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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

1/12/2010. Contributed by Neale Monks

Buy Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II in the USA - or Buy Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II in the UK

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II by Hayden Blackman and Omar Francia. pub: Titan Books/Lucas Books. 86 page graphic novel softcover. Price: GBP 9.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84586-841-9.

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'The Force Unleashed' and its sequel are a pair of third-person perspective games based in the years leading up to the first of the original 'Star Wars' movies. Both games have been fairly well received and perhaps inevitably have spawned a variety of spin-off products including graphic novels. 'Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II' combines themes from the games with a new storyline that brings the ever-popular Boba Fett character into the mix.

The result is an entertaining if lightweight romp involving Darth Vader's search for his renegade apprentice, Starkiller. To that end, he's hired Boba Fett, who's essentially the book's central character. Things kick off with Fett and a lady friend sharing a hotel room, in itself rather an amusing situation given how little we really know about Fett from the movies. Before long, he's on Starkiller's trail and things get very dangerous, very quickly. Despite being the character who seems ready for anything, even Fett gets a few unpleasant surprises along the way.

This isn't great literature or even a classic graphic novel, but it's a good story with some excellent action scenes and lots of first-rate artwork. Planetary scenes look a lot like what we've seen in the movies and the starship battles are fluid and authentic. Of somewhat more ambiguous quality is the way Bob Fett is characterised. On the one hand, there are some scenes that give him a humane, if not exactly tender side, particularly the one close to the end of the book. But there's another scene where Fett appears to maroon an unarmed civilian mechanic just a few metres away from a pack of vicious predators. It's a callous act that doesn't really mesh with the idea of Boba Fett as being an honourable, if deadly, bounty hunter.

At a mere 88 pages of actual story, this is a short book. There aren't any special features, alternate covers or commentaries. The replacement of such extras with a couple of full-page advertisements does perhaps indicate the nature of this book as more of a tie-in that a novel that needed writing because the author had something to say.

As an aside, sharp-eyed readers will spot Sam Witwer on the cover as Starkiller. Besides playing that role in the video games, he'll be familiar to SF fans for his roles in 'Smallville' and 'Battlestar Galactica'.

Neale Monks

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