actually says “world champion,” unlike the previous incarnation. The center plate looks clunky and lacks a certain sleekness.

Overall, the new title looks very 2019 and carries an ambitious exhibit of accomplishment and celebration.