The Clone Wars #7
In the Service of the Republic Part 1 (of 3)
Script: Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching
Pencilling: Scott Hepburn
Inking: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Michael E. Wiggam
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Dave Filoni
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/18/2010)
Jedi Generals Plo Koon, Kit Fisto and Tauht are sent to snow-covered Khorm to remove the Separatist presence and gain possession of the agrocite mine, a rare mineral used for fuel and a component of beam weapons. With help from local Khormai allies, the Jedi manage to take over the main processing plant and use it as a command post. Masters Fisto and Koon decide to go on a mission to stop a snow storm at the climate-control station in order to allow their air support access. Meanwhile, Separatist agent Asajj Ventress gets through the storm and meets with Warlord Gout. She helps him retake the processing plant, and kills Master Tauht in the process. A scared Major Ozzel reveals the location of the other two Jedi, and Ventress decides to go after them.
This is another simple story using the basic premise of a planet contested by the Separatists and the Republic, with the locals caught in the middle. Once that is out of the way, we find a planet pretty similar to Hoth (they are running out of environments for planets) with a walrus-like native species and steam-powered technology. The reason this planet is so important is because it's one of three in the galaxy where agrocite can be mined. It's not really important what agrocite is, just that it's a good reason for the Clone Wars to come to Khorm. Thankfully, some Khormai are not happy about the Separatists presence and a group of them, led by Adaroo, meets with the Republic forces and guides them to the agrocite processing plant where the Khormai Warlord Gout is overseeing the mining operation for Count Dooku.
The Republic ground forces are headed by Jedi Masters Plo Koon, Kit Fisto and Tauht. The military side is covered by Plo's Clone Commander Wolffe, and Major Ozzel and his 44th Special Operation Division. The orbiting fleet is commanded by Admiral Wieler aboard the Resilient, but they are prevented from participating in the story because of a major snow storm over the area where the mine is located. While it's cool to have a story centering on Plo and Kit instead of Anakin and Obi-Wan, you just know that Tauht is cannon-fodder when his name is not mentioned in the summary. And yes, Major Ozzel is the same dude that will later make a major blunder at the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. Because of that, he is characterized here as a bumbling and cowardly officer who is a favorite of Palpatine's for some unknown reason. It's kind of comic relief when Ozzel makes blunder after blunder, but it makes it hard to believe that he would stay in the Republic Army, then join the Imperial Navy and stay for 25 years until his death given all his incompetence. He makes his first mistake by disembarking his troops while being attacked by the processing plant's cannons, then have the AT-TEs fire a bit too close, showing a disregard for the lives of clones.
The Republic takes over the base pretty easily, but Warlord Gout escapes aboard a "rail jet" which looks a lot like a steam-powered locomotive train. After setting up base inside the plant, Plo and Kit decide to go after Gout and disable the storm at the climate-control station near the mine. The reason they know the climate can be controlled is because Admiral Wieler reported a Separatist ship entering the atmosphere and the storm parted to allow its entry. But the Jedi ignore this incoming intruder and go on a trek with the Khormai and some of Ozzel's best clone troopers, leaving Tauth, Ozzel and Wolffe in charge of the command centre. Shortly after the Jedi leave, the pilot of the previously-mentioned ship is revealed to be Asajj Ventress, and after a short visit with Gout she leaves to take back the processing plant. She easily dispatches Tauth as expected, and Warlord Gout comes to join her after she takes back control of the base. When Ventress interrogates the survivors Wolffe and Ozzel, the Major reveals a bit too quickly the whereabouts of the other two Jedi.
Meanwhile, Plo and Kit are headed towards the mountain and the mine. There is a little bit of Jedi philosophy too, earlier when the Jedi try to convince the Khormai that they mostly want to free the people more than take over the agrocite, and when the battle-savvy Clone Captain needs to be convinced to bury the dead from a local village they find devastated. This chapter leaves them there, but we know that Ventress is coming for them with a squad of commando droids for some snow action next issue.
It's cool to see an early appearance by a character from the Original Trilogy, but what is more important in my opinion is when the Clone Captain (unnamed but recognizable because of his distorted voice caused by a throat injury on Mimban) mentions "the war has only been raging a year." All previous mentions of a time placement for The Clone Wars have been "during the first year" or "early in the Clone Wars." Now we have something of a lock for some stories. If we count that Wolffe appeared in the episode "Rising Malevolence" in the first season, and here he doesn't have the eye injury he is sporting in season two's "Grievous Intrigue", one can speculate that the second season takes place near the beginning of year 2. But there is still no possible way to reconcile the new stories with the previously established EU Clone Wars stories (too many reasons to mention here) although there is a big gap between Jedi: Dooku (7.5 months) and Republic #55 (15 months). The only story that takes place at the 1 year mark is the novel The Cestus Deception. A hint for a future chronolgy merging the two timelines maybe?
Hepburn definitely has his own style; very dynamic, with great "camera" angles. He mostly succeeds to stay true to the cartoon series characters, while the new ones like Ozzel and the Khormai are a bit more realistic. The clone troopers' cold weather armor in this issue is the same as in the first season episode "Trespass", based on an old production sketch for The Empire Strikes Back. This is the second cover by TV series supervising director Dave Filoni (after #1) and he is quite talented. This cover looks a lot better than the one for next issue by Hepburn (previewed on the last page).
Kit Fisto and Plo Koon kick some battle droid butt.
Rating: 7 / 10