Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Matt Owens
Artwork: Denys Cowan (pencils), Roberto Poggi (inks), Guru-eFX (colours)
Part of the thrill of Marvel’s licensed Star Wars comics is the ability to delve a little deeper into the stories of some of the fan favourite characters who only featured briefly in the movies. Such is the case with Star Wars: Jedi of the Republic – Mace Windu, a five part series that takes a closer look at the iconic Jedi’s actions “behind the scenes” of the Clone Wars.
The story, set in the aftermath of the Battle of Genosis which saw many Jedi lose their lives, sees Mace’s role shifting from peacekeeper to warrior as he is tasked with putting together a team for a little covert operation on the jungle planet of Hissrich to see what the Separatists are up to.
It feels like writer Matt Owens has been given a decent amount of leeway to tell his story, but the series still feels a little limited by virtue of its licensed nature. There’s a solid attempt to push into uncharted waters in the beginning, but for the most part, Owens never really ventures too far from the shore.
Some of the dialogue is a little overwrought at times, an approach which seems to work a lot better on the big screen than it does on the printed page. Windu himself comes across as a little clunky and earnest, while some of his team – Rissa Mano in particular – utilise a contemporary style of talking that perhaps feels like it goes a little too far the other way. We’re also given some jarringly comedic dialogue courtesy of the battle droids, and while the big screen versions were never exactly the most serious of threats, their comic book counterparts and their witty banter make it fairly difficult to take the otherwise awesome black ops Jedi incursion seriously at times.
The artwork is very much in the Marvel Star Wars “house style” for the most part, although Cowan does add a welcome roughness to some of his edges at times. The action sequences flow smoothly for the most part, and the characters are recognisable enough without venturing down the whole ‘photo referencing’ route that has derailed many a licensed comic book property.
The situation with Prosset Dibs is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story, in as much as – from my perspective, at least – he doesn’t actually seem to be in the wrong. It’s an intriguing wrinkle to the story that I’d love to see explored in greater depth, especially given the apparent parallels between the actions of both the Jedi Council and the Separatists here.
There’s also a great moment where we delve back into the formative years of Windu himself, seeing him as an over-eager Padawan (aren’t they all?) trying to keep his anger in check, and – to be fair – doing a much better job than that Skywalker bloke.
It also feels a lot less like badly written fan fiction than a lot of other recent Star Wars comics, raising some interesting topics and coming at things from different angles rather than merely relying on lightsabers and fan service. It’s perhaps a little frustrating then that these ideas aren’t explored to their fullest potential, and that any spark of creativity – much like Prosset’s dissenting voice – is quickly extinguished to return us to the safe, reliably status quo.
At the end of the day though, if you’re a Star Wars fan then this obviously comes highly recommended. And while it may be a tougher sell if you’re not already Force-savvy, the strength of the narrative and the eye-catching nature of the artwork should still be more than enough to appeal to casual readers as well. Well worth a look either way.