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THE DEFENSE OF KAMINO

A graphic novel by John Ostrander, Haden Blackman, Scott Allie and Jan Duursema (2003, Dark Horse Comics)
Republic comics #49-50, and Jedi: Mace Windu
22 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

The Jedi fight spies, droids, and fallen Jedi while defending the clone facilities on Kamino.

 

 

4 stars

Read on February 29th, 2004  
    As with all short story collections, some stories were better than others. In the case of a bunch of related short graphic stories, the same formula applies to both the stories and the artwork.

The first story is called Sacrifice, and it tells of Quinlan Vos' attempts to spy on the Trade Federation. It turns out that Vos has been spying on them for some time, but never heard of the giant industry on Geonosis, and he feels somewhat responsible for the lives of the Jedi who died there.

Vos never responded to the call for the Jedi to become Generals in the clone wars, because he felt he still better served this way. His former Padawan, Aayla Secura is sent to find him, and together they obtain the next battle target for the Separatist army- Kamino. There was a cool battle of wills between Secura and a Falleen, who could use his pheromones to seduce people, especially females. In the end, of course, Secura wins, slicing through the Falleen.

The trick to this story is that the stolen battle plans are a setup, so that Dooku can discredit his enemies among the Separatists...

The artwork in this instalment was awesome. It had an incredible three-dimensionality to it, which I don't think I've seen before. The colors mixed almost "realistically" with the 3D forms. I was so disappointed that these artists didn't work on the rest of the book.

The actual story of The Defense of Kamino takes three parts. In the first, Brothers in Arms, Obi-Wan and Anakin feel a change in their relationship since Attack of the Clones. Obi-Wan feels that Anakin is distracted, which of course his Padawan is, having gotten married and passed close to the Dark Side... But after an interesting talk with Quinlan Vos of all people, Obi-Wan decides to rebuild the relationship using trust. After forbidding Anakin to join the defense, he then changes his mind, since Anakin is such a great pilot. They go down fairly early in the battle, though, and have to defend themselves against some of the nasty Kaminoan fish!

There is also a cute scene where Anakin can't figure out how to repair a droid, which frustrates him. While his master is talking to Vos, Aayla Secura stops by and shows Anakin how to smack the droid, thus fixing it! She's becoming a good character, after a terrible start back in Twilight. (Of course, she's pretty easy on the eyes, as well...) I want to know when she became a Master, though.

The artwork was a letdown after the previous story, but it was still pretty good. There was a lot of drama in the battle, and I particularly liked the way Obi-Wan was drawn in the briefing scenes.

Jango's Legacy left me a little cold. I don't like the special troopers, which are even more lethal than the original clones. Why do they need to exist? There wasn't much to the story, either. When the cloning chambers on Kamino start falling to the Separatist troops, these special troopers evacuate the children clones, and one goes to save the latest generation in the cloning tanks. He decides to set the self-destruct when the droid armies find them (including Shaak Ti, Anakin and Obi-Wan). I agree with Anakin, that he was very rude for a clone!

He does offer an alternative, however, and that is to destroy the tunnel leading to the chamber, while the Jedi keep the ocean from entering, and finally sealing the chamber using the Force. It is never explained why the droids couldn't function in the water -why wouldn't they be able to? They must have secured the city of Otoh Gunga on Naboo somehow in The Phantom Menace. We also never find out how they get out of the isolated underwater chamber.

The artwork was even less interesting in this story, using broad colored areas that didn't really give the characters much dimension, with Shaak Ti being the exception. It's unfortunate that the clone troopers don't offer a very visually interesting sight.

The final part of the Kamino storyline is No End in Sight, and most of it takes place from the point of view of the Separatists. I wonder why the authors decided to throw away the continuity that has existed for so long, and introduce some Mon Calamari to the story. As far as I recall, it was the Empire that discovered their planet planet, but I suppose it could be re-discovered at a later time.

The artwork picks up again in this story, with amazing detail, though nowhere near as amazing as in Sacrifice. There were all the appropriate colors and highlights to pick out the battles.

For this was a battle story, led by the Mon Calamari Merai. He sends amphibious crews down to destroy the shield generators, but they are destroyed by the Jedi starfighters. Merai decides to go himself, only to find that the information he was given was wrong. His ship disabled, he decides to have the fleet retreat. Why, when they had already boarded some of the cloning facilities -the drop ships had already landed, and it looked like they were winning. But I suppose he was privy to some information that I was not (which isn't good storytelling).

As one last order, he has the droid control ship use a tractor beam to boost his damaged ship into orbit, where he initiates the self destruct, and flies into the Jedi hyperspace rings, which prevents a chase of the retreating ships. A cool strategy, which nobody anticipated, including the Jedi and the rest of the Separatists.

The final story, Schism, is not concerned with Kamino, but instead with Mace Windu. I have firmly decided that I don't like Mace's character anymore. I hated him in Shatterpoint, and I don't like him very much here, either. It's too bad he gets the cover, since there were other more deserving scenes that could have been put there.

Mace is sparring with Qinlan Vos, while learning about the information the Jedi has gathered. He discovers that Vos used an advanced technique in the unnecessary Vapaad that Mace developed, learning that he was taught by another student of Mace's.

Mace decides to track the Jedi down, along with some missing students, who object to the Jedi leading the war. While I liked the concept, the characters were not interesting or original enough to satisfy me. The whole thing ends up being a trap, since the one who taught Vos the advanced technique (which brings the user close to the Dark Side, for some reason), is now in league with Dooku, and another fallen Jedi, Asajj Ventress.

I was totally against the idea of Ventress when I heard about her character, both here and in the Clone Wars animated series. However, I didn't dislike her character here, so maybe I was wrong. I do disagree with the idea that every Jedi who opposes the council, even all those who join the Separatists, are Dark Side adepts, though. If Ventress was a Jedi, she should at least know who Mace is.

I liked her attitude while fighting the young Jedi, as well as her skill. When Mace shows up, however, she runs, to survive and fight another day. Mace managed to disable the one responsible for the trap, but he, too still lives. Mace brings the young Jedi back to the temple, promising that they will not be forced to lead the clone armies.

Although the stories presented in this volume were mixed, none of them were bad, and several were really good. The artwork was also mainly good, with some excellent. What I really liked about them was their ability to show some real reactions to the events from Attack of the Clones. There are rifts among the Jedi, guilt, and the mixed emotions of Obi-Wan and Anakin, who were separated for much of that movie.

I think the Republic series has finally come into its own, with several stories in a row that were really good. I was very impressed with this volume, and look forward to more like this. I would like it, though, if we could get a consistent set of authors and artists, and maybe tell one longer story. I am not a fan of short stories, though these connected ones were a good start.

 
   

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