A graphic novel by Timothy Zahn, Michael A. Stackpole,
and Carlos Equerra (1999, Dark
4 years after Star Wars: A New Hope
Mara takes on one last mission as the Emperor
dies: to destroy the person who is trying to resurrect Black Sun.
Read on June 15th,
2003 for the second time
This is a cool look at one of Star Wars'
coolest characters. Mara Jade is sexy -that has to be the first word
that comes to mind- and she is deadly. She was so different from what we
had experienced before, that when she made her debut in
Heir to the
Empire, she took on a life of her own.
So how does this graphic novel do her justice? It shows her in action,
not just as a lethal weapon, but also as a person, as she tries to
figure out who she is once her master is gone. She is as good at spying
as she is at assassination.
It is unfortunate that the two missions that we are witness to are
failed. In Jabba's palace, of course, she doesn't manage to kill Luke
Skywalker before he goes out to the Sarlacc pit. Then, she kills a
decoy of Dequc, the new leader of Black Nebula, not realizing that she
had the wrong guy. Is she good, or is she incompetent? I don't think
she's incompetent, but I wonder why she didn't bother to listen to the
decoy's words -even I could see that he was trying to tell her that
something was wrong. And with her Force sense, weak as it was, she
should have picked up a warning, at least.
Mara also wasn't very quiet about the whole thing, but that's part of
the appeal. If she took out her targets quietly, then we wouldn't get to
see this gorgeous woman in tight clothing defeating an entire complex of
professional criminals -twice! But I think she was supposed to be
quieter in most of her missions.
The two best parts of this graphic novel show Mara at extremes. As a
compassionate woman, just learning about her freedom, and what it means
to her, she gains the trust of her employer, a cantina owner. Sure,
she's still serving people, but it's on her own terms, and she even
risks her life for the man who gave her work. When he is killed by Black
Nebula, she takes it personally, since she actually cared about this
man. We can see it in the casual conversations she has with him
after-hours, or with the striped alien she knows so well as a regular
At the other extreme, it was wonderful to see her break out of her cell,
and trick Isard all the way to her exit. Besides the stretched-tight
jumpsuit, she manages to slice into several computer systems, including
Isard's own personal data pad, sending confusing information to the door
controllers and various shuttles, allowing her to escape on a refugee
Mara thinks a lot, and we get to witness most of those thoughts. It
explains things to the reader in a more personal way than the narrative
boxes that many comics provide. I like that much better. The thoughts we
see are the everyday thoughts of somebody in her situation. Sometimes
she is silly, often chastising herself, running through her upcoming
plans, and musing about several different topics.
The artwork was good, but not great. Although Mara was drawn as a
beautiful woman, the somber colors and diffuse lines detracted from her
beauty. Contrast this with the fabulous artwork of Guri from
the Empire: Evolution, who turned out to be stunning because of it. I
think Mara should have been given the treatment that made her the
better-looking female assassin, because I think she is.
I'd like to see more of Mara in action, perhaps before the death of the
Read on February 26th, 2000
A cool Star Wars adventure. Mara Jade has been well used,
and not so well used. I was afraid this would be a trek to track
down Luke, since it takes place just after Jedi.
But I was wrong.
We are given a glimpse of Mara's job as a dancer at Jabba's palace,
and how she missed killing Luke there. Instead of chasing after him,
the Emperor sends her to a planet to kill the leader of Black Nebula, who
is trying to resurrect Black Sun. She accomplishes this task with
ease, but discovers that it was a decoy she had killed.
Just then, the Emperor contacts her. She sees through his
eyes, as Luke and Vader duel, then both turn their lightsabers in his direction,
and kill him. She sees them cooperating to do this. He gives
her a final order: Kill Luke Skywalker.
But as the Emperor dies, another takes his place. It's
neat how they tied in the Special Edition to this, in discussing the apprehension
of the people involved in toppling the Emperor's statue, and setting off
the fireworks. The new leader has as his advisor Ysanne Isard, from
the Rogue Squadron books and graphic
novels. Since both authors worked a lot in this universe, it's nice
to see the continuity.
Isard takes Mara captive, holding her in a cell, until she manages
to use the Force to get her guard to let her out. She escapes into
the tunnel system, while being chased all through the Throne area of the
She escapes, and takes work at a small cantina on a backwater
planet. As she says, a second rate cantina in a third rate city on
a fourth rate planet. The artwork there is really good. The
landscape, the aliens, and the dark lighting of the cantina all show well
defined lines, and muted colours that are easy to follow. Mara works
happily there, carefully saving up money until she can buy passage offworld.
But members of Black Nebula come in and kill the barkeeper for not paying
his tribute to their leader. Mara decides she needs to get back to
work, finishing the last assignment her Emperor gave her (except killing
Luke, of course).
Mara follows her leads to a tourist planet, and manages to infiltrate
the lair by posing as a dealer in electronics that allow her to cheat in
games, while being completely undetectable. She goes through these
demonstrations, but is actually using the Force. In that way, she
fools everybody. She gets a tour of the Black Nebula facility, and
notes all its weak spots.
Unfortunately, she is recognized as an Imperial assassin by a
former Imperial officer with whom she had worked earlier. She kills
him, but then her disguise is off. She disables the power in the
facility, and goes on to disrupt the base. She tricks the guards
into letting her get close to the Black Nebula leader again, and manages
to kill him this time. She escapes through his back door, and leaves
his cruiser, complete with many Black Nebula files in it, on an Imperial
The script was pretty good here. Mara didn't talk much,
except when she is trying to act like a rich woman. The characters
were efficient, and didn't do any really stupid things. This was
pure Zahn and Stackpole. Even though nobody made any mistakes, Mara
did her job well, and killed her target. She was just better than
they were. That's life.
As for the art, most of it was good, though nothing really made
me sit up and take notice. Mara was drawn probably as Zahn instructed
-absolutely stunning, beautiful and sexy. Her green eyes were noticeable
at several points, as they lit up the page. During battle scenes,
the tone of the colours changed. Mostly, they turned into glossy
blacks, and pinks or reds where there would be a blur of movement.