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Episode I: The Phantom Menace #˝ (Special Wizard Edition)

Writing: Tim Truman (p.1-4), Ryder Windham (p.5-8), Henry Gilroy (p.9-12), Mark Schultz (p.13-16)
Pencilling: Steve Crespo (p.1-4), Robert Teranishi (p.5-8), Martin Egeland (p.9-12), Galen Showman (p.13-16)
Inking: George Freeman (p.1-4), Chris Chuckry (p.5-8), Howard M. Shum (p.9-12), P. Craig Russell (p.13-16)
Color Rendering: Dave Nestelle (p.1-4), Chris Chuckry (p.5-8), Harold MacKinnon (p.9-12), Lisa Stamp (p.13-16)
Lettering: Vickie Williams
Cover: Timothy Bradstreet
Released: 05/19/1999

Reviewed by: JF Boivin (11/11/2009)

SUMMARY:

A quartet of short stories centering on Anakin Skywalker, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Queen Amidala.


THE STORY

First of all, the title of this Special Wizard Edition (ordering coupon available in Wizard #94 and coming with a certificate of authenticity) is misleading. The #˝ might indicate that this is a prequel to the Phantom Menace adaptation but it's not. It's a collection of four separate excerpts from the Episode I one-shots that were released by Dark Horse and by the same creative teams. Except that these scenes are exclusive and never appeared in their respective comic! It's as if the pages were ripped out of each indivual story and pasted together for this special issue. Not only does it make it a hard read because the stories are taken out of context, but it also shows that the one-shots are incomplete. This is a very weird concept for a comic in my opinion. (Thankfully, this issue was collected along with the individual issues in a collection titled Episode I Adventures.)

The first story takes place between pages 17-18 of the Episode I: Anakin Skywalker one-shot. Right after Anakin, Kitster and Wald leave Maggy's, Anakin asks the spacer again about the angels of Iego. Then the spacer goes back inside the tavern where a fight has broken out between podracers Gasgano and Mawhonic. Then the scenes zooms in to a table where shady dealings are happening when podracer Wan Sandage hires Aldar Beedo to get rid of Sebulba to enhance his chances of winning. A similar scene happens in issue #4 of Podracing Tales except that one takes place a day later at the Poodoo Lounge and Sandage happily agrees to pay him 200,000 wupiupi instead of reluctantly agreeing on 100,000. I'm not sure which story was written first, but this is one of the only continuity mistakes amid the many Episode I-related stories so far. Finally, the scene zooms back to Ark "Bumpy" Roose as he is watching Anakin and his friends leave through a window and vows to have his revenge on the young podracer. Standing on its own, this story doesn't really make sense and plays more like an episode of Podracing Tales than part of Anakin's story. It's a good thing that was taken out of the main story as it detracts from it.

Part two is pretty good. It shows that a story can be told in the space of 4 pages. It follows straight from the Episode I: Qui-Gon Jinn one-shot after Qui-Gon broke up a fight between Anakin and a Rodian who accused him of cheating during the Podrace. On the way back to Anakin's home, the pair come across a trio of slaves who are pulling their master on a gravsled. They seem pretty thirsty and the master is whipping them to keep going. Anakin turns around and sees Qui-Gon giving them water, which irritates the slave owner. But with a little convincing, Qui-Gon manages to make the master keep up the task of making the slaves drink. All through the story, Qui-Gon gives Anakin lessons about tolerance while Anakin brings up some counterpoints. For example, why not free the slaves instead of making their owner nice? Qui-gon regrets that he cannot free all the slaves on Tatooine. A Jedi can only do so much. Very cool dialogue in this story.

The third story is tied-in to Episode I: Obi-Wan and much like that story, there is nothing new here. Where the one-shot retold the story of The Phantom Menace from Obi-Wan's P.O.V., here it expands it by adding some bits that Obi-Wan skipped over. Namely, it's a 2-page flashback about Anakin to help Obi-Wan decide if he is ready to be trained as a Jedi while remembering the Podrace that Anakin won, then left his mother, met Obi-Wan and destroyed the Trade Federation Droid Control Ship. This is framed by a sequence repeated from the one-shot that takes place during Qui-Gon's funeral and where Anakin asks "What will happen to me now?". This short piece is pretty worthless and not interesting at all.

The last part take place sometime after Episode I: Queen Amidala which ended before the Podrace. This story starts after the Royal Starship has left Tatooine and Anakin has fallen asleep after a little discussion with Padmé. Jar Jar comes to join her and as in the one-shot they again discuss how much they miss their home planet, and Jar Jar especially since Tatooine was pretty rough on his skin. Padmé says she can ask the Queen to make some water available for the Gungan's use. It's a pretty straight forward little tale which doesn't bring much to the story except the fact that Jar Jar already suspected Padmé and Amidala of being the same person.


THE ART

For more detailed views about the artwork, check out the individual reviews for the one-shots. But to summarize: Steve Crespo's work for the Anakin story is decent; Teranishi has a great style and cool aliens for the Qui-Gon part; for the Obi-Wan part, Egeland's artwork is just as horrible as the one-shot; and Showman and Russell's art is great. This special issue is complemented by a sketch gallery, two pages of Egeland's "elastic" art, one page of Showman's landspeeder and trooshti designs, and one page of Teranishi's cool alien designs.


CONCLUSIONS

An ineffectual mish-mash of abrupt stories.

Rating: 5 / 10

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