Tremendous art, coupled with a great story. This is so much better
than its predecessor, and explored the ways of the Jedi, and what they
represent to the various people who fight for peace in their own way.
First and foremost, the art in this book was stunning. Yoda was an
exception, and at times I had trouble telling some of the sand people
apart. But the shadows, the coloring, and the way the art told so much
of the story without dialog at all, make this one of the very best art
displays I've ever read.
There was actually not much detail throughout the tale. However, the
shadows and lines showed everything that we needed to see. This was
apparent in the few scenes we had on Coruscant, where Ki Adi Mundi is charged
with finding the legendary Sharad Hett. As he gazes out the windows, and
as he waits for his star cruiser, talking to the Dark Woman, we get a good
glimpse of how the city is made, including the spires and graceful curves of
the Jedi Temple and its environs.
Most of the story takes place on Tatooine, however. And it is here
that the art really comes into its own. Here, we see the emotions of the
desert. I liked the bantha that always gives Ki questioning glances, as
if it is not quite sure what to make of this trespasser.
Ki goes to meet with Jabba the Hutt, and does a really bad job of
convincing the Hutt to give him access to the desert without criminal
intervention. He is very condescending, not a good way to deal with a
Hutt. Luke had better manners in Return of the Jedi!
Ki Adi Mundi had of course foiled Jabba in Prelude to
when he freed his daughter and caught the Trade Federation ship there.
And Jabba repays him here by having his thugs try and kill the Jedi. The
lightsaber fight was really one-sided, with the thugs hesitating just enough
to be realistic. They were being paid, but how much was it worth for
getting an arm taken off? But they all end up dead, and Ki is stranded
with very little food or water, and a broken skiff.
Following a herd of banthas, he makes his way into the deep desert, where
he encounters a Krayt dragon! I really liked the way it took a tribe of
sand people to take out the dragon, even while three of them used the
Force! This is much better than the way Tahiri and Anakin did it in Promises. In the end, though, it is Sharad Hett's son who is made to
face the wounded dragon on his own. And he succeeds marvelously,
becoming a true sand person at last!
Sharad Hett had been leading a huge band of sand people in raids against
large towns and farms, and against Jawas who were selling weapons to the
farmers. Instead of confronting Hett right away, Ki tries to learn what
is going on here. I loved the way the two of them talked about the
Force, the way each one served it in their own way. Hett was a powerful
Jedi who became a legend out of proportion thirty years ago. He tried to
run away, and his ship crashed on Tatooine. He became one of the sand
people, then, and was forced into the role of their leader when they started a
blood feud with the city dwellers. He became their leader to
prevent an all-out massacre. Hett believes that the Hutts created a
false conflict, for the simple purpose that they could sell more weapons.
So Hett is serving the Force in a certain way, controlling the amount of
blood that is shed. Ki tells him about Anakin, found on this very
planet! And he tells of Qui-Gon's death, which leads to a very solemn
moment between them, as Hett knew Qui-Gon well. I wonder if we'll see
this guy in the Jedi Apprentice series?
It is about this time that we have to serve our action quota, but it is
done in style. Gardula the Hutt is looking to become more powerful than
Jabba, so he wants to stop the sale of weapons by wiping out the sand
people. He tracks them, and attacks. But with Ki and Sharad Hett
there, not to mention Hett's son, the tide is turned against him. So
Jabba comes to the rescue, having kept a watch on Gardula. The sand
people under Hett's leadership are wiped out, except for a few stragglers,
perhaps. Jabba becomes the hero, instead.
The main part of the plot that is supposed to shock us, I believe,
surrounds Aurra Sing. I don't really understand all the hype surrounding
this bounty hunter. But she is given a much better backstory than Boba
Fett ever was.
Personally, I could have done without her role, altogether. She
served a purpose, however, in that she hunted Ki and Hett, and revealed their
location to both Gardula and Jabba. Sing is a Jedi hunter.
Apparently, she was a Jedi Padawan at one time, under the tutelage of the Dark
Woman! Interesting... I wonder if George Lucas agrees. I
think this bounty hunter will appear in Attack of the Clones -will she be
Force-sensitive there? Only time will tell...
Aurra Sing will be explored in more detail in other comics, I
understand. It would be interesting to learn why she hunts Jedi.
She has a collection of lightsabers, and this actually fits in with the little
hints that we got in Rogue Planet that somebody was assassinating Jedi.
Did she turn to the Dark Side? Or is there some in-between, as the
authors seem to be hinting at, between this and books such as Dark
Rival, where only a true Jedi can turn to the Dark Side?
It is really no surprise that Aurra kills Sharad Hett. Of course, he
lost all hope anyway when hearing that his tribe was wiped out. This was
a big risk by the authors, killing an entire tribe. But I think it makes
Hett's sacrifice all the more poignant. And it makes his son's decision
so much easier: A'Sharad will become Ki Adi Mundi's Padawan
learner. Hopefully we'll see him in future comics, too... Aurra
Sing escaped. I'm certain we'll see her.
Aside from the actual story, we get little hints, as well. It looks
like Hett's master is of the same species as Darth Maul. I thought I had
seen one of those on the Jedi Council in The Phantom
Menace. Hett says
here, also, that finding Anakin here may not have "little
consequence". The Hutts are infighting again, which may find a
place in the battles fought here in the next film.
This was a wonderful example of what I read Star Wars books for. The
discussions between two people, one of whom has seen enough of war, and
another who needs a symbol like Sharad Hett, were very interesting. The
battles, whether between lightsabers or lasers, were also drawn
exciting. In fact, the whole book was drawn fantastically. I could
have done without Aurra Sing, but the rest was terrific. In the next
tales, I hope we can stay away from Tatooine! The stories take us there
way too often these days!