Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn has long served the Jedi Council and the Galactic Republic faithfully.
But his faith in the Jedi and in the Force is about to be tested…
Writer: Jody Houser
Penciller: Cory Smith
Inker: Walden Wong
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Colorist: Java Tartaglia
Cover artist: Paolo Rivera
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Publication date: December 5, 2018
The Age Republic of series has been a strange beast so far. Despite reviewing them in no particular order (there’s no visible chronology or link between the separate issues) the series so far has been a decidedly mixed bag. Age of Republic: Maul was a very straight-forward but beautifully presented issue, Age of Republic: Anakin Skywalker was a huge disappointment and Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi a delight. It was with genuine anticipation that I sat down to read about Qui-Gon Jinn – my favourite character from The Phantom Menace – hoping to learn more about this hugely important Jedi Knight whose absence from the lives of Obi-Wan and Anakin undoubtedly changed the course of history.
As with most of the stories in the Age of Republic series so far we enter mid-mission. In this instance we’re on the world of Bri’n where we join Qui-Gon and Mistress Th’er in the middle of some aggressive negotiations. Jinn has no time for this, taking Th’er away from her verdant world to the steel metropolis Coruscant, allowing them time to formulate a plan and secure her safety. She expected the Jedi to fight, but Qui-Gon explains that’s not the Jedi way.
With such an imposing presence as Liam Neeson behind the character, it’s difficult to not read the words of Qui-Gon in his voice, and that helps tremendously, especially when he is conferring with Master Yoda at the Jedi Temple. This scene is where the issue shone brightest for me, as Qui-Gon questions the merits of being called a ‘great warrior’ and asks whether the presence of the Jedi Council in the heart of the galactic capital is a wise thing. Jinn sees the Jedi as a ‘weapon of the Republic’, a view Yoda disagrees with.
It’s a brief moment that shows Qui-Gons deeper understanding of the bigger picture, and reminds us of a line spoken by Emperor Palpatine to Yoda 13 years later – “Your arrogance blinds you Master Yoda.” It’s clear that the best thing Darth Maul did for his master and the New Order project was to slay Qui-Gon Jinn. A renegade Jedi he may have been viewed as – he was a wise and respected Jedi Master but never sat on the Jedi Council – but surely he would have persuaded the council that a deeper, darker threat was imminent years before the rug was pulled from beneath their feet during Order 66.
The rest of the issue does follow a similar path to the Maul entry in the series, where Maul has a vision of a future that didn’t happen. Qui-Gon follows the path of the Force to a long-forgotten planet and allows himself to ease into the Force looking for answers. Here, utilising the living Force he is such a proponent of, he finds his answers via what looks like a bad acid trip, deducing that fighting makes the Jedi no better than the enemies they fight. He takes that to Mistress Th’er, advising her that she needs allies to survive the attacks on her home.
The issue ends at dusk as Qui-Gon and Yoda once again commune, we hit again on a deft view of the approaching storm. Qui-Gon believes the Jedi must be flexible in their interpretation of the Force, and while Yoda agrees that certainty leads to arrogance he believes they need to be rigid in their fight against the dark side. Qui-Gon ends the issue with a fascinating line. “The dark side consumes and there is no balance to be found in such a path. And what is our purpose, if not balance?”
What purpose indeed?
One thing that Marvel does, and does very well, is release variant covers that mean as a collector of Star Wars, you have to own them and the gallery of covers here are uniformly impressive. Inside, while the pages might all be the same, those covers scream ‘buy me’, and this reviewer usually does (to the detriment of my bank account and the delight of my ‘dealer’).
So, an issue that hit home with Qui-Gon sensing the imbalances that were ahead for the Jedi and the Republic. Excellent art from penciller Cory Smith and inker Walden Wong and luscious colouring by Java Tartaglia greatly helps the story by Jody Houser, and one that shows a deep understanding of Qui-Gon and the time period before The Phantom Menace, when the Jedi really were blinded by their arrogance.