An abandoned temple. A clonetrooper unsure of his heritage as a copy of Jango Fett. Does the Force flow in him instead? He might find out, if only he can survive booby traps and Death Watch.
We get a new Star Wars: The Clone Wars digest out this week, perhaps helping to cushion the blow of the cancellation/winding down announcement of the animated series on TV. Defenders of the Lost Temple (Darkhorse.com profile) packs an interesting tale into its 80 pages. While the digest series tends to be more designed for kids than regular comics, fans of the show will enjoy that it stays true to the show’s ability to ask some bigger questions. This tale introduces Glitch, a clone regarded by his peers as a little odd and subpar, and Rennax Omani, a padawan unsure of her own role in the war, as part of a team sent to secure a Sith artifact sealed away in an ancient Jedi temple, but Pre Viszla and Death Watch are also interested in the lost item, rumored to give invulnerability in battle. Clone Wars goes Raiders of the Lost Ark as both teams fight for control of unspeakable power. I’m going to put the review first so not to spoil the story if you don’t want to know what happens.
Review: Defenders of the Lost Temple is an interesting one-off adventure set between seasons four and five by newcomer Justin Aclin with essentially new protagonists. (The Jedi General, B’ink Utrila, was based on an art piece in an RPG book, and later retconned to be one of the unnamed Jedi in Labyrinth of Evil.) With the recent developments at the end of season five on The Clone Wars, we see a lot of doubt in the eyes of the younger Jedi. Like the clonetroopers, they’ve been essentially groomed to fight in this war – even lead forces in it. Padawan Rennax Omani isn’t sure that serving in this war is being true to what she was meant to be, and isn’t happy that her fate has been previously chosen for her by being raised as a Jedi. Meanwhile we get a question about clones and the Force. With the Force being as mysterious and omnipresent, can a clonetrooper be sensitive to it? The ending scene and dialog feel a bit too corny or trite, but I suppose it fits the core audience of these digest trades. But the questions raised are good. And while I enjoyed the super long arcs of the TV show in latter seasons, it cut their ability to do one-offs with mostly unknown characters (yes, Pre Viszla and Bo-Katan aren’t unknowns, but they’re also the bad guys in this one, showing up late; also the Gauntlet of Kressh the Younger has its roots in the KOTOR comics), so having this appear helps to fill that void of stories about regular Jedi and clones.
The action is fun, and the art by Ben Bates is what we typically expect in the digests: not super detailed, but enough to feel both a little manga and fit with the style of the animated series. With a booby-trapped temple built into a cliff, we are at home with the Indiana Jones (or really, Scrooge McDuck) adventure theme, and the art fits that as well. There’s some great action shots with the battle with the stone guardian droid (it’s more of a statue come to life) with both the Jedi and the clones, catching their dynamic movements. The action style picks up again when Pre Vizsla pulls out his darksaber for a final showdown.
If you like The Clone Wars, this one is worth checking out.
Summary: Four clones and a Jedi general, B’ink Utrila, and her padawan, Rennax Omani, have been sent to secure the Gauntlet of Kressh the Younger, a Sith artifact locked away in a lost Jedi temple on Draay 2. As they enter the trap-filled temple, we learn a bit about the clones: Glitch thinks he has visions in the Force, while everyone else thinks he’s just slow, while Horns wears the symbol of Death Watch, Mandalore’s most dangerous, as a mark to show his own deadly prowess as a clone of Jango Fett. (Lt. Law is their leader, and Cannon is just a regular clone). After Glitch accidentally wakens a dormant guardian droid, both Horns’ grenades and Utrila’s and Omani’s lightsabers prove useless in stopping the giant. Inspired by Glitch’s attempt to use the Force, the Jedi simply telekinetically shut off the droid while the clones provide cover fire.
After successfully passing through a trapped door activated by a properly inserted lightsaber, the team enters a secret corridor, and Omani gets her master to discuss the Force, for the benefit of Glitch, listening in. The clones reach the end chamber, and Cannon accidentally rouses a swarm of armored bugs that have surrounded the gauntlet. The Jedi rush into the firefight, and Omani rescues the clones while her master tries to retrieve the relic, but senses great darkness in it, and orders a retreat. With the sarls reforming a barrier around the gauntlet, the squad retreats to the main chamber to camp and plan their next move. Unable to obtain the artifact, they must protect it from discovery.
With Utrila still shaken by the brush with the dark side, her padawan takes first watch, and summons Glitch to join her outside. The trooper inquires why Omani has been so nice to him, and she confides that being a Jedi involved in this war was not her choice, but the life she was given. He shares that he’s worried that there is something wrong with him, or worse yet: there’s nothing wrong with him. Their conversation is interrupted by an ambush of Pre Viszla and some members of Death Watch. The Mandalorians quickly disarm and lasso the pair, but Omani passes her second saber to Glitch, who escapes to alert the rest of the squad in the temple.
With the young padawan as a hostage, Pre Viszla enters the ruins and forces the Republic team’s surrender. Noticing Horns’ emblem, he challenges the clone to show his true Mandalorian mettle by killing the general. Refusing to shoot his superior, Horns gives up, and the leader of Death Watch prepares to execute him when Glitch ignites Omani’s saber. Drawing his darksaber, Viszla goads the clone into a lopsided duel. Backed into a corner, Glitch triggers the stone switch that awakens the temple guardian droid, throwing the entire room into chaos. While the clones regroup to fire on the Mandos, Utrila unties Omani, and Vizsla moves in on Glitch, calling him crazy for thinking he’s a Jedi. Realizing that he is not a Jedi, Glitch uses the saber to activate the temple’s self-destruct mechanism in the secret door, causing the structure to begin collapse. Pre Vizsla orders a jet-pack retreat, and the clones and Jedi force their way out of the temple. With two men down and the temple destroyed, preventing them from obtaining the gauntlet for themselves, Death Watch leaves. With Horns throwing away his helmet with the Death Watch emblem, the squad regroups to honor Glitch’s apparent sacrifice.
Aboard a space station, Omani bids farewell to her master, having decided to leave the Jedi Order after Glitch’s death and return home. Back in the temple ruins, Glitch emerges, having recovered the gauntlet to save him from being buried under tons of rubble. Attaching the gauntlet to a stone, he throws it into the river, disposing of it forever, and realizing that the Force does indeed flow through everything.