The Age of Republic anthology series continued yet again this week with Jango Fett #1. There’s a lot of mixed feelings about this character and his counterpart Boba Fett. Despite their lack of decent writing in both of their respective trilogies, the mysterious Mandalorian bounty hunters are really interesting in concept, and any 10 year old Star Wars fan whose imagination expands beyond that of what they see on the screen probably fell in love with the potential that these characters had. While I do think that a bounty hunter movie could work, comics, books and video games are good too, and we’ve seen back in 2002 with the Bounty Hunter game for PS2 that Jango can be a really interesting and badass character (Seriously, it’s a fun game). Exploring the dark underbelly of the Star Wars world during the prequel era away from lightsabers and the Force is a mostly unexplored aspect in today’s canonical Star Wars universe, so I’m excited at the prospect of seeing what Marvel can deliver with a Jango 1 shot. I think out of all of these comics so far in this series, Jango has the largest amount of potential for a good ongoing comic book, and this may be a good place to start.
Jango #1 focuses on the growing relationship between Jango and his clone soon-to-be bounty hunter son Boba. Despite his young age, Jango takes Boba along on a bounty mission, working with a few lesser known hunters on a simple catch and deliver mission. In typical young boy edgelord fashion, Boba complains about the simplicity of their job, wanting to do something harder, have more responsibility, but it’s the fear of the unknown, Jango assures his son, that can cause the most trouble. During their bounty hunt we’re treated to some interesting flashbacks of Jango being recruited to the world of Kamino, where he’ll be compensated heavily for the use of his genetic code in the creation of a massive clone army. We know the rest. Obviously when stuff goes down it doesn’t exactly go according to plan, though Jango’s reputation obviously precedes him and Boba holds his own as well, proving his potential for the road ahead.
The next comic here in the Age of Republic series continues its trend of focusing more on relationships and the emotional side of the Star Wars universe in that of Jango and his son Boba. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting going into this, but I suppose after reading it, it makes plenty sense. I don’t hate Boba, but he’s written as a pretty unlikable character in most of his stories during the Prequel saga despite the writers seemingly trying otherwise. Jango is much softer than you would expect, and that comes with his age and his reputation. This is toward the end of his career whereas as lot of his potential for great stories lie in his earlier days earning his reputation as the best bounty hunter in the Galaxy. But maybe that’s for another time. This comic aligns more closely with what this anthology has been exploring and I wholeheartedly support that even more so than I do a story without young Boba Fett, as much as I would like to see him written way better, or removed from the picture completely. There’s still a decent Bounty Hunter story to be seen here and I think if anything it opens the gate for more to be told. Perhaps there is great potential for a father-son story with these two, but I remain that Jango is best explored as a solo character. The comic is respectable nonetheless.
(3 / 5)
The Age of Republic anthology series continues this week with Obi-Wan and Jango Fett. With 2 character predominantly in the Revenge of the Sith coming out after these two, Marvel appears to be moving through the movies, which is a pretty neat idea. Subsequently, I’ve been really surprised at the direction that these comic books have taken. Where Marvel’s previous mini-series of Star Wars comics have been mostly eye candy, action packed fun, these Age of Republic comics have really taken a slow turn to look at the inner, more spiritual and almost superstitious aspects of the Star Wars universe. Qui-Gon and Maul took deep dives into both the light and the dark sides of the force, offering new insights and aspects of a mostly unexplored but intrinsic part of the lore in this universe. From what I’ve briefly heard, Obi-Wan also is a slower more emotional look at these characters (Obi-Wan and a young Anakin) both as people, and as Jedi. Action takes a backseat here, and that’s a pretty major play for the creative teams here, because I’m not sure that’s what the core audience wants. I’m completely on board though.
Obi-Wan Kenobi #1 takes place sometime between episode 1 and episode 2. Both Anakin and Obi-Wan are young, and inexperienced in their relationship with each other. Anakin, being the, let’s say angsty, child that he is, hates being stuck at the Jedi Temple learning the ways of the Jedi in a traditional sense. He’s older, and further ahead than all of the students there. In fact, he’s pretty much killing it, and it’s obvious that it’s holding him back. Yoda, as wise and as helpful as always, suggests to Obi-Wan, despite his own doubts about the young padawan, that he bring him along on Obi-Wan’s mission to retrieve a Jedi Holocron that they’d recently learned about hidden away by some civilians on a nearby planet. Although Anakin’s trigger happy nature may get them into some trouble, Obi-Wan realizes he must trust in the young boy, and also trust in his own judgment. Qui-Gon was a different person and a different teacher, and Obi-Wan comes to an understanding with himself that he must teach Anakin in his own way, and he must be taught differently than the typical Jedi padawan, who’s been training since near infancy. Upon arriving to retrieve this old relic of the Jedi Order, the two jedi are confronted by pirates, and despite Anakin’s readiness, is nearly caught in a life-threatening situation. Obi-Wan to the rescue.
This comic was short and sweet without a ton to say. It didn’t have the emotional resonance and the spirituality that Qui-Gon had, and it didn’t have the sleekness that Maul did, but it was a genuinely enjoyable comic about a mostly unexplored period of time in the Star Wars canon. There are 10 years between episode 1 and 2 and there’s a lot of potential there to be utilized. I think this comic book shows that potential, and in it’s very small form delivers on a lot of that. Anakin is young, but not nearly as cocky and sure of himself, albiet still as whiny, as the later movies. Obi-Wan is similar, although a way better character. We mostly know Obi-Wan as the suave snarky Jedi Demi-god. He’s really strong and really smart in the later events of the prequel trilogy. Here, he’s not quite as perfect and that makes for an event better character than he already is. Obi-Wan Kenobi shows that there’s good stories to be told in this time period, but it’s far from the best comic book in this anthology series so far. I still had a good time nonetheless.
DC and Marvel have successfully utilized the concept of a multiverse, the existence of universes in parallel to our universes, for decades now. It’s useful for a multitude of reasons. It allows for slight differences in characters, universal level events that change the continuity of the comic book universe, and crazy elseworld stories. Perhaps most importantly, it means that creative teams can take their ideas and put them to comic book paper without having to worry about continuity and canon. Throwing a story into an alternate universe means unlimited potential. Characters and continuity are a playground for writers, and because the limitations of these universes are a mere shrug, the universe created by a writer can be revisited or completely thrown out without consequence. 2013’s Superior Spider-Man, largely considered to be one of the best Spider-Man stories of all time, is a product of these universal shifts and crazy changes. Now, near 6 years later, Marvel is revisiting the Superior Spider in hopes to tell another successful Superior story. It’s massive shoes to fill, and Marvel’s track record in the past few years will likely make Spider fans a little nervous.
The Superior Spider-Man in 2013 focused on Otto Octavius, better known as the Spider-Man villain Doc Ock. For a bunch of long and complicated comic book reasons, Otto switches bodies with and becomes Peter Parker. Now with memories and morals left over from Parker’s DNA mixed with his own, Otto becomes conflicted with his clashing beliefs and soon after, becomes obsessed with being a better Spider-Man than Parker was. Thus, the Superior Spider-Man was born. The Superior Spider-Man 2019 is a mostly direct continuation of the 2013 series, even though it starts back to #1 (Thanks Marvel). Otto, now going by the alias of Elliot Tolliver, a university professor, seems to have all of his stuff together. He’s by all regards better, stronger and smarter than Peter Parker. Every move is calculated both in battle and his everyday life. Parker’s remnants keep his moral compass from falling apart, and an Otto Octavius unsullied by his claimed influence that the mechanical arms had on him, is a near unstoppable genius. When faced with the scheduling dilemma Peter Parker so famously had: how to balance life with being the Spider-Man, Otto has no problems. He has no divine obligation to protect anyone. He’ll save people when convenient, and Professor when he’s needed. All seems well. Things will finally come to a head however, when he’s recognized as Otto Octavius by someone he hurt during his times as the Octopus. His past seems to be the only thing that can catch up to him, and it finally does. For the first time in the comic, Octavius seems vulnerable, and despite his claim of being a reformed man, he won’t be able to get off so easily. The sudden appearance of Terrax The Tamer, however, an old Fantastic Four villain who looks almost uncomfortably like Darkseid from DC comics, pulls Octavius away from the awkward situation with his accuser, but he won’t be able to run forever, even with those brilliant calculations of his.
It’s difficult to make any quick conclusions about this new comic run, though I’m sure comic book fanatics will have preconceived ideas regardless. The original Superior Spider-Man run was cool for a few different reasons, but one of it’s primary pulls was the ‘reformed’ Otto Octavius’s take on the Spider-Man role. His moral ambiguity and emotion-minimal take on vigilantism draws in similar ways that a character like Batman does, but even more so, Octavius’s evolution from a supervillain to a protector of the people is not only admirable, but the crux of the original run. With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see how this team takes an otherwise ‘complete’ Superior Spider-Man and makes a decent story out of it. Octavius’s character is by far the most interesting thing in this first comic, as the story is fairly nonexistent, which is mostly excusable in a first issue comic. The art, not to be ignored, is also very pretty. All-in-all Superior Spider-Man #1 is a solid relaunch of the incredibly popular series, but its shoes obviously remain to be filled. All readers can do now is wait and read, but I think and hope there are good things ahead for this new Superior Spider-Man.
(4 / 5)
Every year DC puts out 1 or 2 DC Talent Showcases: a super oversized single issue comic book displaying the new and upcoming talents the DC Comics company is attempting to grow and turn into world class comic book writers and artists. It tends to run under the $9.99 typical price point that a lot of comics this size fall into, and it’s an awesome opportunity for up-and-coming talent to show the comic book world what they’re made of in ways they weren’t able to before. It’s difficult for obvious reasons to make it in this industry. It’s small and its community isn’t exactly mainstream. New figures trying to make it into the comic world only have a few options when trying to make a name and a brand for themselves: attempt to spread your name on Twitter, go independent, or struggle your way into one of the big two (DC / Marvel). It can be a tough and unforgiving road with not a ton of exposure, but this New Talents Showcase is an awesome opportunity for a lot of these newbies to show their stuff, and it’s always an exciting read in figuring out what DC has in store for the future of their creative teams.
Showcase #1 focuses on 6, 12 page stories that showcase new artists and writers on each. The stories fall almost perfectly across the different styles and genres in the DC comic universe, and it’s apparent that each team was brilliantly assigned to a certain style and execution. These showcases are like team projects within a class. The Batman story is dark, broody and slick. Constantine’s is psychedelic and rightfully magical. Catwoman’s is sleek and sassy, Green Lantern’s (Awesomely focusing around the fan favorite Lantern John Stewart) is as sci-fi heavy as ever. Zatanna’s is graceful and fantastical, and Wonder Woman’s is powerful and unwavering. Each creative team takes the best parts of their respective characters and really runs with them, and each short comic is genuinely really good. They feel like classic return-to-roots comics, and while that doesn’t always work in an ongoing series in the modern world of comics, these stand alone comic books really do show what these teams are capable of.
I remember enjoying the Talent Showcase from last year quite a bit, but this comic book really feels like something special. All 6 stories are beautifully written and perhaps even more beautifully illustrated. You can tell there’s a ton of passion going into these, and while they’re perhaps not something as legitimate as an ongoing series issue or a massively successful indie project, these showcase comic books show a great amount of potential for these artists and writers going forward, and that’s really invigorating. Most of these people are young, and their grasp on the characters they’re writing are top notch. That alone is really reassuring for the future of DC’s comic book teams, but more than that it shows an undeniable presence of comic book talents still in love with these characters and still in love with superheroes. In the light of Image Comics’ success and the uprising of non-superhero comics over the past few years, it’s good to see these type of comics aren’t going anywhere.
(4.5 / 5)
Marvel continues their 1 hero 1 villain per month run of Age of Republic with Darth Maul #1, a perfect character to contrast the spiritual and monkish nature of Qui-Gon Jinn from last week. After such a great showing from their last comic book, this anthology series has to continue to fill its own big shoes. There’s little doubt to be had though. When Marvel wants to deliver a good Star Wars comic, they’re fully capable of doing so. Maul promises to be something different all together. Where the Qui-Gon issue felt almost entirely wholesome, Maul is, by design, a character utterly consumed by the Dark Side, one fueled entirely by the rage and the hate that they seem to love so much. With Maul #1 existing as a 1-shot continuation of the 5 issue mini series from a few months back, I have pretty high expectations of this issue, but not unreachable ones.
The first half of Maul #1 follows the Sith Apprentice as he travels disguised as a Jedi Padawan through the underbelly of Coruscant, the very Jedi Padawan he killed in his previous comic book. It’s unclear exactly what he’s doing, but it becomes quickly apparent he doesn’t really know either. Driven by bloodlust and an obsession with snuffing out the weak, he tracks down a force sensitive smuggler, pretending to work with him on a job before killing him off with ease, not leaving any witnesses or traces of his sith-killing. Palpatine isn’t quite so impressed with Maul’s sith rampaging escapades, and takes him to Malachar, a famously not-so-nice part of the galaxy Maul is all too familiar with. It’s there that this comic book takes a much darker and somber tone, and, despite being under both Marvel and Disney, shows some pretty brutal stuff. Palpatine’s lesson works, and Maul is able to focus his hatred where he otherwise could not, further becoming the more camly malicious Maul we know from the movie and the cartoons. However, it’s still clear that Maul lacks something the future Emperor is looking for, patience and utmost loyalty, and he warns his young sith apprentice, that he, not the Dark Side, is Maul’s master.
One of the few things that I mentioned when reviewing the first of the 5 issues in the Darth Maul mini series from a few months back, was that perhaps the best thing about the comic was the obvious disconnect between Maul and Palpatine. Maul is a hunter and a killer, driven almost solely by hatred of the Jedi. Palpatine, especially during the time that the Republic ruled, was painfully methodical and manipulative. These two things don’t really work together, and Maul’s impatience gets the best of him. This dynamic is once again shown really admirably in this comic book, and the annoyance Palpatine feels for his apprentice is palpable, pun intended. Similarly to Qui-Gon, this isn’t a particularly action packed, red lightsaber swinging adventure, it’s a deep dive into who Maul is as a character and as a creature corrupted by the Dark Side, which I think is really cool. It’s always a risk to not go the eye-candy route, and so far they’re 2 for 2 on these Age of Republic comics. As much as I enjoy watching Lightsaber sparks fly, the Force is an incredibly interesting and far too unexplored topic. This is the second comic in a row that visions and the mysteriousness of the Force have been core aspects of character development, and I’m so in on that. Maul continues to lift Age of Republic up high, and while I don’t think the Qui-Gon comic is beatable, Maul is a worthy addition to a hopefully flawless anthology series.
(4.5 / 5)
There are a countless number of reasons the Star Wars Prequel movies fell short of being good. By now most of us can list them off the top of our heads. This is a reality that Star Wars fans have faced for years now. And yet, there are sequences and characters scattered throughout all three movies that make Star Wars fans remember why they keep going back. If you wade through the truly unwatchable romance scenes and some of the borderline braindead decisions George Lucas made while writing / directing these movies, there is a certain amount of charm, adventure, and action packed excitement that makes the kid in all of us, especially those that grew up with Star Wars, giddy. There’s also a respectable storyline hidden beneath others. The political intrigue, questionable character alignments, and the unpredictability of how Lucas attempts to connect all the dots he created in the originals are all worthwhile traits of the prequel movies. Qui-Gon Jinn is a primary reason to watch Episode 1. It’s the first time George Lucas steps away from the black-and-white nature that often was Star Wars, and most other movies of the 20th century. There wasn’t just an ultimate hero (Luke) and an ultimate villain (The Emperor / Vader) anymore. Qui-Gon was a good guy that existed to question the moral fabric of the other good guys (The Jedi Order). While characters like Han Solo did fill a morally neutral void in the world, there was still a spot to be filled. Jinn presented a new side of the coin, and thus, a new side of the Star Wars movie universe. He wasn’t just a nod to fans of the EU, those that read the novels / comics and played the video games, he was the first true exploration into a world where, until him, Force users were basically wholly good, or wholly evil. That’s what made the character so incredibly likable, especially by today’s storytelling standards. This comic, part of an anthology of Star Wars comics called Age of Republic, seeks to continue that line of character development and show even more of Qui-Gon in his prime, ever controversial, always pushing the Order’s buttons a bit more than they’d like.
Qui-Gon #1 focuses primarily on Jinn’s constant inner turmoil: What does it mean to be a Jedi in the Order, and does it conflict with being true to the nature of the Force? While the galaxy is seeped in conflict, the Jedi are used as great defenders and warriors of the Republic. Jinn sits with Yoda after returning from a mission where he’d saved a Priestess from her obvious demise. He’d chosen to run and escape with her, rather than kill her attackers. Most other jedi would have stayed to fight. Yoda in his always wise, but ever cryptic ways, understands Qui-Gon’s doubts, but cannot wholeheartedly side with Qui-Gon’s actions. Although he reaffirms that Qui-Gon’s decisions are not bad ones, he tells the perhaps even more spiritual Jedi Master that he must find understanding within himself and within the force. Qui-Gon agrees. With the force and instinct guiding him, he sets off to learn more, and strengthen his bond with the force in ways many other Jedi hadn’t done before him.
This comic book is both visually and emotionally stunning. In an extremely action packed universe filled with lightsaber fights and ship battles, the force is a mostly unexplored aspect of the lore. Forget midichlorians, this comic book is all about the spiritual aspect of the Force, and its ever growing connection to Qui-Gon as a Force user first, and a Jedi of the Order second. There are no massive revelations in this comic book. It’s a calm, simple and peaceful story about Qui-Gon in a lifelong journey to find peace within the Force, and to do good. The two conversations between Yoda and Qui-Gon, one near the beginning of the comic, and one at the very end, are perfect representations of these characters, and an awesome showing of the potential that the Force has as a mysterious entity of this universe. There’s so much to tell and so much to show with this character, and with the EU being taken out of canon, Qui-Gon is still an almost completely untouched aspect of these new storylines, say for the movies. With a novel on its way written by the best Star Wars writer currently in the lineup, Qui-Gon Jinn #1 is a flawless tease into the potential of this character, and an amazing standalone story. It’s a quick read, and it’s well worth your time. Check it out.
(5 / 5)