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JOIN THE EMPIRE - Part Two Galen Erso

In Part One, we explored one way you’d end up working for the Imperial Military; conscription from birth. Today we'll be talking about the service of another unwilling participant, Galen Walton Erso.

You may be familiar with Galen as the father of Jyn Erso, the stalwart protagonist of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. 

Born on the planet Grange, Galen grew up in a poor neighborhood with slim prospects. Exceptional from a young age, however, he quickly out-learned his fellow classmates and by secondary school had established himself as something of a prodigy. By the age of 25 he was considered an expert in the fields of crystallography and energy enhancement. This made him a prime candidate for abduction by the Imperial Military.


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By happenstance, Galen became best friends with one Orson Krennic while studying the Futures Program on Brentaal in 40 BBY. Krennic would of course go on to later become the Director of the Imperial Military's Department of Advanced Weapons Research. 

By the time of The Clone Wars, these two had lost touch and Galen, along with his wife, were captured and imprisoned by the Iron Gauntlet Legion. During a prisoner exchange, the now Director Krennic ‘rescued’ the couple. Unknown to Galen, Krennic’s true intentions were to put Galen in his debt in order to persuade him to use his knowledge of kyber crystals in the development of the Death Star’s superlaser.

After some resistance, and fearing for his family’s safety, Galen fell under Krennic’s influence. He began working tirelessly on the project despite Krennic’s reluctance to show him what the potential laser’s ultimate purpose would be. 

Ultimately, after learning of the weapon’s true nature, Galen built a crucial flaw into the Death Star’s design; the very one that Luke Skywalker would later exploit, destroying the Death Star base.

Galen Erso may not have ever intended to work alongside the empire but he became entangled in it’s dark web all the same. 

In the next and last part of our series, we’ll be looking at what it’s like to WANT to be in the Imperial Army through a closer look at one of it’s most dedicated Generals: Armitage Hux.

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Amanda Avery          
Amanda is a blogger based in Anaheim, CA

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Amanda Avery September 02, 2020 0 tags (show)

"What Color was Captain Kirk's Tunic"

STAR TREK: The Original Series "Requiem for Methuselah" 
As broadcast in 1969(left), and color corrected for TOS: Remastered in 2008(right).

“Why is your Captain Kirk tunic green?”

When ANOVOS first brought our Premier Star Trek tunics to some of the conventions we attended, we always got the same questions: “Why is your Captain Kirk tunic green?” “Shouldn’t Captain Kirk’s shirt be gold?” and so on. 

While we can understand the confusion, the fact is that the costume William Shatner wore in the third season of Star Trek was this precise shade of avocado-green, and that it only looked gold on camera. When we told customers this some understood and some didn’t, and some walked away saying that they didn’t care what color it was on the stage, Kirk’s tunic was gold. 

 It was the last comment that always got to us. “You don’t care? We’ve made a tunic that could pass for an original in the Smithsonian, and you don’t care?”. It turns out some prefer their memory to the real thing. Regardless, we decided to stick to our pursuit of accuracy and focus on creating a perfect copy.


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But what was the cause of the confusion in the first place? The change in shade to the naked eye (under most lighting conditions, even natural light) is so subtle that you’d be hard pressed to even discern it. Under most conditions it’s just a pinch more gold/yellow, but in an episode of Star Trek the shirt would turn decidedly gold. Why? 

There were actually a number of different factors that led to this color shift. Stage lighting and optical color timing did their part to shift the color of the intended green to gold, but another factor had to do with the film stock The Original Series was shot on. 

The Eastman Kodak 5251 negative film that was used for TOS had a color range that favored a warmer pallet. This tended to shift things more towards a yellow shade, and how we get a gold tunic from the green that William Ware Theiss intended for the show's "Unrestricted Line Officers."  

Taking all that into account even regular photography can shift the color of the tunic to something more gold. I call this “The Camera Trick”, and if you saw us at conventions in the past you might have seen it. 

Here I am in my tunic, pictured outdoors in natural daylight without a filter.

Let's take a look at one of our Premier Kirk Tunics. The same shirt, in two photos with different lighting. 

Taken indoors, artificial light, no filter. One with the camera flash (left) and one with no flash (right). 

I just hold my phone in camera mode over it and what happens is exactly what happened with TV cameras in 1969 – the Command Tunic turns gold!

So here we are - The definitive Classic Star Trek Command Tunic. The third Season uniform for those that want a precise replica of what William Shatner wore as Captain James T. Kirk.

It has correct patterning taken directly from original sources, full length zipper (to allow for the actor’s hair and make-up), spring weave collar fabric, body fabric made from custom milled diamond weave double knit fabric, our perfected rank braid and Starfleet Starship Duty Insignia, and the actual “avocado-green-gold” color formula used by the Star Trek costume department. All proudly Made in the USA.

This costume tunic replica is crafted by hand for those collectors who want nothing less than what was worn on the sound stage.

At the same time we are Trekkies ourselves, and so it was also designed to be a perfect wearable replica of the uniform tunics worn by Captain Kirk aboard the Enterprise in 2269.


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley September 01, 2020 0 tags (show)

JOIN THE EMPIRE - Part One FN-2187

Star Wars is typically considered to be a pretty solid example of the classic Hero’s Journey template of storytelling. Whole books have been written on the subject. There’s a clear good side and a clear bad side, you know who to be cheering on from the very beginning, and that can be comforting as a viewer.

The villain of Star Wars is, of course, the Darkside itself-- however, most of the films are fought subverting not the dark force users but the Imperial Military that uses them to terrorize a galaxy far, far away.

The Imperial Military is a clear stand in for real-world fascist regimes that we’re all familiar with. This is another method used to instantly establish where the story stands and who we should be backing from the get-go. 

The Imperial Military is almost cartoonishly evil at first blush. But perhaps we take this big baddie for granted.

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The military isn’t one entity, it’s made up of many moving parts and countless enlisted individuals. How does someone end up joining the bad guys? What’s the appeal? Over the next three articles we’re going to be taking a look at three separate paths that could lead someone to dedicate themselves to a lifetime of terror.

It goes without saying that the most likely place to look for less than willing participants would be the ranks of foot soldiers. The Imperial Army’s intentions aren’t the best and not many would be willing to die for the ever expanding power of their higher officers. That brings us to our first subject, FN-2187, later known as Finn.

Abducted as a child, Finn was forced into a First Order operation known as Project Resurrection.

Thousands of children were snatched from their homes, most of them too young to have formed any real memories of their birth parents, and molded into elite Stormtroopers.

Finn showed early promise as a cadet serving under Captain Phasma and was generally considered to be an ideal example of the success of the program. 

However, Finn’s indoctrination wasn’t airtight.

The canon is careful to point out several moments in his youth where outside influences seem to have come through. He enjoyed reading the Kade Genti comics that his friend snuck in as well as other contraband. The Imperial Army failed to fully separate him from his humanity.

By the time of his first real mission, a deployment to Jakku with Kylo Ren to track down a map that would lead to the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, Finn lacked the ruthlessness that was required of him in his position.

After witnessing the massacre at the village Tuanul, Finn became disillusioned and took the opportunity to defect entirely, kicking off the events that would transpire over the course of the latest trilogy. 

Without this act of rebellion, who knows where our heroes would have ended up.

Next time, we’ll be talking about the service of another unwilling participant, Galen Walton Erso.

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Amanda Avery          
Amanda is a blogger based in Anaheim, CA

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Amanda Avery August 31, 2020 0 tags (show)

Han Solo - The Mistakes of the Father

In our first article exploring Han Solo's origins, we talked a lot about Han’s strained relationship with his father. While the plots of the newer movies tend to focus on the turbulence between Kylo Ren and his own father, Han, the origins of their troubles probably lie somewhere deep in the latter’s rocky childhood.

Because his father abandoned him, Han was extremely nervous about the prospect of having a child. Regardless of Ben Solo’s memories of his father’s feelings for him, it could easily be said that Han used his nervous energy to become over protective of his son. As his birth approached, Han hired a nanny droid and obsessively cared for Leia. She frequently had to chide him not to overdo it so much. It goes without saying that once the baby was born, Han loved him deeply.


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Ben Solo’s parents couldn't hide away from their extremely busy lives for long. Because she was an important politician, Leia didn't sit idly at home and often had to travel far and long. Finding himself the husband of someone so prestigious, Han fell into a sort of first-husband role, turning from his life of crime to a successful career as a sport race driver. He sponsored important races, raced for charity, and more. 

Despite his best efforts, Han started to drift further and further from his son. Ben Solo was often left alone at home.

Making matters worse, the Solo’s worked hard to protect young Ben from the knowledge of his lineage. They worried how knowing the true identity of his grandfather would affect him. Once he did learn the truth, Ben’s trust in his parents was broken. The events that followed while training under Luke completely separated him from his family and sent him hurtling into the dark side.

Han was so dismayed by Ben’s downfall that he left Leia to return to the smuggler's life of crime. After many years on the straight and narrow, there’s no doubt that he did this as a form of punishment inflicted on himself. Perhaps he felt that he never truly deserved his loving family in the first place. He became just like his own father, a runaway. Han traveled the stars with his pain.

The conclusion of Ben, now Kylo Ren, and his father’s troubled relationship is heavily explored in the newest Star Wars trilogy. Without spoiling anything, it can be said that the new films are an exploration of the conclusion of Han himself. 

A son, a pirate, a friend, a husband, a father.

Han Solo to this day has been persevered as one of film’s most beloved characters and it’s easy to see why-- despite his upbringing, despite his father’s abandonment, despite being a rotten no good scoundrel, he overcame it all in the end. 

Film buffs may claim Han is the textbook example of an anti-hero but, in my opinion, that’s overthinking it. Han is just as much a hero as Luke, maybe more.

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Amanda Avery          
Amanda is a blogger based in Anaheim, CA

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Amanda Avery August 28, 2020 0 tags (show)

23 Weeks of NEW Trek -The Message of LOWER DECKS

I'm almost surprised at how much I'm enjoying STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS! It's pure comfort food, something like "Chicken Soup for the Trekkie Soul." Each episode brings with it another condensed dose of Star Trek love. "Envoys” for instance, gave us a little gift after little gift of Trek lore & references, but like any good Star Trek episode there was a message in there too.

Be true to who you are, and everyone on the ship will celebrate that truth with you.
Could there be ANYTHING more Star Trek than a message like that?!? WOW. This is the message of "Lower Decks." With each episode clocking in around twenty five minutes, it may just be the purest distillation of Star Trek ever offered to the fans. And sadly those minutes click by quickly. The wait between episodes is hard, but that wait affords time for rewatching & reflection. Something else I should have expected from a show bearing the name STAR TREK. 

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During the week between episodes I've found myself re-watching the first cartoon Star Trek ever produced, "The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's STAR TREK." Bit of a wordy title, yeah? We'll just call it STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES, or TAS for short. TAS was something I watched a lot in the '70s, and as a kid I didn't really separate it from "The Original Series", it was all just "Star Trek" to me. My friends and I would watch it alongside the syndicated reruns of TOS we got after school. Everyday there were episodes of our favorite show - "Real or cartoon", it didn't matter to us. We loved it all.

On Saturday mornings - right after The Animated Series aired we'd all "beam down" outside on the banks of the lake behind our houses. All of us (every one) wearing our "Star Trek Shirt." 

In those days we were all wearing different colors of the same short sleeved Starfleet Uniform "Tunic." Our engineer was in red, our "Spock" (my friend "Tack" had his black hair cut into shape not unlike Mr. Spock's with bangs and all) wore blue, and I was always wearing gold or green. We carried a collection of different devices for our "landing party equipment", but most everyone had a Remco utility belt with a miniature phaser, communicator, and a tricorder. We would play for hours running around on the surface of some strange new world wearing our uniforms, and "being" the characters we had just been watching on TV. It was too much fun.

"Fun", is what we had in mind when we recreated those original short sleeved Star Trek Shirts for Trekkies today.

 Growing up, I often thought about how much fun we had with Star Trek, in our uniforms, and I wanted to bring them back for the now grown kids who had worn them back when the franchise was new. 

I'm happy wearing mine whenever I can, and it reminds me of the first time STAR TREK was new & fun.

That's what "Lower Decks" is to me. It's Star Trek that's new & fun! It's also garnering a whole new audience of younger Trekkies & Trekkers (like my own kidlet) that are watching it and finding just as much there to love as I do. 

More than that, between its own stories and references to earlier adventures - it’s forming new connective tissue between itself, and all the stories we loved in the past. 

It’s proof positive that STAR TREK can tell new stories in new ways, and continues to seek out new audiences and new fandoms. Still boldly going where no show has gone before!


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley August 27, 2020 0 tags (show)

Han Solo - On the Run

By the time Han Solo makes his very first appearance in A New Hope it’s clear that he’s deep into the lifestyle of a rogue. In fact when we first meet him he’s already in over his head with a deal gone wrong.  

As we established in our last piece Exploring Han Solo's Origins, Han started out making ends meet as an orphaned youth working the streets of Corellia. Solo: A Star Wars Story, follows him from this time up through joining, and later escaping, the Imperial Army in order to make an escape from his home planet. All of these early adventures planted the seed for the kind of life Han would be destined to pursue-- the only skill sets he had were stealing, lying and running. And running is just what he did.

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After the events of “Solo”, Han and Chewbacca seemed to prefer to stick to relatively petty crime. He ran marked Sabbac decks to the casino of the planet Marquinn, smuggled spice all over the galaxy and dodged the empire all along the way. Make no mistake, the Imperial Army had every intention of recapturing Han and bringing him to justice. They never caught him. The duo quickly made a name for themselves as the best around.

Like all good pirates, Han had a place to stash all of his treasure. 

After he and Chewie crash-landed on an unnamed planet in the Monsua Nebula, the duo fought through storms and cyclones to reveal a secret oasis. Finding the storms a suitable deterrent, they located a hidden cave and declared it their secret spot. Over the years they hide all manner of treasures and trinkets from their adventures there, including a nostalgic store of Corellian wine for Han.

Ultimately, it was running spice that finally got Han in so much trouble with the infamous Jabba the Hutt. They successfully worked for him for many years, even becoming Jabba’s top smugglers. One day, while running a large order of Spice for Jabba, the Falcon was faced by an imperial blockade. Faced with having to either be caught or abandon the cargo, they dropped Jabba’s shipment and escaped to a nearby planet. This betrayal began the game of cat and mouse between the two and Jabba, culminating in the now famous scenes in Star Wars: A New Hope.

Han Solo’s life of crime can (and does) fill several books. From what we know about him, it’s undoubtedly that he went on dozens, maybe hundreds of adventures worth talking about. In our next blog we’ll explore his most dangerous and mysterious adventure of all -- fatherhood.

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Amanda Avery
Amanda is a Blogger based in Anaheim, CA.  

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Amanda Avery August 26, 2020 0 tags (show)

Trip Tucker's NX-02 Patch

Capt. Hernandez: "Commander, drop by the quartermaster's at the end of your shift." 
Cmdr. Tucker: "Ma'am?" 
Capt. Hernandez: "Might want to update your uniform." 
::Indicating his sleeve with the "Enterprise" patch still attached::
Cmdr. Tucker: "Aye, Captain." 

- Trip Tucker and Erika Hernandez aboard the NX-02 COLUMBIA. 

When Trip Tucker transfers to Columbia from the Enterprise its for a number of reasons, mostly personal rather than professional. Headhunted by Captain Erika Hernandez to be Chief Engineer aboard her newly finished NX-02, Trip initially refused to leave Enterprise but later accepted the transfer.

For Trip it ended up being a relatively short assignment to Columbia, but for us it marked a fun block of episodes in the final season of STAR TREK: Enterprise. Those are some of our favorites from that series, and so we couldn't resist recreating Trip's assignment patch from his sojourn to Enterprise's sister-ship.

We were given the best reference the Star Trek archive had for our recreations of patches from Enterprise, but we went beyond that and spoke directly to the artists who originally designed them for the series itself. 

I've got one of these sewn to one of my old flight jackets, and love that it blends in with all of my old USAF patches. Every once in a while another Trekkie will notice the patch when I'm wearing that jacket, and it never fails to start a conversation, or friendship. It may be weird, but then the motto on the patch holds true.


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley August 25, 2020 0 tags (show)

Rey and her X-WING Helmet

When we first meet Rey Skywalker, she's just an abandoned girl living on her own in a wrecked AT-AT Walker on the desolate, battle ravaged planet of Jakku. 

On her own for nineteen years with no family she took to scavenging to survive. Among the things she found in the wreckage of the last great battle of The Galactic Civil War was an old X-Wing Pilot's Helmet.

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The helmet had belonged to a Rebel pilot named Dosmit Raeh, and Rey used to wear it and pretend that she was flying for the Rebel Alliance against the evil Galactic Empire!

Rey’s childhood doll of Rebel Pilot, Dosmit Raeh.

As a little girl, Rey invented adventures to act out with a doll of Dosmit Raeh that she had made for herself out of the rags of an old flight suit she had found. And when she wasn't playing with her doll, she would escape the loneliness of her makeshift home to be "Raeh" - wearing her helmet & piloting her X-Wing against Imperial Tie Fighters far from the wastelands of Jakku.


Rey's (Raeh's?) X-Wing Helmet is one of my favorite pieces from STAR WARS' sequel trilogy. I think because it resonates with me, and reminds me of playing the way Rey must have. As an only child after STAR WARS came out in '77 (my brother didn't come along till I was thirteen), I can remember pretending that I was an X-Wing pilot, like Luke Skywalker. I recall the time I painted an old helmet to look like Luke's, and imagined I was in the cockpit taking on the whole Empire myself.

An excerpt by Rey about her X-Wing helmet from the canon tie-in book, “Rey's Survival Guide.”

Rey does the same thing in "The Force Awakens." She's grown up, but her doll & her helmet are still with her. They're not just possessions to her. They are among the very few constants in her life, like the drive to find her parents. I don't think it's any coincidence that she's wearing her helmet the moment before meeting BB-8, and starting on her own hero's journey. 

Rey sitting all alone against the foot of her AT-AT with her helmet is to me every bit as moving as Luke watching a binary sunset.

Rey resting against the foot of her AT-AT Walker home.

Rey's first X-Wing helmet is a significant piece in her life, and in her character's story arc. We see her sitting on a desert world wearing it, and dreaming of belonging somewhere, belonging to someone. And by the end of the story in "The Rise of Skywalker" we see her transformed. She has become the X-Wing pilot she always dreamed of. The X-Wing Pilot WE always dreamed of being.

Rey’s flying the most famous starfighter in the galaxy, wearing Luke Skywalker's own X-Wing helmet, and like Luke & Leia before her she's become a Jedi. She has a place. She belongs to a family, and finally she knows her true name.

John Cooley, 
Jedi Knight and friend to Captain Solo. 


John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley August 24, 2020 0 tags (show)

23 Weeks of Trek - Discovery Returns!

“23 Weeks of STAR TREK!” It sounds great doesn't it?

 Fun Fact - even back when a season of Star Trek meant twenty three episodes or more, there would still be breaks or hiatus' built into a season. This is the first time in the history of the franchise where we're given nearly half a year of new Star Trek every week. Ten weeks of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS followed immediately by thirteen weeks of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY!

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Of course, we just got a fresh look at the U.S.S. DISCOVERY's Cmdr. Michael Burnham. 

She's back in uniform and wearing the latest iteration of Starfleet insignia. 

Side note - anybody else besides me wondering if that's just a combadge, or something way cooler?

Either way, we're in for a wild ride when Discovery returns. Nine hundred thirty or so years into the future what will the galaxy look like? Will friends still be friends? Enemies still be enemies? And what if anything remains of Starfleet and The United Federation of Planets?

I have theories of course. I wonder if there are any clues to be found in Michael Chabon's SHORT TREKS episode "Calypso?" Is Zora the result of The Sphere Data merging with Discovery's Computer? Has the ship Craft found been waiting a thousand years beyond when Burnham and the crew arrived in the year 3187? Is the enemy he fought in the war, which he called “The V'draysh” - all that's left of The Federation?

We'll have to wait and see, but the good news is that we don't have to wait too much longer. AND we have Lower Decks to enjoy till Discovery returns! I've said it before, and I'll say it again...NOW is the best time to be a Star Trek Fan! There's more new Trek coming our way now than at any point in the franchise's history! Way back in the day between the end of The Original Series, and the first Motion Picture we used to have a saying that affirmed how we all felt about our favorite show, and it's more accurate now than ever before...



John Cooley 
John Cooley is a writer based in Las Vegas, and a product developer for ANOVOS.  

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John Cooley August 20, 2020 0 tags (show)

Han Solo - Hard Beginnings on the Path of a Hero

We’re all familiar with the ubiquitous Han Solo, but how well can we say we really know him?

Han’s history has spanned films, books, comics, and more-- and yet many of us can only claim to have surface knowledge of one of sci-fi’s most prevalent characters. Here we’ll dive into some lesser known details of the origin of everyone’s favorite scruffy nerf herder. 

Han didn’t spring into the world as a fully formed space smuggler, despite how it may seem. He was born in the usual way, on the Core World planet of Corellia, to a shipyard worker and an unseen mother. In the now retired, sprawling canon of ‘Star Wars Legends’, Han’s mother and father are named Jaina and Jonash, respectively. The fate of Han’s mother is almost entirely unexplored in-universe but we can conclude with some certainty that she was largely absent in Han’s life.

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Han’s Father makes an appearance in the films but remains unnamed. A worker at the Corellian Engineering Corporation Shipyards (Starships being the major industry of Corellia) he labors but never seems to make much headway and is eventually laid off. He expresses to his young son that his true desire is to escape the planet on one of the ships he works so tirelessly on. He never does make it but the sentiment must have had a profound effect on Han. Eventually, Han’s father abandons him. This influenced his life greatly.

Living as an orphan on the streets, a young Han turns to pickpocketing. In ‘Legends’, he’s picked up by Garris Shrike, a former bounty hunter turned con man and petty thief. Han spends most of his youngest years working for Garris, running various scams and learning the streets. 

He befriends the cook of Shrike’s ship, Dewlanna, a Wookie who looks on him like a son and teaches him Shyriiwook, the Wookie language.

However, this was changed for the screen. The films instead pick up with Han as a teenager, still as scrappy and orphaned as before, but having somehow fallen into working with a local crime syndicate, the White Worms. His role is somewhat similar to what it had been for Shrike in ‘Legends’; a fixer and runner among other orphaned and unfortunate children, called Scrumrats. This is how he meets Qi'ra, a fellow Scrumrat and future romantic interest, and snowballs into the opening scenes of “Solo: A Star Wars Story”.

From here, the story is well documented in the core films. There’s still more to explore between the gaps, however. 

We hope you’ll join us for the next excavation in Part 2 as we deep dive into the details of Han Solo’s journey through a galaxy far, far away.

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Amanda Avery
Amanda Avery is a blogger based in in Anaheim, California


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Amanda Avery August 18, 2020 0 tags (show)