In Review: Star Wars: Age of Republic-General Grievous #1

Grievous seeks something, but is unprepared for what he finds.

The covers: Five different covers for the last issue in this series of one-shots. Find yours as if you’re running for your life! The Regular cover is by Paolo Rivera and follows the format of his previous covers by having the character against a black background with a blue diagonal window that contains a background. Grievous looks great with all four lightsabers out, the green sabers spinning and the blue blades held still. The Clone Wars leader is hunched over, looking to the right. The window outside is a generic futuristic city. This is good, with the sparks from the ground an excellent addition. The Concept Design Variant cover is by Warren Fu and it’s the cover I purchased. This features a bust shot of Grievous at three-quarters view from the left. His collar looks higher than it was in the film, giving him a regal air. The electronic version of this cover is lighter than the physical one I purchased, with it extremely dark around his head. Still, I love these covers. Pepe Larraz & Guru-eFX do an amazing Greatest Moments Variant cover. This is Obi-Wan Kenobi’s point of view as Grievous has a lightsaber in each hand and spins them coming forward in Revenge of the Sith. This is tremendous. The character is great, the cape incredible, and the colors insanely gorgeous. This is a cover to track down. The Photo Variant cover disappoints me because the image of the character is pushed into the bottom right. I would have preferred the character to be pulled to the center, with his head and saber partially covering the title. That would have been a cover. The Puzzle Piece Variant cover is the last in the series by Mike McKone & Guru-eFX. A full image of Grievous is hunched over with a blade in each hand. He looks as though he’s rapidly moving to the right. The background is a blue starfield full of ships with a stripe of thin red on the left. This is exceptional looking. I hope that at some point Marvel takes all of these covers, puts them together, and releases them as a poster. Overall grades: Regular A-, Concept Design Variant A, Greatest Moments Variant A+, Photo Variant B-, and the Puzzle Piece Variant A+

The story: On the planet Ledeve a Jedi stands with her lightsaber held before her so that her young apprentice can run to their ship. His face is full of terror. General Grievous appears over a hill. “It won’t save him,” he says. Their sabers clash, her one versus his two. Unfortunately she wasn’t prepared for a third blade from the cyborg. He retrieves her lightsaber from her body and with his prize gathered he races after the apprentice. The young Jedi is initially relieved to see the ship, until he spies Grievous atop it. “Too slow, Jedi. Let’s see if you last longer than your master.” He leaps down upon the youth and quickly fells him. He retrieves the young teen’s lightsaber and an electronic tablet that has the logo of the Jedi on it. This device provides the way to what the villain is searching for and he races deeper into the forest to find it. He finds the structure he seeks and he takes out his anger at the facility in the hallway. Further in, traps are activated him to keep him from reaching his goal. Writer Jody Houser has a variety of booby traps for the title character and they’re of the Indiana Jones variety, which seems incredibly low tech for this locale and this franchise. If anything, they remind me that Marvel has yet to create an Indiana Jones comic book series. The goal that Grievous seeks is neat, until entering it fully on 14 and it becomes incredibly abstract. Yes, this plays in with other Jedi mystical locations and devices discovered, but it didn’t work for me. I did, however, like what was said to Grievous at this location. Pages 16 and 17 are a little silly. How the book ends is odd: it’s not explained why this is done and why Grievous would stick around for so long on the final page. This starts well, but becomes too obtuse by the end. Overall grade: C-

The art: The visuals on this book, by Luke Ross, are outstanding. Ross continues to cement his place in the annals of superior Star Wars artists. The first panel is an awesome silent opener with the Jedi in the distance, her blade lit, and the apprentice running in the foreground. A switch in perspectives shows the intense focus on the Jedi’s face whose hair tendrils blow in the breeze. Grievous’s arrival in third panel is great and isn’t clearly shown to the reader, giving him a sinister tone. When he attacks and takes her saber, he’s still not shown to the reader, leaving his reveal for the full-paged splash on Page 3. He’s a fantastic fright as he leans into the reader. The trees behind him create a haunted feel to the affair. I love the focus on the hands of the title character on 4 and 5, increasing his inhumanity. The hologram visuals look great. And I have to give a specific shout out to the way Ross makes Grievous look as he runs through the forest — a lanky creature with a tattered cape trailing behind him. It’s killer! I like how Ross tilt the panels on Page 9 to increase the action of Grievous’s crossing the room. 10 is a full-paged splash that combines four different obstacles must overcome. They look fine, but as I said in my the story review, they’re really primitive. I do like the long panel that starts 11 and the barrier he must overcome. I really appreciated that he had to test entering the barrier, with his entrance on 13 dramatic. The visuals on 14 and 15 are good, though the whole idea of what’s occurring is a little too far out for me — even if it involves Jedi. I love the tight close-ups on Grievous that close the book. They are horrific and gorgeous. Someone has got to get Ross on a series! Overall grade: A

The colors: The tone of this book is solidified by Java Tartaglia. An unwell atmosphere is introduced from the get-go with the sickly yellow backgrounds. Grievous’s yellow eyes make him a monster whenever they peer out from this face mask. I love that Grievous’s narration boxes are colored dark green, increasing his alienness. The ground of the forest is given a strong red, enhancing the state of the bodies of the Jedi on them. The holographic displays have their familiar blues as shown in the films and programs. Page 10 is too dark for me; the colors are realistic for the environment, but Tartaglia could have cheated more, for, after all, this is a comic book and reality isn’t a requirement. I love the color for the barrier that Grievous wants to enter. It’s unnatural and absolutely foreboding. Pages 14 and 15 are jet black with the character outlined in a neon light blue to have the individual stand out. I like the variety of colors used for the speaker addressing the character. It seems to change with the speaker’s mood — Is this the first example of mood lettering? The first three panels at the top of the final page are beautiful. They are gorgeous and a fantastic way to show the change in time. They are a great lead to the horrific ruined flesh shown in the penultimate panel. Outstanding. Overall grade: A 

The letters: The issue’s scene settings, Grievous speech, sounds, laughter, coughing, and droid speech are crafted by VC’s Travis Lanham. The scene settings are regal, strong, and I wish that the main Star Wars book would use these. Grievous’s utterances are outstanding. His speech looks like it’s dripping with evil, as if he were Dracula. His coughs — and there’s not enough of them — are like death on the page. Glorious grotesque! The droid speech is in italics, giving them a mechanical sound and it’s impossible not to read their dialogue in their iconic voices. Overall grade: A

The final line: The visuals are great and the story so-so for this final Age of Republic one-shot. Grievous seeks something, but is unprepared for what he finds. I wish the story would have had solidified the character’s mission, had some more modern deterrents, and the McGuffin been better explained. The visuals are fantastic, though. I really need to see Ross on a monthly Marvel saga. This is okay reading, but won’t convert fence sitters into fans. Overall grade: B+

To order a digital copy go to https://comicstore.marvel.com/Star-Wars-Age-Of-Republic-General-Grievous-2019-1/digital-comic/50929?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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