Star Wars Adventures #20 – Review

Perhaps realising that one of the most controversial Star Wars eras actually plays to the title’s strengths, IDW’s Star Wars Adventures #20 follows its predecessors and stays in the prequel-era for two tales of Jedi-centric goodness.

Opening the comic is ‘Hide and Seek’, as Anakin Skywalker investigates reports of the Separatist army on Retta, deep in wild space. Finding Master Yoda also present, the pair meet an old friend of the latter’s, and discover a group of refugees from the galaxy-engulfing war.

Written by Cavan Scott, the 12-page story follows his usual brisk pacing, complete with dialogue that’s functional but punchy. No panels go to waste in moving things onward, even introducing a new CIS General in the skull-faced Flebek. This striking figure isn’t overplayed and will be a welcome addition to future entries as IDW continues to forge itself in the canon.

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Illustration for ‘Hide and Seek’ comes from Scott’s regular collaborator Derek Charm, with stylized cartoonish visuals, bold linework yet surprisingly muted colours which keep the strip grounded. All in, this is a surprisingly sweet story with enough behind it to spark post-reading discussions between younger readers and their parents or guardians – very much the point when pitching a title to this demographic.

Rounding things out is the eight-page Tales From Wild Space story, ‘The Journey’. We open aboard Emil Graf’s Star Herald cruiser as is customary, with grumblings among the droid crew leading to Graf delivering a homily on patience and perseverance, also set during the Clone Wars.

Jedi Padawan Barriss Offee has been dispatched to an unnamed planet to retrieve a book from deep within a ruined temple. More concerned with disappointing Master Luminara Unduli, Barriss faces a series of challenges before returning and learning the true lesson of the day.

Penned by George Mann, the story here is even more open-ended than its counterpart with regards to its specific location and timing, but the message within is classic Jedi-fare. Valentina Pinto provides the artwork with a lighter touch for this half of the comic, but no less intense in its movement and atmospherics. Her more intricate approach to colours means that the lighting in the scenes when a saber is ignited is particularly delicate.

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While ‘The Journey’ adds little to the established relationship dynamic between Barriss and Luminara, it’s wholly consistent at least and feels like part of the universe as a result. The shorter page-count of the Tales From Wild Space segments means they can seem simplistic or heavy-handed. While that’s a charge which could also reasonably be levelled here, the setting and overall effect more than make up for any shortfall.

The Clone Wars is a crowded arena for storytelling of course, with a wealth of previously published material as well as the animated TV series. That some of the former exists in the de-canonised Legends timeline muddies the waters further in choosing where and when to place a tale, with characters undergoing their own story-arcs and pivotal moments throughout.

The most practical approach is to take the saga’s central players and give them a low-impact adventure, preferably on a planet which won’t cause any continuity headaches. That Star Wars Adventures seems to consistently manage this in the prequel-era is a testament to IDW’s creative teams. That it often seems to struggle elsewhere in the timeline is another issue entirely.

Star Wars Advenures #20 is available from IDW Publishing and your preferred comics outlet.

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