{Pop Culturally Insensitive will now be co-hosting (De)Constructing the Ion Canon, an ongoing blog surveying the entire official Star Wars canon according to its timeline. Below is the blog’s “mission statement”, and check back every week for a new post.}

A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. In this case, that music is the bombastic fanfare that accompanies every opening crawl of the classic series, and with its progression into septilogy on the horizon, that fanfare has returned to ignite the hearts and minds of young and old alike.

Unless you’re of a certain age or possessed of a certain jade, Star Wars has touched your life. Maybe, like myself, it’s been at the core; that wispy visions of Midnight Madnesses, after school lightsaber duels of fractured plastic and torn clothes, and KFC meals on a hot summer day just to get the kids meal toys dance across your mind so intermingled with past loves and perdurable dreams that to extract them would reshape the person you are. Or perhaps it’s laid, always on the periphery. Perhaps without early exposure, one’s mind has cast a derisive shadow over the space-set operatics as little more than a trifle for children and those who refuse to mature; or perhaps it just never caught your interest, simple as that.

Whatever the case, everyone can recognize the Imperial March. Everyone knows what a lightsaber is. Everyone can replicate the Darth Vader breathing. It’s almost mind-boggling to consider that something so engrained in the national pop language, or indeed so entrenched in the vast Anglo-American cultural diaspora, as referenced, homaged, and lampooned as the most classic of literary works centuries old, only came into existence in in 1977, not even 50 years ago. In the same way that works like The Great Gatsby and Portrait of the Artist As A Young Man (itself on the precipice of it’s centenary) feel as though they were composed by a contemporary of ours just days ago, conversely the saga of Jedi and smugglers, of planets and republics feels centuries old, familiar like the fairy tales of Grimm or the epics of Homer. What was forged from myths and legends has become one in its own right.

From those original three films were spun endless stories on the page, the screen and on bedroom carpets and hardwood den floors with clashing plastic effigy, and when the denouement of the 20th century’s final decade brought concrete life to the oft-imagined origins of the series most memorable villain, these new faces for familiar friends were those that launched a thousand more starships into flights of fancy, until the official tales of this ever-expanding universe were near innumerable.

Yet here we are, 38 years since Luke Skywalker first gazed upon twin suns, and this vast, unruly canon has finally been condensed. When Disney’s acquisition of the property meant the adventures of Luke, Leia, Han and co. would continue once more on the silver screen, a new “official canon” had to be established, and that brings us, after much pomp and, to borrow a phrase from a beloved aquatic race, bombad bombast, to the purpose of this blog: navigating the Star Wars canon.

The purpose of this blog is not so much a monologue, but rather to create a conversation. Together, each week, we’ll visit a new component of the official canon (based on what was in existence at the creation of this schedule, as well as other circumstances to be addressed in a moment), starting from the earliest official entry, Episode I: The Phantom Menace, and working our way chrono-canonicly through films, TV shows and novels until we reach the apex, the newest entry in the series, The Force Awakens.

When the canon was culled of excess material a few years back, it seemed the perfect opportunity to climb aboard. Never one to ignore an opportunity to immerse myself further in these realms of the fantastic, even I found the near endless array of novels and games within the “expanded universe” to be an insurmountable endeavor. When the dust finally settled for the new “official” canon, we were left with 7 films, two television series, and one at-the-time upcoming novel, which of course frustrated old fans with deep attachments to the creatures who’d haunted the pages of post-Jedi tales of continued adventures, but made it easy for those who’d yet to dip their toes into the tales of the Force, by consuming a bit each week from “Force Friday” (what I’m sure will be the “Black Friday” for the four-month Star Wars season) until the premiere of the newest film, to be as caught up as the most ardent fan by the time they sit back to watch new faces and old battle one more amongst the stars. That is precisely what this blog intends to do, to both shepherd the new viewers through this spellbinding series of battles and betrayals, and also revisit these classic tales with those who have loved them, finding new things to capture our imaginations (and sometimes discover scorn for things our young minds were quick to forgive). So let’s take a look at what we’ll be doing for the next 15 weeks:

September 4th (Force Friday): Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
The first film in the “prequel” trilogy, and the earliest story within the official Star Wars canon.

September 11, 2015: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)
The sequel film to The Phantom Menace, revealing the origin of the infamous Clone Wars of the Star Wars mythos.

September 18th, 2015: Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008)
An oft-ignored and forgotten piece of the series, and the only theatrical animated film in the series, Clone Wars functions as a set-up for the expansive animated television series of the same name.

September 25th, 2015: The Clone Wars Season 1 (2008-2009)
The 22 episode debut season the the computer-animated series, originally aired on Cartoon Network.

October 2nd, 2015: The Clone Wars Season 2 (2009-2010)
The 22-episode second season of the series, dubbed “Rise of the Bounty Hunters”, which also premiered on Cartoon Network.

October 9th, 2015: The Clone Wars Season 3 (2010-2011)
The 22-episode third season of the series, dubbed “Secrets Revealed”, which also premiered on Cartoon Network.

October 16th, 2015: The Clone Wars Season 4 (2011-2012)
The 22-episode fourth season of the series, dubbed “Battle Lines”, which also premiered on Cartoon Network.

October 23rd, 2015: The Clone Wars Season 5 (2012-2013)
The 22-episode fifth season of the series, which was not given a subtitle, was the final season to air on Cartoon Network, likely “wound down” due to the Disney acquisition.

October 30th, 2015: The Clone Wars Season 6 (2014)
The 13-episode sixth and final season of the series, whose post-cancellation debut came in the form of a DVD release as well as Netflix, thereby being dubbed a “Netflix Original”.

November 6th, 2015: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
The conclusion of the “prequel trilogy”, and once the final live-action film for the franchise.

November 13th, 2015: Star Wars: A New Dawn (2014)
The first novel as part of the “new canon”, establishing certain characters later to appear in the Rebels television series.

November 20th, 2015: Rebels Season 1 (2014-2015)
The first season of the ongoing Rebels series, bridging the gap between the two cinematic trilogies, originally premiering on Disney XD.

November 27th, 2015: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
The original, Best Picture nominated Star Wars, a cinematic game changer that first taught the world about the ways of The Force.

December 4th, 2015: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Darker, and at times more esteemed, sequel to Lucas’ original vision, continuing the story of Luke’s training, and featuring that most famous of all cinema surprises since Kane dropped the snow globe.

December 11th, 2015: Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi (1983)
The final chapter of the “original trilogy”, and the final tale in the Star Warschronology to date.

December 18th, 2015: Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
Alright, I’m gonna level with you. There’s gonna be no post on the 18th. There will be a subsequent post, but I, like all of you, will be in the theatre that day.

Of course, since the establishment of this schedule, things have changed. New novels have been produced, with even more in the pipeline. So let’s just go over why certain things may not show up on this blog.

First of all, we’re going by the new canon (particularly as it was when I conceived the idea), which unfortunately means some classic aspects of the mythos get ignored (brushed aside as part of the “Star Wars Legends” brand) such as the video games Knights of the Old Republic and The Force Unleashed; my favorite childhood novels not called Bailey School Kids or Harry PotterStar Wars: Jedi Apprentice; and indeed my single favorite piece of the Star Wars mythos outside of maybe two of the films, animation master Genndy Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars series (why this wasn’t kept canon still mystifies me). So, unfortunately, no discussing any of those.

As for the official canon to date, Sciencefiction.com has a brilliant chart to cover it. You’ll notice some things on there we’re not going to talk about here, at least not for now. Some of them, like the video games (Battlefronts and Uprising), won’t be out until around the time of Force Awakens, and their coverage on this blog could happen post-Episode VII, hinging on both the general interest for such a continuation and also whether my broke-ass feels like buying a next-gem system.

You’ll also notice a fair amount of comic books listed on their graph, none of which appear in the above schedule. That’s because with one exception, their stories are still being told, their runs still ongoing, and none as of yet have received even a trade paperback to act as a sort of “season” the way one would divide up a serialized TV show or something like that. As far as I’m concerned, without the presence of such physical divisions to create clear-cut arcs, its unfair to judge a story while it’s still going. Hell, judging a show like The Wire based on its first few episodes would cause you to crucify a classic, and conversely think how many people have tattoos of that symbol from Heroes they now regret. Hell, I’d love to sit here and tell you Marvel’s current Secret Wars event is amazing (because it really, really is), but it’s still got a bit to go, and who knows? Hickman could snap and end it all with another Clone Saga, or it could be Shadowlands 2.0.

Sorry about that, folks. Got off track and crossed the nerd streams. Back to Star Wars.

So, no ongoing comics titles. The one exception being the Leia miniseries, which concluded and should be getting a trade paperback in November. As such, I will attempt to include a discussion of this in its respective place in the timeline concurrently with the scheduled entry for that day.

As for the other novels…well, I’ve got no excuse beyond “They simply didn’t exist when I made the schedule, and now there’s no room.” If time allows, and I doubt it will, I will include them in their respective places in the same fashion as the Leia comic mentioned above. Otherwise, as is my above mentioned approach for the video games, I will address them after The Force Awakens, hinging on the general interest of readers.

Lastly, a little note. Why “The Ion Canon”? Because there was an ion cannon on Hoth, and I was really desperate for a play on words here.

So, here we go. Force Friday just around the corner. Check back in on the scheduled dates, or subscribe if it’s easier for you. Jump in in the comments any time you like. Let’s have some fun before the big day, and revisit some old favorites, and maybe find some new favorites along the way. If you know them all by heart, great. If you’re completely new, now’s your chance to go see a star war. Whatever your history, I hope we can all find something to keep us pumped till the cold winds of December bring in some new sights and sounds from that galaxy far away. And of course, may the Force…well, you know.

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14 thoughts on “(De)Constructing the Ion Canon: Taking Off; An Introduction to the Endeavor

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