Anakin Skywalker #1

Anakin Skywalker #1

  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.

Jango Fett #1

Jango Fett #1

  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 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)
Obi-Wan Kenobi #1

Obi-Wan Kenobi #1

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.

3.5/5

Superior Spider-Man #1

Superior Spider-Man #1

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 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Spider-Man Enter the Spider-Verse #1

Spider-Man Enter the Spider-Verse #1

   I was never that into Marvel. I grew up like most kids, pretending to be Batman and fawning over the awesomeness that was Superman. Even today, a lot of what Marvel comics has to offer just isn’t my jam. I understand it’s appeal, and will occasionally enjoy a series or two from the company, but I’m just not as invested. The Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies were a different situation though, and Spider-Man earned its special place in my heart as a young age. Spidey has been killing it in recent memory with the release of Homecoming, another success from Marvel movie studios, and the PS4 video game which quickly nabbed the spot as the best selling Playstation exclusive of all time. The company is only hoping to bolster the Spider hype even further with Into the Spiderverse, and upcoming stylish animated movie out this month. It looks really cool, and it’s getting pretty unbeatable early reviews so it’s only natural to add to the hype train by releasing a comic book tie-in to get mega fans ready for the inevitable release of the movie. It’s a bit of a shameless cash grab. Count me in.

   Spiderverse #1 follows the band of Spider-People from Earths all across the Multiverse called the Web-Warriors. This team has been around for a while now, and has a pretty significant following in the Marvel comic community. Peter Parker is in there as the ‘regular’ Spider-Man along with fan favorites like Spider-Gwen and Spider-Punk, as well as a few other Spidey powered characters that only work on teams like this. It’s a rag tag team of quippy spider heroes ready to hop across the multiverse and take down any evil-doers. You know the drill. When the team travels to a universe outside their realm of knowledge, they cross paths with a brilliant scientist named Otto Octavius, or perhaps better known as the Spider-Man supervillain: Doctor Octopus. The Web Warriors are too well versed in multiuniversal travel to jump to any conclusions. Every universe holds its own reality, and for all they know, Octavius is a respectable man here. While he seems like a man out for the betterment of the world and Spidey’s allies, something’s not quite right, and the webslingers find themselves quickly caught off guard.

   There’s an undeniable amount of charm in the way all of these very similar characters interact with each other. This team could very easily devolve into something annoying. I really enjoy Spider-Man as a character, but I think depending on the writer writing him Peter Parker treads the line of being unlikable. He’s very quippy and very sarcastic and if handled incorrectly (Amazing Spider-Man movies) the character can both annoy and irritate. On top of that you now potentially have an entire team of cocky, snarky characters all basically the same person, and yet it never feels too over the top. The characters, especially one like Spider-Gwen, are different enough that they add some diversity to the cast of heroes, and mix up the personalities a little. Obviously this comic is a little ridiculous, but its creative team is self aware enough and good enough that they keep it at a respectable level. I’m not invested in Spider-Gwen or any of these side characters. I don’t read their stories or keep up with this side of Marvel. But, as a general Spider-Man fan, I think there’s a lot of fun to be had with this comic. It also harnesses that crisp, recognizable wide-shot art style Marvel has as well, which as a main DC reader, is always refreshing to see.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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