Indomitable Part 1
Story: John Ostrander
Art: Omar Francia
Coloring: Brad Anderson
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Douglas Wheatley
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (03/16/2008)
Admiral Gar Stazi and his Galactic Alliance fleet plan to take over the Empire's nearly complete Advanced Star Destroyer which was constructed in Mon Calamari's orbital shipyards. But newly-appointed Imperial Admiral Valan fully plans to use the Imperious to bait the Alliance into a trap, not knowing that Stazi remembers a similar disastrous plan that took place over Caamas seven years ago.
The beginning of a nice two-part interlude from the adventures of Cade Skywalker, "Indomitable" takes place at the same time as the previous two issues (#18-19, parts 5 and 6 of "Claws of the Dragon"). It is a military tale about a confrontation between the Sith Empire's Outer Rim Third Fleet, led by Admiral Dru Valan aboard the Star Destroyer Relentless, and Admiral Gar Stazi's remnant fleet of the Galactic Alliance. Stazi was first introduced in issue #9 where he was offered to join with Roan Fel's forces but events prevented an alliance from happening. The Duros admiral participated in the Battle of Caamas where the Sith-controlled Empire crushed the Alliance, but Stazi managed to escape and has been harassing Imperial ships ever since.
It starts with a 3-page scene aboard the Relentless, where the Sith overseer Darth Azard is not happy with Admiral Sha Dun's failure to destroy Stazi's forces. So he dispatches him (much more violently than Vader ever did!) and warns new Admiral Valan not to make the same mistake. Valan has a personal grudge against Stazi, and does not hesitate to put a plan in motion. He plans to use the almost-completed Advanced Star Destroyer Imperious, sitting in an orbital drydock on Calamari, as bait to lure Stazi's forces into a trap. The plan is set in motion when Valan's informant, a Toydarian named Niffla, spies on a meeting between former Mon Calamari politician Gial Gahan and his niece Monia. Gial and his people have been secretely supplying Stazi with materiel and recruits for years, and his status has avoided him scrutiny. He has also managed to obtain the access codes for Calamari's planetary and shipyard defenses, but he refuses to give them to his niece as this would put the blame on the entire Mon Calamari population and entice Darth Krayt's retribution. He still volunteers to help his old friend anyway, but wants to take the blame himself.
Monia flies back to the fleet aboard the YT-2400 freighter Scarlet Star piloted by Anj Dahl to report to Stazi. But when they arrive, they witness a knife-fight between the Dug Andurgo and the new Human recruit Hondo Karr. Karr was one of the stormtroopers in issue #4 who left Joker Squad at the end of the story. Now we know what happened to him. The fight is broken up by Weequay Commander Jhoram Bey, who berates Monia and Anj for delaying their briefing with Stazi. Once this is done and Monia leaves, Stazi confers with his aide and old friend Captain Jaius Yorub. They both think that the Imperious presents too easy a target. Both have served at Caamas, and this reminds them too much of that incident. But even though they know it's a trap, Stazi still thinks it's worth the risk, and expecting an attack might give the Galactic Alliance an edge.
There follows a 2-page flashback to seven years before, during an Alliance Triumvirate meeting where we see newly-promoted Rear Admiral Piers Petan proposing an attack on Emperor Roan Fel who will be attending a secret meeting on Caamas. Stazi and Gial Gahan both agree with the Jedi representative Kol Skywalker that this is a trap and would put the entire fleet in danger. But Ithorian Nu Toreena and Human Bail Antilles (nice touch!) both support Petan giving them the majority of votes. Of course we know what happened next!
The final scene shows Admiral Valan aboard the Relentless foreseeing the unfolding of his plan: Gahan will de-activate the automated defenses from Mon Calamari's surface; Alliance commandos will capture the Imperious' skeleton crew, but will be overtaken by hidden stormtroopers; then the defenses will be re-activated, trapping the Allaicne fleet between the planet and Valan's fleet arriving from the rear. Then it cuts back to the present where the Alliance fleet arrives and the Valan calls for Stazi to surrender, suggesting that everything went as planned. And the story leaves us hanging with this perfect cliffhanger. The "next issue" blurb on the letters page suggests that Stazi will not go down without a fight, and he might have a trick or two up his sleeve.
This issue has two scenes inspired by the classic movie trilogy: the field promotion of Admiral Valan by Darth Azard happens much like it did with Admiral Piett and Vader; and Stazi's fleet being caught between planetary defenses and an Imperial fleet is reminescent of the "It's a trap!" phase of the Battle of Endor. It's nice to see Ostrander keeping touch with the original source even in a time period far, far away. Also, I like the reference to Mon Calamari also being named Dac, which dates back to a pre-Return of the Jedi article in Bantha Tracks and was recently ret-conned in Wizards of the Coast's Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds sourcebook.
I really like newcomer Francia's pencil and ink work, especially the way he faithfully recreates a lot of Star Wars aliens. I just think the Mon Calamaris in the story look a bit like Gungans, but that's what happens when trying to make them more expressive than the puppet head of Admiral Ackbar. And facial expressions are certainly one of Francia's fortÚs. Even good ol' stone-faced Duros like Stazi display a range of emotions. The artist also gets to design some of his own starships and characters, including the new Sith Lord Azard who is a Quarren much like the ill-fated Darth Maleval from issue #4 but with a cooler costume/armor. The way he cuts down poor Kel Dor ex-Admiral Sha Dun is certainly gruesome (sliced in two vertically) but is well-handled and not too explicit. The coloring is top-notch, and the cover by fan-fave Wheatley is done so well it looks like a computer graphic!
An exciting starship battle/political story more int he vein of Rogue Squadron and a nice change from the usual tales about Jedi and Sith.
Rating: 7 / 10 Recommended