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Lit Era's of the Legend's EU

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Jid123Sheeve, Mar 16, 2019.

  1. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 9, 2016
    So I’m doing this as a bit of research project of sorts

    As far as I can tell we have 5 different Era’s of the Legends EU at least as I see it.


    77-83 OT/Marvel Era

    84-90 Dark Times (I call it that because the only things I know are the Ewoks Cartoon and Droids, I know Marvel was still ongoing at the time but I can't think of anything BIG)

    91-98 Bantam/Early Dark Horse Era

    99-05 Multimedia Project / NJO Era

    06-12 Post NJO/ TCW Era



    Not sure if 06-08 is its own distinct Era or not but I’m going with this.

    So the purpose of this particular forum is this.

    What are some of the highs and lows of each particular era. Strengths and weaknesses. Etc

    For those around (especially older fans in the forums) what was it like witnessing and experience these Era first hand.

    Is any particular era you're favorite.

    Would you divide the eras of Legends EU this way or not

    And finally the one I'm most curious about

    What are some of the most interesting behind the scenes tidbits of the making of each particular Era if you know any.

    You don’t have to answer all the questions or any if you don’t want to I’d just thought I’d get the bell rolling for what I’m aiming for with this thread. Like comics I see the old EU as divided into various eras of its history each with its own unique flavor and characteristics and am curious about fan reaction to each one during their respective times. A bit of a retrospective if you will.

    Well, let's see how this thread goes shall we.
     
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  2. Jo B1 Kenobi

    Jo B1 Kenobi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jul 3, 2014
    Good idea!
    I would add "Dark Horse Era" to 99-05 and 06-12. The comics were very strong during that whole period in my opinion, in fact they went on until 2014 I think.
     
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  3. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 9, 2016
    I did that's the 99-05 Multimedia Project/NJO Era....The Multimedia project being the Dark Horse stuff mixed with a few of the Clone Wars games and books coming ut at that time.
     
  4. Jo B1 Kenobi

    Jo B1 Kenobi Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Jul 3, 2014
    Oh I see! Cool! They were the comics which got me back into SW as an adult.
     
  5. Jedi Knight88

    Jedi Knight88 Jedi Padawan star 2

    Registered:
    Sep 4, 2018
    Me too!!!
     
  6. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 15, 2006
    This era was a lot of fun. A lot of us have fond childhood memories of getting into the EU during this era, playing Rebel Assault II or Shadows of the Empire, getting to see the Orig Trij in theaters for the first time, and playing with the 90s Kenner action figures (mine briefly had their own wrestling federation; Boba was the champion and he used the Stone Cold Stunner). It also deserves a lot of credit for keeping SW alive in the public consciousness in advance of the prequels. The runaway successes of Zahn's trilogy and Dark Empire brought Star Wars back into the public eye and allowed the toy lines to flourish, video games to be made, and the Shadows multimedia project to happen, and it all ensured that a new generation of fans were lining up to see Episode I.

    I often look back on the Bantam novels of this era as fun and experimental, which is partially true but also partially a polite way of saying that they were also kind of aimless. There was no overarching storyline, and you were lucky if a planet had the same senator from one book to the next, but different authors brought different flavours and spices to their works and they don't blend together in memory the way that a lot of post-'05 EU does. Dark Horse also put out some of its most beloved projects during this time, like Tales of the Jedi and the Rogue Squadron series.

    You might have expected the publishers to stick close to the OT's timeline and play everything very safely --- and a lot of Bantam and Dark Horse stuff, did, sure --- but they also went fifteen years into the future and 5,000 years into the past, and when a new book publisher came into the picture, they looked at it and said "Great! Now let's blaze some more new trails and shake up the status quo even more." How many other franchises did that? Even now, has Trek publishing done much post-Nemesis, at all? Riker's Titan novels, the tail end of the New Frontier series, and... a single comic miniseries?

    Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of crap to wade through in this era, but unlike in later eras it's pretty harmless crap. It's bad but not offensively bad. More forgettable than affronting.

    The NJO was fantastic. It was ambitious and it was exactly what SW publishing needed. Story wise, continuity wise, and more. And it wasn't just the novels that stepped up their game during this period; Dark Horse's quality began to rise considerably with their Clone Wars-driven Republic stories by people like John and Jan. And LucasArts put out Knights of the Old Republic, the bar for all future SW games to compete against. It didn't set the bar --- it is the bar.

    For Dark Horse, '06 to '010/'011 is certainly a distinct era. The era of Legacy and Knights of the Old Republic. The cancellation of them and the move toward bland and unmemorable five-issue miniseries was a hair-brained retrograde move and a really unfortunate way for them to end their SW run.

    Being on these forums during that period was a treat. There was a palpable level of anticipation for each new issue, and being able to interact with the series' writers was an added bonus. I dunno if I've never been as involved in a piece of media during its original run as I was with those two series.

    The novels, on the other hand... ugh. The less said about them the better. How was it that with all SW movies said and done (or so we all thought) and any remaining limitations finally removed, their next big series was a recreation of the prequel trilogy? Why did it feel so much less trailblazing than the era that still had three more movies on the horizon? Even outside of LOTF and FOTJ, the novels that Del Rey were offering were just so bland.

    And with so much of the EU looking exactly the same, with Jedi fighting Sith while wearing Tatooine moisture farmer robes, there was so little character. Everything felt like a rehash of everything else. There are a couple of notable exceptions, like Agent of the Empire, but overall... blegh.
     
  7. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 9, 2016
    @Jeff_Ferguson Thanks for the in-depth anaylisis ...Love it.

    You know i’m curious, I asked this on twitter with a friend that sparked this whole thread but given what you know now of the Post NJO book...Do you think people would be far less jaded if they had rebooted the EU after Revenge of the Sith.

    I mean sure you don’t books like Plagueis and maybe a few other things but then at least things like TCW retconning the old Republic comics and people disliking the POST NJO stuff becomes irrelevant because you could just consider it it’s own separate universe?

    IDK just a thought given peoples reactions to a lot of the post 05 Expanded Uinverse material.
     
  8. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 15, 2006
    There would have been no reason to reboot the EU after Episode III, though. The EU miraculously came out of the prequel trilogy relatively unscathed --- sure, Boba Fett's backstory had to be changed and the Death Star's timeline tinkered with, but it could have been worse, John. A lot worse. With the prequels in the can and the EU sporting only a few band-aids, it wasn't time for a reboot. It was time to push the envelope as far as possible. Enter the Legacy comics.

    Hindsight being 20/20, 2008 would have been a better time for an EU reboot. The Clone Wars was very cruel to continuity, and it would have been nice if the original Clone Wars could have survived with their integrity intact. And as a bonus, there would have been no Fate of the Jedi. What more could you ask for?
     
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  9. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    [disclaimer: I have never been much of a video-gamer, so I admit I'm missing out on that aspect of the universe]


    Bantam Era (Nineties):


    In a word, experimental. Writers latched onto a bunch of individual aspects, sometimes very small (like a single character), of the Star Wars trilogy and wrote entire stories around them; or decided to write "Star Wars does X" type of stories to see the various kind of adventures you could tell in that universe. Delightful amount of variety.

    Also, while it was all experimental, what really made it work was that it stayed small-scale. Even the important events like the fall of Coruscant or the recreation of the Jedi were dealt with in only a few books, not galaxy-defining sagas. And there certainly wasn't anything on the scale of "Chewbacca dies," "Han and Leia's son dies," or "Han and Leia's other son falls to the dark side, kills Luke's wife, and is killed by his own sister" (heck, remember when Crix Madine dying shocked people? Freaking Crix Madine). When an experiment worked, great; when it didn't work, it was easy to move on.

    I also think towards the end, they had a pretty good handle on what worked best. Timothy Zahn, Michael Stackpole, and Aaron Allston especially did a great job of handling cross-author continuity and laying down a sort of skeleton of indispensable works for the post-ROTJ era. But I know there's people who didn't like them, at least Zahn and Stackpole towards the end, so YMMV.


    Prequel/NJO era (1999 - 2005):

    Envelope-pushing. It was the first time they really ventured outside the comfort zone of "the original trilogy and the times immediately surrounding it" and gave us epics on the same scale as the trilogy, with new generations fighting new galaxy-defining wars. And it was also, in both cases, an exercise in seeing how far you could go and still be Star Wars. Can Star Wars handle a much darker tone than we've had before? Can Star Wars handle much more moral ambiguity than it's had before? Etc.

    I would say the answer's "yes." And while I'm one of the few prequel-movie-sympathizers around, I also think the EU in this particular era did a great job of making up for the movies' shortcomings.


    Post-NJO era (2005 - onwards):

    Spinning wheels. They kept the prequel/NJO era's fondness for Huge Galaxy Defining Sagas (never mind that those things aren't supposed to happen all the time, or they lose all interest), without any of the experimental spirit of the Bantam era. We got not one but two Clone Wars retreads, one in the form of LOTF, and then one more literally in the form of TCW. And there wasn't even any time for the dust to settle or nostalgia to build up. It was literally "welp, we just finished with the Clone Wars. Hey, who wants to see the same story again? Twice?" It's like the superweapon-of-the-week cliche from the Bantam era, but so much more inescapable.

    And hey, I'm not even saying it was all bad. Yeah, TCW had a rough beginning but ended up turning into a perfectly good show in its own right. Might the same creativity not have been better used exploring new eras and new concepts, though?

    FOTJ gets a lot of crap, in this time period, and a lot of it is deserved. But I'll give it credit for at least trying to do something other than just remaking the Clone Wars.
     
  10. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 15, 2006
    That's a great point. The prequel-era EU was a lot of fun. Books like Cloak of Deception understood that there was actually some potential lurking underneath the awfulness of the prequels and spun it into gold. And the Clone Wars multimedia project from 2002 to 2005 was a roaring success that demonstrated how to work across various mediums to tell a series of interconnected stories. It's a shame that the sequel trilogy didn't try anything coming even close to it.

    Darth Plagueis felt in some ways like both a love letter and a finale to the prequel-era EU. It was great as a reader to revisit all those old storylines one last time.
     
  11. Xammer

    Xammer Jedi Master star 1

    Registered:
    Jan 31, 2009
    That's one of the reasons I was excited (and then disappointed) by the ST - the prospect of a new era and new defining events with details waiting to be filled. (I expected the Journey to TFA/TLJ would serve such a purpose but they underperformed.)
     
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  12. The Positive Fan

    The Positive Fan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 19, 2015
    I'd consider dividing up the 84-90 era into two sections - 84-86 as the "Kids' Era" and 87-90 as the "WEG Era." There's a clear divide between the two - virtually all content during 84-86 was geared toward younger fans (the cartoons, the Ewok movies, the Marvel comics) while 87-90 belonged exclusively to WEG.

    The WEG era was an amazing time. If you weren't a gamer you had no idea it was going on, and that era looked very much like "the dark times" indeed. But those of us who were "in the know" experienced an absolute bounty of riches. It was possible to immerse oneself in the lore of the Star Wars universe like never before - and those first edition WEG books remain a high-water mark of quality even today in so many ways.
     
  13. AusStig

    AusStig Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Bantam Era: I would call this 'standard Star Wars'. It's what would you expect if someone said 'more Star Wars'. There is a new republic that Leia is involved in and runs, New jedi that Luke trains, more evil Imperials and Super Weapons. There was some experimental stuff in the comics, Dark Empire while having superweapons, also followed up on and expanded upon the story of Luke and leia in RotJ. While Tales of the Jedi was a very different story set in a very different time, with the Jedi in charge, and the Sith ether another great power or rebels. This era brought us some great games, such as x-wing (and Tie Fighter which is unique for being one of only two games where you don't join the rebels) Rouge Squadron and Dark Forces.

    Finally (though chronologically released before the Rouge Squadron game) there is the Shadows of the Empire Multimedia project. The movie with out a movie, it had toys, comics, novel and game that all tie together. It was a good story that fit well into continuity, had good characters, moments and character moments. In many ways it set the stage for what came next.

    Prequel/NJO Era: The most mature era of Star Wars. This is when it tried to tackle bigger ideas, more grey than black and white. The Clone Wars Multimedia project was a high point, bring together stories told in books, novels, games and even a tv show. To bring about a (mostly) cohesive story. It really built upon the story in the movies and expanded it, explained it and just improved it over all. Some of the games were 'standard Star Wars story' (looking at you the clone wars 2002) which is not to say there were bad but just the story you would expect. The novels mixed things up, Dark Rendezvous and shatterpoint were different novels. Labyrinth of Evil, Revenge of the Sith and Dark Lord rise of Darth Vader, for a trilogy all on their own that tells a great story of Anakins fall. The comics were very mature, with jedi falling, Palpatine taking over the Republic and the whole thing just falling apart. It was dark, but not depressing.

    KOTOR, great game, very Star Wars story, but with enough tweks to keep it fresh. Well loved for good reason.

    Battlefront 2, has great voice acting and gives a fresh view on the Star Wars saga. Only game other than Tie fighter when you don't join the Rebels.

    NJO was the NEW Star Wars, it was different. It was about the new generation of Jedi having to fight a new enemy that is very unlike anything that has come before. It is dark, Chewi dies at the start, planets are wrecked and populations killed or enslaved. But it is big, it shakes the galaxy, you get a feel for the scope of the war. There are 19 books and it uses this length to take its time. it brings back a lot of characters and locations from the EU and uses (and sometimes destroys) them. Although it isn't always a-grade, I think it skews higher than average. NJO asked big questions, and dealt with big themes, heroism, lose, grief, how do you deal with these. NJO also said that HOW you win is as important as winning. The final challenge in NJO isn't CAN we win, but HOW we win (while there is a bit of can as well). Luke goes off to find ZS not only to win, but to stop others doing the wrong thing to win. NJO was the Grand Final for Star Wars. In fact both Star Wars the Ultimate visual guide has the end point. While this may just be due the time they were released, even when it was updated with TCW I don't think they extended the time line past NJO. NJO ended with a new Hero Jacen, how fought and defeated his enemy not with power and force, but like Luke before him, though a moral strength, he is set for a bright future.

    Star Wars was complete (at least the Skywalker saga) we now had the complete history of the fall of Anakin, his redemption and now Luke, his niece and nephew as well as the other new Jedi Luke had trained (along with the other heroes) had defeated the greatest threat to the galaxy.

    So what happened?

    Post NJO, the Legacy Era, KOTOR comic, SWTOR and TCW. When Legacy launched I assumed it would be another multimedia project, with the books and comics tied in together. I was wrong. the Legacy Comics started off well, but quickly lost me. LotF started strong and then got depressing. FotJ got weird and depressing. EVERYTHING has to be BIG and galaxy shaking. Legacy could pull it off (mostly) well, though it suffered from a loss of focus later on, LotF also suffered focus problems due to trying to have too many conflicts all at once and FotJ turned this up to 11. In a word the post NJO timeline is, good opening, bad follow through.

    KOTOR comics, great work through and through. Good stories, good characters, good focus, showed a small view of a galaxy wide conflict.

    SWTOR, the massive sequel to KOTOR. It honestly is an era all of it's own. It has a new setting (with some familiar visuals), a new type of setting, a cold war. Lots of different views of the conflict, lots of choices and a good fun game.

    In this era of the EU the future of Star Wars was the past.

    TCW, it's ok, not great, has some great moments. Not as good as what came before.
     
  14. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    The original era of the EU produced some very interesting material, stuff that's fairly unique in not being primarily influenced by Star Wars itself. If you look at the Marvel comics, the newspaper strips, SOTME, the Han Solo and Lando Calrissian novels, that stuff was influenced more by Star Wars' own influences -- Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, comic books, adventure pulp -- than the one or two Star Wars movies out at the time most of it was made. Even great, magnificent Star Wars works like the Han Solo Adventures are deliberately set away from the Empire, away from everything we know from the movies, with just the characters of Han and Chewie retained, going through a set of standard pulp-adventure scenarios. It's really Daley's magnificent feel for the Star Wars universe that allows them to feel grounded in the same setting; witness the Lando Calrissian Adventures, which did mostly the same thing logistically -- taking just Lando Calrissian and throwing him into a set of pulp-adventure scenarios that have nothing to do with the established setting -- but, massively entertaining as they are, feel like relics of some bizarro universe that sit super uncomfortably with "actual Star Wars" because L. Neil Smith never really connected with the film setting, the rules of Lucas's universe. Or look at the Marvel comics, in which the artists generally did their best to stay true to the established film visuals -- for things actually from the films, but every time a new design was needed we ended up with Flash Gordon rocketships and people in FUTURISTIC bodysuits or ridiculous Crimson Jack space undies that had absolutely nothing to do with the film visuals and everything to do with the established visual conventions of pulp comics. Like, they recognized that nothing in Star Wars the movie looked like John Carter or Flash Gordon, but they just lumped Star Wars in as more of the same thing anyway so if they had to create anything new they were just going to create what they knew rather than hew to Lucas's aesthetic (Al Williamson's work is generally an exception, a pretty good example of somebody who got the general aesthetic). So it's a really interesting period to see people trying to work out what Star Wars is and how to tell stories within this universe.

    I'll also second the distinction between the era of weird tangential kids' cartoons and the era of WEG establishing the framework of the universe. WEG proved massively influential throughout the Bantam era, and I think the key to that is that WEG was much, much better than Marvel at figuring out what the Star Wars universe was and how to work within it. Don't get me wrong, the Marvel/Daley era was fun and told some really great Star Wars stories, but it was definitely the result of trying to deal with Star Wars on the fly, by people operating within existing paradigms, and it lacked that sort of systematic, coherent understanding of the universe. Between some combination of the trilogy having been complete for a few years before WEG picked it up, and having reached the point where it had firmly established its own aesthetic that others were out to imitate, and WEG just being stocked with talented writers who got the universe on the level of people like Daley, and the fact that WEG's whole remit, really, was worldbuilding rather than trying to spin out random pulp stories, WEG managed to really get the rules of the universe and from that build out a whole base of material fleshing the universe way, way out and giving it some organization and coherence. And that basis was there waiting for the Bantam-era explosion.

    Of course, the Bantam era, at a decade long, isn't really a unity itself. You could subdivide it into more sub-eras -- there was a long stretch where TTT and DE (and, weirdly, GODV) were really the only things coming out -- they exploded because they had tapped into a demand that nobody really knew was out there, and because nobody expected this to happen, it took a few years to actually get the machine churning. Then you had a couple years of very scattershot follow-ups -- a selection of random standalone novels, a few trilogies, TOTJ, a video game or two, all coming out at the same time with no real coordination. You had JAT, TAB, COPL, and TCS all coming out in the same year, followed by TCT, COTJ, and Darksaber, and all these are just scattered all across the post-ROTJ timeline yet simultaneously in development. Of course it was an era of a fair degree of incoherence; the only things most of them could agree to reference, outside the movies, were the Solo kids and Mara Jade. There was often surprisingly good continuity for how scattershot it all was, but there was no overall direction to the narrative, just a lot of random stories. And the tone could be all over the place, too; for all that WEG had done, this middle period was probably when WEG had the least influence on the authors, because things hadn't cohered as much. You could arguably see parallels with the original era -- the most out-there, off-kilter-feeling work was largely the result of authors whose creative sensibilities were more influenced by their work on Star Trek novels and fantasy than by a strong feel for the Star Wars universe itself -- McIntyre and Hambly's weirdo sci-fi with space centaurs and spirit crystals, Wolverton's planet-of-the-Amazons generic space-fantasy pulp. It's not until you get into the 96-99 period that things really take off, with the narrative cohering around the Zahn-Stackpole-Allston axis and the parallel-and-sometimes-complementary KJA-and-friends axis, more prolific video games, more multimedia in general (including the SOTE project), and it just really builds. There's more continuity, more cross-referencing, you've got X-wing books and comics locked together into an interrelated web, the Adventure Journal is going full steam and WEG is doing great work pulling everything in and tying it together in its sourcebooks, and it's really building something bigger. You even get the Han Solo Trilogy, which is the pinnacle at that time of grabbing everything, all the tidbits about Han from all the different books, and pulling them together, referencing details of the universe from WEG, from SOTE, from Darksaber, from the X-wing comics. The era is still exploratory in a lot of ways but it's also becoming far more coherent, and it's really this specific period that everybody remembers as the Bantam golden age. I will also note, apropos of a conversation recently with Trip, that this era also tended to excel in one of the EU's weird strengths -- what I labeled "weirdly synergistic emergent subtext," in which from the random slapdashness of the Bantam era weird, unintended patterns emerge, strange harmonies -- like the bizarre, implausible collection of Imperial leadership found in Crimson Empire being justified by the total destruction of all the actual meaningful Imperial leadership on Byss in Empire's End. Or the way Luke's weird affectless behavior in TCS can be read as depression and directionlessness after his breakup with Callista, which is itself a profoundly weird relationship Luke gets into after his struggles with the dark side and his failures as a teacher in DE and JAT, and actually all of Luke's weirdest Bantam behavior is pretty much bookended by Dark Empire, when he's tainted by experimenting with Palpatine and the dark side, and the BFC, when it all finally explodes into a massive midlife crisis in which Luke reexamines his entire approach to being a Jedi Master and what it means, and runs off to meditate in isolation and then to find his past with a hippie chick, and finally gets it all out of his system and figures some stuff out and goes back to being normal after that.

    The next era, the early Del Rey era for lack of a better term, is defined largely by two ambitious projects: the NJO, and the prequel multimedia blitz. There was other stuff going on -- Jedi Outcast, KOTOR I and II, Jedi Academy, the Empire comics -- that contributed to the gloriousness of the era, but the two biggest, most notable pushes were those. The NJO was just incredible; for me, it's the pinnacle achievement of the EU, taking that increasing coherence and doubling down on it to produce a grand epic that rolled the entire post-ROTJ up into one big coherent cast and setting telling a big, saga-level story with the only truly coherent overall editorial direction and creative vision the Star Wars universe has seen. The prequel push was really interesting, a lot of multimedia material leading into the Clone Wars project, which was really interesting but flawed, like the rest of the prequel stuff, by coming out simultaneously with the films and thus not being able to get a clear idea of where things were going. There was a lot of TPM-era stuff that didn't jive well with AOTC, and then once AOTC rolled out, everything was about the Clone Wars and nobody ever really went back to properly flesh out and tie together everything before that, which leaves the overall era somewhat incoherent. And as for the Clone Wars project, it was full of a lot of really great individual stories and the incredible Republic comics run, but it lacked any real coherence. There was no overall vision of where the war was going or what it meant, no plan for an overall narrative of the war, and Republic only presented us with sidebar narratives about Quinlan and about Ventress that didn't really affect the big picture. That left us with no strategic component to the war at all, no bigger arcs, and everything really ended up being a disjointed bunch of single-world crises in which the forces of the Republic are called upon to stop the forces of the CIS from taking over some planet for some generic reason, and they do so, with no greater significance on anything. It's just a big endless, vague, amorphous stalemate of one-off one-planet stories with absolutely no larger context to fit them into. What the era really needed -- what the 08 second wave of TCW could have been, but adamantly refused to be -- was a second pass in which, war complete and endpoint now determined, with a lot of great stories in place, an effort emerged to put it all into a context and provide an overarching narrative. A couple novel trilogies about different campaigns that could provide a sense of the big picture. Stuff about Durge's Lance, the Victory Fleet vs. the Bulwark Fleet, stuff integrating Adar Tallon and Wilhuff Tarkin and Seti Ashgad and all the old prequel-era stuff that should have appeared in the first run. An ebb and flow to the war, to Palpatine's machinations. Because there was a lot the original pass at the prequels didn't do. Some of the incoherence was the result of having to do it on the fly; some of it was the avoidable result of not going ahead and taking the opportunity to tie in all the established prequel-era lore that just got ignored (where's my Stackpole Rostek Horn/Nejaa Halcyon buddy cop mystery novel? Where were all the established Clone Wars veterans?).

    The period after that had two very different trends. On the one hand, you had Legacy, KOTOR, and a golden age of Dark Horse comics, plus high-quality books like Outbound Flight and Shadows of Mindor and some really good reference material that sustained the momentum of the golden age; caught up in them, you could feel like things were carrying on well. Meanwhile, the decay set in as novels increasingly disregarded continuity -- writing over older stories with inferior new work -- and most importantly, the post-ROTJ narrative, always a major driver of the franchise but now increasingly critical with the prequels over, nosedived in quality as editors took all the wrong lessons from the controversial reactions to the NJO and retreated into a reliance on inexplicably self-cannibalizing megaseries. Meanwhile, the momentum of the prequels was allowed to die because nobody was willing to do anything meaningful with the Dark Times, which the time had finally arrived to explore -- only for everybody to be forbidden to touch them out of fear of a TV series that never happened, and LucasArts decided that it was tired of making great video games and never, ever wanted it to happen again. You could call this the quietly self-destructive period of the EU, when the EU threw away most of the things that had made it work but hid it under ongoing momentum. The rot became clearer in the post-2008 sub-era, when TCW aggressively overwrote the prior Clone Wars canon without providing anything of substantive value in return, and the self-destruction really came out into the open with that, Dark Horse killing off its most successful series and replacing them with a blatantly flawed experiment in the miniseries format, and the nihilistic LOTF being followed up with . . . another megaseries that compounded all its failures rather than attempting to recover. Meanwhile, the quality in general just dropped off a cliff. We got bland standalone books, incredibly disappointing comics, crappy tie-ins to TCW and TOR, and no sense that the universe was going anywhere. There was no direction anywhere except for Denning continuing to drive post-ROTJ into the ground as hard as he possibly could. The only sparks of light were in mega-synthetic reference works like the EGTW and EA that drew on years and years of the EU to weave a magnificent web of storytelling and hint at the endless potential the universe still had. But by this time, it was clear that nobody in power seemed interested in actually using it. We were going to get more bland Jedi vs. Sith, more Darth Vader comics, and more Denning dysfunction until the universe collapsed. It was unsustainable. It simply couldn't go on like that. So it stopped.
     
  15. Ackbar's Fishsticks

    Ackbar's Fishsticks Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 25, 2013
    I wonder if the Clone Wars era being just a big, endless, vague, amorphous stalemate doesn't actually work pretty well for the purposes of the story. As the ROTS novelization puts it, the Clone Wars were never an epic struggle. Or, in some sense, a real war. They were fought strictly for the political needs of Palpatine to get his empire off the ground and rid himself of the biggest troublemakers that were in his way. Given that, you'd kind of expect it to be a big blur, where the only thing that's clear is that there are Separatists and Loyalists fighting each other on all sorts of different planets, but no strategy or progression in any direction.

    As for the Rostek Horn/Nejaa Halcyon buddy cop mystery novel, oh, if only. I still think Stackpole should've been asked to write an entire series along those lines and in the alternate universe where that happens, it's probably one of my favorite EU accomplishments. But, yeah. Failing to tie the Clone Wars era to the Bantam era was one of the big disappointments I had, as a Bantam fan. Outbound Flight/Survivor's Quest was the only real case of that happening, though you had winks and nods from time to time.
     
  16. Jeff_Ferguson

    Jeff_Ferguson Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 15, 2006
    Great breakdown, Hav. The splitting of the Bantam Era is a good point, and I like your take on the weird synergy of that era re: Luke.

    I do think you're being too hard on the original Clone Wars, though --- the first six months of 2005 had a great EU leadup to Revenge of the Sith that gave the war a direction and progression it was lacking before. Stuff like Obsession, Labyrinth of Evil, The Siege of Saleucami all felt like they were leading up to the endgame. The authors did the best they could, and if there's a big gap between Phase I of the multimedia project and Phase II rather than a smoother transition between the two, it's forgivable. It's not like there was much direction from up high, after all. And compared to the incoherence of the later Clone Wars project, its overarching narrative is a damn masterpiece.

    Things like Rostek Horn and Nejaa Halcyon teamups were there, if only in obscure Insider short stories, and a number of established Clone Wars vets did show up in the comics --- Jan Dodonna, Pellaeon, Bail Organa (who was nothing in Eps. II and III). A lot of that seems to be due to the initiatives of John & Jan, who deserve a lot of credit for making that era as good as it was.
     
  17. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    I can see the thematic resonance of an aimless phony war, but I don’t think it’s sustainable because it robs the universe of the ability to deliver a satisfying narrative. If it’s only ever going to be a collection of eight billion local brushfires, four hundred million foiled Seppie superweapons and bioweapons, and twelve million sabotaged droid factories, there’s nothing really there for the reader. Plus it’s not really believable as a war.

    There has to be at least some ebb and flow — some sense of structure to give narrative not only to the reader, but to people living it. As is, it’s just an endless stalemate that suddenly, out of nowhere, ends. There should be a structure to it — the Republic beleaguered, on the defensive for the first year as it struggles to move from a total peacetime footing to a war economy, build an army and navy, and generally compete with the CIS’s vast droid armies and economic engines, the CIS sweeping across the Rim as the Republic hunkers down in the Core and regional fortress-world powers that have the local military to hold out, building and rallying and figuring out who its good commanders are. Then a second year when the Republic goes from barely surviving to pushing back, a few campaigns that help it inflict major defeats, recover territory, get things back to an even struggle, a stalemated slugging match. Then, in the third year, the Republic finally makes its breakout, its sleeping giant war machine is finally fully awake and roaring, and the CIS is rolled back, pushed into the Outer Rim Sieges, until it musters up the last of its strength for a desperate offensive that takes it all the way to Coruscant. That’s a really simple narrative right there to work with and elaborate on, yet there’s nothing outside of LOE that even engages with a big picture. Everything is just here’s one mission without any context. The Republic, from the start, is an all-powerful monolith that wins every single battle against the equally all-powerful monolith of the CIS yet somehow the war continues as a featureless stalemate.

    Part of the problem is that we’re not given any key moments, any narrative, between the beginning and end of the war. The OT was very good about that. It doesn’t show us the whole war, but it gives us the picture. There’s a rebellion in media res, a small beleaguered group struggling to survive, and in desperation they win this huge incredible victory. Next movie, they’re still at it, but the Empire is after them, and they’re on the run after a crushing defeat. Then they rally and win another surprise victory by concentrating all their might against a sudden vulnerability. The EU was perceptive enough to run with that, and extrapolate a larger narrative with yet more key points that we were allowed to see — the Rebellion forming from ragtag groups, the Empire driving it off Yavin, the long search for another safe base, the hunt for Han, the Rebellion forming a New Republic, pushing into the Core and taking Coruscant, defeating the Imperial resurgence under Thrawn, defeating the resurgence under Palpatine, mopping up the warlords, bringing peace and stability. We see all the big moments. It’s the same in the NJO — we see an arc to the YVW, with the NR on the defensive, the campaign against the Jedi, the fall of Coruscant, the confusion and recovery, the NR hitting back against the overextended Vong and rolling them back, the Shamed Ones and the Jeedai heresy, recruiting Zonama Sekot. We see Sernpidal, Ithor, Yavin 4, Coruscant, Myrkr, Borleias, Ebaq, Bastion, Mon Calamari, Coruscant again. We’re there for all the big moments. There’s nothing comparable that we’re there for within the war. There’s a beginning and end in the movies, but no hint at a middle, and the EU never went ahead and developed a middle, a context, between Geonosis and Coruscant. What is the equivalent of the Battle of Hoth or of Ebaq 9 in the narrative? Where are the stories about anything that matter in a larger context than “Thank the Force we saved Nowheria from the Separatist attack!”? Where are the battles, the campaigns, that occur within any kind of larger context? Where is the sense of any kind of war goals? There’s nothing there, so it just becomes the exact same story repeating itself over and over and over again. Instead of a Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones narrative (or insert your favorite serialized show here) between AOTC and ROTS, we’re just watching a Gilligan’s Island marathon (man, I shoulda said Lost as the other example). And there’s only so many random people who can end up on the island and then leave without the castaways getting rescued before you get sick of it. It’s not satisfying for the audience.

    EDIT: Jeff, it’s true that John and Jan were good about dropping tidbits, but that’s all they ever were, tidbits. There was no attempt to integrate, say, Dodonna into the cast as an important military commander, the way Yularen ended up getting sidekick status the second time through. Nobody did anything with all the preestablished important people like Bail and Tarkin to make them part of the grand narrative of the era, the established cast (nobody did anything to add anyone who wasn’t a Jedi to the cast). Those two showed up rarely, but weren’t important, and the less famous important people like Pestage, Doriana, Ars Dangor, Adar Tallon, or Garm Bel Iblis were lucky to even be mentioned, let alone integrated into the main stoey of the novels and comics. All of the Bantam-era prequel Jedi were reduced to Abel namedrops or obscurities like the webstrips. There was nobody throwing Empatojayos Brand into Dark Horse’s comics instead of inventing Dass Jennir or K’Kruhk. There was no deep integration.

    And as for the limitations they were working under, I largely agree. I like original flavor Clone Wars for what it was, and the creators did fairly well for the constraints they were under, if perhaps being a bit incautious in doing things like advancing the timeline so far without knowing where things were going or if Anakin was going to be a Knight. But things like the war suddenly getting a couple larger arcs right before ROTS came out kinda make my point — they were operating without knowing where they were going, and the result was a directionless muddle until suddenly, at the eleventh hour, they were given a destination. My point isn’t that the writers necessarily could have done much otherwise, but rather that the whole project was inherently flawed by the fact that they couldn’t do much otherwise, because they weren’t given better direction by Lucas, and doing it in real time on the fly was always going to have major drawbacks. About the only better thing they could have done was hold themselves back to doing “beleaguered Republic” first-year stories until they knew the details of ROTS, then build an arc and keep giving us Clone Wars stories closing the gap after ROTS instead of immediately dropping the Clone Wars and moving on to an era they weren’t allowed to move on to and ending up doing year-one holding-pattern stories anyway, but in the Dark Times. No, my point isn’t that the original recipe Clone Wars were terrible, but that they shouldn’t be held up as perfect — they had an inherent flaw. My biggest complaint isn’t that they were flawed, but that the flaw could have been easily remedied by a second pass of storytelling, but never was. The second pass we ended up getting became a wholesale rewrite in which we still weren’t given a bigger picture beyond “lol the Trade Federation is neutral and also it turns out the main feature of the war was Darth Maul’s completely unrelated Mandalorian crime syndicate.”
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
  18. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 9, 2016
    I mean isn’t the entire flaw of the EU itself is that for 40 something years the franchise was run by a excentric billionaire who controlled the direction of said franchise pretty much on his own whims.

    Honestly that was the biggest flaw of Pre Disney Star Wars, it was both a franchise and a Auter director run film series.
     
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  19. Daneira

    Daneira Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 30, 2016
    Ah, yes, how terrible that it was run by the guy who came up with the thing in the first place. [/sarcasm]
     
  20. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 9, 2016
    Nah I love it.

    I respect a person who like “I’m gonna do whatever I want, fans be darned” Takes vision and guts
     
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  21. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 7, 2012
    It is kind of surprising in retrospect that we never got Zahn or Allston Clone Wars content, outside of a short story or two from both. Or that Stackpole couldn't be persuaded to come back for something.

    Really, Wallace, Fry, and Hidalgo should be given credit for being the few to actually turn the Clone Wars into a cohesive, strategic narrative, via both NEC/TEA/EGTW as well as the various HoloNet News shorts in Insider.

    I do give the Tartakovsky series a lot of credit for making what I think is one of the best retcons ever, combining Muunilinst and its banks with the Muuns and the Banking Clan. In retrospect it seemed an obvious combination, but if there's one thing I've learned in the years since, it can be hit or miss for TPTB to make obvious links.
     
  22. Jid123Sheeve

    Jid123Sheeve Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 9, 2016
    I am genuinely curious what gets these writers to come back. Zahn came back cuz Thrawn and Lucenos last book was a Rogue One prequel novel.

    Also didn’t know about the Munnalist thing, where did that originate from

    Abd agreed 2D Clone Wars has a legacy that lives on to this day.
     
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  23. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 7, 2012
    Muunilinst was invented by Zahn as the center of banking for the Imperial Remnant in one of his Hand of Thrawn novels.
     
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  24. Havac

    Havac Former Moderator star 7 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2005
    Stackpole actually did write one Insider short story with Nejaa and Rostek — but the main characters were actually Ylenic It’kla and Aayla Secura. Jan illustrated it, too. Elusion Illusion.
     
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  25. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 7, 2012
    I missed that completely. It makes it all the more unfortunate Stackpole wasn't able/willing to come back to do a proper full-length Clone Wars novel.