||Like all sets of short stories, some
are good, and some are not really worth reading. In general, however,
the artwork was better than usual, with some very interesting styles.
I really enjoyed Dead Ends, by far the
best story in this book. It is here that we get what is probably the
first stirrings of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. Bail Organa is
trusted by Mon Mothma to hear some reports that the Senate (or the
Chancellor, more to the point) is trying to repress. The details of the
pullout from the Last Stand on Jabiim are known only to the Jedi; Organa can't even get a
private discussion about them.
The highlight of the tale comes in the
form of a visit from former Chancellor Valorum, whom nobody has seen in
since the events of The Phantom Menace. Once Valorum raises Organa's
suspicions, however, he is killed. Palpatine obviously has spies planted
throughout the Senators homes. This only galvanizes Organa's and
Mothma's feelings that something is wrong with Palpatine, which
obviously leads into the trust that Yoda and Obi-Wan put into him during
Revenge of the Sith.
An attack on Organa's ship at the
beginning of the story allows Palpatine to "reluctantly" support another
security bill, giving him even more powers.
Anakin is featured quickly in this
story, and I wonder that he has so much patience for everybody calling
him Young Skywalker. It occurs in another story, as well. He is pretty
much grown up now, and will soon face the trials. Because they think
that Obi-Wan was killed on Jabiim, Ki-Adi-Mundi has taken him as his
Padawan. There is also a small reference to the last story in
on Jabiim, where Anakin helped repel a Separatist attack while paired
with the Tusken Jedi, Asharad Hett.
The story appears to be only loosely
connected to the rest of the Republic series, but it tells an important
tale, of what is happening in the Senate while the Jedi and the troops
are out fighting. Although I have not been impressed with the political
stories in the prequel era so far, like Cloak of Deception and others, I
would like to see more of these kinds of tales if they are told as well
Artwork in this story was very good as
well. I liked the details in people's faces, especially Palpatine's when
he is threatening Organa. The flashback to the failed battle by the Jedi
was full of amazing details, and great colors.
The story Bloodlines shows how far
Palpatine is willing to go to keep his identity secret until the time is
right. This story is told backwards, and we keep jumping back in time!
It starts with the death of a Jedi, one who was good friends with
Palpatine since he became a senator. He and his Padawan suggest
privately to Palpatine that a midi-chlorian test on all Senators would
prove the identity of a Sith on the Senate. The Chancellor appears to
take this into consideration, but when the Jedi are sent on a mission,
he lays a trap that will kill them both, so that the plan never even
reaches the ears of the Jedi Council. It's a wonder that these are the
only Jedi with the courage to make this suggestion, as it is an obvious
tactic. They wouldn't even have to tell the Senators what it was about
-call it a vaccine, requiring a blood sample. The Chancellor would, of
course, need to know, which is the main problem, as he would undoubtedly
implicate somebody else.
Jedi Master Ronhar was one of the rare
Jedi to know his family, though he disassociates himself from his father
as much as possible. Being the last of his bloodline, however, his
father wanted him to raise a family. His father was senator for Naboo,
until he is killed while trying to have a talk with his son. Ronhar
doesn't know if the assassin was after the senator or the Jedi, but we
do, when introduced to the replacement senator -Palpatine.
The artwork was more rough in this
story, tracing lines in obvious pencil, but I liked it a lot, just the
same. Once again, the features on Palpatine's face when somebody is on
his trail, was very telling. The colors were outstanding in the garden-
is this a senate garden or part of the Jedi temple?
Hate and Fear is my least favorite
story in the book. Obi-Wan's escape from Assaj Ventress was very
underwhelming, and did nothing at all for me. The artwork was not at all
pleasing, with few details and no interesting stuff besides what the
characters were doing. Obi-Wan, who has been in a Sith mask to keep his
mind unfocused for weeks, can still use the Force enough to smash some
pipes above him when the clone trooper Alpha is placed in the same cell
as him. This shorts out the handcuffs on the clone, who then frees
Obi-Wan. They free all of the prisoners in Ventress' cells for
distraction, and make
their escape. Obi-Wan has another brief lightsaber fight with Ventress,
steals her ship and the lightsaber of her first Jedi Master. We get a
backstory on Ventress (finally), which is equally uninteresting, in
which a Jedi crash-landed on her home planet and took her under his
wing, since she had Force-sensitivity. They put an end to the violence
on the planet, and ended up ruling there until he was murdered. It seems
that Ventress has been out for vengeance ever since.
Also uninteresting was Obi-Wan's
rescue, in No Man's Land, although I liked the development of his
connection with Anakin. The Force points Anakin, who is on another
mission against pirates with Ki-Adi-Mundi and others, in the direction
of Obi-Wan's ship, which has been disabled by Ventress' forces. I really
liked the way the other Jedi allowed Anakin to follow his feelings, even
when Ki didn't believe him. Reckless as he is, he goes straight in for
the rescue, as first Ventress' forces are after his Master on the
ground, then bounty hunters. Ki is as frustrated by Anakin as Obi-Wan
has ever been, as the young Jedi doesn't follow protocols. Together,
without verbal communication, Obi-Wan and Anakin lead the bounty hunters
into a trap of their own.
The artwork in this story was both good
and bad. I liked, again, the detail, but compared to the best stories,
the colors were muted (except for explosions), and I didn't like the
look of the characters. I also didn't like the floating heads that
abounded everywhere, cutting across scenes.
The final story is the Jedi: Yoda tale,
called The Best Blades. This is quite a sad tale, in which Yoda goes to
see an old friend who is seceding his planet from the Republic because
of the corruption that he sees there. Two Jedi Masters were killed in an
attack, leaving two headstrong Padawans in command. Maybe it was the
computer-generated artwork, which looked very anime-style, and the fact
that their heads were too large for their bodies, but they didn't look
older than fifteen years old -much too young to be commanding a battle
Yoda's diplomatic mission does not go
well, and he is voluntarily imprisoned with one of the hot-headed
Padawans, who is constantly on the offensive, first against the natives,
then against Yoda himself. Times have changed, and this is war, he says,
thinking that Yoda should either change or retire. The boy is too young
to know what the Republic was like before the Clone Wars and corruption, so
he doesn't understand why the older Jedi try to adhere to the old ways.
When the Padawan inevitably dies, he does so blaming Yoda for
everything, rather than seeing reason. In order to make certain that his people keep fighting to
secede, the King kills himself. I didn't believe his death, though it
was more of a dramatic and meaningful one, as he points a blaster at
Yoda, forcing the Jedi to defend himself. The blast is deflected back to
the King, where I thought Yoda should be able to deflect it anywhere he
wanted to. Still, it served as a reminder to Yoda that they have lost
many of the values they are fighting to protect. The young ones like the
action, and even old friends cannot agree on the best course.
I liked the artwork in this story for
its style. Sometimes it looked very obvious, with no shading, even, on
objects, that it was computer-generated. But I loved the backgrounds,
when they were present, especially in the King's garden. The colors
there were so vibrant that they made the story brighter just by being
there. The blurred trees in several panels served as terrific
backgrounds to Yoda's conversation with Thustra's King Alaric.
On another front, the Padawan who was
left with the troops is forced to make a pre-emptive strike against the
gathering native troops, thus disobeying Yoda. I wonder what happened to
her after the mission? I can't figure out why she is wearing today's
clothing styles, with bare arms and midriff, when the other Jedi wear
their traditional robes. More dissent among the Jedi, I suppose -or
perhaps Aayla Secura has started a trend!
A variety of stories was told in this
book, which makes it less coherent than the last couple. There is only
the idea of corruption and suspicion about the Senate tying some of the
stories together, combined with the return of Obi-Wan. I still hope that
Dark Horse Comics will return to long story arcs which can be combined
into single books. Ah, well, the stories continue to be good, at least.