In Review: Star Wars: Age of Republic-Qui-Gon Jinn #1

A decent opening to the Age of Republic one-shots.

The covers: Six different covers from this first outing into one-shots set in the time of the Republic. The Regular cover by Paolo Rievera is modeled after the Jedi’s opening action scene from The Phantom Menace as he holds his lightsaber above his head with both hands as laser blasts are zipping by him. He looks with determination at the unseen droideka to his left. There are black bars above and below this illustration to make the colors, especially the laser bolts, really stand out. This is a solid cover. Cory Smith & Romulo Fajardo, Jr. have done a very different looking Qui-Gon for their Variant cover. Standing upon a wall, the Jedi looks into the horizon that the reader can only imagine. A breeze billows his hair and cape behind him. His emerald lightsaber is ignited and held low. Behind him are the towers of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. The sky contains some light violet clouds and a massive yellow sun. The character is instantly recognizable, but doesn’t look how I’m used to seeing him. The colors are also too muted for me. Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti’s Variant cover is a montage of four heroes and four villains from the sequels. Going clockwise from the upper left: Darth Maul, Padmé Amidala, Jango Fett, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku, young Anakin Skywalker, General Grievous, and Qui-Gon. This looks nothing like either artist’s work that’s on display in the monthly Darth Vader comic. This looks rushed. The Variant by Mike McKone & Guru-eFX is much better, showing a full figure of the title character with his lightsaber behind him, ready to swing forward. Behind him is a fleet of Naboo fighters, Jedi starships and several vulture droids. All of these fighters are on a blue background. Not one is firing, yet all are speeding off to their destinies. There’s a red strip, like torn paper, running along the right side. Why it’s there, I don’t know. What I do know is that this looks cool. Iain McCaig does the Concept Design Variant cover, which is an illustration he did in 1994 while working on the first prequel. This was the image I chose to accompany this review, but the physical copy is actually a bit different. The image has been pulled in tighter to the character, showing him from his shoulders up. This allows the detail designer McCraig did in the character, but it also takes away the artist’s signature. Still really cool and this was the copy of the book I purchased. The Photo cover features a bust shot of Liam Neeson as the iconic Jedi. He’s shown from the chest up against a starry filled background. I love photo covers and I need to get a copy of this. Overall grades: Regular A, Smith Variant B-, Camuncoli Variant D+, McKone Variant A, Concept Design Variant A+, and Photo Variant A+

The story: Jody Houser’s “Balance” begins on Bri’n where Qui-Gon is deflecting blaster fire meant for Mistress Th’er, Priestess of Wood. The pair begin to run with blaster shots trailing after them. The Jedi Master contacts his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi to ready the ship since negotiations did not go well between the mistress and the Metal Clan, who want to cut down the trees. The pair suddenly find themselves surrounded. The rotund leader of the Clan steps forward. “Your word or your blood, Mistress Th’er. The trees will fall with one or the other.” She spits back, “You think that you can face the might of a Jedi warrior? You and your blasphemy will be –” and she’s stopped by the Jedi doing something unexpected. Pages 4 and 5 has the mistress taking the Jedi to task for not doing what she expected, though Qui-Gon is satisfied enough to have defended her life. Once on Coruscant at the Jedi Temple, Master Yoda finds the Jedi and they have talk over the nature of Jedi and their purpose. It is a great dialogue and I wanted to have it go on longer. However, their conversation does inspire Qui-Gon to go somewhere where something interesting happens. It’s on Pages 13 – 19 that some very intriguing things occur and they do so without text. It’s up to the reader to discern what’s been shown, though the title character has made his own judgments. The final two pages, seemingly, resolve the issue with Mistress Th’er, though it came off as too quick. I’m hoping that she returns to another Age of Republic one-shot to further address the issues on her world. I would definitely welcome Houser back to any Star Wars comic to read more of her insight to how Jedi perceive their place in the Republic. Overall grade: B+

The art: The artwork for this book has Cory Smith on pencils and Walden Wong on inks. There are very strong pages, while others don’t shine as brightly. As a whole, the book is fine, though the uneven nature of it does let a reader down. The four pages on Bri’n look outstanding. The first page is a fantastic full-paged splash that has Qui-Gon in action while Th’er screams behind him. That said, there’s a lot of empty space at the top; pulling in tighter to the Jedi Master would have filled in the sky. The second page has the protagonists on the run and they and the setting looks outstanding. The leader of the Metal Clan reminds me of the design of characters from Dark Horse’s Tales of the Jedi comics. The entrance of someone on Page 3 is fantastic — I won’t spoil it, but it looks perfect. The large panel on Page 4 is the scene stealer of the issue: it’s heroic, epic, and just an incredible looking illustration. Everything about this is working. The bottom half of the page and most of 5 has Mistress Th’er going off on Qui-Gon and she looks sensational in her fury. The Jedi Master’s visual reactions to her anger, as well as Obi-Wan’s side glance, are terrific. Coruscant and the Jedi Temple look fine, but Yoda is uneven: he looks better in some panels more so than others, with the shading done on his brow on 7 has him looking like he’s got a monobrow. I like how Qui-Gon traveled to his next location, with the visuals looking good and his state as he went there perfect. The call back to Tales of the Jedi came back big time with the design of this world’s flora. The pages where the character encounters antagonists come off as average and not tense. Though what eventually happens to the hero looks fantastic, with the work done on the borders very slick. Th’er’s final appearances are good, but Yoda has still got Joe Franklin eyebrows. There’s stuff that looks good and others that don’t. Overall grade: C+

The colors: The brightest image on the first page is Qui-Gon’s face; everything else around him has very soft colors. This is fine, but makes the setting, Th’er, and the laser blasts seem as though they’re in a fog. Better work by colorist Java Tartaglia occurs on the second page when the characters are running through the forest; the different varieties of green sell the believability of this locale. Having the sky be a pale yellow is an outstanding way to give the setting an alien feel and allow the greens to look sharp. The blaster fire and other weapons look incredible on Page 4, which is the strongest coloring of the entire book. The oranges used at the Jedi Temple are just too much. Yes, it’s sunset, but it looks like nuclear fallout. The greens, violets, reds, and blues of the new location are sharp, with the crimsons making the imagery frightening. Overall grade: B+

The letters: VC’s Travis Lanham creates scene settings, sounds, dialogue, and droid speech. My hat is off to Lanham for these scene settings. Could someone at Marvel make this the norm on all the Star Wars titles? This is how a setting should be introduced to the reader! The sounds are big for the opening action sequence and I was glad to see them so large for they increased the intensity of the scene. The dialogue is okay, but still looks too thin for a book with such epic characters, but that’s been my complaint for years with this franchise’s four colored adventures. Though it’s brief, the droid speech has the perfect look to it for the Jedi’s mechanical sidekick. Overall grade: A-

Text page: There’s a one page text piece on Qui-Gon titled “Legacy of a Jedi.” It’s written by Glenn Greenberg and gives background on the character from his actions, as well as from Neeson and George Lucas. This is fine if one is new to the character, but to veteran fans this won’t be anything new. Overall grade: C-

The final line: A decent story to open the Age of Republic one-shots, though a longer one would could have fleshed out the story better. The visuals are okay, but aren’t as consistent as other Star Wars titles. I’m a big enough fan to pick all of these up, but I’m hoping to see stronger entries in this twenty-eight issue series. Overall grade: B+

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To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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