Anakin Skywalker #1

Anakin Skywalker #1

  It’s been a couple of weeks since I covered the Age of the Republic comic book of the week. Maybe I’ve just gotten so used to seeing them on the shelf that the break weeks are throwing me off. I’ve really been enjoying this anthology run so far, and I think Marvel has some really good things going for their one-shot comic books with their slower paced style and surprisingly thought provoking character pieces. This is not what I would have expected out of a prequel comic series, but it’s truly what the prequel stories needed: real story telling. It’s an awesome universe with some badly written characters, and any lore support it gets is a major win for me.

This week continues with Anakin Skywalker, perhaps the most controversial character in the entire series, and the first character in this anthology series not almost universally loved by fans (Jango might come close). Maul, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon: these are all well crafted characters in their own respects. Anakin is not. Anakin sucks, plain and simple. The Clone Wars cartoon gave him some redemption by making him a less hateable character while not completely overhauling his personality. Take away his extremely whiny tendencies and his exposition-heavy emotions and you at least have something to work with. Anakin #1 is heavily influenced by the Clone Wars Anakin Skywalker. Slightly more relatable, honorable, and not afraid to do what he believes is right at any cost. Despite orders from higher ups among the Republic Attack Cruiser, the young Jedi sets out to save a group of people likely caught in a ‘necessary’ crossfire that would serve as a win for the Republic. Though it was deemed a lose-one-save-a-million situation, Anakin isn’t having any of it and the comic primarily follows him setting out to extract these potential losses before things go down. We’re given some pretty interesting inner monologue, and Skywalker is faced with his slavery-ridden childhood in unexpected circumstances, all the while hoping he doesn’t manage to prove the militaristic mentality of the Republic forces correct all along.

  This is perhaps the most action packed of the Age of the Republic comic books to come out so far. It’s a little disappointing to see the more philosophical take on Star Wars characters break pattern here, but there’s still some cool things worth reading here, and that’s not to take away from the action, which is completely fine. The colorist uses a lot of cool backdrops throughout the comic book. Anakin is often times doing morally  righteous things and looking out for the little guy in this story, and yet almost every time he has a moment of heroism, he’s accompanied by a very sith-like dark red background. I thought that was a really neat and thoughtful touch, and was one of the very first things I noticed about the comic. Otherwise, there’s nothing to really criticize or praise here. The comic book is decent, and it does a respectable job of handling an otherwise easy-to-hate character from the prequels. They probably should have just skipped this one for the anthology anyway. Oh well.

Jango Fett #1

Jango Fett #1

  The Age of Republic anthology series continued yet again this week with Jango Fett #1. There’s a lot of mixed feelings about this character and his counterpart Boba Fett. Despite their lack of decent writing in both of their respective trilogies, the mysterious Mandalorian bounty hunters are really interesting in concept, and any 10 year old Star Wars fan whose imagination expands beyond that of what they see on the screen probably fell in love with the potential that these characters had. While I do think that a bounty hunter movie could work, comics, books and video games are good too, and we’ve seen back in 2002 with the Bounty Hunter game for PS2 that Jango can be a really interesting and badass character (Seriously, it’s a fun game). Exploring the dark underbelly of the Star Wars world during the prequel era away from lightsabers and the Force is a mostly unexplored aspect in today’s canonical Star Wars universe, so I’m excited at the prospect of seeing what Marvel can deliver with a Jango 1 shot. I think out of all of these comics so far in this series, Jango has the largest amount of potential for a good ongoing comic book, and this may be a good place to start.

Jango #1 focuses on the growing relationship between Jango and his clone soon-to-be bounty hunter son Boba. Despite his young age, Jango takes Boba along on a bounty mission, working with a few lesser known hunters on a simple catch and deliver mission. In typical young boy edgelord fashion, Boba complains about the simplicity of their job, wanting to do something harder, have more responsibility, but it’s the fear of the unknown, Jango assures his son, that can cause the most trouble. During their bounty hunt we’re treated to some interesting flashbacks of Jango being recruited to the world of Kamino, where he’ll be compensated heavily for the use of his genetic code in the creation of a massive clone army. We know the rest. Obviously when stuff goes down it doesn’t exactly go according to plan, though Jango’s reputation obviously precedes him and Boba holds his own as well, proving his potential for the road ahead.

The next comic here in the Age of Republic series continues its trend of focusing more on relationships and the emotional side of the Star Wars universe in that of Jango and his son Boba. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting going into this, but I suppose after reading it, it makes plenty sense. I don’t hate Boba, but he’s written as a pretty unlikable character in most of his stories during the Prequel saga despite the writers seemingly trying otherwise. Jango is much softer than you would expect, and that comes with his age and his reputation. This is toward the end of his career whereas as lot of his potential for great stories lie in his earlier days earning his reputation as the best bounty hunter in the Galaxy. But maybe that’s for another time. This comic aligns more closely with what this anthology has been exploring and I wholeheartedly support that even more so than I do a story without young Boba Fett, as much as I would like to see him written way better, or removed from the picture completely. There’s still a decent Bounty Hunter story to be seen here and I think if anything it opens the gate for more to be told. Perhaps there is great potential for a father-son story with these two, but I remain that Jango is best explored as a solo character. The comic is respectable nonetheless.

(3 / 5)
Obi-Wan Kenobi #1

Obi-Wan Kenobi #1

The Age of Republic anthology series continues this week with Obi-Wan and Jango Fett. With 2 character predominantly in the Revenge of the Sith coming out after these two, Marvel appears to be moving through the movies, which is a pretty neat idea. Subsequently, I’ve been really surprised at the direction that these comic books have taken. Where Marvel’s previous mini-series of Star Wars comics have been mostly eye candy, action packed fun, these Age of Republic comics have really taken a slow turn to look at the inner, more spiritual and almost superstitious aspects of the Star Wars universe. Qui-Gon and Maul took deep dives into both the light and the dark sides of the force, offering new insights and aspects of a mostly unexplored but intrinsic part of the lore in this universe. From what I’ve briefly heard, Obi-Wan also is a slower more emotional look at these characters (Obi-Wan and a young Anakin) both as people, and as Jedi. Action takes a backseat here, and that’s a pretty major play for the creative teams here, because I’m not sure that’s what the core audience wants. I’m completely on board though.

  Obi-Wan Kenobi #1 takes place sometime between episode 1 and episode 2. Both Anakin and Obi-Wan are young, and inexperienced in their relationship with each other. Anakin, being the, let’s say angsty, child that he is, hates being stuck at the Jedi Temple learning the ways of the Jedi in a traditional sense. He’s older, and further ahead than all of the students there. In fact, he’s pretty much killing it, and it’s obvious that it’s holding him back. Yoda, as wise and as helpful as always, suggests to Obi-Wan, despite his own doubts about the young padawan, that he bring him along on Obi-Wan’s mission to retrieve a Jedi Holocron that they’d recently learned about hidden away by some civilians on a nearby planet. Although Anakin’s trigger happy nature may get them into some trouble, Obi-Wan realizes he must trust in the young boy, and also trust in his own judgment. Qui-Gon was a different person and a different teacher, and Obi-Wan comes to an understanding with himself that he must teach Anakin in his own way, and he must be taught differently than the typical Jedi padawan, who’s been training since near infancy. Upon arriving to retrieve this old relic of the Jedi Order, the two jedi are confronted by pirates, and despite Anakin’s readiness, is nearly caught in a life-threatening situation. Obi-Wan to the rescue.

This comic was short and sweet without a ton to say. It didn’t have the emotional resonance and the spirituality that Qui-Gon had, and it didn’t have the sleekness that Maul did, but it was a genuinely enjoyable comic about a mostly unexplored period of time in the Star Wars canon. There are 10 years between episode 1 and 2 and there’s a lot of potential there to be utilized. I think this comic book shows that potential, and in it’s very small form delivers on a lot of that. Anakin is young, but not nearly as cocky and sure of himself, albiet still as whiny, as the later movies. Obi-Wan is similar, although a way better character. We mostly know Obi-Wan as the suave snarky Jedi Demi-god. He’s really strong and really smart in the later events of the prequel trilogy. Here, he’s not quite as perfect and that makes for an event better character than he already is. Obi-Wan Kenobi shows that there’s good stories to be told in this time period, but it’s far from the best comic book in this anthology series so far. I still had a good time nonetheless.

3.5/5

Darth Maul #1

Darth Maul #1

   Marvel continues their 1 hero 1 villain per month run of Age of Republic with Darth Maul #1, a perfect character to contrast the spiritual and monkish nature of Qui-Gon Jinn from last week. After such a great showing from their last comic book, this anthology series has to continue to fill its own big shoes. There’s little doubt to be had though. When Marvel wants to deliver a good Star Wars comic, they’re fully capable of doing so. Maul promises to be something different all together. Where the Qui-Gon issue felt almost entirely wholesome, Maul is, by design, a character utterly consumed by the Dark Side, one fueled entirely by the rage and the hate that they seem to love so much. With Maul #1 existing as a 1-shot continuation of the 5 issue mini series from a few months back, I have pretty high expectations of this issue, but not unreachable ones.

    The first half of Maul #1 follows the Sith Apprentice as he travels disguised as a Jedi Padawan through the underbelly of Coruscant, the very Jedi Padawan he killed in his previous comic book. It’s unclear exactly what he’s doing, but it becomes quickly apparent he doesn’t really know either. Driven by bloodlust and an obsession with snuffing out the weak, he tracks down a force sensitive smuggler, pretending to work with him on a job before killing him off with ease, not leaving any witnesses or traces of his sith-killing. Palpatine isn’t quite so impressed with Maul’s sith rampaging escapades, and takes him to Malachar, a famously not-so-nice part of the galaxy Maul is all too familiar with. It’s there that this comic book takes a much darker and somber tone, and, despite being under both Marvel and Disney, shows some pretty brutal stuff. Palpatine’s lesson works, and Maul is able to focus his hatred where he otherwise could not, further becoming the more camly malicious Maul we know from the movie and the cartoons. However, it’s still clear that Maul lacks something the future Emperor is looking for, patience and utmost loyalty, and he warns his young sith apprentice, that he, not the Dark Side, is Maul’s master.

   One of the few things that I mentioned when reviewing the first of the 5 issues in the Darth Maul mini series from a few months back, was that perhaps the best thing about the comic was the obvious disconnect between Maul and Palpatine. Maul is a hunter and a killer, driven almost solely by hatred of the Jedi. Palpatine, especially during the time that the Republic ruled, was painfully methodical and manipulative. These two things don’t really work together, and Maul’s impatience gets the best of him. This dynamic is once again shown really admirably in this comic book, and the annoyance Palpatine feels for his apprentice is palpable, pun intended. Similarly to Qui-Gon, this isn’t a particularly action packed, red lightsaber swinging adventure, it’s a deep dive into who Maul is as a character and as a creature corrupted by the Dark Side, which I think is really cool. It’s always a risk to not go the eye-candy route, and so far they’re 2 for 2 on these Age of Republic comics. As much as I enjoy watching Lightsaber sparks fly, the Force is an incredibly interesting and far too unexplored topic. This is the second comic in a row that visions and the mysteriousness of the Force have been core aspects of character development, and I’m so in on that. Maul continues to lift Age of Republic up high, and while I don’t think the Qui-Gon comic is beatable, Maul is a worthy addition to a hopefully flawless anthology series.

(4.5 / 5)
Qui-Gon Jinn #1

Qui-Gon Jinn #1

   There are a countless number of reasons the Star Wars Prequel movies fell short of being good. By now most of us can list them off the top of our heads. This is a reality that Star Wars fans have faced for years now. And yet, there are sequences and characters scattered throughout all three movies that make Star Wars fans remember why they keep going back. If you wade through the truly unwatchable romance scenes and some of the borderline braindead decisions George Lucas made while writing / directing these movies, there is a certain amount of charm, adventure, and action packed excitement that makes the kid in all of us, especially those that grew up with Star Wars, giddy. There’s also a respectable storyline hidden beneath others. The political intrigue, questionable character alignments, and the unpredictability of how Lucas attempts to connect all the dots he created in the originals are all worthwhile traits of the prequel movies. Qui-Gon Jinn is a primary reason to watch Episode 1. It’s the first time George Lucas steps away from the black-and-white nature that often was Star Wars, and most other movies of the 20th century. There wasn’t just an ultimate hero (Luke) and an ultimate villain (The Emperor / Vader) anymore. Qui-Gon was a good guy that existed to question the moral fabric of the other good guys (The Jedi Order). While characters like Han Solo did fill a morally neutral void in the world, there was still a spot to be filled. Jinn presented a new side of the coin, and thus, a new side of the Star Wars movie universe. He wasn’t just a nod to fans of the EU, those that read the novels / comics and played the video games, he was the first true exploration into a world where, until him, Force users were basically wholly good, or wholly evil. That’s what made the character so incredibly likable, especially by today’s storytelling standards. This comic, part of an anthology of Star Wars comics called Age of Republic, seeks to continue that line of character development and show even more of Qui-Gon in his prime, ever controversial, always pushing the Order’s buttons a bit more than they’d like.

   Qui-Gon #1 focuses primarily on Jinn’s constant inner turmoil: What does it mean to be a Jedi in the Order, and does it conflict with being true to the nature of the Force? While the galaxy is seeped in conflict, the Jedi are used as great defenders and warriors of the Republic. Jinn sits with Yoda after returning from a mission where he’d saved a Priestess from her obvious demise. He’d chosen to run and escape with her, rather than kill her attackers. Most other jedi would have stayed to fight. Yoda in his always wise, but ever cryptic ways, understands Qui-Gon’s doubts, but cannot wholeheartedly side with Qui-Gon’s actions. Although he reaffirms that Qui-Gon’s decisions are not bad ones, he tells the perhaps even more spiritual Jedi Master that he must find understanding within himself and within the force. Qui-Gon agrees. With the force and instinct guiding him, he sets off to learn more, and strengthen his bond with the force in ways many other Jedi hadn’t done before him.

   This comic book is both visually and emotionally stunning. In an extremely action packed universe filled with lightsaber fights and ship battles, the force is a mostly unexplored aspect of the lore. Forget midichlorians, this comic book is all about the spiritual aspect of the Force, and its ever growing connection to Qui-Gon as a Force user first, and a Jedi of the Order second. There are no massive revelations in this comic book. It’s a calm, simple and peaceful story about Qui-Gon in a lifelong journey to find peace within the Force, and to do good. The two conversations between Yoda and Qui-Gon, one near the beginning of the comic, and one at the very end, are perfect representations of these characters, and an awesome showing of the potential that the Force has as a mysterious entity of this universe. There’s so much to tell and so much to show with this character, and with the EU being taken out of canon, Qui-Gon is still an almost completely untouched aspect of these new storylines, say for the movies. With a novel on its way written by the best Star Wars writer currently in the lineup, Qui-Gon Jinn #1 is a flawless tease into the potential of this character, and an amazing standalone story. It’s a quick read, and it’s well worth your time. Check it out.

(5 / 5)
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