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Ranking Disney’s Young Han Solo Shortlist

Who’s scruffy-looking? Apparently about a dozen dark, handsome potential nerf-herders comprise the shortlist to play the young scoundrel in the upcoming Han Solo-focused spinoff film. Variety reported eight names, and I will herein give them choice ranking from least desirable in the role to most.

Logan Lerman Star Wars8.  Logan Lerman. Are you kidding me? Percy Jackson? No. This kid belongs in a boy band, not on the Millenium Falcon. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.



Dave Franco Star Wars7.  Dave Franco. I dunno. He’s a pretty boy. Too pretty. Like he literally has no scruffiness. It’s also not working in his favor that I’ve only seen him do comedy. And that when I look at him, I see “Baby James Franco.” I will have a hard time accepting him as my freighter-piloting smuggler for these reasons, and he gets the second to last spot.


Teller Star Wars6.  Miles Teller. Teller has the acting chops, and he’s played characters who get by on their charisma and improvisational conning, notably in The Spectacular Now. That said, there’s something too boyish about him. I have a hard time imagining him as a young Han.



Jack Reynor Star Wars

5.  Jack Reynor. Pro: played Malcolm in the recent film version of Macbeth, so must have some talent, also: Irish. Con: acted in a Transformers movie. Unsure: Looks like Chris Pratt and Nathan Fillion’s lovechild. His face is a bit too round and open, so I wonder if he has any scruff beyond that facial hair. But he’s got the exact right mouth.


Emory Cohen Star Wars4.  Emory Cohen. He’s been in some heavy-hitting indie films, suggesting he’s got some acting talent. But what really sells Cohen as a decent choice is the smirk. This is a Han Solo smirk, and I can stand behind it even if the rest of his face isn’t a perfect match. But can he set his face and point intently to show he’s really serious? Hopefully Disney will test that in auditions.


Scott Eastwood Star Wars3.  Scott Eastwood. Sometimes it’s hard to not look at Scott and just see his dad. But he’s honestly the manliest. The rest of these guys look like babies. Eastwood has the rugged face of an outsider, a guy who rides at his own discretion, in short, a cowboy. And so I could see him as our beloved space cowboy pretty easily. The cock-eyed grin definitely works.


Ansel Elgort Star Wars2.  Ansel Elgort. Less proven of an actor, but he’s got the eyes, the brow, and the nose. Oh, and the hair. Grow that wave mane out to be shaggier in the back, and this choice has a huge chunk of what would be required. He’s also tall, so standing next to Chewbacca won’t dwarf-size him.



blake-jenner-bio-photo1.  Blake Jenner. Um, holy crap. I have never seen this guy before in my life (cut me some slack, I’m well over 30-years old), but one look and I can see he’s perfect. He has the hair, the jaw, the eyes, the nose, the coloring, the smirk. He looks straight out of the 70’s, which is a huge bonus. And he’s sexy. I won’t hold his involvement with Glee against him–instead, I’ll look forward to his upcoming guest star on Supergirl. Disney, don’t be stupid. This is the guy.

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Comic Review: Star Wars (2015) #8

Star_Wars_8_CoverStar Wars #7 left us with a doozy of a plot twist in the appearance of Sana Solo, Han’s wife. So although I was pretty ready to abandon Star Wars with John Cassaday, that cliffhanger got me picking up #8. The continuation of the story doesn’t disappoint. And though I do miss Cassaday’s art, Stuart Immonen does right by the characters and keeps the world familiar.

Spoilers ahoy!

One of the great things about Jason Aaron’s writing of Star Wars is that he’s clearly having fun. On the opening pages of #8, Imperial ships fly above the planet where Han and Leia have found refuge and then complications. The captain of the fleet orders the TIE fighters to attack. Upon receiving the order, a pilot responds, “I love my job. Long live the Empire!” We wouldn’t need this nobody’s dialogue to finish the scene. The scene is there to progress the rising action coming down on our heroes. But the addition of it lightens an otherwise dour two pages filled with military language. Seeing the personal joy this TIE pilot has is also fun for the reader.

When we get back to the point of the cliffhanger–the reveal that Sana is Han’s wife–Aaron immediately gives us blustering, back-pedaling Han, a mirror of the greeting with Lando in The Empire Strikes Back. What I loved about the development of this story is how ambiguous the truth is. Sana insists they’re married, that he’s a con artist scamming her as he’s done to other women in the past. Han denies that the two are married, denies the long cons, while Sana sticks to her story and tells him the time to run the con is up. Since we see Han as a hero, we want to believe his side, but how truthful his denials are is questionable. Sana’s got her own plans for the Princess though and blows up their shuttle to keep them from escaping. She wants to sell Leia to the Empire.

To add to the twistiness of trust, Leia herself doesn’t know who to believe and ends up acting against Han to protect her freedom, figuring Han might be in cahoots with Sana. I love that Leia doesn’t wait for Han to try to rescue them from the situation, that she takes control of her own rescue.

Also enjoyable is Aaron’s peppering of diction from Empire to add weight to their meaning. Han, attempting to sweet-talk Sana into letting them go, admits he’s a “scoundrel”. For the reader, then, watching the scene in Empire where he tells Leia that she likes him because he’s a scoundrel has new resonance, now calling back to this encounter.

Meanwhile Luke’s looking for Jedi answers, dismayed that he nearly lost his life over a bunch of stupid stories. Oh, Luke, don’t you know stories are everything? I appreciate how spot on Luke’s character is to the timeline of the films. He’s got the naive cockiness of A New Hope, easily dismissive of Obi-Wan’s gift to him. But there’s a growing awareness of his limitations. He’s still uncomfortable in his Jedi knowledge, forming the path to who he is at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.

Immonen doesn’t have the shadowy realism of Cassaday’s art, but his likenesses to Hamill, Fisher, and Ford are strong. The facial expressions and body language were frequently spot on to similar emotional moments from the films.

Immonen Pencils

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Star Wars Saturday–Comic Review of ‘Star Wars’ (2015) #5

starwars5coverTHE GREATEST SPACE ADVENTURE OF ALL TIME CONTINUES! As Luke goes home in search of the truth about his late mentor… …Leia takes Han on a secret mission of vital importance to the Rebellion. Unfortunately, they both run into some unfriendly encounters.

Jason Aaron and John Cassaday continue their run filling in the gap between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. The writing and art stay true to the characters, and the pacing remains similar to that of the original trilogy films. We see more of everyone’s favorite bounty hunter as he attempts to track down the young Jedi now on Vader’s radar. Luke nearly repeats a mistake his father once made. And Han and Leia explore the hate part of their love-hate relationship. There are a few call-backs to deep fan knowledge–Luke gets referred to as “Wormie” by a Tatooine local.

As far as single issues go, this one is a bit of a let down. It’s clearly a transition installment, bridging the end of the first act and kicking off the start of the second. Reading it alone, it feels less substantial than the other issues. I imagine, however, that collected in trade paper back, this wouldn’t be a concern. It would just be one of those middle ones you blaze through on your way to the more climactic issues. Still, even in this regard, Aaron is true to the nature of this particular beast. It feels very much like the few scenes following the Battle of Hoth where our heroes split up to follow their various paths and the new narrative arcs get established–Luke going to Dagobah and Han and Leia attempting to lose their Imperial tail.

It leaves me thirsty for more.


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Early Observations about “Operation Mongoose”

Severe weather delayed our reactions. Henry brought his A game. And the ships sailed en masse.

Michael’s “Always… no, no… never… forget to check your references.”

“Operation Mongoose”

We covered this one back in 4×03 “Rocky Road.” It’s more a less a reference to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and “Rikki-tikki-tavi.”

Then it was perfect. Here it’s funny. It’s both. Regina intitially chose because mongooses are fabled (operation) cobra killers.

Walt Disney

The opening scene literally occurs on the day of Walter Elias Disney’s death: December 15, 1966. The envelope Isaac receives from Star Publishing bears that date. This pretty much confirms that the “man named Walt” mentioned by August in 4×17 “Best Laid Plans” was the Author immediately prior to Isaac Heller.

4x21-22 December 15

Bonus: 1966 was the year color television really became a viable consumer option following an industry wide push to broadcast half of all programming in color and the introduction of General Electric’s Porta-Color.

Bonus: “When You Wish Upon A Star,” the Disney anthem is alluded to in the publishing company, showing that even though Isaac views himself as a non-hero, he too can make his dreams come true.

Alice in Wonderland

carpenterThe Apprentice keeps repeating to Isaac, “The time has come…” which is also the starting line of a stanza in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” Turns out our Apprentice also played the role of the Carpenter in SyFy’s Alice.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”


Their logo appears on the sales floor television screens.

4x21-22 abc

Zenith Space Command 600

Yes, the first practical wireless television remote control was called the Space Command, because the days of future past were awesome. The 600 was designed for use with color televisions and allowed viewers to adjust hues by increments.

4x21-22 Space Command

The television Isaac’s awkwardly trying to sell is not, however, and actual 1966 model Zenith Mareseille.

25th Infantry Division

The customer and the shop owner are veterans of the United States’ Pacific War during World War II. The 25th Infantry Division, “Tropic Lightning” was posted at Schofield Barracks on Oahu.

4x21-22 25th Infantry Division

So it’s probably another Lost related reference. However, that particular unit was also the subejct of From Here to Eternity which ends at the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Shortly after this scene, Oliver Stone would would see combat in Vietnam with the unit, the same which inspired Platoon.

Bonus: Isaac’s boss was the White Knight in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland.

Harry Potter

The Apprentice lays out five wands pens from which Isaac must choose. The scene is only somewhat reminiscent of Olivander’s, “The wand chooses the wizard.” However, Henry breaking the quill at the end mirrors Harry’s refusal of the Elder Wand.


These are probably too numerous to account for, but there’s an obvious Cinderella in the front row at Isaac’s reading. There’s a brilliant Ursula. And there’s the mind boggling superfan cosplaying Regina cosplaying bandit Snow. Needless to say, I was delighted by that one.

4x21-22 Ursula


Isaac’s surname is inspired by Joseph Heller, another famous Jewish author. The reference manifests in Henry’s role. As a being born in the real world, Isaac was unable to affect him. But it’s that very quality that allows him to track down the renegade Author and eventually save the day.

4x21-22 Isaac Heller

He’s the catch. All of the books on the rack are mock-ups. On the far right, you can see Shadow Precinct by Bill Burd. Burd is Once Upon a Time‘s property master.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Grumpy: Hi ho, boys, it’s off to work we go!

Obviously every episode is technically a reference to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and half a dozen other Disnified fairy tales, but it’s rare to get an actual line from the film. This was great.

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope

Henry instructs Killian to tell Emma’s guard that he’s escorting a prisoner from Kashyyyk. “The old wookie prisoner gag. Works every time.” Better yet, Hook’s our Hand Solo (forgive me.) And they’re rescuing Princess Leia!

4x21-22 Kashyyyk


Emma’s locked in a tower by the queen, technically her mother, in Heroes and Villains, approaching the Rapunzel reference which they couldn’t do directly since the character’s already represented on the show. But what they did do is dress her following the rescue in Flynn Rider’s clothes! So Emma gets to be both of the protagonists of Tangled.

4x21-22 Tangled

Pirates of the Caribbean

Killian: You’re telling me that in this other reality I’m an expert with such a weapon?

Emma: You’re a regular Jack Sparrow.

Erin’s Happy Shipper Moments

Rather than reusing the hackneyed true love’s kiss, all the real ships of worth had love-motivated sacrifices.

Captain Swan

Emma remembers the way things were before the rewrite, which is convenient for the plot but also gives the opportunity for lots of tasty dramatic irony. So, for instance, when Hook (a mere deckhand) and Henry rescue Emma from her tower, and she runs full on into Hook, there’s a moment where she clearly wants to kiss him. She’s so happy to see him again, she can hardly contain herself. But she knows he doesn’t remember her, even though its clear she makes a quick, deep romantic impression on him. It’s a dramatic reversal of him coming to New York to rescue her from her Storybrook amnesia. Though, of course, he does kiss her.

After defeating dragon Lily, Hook asks Emma why she trusted him with her life just now. She responds, “It’s complicated. Might take a while.” She ends up not telling him, but it gets Killian’s brain going in the right direction so that when they begin working on his fighting skills, and she’s playing the flirty mentor, he’s able to see clearly that in the world she’s trying to get back to, they were close. He comments that he’s rather jealous of this other Hook from her world, and echo of being jealous of the Hook she seduces at the end of Season 3.

Sadly, this is followed up by Killian’s sacrificial death giving Emma a chance to escape. Returning the trust, he figures if she manages her mission, his death here won’t mean anything. He’s right, but his death still deeply wounds Emma emotionally.

When later Emma attempts to convince Regina to go after Robin and her happiness, she explains, “I just watched the man I love die…The worst part is that I never told him I loved him. Not once. I was too scared. Too scared that somehow saying it would make it real and change everything.”

After Henry saves the day and returns everyone back to their original selves in Storybrooke, Emma makes a mad dash for the apartment to make sure Killian’s there. There’s a brief tease when we think he’s not, but he’s just up in the loft. She runs up to him and tackles him onto the bed. He’s happy to see her, of course, and tickled at her enthusiasm. She starts to come clean about her feelings, and his face shows he expects her to finally say it–he even has this adorable tiny smirk and a nervous swallow of the throat–but then she dodges into a thank you for saving her and Henry’s lives. Because he’s Killian, and he totally gets Emma, he simply responds it’s just another day in the life of a hero. But, of course, all of the Captain Swanners everywhere started throwing things at Emma on their televisions.

And finally, when Regina gets attacked by the Darkness and Emma decides to tether herself to it to save Regina, Hook begs her not to with tears in his eyes. She finally tells him she loves him before grabbing the dagger and sacrificing herself for Regina’s happy ending. That’s a three hanky ending, folks.


In Heroes and Villains, Rumple and Belle have a new baby and a happy marriage. But Rumple is keeping secrets about his first son from her, and Isaac uses that to manipulate Rumple into being villainous. Rumple attempts to talk to Belle about the dilemma in vague terms and ends up dropping his teacup in his nervousness, producing the infamous chipped cup that symbolizes their relationship.

When Henry returns the characters to where they were, Rumple is dying in the shop. Belle comes in looking for him, wanting to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone else. But he knows these are his last moments, and when the man is gone, along with his ability to love, the Darkness will be the greatest danger the town has ever encountered. Faced with his impending death, Belle admits she doesn’t love Will (with the implication that she still loves Rumple) and won’t let Rumple die alone, but Rumple sends her for help to defend against the Darkness that is inside him.

Swan Queen

Emma encourages Regina to go after her happy ending, starting with going after Robin. “My happy ending isn’t a man,” Regina states, with the implication that it might, in fact, be a woman named Emma.

Emma becomes the Dark One to save Regina from being killed by the Darkness like the Apprentice was. Regina protests that there must be another way–she doesn’t want Emma to do this–but Emma doesn’t see one, not yet anyway. She trusts that her family will find a way to banish her darkness once again as heroes. (Mmm, redemptiony.)

Outlaw Queen

When Regina meets Robin after he rescues her from Evil Snow White, they share a drink at a pub, just as Henry suggested. Regina tries playing it cool, but Robin is all sincerity. He holds her hand to clean her wound in the age-old way of dowsing it in alcohol. She thought he’d be dirtier, but he’s always admired her skills. They’re clearly hitting it off, and Regina’s face becomes more and more open to the possibility that he really is her true love. He propositions her with taking his place as leader of the Merry Men. She asks what’s driving him out of the business, and he delivers a most romantic response, one that melts her very heart: “Have you ever met someone that you would change your entire world for? Someone whose eyes you just knew you were born to gaze into?” And as she gazes into his eyes, his words have struck a chord. Too damn bad he’s talking about Zelena.

And, of course, breaking the Isaac curse hinges on Regina stopping the wedding between Robin and Zelena and using true love’s kiss to undo the magic. She doesn’t manage it, though they do share an ambiguously sweet smile, instead sacrificing herself for Henry before he gets killed by Rumple. Robin and wedding party are leaving the chapel and see Regina. He runs to her. Zelena complains about getting blood on her dress, showing Robin what kind of false true love she really is. Robin promises that he won’t let Regina die alone.

Upon returning to Storybrooke, Robin asks Regina about Zelena. She says still locked up and still pregnant, but we can deal with that. Robin then invites her on a long moonlit walk. Unfortunately, that never happens thanks to the release of the Darkness. Robin attempts to save Regina by running into the Darkness, but he just gets thrown backwards.

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Star Wars Saturday: Review of Star Wars Issue #4

Star-Wars-004-coverIt’s good to see Jason Aaron perfectly following the pacing of the original films. In the first three issues he presented the opening mini-mission, quick on the action, pulling the reader into the story and establishing the story’s tension. In this case, the Rebel Alliance trying to seize their advantage after the destruction of the first Death Star and the realization in Luke that he’s not quite the Jedi he imagines himself to be.

But that mini-mission concluded at the end of #3, and in #4 we pick up with the character-building second act. Han and Chewie rebuilding the Falcon, Leia negotiating with Ackbar and Mothma about resources to continue striking out at the Empire even as the Rebels are on the run, and Luke dealing with the volatile teammate he is as he attempts to grow and learn to control his use of the Force. Aaron, with Cassaday’s evocative art and spot-on likenesses, develops what fans already know about these characters while also adding new insights, especially with Leia’s role in the Rebellion and Luke’s Jedi growing pains.

But that’s not all! Issue #4 also brings together two villains–Vader, now doing the Emporer’s resource-gathering negotiating, and Jabba the Hutt. Their interaction is largely humorous thanks to the personality clash and the off-kilter observances of the Hutt, who loves the smell of freshly slain Bantha in the morning. And we get a mysterious new player on the scene in Tatooine and the surprise appearance of an old favorite. jabba issue 4

The young woman working at my local comic book store on Wednesday reported that every person who had come in that and bought comics had picked up the new Star Wars. Here’s why: issue #4 continues to deliver the characterization, pacing, and tone of the original trilogy films we love so dearly. I thank Aaron and Cassaday for filling in this time period between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back with deep insights and a light touch.

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Star Wars Sunday: Comic Review of Star Wars #1

Star Wars 1 coverAs I reflected upon a couple weeks ago, Marvel has rebooted the Star Wars comic as part of the new Disney-owned Star Wars push for more material. This glut of new Star Wars could be disastrous, maybe, milking the franchise until its dry and ready to be sent out to pasture, but, really, if the prequels didn’t already destroy the brand, could be nothing will. And, to Disney’s credit, the material they’ve been putting out has been high quality and true to the nature of the original trilogy. Case in point: the rebooted comic series written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by John Cassaday.

I finally got to read Issue #1 the other day, and I was pleased with it on more than one level. Let me count the ways I adored it:

  1. I already knew from preview pages and previous experience with Cassaday’s work that I would love the art, but I was not prepared for the many details within that love. Art so evocative of the actors that particular glances pulled me back to a single original trilogy moment: “Who’s scruffy-looking?” Art so detailed that it’s clear this is Luke pre-Mark Hamill’s motorcycle accident. But this isn’t some hyper-realistic art style (like Alex Ross). Cassaday has a realism within his comic-booky line art. Star Wars 1
  2. The plot is caper-based, meaning that each one of this ragtag bunch of misfits has his or her moment. The roles are clear, the characteristics of each are prominent. It even begins to show how they develop between the films of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.
  3. Luke deals with the growing pains of force powers in believable and endearing ways. He takes risks he probably ought not to. He hears echoes of Ben in his head, sometimes just flashbacks, sometimes new communications.
  4. Han and Leia have a romantically charged hallway moment!
  5. The more C-3PO states he has a “good feeling about this,” the more the dramatic tension rises to see just what all will go wrong. And plenty does. These rebel heroes have quite the pit to dig themselves out of after this opening issue. I’m excited to see how they pull it off.
  6. The issue could only be improved with a well-curated John Williams playlist to match its action. I challenge one of you to make it. Link in the comments.

Issue #2 arrives next week. Here’s a preview: linked for your spoiler preferences.

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Star Wars Saturday: John Cassaday Drawing New Star Wars Comic

The newly rebooted Star Wars comic arrives this month, and I’m excited to say it stars our favorite Rebel Alliance Heroes and is drawn by comics hero John Cassaday.

AbsoluteplanetaryI became a John Cassaday devotee with Warren Ellis’s fantastic Planetary, which offered a kind of alternate universe look at famous comic book characters as a fascinating group of “archaeologists” tracked their artifacts. If you’ve not had the chance to read Planetary, you should put it on your short-and-soon list. Since then, I’ve been casually following Cassaday’s work in a way that I follow no other comic artist (with the exception of a friend in the biz).

The new Star Wars comic picks up with Luke, Han, Leia, Chewie, and the droids post-A New Hope, filling in the three years between the destruction of the first Death Star and the events of The Empire Strikes Back. It is officially part of Star Wars continuity, as dictated by Disney through Marvel. Early reviews revel in how much it truly FEELS like Star Wars.

Check out this gorgeous art.


Notice that brilliant likeness of Harrison Ford’s Han Solo stare and smirk in panel 4. And did R2 just vomit as a diversionary tactic? Stay classy, Rebels. (But seriously, extra points for the chunder scene.)

But to get an idea of how far we’ve come, check out this art from the original comic series from the 70s and 80s.


Dude, did the Hanna-Barbara artists also do this?

Thank you, John Cassaday, for upping the game in drawing a truly Star Wars comic. General, count me in.

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Star Wars Saturday: Rough Cut Shows Han Solo Wasn’t Solo

This isn’t exactly newly found footage since it appeared as a special feature on the now inaccurately named Star Wars: The Complete Saga blu-rays, but this rough cut of A New Hope‘s Cantina Scene has recently popped up again on the internet’s radar and found its way to my computer screen. From a film-enthusiast’s perspective, seeing a rough cut of such a famous scene is intriguing. Of note are the original sound levels, where the sound is absent, and the feeling of being on set with the ambient sound. Imagining the film in black and white is also an odd fit.

But then you see that the original shoot gave Han a “sweetheart” with whom he sucks face before shoving her off to conduct his business. Now why didn’t George Lucas bring her back with the special edition like he did Jabba?

I’m kidding, that’s obvious. Han looks like a lech in this introductory scene, and Lucas has been attempting to hero-ize Han since the beginning. Plus, hey, that would sort of ruin the set-up for the romance with Leia.

Fans call her Jenny after the actress who played her. I, for one, am glad Jenny was left on the editing room floor.