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A graphic novel by Ron Marz and Ted Naifeh (2002, Dark Horse Comics)
Book 2 of a Bounty Hunter duology
27 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Two bounty hunters attempt to stop a madman with a device that could destroy Coruscant.



Read on August 25th, 2006 for the second time  
    I didn't feel that I gained much more from this story compared to what I wrote below, but I seemed to enjoy it a little more. As I mentioned below from my first reading, the dialog was snappy, the artwork was good, with some terrific style choices (from my point of view), and that made up for a lackluster story. My favorites were the quiet moments, like Zam talking about orphans, about how they do their job killing people who most likely deserve to die anyway. Or like the Jedi Poof, who rescues a young boy from a gang by projecting an image of a rancor. The banter between Jango and Zam was fun, too, especially their ongoing joke about Zam being a lady.  


2+ stars+

Read on October 19th, 2002  
    A standard super-weapon story, but with excellent artistic style and fairly good characterization.

Whereas we learned more about Jango Fett in his graphic novel, this story is more generalized. Jango and Zam form a major part of the story, but it is also split between the villains and the Jedi.

What we really learn about Zam and Jango is that they have some compassion. I don't know the characters enough to say if that makes sense. For their profession, it doesn't, and certainly must make the job more difficult. If Jango really is an orphan (the argument that made him change his mind), then does he agonize over every orphan he creates just doing his job?

I wish we knew how Zam came by the information that she has about Coruscant. Clearly she has better informants than the Jedi. She convinces Jango to come help save Coruscant with her, because the person for whom they recovered the idol in the last book is going to use it to destroy the planet.

It's a ho-hum story that has been done in way too many incarnations in the Star Wars universe to date. Why go with it again? I think we should really ban weapons that can destroy anything larger than a starship from being told as a Star Wars story in the future. That should be the realm of the Emperor only.

It doesn't even have enough time to come off decently, either. Jango and Zam arrive on Coruscant, use logic to find out where the bad general is going to use the device, and get into a shoot-out, helping the Jedi kill all of those involved. The only part that was really interesting was Zam's ability to change shape, such as taking on the appearance of the Dug from the last book, in order to get some information. We don't even know how they find the right area.

The evil general, Ashaar Khorda, is hoping to destroy the capital of the Republic because it humiliated him, quelling an uprising on his home planet and restoring the government he tried to topple. Using the force-concentrating idol recovered by Jango last book, he plans to set it to explode along a relay deep inside the planet, releasing Force-energy beyond anything anybody has ever seen, thus destroying Coruscant. Everybody assumes that his information is correct and that it will behave as he says it will. I am not sure why.

The general and his entourage make their way into the relay station, leaving a trail that anyone could follow, with dead guards everywhere. The shootout with Jango and Zam kills many of them, and the Jedi takes care of the rest. But it is too late -he has "activated" the idol, setting it to explode. Why couldn't he have just shot it with a blaster? And what did he expect to achieve if it did work, anyway? He would have been killed as well. Would his revenge have been sufficient if he didn't get to witness the aftermath? For this kind of character, I don't believe it.

As for the Jedi, the Council cannot find the threat, which seems like writer's contrivance. How, then, did they narrow it down to three planets? The story seems to say "who cares"!

We follow Yarael Poof, the long-necked Jedi who was absent from the Jedi Council in Episode II -and now we know why. He goes to the deep city of Coruscant's under levels, and has a really touching scene with a boy about to be bullied by a gang. He makes his way to the relay at the same time as Jango, Zam, and the general. He gets some cool fighting moments before he is stabbed, his attention taken by the idol, which is about to explode. He goes down, and uses his life energy to fuse the idol's Force shields back to rigidity before it explodes.

I was impressed by most of the dialog in this book. The exception usually came from Jango, who gets stupid lines like "he saved Coruscant" and so on. Jango also seems to be on par with Boba Fett in the Return of the Jedi era, that is -not so great a fighter. He gets hit quite often, and goes down again and again. It's amazing that this character could face off with Obi-Wan on Kamino.

The other stupidity comes from the Jedi Council, who seem to have access to the writers' mind. They know that whoever took the idol returned it to a safe place, never to harm anyone again. Huh? It happens to be true, but on what basis? Could the idol have not fallen off the ledge as it almost did? It would have been just as gone from the scene. The part of the story where Zam and Jango take it back to Seylott, and learn that the people will soon die out -and with them knowledge of the idol- is supposed to tidy up the ending, so that nobody could get their hands on it again. Yeah, sure.

I really enjoyed the bookends to this story, which take place on Kamino. I like Boba Fett as a kid, especially the way he plays ball with his father, and greets him when he returns again. (I also liked Jango's hat in the rain, there!) There seems to be some sort of romance brewing by the end of this book between Jango and Zam; too bad it was cut short by Obi-Wan and Anakin.

Finally, I really liked the artistic style of this book. The art was not always to my liking -it seems to get better and then worse in waves. However, there were some excellent choices for the layout, for example with a bust of Zam or Jango talking, seemingly plucked from another panel. Everything was very well defined for the most part, making it much, much better than the art in Jango Fett. The colors were very vibrant as well, making for a pleasant reading experience.

It really looks to me like Zam is the better bounty hunter. Jango is cool-looking, but doesn't appear to be great at doing what he must. His son will be much better. As for the story, it's been done so many times that I wasn't very interested. Fortunately, the characters were fairly interesting, and the art was excellent.


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