With every new Star Wars movie, there is always so much to take in, not the least of which includes the vehicles. Fortunately, Star Wars The Last Jedi Incredible Cross-Sections has got detailed information and illustrations about all of the significant vehicles in the newest movie.
Illustrated by Kemp Remillard and written by Jason Fry, Star Wars The Last Jedi Incredible Cross-Sections is a coffee table-sized book with about 50-ish pages, all of which have wonderful colors going on, making it stand out at first glance. Readers picking it up may be familiar with this genre and style, as Fry and Remillard also collaborated to create Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross-Sections, which we discussed on Skywalking Through Neverland episode 121.
For those less familiar with the style of this sort of Star Wars vehicles cross-section book, it consists of sections of two-page layouts showing not only a cross-section of the vehicles, but chock full of in-depth information about them. There are four areas of textual information that accompany the wonderful illustrations on each page: paragraph on general information on a ship, a few paragraphs going more in-depth about a ship, data file box, and specific details of each ship.
In the introduction, we are given some background into the main two factions of the movie, including their ships. For the Resistance, we understand how they were able to find ships here and there: “Leia Organa and fellow Resistance leaders fight back with a ragtag assembly of ships salvaged from New Republic scrapyards, lent by sympathetic allies, converted from civilian models, or left over from the days of the Rebel Alliance.” (5) The First Order, on the other hand, are much better-equipped: “Palpatine ordered Imperial scouts to blaze hyperspace trails beyond the frontier and constructed a vast network of labs, shipyards, and bases as part of his plan to expand the Empire once the rebel threat had been quelled. The First Order inherited these facilities, using them to make advances in military technology and create huge fleets and armies.” (5)
The book features fifteen double-paged descriptions, plus a quadruple-page description of The Supremacy, as well as a fascinating double-paged size comparison of 24 of the vehicles mentioned in the book. Ten of the double-paged descriptions of the particular vehicles focus on just one vehicle, covering The Raddus, Resistance Bomber, A-Wing, TIE Silencer, Canto Bight Police Speeder, The Libertine, AT-HH, AT-M6, Resistance Shuttle, and Ski Speeder. There are also five double-paged layouts with multiple craft, with less detailed descriptions of Resistance Capital Ships, Resistance Craft, First Order Craft, Canto Bight Speeders, and First Order Walkers.
“The book is definitely a companion piece to the movie and the fact that it is released alongside the premiere on the 15th of December is a thrill,” said Remillard in a StarWars.com interview. The content in the book is mostly chosen by them, added Remillard: “Essentially, we just include everything we think is cool in a design, then call it out with a label or explanation.” However, the highest priority for everyone involved is including parts and pieces that are relevant to the movie so that readers can get more of the background/story for what they see on screen, like a proper companion piece should.”
This companion piece-aspect is very helpful, as this reference work really does add a lot of flavor to the movie, especially when one goes back to see the movie after having read this book. For instance, while the AT-M6 walkers are certainly massive and imposing, there is a reason for it. Since the “AT-M6 is fundamentally a platform for the MegaCaliber Six turbolaser cannon, which dominates the walker’s massive fuselage” (36), the First Order needed to come up with a solution for dealing with the cannon. Researchers were able to figure out this challenge “by redesigning the vehicle’s front legs. The legs were modified to bear increased weight and to provide the stability needed to brace the craft against the cannon’s massive recoil” (37). Furthermore, “the ‘knuckle-walking’ Locomotion has another advantage: it gives the AT-M6 the aspect of a giant simeon predator, making an already intimidating weapon even more fearsome to enemy eyes” (37). According to Fry in the above-mentioned interview, “for the AT-M6, I thought about why the First Order had changed the design (in ways big and small), how walkers fit into its military philosophy, and what technological innovations had driven those evolutions.”
Throughout the book, many of the explanations provide pretty solid informational pieces. One example of this phenomenon is describing the A-wing having been updated from its previous iteration. Some, however, go above and beyond, providing fascinating historical tidbits. The most amusing example of this is the background description of the ski speeders on Crait – according to this book, “the early Empire witnessed a fad for asteroid slalom” (42), and these ski speeders were initially created for these races. There are two paragraphs dedicated to this development, which is fairly amusing, since it really doesn’t affect the story of the movie. Nevertheless, it is a clearly creative background story(!).
These very in-depth details make me wonder how much input Pablo Hidalgo or any of the rest of the Lucasfilm Story Group have on these matters. Remillard did mention in the interview that “Any queries or questions that Jason and I have are run through Pablo Hidalgo and Story Group. The same goes for any changes that come down from anyone in production.” Additionally, he said, “Figuring out what details to show and what needs to be explained is a collaborative process between the four of us, while we all keep an eye out for additional details that should definitely be included from up on high (i.e. from Story Group).” Moreover, “We’re all really supportive of collaborating on design ideas, so we get a really good amount of leeway in putting fun facts and design concepts into the vehicles. It’s also worth mentioning that we’re all really dedicated to making anything we put in make sense in the Star Wars universe, and are careful to make sure everything we include passes the test for being part of the franchise.”
I should point out that the absolutely most incredible vehicle in this book of incredible cross-sections is The Supremacy. Yes, it’s a massive ship. Okay, it’s a really, really massive ship. But being big is not inherently special. However, what Fry and Remillard do with it is fantastic. While The Last Jedi simply shows this ship as being huge, it is hard to fathom just how large it is. However, Fry and Remillard are able to awesomely explore how vast it is. For instance, “The Supremacy is able to dock eight Star Destroyers at once – six externally and two internally”(!) (20). The Supremacy layout is awesomely cool – not only for showing how massive it is, but also explaining many of the fascinating functioning features of the ship. To further give you a sense of how epically massive The Supremacy is “the First Order’s most devastating war machine and de facto headquarters. But it is also one of the regime’s premier factories and research labs, with industrial capabilities that rival those of the most productive First Order worlds. Within the Supremacy’s armored decks are departments reserved for conceiving, researching, and approving new weapons and technology, well-stocked raw materials reserves, durasteel foundries, and state-of-the-art production lines, as well as training centers where young cadets are indoctrinated. The Supremacy can’t be cut off from supply lines because it carries them on board.” (21)
As I mentioned at the outset, this genre of book had not been something I had ever read, but I have gotten used to reading this type of book with the Remillard-Fry team, coming to not only enjoy it, but also look forward to reading it. I recommend checking this book out, not only for helping one understand what’s going on with these vehicles, but also helping one appreciate continued viewings of The Last Jedi (let’s be honest: we’re not done watching this movie – and certainly while it’s still in theaters).
For those interested, here is a top ten list of some facts I found interesting.