Tagged: Han Solo

John Ostrander’s Spare Plots

More than once over the years I’ve been approached by someone who says that they have a great idea for a story and that I should write it and then we split any money evenly. The problem with this (aside from the fact that the work is not even) is that I have plenty of ideas of my own that, for one reason or another, never get written. Having ideas isn’t the problem; executing them is.

Here are a few ideas I’ve had in my journal that haven’t seen the light of day.

  • Spectre/Batman Alt Worlds

An alternate DC Universe idea set back in the Thirties, we start with the Waynes getting gunned down in an alley, but this time young Bruce is killed as well. This sets off such a furor that something has to be done. Commissioner Gordon decides on someone from the outside and so brings in a tough as nails New York plainclothes detective named Jim Corrigan to clean things up.

Corrigan tears things up pretty well but finds himself as hamstrung as Gordon does. Frustrated, he gets the idea of an alternate identity and becomes the Bat-Man; however, this one carries .45s and shoots to kill.

Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne’s spirit rages in the afterlife about the injustice of what happened to him and his family. A voice offers him a chance at retribution and he takes it. A 10-year old Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham as the Spectre.

Inevitably, the paths of Bat-Man and the Spectre collide and leads to the ultimate confrontation. Corrigan dies and Bruce is stripped of the Spectre powers but given a chance to live his life again. He becomes Gordon’s ward. In the meantime, Corrigan is given the mantle of the Spectre.

Why didn’t it go? This would have fallen under the “Elseworlds” banner and DC has stopped doing those.

  • Star Wars: Han Solo miniseries

This one is set between Episodes IV and V when the Rebel Alliance is hidden on the ice planet Hoth. Mon Mothma, trying to negotiate for another planet to join the Alliance, is grabbed by some space pirates and held for ransom. If the Alliance doesn’t want to pay up, the kidnappers will sell her to the Empire.

Leia and Luke are off on separate adventures but Han, Chewie and the Millennium Falcon are on hand. Han knows the kidnappers and tells the Alliance leaders he should bring the ransom and get Mon Mothma back. He figures that the Princess would like that and, who knows, he might be able to claim at least part of the ransom as a reward. The plan includes double crossing the pirates, including some old acquaintances.

It all gets more complicated when the Empire learns that the pirates have Mon Mothma and dispatch a Star Destroyer with Darth Vader to grab Mon Mothma and dispatch the kidnappers. Han gets a hold of Mon Mothma just as the Empire shows up and its all a mad scramble to escape the pirates and the Empire.

The tone was meant to be light and fun and focus on Han as a rogue.

Why didn’t it go? Right around the time that I came up with the idea, Dark Horse was losing the license to the franchise. Marvel, who got it, doesn’t appear to be interested in those who did Star Wars for DH. I don’t blame them; they want their take on it.

  • Legion

DC has/had been having trouble re-launching its venerable Legion of Super-Heroes (LSH). Is the concept – teen superheroes routinely saving the galaxy – outdated?

I like jumping stories down their own timeline; witness Star Wars: Legacy.  I thought I’d jump this narrative down its timeline by 500-1000 years. The United Planets no longer exist; the LSH is nowhere to be found. The Khund Empire rules and Earth itself had been shattered and is an asteroid ring around the sun. Super-powered beings were barred or restricted to their own planets.

In all this a young man emerges; the only name he gives is Legion. He has with him several LSH flight rings and he travels through the galaxy trying to find super-powered beings to join him in an attempt to overthrow the Khunds.

Since I like what I call narrative alloys, this was an attempt to cross the concept of LSH with Star Wars.

Why didn’t it go? DC had its own plan for the LSH and I guess they thought this would muddy the waters. Or they just didn’t like my take.

There’s lots of other ideas and concepts in my journal and/or my computer. Two of them will be up this year; Tom Mandrake and I (with Jan Duursema) are preparing Kros: Hallowed Ground for the printer right now and then Jan and I will be completing Hexer Dusk. Both are independent projects funded through Kickstarter. Both have taken a lot of thought, energy, and effort to realize.

So, as you see, the problem is not a lack of ideas. Everybody gets ideas. The problem is what do you do with them. Some just never come together and some never get an okay. So you file it and move on to the next. You work at what’s working but you don’t lose track of the ideas you’ve had. You just never know.

 

John Ostrander: Star Wars – The Trouble with Quibbles

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Spoiler Alert: This column will deal with some plot points in Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens. It’s possible that you may not have seen it yet although I think just about anyone who has any real interest in seeing it has seen it. If you are one of those who haven’t seen it and want to avoid plot revelations, avoid this column. Likewise, if you just don’t give a hang about Star Wars, you might want to avoid it as well. It’ll just bore the life out of you. Fan geek stuff. You know.

I’ve seen the new Star Wars film, Episode VII The Force Awakens a couple of times. Twice at least in the IMAX theater and now on Blu-Ray. Basically, I really enjoyed it. It makes up for the prequels and does what I always wanted in the next Star Wars film – it tells me what happened next.

That said, I do have some quibbles. I don’t mind, as some fans do, that the movie seems to replicate plot points from the first SW film, a.k.a. Episode IV. They had the Death Star, Episode VII has the Starkiller Base. The planet Alderaan gets blowed up real good in Episode IV; the planetary system that included Coruscant got blowed up real good in Episode VII (which, by the way, I think was a mistake). Both films have the mentor figure killed off by the villain dressed in black who wears a helmet. Skywalker males are whiners in all the trilogies. Anakin was a big time whiner in the prequels, Luke whined at least at the start, and now Kylo Ren whines just before he commits patricide. Leia never whines. Han doesn’t whine. Just the Skywalker boys.

Some of the similarities annoy me. Why is it, when the Jedi suffer a set-back, they go off somewhere to pout… excuse me, “meditate”… while the galaxy falls apart? Yoda and Obi-Wan could have found and rallied the remaining Jedi (or created new ones) to go after Darth Vader and Darth Sidious. But no. The remaining Jedi lie in hiding while terrible things happen to the galaxy and the planet Alderaan gets blowed up real good while the remaining Jedi pout. I mean meditate. In the new film, it’s a big plot point that the galaxy is waiting for Luke to come back and save it. The bad guys are hunting for his location so they can kill him and wipe out any possibility of the Jedi really returning. That’s a given. Where’s Luke? Off pouting. I mean meditating. And the flaming Coruscant system gets blowed up real good.

I suppose it could be argued that Luke, after his first attempt to make more Jedi goes spectacularly bad, decides to go look for the first Jedi Temple since he doesn’t really know what he’s doing. However, that’s speculating without any real proof.

In the earlier Star Wars films, it is said that Darth Vader, a.k.a. Anakin Skywalker, still had some good in him. I’ve argued this before: I don’t see it. He killed children, he betrayed the Jedi Order, he helped hunt down remaining Jedi, he was complicit in the destruction of the planet Alderaan but it’s okay because, at the end, he turns on the evil Emperor because the latter is electrocuting Vader’s son.

Now, in the latest film, the new Man In Black, Kylo Ren, a.k.a. the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, kills people, wrecks Luke’s nascent new Jedi Club, orders the destruction of a village, is complicit in the destruction of a whole planetary system and he commits patricide. Yes, this a-hole kills off his Dad, Han Solo, who is one of the favorite characters in Star Wars, who is trying to help him at the time. Kylo does lots of other nasty stuff but we know he will be around for the next film and probably the one after that. If the other films follow the pattern of the earlier films, we may see a desire to redeem the little bugger as Vader was redeemed.

Let me repeat. Kylo (Ben Solo) Ren commits patricide. Throughout history in Western Civilization, that is considered an unspeakable crime, an unforgivable sin. I loved Han Solo and, before he buys it in this film, we’re given some great moments that reminds us all why he’s such a favorite character. And his little snot of a son kills him.

I suppose in the next film or so we’ll get some of Ren’s backstory and maybe understand him better. As it is, I feel no sympathy, no empathy for him. I don’t think he is redeemable any more than I think Vader/Anakin was redeemed. IMO, he needs to die as soon as the plot can arrange it.

However, as I said before, these are quibbles. I don’t want to give the impression that I didn’t like the new Star Wars because I enjoyed it immensely. I found it satisfying and a great return to a galaxy far, far away. I think the female lead, Daisy Ridley playing Rey, is a wonderful addition to the saga. At recent conventions I’ve attended, I’ve seen a lot of young girls cos-playing Rey and I think that’s great. It invigorates Star Wars with new energy.

But they can shoot Kylo Ren any time.

Mindy Newell: Review Redux

Supergirl Fox

Cat Grant: One time at a party, Paul McCartney swore to me that he and Yoko were the closest of friends. He was more convincing.

Cat Grant not accepting Kara Danvers’ statement that she (Kara) is not Supergirl

Rey: There are stories about what happened.

Han Solo: It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real.

Listen Up! Spoilers Abound, So If You Don’t Want To Know, Don’t Read This Column.

A few weeks ago, four days before Christmas to be exact, I said that I loved Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and had problems with Supergirl.  While I still love Episode VI of a saga that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, there are two things that bother me. Silly things, to be sure, but just enough to pick at my enjoyment a teensy bit:

I miss the 20th Century Fox fanfare that opened all the other Star Wars movies.

Composed in 1933 by Alfred Newman, head of the studio’s music department, the extended version – which is the one that became so integral to the films – debuted with The Robe, the first film to be shown in Cinemascope. But it had been phased out by the late ‘70s by the then-struggling-to-survive studio when its savior, George Lucas – who had always loved the logo, the sweeping spotlights, and the fanfare – insisted on its use in his “little space opera fantasy.” Then, when John Williams developed the theme to Star Wars, he used the same key as the fanfare, and has said that it was meant to be an extension of Alfred Newman’s work.

And so, ever since May 25, 1977, all of us have felt their heartbeats quicken, felt goose bumps prickle their skin, and felt the hairs on the back of our necks stand up in anticipation and salute as those drums, those trumpets, those sweeping spotlights acted as a clarion call to that galaxy so far, far way where an epic adventure happened such a long time ago. It became such an intrinsic part of the Star Wars universe that it’s now part and parcel of the soundtracks of the first six movies

Seeing a Star Wars movie introduced by Sleeping Beauty’s castle – a “side effect” of Disney’s ownership of the franchise – just ain’t the same, folks.

The only pilot I want to see flying the Millennium Falcon is Han Solo – with Chewie at his side, of course.

Seeing the Falcon in action again after 30+ years, soaring and doing loop-de-loops and evading TIE fighters, was almost like a religious experience, except for one thing – it wasn’t Han and Chewie at the controls. I can’t really explain it, I know it’s kind of dumb: after all, Lando Calrissian flew the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” in Return of the Jedi – but I’ll tell you a secret: I always objected to that, too.

Just to get the bad taste out of my mouth, I’ll tell you what I did absolutely love in The Force Awakens:

The climatic scene between Han Solo and his son, Ben, now known as Kylo Renn, on a catwalk stretching across a seemingly bottomless abyss inside a technological marvel.

A perfect callback to the climatic scene in The Empire Strikes Back, as another father – Darth Vader, once known as Annakin Skywalker – confronted his son, Luke, and revealed truth to him as they faced off on another catwalk high above a seemingly endless abyss inside another technological marvel.

Also a few weeks ago, in the same column (four days before Christmas to be exact), I listed some of my complaints about Supergirl. Well, with the advantage of having watched new episodes of the series, I take back much of what I said:

“We met Aunt Astra and we know right away that she’s evil. She might as well have had a mustache to twirl. We shouldn’t even have known who she was – tease us, fool us. Mix us up. Maybe sometimes she’s good, sometimes she’s bad, maybe she’s somewhere in the middle. What’s her relationship with Kara? And since we’re supposed to be identifying with Kara, that should have been her deal as well.”

It’s almost as if the writers read my column, although of course that’s incredibly egotistical of me, and besides, I’m pretty sure that Astra’s back story and relationship to Kara was already in the show’s “bible.” It turns out that Astra is a villain depending on what side of the argument you hold to – is she an “eco-terrorist,” or an “eco-hero?”  Some argue – as Astra does – that desperate times call for desperate measures, that the needs of the many outweigh needs of the few, or the one. And her relationship with her niece, Kara, is becoming way more complicated as truths about Kara’s mother are being revealed.

“Kara was stuck in the Phantom Zone for years. And this hasn’t had any lasting affects? No emotional or psychological hang-ups? No anger issues at her cousin for dumping her in some strangers’ laps and flying off? No PTSD from seeing her parents, her civilization, her planet from being blown to kingdom come? Did the Danvers even attempt some sort of therapy? She should have trouble forming relationships, she should have trust issues, jeez, let’s see some anger.”

Confrontations with her Aunt, with her sister, Alex, with Cat Grant, with James and with Winn, with Maxwell Lord, with General Lane, and even her hologram mother…

The perky girl is still perky and kind and bubbly, but she’s letting the spunk and anger out, too. You go, SuperGRRRL!

“How many times and in how many ways can Kara talk about proving herself? This fast became a one-trick pony that quickly wore out its welcome and became a whine that is repeated in each and every episode as expository statements to her sister, to Jimmy, to Winn, to Hank…hey, Kara, take a tip from Yoda: “Did not you see Strikes Back the Empire Does? Do, or do not. There is no try.” Seriously, I’m waiting for somebody to tell her to just shut the fuck up already.”

She ain’t whining no more. Well, no so much, anyway. She’s absorbing Nike’s words of wisdom. Just Do It.

One thing that does piss me off big time!:

J’inn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter, a.k.a. Hank Henshaw, used his morphing ability to impersonate Supergirl and paid Cat Grant a visit as Supergirl just as the real Kara walks into her boss’ office, thus convincing Cat Grant that Kara Danvers isn’t the Kryptonian Maid of Steel.

No! No! No!

The sad and hackneyed use of a friend of the superhero impersonating said superhero so that said superhero could be seen at the same time and in the same place as said superhero’s secret identity – Batman impersonating Superman to throw Lois Lane off the scent, for instance – oh, come on! That went out back in the 1960s, for cryin’ out loud!

I’m holding on to the hope that Cat Grant is only playing dumb.

John Ostrander: Idle Speculation in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

star_wars_wallpaper_4I can tell by the saturation of TV trailers that Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens is opening real, real soon in a theater near, near to you.

Of course I’m going to see it, probably around March when seats will become available. Pre-sales have been incredible. And I’ve been trying to avoid spoilers. Originally, I read the Star Wars novelization before the first movie (a.k.a. Episode IV) so I knew the plot twists and turns. I was determined to be spoiler-free for Empire Strikes Back but, at a Chicago Minicon I attended, a ten-year old boy came up while I was talking with Larry Charet, the event co-organizer, and asked him, “Do you know if the Star Wars comic adaptation is like the movie?” (The adaptation had come out ahead of the movie.) Larry didn’t know so the kid continued, “Because in the comic it says the Darth Vader is Luke’s father.”

Gaaaaah!

Well, I didn’t kill the kid. (And no, you didn’t get a Spoiler Alert from me. If you don’t know that little item from the movie after all this time, you didn’t care anyway.) And J.J. Abrams and the folks at Disney are being very parsimonious with information other than what they want us to know.

Not knowing anything hasn’t kept fans from idle speculation, When has it ever? So I’m going to do a little idle speculation of my own. I don’t know anything more than any of you do but, since I wrote Star Wars comics for ten years, some people may think that I have an inside track on all this. I don’t. Anyway, here’s my big theory:

Han Solo is going to die in The Force Awakens.

I’m not the first person to speculate this. It’s been back and forth over the web but I have some reasons.

  • Harrison Ford is getting up there in years. He’s 73 right now. A really good looking 73, I’ll grant you. I wish I looked even half as good as he does. Star Wars Episode VIII isn’t due to come out until 2017 and it has just barely started filming. Episode IX won’t be out until 2019. Ford is getting ooooold, folks.
  • Ol’ Harrison is a tad bit reckless, my fellow fans. He crashed a plane recently. He walked away but he could’ve just as easily been killed. So maybe the Powers-That-Be (aka Disney) don’t want to take that chance.
  • Maybe the way they lured Ford back to the role (outside of a big paycheck) is to promise to do what Ford wanted them to do back in Episode III – kill off his character.
  • Star Wars consistently kills off characters. Death is a prominent feature in the films. Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul, Darth Sidious, Amidalalala, almost the whole freaking Jedi Order, Luke’s aunt and uncle, Obi-Wan Kenobi, everyone on the Death Star (both 1 and 2), Yoda, Emperor Palaptine, Anakin/Darth Vader – the list goes on and on. Han’s death would have a shock and a strong emotional impact for even the casual fan. If whoever kills him escapes, it provides a strong plot element for the next two films. The fans will want to see the killer brought to justice. Guaranteed continued high attendance.
  • It’s not like we’ll totally lose Han. A Young Han Solo film is scheduled for 2018. If it’s young Han Solo then it’s a guarantee that Harrison Ford won’t be playing him. He’s oooooold.

I’m standing by this one for now. Han Solo is going to take the dirt nap. If he doesn’t? Hey – that’s fine by me too. Just remember you heard it here first. Or second. Or forty-fifth. Let’s think of this as an experiment – will I become an anonymous source? Will anyone quote me? That would be a giggle.

Han Solo is going to die. For sure.

Unless he doesn’t.

Oh, and I forgot. Spoiler alert.

How much to build the Millennium Falcon?

“Well, more wealth  than YOU could imagine!”

DeAgostini Model Space makes incredibly detailed model kits, and in celebration of the release of their Millennium Falcon model they’ve estimated the total cost of building your own Corellian YT-1300 light freighter.  One must assume Han Solo’s special modifications would be extra.

How-Much-Would-It-Cost-to-Build-the-Millennium-Falcon-The model is billed as ” 1:1 scale” which makes me think there are some punctuation marks missing.