Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quick -- A Distraction!

My apologies for the slowdown in posts here. I'm knee-deep in work on the revision to Thousand Suns and, as often happens when I'm hitting my stride, I'm ignoring lots of other work to take full advantage of the momentum I've generated. I'm also gearing up to finish the first Dwimmermount-related PDF (on dwarves and gnomes) and do more work on the Dwimmermount book itself, so, needless to say, I've been more neglectful than usual with posts and, especially, correspondence. With luck, that'll change soon, since I have quite a few posts to make, including many, many reviews, but I can't guarantee anything.

In the meantime, though, I thought I'd share some more images from the Marvel Star Wars comics, because I continue to be, well, obsessed with them and people seem to be enjoying my entries reminiscing about them.

Among the many intriguing characters introduced in the Star Wars comics was Baron Orman Tagge, the head of a noble house of which General Ulric Tagge -- the guy with the awesome sideburns in the Death Star conference room -- is a member. Baron Tagge had a vendetta against Darth Vader, who'd apparently blinded him at some time in the past, and now plotted revenge against him, hoping to displace him in the Emperor's favor.

As you can see, Tagge was a believer in old school irony; nothing less than beating Vader at his own game would suffice, which is why he trained relentlessly with the lightsaber. But, like just about everyone else associated with the Empire in the original film, he has no respect for the Jedi or their "ancient religion."

So, Tagge uses his family's resources over several issues of the comic trying to create a new "technological terror" with which to defeat the Rebellion -- and embarrass Darth Vader in the process. The baron is a wonderfully melodramatic villain and you've got love the man's fashion sense, right down to the "cyber vision" glasses that allow him to see despite the wounds he received from the Dark Lord.

I also like Tagge because of what he implies about the political structure of the Empire: a dog-eat-dog society of barely controlled chaos, where ambitious nobles, greedy corporate executives, mad scientists, and military strongmen vie with one another for power and influence under the iron fist of the Emperor, who no doubt encourages this behavior as a way to keep his Empire powerful and ensure his underlings are too busy fighting one another to try and overthrow him. It's a very different conception than what we get in the later movies, but I confess to preferring it in many ways, not least of all because it makes for better space opera.

Anyway, I should get back to work, so I'll leave you with another Marvel Star Wars image. It has little to do with the musings in this post, but it's cool nonetheless and you have to dig the boxed text.

18 comments:

  1. "It's a very different conception than what we get in the later movies, but I confess to preferring it in many ways, not least of all because it makes for better space opera."

    That's for damn sure. I've been breaking out my Star Wars omnibus to look up issues you've mentioned. Second in the series comes out next week!

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  2. "It's a very different conception than what we get in the later movies, but I confess to preferring it in many ways, not least of all because it makes for better space opera."

    It's also nice because then the whole thing isn't just about the fershlugginer Skywalker family too.

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  3. I had this issue of Star Wars way back in the day and remember it fondly. Unfortunately, I never obtained the issues consistently and never read the full story arc, so this is a good excuse to track down the Omnibuses.

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  4. What I love about these pre-Empire Strikes Back comics is that Vader retains his title as THE Dark Lord of the Sith. I hated that he was later relegated to the Emperor's lap dog and apprentice.

    Tagge's line about Vader and his wizard's ways no longer holding the Emperor's fancy implies that the emperor is just a normal ruler, swayed by the enigmatic power of Darth Vader. I like this a lot more than the Master/Apprentice relationship that was eventually revealed.

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  5. I felt that the early SW comics were way more fantastic and pulpy than the movie series became. All this talk about the omnibus is making me verrry interested in reading these stories again.

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  6. "It's a very different conception than what we get in the later movies" I don't know if this is entirely true. I think it's largely less a function of how the Empire is portrayed and more an issue with Vader serving as the primary lens through which we see the Empire. Theres enough of this element in the movies that it shows up in much of the expanded universe fiction (pre-prequels anway, but let's not talk about them). I don't really enjoy the expanded universe terribly much, but I am somewhat aware of it.

    As for making good space opera, your damn right it does.

    On Vader's "wizard ways": The one thing I most hate about the prequels (continuity wise anyway) is the lack of time between the collapse of the Jedi and a New Hope. In Episode IV, Han doesn't believe the Force even exists, and neither do a number of the imeprial officers. I find this hard to imagine if there were hundreds of Jedi within these people's lifetimes.

    Sorry if I sound like a fanboy, but the conception of the Empire you presented above is how I viewed it even in EMPIRE and JEDI. My two cents.

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  7. Any idea about when the revision of Thousand Suns will come out?
    Last winter, it said May 2010 on Rogue Games' website. Obviously this was pushed back but it would be neat to know approximately when it will be available.

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  8. Great selection, and the House of Tagge are awesome. That's Carmine Infantino as well on art isn't it? Beautifully drawn.

    [i]"a dog-eat-dog society of barely controlled chaos, where ambitious nobles, greedy corporate executives, mad scientists, and military strongmen vie with one another for power and influence under the iron fist of the Emperor, who no doubt encourages this behavior as a way to keep his Empire powerful and ensure his underlings are too busy fighting one another to try and overthrow him."[/i]

    Well put. While I must admit my bias, as the Emperor is my favorite character in the entire series, I think it's well worth checking out this 4 issue series that's written much in that spirit. I suppose they "try," but the last dog left at the table...well...I like to put it as "it works out about as well as you'd imagine."

    http://www.darkhorse.com/Books/12-547/Star-Wars-Empire-Vol-1-TPB

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  9. Any idea about when the revision of Thousand Suns will come out?

    Next Spring. I pushed it back because I wanted to do it right and the current rulebook, while less than ideal from an organizational perspective, is still perfectly usable. The revision will be about 95% identical to it, but with better layout, organization, art, and editing to make it more accessible. I want this to be the first and last time I ever have to update the game, so I decided it better to take the time now and not feel regrets later.

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  10. Tagge's line about Vader and his wizard's ways no longer holding the Emperor's fancy implies that the emperor is just a normal ruler, swayed by the enigmatic power of Darth Vader. I like this a lot more than the Master/Apprentice relationship that was eventually revealed.

    It's, of course, a matter of taste, but I've long found it more compelling that the "real" villain was "always" the Emperor - cruel, manipulative, fascist, completely indifferent to ethical concerns. He combines the worst aspects of an Augustus Caesar and a Richard Nixon (also the model for SW inspiration Darkseid) into one corrupt little whole.

    In a gaming context, I've portrayed it that the Emperor is universally considered to be a decrepit old man, with Vader as both guru to the emperor and power behind the throne as well as iron fist. But if the PCs somehow managed to defeat Vader in combat they'd find the Emperor would quickly have a replacement :)

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  11. As I said in another thread, Baron Tagge made such an impression on me that I ended up using the Tagge family in my own Star Wars game years later.

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  12. the head of a noble house

    Whoa, it's like a Star Wars/Dune mash-up!

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  13. I also like Tagge because of what he implies about the political structure of the Empire: a dog-eat-dog society of barely controlled chaos, where ambitious nobles, greedy corporate executives, mad scientists, and military strongmen vie with one another for power and influence under the iron fist of the Emperor, who no doubt encourages this behavior as a way to keep his Empire powerful and ensure his underlings are too busy fighting one another to try and overthrow him. It's a very different conception than what we get in the later movies, but I confess to preferring it in many ways, not least of all because it makes for better space opera.

    Actually, that's the way it's presented in the first movie and especially the Prequels. Palpatine regularly pits one underling against another and is always out to recruit new ones.


    On Vader's "wizard ways": The one thing I most hate about the prequels (continuity wise anyway) is the lack of time between the collapse of the Jedi and a New Hope. In Episode IV, Han doesn't believe the Force even exists, and neither do a number of the imeprial officers. I find this hard to imagine if there were hundreds of Jedi within these people's lifetimes.

    The Galaxy Far Far Away (GFFA) has many MILLIONS of inhabited planets or moons and each one has anywhere from a few hundred thousand people (like Tattooine) to a trillion or more (Coruscant). So even if there are thousands of Jedi, most inhabitants of the GFFA would never see a single Jedi in their lifetimes, let alone know enough about their skills and powers to tell the difference between The Force and what Han Solo called "strange stuff" and "simple tricks and nonsense".

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  14. Maybe never seen them, but there would be reporting on them etc.

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  15. People report on all kinds of things in real life (UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, supply-side economics), but that doesn't mean everyone believes in them.

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  16. "Tagge's line about Vader and his wizard's ways no longer holding the Emperor's fancy implies that the emperor is just a normal ruler, swayed by the enigmatic power of Darth Vader. I like this a lot more than the Master/Apprentice relationship that was eventually revealed."

    Not so much revealed, as changed. The whole dynamic was completely different prior to Empire, when Lucas decided to make the emperor a spooky dark side type.

    In ANH, Tarkin is higher in the pecking order than Vader, and Vader defers to him.

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  17. In ANH, Tarkin is higher in the pecking order than Vader, and Vader defers to him.

    Absolutely. Princess Leia remarks on this fact at one point, claiming she wasn't surprised to find Tarkin "holding Vader's leash." The impression the original film gave me was that Vader was kept around by the Emperor as a "pet Jedi," a minion who was useful for certain kinds of missions because of his special talents -- more like a highly trained assassin than a trusted lieutenant.

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  18. Baron Tagge was one of my favorite characters form the comic book. And, if I recall, didn't he have a hand in much later issues in the creation of Lumiya, who the Tagges created to get close to Luke and destroy him after finding out he was Vader's son?

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