Star Wars: Age of Republic Special #1
Master Mace Windu is known far and wide as one of the Jedi Orders most formidable warriors. But what the enemies of the Republic DON’T know about Mace could be their undoing….
After narrowly surviving Count Dooku’s betrayal and the destruction of her people by the Separatists, the fearsome Asajj Ventress is forging a new path. She may no longer be a dark apprentice but she’s as deadly and determined as ever….
Captain Rex leads his fellow Clone soldiers in valiant battle against the Separatist droid armies. And what better ally to have in the defence of the noble Galactic Republic than…Jar Jar Binks?!
Written by: Marc Guggenheim, Jody Houser, Ethan Sacks
Art by: Carlos Gomez, Paolo Villanelli, Caspar Wijngaard
Cover by: Rod Reis
Page Count: 35 Pages
Release Date: January 16 2019
To accompany the Age of Republic mini-series, Marvel have given us a Star Wars Tales style selection of three short stories, featuring a trio of lead characters that couldn’t be any more different. Let’s look at the first story.
We kick off with ‘The Weapon’, a pre-The Phantom Menace era story that does a good job of shining a light on the state of decay that the galaxy finds itself in before Palpatine begins to make his play. On the planet of Oosalon, was first seen in the second season of Star Wars Rebels, we find Mace Windu captured by young freedom fighters, or terrorists as Windu calls them. Taken away as children by Guatakko the Grim to fight in a local war, they can’t see any other way of life. Mace, having travelled the galaxy and seen much of its inequality, believes there has to be a better way.
The story is intriguing, brief though it is, as it shows a glimpse of the lawlessness that runs rife on the fringes of the galaxy, far from the opulent security of the interior. We see the selfishness of the self-appointed rulers, the Temple of Doom manner in which they hold control over their people. Knowledge is power and these rulers use that to their own ends, and while Mace is – on the face of it – their captive, we as the reader know that he is anything but helpless. Guatakko may believe he has evaded the Jedi ‘searching’ for Windu, but we know far better than that, and as Mace re-assembles his broken lightsaber and takes down his opponent, the confidence – arrogance? – of the Jedi and their stewardship of the galaxy at this time becomes apparent. It might be decades until Anakin Skywalker utters the words ‘All too easy‘ when he believes he has trapped his son in carbonite on Bespin, but it’s clear that the Jedi in this era feel their galactic missions are simple tasks. Just as Quia learns that there is no escape from the scales of justice, so the Jedi will learn that their greatest ally – the Force – has its own scales to balance.
The second story, ‘Sisters’, takes us right back into the interior during the Clone Wars as Asajj Ventress, now claiming bounties for a living accepts a potentially life-ending job hunting down the young padawan Ahsoka Tano, but don’t be fooled into thinking we see a classic showdown between these two adversaries. Instead, Ventress stumbles across a local dispute between two hungry anime creatures who are being threatened by a hulking alien. It might not be any of her business – and we know Asajj is far from sentimental – but memories of her own tough upbringing are enough to prompt her into action, defending the pair and costing the alien brute his arm.
Here, as opposed to the first tale, we learn little about the era – presumably this is set around the time of The Wrong Jedi in The Clone Wars fifth season when Ahsoka went on the run. It gives Ventress a moment to be a benevolent hero, something we always enjoyed from this delicious character, but for the most part it’s a 5 minute encounter that, while beautifully drawn by Carlos Gomez and Dono Sanchez-Almara, doesn’t advance the character or the story but does give us a snapshot of the dangers on the lower levels of Coruscant.
The final entry in this special issue -‘501 Plus One’ – is firmly rooted in the timeline, 22 years before the Battle of Yavin at the start of the Clone Wars as we meet Anakin Skywalker and Captain Rex on Arantara before mud-hopping to the Battle of Mimban where Rex and Jedi Master Laan Tik lead the assault against the Separatists. However, there’s a flewt in the ointment as a certain clumsy Senator from Naboo is running across the battlefield, assuming command of the 501st after Master Tik’s death.
Vastly outnumbered and with a generator to knock out, Rex orders his men to pull out as he attempts to take down the shield himself, but Jar Jar is having none of it, bringing Master Tik’s lightsaber and cutting down the enemy battle droids. Together they attack the enemy, running Butch and Sundance style towards their foes. Sure, we don’t see the end result, but that matters little – spoiler alert, they both survive – that’s not the aim of this story.
The opening panels show Anakin explaining to Rex that ‘a true leader always leads from the front’, regretting that he himself hadn’t led the assault on Arantara. Rex clearly takes this to heart – we all know how unflinchingly brave CT-7567 can be – and despite Jar Jar’s uncoordinated ways, Rex can see that Binks is every bit the leader he is. He could have taken the Exfil shuttle off Mimban that rex ordered, but instead he came alone to find Rex and fight alongside him. Jar Jar may have suffered two decades of derisive comments, but this highlights the steel within that rubbery frame.
Hats off to the artwork in this story, with beautifully crafted pages by artist Caspar Wijngaard and colourist Cris Peter, as well as the selection of variant covers. Marvel certainly know how to present their books with a flourish.
So, an enjoyable entry in the Age of series, and here’s hoping that the Age of Rebellion and Age of Resistance series also roll out their own specials. Short stories they may be, but when done right they are well worth the investment of time.