Age of Republic: Special Issue (Comic Review)
The latest issue of Star Wars: Age of Republic features three smaller stories following Mace Windu, Assj Ventress, and a team up of the 501st Leigon and one Jar Jar Binks.
Mace Windu - “The Weapon”
Set sometime before “The Phantom Menace”, Mace's story follows the Jedi Master to the world Oosaln to dissolve a terror cell. Mace is seen being escorted to the group's leader as a prisoner. The two soldiers who are guarding him have his lightsaber disassembled in a box.
Guattako the Grim, the group's leader has been working for the Hutt clan and kidnapping children to fill the ranks for his army. Mace chastises him for his transgressions and gets Guattako to start monologuing about his army and their planned ascension. All the while, Mace is reaching out with the Force, to not only alert the Jedi strike force who accompanied him to his location in the labyrinth, but also to reassemble his lightsaber. As Guattko winds up for the death blow Mace's amethyst lightsaber comes hurdling thru the air as he begins to cut down his captors.
The master swordsman is fighting at a handicap as his hands are still bound and he is sent backwards by the terrorist leader as one of the captured children uses a fallen soldier's blaster to gun down Guattako. The frightened child asks if he and his friends are free to as Qui-Gon Jinn, Plo Koon, Depa Billaba, and a Natulaun Jedi I assume is Kit Fisto. As the Jedi funnel in they begin to free the children. Mace conveens with Yoda via hologram as discusses one of the younger girls who aided in his capture. Yoda says that she must be tried for her crimes as Mace laments that if that is the case they haven't saved all the children then.
This first story in the issue is a fun look at Mace's more tender side. Though he's no Yoda when it comes to children we see his more muted and subtle compassion. The issue also shows us it's era by name dropping Finis Valorum as the current Chancellor and shows Qui-Gon alive and well. It also features a cameo from Huyang, the lightsaber assembly droid from The Clone Wars in a flashback to Mace's time as an apprentice.
Asajj Ventress - “Sisters”
Ventress one shot is regretfully brief however it makes it's short time count. It picks up Assj on her bounty hunter hustle in the lower levels of Coruscant bringing in a barely breathing bounty to its collector as she sees that a price has fallen upon the head of one Ahsoka Tano.
Ventress sets out to collect the credits on the young togruta Jedi. She begins to reminisce her locking horns with Tano and wonders what must have happened for the Jedi to turn against her. She then hears a brute harassing two young sisters down the street. As she begins to walk away she remembers the recent massacre on Dathomir of her own sisters and feels all of the grief of her new found loneliness. This acts as a call to action for her and she leaps in to defend the young women from their attacker.
As Ventress leaves them she gives them the food they were after as well as a knife to defend themselves with should they be attacked again. Ventress feeling happy with herself embarks on what would be one of her last adventures.
This story doesn't have much time to spare and it doesn't waste a single panel. Ventress’ story in this special issue does a fantastic job of bridging Ventress as seen in “Wrong Jedi” arc of TCW with her “Dark Disciple” counterpart. The story of Asajj Ventress is one of a Sith hopeful turned back to her Nightsister roots turned cut throat mercenary to a Dark-Gray Jedi who gives her life to save Quinlan Vos. Her ernest lost soul is put on full display here while maintaining her mystique and edge.
Captain Rex & Jar Jar Binks - “501 Plus One”
In this story, Captain Rex takes a page out of his Jedi General's book and leads from the front against impossible odds with everyone's favorite Gungan.
Rex resolves to march behind enemy lines to destroy an enemy shield while minimizing casualties. Rex gets pinned down by a Droid squad and before they put the brave Clone down, he is rescued by who he at first thinks is the recently gunned down Jedi general but is revealed to be (deep sigh) Jar Jar accidentally cutting his way through the battle droids.
Jar Jar commends Rex for his bravery but tells him that it is foolish to go alone against such impossible odds. Jar Jar ultimately volunteers to help Rex in his mission and the two of them march forward to the CIS base where the comic ends.
Though I've never seen myself as above making jokes about the VERY low hanging fruit that is Jar Jar Binks I'm fairly indifferent to him and while I don't really care for him I understand his appeal and commend the work it took to bring him to life in film. That being said I, I think this is easily the weakest story in Age of Republic thus far because of his inclusion in this story. The story starts with mass bloodshed and chaos and immediately juxtaposes itself with Jar Jar's slapstick comedy. The comic gives the reader tonal whiplash as Rex looks certain death against the wishes of his brothers, Jar Jar haplessly wields a lightsaber managing to not kill himself along with Rex. We know Rex and Binks survive the war so we know they SOMEHOW survive their assault on the Separatist base. Marc Guggenheim manages to insert Jar Jar in by saying that his being a swamp dweller will aid in the Republic force's engagement with the natives of Mimban.
The Special issue of Age of Republic is by no means bad. However the excitement and emotional momentum of the first two stories is drawn nearly to a stand still by the serviceable, albeit lackluster third story. In my opinion a story showing perhaps Order 66 from the perspective of certain Clones, or even a journey with Ahsoka Tano as she has recently departed the Jedi, or a comic version of Cad Bane's final outing showing his fateful showdown with Boba Fett. There are many different stories that would have kept up the tone of previous stories in this anthology series. “The Weapon” and “Sisters” briefly both toy with the Jedi and their standing with the people of the galaxy which has been a recurring theme in this series as having the reputation of the Jedi be ruined was a crucial point of the Sith Grand Plan. They also (as has been the status quo with Age of Republic) provide great fascinating looks into the minds of these pivotal galactic players. I give the Special Issue of Age of Republic a 3.75/5. The next issue in this series will follow Anakin Skywalker and will be released on Feb. 2nd.
Article by: Jarod “Dark Jedi” Baughman-Stubbs