Claws of the Dragon Part 4
Story: John Ostrander, Jan Duursema
Script: John Ostrander
Pencilling: Jan Duursema
Inking: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Brad Anderson
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Travis Charest
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/26/2008)
Morrigan Corde puts her plan in motion to rescue her son from the Sith Temple. With help from Jariah Syn and Kee, she rigs some Yuzhaan Vong bugs with cameras and explosives and sneaks them inside. Meanwhile, Cade is learning how to become a Sith by his teacher Darth Talon. Unknown to him, he is also being evaluated by Darth Krayt who discovers that Cade's might not be sincere in his wish to join the Dark Side. On Ossus, another party seeks to rescue Cade. His former master Wolf Sazen and his colleagues have been hiding, waiting for the Sith to leave orbit. But before they do, the Imperial ship fires on what remains of the Temple ruins, destroying it and whoever is hiding inside.
This issue starts one week after the last one, and takes place over three weeks. During that period, Cade trains with Talon, Morrigan waits for her Yuuzhan Vong bugs to reach their target, and the three Jedi Masters wait for their chance to leave Ossus inside the Temple ruins. It starts out with Cade's intense lightsaber training with Talon, where he seems to enjoy himself but is defeated. Three weeks after that scene, Talon gives him a history lesson about the Sith and Krayt's past, continuing where his origin story left off last issue. After leaving Tatooine, the now-bounty hunter A'Sharad Hett came to Korriban in pursuit of a mark. There, the ancient spirit of a Dark Lord calls to him. Hett enters a tomb and find the Holocron of Xoxaan, one of the first Jedi to become a Sith thousands of years earlier. The story goes that Xoxaan was Hett's first master and opened to way for him to turn into Darth Krayt. After that story, Talon tests Cade's loyalty by "deepening" the bond between them. But Talon reports to her master that she senses deceit in Cade, that he's only pretending to be a Sith in order to infiltrate them (reminding Krayt of Quinlan Vos who did the same during the Clone Wars). Of course, Krayt believes that Cade will turn in spite of himself.
During that time, two groups are planning to rescue Cade, whether he wants it or not. His mother, Morrigan Corde an ex-agent of the Empire now working undercover for Moff Calixte, asked for a crate of Yuuzhan Vong bugs as part of her payment last issue. Now she receives that payment from Calixte herself (who didn't trust Grand Moff Veed to meet with Corde again). Corde takes the bugs back to the Mynock where she has Chak's Devaronnian co-pilot rig them with behavior controls and shield them from detection. She also has Jariah Syn install some miniature cams in some, and remote explosives in others. Then Corde takes the bugs inside the temple herself, disguised as a Sith. Then the three week wait begins. During that time, Deliah Blue is restless, often planning to go rescue her lover on her own. But Corde reasons with her that she has no chance on her own. After Deliah sees Cade kissing Darth Talon via the bug spycams, I'm not too sure she is so eager to rescue him anymore (good thing she doesn't see what they do after).
Cut to Ossus, where we left off Masters Sazen, Vao and K'kruhk last issue. After more than a month of waiting while the persistent stormtroopers search the ruins, Vao decides to use a Jedi mind trick on one of them to make them leave. The plan works, and Jedi finally see their chance as the Imperial Star Destroyer in orbit prepares to leave. But the Sith in charge, Darth Stryfe, takes no chances and decides to bombard the temple from orbit! The issue ends on that deadly cliffhanger.
There is more going on in the background while those three main storylines unfold. Krayt's obsession with Cade starts to create doubts in some of the other Sith. Darth Nihl starts to consider who would replace Krayt if he dies, and confides in Darth Maladi. There's no harm in playing it safe. Then I got to wonder: if Krayt knows Cade is lying to them about joining the Sith, doesn't he deduce that he still plans to rescue the Hosk Trey'lis? If he did, wouldn't the Sith Lord have the Bothan Jedi killed? There is some interesting romance going on as well, first with Moff Calixte suspecting her lover's interest in Morrigan Corde to be more than business, then with the Cade/Talon/Deliah love triangle, and finally with the flirting between Jariah Syn and the much older Morrigan. It all comes down to this: is Cade really fallen over the Dark Side? And whether or not he did, will he want to stay with the Sith, the Jedi, his old partners, or simply go on his own like he's been doing lately? Only time (and the next two issues) will tell.
The art is amazing as usual. Some highlights of this issue: we finally learn about the lightsaber-wall art first seen on the cover of the Broken hardcover and we see more of it. Cade's new black Sith armor is pretty cool and his pratice fight with Talon is very graceful and intense. It leaves me wondering if Cade's many scratches are the result of the prectice or the more loving interlude afterwards (it's hard to say because the scratches on his body would have been hidden by his armor). We also get to see poor old Hosk Trey'lis being tortured in Darth Maladi's lab in the first panel of page 1. Krayt's flashback story on Korriban is very dark, with a sky filled with lightning and an eerie, ghost-like Sith spirit. And Deliah Blue's reaction to seeing Cade kiss another woman (in the background of two panels on page 18) is priceless.
Krayt is becoming an interesting character, and Cade is up to his usual tricks again. An intense story.
Rating: 7 / 10 Recommended