The Star Wars Dissection: Book Club Edition #1

Hello everyone, it’s Andrew again with a special edition of The Star Wars Dissection.

On the EUCantina.net forums, I’ve begun a chronological reading through the Clone Wars (the in-universe event, not just the TV show). I’ve taken each source, put them in chronological order, and will review them one at a time. The timeline I used is one of my own design, concocted by combining elements from Nathan P. Butler’s The Star Wars Timeline Gold, Rob Mullin’s Expanded Universe Chronology, Joe Bonjiorno’s Star Wars Timeline: The Complete Chronology, and discussions held on the Literature boards at TheForce.net. I know that some elements of it are wrong, but it can easily corrected later when a formal timeline is eventually released.

Basically, my timeline is based upon the precept that all events that portrayed Anakin as a Padawan take place before The Clone Wars movie, compressed into the year 22 BBY. This was the original idea that Leland Chee proposed in 2008, when the film first raised questions of continuity. Leland said that the exact dates of events didn’t matter, so long as the order was retained. Evidence suggests, however, that this plan has been abandoned, in favour of retconning certain events that portrayed Anakin as a Padawan to him having been a Knight already. This stems from the fact that, in the comics Republic 69-71: The Dreadnaughts of Rendili, Jedi Master Saesee Tiin congratulated Anakin on his recent Knighting, but in The Essential Atlas, it was confirmed that the events in this comic (The Battle of Rendili and Anakin and Ventress’s duel on Coruscant) took place in 19 BBY, near the end of the War. Despite this, I plan to stick with my timeline until/unless something formal is released.

I have identified 332 sources, starting with Attack of the Clones and ending with Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader. These include novels, young reader books, ebooks, shrot stories, video games, comics, webcomics, movies, and TV show episodes. There are a few sources not included, for various reasons (stories that tie in, but actually take place before or after the Clone Wars, games that depict some Clone Wars battles but span much longer periods, The Clone Wars UK comics that haven’t made it to North America yet, children’s [ages 8 or less] adaptations of The Clone Wars episodes, etc.) In these analyses, I’ll summarize the work and how it is available to us, then I’ll look at the pros, the cons, some fun facts, and offer advice as to whether or not you should seek it out.

This first review will handle items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 12: the adaptations of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones.

Attack of the Clones Novel

1. Attack of the Clones Novel

The novelization of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones was written by R. A. Salvatore. I used the hardcover version of the novel, which had 353 pages. It cost $26.00 USD, $40.00 CAD. It was released on April 23, 2002. The paperback version, which cost $7.99 USD or $10.99 CAD, was released April 3, 2003, and included photo-quality paper showing storyboards and concept art (the first Star Wars novel to do so, the second being Knight Errant, which included an excerpt from the first issue of the Knight Errant comic).

Summary:
After multiple assassination attempts on Senator Padmé Amidala, the Jedi agree to protect her and investigate the attacks. Padawan Anakin Skywalker takes her to Naboo for protection, and his Master, Knight Obi-Wan Kenobi investigates. Obi-Wan visits Kamino, and learns of a massive Clone Army being developed for the Republic in secret. He also finds Jango Fett, the clones’ template and the man responsible for the assassination attempts. Obi-Wan follows Fett to Geonosis, where he discovers the Separatists are allying with the various commercial groups to build a massive Droid Army. Meanwhile, Anakin and Padmé travel to Tatooine to locate Anakin’s mother, whose suffering he feels. Anakin finds her just before she dies, and slaughters the Tusken Raiders who abducted and tortured her. Obi-Wan is captured by the Separatists, and Anakin and Padmé attempt to rescue him. The three end up in a Geonosian execution arena when they are rescued by a Jedi strike team, and subsequently by the Republic’s new Clone Army. The Separatists are routed at Geonosis, and Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda duel Count Dooku, Separatist leader, and learn he has fallen to the Dark Side.

Pros:
-I find the beginning to be very interesting. The first few chapters deal with events not seen in the movie, such as normal life at the Lars homestead, the abduction of Shmi Skywalker Lars, and the rescue party that tried to retrieve her. It was an interesting bit of insight.
-The beginning also features new insights into Padmé, including her current lifestyle on Naboo and on Coruscant, and her insights into the Military Creation Act.
-The novel included numerous deleted scenes from the film, including Obi-Wan visiting the Temple’s analysis droids, Anakin and Padmé having dinner with the Naberrie family, Padmé trying to negotiate with Dooku on Geonosis, and Anakin and Padmé’s trial on Geonosis.
-The novel had additional insight into Jango and Boba Fett. We meet the two of them earlier, watching Obi-Wan’s starfighter land on Kamino. Through narration and introspection, we also learn that Jango has been hired by the Trade Federation to kill Padmé much earlier than in the film (just before Obi-Wan meets Jango in his apartment).
-Interestingly, the space battle between Jango and Obi-Wan was told entirely from the perspective of Jango and Boba on the Slave I. That made it a bit different and, in my opinion, more interesting.

Cons:
-The novel started slow. Because this is a novelization, I expected it to begin much in the same way as the movie did, but instead there were numerous new scenes at the beginning, which, while interesting, did slow the book’s pace. Obi-Wan doesn’t begin his investigation into Jango’s toxic dart until page 133 of 353 (over a third of the way into the novel).
-Jar Jar Binks only is only featured briefly in this novel, like in the film. However, in those brief scenes, he is incredibly annoying. In the first part, where he meets Obi-Wan and Anakin for the first time since Episode I, the scene goes on longer than it did in the movie, and he was so much more irritating. Subsequent scenes were mostly identical to the film, but the first one was bad.
-Anakin spent a lot of time thinking about how beautiful Padmé is. There is a significant amount of text, both by the narrator and his own mind (in italics), where it goes on and on about how lovely she’s become, how he’s only thought of her for ten years, how badly he wants her, etc. I have not read Twilight, but my wife has, and her one major qualm about it is that there are parts where Bella goes on about how dreamy Edward is, which go on for many pages. This reminded me of that. I am not happy that I had to compare Star Wars to Twilight.

Fun Facts:
-One continuity issue that came up recently was that the Trade Federation and Banking Clan were shown to be members of the CIS in Attack of the Clones, but were also freely cooperating with the Republic as well in The Clone Wars. This was retconned by stating that the “official policy” of these groups was Republic support, or at least neutrality, decrying their CIS-supporting leaders as terrorists (and that in secret the group as a whole was working with the CIS). The novelization makes one important clarification: all Dooku wanted was the support of these groups in secret. Shu Mai (Commerce Guild) pledged her support in secret, and San Hill (Banking Clan) pledged his support, but without exclusivity. These groups can all operate in public however they want, but their money and armies are pledged to Dooku.
-Anakin didn’t steal C-3PO!  In the film, when Anakin and Padmé flew away with both droids, I thought Anakin was stealing C-3PO. But there’s a scene in the book where Owen gives the droid back to Anakin.

All in all, the novelization offered more perspective, often through the narrator, than the film, making it a deeper and more enjoyable experience. Oddly, I didn’t seem to remember liking this book as much as I do now. I always thought before that it offered almost nothing new, that it essentially re-told the same events from the film. It certainly isn’t as good as the Episode III novelization (which we’ll eventually get to), but this was a fun read.

Attack of the Clones film poster

2. Attack of the Clones (film).

The film version of Episode II: Attack of the Clones was directed by George Lucas and written by he and Jonathan Hales. It was released in theatres on

16 May 2002. I saw it originally in theatres, but for this analysis I watched the DVD version, which came out in November 2002 with a few subtle changes (those changes can be found on the Wookieepedia page; they’re too minute to recound here).

Summary:
Same as for the novelization, above.

Pros:
-In Palpatine’s office, we see some important Jedi. We see once more Yoda, Mace Windu, and Ki-Adi-Mundi, but also several who would be important later in the Clone Wars, like Kit Fisto, Luminara Unduli, and her apprentice Barriss Offee. Several more are seen at the Geonosis arena or Jedi Council chambers, like Shaak-Ti, Plo Koon, Saesee Tiin, Adi Gallia, and Eeth Koth. We also saw Aayla Secura, who was first introduced in the comics, but brought into the film because George Lucas “liked the look of her”. Same here, George. Same here.
-The film misses some of the exposition of the novel, but the pace is much better. We get to good action and investigation scenes early, and the love story develops quicker.
-I love the digital animation of some of the most prominent digital characters. Digital Yoda looks a lot better than Episode I puppet Yoda (though I still prefer Episode V puppet Yoda). Dex looks awesome, and so do the Separatist Leaders (especially Poggle the Lesser), the Kaminoans, and Watto.
-I like the look of the Delta-7 starfighter, with the external hyperdrive sled. Sleek, maneuverable, and with the major component that could hamper speed detachable.
-Gotta love Obi-Wan’s sense of humor. I’m glad they kept that character trait from Episode I.
-I love how Obi-Wan evades Jango in the Geonosis asteroid field. Using the spare parts container closely resembles how actual fighters and ships evade missiles (using chaff, or aluminum dust-type stuff). Hiding on the back of the asteroid is cool, though Boba wouldn’t fall for it again (it closely resembles how Han Solo evaded the Imperials in Episode V).
-Gotta love the John Williams Score. As good as any other Star Wars score. And I really liked the new theme for this film, the Anakin-Padmé romance scene (which I believe is titled “Across the Stars”.
-Yoda fighting with his lightsaber! Epic!

Cons:
-Alien diversity. While we see a large number of cool-looking aliens in certain situations (Jedi Council Chamber, Jedi at Geonosis Arena), there are very few aliens around Coruscant, especially in the bar that Zam runs into. One of the great things about the Mos Eisley Cantina in Episode IV was the alien diversity, to show how vast the Galaxy is. Here, we saw mostly humans, and a handful of others (Ithorian, Rodian, Twi’lek, and our first look at a Balosar), but not much else.
-Number of clones in the army. At best, the number “200,000 units” is too vague. I’m of the opinion though that 200,000 represented the first batch (which was smaller than the others, due to testing and some defects), and that subsequent batches of 1 million came out every 3 months or so (the instant a clone is decanted, his vial is refilled with a new embryo). It was also possible that a Unit is not one clone, but perhaps a platoon, but later books clarify that the term Unit meant Clone. But 1.2 million (the remaining million delivered within a week or so after Geonosis), supplemented by another million every 3 months, still doesn’t give enough for an army to wage galactic war.
-One thing that bothers me: why did the Tuskens capture and torture Shmi?  I understand killing her, or even capturing her for slavery. But neither the novel nor the movie give insight as to why they held her for a month.
-When C-3PO is digital (in some scenes in the droid foundry), he moves in a way that’s inconsistent with what we’ve seen. His arms go too high, he moves too fast, etc.
-Why couldn’t the Gunship shoot down Dooku?  The pilot claimed they were out of rockets, but we know they had blasters and particle-beams.

Fun Facts:
-Notice how, in the Geonosis arena, there are four columns, but only three people to be executed?  In some of the draft scripts, the fourth column was for R4-P17, who wasn’t fully integrated into Obi-Wan’s ship at the time. R4 would be destroyed fairly quickly, presumably by a fourth animal. This was removed from later drafts.
-The Geonosian designs for the Death Star are ironic, given that, 20 years or so later, Geonosians would be enslaved to help build it, per a mission in the game Empire at War.
-I’m going to use this section to track the number of times characters duel each other: Anakin-Dooku: 1; Obi-Wan-Dooku: 1, Yoda-Dooku: 1.
-Near the end, it’s the first time we see the Ziggurat of the Jedi Temple. In Episode I, all we see are the towers. This led to the mistaken belief that the temple was just made up of those towers (most notably in the game Galactic Battlegrounds, where the Jedi Temple structure is just the towers on a low concrete platform.)
-Droid Rights: apparently Droids count enough as living beings that they can legally witness a marriage.

Attack of the Clones was my favourite prequel film. The story was intriguing, and the love story was interesting. The action scenes were really cool, especially the Geonosis arena and clone attack. And the digital effects and ship/city/alien designs were really cool. I recommend this to anyone who loves Star Wars (though, I expect that everyone who loves Star Wars has already seen it.)

Attack of the Clones (young reader)

3. Attack of the Clones (young reader).

The young reader adaptation of Episode II: Attack of the Clones was written by Patricia C. Wrede and published by Scholastic on 23 April 2002 (the same day as the adult novelization). It had 167 pages. It only came in one edition, as a young reader (age 9-12)-sized paperback. In the middle, the book contains 16 pages (8 sheets) of glossy photo paper which show scenes from the film. You could buy it by itself, or in a box set containing all six junior novelizations (Episodes I, II, and III by Patricia C. Wrede, and Episodes IV, V, and VI by Ryder Windham). The book by itself (which I bought), originally cost $5.99 USD or $8.99 CAD (cover price).

Summary:
Same as novelization and film, so I will not resummarize here.

Pros:
-Whereas the adult novelization depicted the Geonosis asteroid belt fight from Jango’s perspective, the young reader adaptation told it from Obi-Wan’s perspective. Cool to get both sides.
-In the movie and novel, I took issue with the fact that the reason the Tuskens took Shmi was not explained. Here, there was a throwaway line that Tuskens torture people for fun. Not much detail, but at least its an explanation.

Cons:
-In the prologue, they once again confuse “1,000 years” with “1,000 generations.”  This issue arose when Obi-Wan says the Jedi protected the Galaxy for 1,000 generations in Episode IV, but Palpatine says the Republic stood for 1,000 years, and Sio Bibble says there hadn’t been a war since “the formation of the Republic” in Episode II. This was retconned that roughly a millennium ago, the Ruusan Reformations effectively changed the Republic into something new, and that there had been no major wars since then. This book mistakenly uses “1,000 generations” to refer to events that happened 1,000 years earlier.
-The first scene (assassination attempt on Padmé’s ship) was told from Padmé’s perspective. While it was interesting and gave some cool insight, there was no surprise when Padmé wasn’t on the ship, and it was her decoy killed. We always knew she’d be okay. I didn’t like that. There should be a bit of suspense.
-Many scenes are glossed over, to fit the contents of the book from 353 pages (adult) to 167 pages (young reader). While this is important, and the need to simplify is clear, a lot of information is lost.

Fun Facts:
-Jango’s armour is accidentally called “Mandoralian.”
-The slaughter of the Tusken camp is not depicted. After Shmi dies, Anakin has a moment of internal struggle, and then the next chapter starts, where Anakin tells Padmé about the massacre. I guess they didn’t want to show the slaughter in too much detail for kids.
-The Geonosis arena scene is a bit different. Acklay are described as having pincers (the term “pincer” implies an articulated joint, like a lobster claw, but the claw of the Acklay is solid). Also, whereas in the film and novel Anakin used the Reek to kill the Nexu, in this version he lured the Nexu into attacking the Acklay, distracting both animals long enough for Mace to make his appearance.
-In the film, Anakin simultaneously broadcasts Obi-Wan’s report from Geonosis to the Jedi Council and to the Chancellor’s office (Obi-Wan’s instructions were simply “relay this to Coruscant”.)  But in this version, Anakin relayed the message only to the Jedi Council. Yoda and Mace then reported its contents to Chancellor Palpatine and the Loyalist Committee.

All in all, I like the junior novelization of Attack of the Clones. The story was the same, and with some different points of view that added a bit of insight. The only problem is that some information is lost during the simplification process. I would definitely recommend this to young Star Wars fans, as well as to adults who want to see the story again in a different light.

Attack of the Clones (video game)

4. Attack of the Clones (video game).

The video game adaptation of Episode II: Attack of the Clones was released for only one system, the Nintendo Game Boy Advance (also playable on the Nintendo DS (original or Lite, not i or iXL). The game was developed by THQ and published by LucasArts. It was released on 30 May 2002, roughly two weeks after the release date of the film. I find this odd, since normally game developers work hard to get their tie-in games to release the same week as the film, often to the game’s detriment. This was released after the film, but was no better for it. I do not own this game, so could only do a cursory review.

Summary:
Same as novelization, film, and young reader, so I will not repeat it here.

Pros:
-The game follows the story of the movie fairly well, and fairly linearly.
-You play as either Anakin or Obi-Wan for the bulk of the game, and as Mace Windu for a short time as well (presumably at the Geonosis Arena level).
-Two of the eleven levels are cool 3D starfighter-type battles (Obi-Wan vs. Jango Fett in asteroid field, and Obi-Wan/Anakin vs. Dooku in the Geonosis canyons). These levels are touted as being well designed and really cool.
-Visit three planets: Coruscant, Tatooine, Geonosis.
-Looked good for a 2D side-scroller on a GBA in 2002.

Figure 5: A screenshot from the game, from news.softpedia.com.

Cons:
-Controls were awful. Most review sites agree that the controls were incredibly difficult, especially in the side-scrolling levels. There was often a delay between pushing a button and the response. You could only lightsaber-slash while running, and only block while standing still.
-Not much to the game. The side-scrolling levels may look good, but all you do is work from the left side of the screen to the right. Only 2 levels required any degree of backtracking.
-It only came out for the Game Boy Advance. Admittedly, at that time, Nintendo held the vast majority of the market share for handheld games (Sega Game Gear was long gone, Sony PlayStation Portable wasn’t due for another 3 years in North America, and the only real competitor was the Nokia N-Gage, a portable gamer/cell phone/MP3 player/PDA that looked good on paper but didn’t quite make it). But the GBA still couldn’t compete with the XBox, Playstation 2, or GameCube. It would’ve been better to make a 3D version of the game for these other systems, with a GBA port for the handheld community.

Fun Facts:
-This game did poorly. GameCritics gave it 1/10. GameSpot gave it 2/5. IGN gave it a decent 6.5/10, with most of their concerns based on creativity and replayability. I could not find any sales information.

In the end, I would like to have tried to play this game (and I will, if I ever spot a cheap copy for sale; I own a DS Lite). But I don’t think anyone is missing much if they hadn’t played. To my knowledge there’s nothing new or unique about the game that offers new insight into the story. If you’ve never played this, I don’t think you need to hunt it down.

Attack of the Clones (PhotoComic)

5. Attack of the Clones (PhotoComic).

The PhotoComic adaptation of Episode II: Attack of the Clones was published 24 October 2007. It cost $9.95 USD. They were originally produced by TokyoPop in Japan, and was imported into the US by Dark Horse Comics. These books took still images from the films and added comic book-style text bubbles over them for dialogue. Neither the art nor the text are different from the films. The creativity comes in which stills are chosen, and which quotes are used to convey the story. I do not own this work, and so did my review based on online information. For additional information on this series, I would recommend listening to the SoloSound.net podcast The EU Review, specifically The Obscure Side #5, which discussed all forms of Star Wars Manga (PhotoComics, Manga film adaptations, original Mangas), published on 19 October 2010.

Pros:
-It’s an interesting medium for telling stories. The art consists of only the best stills from the movie.
-Dialogue also taken directly from the film.
-This book included images and brief descriptions of vehicles of the Republic and vehicles of the “Federation” (referring to Confederacy of Independent Systems).

Cons:
-Reviewers claimed that the colour was off on some of the images.
-Some odd screenshots are chosen to try and show motion. Alternatively, sometimes you lose the sense of motion because the still image cannot convey motion as well as drawn comic art.

Fun Facts:
-This style is common in Japan, called CineManga (cinema + manga).
-This was the second of seven books in the PhotoComic series. This series produced adaptations of all six films, as well as the first season of the Genndy Tartakovsky cartoon series (Chapter 11 or so).

Again, I have not read this book (the only PhotoComic I own is the seventh one, the adaptation of Clone Wars season 1). But this depiction offers no additional information than the movie or the novel or young reader book. The art-style is cool, and I’ll admit that I’ll probably buy it in the next few months, but I don’t think it’s required. So, in conclusion, it’s cool, but not required to understand Episode II.

Attack of the Clones (comic adaptation) 1-4

6, 7, 9 and 12: Attack of the Clones (comic adaptation) 1-4

The comic adaptation of Attack of the Clones was written by Henry Gilroy (using George Lucas’s script) and drawn by Jan Duursema. It released in four issues, with issues 1 and 2 released on 24 April 2002, and issues 3 and 4 on 1 May 2002. All four issues had two covers, one artistic and one photographic. Each issue initially cost $3.99 USD, which is higher than normal (though the issues were slightly thicker than normal, at 48 pages each). The Trade Paperback collecting issues 1 to 4 was also released on 24 April along with the first two issues (note: the same thing happened with the comic releases of both The Phantom Menace and Revenge of the Sith). It cost $17.95 USD, which is slightly more than the cost of all four issues individually. The comic adaptation of Attack of the Clones will also be collected in the upcoming Omnibus: The Complete Saga, due out 12 October 2011. For this analysis, I read the Trade Paperback edition, which does not clearly identify where one issue ends and another begins, so all four are reviewed simultaneously.

Pros:
-To fit the entire story in the smaller space, the pace of action is significantly faster.
-We got a more detailed look at Obi-Wan exploring Geonosis. He had to fend off a wild lizard, and bore witness to hundreds of Trade Federation Core Ships being loaded up with battle droids (in the other adaptations, he merely saw the ships on the ground).

Cons:
-Some information is lost in this adaptation, especially compared to the novel.
-Sometimes the characters don’t look quite right. There’s one specific panel where Padmé did not look like Padmé at all. She also suffers in a few panels from what I call “Variable Boob Syndrome”, where the bust size of female characters in a comic book is not consistent with descriptions in a novel or live action appearances.

Fun Facts:
-Jango Fett’s total appearance was revealed to the reader very early (when he gave the Kouhouns to Zam Wesell). In the film, we only saw his profile, so we didn’t know for certain who he was until Kamino.
-Something I had not noticed earlier, but the different adaptations include different characters in the Separatist Leaders Council scene. In the film, we clearly saw and heard Nute Gunray, Wat Tambor, Shu Mai, and San Hill. The novel excluded Wat Tambor but gave a bigger role to Poggle the Lesser and Passel Argente. The comic removes Shu Mai and replaces her with Toonbuck Toora, who in the movie is still on the Republic side, standing next to Palpatine on Coruscant.
-Once again, the manner in which the CIS formation is reported to Coruscant is different. Here, Obi-Wan’s transmission is sent directly to Palpatine’s office, where several Jedi and the Chancellor’s inner circle are present.

I did enjoy this adaptation of Episode II, but it does go by very fast. Certain information is lost, so I wouldn’t rely on this alone for the story of Attack of the Clones. Also, if you do not yet own this, hold off on buying it until October 2011, as it will be included in Omnibus: The Complete Saga, along with the comic adaptations of Episodes I and III, the Special Edition of Episode IV, and the Marvel adaptations of Episodes V and VI.

About the Author

Andrew Halliday contributes to EUCantina as a writer. He writes our column "The Star Wars Dissection," published every second Monday, and also reviews episodes of The Clone Wars television show. He began writing in 2010, sending letters to the SoloSound.net podcast The EU Review, using mathematics to look at certain trends in Star Wars content. These monthly analyses were expanded into his column in 2011. He has a degree in biology and a love for all things science and math.