In Review: Star Wars: Age of Republic Special #1

Two out of three isn't bad for the trio of tales in this special.

The covers: There are four different covers on this one-shot that consists of three different tales. The Regular cover is by Rod Reis, who created last year’s outstanding Galactic Icons Variant covers. Mace Windu is the largest character on this cover, looking seriously at the reader as he holds his iconic lightsaber with both hands. Before him is a small image of Asajj Ventress, yelling ferociously with both of her sabers lit and held low and out. Behind the Jedi and to his right is Captain Rex holding both his blasters crossed before him, while the most famous Gungan is smiling on his left. A good collection of the characters, though the pair behind Mace don’t look as good as the Jedi or the Sith. The Variant by Khoi Pham & Brian Reber is a phenomenal image of Ventress hunched over, shown from the left, looking an absolute terror with her blades held down and ready. This is awesome in every possible way. I love this. The second installment in the Greatest Moments Variants is by Mike Deodato Jr. & Nolan Woodard and is titled “Queen Amidala.” This shows the queen sitting on her throne before several windows. This is fine, but it appears the artists left space at the top so the title of the book could go there. Just okay. Also just okay is the Mike McKone & Guru-eFX Variant that connects to previous covers they’ve done this year. Mace, Jar Jar, Rex, and Asajj are on this cover with Vulture droids flying behind them. The colors on this are really drab, making all the characters glob into one image. The dark background doesn’t help. It’s hard to find a focus on this cover. Overall grades: Regular B, Pham Variant A+, Greatest Moments Variants C+, and McKone Variant C+

The stories: The first ten pager is by Ethan Sacks and is titled “The Weapon.” Mace Windu has been captured by young terrorists on Oosalaon in the Outer Rim territories. His lightsaber has been broken by his captors and is shown to their leader, Guattako the Grim. There is a brief flashback to Windu’s training and there’s a solid fight with some surprise appearances in the end. The dialogue is good, with the final page featuring a funny line and a sobering final one. Sacks should do more Star Wars work. The best story of the issue is “Sisters” by Jody Houser. Set in the lower levels of Coruscant, the main character is Asajj Ventress who is collecting the fee on a bounty she’s acquired. Her next prey is a familiar one, but she stops upon encountering a conflict. I love this character, I love how Houser wrote her and her internal thoughts, and the ending is outstanding. Wow! And this fits perfectly into the chronology of The Clone Wars. Houser continues her winning streak on Star Wars. Marc Guggenheim is the writer of “501 Plus One” that features Captain Rex and Jar Jar Binks. I will give Guggenheim credit for showing the Gungan in a role as a senator, but what the character ends up doing isn’t fantastic. It keeps the character as comedy relief and doesn’t make me like the character. Rex fares a bit better, but even he comes up short on this tale. Overall grades: “The Weapon” A, “Sisters” A+, and “501 Plus One” C-

The art: The first tale is illustrated by Paolo Villanelli. The point of view moves about often to make the dialogue scenes exciting. The introduction of an antagonist in the final panel on the opening page looks great, with the angle making the character very strong. Windu’s first appearance is with his hands bound, instantly telling the reader who’s in control. The reveal of his shattered lightsaber is dramatic. Also dramatic is the reveal of Guattako, though he is very loosely rendered on his throne of skulls. The assembling panels are good and the two pages of fighting are entertaining. This is solid comic book work, but nothing in it makes it outstanding. Much better is the work of Carlos Gómez in “Sisters.” The characters are fantastic and the backgrounds wonderful. Asajj conveys a tremendous amount of emotion just with a stare. The flashback on the third page is outstanding. The confrontation at the bottom of Page 4 is amazing. I love the second panel on the fifth page which beautifully compliments the three word thought. The compilation of images on Page 6 is okay, but is hard to find a focus. The full-paged splash on 7 is killer. Someone needs to ensure that Gómez gets back on a Star Wars title quickly! The third tale is illustrated by Caspar Wijngaard and it does not look good. The characters are stiff and the backgrounds are minimalistic. I’m not enjoying the Battle of Mimban, which is really simple. The troopers just do not look good, in and out of armor. Jar Jar looks the best. The battle droids come off as unfinished. The action scene on Page 5 is really poor. I was very disappointed in this tale’s look. Overall grades: “The Weapon” B, “Sisters” A+, and “501 Plus One” D-

The colors: Erick Arciniega is the colorist on “The Weapon.” His colors are cool, giving the setting and characters an ominous feel. When the action begins the backgrounds go bright, with oranges and yellows. Also punctuating the scenes are Mace’s lightsaber blade. Considering this tale took place at a dark locale, Arciniega did a good job. Also in a dark location is “Sisters” colored by Dono Sánchez-Almara. The dark colors are given a lot more luminescent highlights due to the lighting of Coruscant’s lower levels. Ventress’s blades really pop when she ignites them and the shine in the young characters’ hair is beautiful. Cris Peter colors are very flat for the final tale. The troopers stand out in their white armor against the orange location, but are dulled slightly to show the nighttime battle. Better are the scenes in the jungle, but even the flora is given a monotone green. Jar Jar looks the best on these pages. Overall grades: “The Weapon” B, “Sisters” A+, and “501 Plus One” C

The letters: Thankfully there’s only one letterer for this issue and that’s VC’s Travis Lanham. He creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, transmissions and droid speech, and screams. The scene settings are extremely clear and I wish other SW titles had them look as good. The dialogue is the thin font that’s been used in all titles for this franchise. The sounds are big and bold, punctuating the action well. The yells and screams are in a variety of fonts so that the reader can better gauge the level of the exclamations. A transmission and droid speech are in the same font, but they should be because they are electronic in nature. Overall grade: A-

The final line: Two out of three isn’t bad for the trio of tales in this special. The first story is standard comic book fare featuring Samuel L. Jackson’s iconic Jedi. The second story is the highlight of the issue with the focus on Asajj Ventress. The final tale is a poor outing for Rex and Jar Jar. Worth picking up if one is a Star Wars fan. Overall grade: B

To order a digital copy go to https://www.comixology.com/Star-Wars-Age-Of-The-Republic-Special-2019-1/digital-comic/729031?ref=c2VhcmNoL2luZGV4L2Rlc2t0b3Avc2xpZGVyTGlzdC90b3BSZXN1bHRzU2xpZGVy

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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