Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the White Witch’ by Martin Caidin

Martin Caidin’s previous Indiana Jones book wasn’t very good and I said as much in my review of it. This one is at least a bit better but it’s still much weaker than the earliest books in the series.

This one deals with Indy teaming up with a female archeologist (nothing new there) and a Wiccan priestess. They’re hunting treasure (no surprise there) and this ties back to some of the Merlin stuff from earlier books.

In this, Merlin’s sword is one of the MacGuffins. But hey, unlike the last book, at least there are MacGuffins and Indy isn’t pretending to be James Bond fighting a cheap knockoff of S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

The real problem with this, though, is that it’s dreadfully boring for the most part. These books don’t need to be over 300 pages. Frankly, they should be 150-200 page pulp novels. The reason being, the story is full of unnecessary bloat, as if the author is too in love with his own work.

I’m glad that Caidin only wrote two of these books and that this one is the last of them. He doesn’t understand the Indiana Jones franchise, the character and how the plots of these stories should be structured.

I read these books because I love the character and the movie formula so much. This offers nothing in that regard.

Rating: 5/10

Book Review: ‘Indiana Jones and the Sky Pirates’ by Martin Caidin

I got halfway through the ’90s Indiana Jones novels and decided to take a break. All of those were written by the same author, however, the final six are split between two authors. So I’m not sure if I’m just going to plow through all six or if I’ll take another break between the next author switch.

This one was… weird.

It doesn’t seem like the author really understands who Indiana Jones is. He’s an archeologist and explorer that more often than not finds himself in perilous situations with villains and evil armies usually hunting the same thing for nefarious reasons. He doesn’t ask the Nazis to show up but he’ll fight them long enough to get the MacGuffin away from their evil clutches.

In this book, Indy is written more like he’s James Bond. He is essentially recruited by world leaders to take down an evil international terrorist group called E.V.I.L. What?!

These villains have these airships that are pissing off the governments of the world. This also delves into discussion about aliens and ancient UFOs. Nothing really comes of that but sure, okay.

Keep in mind that the world governments all apparently know of Dr. Jones and that this story takes place before the plots of the movies.

Overall, this is just a strange fucking book that doesn’t even seem to care that much about the source material while overloading the reader with a bloated, convoluted mess that’s, at times, hard to follow.

Up to this point, this is the worst book of the lot. If the next one isn’t a massive improvement, I may take an even longer break from this series.

Rating: 4/10

Comic Review: Stars Wars – Omnibus: Quinlan Vos: Jedi In Darkness

Published: February 5th, 2015
Written by: Pat Mills, John Ostrander
Art by: Ramon F. Bachs, Christian Dalla Vecchia, Jan Duursema, Davide Fabbri, Guy Major
Based on: Star Wars by George Lucas

Dark Horse, Marvel Comics (reprinted), 509 Pages

Review:

Outside of the Star Wars films, Quinlan Vos is my favorite character. I first came across him during the Clone Wars era of the Dark Horse Star Wars comics between 2002 and 2005.

I guess, technically, he is in The Phantom Menace even though he is just a background character in one scene and originally, he was just some random dude that the character was later based off of. But he was set to appear in Revenge of the Sith and even got a name drop in the movie but his scene was left out of the film. Although, that scene did make it into the novelization.

This beefy collection of issues collects his earliest comic stories and I had fun reading this, as these were stories I missed, as they predate his Clone Wars tales.

While I didn’t like these as much as the Clone Wars stuff, which saw Vos infiltrate the Sith and stand alongside Count Dooku, I did enjoy these stories because it gives Vos’ backstory and shows you where he came from, who he is and also establishes his relationship with his padawan Aayla Secura.

Vos always interacted with the seedier parts of the Star Wars universe and that’s one of the things I always liked about him and his stories. In a lot of ways, he feels like Star Wars‘ version of ’80s Wolverine. He’s down to do dirt if he has to and you never really know if he’s truly a hero. Vos walks on the line and if anyone crosses him, they’re probably going to regret it.

Ultimately, this really reignited my love for this era of Star Wars in the comics and I really want to go back and read the Clone Wars stuff again. Maybe I will, in the near future.

Rating: 7.5/10

Comic Review: Star Wars: Visionaries

Published: 2005
Written by: various
Art by: various
Based on: Star Wars by George Lucas

Dark Horse, Marvel Comics (reprinted), 134 Pages

Review:

I bought this and read it way back in 2005. Back then, I liked parts of it but other than the Darth Maul resurrection story and the General Grievous origin story, I didn’t remember anything else.

Reading this again, for the first time in over a decade and a half, I can see why only those two stories stuck with me out of this anthology of ten tales.

The stories were crafted by some of the creatives that worked on Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. So with that, the results were a mixed bag and I think we’re really supposed to look at these as “what ifs”. Although, the Darth Maul story and his new look did inspire the character’s canonical return in the Clone Wars television series.

I’d consider that Darth Maul story to be the most important one featured in this because it legitimately inspired his resurrection and hatred for Obi-Wan Kenobi.

I also really enjoyed the Grievous story, which showed him on his home planet in his natural form before he had to be rebuilt as a four-armed cyborg warrior. Since reading this, originally, I’ve always wished that we’d get to see more of Grievous’ backstory in other mediums. His story and his people are pretty interesting.

Apart from that, everything else in this is a creative misfire. None of it is bad but it all just comes across as fan fiction and honestly, that’s what this whole collection of stories is. 

Rating: 6/10

Comic Review: Star Wars: Infinities – Omnibus

Published: February 5th, 2015
Written by: Adam Gallardo, Dave Land, Chris Warner
Art by: Ryan Benjamin, Davide Fabbri, Drew Edward Johnson
Based on: Star Wars by George Lucas

Dark Horse, Marvel Comics (reprinted), 277 Pages

Review:

I always wanted to read these stories but back when they were coming out, my funds were extremely limited and I couldn’t pull every comic book that I wanted, each month.

Well, through the miracle of more income and Comixology Unlimited, I can read and afford just about anything that I missed out on.

This series was essentially Star Wars‘ version of Marvel’s What If? comic series. It took known stories and then changed some minor thing to show how it completely altered the famous tales. In the case of Infinities, it altered each film in the Original Trilogy of Star Wars movies.

For the most part, I liked what each of the three stories did here. Granted, there were moments where I was like, “Huh? WTF?!” but then it all came together in a good way in the end.

Honestly, these were pretty imaginative and entertaining alternate reality versions of the tales we all know. I can’t say that they’re better than the original movies but I like some of the concepts that came from this, such as Leia actually training to become a Jedi early on and Darth Vader redeeming himself and living.

Also, the art was pretty good in all three of the stories.

This was a pretty cool thing to read and hardcore fans of the original films might want to check it out just to see how things could’ve gone.

Rating: 8/10

Comic Review: Star Wars: Legacy – Book III

Published: January 8th, 2015 (Marvel reprint)
Written by: Jan Duursema, John Ostrander
Art by: Jan Duursema, Dave Ross
Based on: Star Wars by George Lucas

Dark Horse, Marvel Comics (reprinted), 443 Pages

Review:

Well, here we are, the final act of this comic book series. I also had never read any of this, as I stopped reading the series before its end due to no longer being able to pull the issues at my local comic shop.

So seeing where all these characters ended up was something that I didn’t get to experience until now.

I’m very happy to say that this series ended with a giant f’n bang!

I loved this and it tied everything up perfectly and the long arcs of the main characters ended up being really damn satisfying. But then again, this was Star Wars before Disney took control and basically wrecked it with their warped ideology, complete lack of actual creativity and by putting people in charge of the franchise that cared more about current day “issues” than the actual art.

That being said, and as I have said many times before, this version of Star Wars is my canon. Fuck that Disney shit. The original Expanded Universe, as proven by this comic book series and just about every other release be it comics, books, video games or whatever, is the superior continuity. The reason for that, is it was made by creatives that were fans and cared about the franchise while respecting the fact that being given the keys to it, was a huge responsibility.

But enough about me bitching about the state of modern Star Wars.

This beefy collection of issues was fantastic. You finally get to see the final showdown between Cade Skywalker and Darth Krayt. You also get the satisfaction of seeing Krayt get revenge on the Sith who betrayed him, while shuffling the deck for the Sith’s survival going forward.

By this point, this series had a ton of characters. All of them get their stories wrapped up and it’s neat seeing new alliances formed as old ones dissolve in the wake of this big final battle between Krayt’s Sith Empire and their opposition.

We see heroes grow, destinies fulfilled, alliances formed, redemption achieved for some and the triumph of light over dark. This is Star Wars

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: other Star Wars comics of the Legacy era, as well as the stuff originally published by Dark Horse.

Documentary Review: Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys (2014)

Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Directed by: Brian Stillman
Written by: Brian Stillman
Music by: Chris Ianuzzi
Cast: various

X-Ray Films, 70 Minutes

Review:

Plastic Galaxy is a documentary about the people who have a bit of an obsession with collecting Star Wars toys. It mainly focuses on the original line of toys from the original trilogy of movies and it also goes into their history and development.

I was initially excited to check this out back when it was a new film. However, it’s kind of light, if I’m being honest and suffers from some clunky editing, too much reliance on talking head interviews and, at times, being a bit overly dramatic.

That being said, I think that the Star Wars episode of Netflix’s The Toys That Made Us is a much better watch and a more professional production.

Still, this was neat to revisit and it’s engaging enough. But the 70 minute running time seems scant and I feel like this really needed to delve into the history more and provide more backstory.

All in all, this is okay but it could’ve been a lot better than what it was.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries on toys, video games, table top gaming, collecting and specific niche fandoms.