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Mara Jade

SW: Dark Force Rising
by yo go re

Mommy's home.

Mara Jade was once Emperor Palpatine's Hand, his most trusted assassin. Five years later and now a successful smuggler, the last thing Mara expected was to stumble upon her former arch-enemy: Luke Skywalker.

Back in the '80s, before the prequels had come out, George Lucas was not yet pretending he'd never intended there to be a sequel trilogy. That's why, in 1987, when George was asked at a 10th Anniversary Star Wars convention (as reported on in Starlog magazine #127 for those keeping track at home, don't come after me hbom) why Luke Skywalker never got a love interest in the movies, he said "you haven't seen the last three yet." Direct quote. Now, either that was meant as a playful bit of fun, or he later changed his mind, because eventually he decided Luke should end up leading a monastic life of solitude (huh, sound familiar?), and thus didn't like there being a relationship with Mara Jade.

If you want to get very technical, this isn't the first Black Series Mara Jade: remember, for some dumb reason Hasbro insists on using the same name for everything, so there was a period when they were calling the 3¾" figures "the Black Series" as well, even though there isn't a fan or customer alive who follows suit. This is the real Black Series, though, a 6" figure sold in the same kind of box as Space Watership Down and Space Magic Mike, meaning we can very confidently say this version of her is based on Dark Force Rising. Or based on the comic based on Dark Force Rising. Issue #4, specifically. But unlike those other comic figures, apparently no actual stores ordered her (probably still trying to unload "Dr. Aphra, but with coat"), so you had to buy online.

When the character was created, the only features author Timothy Zahn had in mind for her were a body like a dancer, red hair, and green eyes. Spider-Man, Cyclops, Nightwing, Aquaman, Fred Jones, Luke Skywalker... everybody loves a cinnamon girl. This is a lovely sculpt, with normal-sized hair and a face that's sculpted with an outstanding little smirk.

Jade's iconic outfit is a sleeveless black catsuit with tall boots and short beige gloves, and this toy duplicates it nicely. Whoever decided these special comic-based releases shouldn't have bright, comic-based paint apps is a hero for the ages and deserves our thanks - remember the time an otherwise-good Mara was dressed in purple? Her suit here doesn't have the armor on the knees and shins, or the padded sections on the insides of the legs, despite those features being present both in the comic art and on the photograph used for the collectible card game, her iconic first live appearance. Those aren't major problems, but having them on the figure would be better than their absense. But then that would have required more than the arms and head to be a new sculpt. She has a harness around her shoulders, and a beige hood dropped down around her neck.

No surprise a Black Series figure would have better articulation than any of the older, smaller ones. She has a balljoint/hinge head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/​hinge elbows, swivel/​hinge wrists, a balljointed chest, hinged waist, balljoint hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/​hinge ankles. She wears a brown gunbelt that actually connects to the right leg where the holster appears to be tied on, something that does limit the right leg's range of motion, but not terribly so. Despite the long hair, she can turn her head freely - just don't expect to tilt the head back.

The figure comes with two accessories: a blaster, and her lightsaber, both from the same source as the majority of her body. The gun fits in her holster, and the lightsaber hilt can hang from the hook on her belt when you remove its purple blade. The right hand has the trigger finger extended, and the left holds the lightsaber tightly. Considering these figures cost more than regular releases for no reason, they really should have included an alternate head with her hood up and her goggles on her forehead.

Mara Jade is easily the most popular character to come out of the old Expanded Universe, and her exclusion from the new Disney continuity probably has more than a little bit to do with why some fans are so opposed to the very idea of it. When it was revealed that Karen Gillan would be playing Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy and not Angela, it was also revealed that the hair she'd had cut off has been donated to the Star Wars costume department for use in wigs - and since her hair is famously red, a lot of people took it as a hint the then-upcoming sequels would feature Jade. We know better now, but at least Hasbro isn't ignoring the character. She could have been a regular release, rather than this inflated-price exclusive, and she could have had more accessories, but this is still the best Mara Jade Hasbro's ever made.

-- 02/24/24

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