If you have ever wished that you could know more about a film than would ever be necessary, then Pablo Hildago has an incredible gift for you. Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide contains a galaxy’s worth of knowledge within its pages, giving a depth to Rogue One’s lore that makes it feel like a franchise all its own.
The Visual Guide has a lot of allure for me. Who doesn’t love the idea of the most inane details about a Star Wars film? Have you ever wondered about the birthplace of Blue 4? How about the details of the construction of the KX series security droid? Or, perhaps you were curious about the background character who looked like BoShek dressed in red. The great news is that all of these answers are available for you here!
Part of the joy of the book is the detailed pictures of background characters, even without the backstory. One of the major strengths of the Prequel Trilogy was its ability to create worlds in just background images, and the Visual Guide is a pointed reminder that Rogue One did the same thing. Bounty hunters, resembling mixes of Boba Fett and Guavian Death Gang members, adorn a page, where the next page may show us a better look at Saw’s Partisans. Seeing these images makes me excited to see more stories focusing on these new aliens or some of these designs.
But the visuals alone are not all that gets me excited for more Rogue One-era stories. Some of the tidbits dropped in passing make for enticing hints for more incredible stories. Waiters and waitresses with the top of their heads removed? Check. Guerilla warfare in jungle planets? Check. Clone Wars-era stories focusing on anti-militarization movements? Check. Turn to any page, and you’re guaranteed to find something you’d love to see expanded on. Back stories of SpecForces troopers, the same group Kes Dameron (father of Poe) belonged to, flesh out the role as we see them in action on Scarif and Endor. Backstories on the fighters of Blue Squadron make me wish for a comic series focusing on their adventures. Deeper looks into the structure of the Rebellion, especially on Draven’s, Merrick’s, and Raddus’s positions in the Alliance, desperately make me long for a new series in this era.
The Visual Guide has the incredible ability to flesh out the film and does an incredible job of fleshing out the film’s place in the wider canon. While it was awesome to see Bail Organa and Mon Mothma inside of the Yavin base, or seeing stormtroopers inside of a Turbo Tank, the Visual Guide can go beyond just seeing these things. The book makes a concerted effort to flesh out the lore, solidifying the film’s place as a bridge between the Prequel Trilogy and Original Trilogy. It also touches on aspects of The Clone Wars, showing us just how connected everything really is.
I’ll take Cassian’s section as an example: Cassian’s father was a protester against Republic militarization during the Clone Wars and he was killed during a protest on Carida. In retaliation, Cassian never became a full-fledged Separatist, but worked under an insurrectionist group backed by the CIS. After this, Cassian became a Fulcrum, operating mostly as a recruitment agent in the Albarrio sector. Even with all of this information, you might be shocked to hear that there is still a lot to learn about Cassin remaining in the book! But notice the small details here (Carida, the CIS, Albarrio) that draw the movie even deeper into the lore in a way that would be difficult for the film to pull off.
Another way that the material boosts the film is that it answers questions that you might not consider. When Krennic shouts, “Are we blind?? Launch the garrison!” we might be tempted to think that the staff was in too much shock to respond. Instead, the Visual Guide describes the complacency of the Imperial staff at The Citadel complex, showing the hubris of the Empire and how they thought they were untouchable in their far-off hidden base.While the film shows a very good reason we don’t see Death Troopers or Shoretroopers in A New Hope (being blown up sure removes your candidacy for the sequel), the Guide establishes a few other answers. For one, they were elite units spread over very few places in the galaxy. Secondly, they had a very specific purpose that precludes their appearance in the OT. In an attempt to retcon these differences, you may forget that real-world necessities were the main motivation to write these answers!
For those critical of a supposed anti-Prequel bias coming from Disney in the new canon, those fears can be dispersed with after this book. Not only are many characters’ backstories drawn from the Clone Wars and Prequel era stories, direct call-outs to Prequel movies are made and deleted scenes starring Mon Mothma in Revenge of the Sith are featured prominently in the book (Again – as you read last week, Mon’s small role was an injustice the supplementary material is busting its butt to fix!).
A side note: Readers of previous releases by DK might have wondered why Rogue One did not receive both a Visual Dictionary and Incredible Cross-Sections book like The Force Awakens or previous films received. We may have received something better: both of these are contained within a single volume in the Visual Guide. A page filled to the brim with details on the X-Wing Fighter, such as the history of its construction or how the Alliance got their hands on one, is complemented beautifully by a cross-section of the fighter itself. These illustrations go above and beyond in fleshing out the components of our favorite ships. They are beautifully done and exquisitely detailed – you would think that these books contain actual blueprints for our favorite ships from the movies. I missed out on a few cross-sections before (they seemed prohibitively expensive for what seemed like extraneous material in my eyes), but I am very happy to be able to own these without the extra cost. While they are certainly not the focus of the book, they definitely enhance the book magnificently!
It is this attention to the smallest of details, to cross-sections to the home bases of background pilots, to the reason Lyra wears red on her robe, that makes the Visual Guide a true treat for fans of Rogue One. Not only is the guide an embarrassment of riches for those interested in trivia, it boosts our enjoyment of the film. It also makes massive strides in tying the universe together again, acting as the Story Group’s main triumph. Its real strength, though, is it’s ability to make us excited for more stories in the era.
Canon Novel Reviews:
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures Reviews:
“A Hero Discovered” 1×01 | “The Mines of Gabralla” 1×02 | “Zander’s Joyride” 1×03 | “The Lost Treasure of Cloud City” 1×04 | “Peril on Kashyyyk” 1×05 | “Crossing Paths” 1×06