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A comic series by John Ostrander (2004, Dark Horse Comics)
Republic comics #42-45
28 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Aayla Secura goes in search of a Twi'lek heir, who was kidnapped along with her master.



Read on June 24th, 2013, for the second time  
    This graphic novel had terrific artwork, which was definitely the highlight of reading it. This isn't always true of graphic novels, but I suppose that depends on the reader's taste. The story was about a political kidnapping in the unique society of the Twi'leks from Ryloth, and about how the Jedi rise to the challenge of rescuing the boy. Given the history of the main characters, who have been mind-wiped and left for dead in previous plot-lines, these ones manage to remember how to be Jedi.

I have to agree with my review below in all aspects. But I did enjoy the book a second time, and it would have been nice to see Aayla survive the Revenge of the Sith to shine in other stories. Ah, well. Here we get two promotions, Aayla finally to Jedi Knight, and Quinlan Vos to Master. Too bad Aayla's tenure didn't last too long.




Read on October 23rd, 2004  
    A simple story, but one with great character moments, and terrific artwork.

Aayla Secura is a beautiful character. I'm not talking only about the way her body is drawn, sexy and revealing as it is, but in everything about her. I do love her curves, which the artists obviously took great care with, but her face is stunningly beautiful.

Funny, though, that I don't see any of the hesitation that Quinlan Vos sees in her. She took action right away when she discovered that Nat Secura, her cousin, was about to be kidnapped. She chases after Tholme when he follows the kidnappers to the spaceport, and easily follows the ship to Ord Mantell. She doesn't hesitate to join Vos in his fight against those attacking him, nor, do I think, she hesitates when she has to crash their ship on Kintan, the Nikto homeworld. The only place she makes something even remotely like a mistake is when she throws her lightsaber too high against the Morgukai.

The book actually opens with Vos hesitating. Whoever thought up this opening sequence should have rethought it entirely. I don't know if it was a stylistic choice, but it was very annoying to flash back and forward five minutes every couple of frames. Suffice it to say that Vos, as a Padawan, fought off a wampa on Ryloth to save Aayla as a young girl.

Now, Aayla is Padawan to Tholme, as she has regained her memories after the events in Twilight, Darkness, and The Stark Hyperspace War. She is dressed up as a slave girl in the house of a rival to her uncle, the same uncle whom I thought Vos had killed in Twilight. I suppose I was mistaken.

Complicated Twi'lek politics meant that her uncle would surrender his rank, and influence the rest of Ryloth to hand unconditional control to a formerly-banished rival, of the Clan Fenn, because his heir was kidnapped and threatened. I find this highly unlikely, but I don't really understand the clan politics and bonds on Ryloth.

The main story comes from the Jedi point of view, however, and that is more interesting. Though Aayla is Tholme's apprentice, she ends up once again at Quinlan Vos' side for most of the book. The kidnappers are Morgukai, a nearly extinct Nikto sect who use staffs of kortosis to deflect lightsaber blades. They already beat Tholme, and as a result, kidnapped Nat Secura. I liked (and agreed with) the way Kh'aris Fenn says that it's no wonder the sect is extinct, as they fight to the death even in practice!

The trials that ensue as they track down first the Devaronian Villie, whom they know was involved, then the Morgukai and the prisoners, is more about developing the character of Aayla Secura, than it is about the action. She shows initiative and skill, as well as compassion, which may yet be her downfall, as the Morgukai take advantage of that by the end. I love the way she is always upside down in an acrobatic glide when she uses the Force to jump from one place to another. She thinks her actions through, contrary to Vos' "you over-thought" comment.

I don't have much to say about Vos. I still don't think his character is very interesting, and I'm inclined to say that he's a little over-used. As Aayla says, he associates with too much low-life scum like Villie, that I'm not sure what kind of Jedi ideals he holds.

Villie is also an overused character, appearing in an overwhelming number of these comic series. Fortunately, I'm warming up to him, especially after the truly comedic turn he pulled in The Devaronian Version.  He doesn't feel the need to apologize about anything, or explain himself to anybody. He freely admits to being part of the ploy that kidnapped the boy and Master Tholme, and can rationalize it all away. He does have a soft spot for Vos, and perhaps even Secura, though.

Behind the plan for the takeover of Ryloth, so that it can secede from the Republic is, of course, Count Dooku. Even though this story takes place six years before Attack of the Clones, the seeds of the Clone Wars have been sown for a long time. As Dooku says after this plan fails, "there are other plans". As with Attack of the Clones, I wish we had some more motivation for Dooku's actions, why he is so willing to destroy the Jedi order. He doesn't look the angry type.

Aayla and Quinlan make their way through the desert to the tower where Tholme and the boy are being held. They have a very nice quiet talk in a cave while meditating and waiting out a sandstorm. They then fight their way through the two Morgukai guards, who are always one step ahead of them. Fortunately, the Morgukai have a battle honor, which enables them to be taunted and enraged, and thus defeated. Vos take the head off one, while Aayla frees her master and cousin. I liked Aayla's comment to the boy, who expressed concern about a woman being a Jedi -"the galaxy is wider than your prejudices." Nicely done. Too bad the Republic disintegrates before Nat can truly come to power and put that lesson to use.

Somehow, after rescuing the boy, Aayla is able to get back to Quinlan right before the remaining Morgukai deals a death blow, even though they are far separated, she destroyed the controls to the door she used to escape from them earlier, and the blow that put Vos on the ground nearly unconscious was made minutes earlier, at most. What was the Morgukai doing all that time, gloating? She defeats him, and he jumps off a ledge, and though the Jedi thinks he is dead, he shows up at Dooku's hideout later.

The artwork for this book was quite engaging. I liked the way they gave us lots of facial close-ups, which allowed lots of detail to be shown. The colors were deep, shadows were well-balanced, and the contrast was well-used in each frame, especially Aayla's blue skin (of which there was lots) compared to the brown of her Jedi outfit. I must comment that Aayla's outfit is very different from any other Jedi robes we've seen. Back on the subject of the artwork, why didn't we get a cover gallery?

The only other thing that I didn't really like about this comic was the slang dialog of nearly everybody in the story. Aayla, Quinlan, and Dooku were notable exceptions, but the Morgukai, Villie and so many of the Twi'lek and other scum species that we saw couldn't speak properly. This is supposed to emphasize that they are uneducated and "not nice", but I think it was overused here.

It's no wonder that George Lucas decided to put Aayla in Attack of the Clones when he saw artwork of her. She adds a striking image to a couple of scenes in the movie. Here, after succeeding in her mission, she attains the status of Jedi Knight, while Vos becomes a Master. Yet is seems that he still needs to "find himself", as he hasn't regained any of his memories, and he shows up in The Defense of Kamino and Victories and Sacrifices as a Jedi who is close to the Dark Side. As for Aayla, she also shows up in The Defense of Kamino, and after this, I can only hope that we get to see more of her in the future.


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