Four Letter Nerd

Tag - Star Wars

4LN Comic Review: Darth Vader #1

Series: Darth Vader
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inks: Cam Smith
Colorist: David Curiel

Summary from Comixology: “The most fearsome villain of all time returns with an all-new series! When Anakin Skywalker fell, both to the pull of the dark side and to the blade of Obi-Wan Kenobi, he rose back up, more machine than man. Having lost everything that was once dear to him, the former chosen one must take his first steps into a darker world…as Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith!”

This is a series I have patiently been waiting for since it’s announcement some time ago. If you have been reading this site for any amount time, you would know that Charles Soule is one of my top 5 current comic book writers, and if he writes something I’m going to pick it up. His work on Poe Dameron has been fantastic, and his mini-series Obi-Wan and Anakin was a refreshing look at the characters set between Phantom Menace and Clone Wars. It’s been a few months since we had a Darth Vader book (Kieron Gillen’s book ended in October of 2016), but this is already shaping up to be the most interesting book in the ongoing Star Wars series.

In the first issue of Charles Soule’s run on Darth Vader, we pick up immediately where Revenge of the Sith leaves us. Darth Vader is awaking from his surgery and operation that added his new armor, and in his rage he throws Emperor Palpatine into the wall and this sets Palpatine into a rage and he attacks Vader, forcing Vader to come to the realization that he no longer has his lightsaber, which Obi-Wan takes after his battle on Mustafar and later gives to Luke in A New Hope.

The first arc will more than likely focus on the story of how Darth Vader got his iconic red lightsaber, and this first issue goes into great detail explaining the significance of the red kyber crystal, and that alone is worth the $4.99 sticker price. I would love to go into more detail about that, but don’t want to risk spoiling anything.

Along with Charles Soule’s fantastic work, Giuseppe Camuncoli makes a triumphant appearance on a Star Wars book and his art style matches perfectly with a story exploring Vader’s quest for his lightsaber. Giuseppe Camuncoli has worked previously on other Marvel books such as The Amazing Spider-Man and Superior Spider-Man. His artwork is a little bit more animated compared to previous Star War books, but it works great with the story. I think one of the most memorable scenes of Darth Vader #1 would have to be towards the end of the issue when Vader is on a planet in the Mid Rim and he experiments with the different lenses inside his helmet and we see the planet through Vader’s eyes and it’s a truly unique view of the character.

Personally, I can not wait to see where this story is going to lead to. So much happened between Revenge of The Sith and A New Hope that there is almost an endless amount of stories to tell. Nineteen years have passed and in that time, Darth Vader went from an unknown Sith to the most terrifying Sith Lord in the Galaxy, and I can’t wait to see the horrible things Vader has done in the unknown. Be sure to head down to your LCS and pick up a copy of Darth Vader #1. This is the perfect book for any Star Wars fan or any comic book fan, it’s also a great jumping on point because if you’ve seen Revenge of the Sith, then you will be able to follow this series without a single hiccup.

Also, the issue has an extremely dark minimalist bonus comic by Chris Eliopoulos and Jodie Bellaire that pretty much consists of Darth Vader killing everyone he has an interaction with. It was much darker than I expected and it even had me laughing a few times. It is definitely worth the short read, you’ll enjoy it.

Music Pairing:

John Williams, Imperial Death March because come on, it’s a Darth Vader book. What did you expect?

4LN Comic Review: Darth Maul #1

Series: Darth Maul
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Luke Ross
Colors: Nolan Woodard

462191._SX360_QL80_TTD_Summary from Comixology: “Bred on hate, fear, and anger…steeped in the ways of darkness…and trained to kill. Darth Maul’s time as apprentice to Darth Sidious has long been cloaked in shadows, but at last we will reveal his tale of revenge. From writer Cullen Bunn (DEADPOOL KILLS THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, WOLVERINE) and artist Luke Ross (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, HERCULES) comes a tale of rage unleashed as Darth Maul prepares for his first encounter with the Jedi.”

I remember being six when Star Wars Episode I: The Phanom Menace first came out, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever (I know… I know…). The movie starred a young kid, my age, podracing, and one bad ass Sith. From the minute I saw Darth Maul, I was intimidated. The black and red face, the horns, the double-edged lightsaber, and the fact that Darth Maul was extremely quiet just added to his brooding nature.

If any writer was born to write Darth Maul, it’s Cullen Bunn. Bunn is just one of those writers that just does a great job with a villainous and anti-hero characters. He’s written Sinestro and Lobo for DC, and he has worked on Magneto and Deadpool for Marvel. He just has a natural ability with capturing the darker and more brooding characters. In the Phantom Menace, Darth Maul doesn’t say much; but, in the first issue of the mini-series he has quite a bit of dialogue. Darth Maul struggles with some inner demons and frustration directed at Darth Sidious, since he feels Maul is not ready to complete his apprenticeship.

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When it comes to the art in this book it tends to, at times, look a little more cartoony than the rest of the Star Wars books (not including Princes Leia)  have looked, and I certainly don’t mean that in a negative context. The cartoon feel actually adds a great amount of depth to the book and makes some of the scenes all that more bad ass. The book actually starts with Darth Maul hunting two of the most dangerous creatures in the galaxy, Rathtars(space octopus eyeball looking things). Darth Maul takes two of these beasts down in a couple swings of an ax, and its a great start to the series and helps show vicious Maul truly is. Luke Ross does an incredible job with the character designs for the leader of the Trade Federation, and also background characters on Coruscant.

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Bunn and Ross make a fantastic team, and this is leading up to be one of my favorite Star Wars mini-series. As I mentioned before Bunn does a fantastic job capturing a villain and, with a character that so little is known about, this is his time to shine with the ability to be able to add more lore around Darth Maul. Ross’s art really fits the book and I definitely look forward to seeing this creative team run off with Darth Maul.

My only downside to the book is Marvel sticking a $4.99 price tag on the book. Yes, it’s a #1, and yes there is a small bonus story by Chris Eliopoulos and Jordie Bellaire but I really think the $5 price will turn people away. If I wasn’t pulling EVERY Star Wars book, I would have probably passed on this book, but I’m glad I didn’t. And despite the $5 charge, I think you’ll greatly enjoy it too.

 

Music Paring:

Duel Of The Fates by John Williams. Because, duh.

Our Favorite Movies from 2016

2016 has been… well, it’s left a lot to be desired. And even that is a *drastic* understatement. If you could personify the year it would easily be King Joffrey; A cruel, inherently evil little $h1+ with no regard for human life that we all just want to watch die a painful, painful death.

That being said, there have actually been some cinematic bright-spots on this incest-born bastard of a year, and we decided to share a few of our favorites with you, our beautiful, adoring tolerating readers! Enjoy!

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Actual photo of 2016

 

Jeff

Captain America: Civil War

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I wrote in the summer of 2015 of my fear that the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be over saturating us with too many movies and too many heroes.

“Civil War” proved my fears to be foolish. The third Captain America movie was arguably the best MCU movie so far. And it wouldn’t have been if it hadn’t been for all those previous installments developing the characters so their appearance in “Civil War” could be so effective.

Though it wasn’t perfect, “Civil War” put the MCU in a new direction that will keep those large box office gates rolling in.

 

Deadpool

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While “Civil War” was the champion of the traditional modern era superhero movie, 2016 also featured darker, more mature super hero fare. And leading the pack among these darker pictures was “Deadpool.”

“Deadpool” ignored every convention the MCU has created in the last decade. Earning an “R” rating for its mature themes and violence, “Deadpool” was what so many traditional comic book fans have been calling for in a superhero movie.

Throw in a fantastic performance from Ryan Reynolds, some well-deserved mocking of other Marvel properties, and a promotional campaign that might have been the year’s best helped make Deadpool one of the early hits of 2016.

 

Cam

Rogue One

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Man, what a fantastic ride “Rogue One” was. Not only are introduced to some really awesome characters, we also get to see Vader really let his hair down… you know, if he still had hair instead of a mess of burn scars and regret. Anyway, I loved that so many characters from both the prequels and the original trilogy made appearances – Red and Gold leader (from “A New Hope”) are leading their squadrons during the attack on Scarif, Dr. Evazan and his butt-chinned friend are still jerks, and NYPD Blue’s Jimmy Smits returns as Bail Organa – plus Felicity Jones is great as the lead role, and K-2SO is just, like, so sassy. Ultimately though, it’s Donnie Yen that steals the show. His blind monk/defender of the Temple of the Whills is just so awesome. Rogue One definitely sets the bar really high for the Star Wars anthologies.

 

Passengers

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I was originally going to use my second spot to talk about “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” (it’s great you should see it), but “Passengers” isn’t getting the love I think it deserves, so here we are.

“Passengers” is a really fun sci-fi film, with an interesting premise, a great cast, and a sleek-as-hell spacecraft.  If you look up the reviews (particularly the critic reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes, you will notice that it is hovering around 30% right now, while the unprofessional simpletons known as the ‘audience’ seem to enjoy it, giving it an average of 70%.  I must be more simple than most, because I loved it.  In a world filled with sequels, movies based on books, movies based on videogames, and the ever constant reboot, it’s refreshing to see something original.  And if that doesn’t win you over, you get to see Chris Pratt’s butt.

Honorable Mention – “The Hollars” with John Kr.. Kraz… Jim from “The Office” is a really great independent Dramedy that was more emotional than expected.

 

Stephen

Here’s the thing… if I’m being honest, most of my favorite movies this year are ones I already wrote entire reviews on (The Witch, Doctor Strange, Deadpool, 10 Cloverfield Lane), so I’d like to mention a couple movies that I loved this year but haven’t already “waxed eloquent” about. (Don’t act so surprised. I did the same thing last year.)

Arrival

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There are alien invasion movies, your standard Independence Day type invasion movies, and then there’s Arrival. It plays more like a modernized Twilight Zone story than it does like War of the Worlds. Not that I’m bashing those other flicks. They’re fun in their own way. Arrival is just… more substantial. It’s actually hard to talk about, or even compare to other films, without giving anything away. The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who is the brilliant mind behind Sicario, as well as the upcoming Blade Runner sequel, Blade Runner 2049. Time will tell how that turns out (I have high hopes), but for now, as much as I loved Sicaro, Arrival stands as his masterpiece. It has depth and emotion that alien invasion movies just haven’t ever captured, or even attempted to capture, before. The main cast is Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. Adams plays a linguist who is brought in to attempt communication with aliens who’ve landed on earth, Renner is a theoretical physicist with whom she is partnered, and Whitaker is the military colonel who brings them in. Near the end, as the hidden elements of the story begin to reveal themselves, you just kind of sit there stunned, jaw hanging down, and the emotion hits you hard, and heavy. Arrival isn’t just good, it’s beautiful.

 

Don’t Breathe

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I love horror movies, of all kinds. Slasher, monster, demonic possession, torture, etc. If it’s scary and violent, it’s for me. The best, though, is when a horror movie can be intense without anything supernatural, and even attempt to be almost realistic, or are based on something real. Ravenous was like that, Kevin Smith’s Red State is like that, and Don’t Breathe is like that. It’s directed by Fede Alvarez, who made the Evil Dead reboot from a few years ago (which was absolutely perfect). Don’t Breathe is about three people break into a blind man’s house with the intention of robbing him, but they get much, MUCH more than they bargained for. Again, as with Arrival, I can’t say too much, but suffice to say, the ending is @#$%ing CRAZY, and there is an item used, in an abstract way of the word “used”, that you never see coming, and will never be able to forget. If there is one 2016 movie that I wish everyone would see, it’s this one.

LEGOs, Buddhism, and Fatherhood

A large part of my son Charlie’s LEGO collection is made up of my Millennium Falcon set I used to keep up on my shelf of collectibles. One day, one of our cats (Luke or Leia) somehow managed to get up there and knock it six feet down to its demise. Not wanting to put it back together that early in the morning, I boxed it up and stashed it in my closet where, after a couple months, the cats managed to knock it off my closet shelf, shattering it again. This time my kids found it and wanted to play with it so bad. At this point, I could either withhold a toy I kept stashed next to my neckties in the dark recesses of my closet from my two favorite people, or I could decide to not be Lord Business from the LEGO Movie and let them use their imagination to build whatever they want (as long as the color scheme is mostly gray).

Nearly 14,000 pieces suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced

Nearly 14,000 pieces cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

Fast forward a few weeks, my wife was talking to her dad about what to get Charlie for Christmas. She brought up how he’s recently become fascinated with LEGOs, particularly Star Wars LEGOs due to the incident described above, and how it’s really a present for both me and my son since I have to do the majority (all) of the labor. What she didn’t tell her dad was that Charlie’s favorite part of LEGO building was the post-build destruction. I mean, immediately after I finished building a Darth Vader LEGO set he looked at it, smiled, then unleashed the hounds of war. It makes sense, kids are inherently destructive, right? They aren’t malicious about it, but if you stack four boxes up and step back they are definitely going to pretend it’s a high rise and they are Godzilla.  Seriously, for my two year old’s birthday, we bought 20 moving boxes, painted them like bricks, and stacked them into a wall for all the kids to bust through like superheroes.  Those boxes stayed in our playroom for almost two whole months because it became the kids favorite thing to do.

This got me thinking about how I felt spending an hour and half on a LEGO build that was doomed from the start.

Was the time and effort worth it knowing that as soon as we finished, it would be set upon by a kid who LOVES the Hulk and wants to emulate his behavior?

It also brought a vague recollection of the Buddhist practice of creating sand paintings that I later learned are called mandalas (not the adult coloring books… not that there is anything wrong with that).

Sand mandalas are elaborate art pieces that are painstakingly created over several weeks by Buddhist monks. First they must lay out the geometric pattern for the mandala, and create the different color sands. Then the team of monks spend several weeks carefully creating each section of the mandala, and once completed they ceremoniously destroy it. The sand is swept up, some is given to the observers and the remainder is placed in a jar, wrapped in silk, then released in the nearest river. The point of this exercise is to show the temporary nature of life. It also encourages them to focus on the present moment instead of ruminating on the future.

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Now, I know that putting little plastic blocks together with my son pales in comparison to the ritual creation and destruction of the Buddhist mandalas. There is, I think, a lesson to be learned here anyway.  All of the time I spend with Charlie at the kitchen table searching through an ever-shifting pile of LEGOs is time well spent, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the LEGO creation.  Or, you know, I could just be overthinking things like I normally do…

4LN Comic Review: Darth Vader #25

Series: Darth Vader
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Page Count: 46
Price: $5.99

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Summary from Comixology: “It has all built up to this! Vader’s trials against Cylo’s creations! His machinations against the Emperor! His covert missions with Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids! All comes to fruition in an ending you can’t miss!” (Not from Comixology but should be stated immediately, that cover is f*cking awesome.)

Darth Vader has been my favorite of all the Star Wars books since it’s release in February of last year. Darth Vader #25 is the perfect end to one of the best books being published. This book is a lot like Breaking Bad, I’m saddened that it had to come to an end, but I’m glad it didn’t drag out and become a chore to keep up with (*cough* Son’s Of Anarchy *cough*). Kieron Gillen understood the character of Darth Vader so well that he makes it completely unbelievable that Hayden Christensen could become the Sith Lord.

This issue was full of perfect conclusions for a 25 issue long story. My fellow 4LN writer Stephen Andrew and I agree that Vader Down had one of the most BRUTAL comic book lines in a long time, but I now believe that the most brutal line of Darth Vader was said in this final issue. There are two moments in this book that left my jaw literally hanging open because I just couldn’t believe how ruthless Darth Vader truly is. I want to go into detail, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers that will take away from the experience of reading this issue.

From beginning to end, Salvador Larroca’s art has been absolutely prepossessing and captures the grandness of space and Star Wars. From epic outer space light saber battles to intimate character designs, Larroca has thoroughly brought Darth Vader back to life in comics. When it comes to writing a villain, Kieron Gillen is truly one of the best writers for that bracket of characters. Gillen does a fantastic job of writing part of a story that we all know (I.E. Vader can’t die yet because we aren’t at Return Of The Jedi yet), but still leaving suspense and wonder with what will happen with all characters involved. Looking back on this book now that it’s over, I couldn’t think of a better creative team for it. Gillen and Larroca truly worked elegantly together.

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From issue one to twenty-five, Darth Vader has been one hell of a roller-coaster and full of surprises. I am really disappointed to see my preferred Star Wars book come to an end, but I’m also excited for whatever becomes the next on-going Star Wars book (crossing my fingers for Boba Fett or Kylo Ren).

(Writer’s Note: This review was written before the announcement that Doctor Aphra would be landing her own SW ongoing title)

Thanks for 25 distinguished issues of Darth Vader Salvador Larroca & Kieron Gillen. If you haven’t been reading Darth Vader, now is not the best jumping on point, since this is the epic conclusion; but, you will not be disappointed if you hunt down the previous issues (or trades) because they will be entirely worth the price. In my honest unabashedly biased opinion, this is one of the best final issues from Marvel. Ever.

Also, the book is $5.99 which really blows, but it is more pages than a typical issue, and part of that is an epic mini issue in the back about Darth Vader slaughtering Tusken Raiders while killing time on Tattooine waiting for a couple bounty hunters. Made it worth the extra couple dollars.

Music Pairing:
John Williams, like all Star Wars book reviews.

4LN Saturday Morning Review: Han Solo #1

Series: Han Solo
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Mark Brooks
Colors: Sonia Oback

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Summary from Comixology: “Everyone’s favorite scoundrel gets his very own series! Han is given a top-secret undercover mission for the Rebellion- rescuing a number of informants and spies. His cover for the assignment? Only the biggest and most infamous starship race in the galaxy! You know- the race Han has dreamt of winning his entire life. Will he keep his mind on the mission? And can he manage to pull it off while keeping the lead? Best-selling author Marjorie Liu (X-MEN) comes to the Galaxy Far, Far Away along with superstar cover artist Mark Brooks (ULTIMATE X-MEN) in his return to interior art! Face it, readers- there aren’t enough scoundrels in your life!”

I’ve been fairly excited for this book.  Ever since the announcement of the new Star Wars books, I think everyone has been anxiously waiting for a new Han Solo story. After the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens I personally feel like I need to know even more than I already do about the life and times of Han Solo. Han Solo #1 does a wonderful job capturing the mood, look, and attitude of our favorite scoundrel.

Marjorie Liu does a superb job at matching the tone the original movies. The book takes place after he was awarded his money for rescuing Leia and then destroying the Death Star, which has made him one of the most wanted men in the galaxy.  This is why Han remains so reluctant to help the Rebellion again. After some convincing, Solo decides to help save three rebels under the disguise of being a pilot in the race he’s always dreamed of winning: The Dragon Void.

Mark Brooks, this books artist, is absolutely incredible. His work looks almost identical to the characters in the movie, it’s great seeing such realistic looking characters in a comic book. Brooks also does a wonderful job with his attention to details and character designs. With such a vast universe of life forms, Brooks makes each supporting and background character look truly unique and rare, which is much needed in a Star Wars book.

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If Han Solo is a character you love, or you are just looking for a new book to read, you are going to want to jump on this book. Liu and Brooks make a fantastic team, and do a wonderful job at capturing the tense and unknown feeling of watching the franchise for the first time. This is going to be one hell of a ride, and we are going to see if the Millennium Falcon will be able to run the Dragon Void as quick as it ran the Kessel Run.

Music Pairing:
John Williams, Star Wars theme.

4LN Comic Review – Star Wars Special: C-3PO #1

Series: C-3PO
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Tony Harris
Publisher: Marvel

Official Summary: Follow everyone’s favorite protocol droid as he journeys to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in this special one-shot leading up to his appearance in the film! Just how did Threepio get a red arm, anyway? Find out here as the blockbuster creative team of James Robinson and Tony Harris reunite for the first time in nearly two decades! You may be fluent in over six million forms of communication…but this book is a must have in any language!

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Fans all over the world have been dying to know what incurred between the end of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens that left C-3PO – who is known for his prudish sensibilities – to sport a bright red arm in lieu of his typical goldenrod hue.  Well, the wait is over, nerd friends.  With C-3PO: THE PHANTOM LIMB, we finally learn the fate of his left arm, why his new arm is red, and why he decided to just go with it.

I’m not going to lie, I have been looking forward to this book since it was announced a long time ago.  Not only had I heard great things about writer James Robinson, but I just couldn’t stop wondering what the heck happened to his arm (I mean, how could my C-3PO action thriller fan-fiction be accurate if I didn’t know how his red arm came to be).

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With the quality of STAR WARS content Marvel has been putting out, I was not surprised that  C-3PO was fantastic.  I had no idea what to expect from the story, and I am beyond happy with what I read.  Without giving anything away (that will come at the very end with lots of warning) C-3PO follows the misadventures of six droids as they try to survive after crash landing on an inhospitable planet with Tolkien-esque monsters.

The first thing I want to point out is the hilarious title “The Phantom Limb.”  I don’t know why, but I had a long laugh about that and after reading the book it really works on multiple levels.  I also really loved how James Robinson gave each of the droids distinctive personalities.  The security bot talked in beeps and whistles and, like R2, apparently had a bit of an attitude, while the construction bot seemed very much like a Groot-esque character in that he only said his name and function.  Of course, Threepio was the star of the show and was written incredibly well by Robinson, but the prisoner/existential crisis-bot was a strong runner up.  The dialogue between an almost self-aware droid and The Professor was brilliant, and I loved the idea that droids still see brief flashes of events that happened before a memory wipe (although it does raise some startling questions about the ethical treatment of droids).

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Both Robinson and artist Tony Harris do a fantastic job bringing Threepio to life.  Robinson’s dialogue is spot on and allows you to read in Threepio’s shrill, metallic voice.  It’s like when you read something in Morgan Freeman or Sam Elliot’s voice, you know, just less cool and like a petite Englishman in a drainage pipe.  While Harris’ art didn’t immediately grab me, after a few pages I loved it.  The colors were vibrant, and he illustrates C-3PO perfectly.  While some of the busiest pages were a little hard to follow, his page layouts, brilliant neon and dark black colors come together to make some truly beautiful pages.

Before I tell you how Threepio loses his garm and gains his rarm, I want to say that this is a fantastic one-shot.  If you are a fan of modern The Force Awakens, Threepio, Survivorman, or, this should be in your hands ASAP.  The creative team did a phenomenal job, and it was truly entertaining to see six droids with completely different personalities try to complete their objective.  Despite the humor, there were some truly thought provoking and heart wrenching moments that caught me off guard.  This is definitely a 5 star book.

SPOILERS BELOW PHOTO

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Seriously, there are SPOILERS like right below this line

Threepio’s arm was ripped of by a multi-tentacled, tar-dwelling monster.  The red arm belonged to the prisoner/existential crisis-bot who, in a surprising and heart-wrenching scene, sacrifices himself by walking through acid rain to turn on a transponder so the Resistance can find Threepio.  The acid rain stripped away the acid rain to reveal red primer, which C-3PO decided to keep to remember his enemy-turned-friend.  The End.