Prequel Villains Return to the Limelight
While Disney’s new Star Wars canon has been inconsistent, I was still excited to read the new Age of Republic line of one-shot comics. The prequel era is an all-time favorite of mine, so I was on board for anything involving Dooku, Maul, and the rest of the prequel gang (yes, including Jar-Jar). I started out with the Villains trade paperback, and my cautious optimism was met with satisfaction.
While these comics are not mind-blowing or amazing by any standard, they succeed where they need to by adding complexity to some of our favorite villains. The issues may be brief, but these little bits still managed to develop these characters. Below, you’ll see each issue ranked from my worst to first in my opinion.
5. Age of Republic Special
My last place pick is the special issue. It’s a solid read, but the format won’t satisfy the desire to see these characters develop further off screen. Mace Windu, Asaj, Rex and Jar Jar all get some fun, yet brief stories. It’s a good issue for an relaxed afternoon, but not much else.
Of all these characters, Mace Windu has been the most underutilized in the new canon. Perhaps more possibilities will open up in the future for a great Windu comic, origin story, or even a revival post-Revenge of the Sith. This short issue with him is nowhere near that, but I think it hints at his potential.
4. Darth Maul in “Ash”
There’s a good leap up in quality here. This issue is an effective sequel to Maul’s 2017 comic, using a call-back to a great panel and carrying the same themes. Maul is impatient and thirsty for blood, but Sidious is still making him wait. This conflict leads them to the original home of the sith, where the story takes an interesting turn, as we see a cool alternate vision of Maul as a Jedi in a spectacularly drawn force vision. It’s great.
3. Jango Fett in “Training”
Jango Fett was absolutely underused in the movies. I always wanted more of him and Boba, so this issue was a pleasure to read. Here we get both generations of bounty hunters demonstrating an interesting father-son dynamic. This relationship extends throughout the issue. A flashback sequence helps you see how the Jango feels, and how he took a clone as his son.
Jango and Boba’s relationship succeeds as the best element all the way through, as Boba pulls off some impressive feats by the end of the story. My biggest complaint is that it’s only one issue. I’m sure this can be a good series.
2. General Grevious in “Burn”
Grevious is an interesting character. A vile cyborg with a mysterious past. I’ve always wanted more of him. Here, we get a taste, and it is sweet. It complexifies his character in just a short amount of time, leaving you wanting more of the mad cyborg. This is best represented when we see Grevious in his original form as a natural Kaleesh, something fans have wanted for a long time. Previous interpretations of Grevious as a Kaleesh are masked, nowhere near as vivid as this one. Go read it. Trust me. You’ll appreciate the character and want an origin story even more after the 32 pages are up.
Grevious isn’t exactly a tragic character, as he looses much more of his dignity and compassion than Vader ever came close too, but there’s still many good stories to be told with him. Evil protagonists are fascinating to audiences, and while this may sound strange, I think General Grevious could be the next Michael Corleone or maybe more of a Travis Becker.
1. Count Dooku in “The Cost”
Count Dooku has been, without a doubt, one of the strongest characters in the new canon. Why is that? Three words. Dooku: Jedi Lost. The audio drama released in April set a high standard for the character, giving him perhaps the best backstory possible. So, a one shot comic issue doesn’t quite have the potential to measure up, but interestingly, it feels like an outtake from Dooku: Jedi Lost, and it’s my favorite issue in this collection.
We see Dooku, now Darth Tyranus investigate a criminal organization on a well-designed lava planet morphing high society and volcanoes. (not just a mustafar clone). Along the way, we meet our new favorite Jedi, Jak’zin, an anthropomorphic tiger. Jak’zin’s presence makes Dooku contemplate his time as a Jedi. My favorite moment was when Jak’zin brings up Qui-gon, Dooku’s former apprentice. We see a panel of Darth Maul delivering the fatal blow. Dooku thinks he could have saved him if he were there. The regret of Qui-gon’s death must have been burdensome for Dooku, so I’m so glad writer Jody Houser found a way to include it.
Overall, its a great issue that nails the character of Dooku just as Jedi Lost did. The art is superb, the Tiger Jedi Jak’zin is a welcome addition to the aliens of Star Wars, and it gives Dooku even more shading leading up to Attack of the Clones.
Final Verdict: 82%
In conclusion, it looks like writer Jody Houser and artist Luke Ross know exactly what can be done with these characters. They continue to write and draw great stories that represent the spirit of Star Wars. I’ve been a critic of LucasFilm for the past few years, but I know when to give them credit. Thankfully, they are hiring effective storytellers for Star Wars. We’ll see how future projects turn out, but here, Marvel and LucasFilm can chalk Age of Republic – Villains up as a success.