This week brings us a great kid-friendly digest-sized story from The Clone Wars, in which Obi-Wan learns a lesson as he tracks down an old foe during an R&R trip.
Ever wonder what happens when our Jedi heroes manage to take a break during the Clone Wars? Well, The Smuggler's Code, a new kid-friendly digest sized comic (DarkHorse.com profile), has a great adventure as Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Ahsoka Tano are supposed to get in a little rest on a resort world. Obi-Wan encounters a fugitive that has eluded him for years, and decides that he alone must bring his target in for justice. Along the way, the Jedi gets some help from a smuggler with a reputation on the island world, and in the end, Obi-Wan is reminded that sometimes going it alone isn't as effective as asking for help.
Review: This is a fun and cartoony comic that tells a story with a straightforward moral: Don't let pride get in the way of asking for help when you need it. After spotting the Shistavenan criminal T'Mott Zoat is loose on the tropical beach world of Wielu, Obi-Wan gives chase on his own, leaving his friends behind. After capturing the Wolfman who has eluded him for 20 years, he hires Rook Pryce, a local smuggler, to transport the criminal to justice. After Zoat counteroffers, Pryce lets Zoat go, but prevents him from killing Kenobi. Once told why Zoat is a wanted man and why Obi-Wan has sworn to bring him in, Pryce tags along with Kenobi, guiding him into the local underworld scene, but Kenobi learns that Pryce has a reputation for ditching contracts for higher offers. Eventually, they reach Zoat at a crimelord's lair, and Pryce sells the Jedi out again. Anakin and Ahsoka arrive to help save the day, and all the criminals are defeated and captured, and Obi-Wan has learned that he doesn't need to be the lone wolf - he can accomplish more with friends at his side.
This tale is Justin Aclin's second Star Wars outing, and he nails the characters well - I could hear James Arnold Taylor's voice as Obi-Wan in Aclin's dialogue. Taking place during season four, likely before Obi-Wan gets more of a darker edge from the war and going undercover as Rako Hardeen, this story shows Master Kenobi with some unfinished business from his youth, and how his interactions with the solo operator, Pryce, lead him to recognize that he has grown since his younger days and is reminded of the importance of putting pride aside and asking for help. I think this lesson, combined with the kid friendly nature of the adventure, make it a perfect story for the younger crowd hungry for more Clone Wars fun. There's plenty of action with chases and close calls, with bad guys and beasts (dueling saberfish underwater!), while the violence is toned down (lightsabers are used to slice up drawn blasters, but not living beings) and the big fight scene at the end results in incapacitations and arrests. There's also a good second lesson in Rook Pryce - because he doesn't honor his contracts (going for short term gain instead), no one trusts him.
The art in The Smuggler's Code is quick and colorful and cartoony, drawn by Eduardo Ferrara and colored by Michael Atiyeh. The caricaturish style combines with the action depictions to make it feel like a classic cartoon, with cartoon physics and violence instead of the more serious fare shown in The Clone Wars series, and it works great here for the audience and the story. And the Stellar Haze, Rook's ship, is awesome - imagine the Millennium Falcon gone hot rod crazy. The bright colors fit the tropical beach world well, and bring in a lot of cool scenes where Obi-Wan uses his skills (and wits, in the case of some firefly-like glowdart bugs to get past the guards at a crimelord's base).
Overall, it's fun, light, and self-contained and I'd totally recommend this one to anyone looking for a start into Star Wars for the kids.