Marvel has kicked off it's new “Star Wars: Age Of” series in mid-December and is about halfway through its first arc; “Age of Republic” that follows the exploits of heroes and villains of the prequel/Clone War era in very introspective deep dives. Thus far we have seen the first half of this run following Qui-Gon Jinn, Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Jango Fett.
Issue 1 - Qui-Gon Jinn
The first issue picks up with Qui-Gon being caught up in a negotiation gone sour between a warring people on an outer-rim world. Realizing that staying and fighting at the request of the leader that Jinn is assisting in the dispute is a bad idea Qui-Gon takes Mistress Th'er back with him to Coruscant.
Aboard the Republic starship Th'er begins to chastise Qui-Gon for running away from the fight saying that the Jedi are regarded as great warriors and soldiers in her neck of the woods. This distinction upsets Qui-Gon and after having a heart to heart with Yoda about what the Jedi are meant to be in the galaxy, Qui-Gon hops in a Jedi Starfighter and let's the Force guide him to a secluded planet covered in exotic vegetation.
Qui-Gon is sent on a Force vision quest wherein he ponders the Force, the Jedi and the delicate balance between the Light Side and the Dark. He then returns to Coruscant and suggests a group of like minded individuals to help Th’er in her quest to keep her planet safe.
Qui-Gon's moral quandary on the Jedi adds a fantastic dramatic irony to this tale. Many fans consider Qui-Gon as the Jedi who had it all figured out. A Chicken Little in the order whose voice was never listened to and by the time he was proven right there were hardly any Jedi left to be proven wrong, himself included. Qui-Gon spends a great deal of the comic questioning whether it is wise for the Jedi to act as an enforcing arm for the Republic. Qui-Gon as a character has always owed his allegiances to the Force over the Republic let alone the Jedi. He follows his instincts and trusts the Force and the Force alone. His vision quest shows Jinn being consumed by and covered with a red plant like creature as he cuts down other creatures similar to the one growing on him. As the red fades off of his victims it reveals them to be Jedi.
The vision quest in a clever way shows how the increasingly active and political role the Jedi are taking is causing them to lose sight of their spiritual connection to the Force and focusing solely on policing the galaxy and acting as the enforcers of the Republic will send them down a violent and self destructive path that will lead them to Oblivion.
Age of Republic: Qui-Gon Jinn written by Jody Houser acts as an excellent beginning to this expansive anthology series. 4.5/5
Issue 2 - Darth Maul
The second issue follows Darth Maul as he stalks a Force-Sensitive thief who presents himself as a possible threat and problem to Sidious and Maul. He eventually catches up to the thief and kills him. Most of this issue is internal monologue diving into Maul's sadistic and chillingly self righteous sense of bloody justice.
Upon returning to Sidious, Maul is lectured by his master that he needs to temper his rage and bloodlust. Sidious makes a point of explaining that the capacity to simply kill a Jedi isn't enough to bring the Order to its knees. Maul is then taken back to Malachor (another throwback to the Maul mini series as well as references to the Padawan he cuts down in that story as well) and similar to Qui-Gon's story, he went on a vision quest through the Force.
The next thing Maul knows he is now a Jedi wielding a blue saberstaff and is defending a village from a huge beast. Once the beast is put down the villagers (whom may be Jedi because they have tunics on but they ask for Maul's help as though they are powerless to fight) celebrate Maul saving them. All the while Maul's true hunter instincts are telling him that he is no savior but a butcher and that he is a thoroughbred killer. He lashes out and slays the villagers and upon doing this his white robe transforms into his signature black attire and his blade takes it's scarlet hue. He is then surrounded by a horde of Jedi ready to put Maul down for his crimes.
When Maul wakes up he is lectured by Sidious that while Maul's seething rage and bloodlust is a strength and gives him power, it could blind him and prove to be a liability and could even take mastery of the young assassin. Maul replies that his only master is Sidious.
The Maul one shot is one big helping of symbolic foreshadowing just like it's predecessor. It shows how Maul's arrogance and rage will lead him to all of his greatest defeats and failures. It also shows the nature of Palpatine's ability to hone in on one's most crippling weaknesses. It also shows that Maul has always had a soft spot for the criminal underworld and this comic depicts him establishing a small and secret cartel on Coruscant lower levels not unlike the Shadow Collective and Crimson Dawn. Star Wars: Age of Republic - Darth Maul by Jody Houser was another fun character study into the mind and philosophy of a fascinating character. ⅘
Issue 3 - Obi-Wan Kenobi
Obi-Wan's one shot breaks from the vision quest format and dives into the nature of Kenobi's relationship with Anakin. It picks up in the Jedi Temple with Obi-Wan trying to help Anakin come into his own while Anakin begins to doubt his worthiness and place within the order. Obi-Wan is sent on a mission to retrieve what Republic archeologists believe to be a long lost holocron. Obi-Wan plans to leave Anakin at the temple (much to Skywalker's shagrin) but Kenobi decides against at Yoda's suggestion.
Obi-Wan takes Anakin along and very quickly Anakin makes his feelings of being unwanted known by saying that Kenobi is “stuck with him” because of the promise Obi-Wan made Qui-Gon. Upon arriving at the site Obi-Wan looks at the holocron and verifies that is in fact what they are looking for when Anakin warns his master of pirates come to steal the Jedi artifact.
In classic Kenobi fashion he greats the pirates with a “hello there” and promptly defends himself. The lead pirate then takes Anakin hostage and demands the holocron in exchange for his life. Again, true to form, Obi-Wan uses the Force to pelt him with rocks and incapacitate him and claims it was the young Padawan to do this in an effort to scare the remaining pirates away.
Upon returning to their ship Anakin apologies for choking and not being able to help Obi-Wan and begins to call himself a failure. Obi-Wan comforts Anakin by saying that he knows how capable Anakin is and that he fears that Anakin is the one who is stuck with him. Obi-Wan resolves to never fail Anakin again.
As a break from the format we've seen this far this story takes place in the “real” world and doesn't follow a spirit quest which for this story is very wise. In the films we only get to see the overbearing master and insolent apprentice and then the brothers in arms who work together as two halves of the same whole. We also get to see the former in the Obi-Wan and Anakin mini series Marvel published. This story puts an emphasis on the doomed fate of these two and the way it is intrinsically connected to Qui-Gon. Thus far this is hands down my favorite entry so far. Star Wars: Age of Republic - Obi-Wan Kenobi by Jody Houser gets a 5/5.
Issue 4 - Jango Fett
Jango Fett's one shot picks up in a similar spot to the Obi-Wan one in that it focuses on focuses on the relationship between mentor and student, only here it is on the most notorious bounty hunting family in the galaxy. Jango has been hired to capture a runaway girl and bring here back to her father along with a handful of other bounty hunters.
Once Jango arrives (fashionably late of course) with Boba in tow. The other hunters they are working with begin to plan an ambush on the Fett's. In concurrence with that story there is also a flashback to Jango being recruited by Count Dooku to be the template for the Clone Army and Jango's request to have a son is made.
The story shoots back to the crew preparing to capture their target as she threatens to jump from a balcony she is caught by Jango upon making a would be fatal leap. The story then flashes back to Jango seeing his clone army.
Upon leaving with their bounty the other scoundrels double cross the Fetts and Boba is held with a knife to his throat. Boba's given the opportunity to redeem himself and guns down the alien holding him hostage. Jango guns down her companion and Jango and Boba let the third hunter escape with his life because didn't help them nor did he try to stop the doublecross. Jango tells Boba that this is the beginning of his very long career and reputation.
This story is very straightforward and doesn't do much at all in the way of symbolic foreshadowing like the previous issues. It's a very fun tale of a bounty hunting father and son and would be a duo who I would love to see get their own comic. I give Star Wars: Age of Republic - Jango Fett by Jody Houser a ⅘.
Moving forward these reviews will be weekly as the issues are actually released and will not be as painfully long. So far this series is very very good and I am looking forward to the upcoming entries. Stay tuned for the review of the “special issue” covering Mace Windu, Captain Rex, Asajj Ventress, and (sigh) Jar Jar Binks.
Article by: Jarod “Dark Jedi” Baughman-Stubbs