My hiatus from the Age of the Republic anthology series was never going to last. I won’t lie to you, I did get a little tired of reviewing them week after week, so I took a little break, but I was so eager to see and talk about this comic book specifically, figuring I could skip reviewing Padme. She’s an interesting enough character when written properly, but Grievous in concept is a really cool character. On top of that, Age of the Republic’s more mundane and psychological approach to storytelling might be challenged with a character like Grievous who has been shown in recent memory to be a somewhat two-dimensional character: bad dude with 4 lightsabers. That being said, originally Grievous was an extremely powerful badass with a mysterious backstory. This comic could go either direction with him, and having absolutely no idea where or when Grievous #1 takes place makes me eager to see what kind of route they take this coughing cyborg separatist who’s always had a soft spot in my heart.
Grievous #1 follows the mechanical menace hunting Jedi deep in the jungle world of Ledeve which is, as far as I know, a new planet in the Star Wars universe. We get to see a very old Clone Wars-esque Grievous here, proving to be an unbeatable monster by mercilessly and easily striking down the Jedi in his path with their own weapons. His goal: a Jedi temple hidden away among the trees on this planet. While it remains a bit of a mystery what exactly he’s after besides the utter destruction of ancient Jedi remnants we do get to see his arsenal of built-in tools and abilities that make him such a force to be reckoned with. Despite booby traps and various other means of keeping intruders out of the temple, Grievous simply can’t be stopped with his mechanical body ready to climb any walls or make any jump. When confronted by an ancient force spirit however he’ll be stopped in his tracks and put to the test. Little does this entity know, Grievous has the entire Separatist army on its back door.
There’s a couple of really awesome things worth mentioning about General Grievous #1. The writer finds a perfect balance between the Clone Wars Grievous from 2003 (the overpowered Jedi killer widely considered to be the best iteration of the character) and the actual movie Grievous who’s much more politically focused and cowardly. It’s incredibly refreshing to see Grievous in his old form again completely destroying Jedi and claiming his vast superiority despite not being able to use the Force. That being said, the writer makes a couple of really great choices I won’t spoil that will likely remind you of the movie version of the character, and it manages to be equally awesome. The creative team here managed to provide such fine amount of fan service while keeping the character real, and that’s really respectable. Additionally somehow this comic still manages to follow a lot of the same themes that Age of the Republic has been following. The spiritual side of the Force makes yet another appearance in this comic albeit feeling a little forced. I still dig it. This comic is awesome. It feels like a tease and a taste of what a General Grievous comic series could be when written correctly, and I really want it. It’s way, way too short though. Can’t have it all I guess.
(5 / 5)
For a couple of years now I’ve widely considered Boom! Studios to be among the best in the comic book world. Stories like Diesel and Mech Cadet Yu are some of my absolute favorite comic reading experiences, but the major downside to Boom! unlike the big three of DC, Marvel and Image is their lack of quantity. Most Boom! comics aren’t my style and on top of that, the sheer amount of comics they’re putting out just isn’t that high, so comics I love coming out of this company are few and far between. It does however, create more personal hype when a comic like this new Ronan Island miniseries gets announced by the same writer as Mech Cadet Yu. A Feudal Japan storyline in Booms!’ recognizable art style is a total dream come true, so naturally I was instantly on board. I held high hopes for Ronan Island going in, as everyone deserves at least one good wholesome Boom! Studios comic in their life.
The exact location of Ronin Island is a bit of a mystery, but one thing becomes quickly clear: the world has been laid waste to by the Great Wind, which sounds like a massive world-scale war, or perhaps a natural disaster of epic proportions. Regardless, the world has been scattered and ruined, and Ronin Island houses some of the last remnants of tradition and people from Japan, China, and Korea all living together. With a little effort, they’re able to maintain their differences and cultures while also growing together as a single people. Our two main characters: Kenichi and Hana are very different from each other. Kenichi is, I assume Japanese. He comes from a line of Samurai in a wealthy traditionalist family. Hana is an orphaned Korean, who spent her younger years doing farm work. Both are tested in this first issue to prove their worth as warriors of their people and protectors of the island, though their testing is quickly interrupted by an invader: a self proclaimed Shogun who seeks their integration back into the mainland. Doubtful of mainland’s resurgence after the Great Wind, the island’s elders are forced to make a choice: parley with this new foreign entity, or send him back to where he came from and refuse the deal.
There are a few things worth mentioning about Ronin Island, specifically the art style which breaks away just enough from the Boom! norm to look unique while still fitting loosely into that mold. The concept of Ronin Island and its lore that’s set up in this comic is surprisingly well handled despite its lack of text heavy pages. Much of the story is learned through making inferences through the light dialogue, and with a story as simple as Ronin Island I think that’s the best way to handle it. The main characters aren’t exactly award-winningly interesting, but it’s still early in the comic, and much of this first issue focuses on world building rather than deep-diving into the two mc’s. The dynamic between the two is likely what’ll draw your attention, and I think Pak handles their few moments together so far pretty admirably. I have no idea where this comic is really going by the end of it, but it’s art and its world building was good enough to draw me back in, so I look forward to the next 4 issues here, hopefully continuing the same trend.
(4 / 5)
I know I’m a little (lotta) late to the party on this one, but I think this comic deserves some of my attention. I’ve always been a big fan of the young superhero teams in the DC comicsverse. I’ve always found them to be far superior to Marvel’s, and I think that’s part in due to the god level animated television shows that DC was consistently putting out in the late 90’s and 2000’s. Young Justice, Teen Titans, Titans, etc. have all had their miracle runs over the years, and I think there’s a ton of characters on these teams that we remember fondly and always return to. People in their 20s and 30s grew up watching/reading Teen Titans and Young Justice so I think the younger audience is always ready for more of that young adult comic book content. I’ve always been a Robin fanboy myself, so seeing characters like Dick and Tim return to the teams they were so renowned for during the turn of the century is genuinely exciting. I do have some reservations about Bendis, who’s spearheading this ‘Wonder Comics’ line featuring the younger generations of DC heroes, but Gleason, the new YJ artist, is perhaps my favorite artist of all time, so I was ready to finally jump in and see what the new series had to offer.
Young Justice #1 follows the reforging of the team with a couple of new faces and some very familiar ones. There’s a bit of spoilery in the lineup, so I’ll avoid any names, but the cover will obviously give you a decent idea. An alien invasion by a group of Gem soldiers from Gemworld, an old DC universe that I don’t think has really made an appearance since the 20th century is good cause for the Young Justice team to meet up. It’s unclear why they’re all in the same place at the same time, or what really even sparked the return of some of the characters otherwise forgotten by the New 52 continuity reboot, but they’re here and they’re teaming up once again to put a stop to these evil-doers. What better than an invasion of low tier enemies for a team’s introduction comic to clean up, ey? In natural DC style, the various heroes new and old seem to easily defeat the Gems in question, but as Robin unintentionally learns, there’s more to this invasion than a simple declaration of war and a petty attempt to conquer the planet, so it seems there’s development to come with this Gemworld callback. Robin has no choice but to reforge the previously broken team and tackle this new threat.
It’s very unclear whether Bendis was supposed to keep this comic book in continuity or not. It seems like a very loose yes, and I’m not sure how I feel about that in general. While I do think DC was trying too hard during the New 52 era to keep everything strictly in line with their new continuity, Bendis also shouldn’t be allowed to retcon and shrug off everything that doesn’t fit his vision. Apparently, that’s Bendis’ style, so I suppose it’s time to get used to it. Regardless, the writing felt littered with plot holes at times, and it kind of felt like we’re expected to just not question anything and enjoy the comic. I personally think that’s lame Writers should find a balance between playfully ignoring continuity problems and adhering to them. I’m not sure bendis is doing that here. Story and decision making aside though, it’s the characters and Gleason’s art that really carry this comic book to the level that it’s at. Individually the members of the Young Justice team are still really enjoyable, and there’s some great throwback moments to the old days. Gleason’s vibrant and almost childish art style has some grittier style to it here, and as always, it’s unbearably good. My reservations remain about Bendis even now. There’s a reason he left Marvel with a questionable reputation, however, I’m completely willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. I look forward to seeing him hopefully prove naysayers wrong. With a comic like Young Justice, he better not prove them right.
(4 / 5)
The late and great Christopher Lee is one of my all time favorite actors, and despite the shortcomings of the prequel Star Wars movies, Lee’s involvement as the old and wise Sith Lord Count Dooku isn’t one of them. Despite his minimal screen time, Dooku has one of the more interesting lores in the prequel movies: A Jedi Master who decided to leave the order and pursue his own path away from the growing corruption of the Republic. Despite his fall into the dark side of the Force, Dooku was one of the few, like Qui-Gon, to see the issues blooming within the Jedi Order. Called Count Dooku now within in the timeline of the prequels I was eager to hear that this comic book takes place between Episode 1 and Episode 2, when Dooku was simply considered a man no longer a Jedi Master. It’s not until Obi-Wan discovers Dooku’s involvement with the Sith that we learn of his true intentions. This meant something important already before going in: that this comic book would likely follow the Age of Republic’s pattern of less action packed comic books by telling of a supposedly diplomatic Dooku secretly working under Lord Sidious, his Sith Master, and secretly planting the seeds of corruption as they slowly put together Sidious’s master plan of overthrowing the Republic. What better for a more psychological and slow comic book anthology than to present a story about the cunning and diabolical Count Dooku?
Dooku #1 begins with the Count landing on Sullust in what the reader can only assume is a diplomatic mission of sorts. His intentions are originally unclear though it becomes quickly obvious that there is an ulterior goal here for the still uncovered Sith Lord. Unexpectedly, while meeting with the Sullustan representative, Dooku runs into a young Jedi Knight who recognizes him on the street. Uncertain about the Jedi’s mission on the planet and what how exactly he wants to deal with his presence there, Dooku invites him to dinner, to which the star struck Jedi Knight couldn’t refuse. With a little sprinkle of manipulation and some heart warming talk about his now passed old apprentice Qui-Gon Quinn, Dooku manages to uncover the Jedi Knight’s purpose on Sullust: a discover and report mission issued by the Jedi Council to find a group that Dooku just so happens to be looking for as well: a crime syndicate working in the Sullust underworld. Dooku sees his opportunity, and involves himself, a win-win for dealing with both this gang and the Jedi Knight. Now it’s up to Dooku to play along with the ever naive Jedi while maintaining his facade until the right time.
This is the perfect kind of comic theme for Count Dooku. Despite his skills with a lightsaber and his proficiency with the dark side, Dooku exhumes intelligence and nobility. He’s a professional manipulator and in many ways a politician. This slower style of comic book that’s focused more around the war-torn political landscape that the prequel movies tried (and succeeded in many ways) to implement works impeccably. This isn’t a time of Dooku’s life that’s explored. The Clone Wars cartoon gave us a lot of Sith Lord Dooku, which I really loved, but these early days of the Jedi-turned-Sith political idealist are something I never knew I wanted, and now I just want more. Dooku deserves more spotlight. He’s an old character with a lot of life to tell stories around. Hopefully Marvel doesn’t sleep on this, because this is one of the best Age of Republic comics yet.
(5 / 5)
When Jeff Lemire began his work on Old Man Logan, Marvel fans were graced with one of the grittiest, most stylish comic books of the modern world, especially by Marvel standards. Every once in a while the company really puts out something great, and for the more violent and dark friendly fans of the company, both Wolverine and Jeff Lemire were wonderful choices in providing that style of read. For a couple of years Old Man Logan took on a life of its own. It was basically an elseworld story, truly focusing in on itself and telling its own thing slightly adjacent to any major events happening within the Marvel continuity, and while I think the comic book really fell off when Lemire moved onto other projects there was really a golden period of that series that I believe will go down in history. Naturally, as Marvel does, the milking of the Old Man concept ensued, and we got Old Man Hawkeye, which I didn’t read, and now Old Man Quinn. It’s not to say these comic books weren’t good. I think Hawkeye was fairly well received but I’m skeptical after the utter success that was the Logan comic. Quill is a weird choice for this line of storytelling, and that’s what pulled me toward this comic where Hawkeye otherwise hadn’t.
Old Man Quill #1 seems to pick up in modern day (though I’m not caught up with current GotG antics). Quill is the Emperor of Spartax, a storyline Marvel really seems to be riding-or-dying with for a while now. The Guardians are essentially disbanded, and its Star Lord’s duty to protect his planet and save his people, primarily from the Church of Truth, a tyrannical intergalactic religious organization run by a bunch of evil psychopaths. Until recently, Quill was able to hold off these fanatics and protect the planet, until he’s eventually outsmarted and accidentally allows the utter destruction of Spartax and its people by focusing all his forces on one side of the planet, leaving the other exposed for complete annihilation. Upon suffering this utter defeat, Quill becomes nearly inconsolable, hellbent on living out his days on his ship hovering above his failure of a planet. Years later however, when a much older Guardians of the Galaxy arrive at his ship in order to pull him out of his drunken slump, they recruit him to re-complete the Guardians and take down the Church once and for all.
Quill isn’t nearly as stylized or intelligently written as Old Man Logan’s first issue and setup, that much is pretty clear throughout reading the comic book, but there is a few things to appreciate here. Once again readers are giving a sort of elseworld story. Regardless of its role in the continuity, Old Man Quill takes place isolated entirely from the main storylines of the Marvel comic book world and I think in both DC and Marvel comics that’s always refreshing. Seeing an old Guardians of the Galaxy comprised entirely of Guardians every reader at this point is going to know and love was really cool. They’re not as quick and quirky in their old age. They’re slower, more serious, and angry with the galaxy and that makes for an interesting dynamic you’d probably otherwise not see when it comes to The GotG’s borderline requirement to never take itself too seriously, especially when thinking about the movies. This comic does feel a little bit read-before, albeit enjoying the older versions of the characters. This just feel like a regular old ‘meh’ Marvel comic. I certainly think there’s room to grow there, there’s no doubt, but as I feared, I think the age of the Old Man concept’s glory days have come and passed.
(3 / 5)
It’s been a couple of weeks since I covered the Age of the Republic comic book of the week. Maybe I’ve just gotten so used to seeing them on the shelf that the break weeks are throwing me off. I’ve really been enjoying this anthology run so far, and I think Marvel has some really good things going for their one-shot comic books with their slower paced style and surprisingly thought provoking character pieces. This is not what I would have expected out of a prequel comic series, but it’s truly what the prequel stories needed: real story telling. It’s an awesome universe with some badly written characters, and any lore support it gets is a major win for me.
This week continues with Anakin Skywalker, perhaps the most controversial character in the entire series, and the first character in this anthology series not almost universally loved by fans (Jango might come close). Maul, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon: these are all well crafted characters in their own respects. Anakin is not. Anakin sucks, plain and simple. The Clone Wars cartoon gave him some redemption by making him a less hateable character while not completely overhauling his personality. Take away his extremely whiny tendencies and his exposition-heavy emotions and you at least have something to work with. Anakin #1 is heavily influenced by the Clone Wars Anakin Skywalker. Slightly more relatable, honorable, and not afraid to do what he believes is right at any cost. Despite orders from higher ups among the Republic Attack Cruiser, the young Jedi sets out to save a group of people likely caught in a ‘necessary’ crossfire that would serve as a win for the Republic. Though it was deemed a lose-one-save-a-million situation, Anakin isn’t having any of it and the comic primarily follows him setting out to extract these potential losses before things go down. We’re given some pretty interesting inner monologue, and Skywalker is faced with his slavery-ridden childhood in unexpected circumstances, all the while hoping he doesn’t manage to prove the militaristic mentality of the Republic forces correct all along.
This is perhaps the most action packed of the Age of the Republic comic books to come out so far. It’s a little disappointing to see the more philosophical take on Star Wars characters break pattern here, but there’s still some cool things worth reading here, and that’s not to take away from the action, which is completely fine. The colorist uses a lot of cool backdrops throughout the comic book. Anakin is often times doing morally righteous things and looking out for the little guy in this story, and yet almost every time he has a moment of heroism, he’s accompanied by a very sith-like dark red background. I thought that was a really neat and thoughtful touch, and was one of the very first things I noticed about the comic. Otherwise, there’s nothing to really criticize or praise here. The comic book is decent, and it does a respectable job of handling an otherwise easy-to-hate character from the prequels. They probably should have just skipped this one for the anthology anyway. Oh well.