This week’s Star Wars comics reviewed by GONK: Jedi – The Dark Side #5 (the finale), and Knight Errant – Deluge #2.
GONK, your friendly power droid here, to check out this week’s offerings:s two new Star Wars comics from Dark Horse. As always, these reviews have spoilers!
Star Wars: Jedi – The Dark Side #5
Civil war erupts on Telos IV in the fifth and final issue of Star Wars: Jedi – The Dark Side. Mourning his daughter Nason’s loss, Lord Crion pushes forward with his plans to crush rebellious groups, and recruits his son, Xanatos, Qui-Gon Jinn’s padawan, to his side. Dairoki, Crion’s agent in formenting the rebels before being cast aside, visits minister Hukowl and reveals Crion’s orchestration of the war before the Ithorian kicks him out. As violence rocks the capital’s streets, Hukowl and Qui-Gon piece together the plot, and Hukowl reveals Crion’s machinations on the media, and calls for ousting their leader. Hoping to retrieve Xanatos, Qui-gon enters the palace, and comes under attack by Crion and his guards. When the padawan Orykan gets cornered by Crion, Qui-Gon pushes the governor off the ledge, to his death in a large fire. Enraged, Xanatos attacks his master and Orykan. While taunting and berating Qui-Gon, Xanatos brands his cheek with his father’s ring. Before the fight can conclude, rebel forces storm the palace courtyard, claiming Crion’s body as a trophy. In the confusion, Qui-Gon loses track of Xanatos. Shortly after as Telos IV stabilizes, while traveling on his own, Qui-Gon contacts the Jedi Council and admits to killing Crion and losing his lightsaber, and claims that Xanatos died with his sister.
What an ending! Qui-Gon’s mission to Telos IV turned into a complete disaster – what started off as an investigation into an assassination ends in violence in the streets, regicide, and losing a padawan to vengeance. The first issue started with Xanatos and Qui-Gon sparring in the Jedi Temple, and this issue brings it full circle with a real lightsaber duel in the fiery courtyard of the palace. While the story of the Telos IV plot ends, there’s still some unanswered questions: where is Qui-Gon going at the end, since he refuses to come home? I’m guessing he needs some moral guidance after this debacle, and ever the maverick, won’t seek it from his Jedi superiors – most likely he’ll touch base with Tahl, sent away on her own mission in the previous issue. Or is he tracking Dairoki? Apparently Obi-Wan will learn something about “certain point of view” reporting from his master on this issue: “There were attacks on the palace. Xanatos died with his sister” fits pretty close to “Vader betrayed and murdered your father” – although you’d think Obi-Wan would think better about misrepresenting deaths, considering he has to deal with a grown-up evil Xanatos.
What I liked – Xanatos, in his battle with Qui-Gon, lashes out physically and verbally. Already on edge from his sister’s death, and now watching his master kill his father, Xanatos is nothing but raw hate, twisting Qui-Gon’s lessons around. Some good dialogue here by Scott Allie. I also enjoyed Hukowl’s attack on Dairoki in his quarters – while Hukowl is physically an Ithorian, he’s culturally Telosian (though the best art in that sequence is Dairoki tripping the minister to make his escape). Even with the knowledge that Lord Crion was going to fall, and Xanatos would leave the Jedi, the story played out well, with the addition of the collapse of Crion’s plans when Hukowl goes public with the plot. The story has a definite thematic color palette – the palace has lots of pastel blues and purples to contrast with Qui-Gon’s green blade and then the fiery backdrop for Crion’s unintentional pyre. I also enjoyed the artwork of the argument between Crion and Xanatos at the beginning of the issue. When the battle of words turns to silence, Mahmud Asrar’s characters continue the dialogue non-verbally. The only thing I wasn’t too sure of was Orykan. She’s clearly only along on this trip to serve as a weak spot (and source for a spare lightsaber) for Qui-Gon, and after the situation resolves, Qui-Gon ditches her and has Hukowl call her a cab home. Overall, I felt like we got a great picture of this key event in Qui-Gon Jinn’s life. With an action-packed finale, we see Qui-Gon wrestle with more than he can handle as Telos IV spirals out of control and his allies leave — or turn against him.
Star Wars: Knight Errant – Deluge #2
The story in Knight Errant – Deluge heats up with the second issue. The lone Jedi in Sith space, Kerra Holt, has just teamed up with Devil Squadron, a fighter group working for Grace Command, a private relief organization. After blasting Lord Daiman’s defenders away on Aquilaris, they distribute food and supplies to the liberated workers – though not all want food. Kerra’s friend Joad, like several others, is addicted to the Deluge drug. Tired of fighting the Sith on her own, Kerra begs Captain Jenn Devaad to let her join the squadron. Kicked out of his quarters by the pilots, Joad overhears Jenn and her pilots talking about their real objective, but in the morning, he’s too zoned out to inform Kerra before she takes off. As the squadron and the command ship leave Aquilaris, they encounter a single fighter with Zodoh the Hutt aboard. Giving chase, the squadron is lured back to Zodoh’s command ship, which launches its own squadrons to engage the Devils. Sensing a larger trap, Kerra manages to pull the Squadron away, just as a fleet of Zodoh’s stormdriver ships arrive. Zodoh reveals his plan to bring the Sith worlds into his domain – by using a network of stormdrivers to flood the planet, and he’s going to demonstrate his weapon system on Aquilaris.
This issue is packed with starfighter action, reminding me of the old X-Wing series. Devil Squadron’s got some slick new craft, Fire Lotus fighters, which definitely evoke the X-wings from the classic trilogy. It starts with a little action (and a short bit of what life under Lord Daiman is like) as they mop up Sith defenses, and swings into the relief work, and then ends with a big asteroid chase, and fight with Zodoh’s forces, while setting up the story of who Devil Squadron is, and how Zodoh is raising the stakes for Sith and our heroes alike. Zodoh is a fine villain for this story, the Hutt who wants to muscle in on Sith space, and is a lead-from-the-front fighter pilot. The comic has changed art teams for this issue. The first issue had Ivan Rodriguez’s heavily detailed shadowed lines and Michael Atiyeh’s washes of color, while in this second issue, Iban Coello and Sergio Abad (and Atiyeh on colors) bring a little bit softer feel, with a little bit of a manga flair, and it is most noticeable with Kerra and the other characters, and in the starfighter combat. It works well with the space battles, with motion lines and contrails to show changes in direction. Kerra is not as tensely drawn, and that fits with her new joy at getting a victory, and realizing that she is no longer a solo operator. But Joad looks a bit more like Shaggy from Scooby Doo now. Zoinks! With the slightly manga feel, the helmeted pilots of the Devils reminded me a bit of Voltron or Robotech.
I’m pleased with John Jackson Miller’s story and pacing for this issue, and once I got used to seeing Kerra with a slightly different style, I think the art works well here too, especially in space. There’s a great shot of a fighter being chased by two spiraling missiles that brings back memories of the battle over Coruscant in Revenge of the Sith. But how long will Aquilaris remain free and dry? What will Kerra do when she finds out Devil Squadron’s other objective? I’m eagerly waiting to find out. Usually there’s not much one person can do against a rising flood, but there’s hope when that one person is a dedicated Jedi.