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News and information from a Galaxy Far Far Away, and sometimes a little closer to home.
    For over a thousand years the Galactic Republic reigned unhindered, protected by Jedi Knights who swore to uphold peace and justice across the galaxy. But beneath the surface lay a shadowy faction bent on exacting their revenge.
     

    The Sith were an ancient order of dark-side welding Force-users. They were once numerous, commanding armies against the Republic until an all-out war resulted in their extinction… or so the Jedi thought.
    During a period that became known as the Hundred-Year-Darkness a former Jedi who was dissatisfied with the ways of the Jedi founded the Sith Order. The Sith believed in harnessing emotions such as anger to fuel their connection to the Force, and this drew them into conflict with their former brethren in the Force. The Sith were forced into exile by the Jedi, and settled on Moraband where they constructed huge temples and spread out, enslaving planets such as Malachor and Yavin 4.
    During the Jedi-Sith war, the Sith succeeded in capturing the Republic capital world of Coruscant, along with the Jedi Temple itself, but the ultimate downfall of this age of the Sith would be their own greed, as they turned on each other in their quest for power.
     
    Darth Bane

    At the conclusion of the Jedi-Sith War Darth Bane stood as the sole survivor of the Sith Lords. He realised that infighting had sealed their fate and allowed the Jedi to gain the upper hand in the conflict. Only by limiting their own numbers could the Sith survive: operating in the shadows to avoid attracting the attention of the Jedi. He enacted the Rule of Two, proclaiming that there could be only two Dark Lords of the Sith at one time; a master and an apprentice. This way the Sith would master every aspect of the Force and pass on their knowledge until they had finally achieved the power of immortality.
    They Jedi were fooled by this ploy, and believed that the oppression of the Sith had finally been vanquished.
     
    Darth Plagueis
    Centuries passed and the Sith Lords learnt much more about the Force. Darth Plagueis the Wise, as he would become known, mastered the secrets of manipulating the midichlorians to create life. This was a vital step in obtaining the immortality the Sith craved, and crucial to destroying the Jedi.
     
    Darth Sidious

    Plagueis’ own apprentice was well placed to further the Sith agenda. Darth Sidious, or Sheev Palpatine as he was known to the public, was born to a wealthy family from Naboo. With help from his master, Sidious rose through the political ranks to represent his homeworld in the Galactic Senate, where he saw it's corruption firsthand.
    When Sidious was certain his position of power was secured he secretly acquired his own apprentice from the Nightsisters of Dathomir, and killed his master while he slept.
    Using his political know-how he forced a conflict within the Republic while he played both sides: Sidious promised power to the greedy Trade Federation and orchestrated a blockage of his home planet of Naboo, while Palpatine gained favour in the Galactic Senate. His plan paid off and through his shrewd political dealings he positioned himself as Supreme Chancellor of the Republic.
    The Jedi spent considerable effort trying to crack the mystery of the Sith, but such was Sidious’ skill with the dark side of the Force he was able to conceal his identity from Jedi Council members, including Yoda and Mace Windu.
    By manipulating both sides of an escalating conflict, Sidious was able to gather more political support and stayed in power long past his term. When his identity was finally discovered and revealed, the Jedi rushed to stop him. Sidious proclaimed that this action was a Jedi plot to overthrow the Republic and declared that he would continue to serve the people as Emperor.
    Sidious personally issued Order 66, which commanded the clone army of the Republic to turn on the Jedi. With their ranks devastated, Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi engaged the Sith Lords but failed to topple them and were forced into exile leaving the Galactic Empire to rule the galaxy.
     
    Darth Maul

    Sidious raised his first apprentice from infancy to be a blunt weapon to hurl against the Jedi. The Zabrak, Darth Maul was fearsome to behold and was a highly skilled assassin and lightsaber duellist.
    When Jedi Knights whisked the Queen of Naboo away from danger during the Trade Federation blockade, Sidious sent Maul to track them down. The Sith revealed their existence and the Jedi were taken completely by surprise. Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn fell to Maul's blade, but his padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi avenged his death, slicing Maul in half and sending him plummeting down a reactor shaft.
    Maul wasn’t about to let a little thing like that stop him: clinging on to life through his rage, as he fell he used the Force to grab onto an air vent and escape death. After a decade of convalescence he formed his own criminal army known as the Shadow Collective, and in the chaos of the Clone War he conquered Mandalore. Unfortunately for Maul, his plans jeopardised those of his former master, and Darth Sidious confronted and defeated him.
    After losing Mandalore, Maul became the head of the criminal syndicate known as Crimson Dawn, and plotted against his former master and successive apprentices until he was thwarted by the Jedi Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger.
    Eventually, he would learn that Obi-Wan Kenobi had survived the Jedi Purge, and vowed to to destroy him for taking his true destiny from him, only this time Kenobi finished the job.
     
    Darth Tyranus

    To replace Maul, Sidious reached out to former Jedi Master Dooku, who had left the Jedi Order to reclaim his wealth and title of Count of Sorenno. Dooku had also seen the stagnation of the Republic and the arrogance of the Jedi. He became Darth Tyranus and helped his master orchestrate the secret creation of a clone army for the Republic, and oversaw a separatist movement to rise against the Republic.
    Tyranus was highly skilled with both a lightsaber and the Force and managed to escape the Jedi at the Battle of Geonosis, an event that was used to ignite the war that Sidious needed to accelerate the Sith plot.
    With Sidious leading the Galactic Republic and Tyranus leading the Confederacy of Independent Systems, the galaxy was soon embroiled in a civil war that spread the Jedi thin across the galaxy.
    Tyranus was wary of his master and secretly trained at least three apprentices of his own with the intention of overthrowing Sidious, and even tried to coax Obi-Wan Kenobi to his side.
    During the last years of the Clone War, Sidious engineered the kidnapping of his alter ego Chancellor Palpatine, and pitted Tyranus against the young Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker. Skywalker quickly overpowered the Sith Lord, and spurred on by Palpatine he killed Tyranus.
     
    Darth Vader

    When Qui-Gon Jinn discovered young Anakin Skywalker, he believed the boy to be the Chosen One of a Jedi prophecy that foretold the ultimate destruction of the Sith.
    Sidious watched with interest as Skywalker grew in the Force, safely ensconced within the Jedi Order. It would take years of careful grooming to win him to his side, so in the guise of Chancellor Palpatine, Sidious became a friend and confidant to Skywalker, all the while sowing seeds of distrust of the Jedi in his mind.
    After the defeat of Count Dooku, Skywalker discovered that Palpatine was really the Sith Lord the Jedi had been looking for all along. Sidious claimed that only he could prevent Anakin’s wife from certain death, but despite this Anakin told Jedi Master Mace Windu, who then took a contingent of Jedi Knights to face the Dark Lord of the Sith.
    Disobeying Windu’s order to remain at the Temple, Skywalker returned to the Chancellor's office to find Windu preparing to vanquish Palpatine. Sidious pleaded for Anakin to save him, convincing the him that this was all part of a plot to overthrow the Republic. Skywalker’s intervention lead to Windu’s death, and he took his place at Sidious’ side as Darth Vader.
    Vader's first task was to take a unit of clone troopers to the Jedi Temple and slaughter the Jedi that remained there.
    Vader was severely injured in his duel with his former master, Kenobi, but Sidious saved him and encased him in a specialised suit to preserve his life. He served as the Emperor's executor, operating mostly outside the Empire's regular chain of command, and hunting down Jedi who had slipped into hiding.
    Years later Vader found himself aboard the Empire’s new ultimate weapon, the Death Star, and faced and defeated Kenobi. A young man named Luke Skywalker gained fame amongst the rebel Alliance to Restore the Republic by rescuing rebel leader Princess Leia and destroying the Death Star. When Sidious and Vader learnt of “the son of Skywalker”, they vowed that he would be turned to the dark side or destroyed.
    Vader attempted to turn Skywalker to the dark side, intending to overthrow Sidious and rule the galaxy with his son at his side, but ultimately Skywalker refused and escaped. Vader obsessed over relocating Skywalker, and spent considerable resources on this goal.
    On Endor, as the Rebel Alliance mounted a mission to destroy the second Death Star, Vader was again confronted by Skywalker, who hoped to turn Vader back to the light side of the Force. Vader denied there was any conflict within him and turned Skywalker over to the Emperor as he had been ordered.
    True to form, the Emperor goaded Skywalker into fighting his apprentice. When Vader lay defeated Sidious offered Skywalker a place at his side, but he refused to turn to the dark side. As Vader watched as Sidious tortured his son with deadly Force lightning, he recognised the light that remained within him and turned against his master; throwing him to his death, taking irreparable damage to his suit in the process.
     
    With both master and apprentice perishing, the ancient line of the Sith Lords was finally broken and the Jedi prophecy fulfilled. Other dark side users would inevitably follow, but they could never claim to be a true Dark Lord of the Sith.
    Force Friday 2019 is so big, Disney have renamed it Triple Force Friday, and it will be bigger than ever.
    This October Disney will celebrate the forthcoming release of Star Wars Episode IX with the traditional range of collectable merchandise, but will also release merch to tie in with two other anticipated releases.
    Jedi: Fallen Order (the Respawn Entertainment game which we still don't know anything about) will see new products hit the shelves, as will new TV show The Mandalorian.
    Force Friday falls on 4th October this year, and Disney clearly intends to dominate the market.
    More details are expected to become known following Star Wars Celebration Chicago in April.
    EA have revealed during their recent financial statement that Respawn Entertainment's Star Wars video game, Jedi: Fallen Order, will release in autumn 2019.
    Despite being highly anticipated by fans there is little information available about Jedi: Fallen Order, and no screenshots or footage has been revealed. The game is set in the period between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, and is said to follow a Jedi being hunted down by agents of the Galactic Empire.
    Respawn's founder Vince Zampella has said that the game will be a single player action adventure game, that will (unsurprisingly) feature lightsaber combat. Development of the game is being lead by Stig Asmussen who was previously the creative lead on God of War III. In a 2016 blog post, Asmussen stated that Respawn "promise to pay respect to the Star Wars legacy at all times, a fact that will be constantly reinforced and honored as a central game design tenet."
    We impatiently await further details.
    The Mandalorian has been revealed as the first live-action Star Wars television series, and is now currently in production by Lucasfilm. It will be released exclusivley via Disney's own streaming service.
    The Mandalorian is set three years after the events of Return of the Jedi and the apparent death of the infamous Mandalorian bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Through the series we will follow the exploits of a lone gunfighter in the outer rim of the galaxy, far from the centre of power of the fledgling New Republic.
    The series will be written and executive produced by Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man and Iron Man 2 Marvel movies. He is no stranger to Star Wars, having lent his voice to characters in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
    Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels) will be directing the first episode, with other announced episode direcots including Deborah Chow (Jessica Jones), Rick Famuyiwa (Dope), Bryce Dallas Howard (Solemates), and Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok). 
    Dave Filoni, Kathleen Kennedy, and Colin Wilson join Jon Favreau as executive producers, and Karen Gilchrist will serve as co-executive producer.
    Let me start by putting one thing straight: It's okay to not like the new Star Wars films. It's okay to be upset about Disney's handling of the franchise. It's even okay to talk about it online - I am not disputing that.
    However, if you follow any Star Wars fan page across social media you will undoubtedly have come across the hostility that many people are aiming at other fans who have a differing opinion. This unfettered rage isn't even restricted to posts about the particular greivance they have with the franchise today; you will find these types of posts on anything vaguely Star Wars related.
    It seems clear to me that there is a toxic element in Star Wars fandom today, one that has reportedly driven Kelly Marie Tran to leave Instagram over the amount of abuse she has received from so-called fans. I'll reiterate: It's okay to not like The Last Jedi, it's even okay to not like certain fictional characters. What isn't okay is directing unsolicited abuse at the actor (regardless of their gender, race, or anythign else) - that's called bullying.
    At the very core of Star Wars, even in it's darkest times, is a story of hope. My personal experience of the Star Wars fandom over the years has been overwhelmingly positive: from my first moments on the now defunct official message boards, to attending Celebration and meeting a really call bunch of people, to the jubilant atmosphere of midnight releases. But I'm beginning to see the dark side of the community.
    I know people who enjoy the new Disney vision for Star Wars. I know people who don't like it, and that's fine: The wonderful thing about Star Wars is that it is such a vast universe that we don't all have to like the same things and I'm sure the majority of fans understand this.
    But it's high time we stood together - there is no place for toxic behaviour in the Star Wars community.
    The arrival of Solo: A Star Wars Story has been eagerly anticipated, but critic reviews are now pouring in following the star studded premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this week.
    Reviews so far have been mixed, but generally favourable, which seems about right for a new Star Wars release, but the real test will come when the film opens to fans on 25 May (24 May in the UK).
     
    New York Times branded the film "the usual galactic mayhem", saying that Solo answers many of the questions that you never asked, and ScreenRant called it solidly entertaining with a few surprises along the way.
    "Family friendly action" was The BBC's appraisal, who said that it ticks all the boxes, and Forbes said that the film opens up a whole new new corner of the Star Wars universe with a pure dose of adrenaline.
    Rolling Stone applauds Alden Ehrenreich for "upholding his end of the bargain" in portraying the titular scoundrel, but felt that the movie plays it way too safe.
    AV Club were less impressed, saying that Solo was "intellectual property unconvincingly arranged into the shape of a movie", while The Times claimed that the film was "devoid of ideas".
     
    Solo: A Star Wars Story is currently sitting at 72% on Rotten Tomatoes.
     
    What did you think? Leave a comment below or post a review on our Solo: A Star Wars Story page.

    Star Wars gaming on Xbox One

    By Andy, in Gaming,

    Microsoft have announced that a new slew of classic Xbox titles will become compatible with their Xbox One console, including an impressive collection of Star Wars games which will join other titles in the Games On Demand section of the Xbox marketplace on 26 April 2018.
    The original Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was previously added when the backwards compatible section was launched last year.
    You can find the full list of Star Wars games that will be available on Xbox Games On Demand below:
    Star Wars: Battlefront Star Wars: Battlefront II Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy Star Wars: Jedi Starfighter Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords Star Wars: Republic Commando  
    Additionally, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is available under the Xbox One X Enhanced series with updated graphics and visual effects.
    If you're looking for something a bit more recent, Xbox One titles Star Wars: Battlefront and Star Wars: Battlefront II are also available now.
    The second official trailer for Solo: A Star Wars Story is here, and we've got a good feeling about this one!
    The new trailer gives us a better look at what the new anthology film is all about, and sees Han Solo meeting Lando Calrissian and Chewbacca for the first time.
    Take a look at the trailer and let us know what you think. Are you excited for Solo?
     
     
    Solo: A Star Wars Story will be released on 25 May 2018.
    A promotional tie-in for Solo: A Star Wars Story has introduced us to some great new characters we can expect to see, including the fantastically monickered Therm Scissorpunch, a crustacean-like alien with huge lobster claws for hands.
    But despite being derided as the dumbest name in Star Wars, Therm Scissorpunch is actually quite in-keeping with tradition if you only look a little.

    First up is everybody's favourite death stick dealer: Elan Sleazebaggano frequented the clubs of Coruscant before he left to rethink his life in Attack of the Clones. Although later retconned to Sel’Sabagno, Sleazebaggano is typical of the tongue-in-cheek naming convention we often see with background characters in Star Wars.
    Did you ever hear the tragedy of Notluwiski Papanoida? This background character appears in Revenge of the Sith in the corridors of the theatre. The name Notluwiski isn't too bad until you realise who the actor is: it's a cameo by George Lucas.
    Sith names also seem to be chosen for their thinly veiled meanings. Darth Maul was trained to be a weapon, and was named after one. Sidious has an unavoidable similarity to the word “insidious”, which means to act in a subtle but harmful way; much like how Palpatine chips away at the old Republic. Even Plagueis has connotations of ill intent.

    In The Clone Wars animated series, Count Dooku takes a secret apprentice with the not too subtle name of Savage Opress. There are no prizes for guessing what his endgame is.
    It would be easy to see these seemingly ridiculous names as a feature of modern Star Wars movies, but they are present in the classic Star Wars trilogy too.

    Return of the Jedi is full of interesting characters, like the elephant-like Ephant Mon, Droopy McCool of the Max Reebo band, and let's not forget Jabba the Hutt’s jester Salacious B Crumb. And if individual characters aren't enough for you you could always speak to Admiral Akbar, a member of the aquatic Mon Calamari species.
    Perhaps Starkiller was a bit too on-the-nose for the boy who destroys the Death Star, but these other names do make you wonder why they bothered to change it to Skywalker!
     
    We eagerly await the release of Therm Scissorpunch: A Star Wars Story.
    In the meantime, Solo: A Star Wars Story debuts on 25 May 2018 in the US and 24 May in the UK.
    There's no denying that Solo: A Star Wars Story has been somewhat divisive amongst the fan base, and one of the sources of controversy is the creative liberties that have been taken with the design of the Millennium Falcon.
    Does the new design (okay, so technically it's an older design) add to the rich backstory of the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy, or is it just a shameless merchandising cash grab? Well, whichever side of the fence you're on we're here to take a look at what's going on with our favourite YT-1300 freighter.

     
    At the time of Solo: A Star Wars Story, the Millennium Falcon was owned by Lando Calrissian, who has kept the ship in pristine condition with a gleaming white and blue paint job. Even the interior is in good order; not a missing panel or trailing power cable in sight.

     
    The most immediately obvious thing about this design is that instead of the iconic forward mandibles we have a longer, tapered nose cone.
    The forward area has long been believed to be used for cargo transport and storage. After all, the Millennium Falcon is a freighter. Perhaps the cargo hold used to be much bigger and damage forced a reconfiguration of the forward area? It's also possible that either Calrissian installed the streamlined cone as an aesthetic modification, or Han Solo removes it as part of the special modifications he makes to the ship himself.
    Another theory is that the cone is actually some sort of secondary vessel or escape pod. This doesn't seem to be an entirely new idea, however, as seen in this unreleased Kenner mini rig concept from the 1980s.

     
    Other differences include a single dorsal cannon instead of the famous quad cannons, and a sensor dish that lies flat against the hull of the ship. Maybe they just forgot the retract it during that attack run on the second Death Star, eh?
    The Hasbro set released to accompany the movie features removable panels revealing a more worn surface below the paintwork, hinting that the Millennium Falcon is not likely to reach the end of Solo in the same condition we see in the trailers.
     
    Solo: A Star Wars Story hits cinemas in the UK on 24 May 2018, and across the US on May 25.
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