The latest issue of Star Wars Adventures: Tales of Villainy not only concludes its Clone Wars story by bringing two powerful Force users into combat with each other, but brings a few characters from Star Wars Legends into Disney canon for the first time.
The first story in this issue, ‘Separation Anxiety, part two’ by Michael Moreci picks up where it left off last issue, with Jedi Master Mace Windu and his squad of Clone Troopers coming into conflict with Separatist forces, as well as strange ghost-like creatures on a planet during an eclipse.
Where the first part of this story was something of a mystery, setting up the oddly deserted world, and introducing these strange ghost-like creatures that seemed to defy explanation, this part is focused squarely on action, as the opposing sides in the war find themselves clashing for control. The last issue left off with Count Dooku rising up out of a huge pit, riding on top of a Battle Droid transport as his forces, and the ghost creatures, come after him.
We get a brief explanation as to what these creatures are before he and Windu clash sabers, whilst Ponds and the rest of the Clones are left facing the rest of the enemies on two sides as the droids and the creatures close in on them. The battle is fairly brief, with the two force users seeming quite equally matched, whilst the Clones make short work of the Droids, but find themselves unable to deal with the creatures. However, due to the creatures seeming to be tied to the eclipse, and the eclipse coming to an end, the battle kind of peters out, and Dooku leaves the planet. This feels a bit anticlimactic, and if it wasn’t for Windu having to then deal with the ghost creatures it would feel like the good guys did very little here. The first part of the story had a lot of promise, but this part doesn’t seem to do much with it, which is quite a shame.
Michael Avon Oeming and Chris O’Halloran return for the art on this second part, and for the most part it’s okay, but there are times where Mace Windu and Dooku feel really odd looking. The alien creatures and the men wearing helmets all look alright, but occasionally the faces of characters we know seem to become quite distorted, with strange proportions and features that seem almost inhuman at times. Whilst it isn’t bad, there were times I found myself being taken out of the story because of it.
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The second story of the issue is ‘Grave Digger’, a single part story written by Dave Scheidt. This is a story that some Star Wars fans might find interesting, as it centres on Zak and Tash Arranda, as well as their tutor and adopted father Mammon Hoole, as well as their droid DV-9. These are characters that haven’t appeared in canon since Disney acquired Star Wars, and as such were relegated to ‘Legends’ status; but now they’re back. The stars of the ‘Galaxy of Fear’ novels are now part of the new canon, and that’s pretty damn cool.
The story focuses on the two children as they spend time on an unnamed planet, studying the strange energy spiders that live in this system. Bored with their studies, the children decide to sneak out at night to go and explore, and to investigate the strange feeling one of them had during the day. This feeling, an obvious nod to their Force sensitivity from the books, leads them to an amulet decorated with a spider motif. Unfortunately for them, a rather scary looking group of robed cultists are also after the amulet, leading to the two groups coming into conflict.
This is a pretty fun story, one that feels very true to the spirit of these characters and their adventures in the old canon. It’s a very short story, one that seems to be more establishing the fact that they all exist in the current canon, and that they’re very much still the characters we know. Which is actually absolutely fine. I really didn’t feel like I needed more from this. It was a fun story that genuinely added something to the universe.
The artwork, provided by Stefano Simone, is absolutely gorgeous, and stands out in stark contrast to the gloomy looking art of the previous story. Simone uses bright but muted colours for the daytime parts of the story, and a darker, more oppressive palette for the night time parts. But where it really stands out is the character design. The characters have a sense of elegance to them, but also a stylised look that makes it feel different to other comics in this series. It really reminded me of independent European comics, and it was great to see in this book.
Whilst the first story in this issue felt like a slightly fumbled conclusion over last month’s, the second story was an absolute highlight of the series so far. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll be seeing more of the Arrandas again in the future.
Star Wars Adventures: Tales of Villainy #10 is out now from IDW Publishing.