In Review: Star Wars: Age of Republic-Count Dooku #1

For those craving Sith action and intrigue, this is a delightfully dark tale for you! 

The covers: Four different images to track down, if the Force is with you. The Regular cover is by Paolo Rivera and has Dooku holding his lightsaber in his left hand as he sends a blast of Force lighting from his right. This is the same format as previous Rivera covers: the character is against a mono-colored background that’s framed by two diagonal black strips. This background appears to be in an underground setting. The character looks like Christopher Lee and is colored perfectly. The Concept Variant cover is by Dermot Power and is, once again, the cover I purchased. A full figure sketch of the character is in the dead center of the cover which is composed of small squares which go from white to blue as one makes their way down. I love these covers and I had to pick this one up. The Movie Photo Variant features Lee in a glorious pose as Dooku turned to the left holding his lightsaber with both hands. The background is an inserted dark blue star field. I like the image and will have to pick this up at some point. Another full figure illustration of the title character appears on the Puzzle Piece Variant by Mike McKone and Guru-eFX. The Sith holds his arms open with his lit lightsaber in his right hand. Behind him and to the left is the blue of space containing Naboo fighters and Trade Federation Battleships. On the right behind him is a brick red featuring a few Naboo fighters and five Sith Infiltrators. This looks great. I hope that Marvel will take all of these covers by McKone and Guru-eFX and release them as a poster. Overall grades: Regular B+, Concept Variant A+, Movie Photo Variant A, and Puzzle Piece Variant A 

The story: Jody Houser continues to prove she is an exceptional Star Wars writer. “The Cost” begins with Dooku narrating that he’s not happy going to Sullust to negotiate with a corporation. However he’s also there to forge an alliance on behalf of his Master. ‘He has plans for this world. For the whole galaxy. And I will be the one to help him execute those plans.’ Greeted by Kap Klyp of the Sorosuub Corporation, the two go on a tour of the city, which leaves the Sith intolerable of the situation. He feigns being tired to escape Klyp, but is regonized by a Jedi Knight named Jak’zin who knew the former Jedi when he gave a dueling demonstration against Yoda. The appearance of the Jedi has Dooku altering his plans, for he must make contact with a group on the homeworld for nefarious purposes, though Sidious now wants him to also learn why the Jedi is there. There’s a neat dinner conversation as Dooku prods his Force sensitive guest and gains his trust to accompany him somewhere. What occurs at this location isn’t really surprising, but it’s the journey getting there that’s fun, watching and seeing how Dooku can trick Jak’zin into making himself vulnerable. I loved how well Houser captures Dooku’s voice and has him be such a calm monster. Overall grade: A

The art: Luke Ross also continues to prove he is an exceptional Star Wars artist. The first page is a wonderfully cinematic arrival of Dooku’s ship on Sullust, with the city gloriously foreign looking. The open door of his ship in the final panel only shows the silhouette of its sole occupant, leading to a terrific full-paged splash on 2 of Dooku. Kal Klyp’s species will be familiar to fans of the films and I’m happy to see this alien race any time. I love that Dooku’s reacton in the second panel on Page 3 is silent, leaving the reader to feel the power of his gaze upon Klyp. I admit to not being thrilled with Jedi Jak’zin’s design: he’s an upright tiger in Jedi robes. Yes, he looks cool as a tiger, but it’s too easy a character to create, and that creature is unique to Earth and has no place in the Star Wars Universe. The two final panels on 5 are outstanding, and has me hoping that Ross will get to revisit and completely show this conflict. Page 7 is great for the fantastic quarters that are given to Dooku and the individual he’s speaking with. The final panel on this page holds so much weight with the tight close-up and the specific action. The smile that ends 9 would have film goers screaming in the theater “Don’t trust him!” Beautiful image. The flashback at the top of 10 is great and the page ends again with another terrible smile that is full of dramatic irony. There was a little too much use of shadows on 11; I would have preferred to see the emotion on each characters’ face as they spoke, though by having them in shadows reinforces the dark deed that’s being foreshadowed. I love the action on 12, as the character didn’t get to do much of this in the films. The second panel on 14 is great and the action that follows it very easy to follow. The final panel on 15 just oozes with anticipation and dread. The next two pages that follow have some solid action, with several tiny panels to show the extent of the fight. 18 contains an anticipated moment, but the reveal on how it was accomplished is too small; it diminishes the impact of the action. Though I will say the final panel on the page is awesome. I love the lack of eyes in the final panel on 19, making this character monstrous, while the final panel of the book contains a much more honest smile and it’s a terror. Ross should be doing a monthly Star Wars book. Overall grade: A-

The colors: Java Tartaglia also contributes handsomely to this book. The reveal of the city on Sullust is full of many reds, instantly giving the location an unsettling feeling. The second page uses reds to taint the clothes around Dooku and make him symbolically a force of evil. A neat touch is that all of his thought boxes are colored in grays, which suit his dark nature. The red glow of the city throughout the book gives the environment a harsh tone. Jak’zin has the traditional coloring of a Bengal tiger, which is fine, but it is too Earth-like. Hey, a giant rabbit was colored green in Star Wars‘ distant past, so coloring this character differently would have been appropriate. I like that when Jak’zin uses his lightsaber the device’s sound effects are in a heroic blue. When the Jedi and Sith arrive in the room containing the gang the colors go dark, but still have enough light to make every element in the room visible. This is the mark of a strong colorist. The colors in the final panel of the book are excellent. Yeah, I’d love to see Tartaglia accompany Ross onto a monthly Star Wars book. Overall grade: A

The letters: This issue’s text by VC’s Travis Lanham includes scene settings, dialogue and narration (the same font), transmissions, and sounds. The scene settings continue to be a highlight of Lanham’s work; they are bold, big, and instantly grab the reader’s attention. The dialogue and narration should be in different fonts, rather than differed by the shape and color of their boxes or balloons. The transmissions are good and the sounds are excellent, though the one used for a lightsaber activating is written from top to bottom, making it seem the saber is shutting down. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Why are the villain issues in this series so much better than the hero installments? This story is an excellent tale of Dooku doing his Master’s bidding and having to improvise. The visuals are also good, with me wishing they would join with the writer on a monthly series. For those craving Sith action and intrigue, this is a delightfully dark tale for you! Overall grade: A

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Age-Of-The-Republic-Count-Dooku-2019-1/digital-comic/50618?r=1

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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