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A graphic novel by John Ostrander, Jan Duuresema, and Dan Parsons (2004, Dark Horse Comics)
Republic comics #54,63, Jedi: Aayla Secura and Dooku
21 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Quinlan Vos attempts to infiltrate Count Dooku's inner circle by going deeper and deeper into the Dark Side.



Read March 25th to 26th, 2005  
    This set of stories, while more continuous than most of the Republic compilations, is also more hit and miss.

The first story, Double-Blind, continues the arc started back in Sacrifice, which opened The Defense of Kamino. Featuring Quinlan Vos, a character who I am not overly fond of, it didn't have much going for it. It felt much like the middle part of a story, and barely had a proper conclusion. I liked the artwork very much; these characters have a lot of details, and there are lots of shadows that give it great perspective. Quinlan gets to face off with another Jedi, who is trying to bring him in for arrest to the Jedi Council. They capture his curvaceous assistant, Khaleen, who seems to be drawn in especially expressive positions that highlight all of her curves, and much of her skin. Personally, I like her hair and the tattoo around her belly button (though not exclusively, of course...)! The trick here, is that Vos is in a double-blind position. At no cost is he to reveal that his not a traitor. He is supposed to do what is necessary to convince Count Dooku that he could be an asset to the Separatists. He is well on the road to the Dark Side, however, as he kills the one who apparently set him up and betrayed him to the Council, even though he likely knew that this was part of the role he was expected to play.

My favorite story among this collection is the Jedi: Aayla Secura story. There is just something to this Jedi that I like. She is not only beautiful and sexy, which is what the artists are obviously trying to showcase, especially as she seems to wear the least clothing of all the Jedi. Aayla is also extremely smart and resourceful, and a great fighter. She also added something to the artistry in this book, because she is blue-skinned, giving the dark pages some badly needed color. Really, it's no wonder George Lucas decided to put her in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. She has gained a lot of confidence since her ordeals in Rite of Passage, and her last meeting with Vos in Sacrifice. While Vos is not in this story except as a hologram and in flashbacks, another of my least favorite Star Wars characters is a major player in this story: Aurra Sing. I never thought this was an interesting character, and recall being quite bored and in disbelief at her efforts in The Hunt for Aurra Sing. Still, I loved her presence here, because Aayla Secura takes her on, frustrates her, reads her emotional state correctly, and eventually defeats her! I nearly cheered at that. Her mission takes place on Devaron, so I was surprised (and mostly pleased) that we didn't see Villie. Aayla poses as the daughter of a wealthy Twi'lek, taking the last name Doneeta, as in Tott Doneeta from the Knights of the Old Republic. Their cover is blown by a traitor in the Devaronian government, but her host gives her information about a Separatist base in the mountains.

Meanwhile, Master Tholme and the Dark Woman are caught in a trap while hunting for that same Separatist base, and are covered by debris. Although we have not seen much of the Dark Woman before, we now get some insight into her character, about how she lost Aurra Sing as a Padawan, and her attempt to refrain from any attachments at all, as per the Jedi code. A nice counterpoint to that is Aayla's relationship with Kit Fisto. Since they both have head-tails, he can read her emotions. There is nothing romantic going on, but I wonder if they survive Revenge of the Sith if we will see something develop. That would be an interesting development. My favorite part of the story, however, comes when Aayla fights with Aurra. Although Aurra is clearly a better fighter, she fights with anger, and so lacks clarity. Aayla delves into the emotions of her opponent and defeats her neatly by cutting off her antenna, which feeds off the fear of others. Aayla and Aurra share a similar heritage after several of their separate adventures. While Aayla came out of them stronger, Aurra came out full of hatred. While the character arcs here were what I mostly enjoyed, the Separatist base was also destroyed by Kit Fisto and the clone troopers.

In Jedi: Count Dooku, we return to Quinlan Vos' storyline, and his infiltration of Dooku's council. Dooku tests Quinlan's allegiance by sending him on three missions, all of which a Jedi would have trouble with. Indeed, Vos does things differently from what Dooku asks. Instead of killing a freighter captain who has been siphoning funds, he terrifies the man into submission. Instead of keeping a dictator in charge of the Ishi Tib, Vos recommends killing the man, as proof that the Separatists will take unjust matters into their own hands. In this case, Vos doesn't seem to have any trouble with killing people in cold blood. In the third mission, however, to his home planet, he reveals his true allegiance, when he fails to kill his matriarch as she refuses to allow a Separatist base on her planet. I don't see how Dooku can call that devotion to the Republic, though. Vos might want to end the conflict another way. Always with Dooku it's kill them, kill them. Word must get around sometime... When confronted by Dooku, though, Vos succumbs to anger as he finds out that the matriarch killed his parents, and so he kills her. Although Vos doesn't think he has gone over to the Dark Side, there can be no doubt, now.

My problem with the Separatists is how anybody can consciously join them, when they see the methods employed. The Empire is started right there, with murder of anybody who disagrees with them, and destruction of property to give lessons to the populace. How could any planetary monarch even think of going over to the Separatists? If somebody like Vos really did change sides, shouldn't he at least show Dooku some sort of conscience? Since Dooku was revealed to the Jedi to be on the Dark Side, I suppose that he has no trouble now trying to tempt others to the Dark Side openly.

Striking from the Shadows concludes Vos' trip to the Dark Side, even though he still thinks differently. Dooku tests him once again, making him think that he was being sent to kill a Sith on the Senate. In fact, Dooku merely switched topics in the middle of the conversation! First, he was talking about the Sith, pondering how an apprentice could become a master (through assassination, of course), then he gave Vos a target to kill, someone who was again playing both sides of the conflict. Vos starts the story on Korriban, home of the Sith Lords in Dark Lords of the Sith, obtaining a holocron for Dooku, and it is here that he truly turns to the Dark Side, terrorized by nightmares of killing his matriarch. Khaleen, who might have even become his lover here, joins him on his visit to the senate; they disguise themselves as a dead senator from Vos' planet, and a companion. We even get to see Mon Mothma and Bail Organa. Vos kills the senator, battling a Jedi in the process, but escaping while he has the chance, to avoid killing his opponent.

The artwork in the last two stories was good, but nothing struck me as standing out. They were full of dark reds and browns, with lots of shadows. A little more color would have been nice, though I'm sure the artists were going for a Dark Side theme.

I suppose I'm just not a fan of Quinlan Vos, though I could do with more of Aayla Secura.


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