REVIEW: STAR WARS COMIC PACK - GENERAL WEIR AND STORM COMMANDO
Although it would seem that the Star Wars Comic Packs are sadly coming to an end, one additional assortment of them made their way to Walmart. Of these, one in particular caught my eye, and will likely catch the eye of any Star Wars fan who especially likes the armored troops of the Empire. Alas, army building may be a little difficult, since technically the set includes one individual and one trooper -- which won't necessarily be any particular hindrance to some collectors.
The set features GENERAL WEIR and a STORM COMMANDO, as well as a reprint comic book from Dark Horse.
Both figures are dressed in a very interesting variant on the popular Biker Scout armor, first seen in the movie "Return of the Jedi". In this case, their armor is black, not unlike the mysterious Shadow Stormtroopers that have turned up from time to time. Given how popular those guys are, if you combine that look with the equally popular Biker Scout armor, you've pretty much got a guaranteed winner.
Let's consider first of all General Weir. Fortunately, there was no shortage of information about him on the Web Site known as "Wookieepedia".
Weir was an Imperial general during the Galactic Civil War. A sadistic warrior who conducted his own torturous interrogations, Weir was given command of an Imperial outpost on Tralus and a force of hundreds of stormtroopers prior to the Battle of Endor. Following the death of Emperor Palpatine in 4 ABY, Weir started his own counter-Rebellion movement in an attempt to disrupt the Rebel Alliance.
One week after the Battle of Endor, Weir launched an attack against an unarmed Coronet City as a demonstration of Imperial control over the Corellian system. His attack was disrupted by Luke Skywalker and a handful of Rogue Squadron pilots, but Weir captured Ten Numb before fleeing to his Tralus base. Weir tortured and killed Numb during an interrogation, but was himself captured and arrested by Wedge Antilles before he could provide any information to Imperial High Command.
Prior to 4 ABY, Weir was taught in the ways of Imperial interrogation and was fiercely devoted to the Imperial doctrines of rule by fear and Human superiority. His cruelty and dedication helped him ascend to the rank of general, and he was given command of an Imperial outpost on Tralus in the Corellian system. The outpost was concealed underground, accessible via foot or starship through a series of hidden tunnels. Both the Human and Selonian populations of the planet were aware of the existence of the base, but Weir and Darth Vader terrorized the populations to the point that they were too fearful to take any steps against the Imperial presence.
Among the forces under Weir's control were hundreds of stormtroopers and scout troopers, a handful of storm commandos and dozens of speeder bikes, AT-STs, and AT-PTs.
He was also in command of dozens of TIE Fighters, flown by both pilot droids for suicide runs and Human pilots, including Sunspot Squadron. Weir was also supplied with his own personal TIE Interceptor. Weir wore a storm commando uniform into battle.
After the Battle of Endor and the death of Emperor Palpatine in 4 ABY, Weir started a counter-Rebellion movement to interfere with the Rebel Alliance as it attempted to transition into the New Republic. He hoped these efforts would disrupt the newly forming government from establishing itself as the dominant force in the galaxy. He launched attacks against Imperial star systems that joined the Rebellion or demonstrated Rebel sympathies, and strengthened his own resolve to inspire his fellow Imperials and prevent them from becoming disheartened.
One week after the Battle of Endor, General Weir ordered a small strike against Coronet City, the capital of Corellia. While the city had once been so gripped in fear that citizens refused to leave their houses, the death of Emperor Palpatine turned it back into a bustling metropolis. In order to demonstrate a continued Imperial presence there, Weir personally led an assault on Coronet City despite its lack of a military force or ability to defend itself, resulting in a high number of Corellian civilian deaths.
As the attack proceeded, Weir was surprised to discover a small band of Rebels defending the Coronet citizens, including one wielding a lightsaber. He quickly deduced that the Jedi defender was Luke Skywalker; with him were Rogue Squadron pilots Wedge Antilles, Tycho Celchu, and Wes Janson, as well as Ten Numb of Blue Squadron. Weir ordered the deaths of Skywalker and anyone who stood with him, military and civilian alike.
Although his men were unable to eliminate Skywalker and the Rebels, Weir was satisfied with the amount of destruction they caused and ordered them to pull back to their transport ships. As he was fleeing with them, Weir quickly detected that the Sullustan Ten Numb had pursued him on a speeder bike, and as his men were preparing to leave, Weir personally climbed the canyon mountain to where Numb was observing the transports and waiting for Rebel reinforcements. Weir captured Numb by knocking him unconscious with his blaster rifle and returned with his prisoner to the transports, which soon departed Corellia. Rogue Squadron pursued the ships in X-wing and A-wing starfighters, but Weir escaped them by ordering his suicide drone TIEs to attack a civilian convoy, forcing the Rebels to fly to their assistance.
Upon returning to Tralus, Weir personally undertook the interrogation of Ten Numb. He quickly found a homing beacon attached to Numb's wrist and punished the Sullustan by severing his right hand. He proceeded to torture Numb with electricity from a live wire, combined with psychological torments and taunts about the supposed weakness of the Rebel Alliance. Numb soon broke and supplied Weir with all the information he wanted, including sizes and secret locations of military forces. Weir planned to provide the information to Imperial High Command for planning strikes against the Rebel forces. Weir then left Numb without providing medical treatment, and the pilot soon died.
Luke Skywalker and the Rogues found the secret Tralus base by enlisting the help of Lady Leyli, a Selonian who reluctantly agreed to risk helping the Rebels upon learning of the death of Emperor Palpatine. R2-D2 also helped the pilots track down the base. In response, Weir ordered a full-scale evacuation of the Imperial outpost. Although aware that his soldiers could not defeat the Jedi, he ordered his stormtroopers to attack the Rebels as a stalling tactic, while Weir fled in his TIE Interceptor to provide Numb's information to Imperial High Command.
As Wedge Antilles and Tycho Celchu pursued the general in stolen TIE Fighters, Weir scrambled Sunspot Squadron and led the Rogue pilots through narrow underground tunnels in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy them. Once the fighters reached the surface, Antilles shot the left wing off of Weir's interceptor, causing the starfighter to crash land on Tralus. As Celchu destroyed the remaining Sunspot Squadron ships, Antilles landed and apprehended Weir, who escaped from his ship's wreckage before it exploded but was unable to flee due to injuries.
Antilles was tempted to kill Weir in retaliation for Ten Numb, but resisted the urge because he did not want to reduce himself to the general's level. Instead, Weir was arrested and extradited to Sullust, where he was to be interrogated by Rebel officers.
General Weir held such strong beliefs in the doctrines of the Galactic Empire that he made it his personal responsibility to further the Imperial cause, as demonstrated by the counter-Rebellion he launched following Emperor Palpatine's death. Weir actively embraced most Imperial philosophies, including the "rule by fear" theory of Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, which Weir implemented by ordering attacks against systems that began to display any sign of independence from Imperial rule. Even upon his arrest, Weir maintained a strong conviction in the superiority of the Empire and the weakness of the Rebel Alliance.
He also embraced the Empire's Humanocentric speciesism, demonstrating an unconcealed and unapologetic hatred for aliens. Regardless of species, Weir thought nothing of taking the lives of any being who got in the way of Imperial domination. He regularly ordered the deaths of civilians in this regard, including his strike against Coronet City for a perceived embrace of the Rebel Alliance, and his launch of suicide drone TIE Fighters against a civilian starship convoy to escape Rogue Squadron.
Weir was a sadistic man who not only tortured his prisoners, but also enjoyed it, and preferred to conduct interrogations himself rather than leave them to a subordinate. In addition to pain, Weir enjoyed applying psychological attacks against his subjects, such as his statements to Ten Numb about the superiority of the Empire and the inferiority of the Sullustan race. This combination of physical and mental attacks made Weir an effective torturer who was able to break even strong-willed soldiers like Numb.
The general was also an extremely strong and effective leader. Through his strong convictions in the Empire, he was able to inspire and retain loyalty from his troops after the death of Palpatine, when many Imperials lost faith in their commanders. Although a high-ranking officer, Weir joined his fellow soldiers on the battlefield rather than directing from the sidelines. The fact that he wore his storm commando uniform rather than a standard gray uniform underscored his belief that he was warrior, as well as an officer.
As a fully trained storm commando, Weir mastered a wide range of weapons and fighting tactics. He was a proficient TIE pilot, as demonstrated by his ability to navigate the narrow tunnels of his Tralus base while fleeing Wedge Antilles and Tycho Celchu. Weir was also proficient in operating speeder bikes.
The figure is certainly well done. I have to say that the Biker Scout figure looks superb in black. It's even a glossy black. Weir's uniform differs from that of the Storm Commando in several respects. Most obviously are the two red straps across the chest, which are a separately molded piece that was placed on the figure during assembly. I don't see any clasps on it, so I don't believe it's removable.
Weir has some additional red detail on his uniform, including the visor of his helmet, his belt buckle, and two small details on his arms. In addition to this, a few areas of his uniform, such as the straps on the upper legs, are painted in a very dark gray. This differs from the Storm Commando figure, where these details were not painted.
General Weir has a removable helmet, and in fact is not wearing his helmet in the package. I am very impressed with the fact that the removable helmet isn't all that much larger than the non-removable one that is the head of the Storm Commando. Too often when removable helmets have been made for Clone Troopers and some Stormtroopers, they have far too often been far too large for the rest of the figure, especially in relation to other figures who do not have removable helmets. In Weir's case, it works out very well.
This is not, by the way, the first Biker Scout-style figure to have a removable helmet. To the best of my knowledge, that honor goes to a figure of Commander Faie that was available in a previous comic pack. That figure had a very extensive camouflage pattern on his uniform.
Weir's headsculpt is distinct to this figure, however. Weir is clearly human, and has a bald head and a rather distinct lack of eyebrows. The headsculpt of Weir is excellent and very nicely detailed. The expression on the face is one of sternness, and the look in the eyes is just a tad maniacal. Not bad for a head this small.
Now, let's consider the Storm Commando. Where did these guys come from? Once again, Wookieepedia has an abundance of information:
The storm commandos, also known as Imperial commandos or shadow scouts, were elite members of a branch of the Imperial Stormtrooper Corps. One task for storm commandos was to instill uprisings on enemy systems or to subdue insurrections on Imperial-held worlds. Members of the Rebel Alliance SpecForce had several terms for storm commandos, including shadowmen, shadows, and black hats.
Storm commandos, along with representatives from every specialized stormtrooper corps, were assigned to Darth Vader's personal Death Squadron.
It is possible that the clone shadow troopers and the clone commandos in the Grand Army of the Republic inspired the formation of the storm commandos.
Storm commandos were trained especially for counter-insurgency missions (prioritizing the Rebels), siege breaking, and sabotage. A unit could range from 4 to 40 commandos in strength.
Their signature black armor was based on the scout trooper's light armor, hence the nickname "shadow scout"; it was enhanced with a coating of an advanced polymer called reflec, which deflected light and sensor energy. The armor was designed by Dr. Nashiak Llalik. To support their mission profile, storm commando armor included a small generator that created a sound-dampening field, numerous concealed weapons, and a thermal detonator that a commando could detonate if faced with capture. They were sometimes known to make use of Evasive-226-R field disruptors.
Storm commandos used modified 74-Z speeder bikes to aid them in missions of deep infiltration where they uncovered plots and dug up deadly secrets that could be used to force enemies to cooperate. Their speeder bikes were designed for silence and speed, with a trideflective energy shield that prevented detection. Storm commandos were also trained to fly commando-exclusive TIE Hunters, generally operating from Imperial escort carriers. These carriers would be under their direct command and control.
The development of the storm commandos was overseen by Grand Moff Tanniel in response to the guerrilla tactics of the Rebel Alliance during the early days of the Galactic Civil War. Tanniel placed Crix Madine in charge of the first unit of storm commandos deployed. Despite Madine's later defection to the Alliance, the commando training program continued. Only the best Imperial stormtroopers received this training and they were in rare, limited numbers by the end of the war. They were also sometimes tasked with capturing defectors such as Tycho Celchu, who evaded them on Dantooine with the help of Luke Skywalker.
Important tasks of the commandos included acquiring new technology for the Empire by capturing scientists. In 0 ABY, they engineered the Battle of Ralltiir to abduct a group of cowering scientists. Rebel pilot Sarkli defected from the Alliance during this battle; he later became a Captain within the Storm Commmandos.
One week after the Battle of Endor a force of storm commandos led by General Weir attacked Coronet City on Corellia from their base on Tralus. The attack was meant to instil upon the Corellian population that despite the defeat of the Galactic Empire and the death of the Emperor at the Battle of Endor, that there was still an Imperial presence in the system. Weir discovered a small Rebel Alliance force consisting of Luke Skywalker and Rogue Squadron pilots Wedge Antilles, Tycho Celchu, and Wes Janson, as well as Ten Numb of Blue Squadron. Despite not capturing the Rebel forces, Weir ordered his commandos to withdraw to awaiting transport vessels.
A lot of the rest of the entry on Storm Commandos repeats Weir's entry, so we'll leave it at that.
So, how's the figure? Extremely cool. Most Star Wars fans, myself included, thought the Imperial Biker Scouts were arguably the coolest Imperial troopers ever when they made their debut in "Return of the Jedi", and certainly they've been a fixture of the action figure world ever since. They even made it into the 12" world, complete with a huge Speeder Bike.
Consider also how much figure design, construction, and articulation has improved in the Star Wars line over the years. Several years ago, Hasbro crafted what should certainly be regarded as the ultimate 3-3/4" Biker Scout figure. Looked good, superb detail, and tons of articulation, easily warranting the "Super Articulated" designation that was being used around the time.
Fortunately, the Storm Commando uses that same set of body molds. It's just this time, for the Storm Commando, he's all in black. There are some variances in the "type" of black, for lack of a better term, to be found on the figure. Most of the armored portions of the figure are a very glossy black. Those portions of the uniform meant to represent fabric, are not quite as glossy. I'm honestly not sure if this was achieved with paint, or just different types of plastic. If it was achieved with paint, then it's a heck of a good paint job.
The only apparent painted detail on the figure is the helmet's visor, which is done in silver. Apart from that, the Storm Commando is absolutely black from head to toe. I can readily see Star Wars fans wanting to get their hands on as many of these as possible, even if it means ending up with a bunch of Weirs. However, if Hasbro wants to add an interesting entry to their individually-carded figures, I can think of a pretty cool contender, and his name is Storm Commando. Pretty well guarantee he'd fly off the shelves. Most Imperial troopers do anyway.
Articulation on both Weir and the Storm Commando is excellent. The figures are fully poseable at the head, arms, elbows (including a swivel), glove tops (representing wrists), mid-torso, legs, knees (including a swivel), and ankles (including a swivel). One cool thing about just about any armored Trooper type of figure in the Star Wars line. They articulate very well. By that I mean that an extensive amount of articulation can be put into the figure without adversely affecting the look of the figure. Few types of action figures from any line or any company accomplish this as well as Star Wars armored troopers, whether you're talking Clones, Storms, or Commandos.
Accessorywise, both General Weir and the Storm Commando come with two small blaster pistols. This is the traditional firearm of those who wear the Biker Scout armor. There is a holster for one pistol on the lower right leg of each figure. But personally, I recommend getting a Ziploc bag and putting all four pistols into it. These are really tiny pieces, and I can't quite help but see four pieces of vacuum cleaner bait...
The comic book included with the set is a reprint of Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Leader #2, and it tells the story of Weir's attack on Coronet City, capture of Ten Numb, and subsequent withdrawal into space. Interestingly enough, the story does not show any Storm Commandos, although conventional Biker Scouts are present. Granted, I'm not complaining about getting the Storm Commando figure. It was one of my main reasons for buying the set. Additionally, at no point does General Weir appear without his helmet. However, an illustration on both the toy package and on the Wookieepedia Web Site corroborates his appearance. The tale ends on a cliffhanger, but some text on the inside front cover states that the full story is collected in Star Wars Omnibus: X-Wing Rogue Squadron Volume 1. Likely available at your local bookstore or comics shop.
So, what's my final word here? I'm sorry to hear that the Star Wars Comic Packs are ending in 2010. Although I did not personally collect them all, many of them offered some very cool characters from the Expanded Star Wars Universe. Certainly this is one such set, and I'm very pleased that it came out before the end of the line. If you're one who enjoys Star Wars, and perhaps in particular has an affection for the armored Imperial troops, then you'll certainly want to track down this set for your collection.
The STAR WARS COMIC SET featuring GENERAL WEIR and the STORM COMMANDO definitely has my highest recommendation!