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A graphic novel by Jan Strnad, Anthony Winn and Robert Jones (2000, Dark Horse Comics)
Republic comics #1-6
33 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

A Jedi searches for his daughter while advocating against his planet joining the Republic.



2 stars

Read on January 26th, 2004 for the second time  
    I found this adventure to be even less interesting the second time around. It was really two adventures stuck in one package. The first one was describing a planet that didn't want to get caught in the technological mess that the Republic calls progress. That was dull enough, but I found the presence of Ephant Mon to be distracting. In fact, the entire story had poorly crafted breaks between scenes, leaving us hanging from what was occurring previously, but in a disjointed manner. The points that I raised below still stand: mostly, why was no compromise even mentioned?

The second story takes place after Ki-Adi-Mundi's daughter goes into space, and he is sent to rescue her. A lot of what is mentioned about Ki doesn't make much sense. Why would his jurisdiction be "extended" off of Cerea? Why was he stationed there in the first place? Even at the time this was written, we knew that the Jedi were sent on missions from the Council. He should not have known his birth world, and should not have gone back, even if he did. However, it has been established in other stories that some Jedi were sent back to their homeworlds, so I can let this pass.

The story gives some tantalizing clues as to where the Trade Federation got much of its inventory for the invasion of Naboo. From what we are given here, the Jedi Council knew that the Trade Federation was doing something, but didn't expend any resources to figure out what... Not very efficient...

I thought that there was too much commentary by the author, telling us what each character thought in a narrative form, instead of using thought bubbles, much of the time. It also gave us too much information about people's intentions, their ambitions, and their bravado. We should be able to figure out emotions by looking at the characters. Any new information, except for a few blurbs, should be given by the characters. It was written too much like a novel, but presented in a graphic medium.

There really isn't much to say about the story. It was simply an introduction to Ki-Adi-Mundi, who wasn't very well used after the second book in this series. Except for one or two places, the artwork did not stand out, either. A mediocre book, especially considering some of the meatier stories that followed this one.



3 stars

Read on September 29th, 2001  
    Not a bad start to a new series. There was action, adventure, and a hint of things to come. But was it really interesting? Mildly.

It always takes a while to get used to new characters. I think that is a main reason why The Phantom Menace didn't go over well with many people. With the classic comic series, the creators decided to go with Wedge and Rogue Squadron. For a prequel comic series about people who are not the main characters, they decided on Ki Adi Mundi, an alien with a very tall cranium who sits on the Jedi Council. Prelude to Rebellion is the story of the mission that brought him to be chosen for that position.

As the introduction to the character, it was reasonably well done. He likes his home world of Cerea, primitive as it is when compared to any Republic world. Republic forces have constructed a small city citadel on Cerea, while they trade for goods and try to get the planet to join. Cerea makes a unique substance that the Republic wants, and they are willing to bring the planet up to a more technological level as a reward. But Mundi doesn't see it that way. He sees pollution, uncontrolled expansion, and the usual things that environmentalists and minimalists advocate. 

Frankly, I agree with him. Cerea seems to have a rewarding and simple life. Those who want to have technology could easily leave the planet, or live in the citadel. But what the Republic official should have done was bring up the worlds that use technology and keep their worlds pristine. There is Mon Calamari, for one, where the oceans are sacred. Then there are the herd-ships of Ithor, where the forests are sacred. Both those worlds are wonderful to visit, yet they use high levels of technology. 

There are the usual extremists who are involved in rallying speeches to roaring crowds of youngsters, advocating the technology that is their due. Unfortunately, one of Mundi's daughters is involved with a young man who supports these rallies. Sylvn has simply chosen the wrong friends. She is unsure, but believes in them enough, and is insecure enough with her relationship with her father, that she follows them anyway.  Even though she knows many of the things they do are wrong. Most of the time, they are harmless, right? 

Ki-Adi-Mundi speaks out at the rally, and is mobbed. The young man who is dating Sylvn takes Ki's lightsaber and inadvertently kills a man. He is secreted away by the evil man who organized all of this. Ki is accused of murder, but is rescued, ironically, by Republic technology that recorded the event. He goes home to his main wife (men outnumber women 20 to 1 on Cerea, so they are prized) to find her crying and his daughter and her friends stealing food on swoop bikes, technological devices that are outlawed on Cerea.

Ki tracks them down, but they always appear to be one step ahead of him. It turns out that Jabba the Hutt's friend Ephant Mon has hidden them. Ephant Mon was seen in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi; at that time, I believe he was retired, but here, he is in the prime of his smuggler life. One of Mundi's informants dies to get him the information, and he has to use his Force-influence to convince a criminal to give him Ephant Mon's whereabouts. 

Sylvn really gets uneasy after two of her friends are killed in a swoop race. We as readers could tell that the swoops were sabotaged, likely by Ephant Mon. Ki-Adi-Mundi follows them, gets into a fight with a titanic robot, then follows them off-planet. They end up in orbit around Tatooine. The problem is that the cargo ship they were on is full of hatching creatures that are terrors -giant creatures that can dissolve a person with their secretions, and they are very hungry. Ephant Mon and the kids end up in a malfunctioning escape pod. Mon knows that the pod has to be ejected manually, but nobody can go out because of the creatures. 

I liked the ruthlessness that Ephant Mon showed. He rescued Sylvn in apparent generosity, but he was also calculating. He knew that the escape pod would blow up if they tried to launch it automatically. So he brought the girl on board so that her father would have even greater incentive to launch the pod for them. Great stuff!

And Ki-Adi-Mundi arrives, and battles his way through the ship, using the robot he encountered earlier (reprogrammed, of course) and an environmental suit, and plenty of Force. He ejects the pod and has his ship pick him up as he jumps from the port, too! 

Ephant Mon presents the two girls (he killed Sylvn's boyfriend) to Jabba as gifts, which turn into decoys as Jabba sends illegal supplies up to Trade Federation ships in orbit. Mundi saves his daughter, but also launches one of his robot crew to download the shuttle's manifest, proving that the Trade Federation is planning something big...

I liked the way Ki-Adi-Mundi kept his stance against introducing technology onto Cerea, only to keep resorting to using it again and again. He had to use the recorders to clear him of murder, then the bacta tank after his encounter with the assassin droid, and then he had to procure a ship and a robotic crew to chase after his daughter. It shows that in the coming days, while there is something dark on the horizon, the tools that he had were not enough to do the jobs he is required to do. He has to be ready to compromise. And that ability is what makes Yoda and Mace Windu consider him for a seat on the Jedi Counsel. 

What I don't get in this story is why the bad guy calmed down on his efforts to create a division amongst the people on Cerea. There was never any proof that he was involved with Ephant Mon. He could easily have called them out as being radicals in a radical organization. Tell the people that he just wants peace, and the technology to better their lives. I also didn't understand how Mundi's little robot could eject from his ship, get to Jabba's palace, board the shuttle and download the information required in such a short time. Sure, Ki had a feeling that his daughter being chained to the ion-pole was a decoy. I liked the way his copilot robot became skeptical of the non-mechanical's motives after not recovering the droid at first, but I don't see how it could have been done. For Jabba's decoy to work, they would have to be nowhere near the shuttle launch-point. 

My absolute favorite part of the book came in the form of a flashback. Ki-Adi-Mundi is ever-confident with his lightsaber. He battles remotes and is never hit. Yoda watches in silence, obviously not happy with his student's overconfidence. He tells Ki to watch out for his blind spot, to which Ki responds that he doesn't have a blind spot. So while Ki is battling the remotes, Yoda sticks out his cane and trips the brash student, showing him where his blind spot actually lay. The look on Yoda's face, completely innocent, was precious!

Which brings me to the art. No graphic novel is complete without good art. And although there are many places where the art is really neat, most of the time it doesn't leave much impression on the reader. There is little or no depth to most frames, with the main character being detailed, and a single background color. I found that there were too many long shots, where I could barely tell who was who. Ephant Mon gets the best treatment of all, though, in the closeups.  But there was one point, where Ki is getting attacked by a Devaronian with a chain whipping around in circles, where I thought the art was just terrific. The chain is blurred just enough, that it seems to be actually moving. It is reminiscent of other graphic novels where there is a lot of action!  I wondered how the artists were going to depict the tall heads of the Cereans. Some had hair, others were bald, and many wore funny tall hats. It was really quite neat. For the most part, the colors were diffused, though, which made the story seem a little more flat than it should have been. 

A couple more notes: At one point, I was wondering why the people attacking Ki were afraid of his ostrich-like mount, when at the end his whole family was riding them. But then I went back and discovered that the attackers were all aliens, who would not be familiar with the creatures. Though they are called carnivores, they can be seen grazing on grass at the end of the book. 

I don't know about Jabba's involvement with the Trade Federation. If he supplied them with materials, he might know about their invasion of Naboo, especially since the systems are so close together. And when a Naboo starship appears on the outskirts of Mos Espa, might he be inclined to sell the information to the Trade Federation? It could be that the Trade Federation was more covert than I think them to be. But it is just a thought.

As a beginning to new characters and a new series, I will give this story the benefit of the doubt. I hope it develops into a long-term plot. For now, it didn't leave a great impression with me, either way. But it did establish Ki-Adi-Mundi's character in reference to his homeworld. And from what we did learn about him, I think I like him.


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