Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Longbox 3/25/06

Star Wars: Republic #83
writer: John Ostrander
artist: Jan Duursema
Dark Horse Comics, 2/06
Now that Episode III has been released, supposedly ending the Star Wars film franchise, Republic, which was effectively born when Episode I hit theaters, has now come to an end as well. The series has been very inconsistent, ranging from the incredibly dull to some of the most intriguing storylines to unfold in the Star Wars universe. For my money, the best of the series (which I've read almost every issue) came when John Ostrander was doing the scripting. While not all of the other writers were awful, none were memorable. One of the most impressive aspects of the series once Ostrander took over was his use of seemingly forgettable characters and giving them enough background and personality to become integral elements of Republic. Take Villie, the swindling rouge who appeared early in the series but who's broken English (a Star Wars staple) became annoying upon his introduction. However, in the hands of Ostrander, he became a character who you always wanted not to trust, but due to the various precarious situations our hero was placed in, always had to despite better judgment. Along with the do-I-trust-him-or-not scenario that always seemed to present itself while he was included in Republic, he often supplied the much-needed comic relief, which in the movies is usually regulated to Chewy or the droids. Previous storylines never touched on such important aspects of what makes Star Wars one of the most-loved franchises in history.
That said, the greatest improvement that Ostrander made was the inclusion of a Jedi hero who was engaging and mysterious, but clearly not just another Skywalker clone to go on adventures that were essentially rehashes of the film plotlines. He gave us Quinlan Vos, a Jedi who walked a dark path eclipsed only by Anakin Skywalker. Introduced to the series with a case of amnesia, Vos was never even himself sure if he was a dark Jedi or not. He was constantly put in positions to be a double and triple agent for the light and dark sides of the Force. Over the course of Republic, he came in contact with Obi-Wan, Count Dooku, and Yoda among other favorites from the movies. With all of these elements, Republic became one of my most anticipated books each month.
All of this culminates in #83, the final issue of the series. Quinlan and Villie are on the Wookie planet Kashyyyk along with Yoda during the battle depicted in Episode III. The clones turned against the Jedi forces a few issues back and Vos is stranded alone in the jungle preparing himself for certain death, as he has been feeling the deaths of the other Jedi knights through the Force. After focusing himself, he goes on an absolute tear against small groupings of clone soldiers. These scenes are magnificently depicted by Jan Duursema, whose art has been another strongpoint of Republic. Drawing both accurate renditions of characters from the movies and repeatedly exciting lightsaber battles cannot be an easy thing, and Duursema is in prime form with this issue again -- heads were flying all over the place, literally.
I'll leave you the read the details, but we did get the obligatory happy ending with this series, which to a degree went a little overboard, but understandably so. In the end, this was one of the great finds I've come across in comics, and I haven't found much written about it on the web, which is a shame.
I'm sorry to see it go, but Ostrander and Duursema will be teaming up again in the Star Wars universe for the upcoming series Star Wars: Legacy. Although it will apparently be focused on yet another Skywalker, it will be 100 years after the events of Episode VI, and hopefully that will allow Ostrander to create another unique Jedi, different from Quinlan Vos and the Skywalkers.
8 out of 10

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