Welcome to the first edition of the new weekly opinion column, EU Action/Reaction! Each week, I’ll be looking at various Star Wars EU events that have garnered a significant reaction from Star Wars fans and offer my own view to further the discussion. So once you read the article, feel free to leave a comment or hop on the forums and offer your own point of view! Also, please remember that these are just my personal opinions, not that of EUCantina as a whole.
This week, I’ll be discussing the major reveals at Celebration V for the upcoming third season of The Clone Wars.
There’s little doubt that The Clone Wars had some of the most explosive announcements of Celebration V. I’ll let you decide which way to interpret “explosive,” of course, since online fans seem to be completely split on the news. For some, these announcements have been just another nail in the coffin for Star Wars. Continuity buffs have taken the news the hardest, seeing each new addition as another mountain that needs to be climbed. But even fans who gravitate to a particular character, like Aurra Sing or General Grievous, have been miffed when the portrayal of that character turns out to be very different from other EU material. For others, though, the inclusion of more EU elements has been a huge blessing. In fact, I’d wager that most fans, regardless of their stance on The Clone Wars, have looked forward to seeing EU material reach the television screen.
So let me tell you a little about myself, in the hope that you’ll understand where my opinions are coming from. I’m a huge fan of the EU. I’ve read every single book, and a lot of the comics (including Republic‘s Clone Wars run). I’ve also only watched the first season of The Clone Wars, and the first Mandalorian episode of Season Two. I’m well-versed with what happens in the television show, I just greatly prefer to watch the series on DVD. You know, so I don’t have to sit through those dreadful commercials found on Cartoon Network. I’ll be honest too, I didn’t much care for The Clone Wars when I first started watching it. It wasn’t until I watched the first season on DVD that I really appreciated the show. I consider myself a pretty big continuity buff, as I suppose most are when a large amount of time is invested in a franchise, but I have greatly enjoyed The Clone Wars so far, even with Ahsoka and all the problems she brings. And the Mandalorians? Well, perhaps that’s best left for another column.
But now, there are new announcements for the new season. New worries for fans and haters alike! Like last year, we are once again faced with the age-old (and rather tired) question: Will this season be the end of Star Wars as we know it?
In a word: no.
I’ll admit it: I love Darth Maul. I don’t know if it was the horns, the tattoos or the beauty found in that double-bladed lightsaber battle, but whatever the reason, Darth Maul was damn cool. I always hoped for a sweet resurrection in one of the later prequel movies, which is perhaps why I’m an unabashed lover of both Resurrection (the Tales story where Darth Vader duels Maul) and Old Wounds (which involves Darth Maul, wearing a prosthetic lower body, hunting down Obi-Wan on Tatooine).
The cynic inside of me hates this news. Not just that fans of Darth Maul are being obviously pandered to with the ridiculous “long lost brother” scenario to get a Darth Maul fix, but because his introduction was so cheesy. And don’t get me started on that awful name. I’m surprised they didn’t just call him “Evil McBadGuy.”
The Star Wars fan inside of me, however, absolutely loves this news. I know it isn’t Darth Maul, but it’s close enough. He may have yellow skin and a long staff instead of a lightsaber, but he’s still a Zabrak. He’s still going to kick butt, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that we’ll see beautiful choreography in his fight sequences. But perhaps the best part is that Darth Maul has long been an unknown quantity. Extremely little is known about his backstory, so the addition of a brother isn’t going to suddenly weaken his character or throw entire portions of the EU to waste. No, this is a good thing. Sure, he could be just a random Zabrak. But this is Star Wars, and we need emotional connections to characters. It might be a cheap way to do it, but suspend your disbelief. And with a name like Savage, you know this guy is going to be ruthless.
And as a slight aside, Savage wears armor that is very similar to what Darth Maul wore in his Episode I concept art. Despite what some think, these guys really do their homework.
Another big announcement was that the Dathomir Nightsisters would appear in the upcoming season. Long an EU darling of the books and comics, the Nightsisters are essentially witches. They aren’t exactly Force users per se, but they are clearly able to tap into some portion of it to fuel their abilities. Filoni also said that Ventress’s backstory would be explored during the season, and the clip certainly implies that Ventress has a history with Dathomir.
Rather surprisingly, those who are disgruntled at this news seem more worried about the backstory of Asajj Ventress than the inclusion of the Nightsisters. At this point, EU fans should be pretty used to a bipolar (or perhaps tripolar?) Ventress. Although usually a background figure in the novels, Ventress was introduced in the Republic comics and quickly grew to be the nemesis of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The original Clone Wars micro-series, however, had Ventress as a silent assassin that took an interest in hunting Anakin Skywalker. Even now, her character on The Clone Wars is different from previous depictions. Heck, even her physical appearance has changed with each medium. Now, fans are worried that the homeworld (and backstory) of this character will be completely changed with revelations that she is from Dathomir. As fans may know, Ventress has a detailed history as being from the planet Rattatak. I don’t really see a reason to worry. Most likely, this sort of information will be hinted at and fans will be able to make up their own minds as to whether or not Ventress is actually from Dathomir. Remember, this show exists to continue the great experience that is Star Wars. It doesn’t exist to destroy previous materials and give uptight fans headaches. Sometimes, for the sake of telling a good story, things get changed or rewritten. But following the Mandalorian episodes of season two, brilliant retcons were created to explain the difference between Mandalore and the Mandalorians of the television show with that of preexisting EU material. If a retcon of that magnitude could work, and be absolutely plausible, fans have little to worry about with Ventress and her adventures on Dathomir.
Aurra Sing, We Hardly Knew Ye
Of all the news that came out of CV, the news surrounding Aurra Sing was easily what shocked me most. I’m a big fan of the character, having followed her exploits in great comic arcs like Outlander and The Hunt for Aurra Sing. She even showed up in Legacy of the Force: Tempest. As EU fans know, she was once a Jedi padawan under the tutelage of the Dark Woman. But even as a bounty hunter, she remained a formidable foe and crossed paths with A’Sharad Hett several times. Frankly, she was one of the best recurring villains in Republic, or at least until the Clone Wars offered new villains.
It was at CV that Dave Filoni told fans that Aurra Sing would not use the Force in any future appearances on the show. In essence, he was invalidating her entire backstory. At first, I was really peeved. Aurra Sing is a fantastic character, with a tortured background and unique appearance. Well, except that I can understand some of the hesitance to showcase her in full glory – after all, Asajj Ventress is another pale, bald woman with lightsabers and a bad attitude. Are two really needed? The answer, quite simply, is no. It’s also important to understand that it’s extremely unlikely that the show will ever blatantly say that Aurra cannot use the Force. Instead, she will simply never use it. Like the General Grievous backstory found in the first season, it will ultimately be left vague and open to interpretation. You know what? I’m fine with Aurra Sing not using the Force. As long as her background remains intact, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue to hold up, fans simply get the added bonus of seeing a great character on the show.
The Republic Commandos have been a part of the Clone Wars EU almost since the very beginning. Not only did they get a great video game to star in, they’ve also had considerable appearances in all of the Republic/Imperial Commando books by Karen Traviss (minus the first book, Hard Contact). Honestly, I don’t understand the reason to dislike this inclusion. One of my own complaints from the first season was that there simply wasn’t enough variety among the clone troopers, and I really hoped that the Republic Commandos would eventually get to show up. When it was revealed that it would be Delta Squad in action, I got really excited. It’s a great group of characters that some fans will already know well, and an appearance won’t destroy continuity because their exploits have not been fully covered from beginning to end. I suppose that some could worry that the Commandos might be in danger of being turning into kid fodder, but did you see the CV footage? Notice Sev’s helmet? Yeah, it still has the giant blood streaks on it. Something tells me that they will be as vicious as ever.
Ok, I cheated. The inclusion of Quinlan Vos was not announced at CV. In fact, it still hasn’t officially been announced. But based on the upcoming Hasbro action figure, which includes a picture of Quinlan Vos as he would appear in The Clone Wars, I knew it was too big an issue to avoid discussing. But since there’s nothing official as of yet, we’ll simply discuss a Quinlan Vos appearance in the third season as a What If? scenario.
Quinlan Vos is, without a doubt, one of the most popular EU characters around. In fact, most of the Republic Clone War issues centered around Quinlan and his constant battle with the dark side of the Force. He was a very complex character, and George Lucas liked him enough to consider adding him in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. He also liked him enough to request that he survive Order 66. What many might not realize is that Quinlan was originally supposed to appear in the first season of The Clone Wars. In the “Bombad Jedi” episode, he was going to be an undercover Jedi that used the Force to make it appear as though Jar Jar Binks was actually a Jedi. Due to technical restraints, though, the idea never made it out of the planning stage.
I can understand some of the unease toward Quinlan appearing in the show, especially given that he’s a large EU character. Will his character be true to the tortured soul found in the comics? I can’t say, but I have my doubts given the short amount of time each episode has. Still, he was originally going to be written into the show as an undercover Jedi. That alone gives me hope for his eventual appearance, because Quinlan Vos has always been an undercover Jedi of sorts – from his first appearance in Emissaries to Malastare to his infiltration of Count Dooku’s inner circle.
You Kids Need to Calm Down… or Get Off My Lawn!
These days, I feel like fans are too quick to announce their disappointment and frustration – especially when they don’t have a grasp on the final product. With The Clone Wars, it seems that ideas are introduced and then nitpicked to death before they even come to fruition. Maybe we’ve all grown into cynics with age, or maybe we feel like we’ve devoted too much time and energy into the franchise to accept any changes. I know that I was guilty of it during season two. I was one of the outspoken critics against the portrayal of Mandalore, and I felt very foolish after I watched the episode in question. Star Wars didn’t implode, it moved on. And perhaps even worse, I enjoyed the episode. Because as much as I bristled at the idea of something different, the Star Wars fan in me still loved seeing those Mandalorians on the screen.
We all need to calm down when it comes to The Clone Wars. Let’s reach into our hearts and pull out a little optimism. It’s a great show, even with its faults. If you don’t believe me, watch it with a little kid. Watch the excitement that lights up the face of that next generation of fans. Star Wars was never about following strict rules and guidelines. It takes all the fun out of it. Because at the end of the day, none of this is real. Rather than complain about the retcons that will be needed when old information is contradicted on the show, we should be ready to face the challenge of explaining it in a way that makes sense. We’re diehard EU fans! We should embrace our role and help continuity when needed, not sit around and complain. And believe it or not, we’ll feel better about ourselves too.
So no, the third season of The Clone Wars will not bring about the end of Star Wars as we know it. From the looks of it, we’re in for an exciting (and gorgeous) ride.
Check out the rest of EUCantina’s Weekly Columns.