(W) Greg Pak (A/CA) Phil Noto Rated T In Shops: Nov 20, 2019 SRP: $4.99
FINAL ISSUE! IT’S A TRAP!
• The epic REBELS AND ROGUES storyline reaches its explosive end! Can THREEPIO save the rock people of K43? • Is WARBA the master or the student? Which Champion falls? • And how much of LUKE’S desperate plan has DARTH VADER foreseen from the beginning? • The search for a new rebel base continues!
I may have spent far too much time over the last week watching Disney+. Because of that, I wanted to rerun an older column, and what better column than one focusing on the first chronological Star Wars movie?
This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Released in 1999,Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was written and directed by George Lucas, produced by Lucasfilm and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It is the first installment in the Star Wars prequel trilogy and stars Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Jake Lloyd, Ian McDiarmid, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, Ahmed Best, Pernilla August, Brian Blessed, Ray Park, and Frank Oz. It is also widely known for being a stonking pile of manure.
Released sixteen years after Return Of The Jedi, The Phantom Menace was set 32 years before Star Wars, and follows Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi as they protect Queen Amidala, in hopes of securing a peaceful end to a large-scale interplanetary trade dispute. Joined by Anakin Skywalker—a young slave with unusually strong natural powers of the Force—they simultaneously contend with the mysterious return of the Sith.
Now that you’ve read (basically) the first two paragraphs of the Wikipedia entry, allow me to tell you why this movie is underrated.
Look, I’m not claiming it’s good, just that it isn’t (quite) as bad as you think it is. And it does have good moments. If I can’t convince you, maybe I’ll make you laugh…?
If you’re of a certain age, or your parents are, then you would have been beyond excited to see this movie when it hit the theaters in 1999. I remember watching the lines on the local news back in England being in awe that anybody would care about a movie that much, but nearly twenty years later I can begin understand the level of excitement people would feel surrounding the return of such a beloved franchise – indeed, as I type this I am already planning to line up for the latest Star Wars flick, The Last Jedi, two hours before the screen doors open. But that’s after having two good movies released in the last two years, so can you imagine the excite fans of the franchise would have had in the weeks and months (hell, years) leading up to May 19th, 1999 when the movie finally opened for the masses. It would have been incredible! In the years before the widespread usage of the Internet (in comparison to what we see now), there were conversations in schools, at the water cooler and frankly anywhere fans would gather. The excitement was palpable wherever nerds and fans gathered. It’s hard to overstate how much hype was in the air surrounding the first Star Wars movie in sixteen years.
And then the movie was released.
Look, without beating around the bush, it’s safe to say that it didn’t live up to expectations. At all. The movie is widely regarded as the worst live action entry into the saga, and rightly so, and fans have often said that the movie is best left forgotten in the deep recesses of history. Which is a touch harsh, but I understand where they’re coming from. But here’s the thing; despite the movie’s obvious flaws, I still feel like it gets the short end of the stick quite a bit.
Why? Well let me break out the bullet points…
Firstly, it was the first Star Wars movie in a generation, and as such it was the first time that many of us were able to sit in a chair and experience that title sequence – next time you see a Star Wars movie in the theatre and those titles start to roll with that music… you tell me that isn’t an incredible moment. Almost makes what came after those titles worth watching.
Secondly, you can’t tell me you weren’t grinning from ear to ear with the extensive lightsaber duels. Everything is better with lightsabers.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, there were people for whom this was the first Star Wars movie they’d experienced and as such it served, for those folks at least, as a gateway into the franchise.
How many of you who did see, and loath, this movie in the cinema rushed out to see Episode II – Attack Of The Clones opening night because it couldn’t have been as band as this one, right? It wasn’t, was it? If nothing else, that the first movie was the worst in the new trilogy should be seen as a bright spot.
Dual lightsaber! Darth Maul’s dual blades were the first time we had seen a break from the standard style lightsaber from the original trilogy, which opened up a breadth of on-screen options for the iconic weapon going forward.
Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was always doomed to fail. No movie with as much hype as this one will ever meet expectations. But eighteen years on, while the movie may not hold up visually any more with the advances in digital technology, and Jar Jar Binks is still an annoying fuckwit, I came to realize that the movie isn’t as bad as you would think. Aside from Jar Jar, and a little too much time spent on the pod racing subplot, the movie isn’t bad. Could it have been better? Absolutely – I won’t argue that. But it wasn’t as bad as you’ve heard, certainly not as bad as its reputation would have you believe.
Next week we’ll return to a more comic themed Underrated. Until next time!
Winter has barely begun – and we’re already looking forward to warmer weather – so it’s about time for a Spring Toy Preview! The following items will ship from Diamond Select Toys and Gentle Giant Ltd. in Spring 2020, and they include products from the worlds of Star Wars, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Teen Titans Go!, Bruce Lee, Rocketeer, Westworld and more! It’s the Best of All Worlds! Pre-order through your local comic shop or favorite online retailer!
Bruce Lee Premier Collection 80th Birthday Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! This approximately 11-inch statue of Bruce Lee celebrates his 80th birthday in 2020. Depicting Bruce in his trademark white shirt, standing on a Taijitu (yin-yang) symbol with a dragon coiled around the base, this resin statue is limited to an edition of 3,000, and comes packaged with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Designed by Yuri Tming, sculpted by Erick Sosa. (Item #NOV192329, SRP: $150.00)
DC Premier Collection Justice League Animated Batman Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! The epic trinity of Justice League resin statues kicks off with none other than Batman himself! Measuring approximately 11 inches tall, this animated-style statue depicts the Dark Knight preparing to throw a batarang and is limited to only 3,000 pieces. It comes packaged in a full-color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Superman and Wonder Woman coming soon! Designed by Barry Bradfield, sculpted by Varner Studios. (Item #NOV192326, SRP: $150.00)
DC Comic Gallery Red Hood PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! The vigilante formerly known as Robin is now the Red Hood! Bradishing a sword, Jason Todd leaps into action in this new, approximately 9-inch-tall Gallery Diorama. Made of high-quality PVC, it features detailed sculpting and paint applications, and comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Shawn Knapp, sculpted by Joe Menna! (Item #NOV192327, SRP: $49.99
DC TV Gallery Teen Titans Go! Raven PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! Azarath Metrion Zinthos! The final member of the Teen Titans joins the team of Gallery Dioramas already in progress! Depicting resident sorceress Raven hovering over the ground, this approximately 9-inch tall PVC sculpture features detailed sculpting and paint applications. Packaged in a full-color window box, designed by Barry Bradfield, sculpted by Varner Studios. (Item #NOV192328, SRP: $49.99
Legends in 3D Movie Avengers Endgame Rocket Half-Scale Bust
A Diamond Select Toys release! The Avengers’ shortest member gets a big bust from DST! Measuring approximately 8 inches tall, this half-scale bust is based on the character’s appearance in Avengers: Endgame. It is limited to only 1,000 pieces, and comes packaged in a numbered, full-color box with a certificate of authenticity. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #NOV192331, SRP: $120.00)
Legends in 3D Movie Star Wars Episode 9 Kylo Ren Half-Scale Bust
A Diamond Select Toys and Gentle Giant Ltd. release! Star Wars Episode 9 is nearly upon us, and the world is bracing itself for the Rise of Skywalker! This Legends in 3D half-scale bust captures the masked visage of antagonist Kylo Ren, detailing all of the cracks and seams of his repaired helmet. Measuring approximately 10 inches tall, it is limited to only 1,000 pieces, and comes packaged in a full-color box with a certificate of authenticity. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #NOV192324, SRP: $150.00)
Marvel Animated Deadpool Merc For Hire Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! Mercs for sale! The Merc with a Mouth has never looked cuter than in this new statue from the artisans at Gentle Giant Ltd. Based on Skottie Young’s cover to Deadpool and the Mercs for Money #1, Deadpool runs a stand selling mercs (and lots of weapons) in this limited-edition diorama. Approximately 8 inches tall, it comes packaged in a full-color box with a certificate of authenticity. Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. (Item #NOV192332, SRP: $125.00)
Marvel Animated X-Men Magneto Bust
A Diamond Select Toys release! The groundbreaking animated-style line of X-Men busts continues with the Master of Magnetism himself, Magneto! Looking like he just stepped off the screen from the hit cartoon, Magneto raises a fist in this 6-inch resin bust, featuring detailed sculpting and animation-inspired paint details. Limited to only 3,000 pieces, it comes packaged in a full-color window box with a certificate of authenticity. (Item #NOV192333, SRP: $59.99)
Marvel Comic Premier Collection Vision Statue
A Diamond Select Toys release! Behold the Vision! Depicting the synthezoid as he first appeared on the cover of 1968’s Avengers #57, his hand outstretched towards the viewer, this approximately 11” statue was hand-sculpted by Clayburn Moore and is limited to only 3,000 pieces. It comes packaged in a full color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. (Item #NOV192334, SRP: $150.00)
Star Wars Darth Maul Crimson Dawn 1/6 Scale Mini-Bust
A Diamond Select Toys release! Based on his appearance in Solo: A Star Wars Story, this 1/6 scale bust of Darth Maul depicts him in his outfit from the film, holding his trademark double-bladed lightsaber. The crime boss of the Crimson Dawn cartel measures approximately 6 inches tall and comes in a full-color box with a certificate of authenticity. Designed by the Silva Bros., sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #NOV192325, SRP: $120.00)
Rocketeer Vinimates Vinyl Figure
A Diamond Select Toys release! Stepping off the silver screen, this Vinimates vinyl figure of the Rocketeer is 4” tall and packs in a lot of detail! sculpted in the classic Minimates block-figure style, it features an articulated neck and comes packaged in a full-color window box! Designed by Barry Bradfield. (Item #NOV192330, SRP: $9.99)
Westworld Action Figures Series 2 Asst.
A Diamond Select Toys release! Return to Westworld with this new assortment of action figures based on the HBO television series! Key characters Bernard, Teddy and Clementine make up this assortment, each with multiple points of articulation and character-appropriate accessories. Each figure measures approximately 7 inches tall and comes packaged in a full-color blister card. Designed by Eamon O’Donoghue, sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. (Asst #NOV192335, SRP: $19.99/ea.)
DC Video Game Gallery Injustice 2 Batman PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! This 1:8 scale PVC diorama of Batman is based on his appearance in the game Injustice 2, and shows him striking a superhero landing in his pursuit of evil. Measuring approximately 6 inches tall, this sculpture is made of high-grade plastic and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. Packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Shawn Knapp, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. Formerly a GameStop exclusive. (Item #NOV192337, SRP: $49.99)
DC Video Game Gallery Injustice 2 Harley Quinn PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! This 1:8 scale PVC diorama of Harley Quinn is based on her appearance in the game Injustice 2, and shows her wielding a massive hammer and preparing to draw her sidearm. Measuring approximately 9 inches tall, this sculpture is made of high-grade plastic and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. Packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Shawn Knapp, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. Formerly a GameStop exclusive. (Item #NOV192336, SRP: $49.99)
Marvel Movie Gallery Avengers Endgame Ronin PVC Diorama
A Diamond Select Toys release! From Avengers: Endgame, it’s the mysterious Ronin! This 9-inch scale PVC Diorama is based on the character’s appearance in Avengers: Endgame. It is made from high-grade plastic, features collectible-quality sculpting and paint, and comes packaged in a full-color window box with an opening door panel featuring character artwork. Sculpted by Dave Cortes. Formerly a GameStop exclusive. (Item #NOV192338, SRP: $49.99)
Start off 2020 by celebrating the launches of five exciting new Marvel titles at a participating comic shop near you! This January is your chance to kick off the new year in marvelous fashion by snagging exclusive giveaways and variants all month long as some of Marvel’s most highly-anticipated series make their debut!
On January 1st, collect all four Thor Launch Party Trading Cards, spotlighting key new characters and concepts from Donny Cates and Nic Klein’s bold new take on the God of Thunder. Also, take home the Star Wars Launch party Lithograph featuring The Empire Strikes Back artwork by Adi Granov to mark the series’ jump to a new era!
Then on January 8th, pick up the Marvel X Launch Party Bookmark as you revisit the fascinating world of Earth X in the new series from the legendary team of Alex Ross and Jim Krueger and newcomer superstar artist Well-Bee! On January 15th, prepare for Iron Man 2020 – an event decades in the making – with the extensive 2020 Iron Manual to learn everything you need to know for the launch of Dan Slott and Christos Gage’s epic, featuring iconic Iron Man characters from the past and present. And just in time for Valentine’s Day, don’t miss out on “Be Mine” cards spotlighting each member of Al Ewing and Juann Cabal’s new Guardians of the Galaxy #1 on sale January 22nd!
Unite with fellow True Believers at a participating comic shop near you this January to witness the starts of these modern Marvel epics and pick up the exclusive offerings shown here! Exclusive Party Variant Covers will be revealed at a later date.
(W) John Jackson Miller, John Barber, James Gilarte (A) Valentina Pinto (A/CA) Jon Sommariva In Shops: Nov 13, 2019 SRP: $9.99
Join Chewie, Poe Dameron, BB-8, and Luke Skywalker in these adventures that span the Star Wars universe and the saga’s entire history. These young-reader friendly stories will appeal to Jedi everywhere, Master and Padawan alike! Chewie shows off his problem-solving skills, Poe gets separated from BB-8, and Luke gets thrust into a diplomatic situation. Plus, an all-new tale based on Star Wars Resistance! Collects issues #14-17 of Star Wars Adventures and the 2018 Star Wars Adventures Annual.
(W) Matthew Rosenberg (A) Paolo Villanelli (CA) Will Sliney Rated T In Shops: Nov 13, 2019 SRP: $3.99
ONE AGAINST A WORLD
• Jedi Knight ENO CORDOVA must risk his life to uncover the secrets of the Dark Temple on Ontotho…while the fearsome Ontothon army approaches! • Can Padawan CERE JUNDA alone stop them from taking the temple for themselves? • And who are the deadly TEMPLE GUARDIANS and what are they protecting?
(W) Greg Pak (A/CA) Phil Noto Rated T In Shops: Nov 13, 2019 SRP: $3.99
WOOKIEE VS. SITH!
• Our three stories converge as the rebels’ plan to destroy the Empire’s fleet come to a head! But can LUKE really trust the grifter WARBA CALIP? • Can HAN, LEIA, and DAR CHAMPION survive a head-on battle with a STAR DESTROYER? • And what happens when CHEWBACCA takes on LORD VADER himself in hand-to-hand combat? • And the Rebellion’s search for a new home…a base safe from the reach of the Empire…begins.
(W) Si Spurrier (A) Caspar Wijngaard (CA) Ashley Witter Rated T In Shops: Nov 06, 2019 SRP: $3.99
A ROGUE’S END Part 2: THE DARK LORD FALTERS…
• DOCTOR APHRA’s reunion with her FATHER would’ve be a happy affair – if he wasn’t a pompous blowhard set to take her job as the Empire’s chief archaeologist. • Of course, her dear old dad will have to survive Imperial Interrogation first, and which pair of charming psycho-droids do you suppose DARTH VADER has hired for the job? • And what happens when the ancient stones of a long-lost Jedi Temple cast their ghostly influence upon the Dark Lord of the Sith himself…?