“Anybody with even just a passing interest in the show will LOVE what Phil Szostak has delivered here” Carl reviews The Art Of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two)
Back in 2020, Phil Szostak delivered ‘The Art Of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season One)‘ book to the world. It was one of the best books ever to be released about ‘Star Wars.’ It was hard to even get my hands on a copy, such as the demand for it. But once I did, I couldn’t put it down. I’ve read it cover to cover several times over. And it never fails to surprise me or have me hooked from the first page to the last. So the question is, how could you top it in a second book dedicated to Season Two? I mean, it’s impossible to accomplish, right? Wrong! ‘The Art Of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Season Two)‘ tops the first book and then some. Anyone with even just a passing interest in the show will LOVE what Phil Szostak has delivered here.
THE ART OF STAR WARS: THE MANDALORIAN SEASON TWO
There’s no better cover for the book than to have The Mandalorian holding Grogu up to his helmet. It speaks volumes to us from the start. We know where the road will lead us by the climax of the season. And we know the tears that will be shed as the final credits roll. It warms our hearts before we even open the book.
For what is essentially a space western, the main theme running through the series is the warmth between the two. Almost like a father and son relationship. The back cover contains another illustration of another character we will encounter for the first time in live-action during the season. Ahsoka Tano. We never thought we would see her in live-action. But here she is, in all her glory. It is another reason to grab a hold of the book as quickly as you can.
OPENING THE BOOK
As soon as we open the cover, we are greeted with another illustration of Din Djarin and Grogu together. This time striding away from us. Next up, we have an illustration of the Gamorrean fight as seen in the show. Following this, we come to the title page itself. And The Mandalorian stands tall in front of us, again in a wonderful illustration. The next page brings us a breathtaking image. It is of the Massiff Meeting. It is here where we are treated to an outstanding artist concept of Din and Cobb Vanth meeting with the Tuskens in a gorge on Tatooine. Following this, we discover Din riding a Bantha alongside the Tuskens in another wonderful concept drawing. It is here where we discover the contents page. We spend a bit of time discovering what we can expect in the pages to come before we move on.
FOREWORD AND INTRODUCTION
Once again, the foreword is by Doug Chiang. And once again, he doesn’t skimp on the details we require to know. We find out that ‘The Mandalorian Season Two‘ marked his sixteenth year of designing for ‘Star Wars.’ How everything starts with a story, is the most vital thing that the show needs. The story leads to the art and the art leads back to the story. Chiang goes into detail about what makes a strong ‘Star Wars‘ design. The answer is…keep it simple.
He also goes into detail about the look of Mos Pelgo. How they could have easily made it into another Mos Eisley or Mos Espa. Instead, they based it and created it to be more like an old western town, the kind you would see in a John Wayne flick from years ago. And how he and the team at the Lucasfilm art department continually strive to be the best of the best.
The introduction reveals that even before Disney+ had been launched, Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni had set out on creating the second season of the show. This was way before the first season had even debuted. So confident of the series doing well, they plowed ahead with getting the storylines for season two ready. How the second season would open the world of The Mandalorian up to encompass bigger things. How everyone was on board with the ideas and concepts that would make up season two.
All the design teams went to work to make the visions a reality. Every department knuckled down to create something that would live on in the viewers’ minds for a long time after the final credits rolled. A magnificent illustration showing Mando firing his blasters at the Krayt Dragon while flying in his Jetpack is included here.
We now come to the who’s who section. It is here where we find out all those who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes. And even those who have done both in one capacity or another. Carl Weathers is name-checked here for his acting but also his directing of an episode. VFX supervisor Joe Bauer gets a credit. As does Carrie Beck. Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are listed here. The concept artists Khang Le and Anton Grandert alongside the concept sculptor Tony McVey get their time to shine. All these people and more have come together to deliver to us, the fans, a second season that is even better than the first. Every one of them deserves our thanks, our applause, and our respect. Without these true visionaries, there wouldn’t be ‘The Mandalorian‘ or the content we are seeing now.
We now begin our look at the episodes themselves. And we start with ‘The Marshal.’ It is in this opening episode that we will first encounter Cobb Vanth and his familiar-looking suit of armor. Vanth has leaped off the pages of Chuck Wendig’s ‘Star Wars: Aftermath.’ trilogy of books to make his live-action debut. We are rewarded with looks at the warehouse district concept art from the episode, Gor Koresh and his Cyclops gang are featured. Their outfits and looks are revealed as are some of the other bounty hunters and bouncers we see in the episode. And we can’t go through the section without meeting the Gamorrean fighters. We get to see variations of the concept art for this opening sequence to the second season. And every version looks incredible.
The biggest part of the episode is our first ever visit to Mos Pelgo. We encounter Cobb Vanth in his Mandalorian armor that he purchased off some Jawas. His weapons are revealed like his rifle and his pistol as well as his jetpack. We discover the full concept illustration of his look in the armor as well as a look at the Marshal Speeder he uses. Everything from the episode is included here, alongside full descriptions of what we are seeing. Every nook and cranny is exposed to the light for our discovery. But we know the big reveal right at the end of the episode now. Boba Fett is alive. He has become a nomad in the Tatooine desert. The look that he has been given for this surprising reveal is also here. Every design, every fold of his nomad clothing is examined. And the illustrations are incredible.
We now turn our attention to the second episode of the season, ‘The Passenger.‘ Believe it or not, this is described as one of the more straightforward episodes of the season. You wouldn’t think that once you saw it. The chase of the Razor Crest by two X-Wing fighters, a crash landing in an ice cave. Evil Ice Spiders. And a return for actress Misty Rosas who played Kuiil in the first season. Here she plays the un-named Frog Lady, the passenger of the title. And a character that the fans seemed to take to their hearts. Every aspect of the episode is examined here. From the look of the Frog Lady and her precious package through to storyboarding of the Razor Crest’s crash landing on the ice planet. It is all here in great detail.
The illustrations show us everything that the artists worked on. And how much thought and detail they put into the whole episode. From the designs of the ice spiders themselves through to the look of the caverns they inhabit. From the first encounter with them and the cave chase sequence. To the feeling of hopelessness of their situation to their rescue by the X-Wing pilots. It is all here for us to digest. It remains incredible to even think of what went into making and designing a straightforward episode!
We now come to the episode that fans have been longing for. It is here where we will finally meet Bo-Katan Kryze for the first time in live-action. Once again played by the brilliant Katee Sackhoff, reprising her animated character, the fans went nuts when she appeared. And rightly so. This is what we have been crying out for. And boy, did we get it. The section is dedicated to everything we will see during its runtime. From the crash of the Razor Crest, the reunion between Frog Lady and her spouse. The attack on Mando himself will lead to his rescue by Bo-Katan and her comrades. It is all here for us to discover.
The design of everything we see in the episode has been unveiled. From the costume illustrations of Bo-Katan’s Mandalorian armor, her weaponry, and overall design to the look of the planet. It is all laid out bare for us to digest. And of course, the Gozanti Cruiser assault is here in full. The sequences that make up the cruiser assault are some of the best action scenes we will see during the entire second season of the show. And we cannot fail but be dazzled with what is on display.
The episode reintroduced us to Cara Dune and Greef Karga. And gave us what some described as a filler episode. That is unfair. What it gave us was an exciting episode that brought back memories in many ways of ‘A New Hope.’ And the set designs and look were made to inspire those memories. Once again, every aspect of the episode, from costume design to the overall look is delved into here. The episode looked and felt like an offshoot from one of the ‘Episode’ movies. It felt like a cross between ‘Revenge Of The Sith‘ and ‘A New Hope.’ It also incorporated elements of ‘Star Wars: Rebels‘ and ‘Rogue One‘ in parts.
Or to put it simply, the episode I’ve been waiting for to happen ever since the cancellation of ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars.’ The live-action debut of one Ahsoka Tano. And she didn’t disappoint us. Loving brought to life by Rosario Dawson, we were given what we have been waiting for. The episode itself was a brilliantly constructed affair, as the illustrations and art here demonstrate. From the design of the village and its twists and turns. To the layout of the forest where Din will encounter Ahsoka for the very first time. And to the clothing that each character wears, it is delved into deeply. And the artists studied Ahsoka’s outfits to create a perfect match to what we’ve seen only in animation until now.
This episode featured many things to enjoy. Grogu learning about the force and finding his destiny. The first look of the Dark Troopers in action. And the devastating loss of the Razor Crest. But it will be remembered for one major thing. The return of Boba Fett. The episode is one of the standouts of them all. From the designs, we see on the show. To the looks and actions of the Dark Troopers. From the outfit of the also returning Fennec Shand and to Boba’s nomad outfit once again on display. The section covers everything about the episode. But the main standout for me was the illustrations and designs of Boba’s armor. It will be returned to him here and we have to take a breath. The artists have gone to great lengths to draw his armor ready to be manufactured for actor Temuera Morrison to wear.
The episode where we once again encounter Migs Mayfeld. Once again, the designers brought their best work out to play. The design of everything, from the facility Din and his band, intend to infiltrate to the ships and cargo carriers we see are all represented here. Every alien creature we will encounter has been meticulously planned out and created to be put into action. Almost every costume that we see has been studied and created with the brilliant eye of someone who knows and is dedicated to their craft. Every fold, every crease has been sketched out ready to be created. Every look, no matter how small and intricate detail is represented. Even Fennec’s and Cara’s epic back-to-back shootout is drawn in exquisite detail. Some of the artist’s best work is on the printed page here.
Or as I like to call it, the episode where you’ll need two boxes of tissues by the end credits. This is the episode to end them all. We have action, we have comedy, we have the resolution of the lingering plot threads. And we have possibly the most tear-jerking ‘Happy’ ending of them all. The look of the episode is gone through with a fine toothcomb here. The damaged head of a Dark Trooper is drawn to perfection. The Mandalorian Gauntlet ship is shown in its illustrated form. The truck stop that Slave-I approaches is represented. The confrontation between Bo-Katan, Koska Reeves, Din Djarin, and Boba Fett is drawn here to show what could be accomplished. Even a brilliant concept drawing of the Flamethrower battle between two of our protagonists is awarded to us.
The fight between Moff Gideon and The Mandalorian is showcased here. Every move seems to have been choreographed by illustration before shooting. Terrific illustrated representations of some of the most exciting scenes in this sequence are here for us to marvel at and enjoy. Every outfit we see onboard the Moff’s ship worn by his minions is all here, shown to us as they were created for the show. The interior of the ship is showcased to sheer perfection through concept art and illustrations. All the action, including the Dark Troopers being ejected into space, is drawn lovingly.
But we now come to the finale. The Dark Troopers are trying to get to our heroes inside the bridge of the ship. This is shown again through concept art. But someone else will arrive to help save the day. Now, we all know who that person turned out to be. But to preserve the biggest secret and surprise in the history of ‘Star Wars.’ the artists were told to draw who they were told would be the surprise arrival. Plo-Koon. The Jedi Master met his fate during ‘Revenge Of The Sith.’ But the artists were told that he would be returning from the dead to save the day.
All the illustrations for the sequence where the Dark Troopers are cut down by lightsaber feature Plo-Koon. Even Plo-Koon’s astromech droid features in the drawings. But nobody except the very special few knew that it would be Luke Skywalker and R2-D2 who would be returning to end the season and not Plo-Koon. No illustrations for this massive secret appear in the book. But what we are given is that stinger we see right at the finish of the end credits. Concept art featuring Bib Fortuna inside Jabba’s palace is present here. As well as the art showing Boba Fett sitting on the throne, giving the fans one final surprise. ‘The Book Of Boba Fett‘ series.
If you thought that they couldn’t top the first book, you were wrong. This volume which covers the entire second season is something that I never thought I’d see. One that completely beats the first book for the first season. It is chock full of wonderful concept art, illustrations, and the whole shebang. The writing that goes hand in hand with the art is delightfully engaging. It is also highly informative. No detail no matter how small is left out here. It is, simply put, almost like a work of art in itself.
I had trouble getting hold of a copy of the first book. I can honestly say that this tome that follows the second season will go the same way. It will fly off the shelves and into the collection of many fans like myself. Phil Szostak has once again created something that no fan of the show can be without. To miss out on owning a copy would be a travesty. And even The Mandalorian himself may have trouble tracking down a copy.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!