And Now I’m Back!

Good day, everyone! It has certainly been awhile, hasn’t it? Between work and life pursuits, various hobbies, and trying to get some more official writing out into the universe for consideration (fingers crossed), it has been an interesting past few years.

But I’m back, and I plan on generating new content regularly. Some of my posts will be a way for me to group together, record, or even expunge thoughts as I see fit, just as this blog was originally intended for. Other posts will be longer and more thoughtful. In fact, as a sign-on bonus, you’ll get the first of those this afternoon! I’ll also be sharing and linking to some of my golden oldies and other posts I’ve done elsewhere over the years.

All of that said, welcome back to my old-timey followers, and a hearty and genuine welcome to those of you who are new! Make yourselves at home and feel free to interact or not at your leisure. Also be sure to check out my other work with Blue Spider Books and over at the Apostrophe Box as well.

Thank you all for stopping by!

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Rage, rage against the dying of a planet.

In my last post, I commented briefly on how Chewbacca’s death had set a grim tone for The New Jedi Order book series.  I would like to take some time now and examine that a little more in-depth in the first post on this topic.

In Vector Prime, Chewbacca, Han Solo, and his son Anakin Solo, go to the planet Sernpidal at the request of Han’s “old buddy” Lando Calrissian.  Lando has asked them to pick up a shipment for him, but things are not well when they get to Sernpidal.  The moon, Dobido, looks awfully large and seems to be moving awfully fast through its orbit around the planet.

They are approached by the former mayor, who tells them the moon is on a collision course with the planet. Then Han and Chewie begin loading up people onto starships to get as many folks off the doomed planet as possible, while Anakin runs off with the former mayor to try and see what’s causing the moon to behave this way.  As it turns out, the Yuuzhan Vong are behind it all, using a dovin basal to manipulate gravity and literally pull the moon into the planet.

When Anakin is knocked away from the Falcon, Chewie runs after him and gets him back up on the ship.  Han asks Anakin to take over so he can help Chewie up onto the boarding ramp.  However, the planet is beginning to come apart at the seams.  The ground is in violent upheaval, the winds are hurricane-force, and the moon is about to make contact with the planet at any moment.  Despite Han’s protests, Anakin makes a hard decision to leave Chewbacca behind, to save themselves, and the dozens of people on board, all of whom are now homeless refugees.

Han watches, disbelievingly, as the Falcon flies away, and Chewbacca howls defiantly at the moon as it crashes into him and the planet.

Chewbacca howls defiantly in the face of death. Image from http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090626185056/starwars/images/f/f6/Chewbacca_Sernpidal.jpg
Chewbacca howls defiantly in the face of death. Image from http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20090626185056/starwars/images/f/f6/Chewbacca_Sernpidal.jpg

Han is furious with his son and so overcome with grief-fueled anger, that he goes as far as to blame Anakin for Chewie’s death.  Han Solo, revered and hated throughout the galaxy, became a man consumed by grief.  He spent weeks alone in the Solos’ apartment on Coruscant, with the lights off and a bottle in his hand.  His family and friends feared that he would never come out of his grief.  They all tried to pull him back into the fold, to be there for him, comfort him, but he would just push them away.  Even after Chewbacca’s funeral on Kashyyk, Han was nearly inconsolable.

This whole ordeal causes a massive rift to form between Han and his family, and he goes so far as to fly off in the Falcon, leaving Leia and the kids to their own devices.  Even with a new temporary sidekick in the form of a Ryn named Droma, Han still refuses to even take comm messages from his wife for several weeks.  It is a full four books after Vector Prime before Han begins to return to his old self, but even then, it is not entirely his old self.  Chewbacca’s death breaks one of Han Solo’s most endearing qualities: his sense of invincibility.  For several months after Chewie’s death, Han second-guesses himself and errs on the side of caution much more than he ever did.

It is also some time before Han actually apologizes to Anakin for the blame Han placed on him.  Yet, even with his father’s apologies, Anakin is forever changed by the guilt he feels.  With or without Han’s blame, Anakin feels responsible because he made the decision to leave Chewbacca behind.  It is Anakin’s reaction to Chewbacca’s death that I wish to examine next time.  For now, how did Chewbacca’s death affect you?  Do you agree with Han’s reaction, as developed in the series?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Thoughts on Video Game Nostalgia: Diablo

Diablo title image found at http://www.mamecade.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/diablo1st01.jpg
Diablo title image found at http://www.mamecade.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/diablo1st01.jpg

As I pointed out over the weekend, I have been playing Diablo III far, far too much over the past few days. It’s way too easy to sit down and get sucked into it for an afternoon if you have no other large pressing concerns, which actually plays into the Diablo series’s appeal to me. As you can guess from the title of the piece, playing the latest installment in the franchise has brought back some old memories of the previous two entries and caused me to think over what about them made them such great games for me. I often joke that I once lost an entire year of my life to the original Diablo, and that’s not much of an exaggeration. I’m not especially proud of it, nor am I truly ashamed of it. It is what it is, and there were very serious reasons for it.

I first got into Diablo back in 1999, when it had already been out for around four years. Pardon me a moment while the realization that that was 15 years ago washes over me. Anyway, 1999 was a complicated year for me–there was middle school and all its tiny hells, and that’s when my parents divorced. I know; boohoo, right? Diablo became an escape for me, as it did for many people during that time. I missed a lot of school, my grades came down quite a bit (which was unusual for me then), and I spent hours upon hours (day and night) living in the world of Sanctuary (if the name was even canon then) and fighting demons. It bears noting that I was never tempted to engage in Satanism or self-destructive behavior as a result of this game. On the contrary, Diablo made me even more curious about the Christianity I had been raised in and hadn’t yet felt alienated from.

Full view of Tristram from the original Diablo found at http://www.romstation.fr/uploads/dfec2c0f694c0b159f7d6e474c743d57.jpg
Full view of Tristram from the original Diablo found at http://www.romstation.fr/uploads/dfec2c0f694c0b159f7d6e474c743d57.jpg (Click for larger image).

But it was this curiosity, this simulated battle between pure good and pure evil, that captivated me. The idea that a world existed, even if it was tiny and only existed on my computer, where I had the power to save lives and affect the natural order of reality made me feel at peace with everything else that was going on around me. In Diablo, I could be an immensely strong warrior, an unparalleled sorcerer of frightening ability, or (when the mood struck) a sometimes scantily-clad female marksman. The character class selections were primitive at the time, yes, but I didn’t have to be me. I could create any back story I wanted for how my character ended up in the town of Tristram, following rumors that a great evil was stirring beneath its cathedral.

And I must re-iterate here, I played this game so very much. And I kept playing it until the second game came out later in 2000. Thankfully, I had moved on by that point to rededicating myself to my studies, reading books, and at least attempting a real-world social life, so I didn’t lose nearly as much time playing Diablo II as I did its predecessor. But there were many, many times in high school that were severe downers (most of us had such experiences), and my barbarian or druid character in Diablo II was always there, waiting for me to slip them back on like well-worn coats.

Diablo II character selection screen found at http://majorslack.com/pics/screenshots/diablo_01.jpg
Diablo II character selection screen found at http://majorslack.com/pics/screenshots/diablo_01.jpg

For me, role-playing games are what gaming is all about. I enjoy other sorts of games, to be sure, but RPGs are the core of my gaming career, if you will. I mentioned briefly in an earlier post that Final Fantasy X was a great help for me when I was younger, and I played it shortly after I got into the Diablo games. It fulfilled a similar need I felt. I don’t know if it’s sad or not, but I’ve always felt like I only find the true me when I’m interacting with a story full of heroes with very few limits placed upon them, whether in the games I play or the stories I read. And it’s no surprise that with the small struggles I’ve faced recently that I would find myself back in Diablo’s dungeons somehow.

Who feels me on this one? Let me know in the comments below.

Thoughts – 8-4-14

Guardians of the Galaxy Free Comic Book Day cover courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://cltampa.com/imager/free-comic-book-day-welcomes-coliseum-of-comics-to-the-area-and-more/b/original/4555912/ed99/newGuardiansFCBD.jpg
Guardians of the Galaxy Free Comic Book Day cover courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://cltampa.com/imager/free-comic-book-day-welcomes-coliseum-of-comics-to-the-area-and-more/b/original/4555912/ed99/newGuardiansFCBD.jpg

Continuing from my thought on Friday, I give Guardians of the Galaxy all of the thumbs up. I’d say it’s probably my third favorite Marvel movie at this point, after The Avengers and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. What did those of you who were able to see it this weekend think of it? Let me know in the comments below. (And let’s try to avoid spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen it.)

Thoughts – 8-1-14

Poster image courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://1.media.dorkly.cvcdn.com/26/95/18b149286ca6f2920e017bd5d2ffcbf5.jpg
Poster image courtesy of Marvel Comics and found at http://1.media.dorkly.cvcdn.com/26/95/18b149286ca6f2920e017bd5d2ffcbf5.jpg

Who else is excited about Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend? I think I’m going to see it tonight. When are all of you going?

If you haven’t already, check out a post I did at Sourcerer awhile back that contains suggestions for further reading to acquaint you with the characters.

Enjoy!

Thoughts – 7-31-14

For some reason, I’m thinking about 80s movies as I write this. I like quite a few 80s films. Let’s face it; it was a great decade for movies. It gave us Terminator, Ghostbusters, two-thirds of the Star Wars trilogy, the Indiana Jones movies, E.T., Tron, and more than a few horror classics as well. The lists can go on and on and on. For today’s simple thought, I wanted to recommend two of my favorite 80s films: Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and The Last Starfighter. Both have just the right amount of cheesiness and corniness, so enjoy! Let me know some of your favorite 80s movies in the comments below.

What if Batman were a Marvel Character?

Here’s the followup to my most successful post ever over at Sourcerer. Give it a read if you haven’t.

Sourcerer

Happy new book day, everyone! I hope you are all doing well. Welcome to the beginning of the second six months of this Batman column. Awhile back I asked a popular question: is Batman a Marvel character trapped in the DC Universe? The Internet reacted favorably. This seems to be a popular line of thought, being as even Joss Whedon has joked about it during press conferences. Today, I wish to propose a few thought experiments to determine what Batman might actually be like if he were a Marvel character.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Imagine... Courtesy of DC Comics. Art by the late, great Joe Kubert. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just_Imagine… Courtesy of DC Comics. Art by the late, great Joe Kubert.

To begin, this doesn’t seem like a very new question in Nerd Culture. Back in 2001, DC actually thumbed its nose at Marvel by putting out a series of stories where they allowed Stan Lee to reimagine most of their major characters as he would have…

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