Well, then! In another shining example that the planning and marketing teams over at LucasFilm can indeed pull out the stops with laser-guided precision when they want to, issue #12 of IDW Publishing’s Star Wars Adventures is centred around the prequel-era of galactic history. This is notable since the comic lands only days after the San Diego Comic Con announcement that animated TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars is to be resurrected as a standard-bearer of Disney’s long-planned home streaming service. Carpe diem, indeed.
Between this, upcoming Star Wars spin-off novels based around characters from The Phantom Menace and the appearance of a certain gangster at the end of the Solo, it seems that the Disney-owned Lucasfilm have finally come to embrace the prequels. But that’s a more involved ramble for another article. Meanwhile…
Set in the midst of the war, Star Wars Adventures #12 opens with part one of ‘Intermission’. Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker stands before the Jedi Council, issuing a spoken report on an eventful trip recently taken by himself and senator Padmé Amidala. Ostensibly this was a diplomatic-errand with assigned-bodyguard situation, but in reality a short holiday that the secretly-married pair were hoping to take. Arriving as requested guests at the pleasure cruiser of the esteemed entertainer Risha Synata, our heroes find the actress at the end of a hugely self-aggrandising show, eager to bask in the praise of her selected audience.
Ever the diva, Risha then suggests that Padmé and her consort take in the wonder of ‘Madam Synata’s Genius Of A Thousand Faces Museum‘, where animatronic replicas of the star re-enact events of galactic significance. Not only do Anakin and Padmé find that these tableaux are visually impressive but historically inaccurate, it appears that Risha Synata is also hiding a darker secret aboard her ship. But in the world of the actor, what defines reality?
The creative team for this strip is the one who brought us the Lando Calrissian two-parter from issues #10 and #11. Elsa Charretier and Pierrick Colinet are on writing duties, whilst Elsa has also provided the pencils and inks with Sarah Stern applying colours. Tom B. Long brings his usual precision and clarity to the lettering. Elsa’s overall art style is loose and sketchy, and while this can sometimes be at the expense of familiar character-likenesses, that’s more than made up for in terms of flow and movement – essential qualities for a Star Wars story, and ideally suited to the fast pace of Star Wars Adventures.
The 12-page strip itself is a warmly entertaining yarn, with some rather arch points on facts vs opinions, and the objectivity of any battle’s victor. Luckily, Anakin and Padmé have a longstanding record of philosophical squabbling, meaning that these moments never get in the way of the narrative no matter how directly they’re laid out. Like all the best fiction aimed at the younger demographic, there’s plenty in here to spark real-world conversation afterward.
We end, as is traditional, on a cliffhanger. It will be interesting to see how this pans out given that Risha is a bold new Star Wars character introduced at this late stage of the Clone Wars game, and also because that game is about to go into considerable extra time…
The issue continues with the regular ‘Tales From Wild Space’ segment, this time an 8-pager titled ‘A Small Push’. Neesha Tor, a young Twi’lek girl on the planet Ryloth, has been seemingly abandoned by her family and shunned by the villagers around her. Wandering aimlessly, at her lowest ebb she finds herself in need of rescue, and the timely appearance of a lone Jedi provides exactly the support which was needed.
Eager to carry on the issue’s prequel-vibe, this story sees Mr Mace Windu stepping into the fray as only he can. Offering physical assistance and emotional advice very directly, Mace is as to-the-point as we’ve come to expect, and there’s perhaps less contemplation to be had after reading, as a result. Written by series newcomer Scott Peterson, the earnestness of the script is mirrored in Mauricet’s brilliantly expressive pencils and inks, with Valentina Pinto’s bold colours doing both artistic justice.
Warning: The next section of the review deals with story-specific spoilers and the messy topic of in-universe Star Wars continuity. Readers are advised to roll their eyes or furrow their brows as appropriate…
Well, then. ‘A Small Push’ is certainly a solid entry for the strand, but steps outside of the established structure for ‘Tales From Wild Space’. Story-collector Emil Graf – the scavenger pilot who curates and oversees the telling of each tale – doesn’t open the strip aboard the Star Herald. Instead we drop in medias res – un-narrated – with our young protagonist as she walks around town. Emil turns up on the final page, revealed to be in conversation with Neesha some years later. This is great as we actually get to see the young raconteur collecting his verbal treasure first-hand (this hasn’t been covered before).
However. Up until that point, the eagle-eyed reader may have noticed that this is the tale of a female, blue-skinned Twi’lek child, ostracised from her community and meeting a Jedi for the first time. The thought might have occurred to the same reader that this may be the post-Legends, re-canonised recollection of the Jedi Aayla Secura‘s gateway to a new life on Coruscant, had she been re-named in the temple. Twi’leks are classed as a ‘near-human’ species, their age, development and lifespan is relatively similar, and the Twi-lek at the end of the story appears to be an adolescent. Since we know Aayla died as a young woman during Darth Sidious’ Order 66 purge, could this recollection be happening at some point between those events..?
But no. The thought then occurs that Emil Graf is recorded to be the grandson of Milo Graf, the adventurer who was born around 27 years before the Battle of Yavin. So Emil’s grandad was nine years old when Mace Windu was killed in Revenge of the Sith. And while no precise numbers have been given for Emil’s age, don’t forget that within the ‘Tales From Wild Space’ series, this visibly-young man has narrated stories that take place in the sequel-trilogy era, around fifty-five years after the Clone Wars.
So at the end of ‘A Small Push’, Emil is speaking with a young woman who says she met Mace Windu in person, more than half a century after we saw him take a long dive out of a Coruscant window. Either someone’s telling fibs, the Twi’lek has been in stasis for a long time, Mace Windu didn’t die (and apparently doesn’t age), or Emil Graf pilots a time-machine.
When you’re ready, IDW, we’re all ears…
Star Wars Adventures #12 is now available from IDW Publishing. Be sure to check back after reading, to let us know how much the author really is looking far too deeply into this sort of thing!