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A graphic novel by Randy Stradley, Davide Fabbri and Christian Dalla Vecchia (2001, Dark Horse Comics)
A Jedi Council Comic
34 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

The Council searches for the headquarters of a warlike species who killed two Jedi and plan an invasion into Republic space.



3 stars+

Read February 21st, 2003 for the second time  
    Most of what I said below still stands, concerning the artwork and the plot.

The artwork, however, didn't bother me as much this time. It was still confusing in spots, without a lot of definition in the fight scenes, especially. Still, it was effective in giving us character moments.

The plot was fairly standard, though I did like the four points of view. I really wondered how they could think there was no headquarters after such a brief survey in all three planets. Surely the headquarters would not be in the obvious civilized spaces? It would be in the middle of nowhere, not even necessarily on the fourth planet. The battle on the fourth planet was solved way too simply, as well, and I can't figure out why they flew the transport in there in the first place, when the navy had arrived to take over.

Of the characters, my favorite, and the one that the authors seemed to have the best hold on, was Qui-Gon Jinn. I could even hear the actor's inflections in the words they used as he was talking. He had some excellent advice, and we get to see his impulsive side, though it is made a little too obvious what the Council thinks of him, and why they don't choose him to join them.

This is one of the better graphic novels in the Star Wars universe, and it's really nice to see the Jedi in action -especially the experienced Jedi Council members. I hope we get to see more, with good action and even better stories.



3 stars

Read February 2nd, 2002  
    I liked the story presented here; it flowed very nicely, nothing was too simple until the end, and it was very nice to see the Jedi Masters as real people.  Unfortunately, the art was not as sophisticated as some others, and actually detracted from the story for me.  

A lot of the art didn't show clearly what was happening.  Even going through it several times, and deducing from later events didn't make clear some of the things that happened.  One key moment that illustrates this takes place at the end, when Council member Micah Giiett destroys a large force of Yinchorri.  I assume he thrust his lightsaber into the fuel chamber of the tank, thus making it explode, but I can't be sure.  

Some of the visuals were nicely rendered, but I was more interested in what happened, rather than how it was depicted.  Like when we get to see Yoda in action!  I loved that page, and the way he deflected a blaster bolt with his hand, then shoved a Yinchorri backwards with little effort.  It wasn't drawn in an amazing way, but it was amazing to see nonetheless, just for the fact that it happened!  I knew that deflection was not just a Dark Side power, as it was depicted by Vader in Empire.  I wonder if he learned it from Yoda?  I want to see more of Yoda in action!

The Yinchorri were not well drawn either.  They could have been anything from any other series, but reminded me more of a sort of reptilian hippo...  The battle scenes containing them were nothing more than a mass of blurry carnage.  In fact, lots of stuff was blurry in this book.  

Two pieces of art that I loved, though: Plo Koon's facemask is great, and the shot of Coruscant on the back cover of this graphic novel is a masterpiece.  I don't know if it's from the movie directly, but could have been, and it's great.

The story follows four groups of Jedi, sent out by the Jedi Council because a Knight and Padawan were horribly killed and mutilated while on a peace mission to the Yinchorri people.  It seems that the Yinchorri have a need for war, and they feel that the time is ripe for them to start taking Republic planets for their own domination.  Of course, there is a thread that runs through to the Phantom Menace, and that is the fact that these people are being manipulated.  

After every major step of the story, we cut back to Darth Sidious and Darth Maul.  Here, the story turns a little murky, as well.  Darth Maul seems way too whiny, pleading with his master to go out and kill Jedi, and take control of the Yinchorri.  But Sidious knows that it is too early to reveal the return of the Sith.  He relies on subordinates, and I'm not sure what he has really gained by the end.  I think he gives the Yinchorri too much credit when he tells Maul that they would have been a grave threat to their new rule if the Jedi had not subdued them.  They never seemed like a real threat to the Republic to me.  It felt more like a local scuffle gone out-of-hand.  He doesn't let Maul go out because whether the Jedi won or lost, Sidious won.  He claims that if the Yinchorri won, Jedi would die.  Jedi did die, and Maul is right -with him there, more would have died.  But if the Yinchorri won, then Sidious and Maul would have had to deal with them, even if they killed many Jedi.  Anyway, it's a little confusing just what he wanted.

Sidious has sent an attack on the Jedi Temple.  With some of the most powerful Jedi out in Yinchorri space, it is still a suicide mission, something that Yoda recognizes.  One Jedi sentry dies, and another dies in the ensuing battle -which we don't get to see.  But it must have been a great battle, with all those Jedi, especially Yoda, defending their Temple.  Nothing comes from Yoda's interrogation, though, which is unfortunate. They learn the possible location of the Yinchorri headquarters at the exact same time as Adi Gallia's group does, making that research pretty useless, too.

The three groups of Jedi sent into the Yinchorri system are ambushed as soon as they exit hyperspace, which tells them that somebody knows their plans already!  The first group, led by Adi Gallia, is also ambushed on the water planet onto which they land.  But they manage to capture a Devaronian who seems to be in charge.  No problem there, but they figure the headquarters are not on this sparsely populated planet.  They take the Devaronian with them, and he escapes while they are helping to rescue Mace Windu's group.  But he contacts his cousin, who is the real leader of the rebellion, and who is located at the headquarters.  The Jedi are able to trace the call and call in the Republic fleet.  

The second group of Jedi is led by Micah Giiett and Plo Koon.  They go to a floating city on a dense atmosphere planet, able to land only because of a trick they played on the attacking Yinchorri.  They jettisoned all the escape pods, letting the fighters go after "prisoners" instead of the ship, which they piloted down erratically, as if in free-fall.  They, too are ambushed, but manage to escape by climbing on top of the floating structure and disconnecting one of its balloon supports, flying off into the air, while Adi Gallia's ship comes in to rescue them.  They didn't have time to find anything out, but seemed to figure that the headquarters couldn't be on that planet, either.

They fly to rendezvous with Mace Windu's group, which also includes Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan find traces of a giant army on this planet, but not like they would expect if the headquarters was located there.  They are attacked, and though it's nice to see the Jedi in action, the battle follows standard plotting.  Even though they are being overrun by the Yinchorri, the battles stop long enough to either transfer information more than one sentence at a time, and to give their injured or dead (I can't figure out which is which) time to be mourned.  

Back on Coruscant, Chancellor Valorum brings in every political favor he is owed, and makes compromises he wouldn't otherwise make to get the majority he needs in the senate to send a task force to defeat the Yinchorri.  That shows right away how Valorum's power was eroding even as far back as this.  

The task force does arrive, and in the weakest part of the story, demolishes the Yinchorri fleet.  The Devaronian, Vilmarh Grahrk, escapes, and the headquarters surrenders without him to lead them.  As I said, I don't think the Yinchorri were much of a threat, especially surrendering so quickly.  

The Jedi sure lost a lot of ships in this story!  Mace doesn't worry about it, but I wonder how they get the Council to continue to fund them like that.  It is noted that the Jedi are starting to go out of favor even now.  It must get even harder later on.

I really liked most of the Jedi featured in this story.  It was not very clear who was a Master and who was a Padawan, though.  I thought there were too many Masters present, and not enough Padawans.  This would have been an ideal situation for Padawans to try and handle.  Unfortunately, it mostly turned into a brawl.  I do wonder why even Council members call each other Master.  If this is based on Martial Arts, like I believe, only a lower-ranking person should use "Master" when talking to or about a superior.  Otherwise it gets cluttered up, especially in the space of a comic bubble.  

Two more of the Jedi lessons received really good treatment here, too.  One is cortosis ore, which was last seen in Vision of the Future, where it was used to ridiculous effect.  Here, the Yinchorri have put their hands on armor made from the rare mineral.  The demonstration given by Giiett was well done.  Also enjoyable was the cup game Giiett played on the Padawans.  He used their expectations to fool them.  Thinking that he had placed a black marble under one cup and white ones under the others, they easily picked out which cup held the black one (like the shell game).  But Giiett fooled them by swapping the black marble for another white marble, so they were wrong with their guess and expectations.  It also worked to good effect in inspiring a similar trick so that Plo Koon's team could outwit the attacking Yinchorri with their escape pods.  

The banter between Giiett and Plo Koon made the character seem more real, which was the point, since we have to care about him when he dies in the tank incident.  It is a heroic death, because he draws the Yinchorri away from the escaping Jedi, but I don't think the Yinchorri would have stopped for him, because, as they said, he was dying.  What are Jedi secrets to the Yinchorri?  They are already immune to mind tricks, and they don't seem to fear the Jedi, especially with the cortosis armor.  But Giiett leaves a spot open on the Jedi Council, which will not be filled until Prelude to Rebellion, not too long after.

The other Jedi characters (except for K'kruhk, who seemed both an oaf and very naive) were also very interesting, and I enjoyed them.  The story was a good one, and I enjoyed the four points of view, even though none of them actually got any information.  It would have been less costly if the holocron had been read correctly the first time -none of the Jedi would have put foot on the planets in that case.  The art, however, was not as interesting or sophisticated as I would have liked.  Mostly cartoonish and very 2D in rendering, it certainly could have been a lot better.


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