The Hidden Temple Part 1
Story: John Ostrander
Art: Jan Duursema
Inking: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Brad Anderson
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Sean Cooke
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (08/31/2008)
On a mission to recruit some Jedi to help him assassinate Darth Krayt, Cade Skywalker is led to a hidden Jedi temple on Taivas by his uncle Nat (now known as Bantha Rawk). But unknown to the crew of the Mynock, their passenger Azlyn Rae is secretly an Imperial Knight and she activates a tracking device that leads her friends to the secret planet. When Cade and crew get off the ship, they are met not only by Shado Vao and Cade's old master Wolf Sazen, but also by three Imperial Knights who landed in a cloaked ship. But the Jedi Council are willing to listen to the Knights who came as ambassadors for Emperor Fel. They also listen to Cade's plan to attack Krayt. Meanwhile, Azlyn reunites with her former Master whom she thought was dead. And he soon will be, now that Jariah Syn recognizes him as the Jedi who killed his father.
The arrival to the secret planet in the Zhar system and the hidden temple on Taivas is narrated by Nat "Bantha Rawk" Skywalker while he is recording a message to his wife Droo. He gives his thoughts on the other members of the crew and that he doesn't trust any of them with the location of the temple, thus the reason why he came along and he is piloting the Mynock. Rawk gives a little bit of the history of the temple, and reveals that he found the location when he was still a Jedi. The planet's magnetic fields shield it from sensors and even the Force, and with little help from Kol Skywalker's Yuuzhan Vong terraforming process it has been made habitable. Rawk's letter ends as the ship lands and the crew get off where they are met by two Jedi acquaintances: Wolfe Sazen and Shado Vao.
But the time for greeting is interrupted as three uninvited guests reveal themselves; Imperial Knights Antares Draco, Ganner Krieg and the Emperor's daughter Marasiah Fel arrived right behind the Mynock following a homing beacon that was deployed by Azlyn Rae earlier. They are not greeted with open arms, however, as the Jedi don't like that outsiders know their secret hideout, and Cade doesn't like to be followed. Cade is quick to figure out how the Imperial located them so easily, feeling betrayed by his old friend Azlyn, but the argument is interrupted when Princess Fel announces their intentions. Basically, the mission she and he friends have been preparing for over the last two issues was to meet with the Jedi and open talks of an alliance with Fel's forces. The Jedi are willing to listen, and that evening the three Knights, Cade and Rawk are invited to the council chamber. On the way there, Shado reveals how he and Masters Sazen and K'kruhk came to the hidden temple: he basically recounts what happened since we last saw them during a Star Destroyer bombardment on Ossus in issue #17 (once again K'kruhk survived critical injuries as he did so many times in the past.)
K'kruhk is on the Council, as is T'ra Saa and new Chadra-Fan character named Tili Qua. Like K'kruhk, Master Saa is another character that was created by Ostrander in the Republic series and the last time we saw the Neti Jedi was in issue #83 of that series which took place almost a year after the Clone Wars. (At that time, she was still with her Jedi friend and lover Master Tholme, but here we learn that he died at some point and his funeral was on Anzat.) The tree-like Neti are known to live extraordinarily long lives as Master Ood Bnar lived at least 4,000 years. Anyway, as the representative of the Imperial delegation, Marasiah Fel is the first to speak before the Council, revealing to the Jedi the truth behind Fel's role behind the Sith alliance and the Massacre of Ossus. The Jedi have been blaming Emperor Fel for these things, but as was revealed in issue #8 he was manipulated into his position by the Moff Council and as soon as Fel wanted to spare the Jedi he was also sentenced to death.
Cade submits his plan next. The whole reason he came here with his uncle is to recruit the Jedi and join forces against Darth Krayt and the Sith. After his personal encounter with them, Cade feels he knows their weakness, and plans to assassinate Krayt which will result with the Sith order shattering since most of them want to become the next ruler. But Cade also offers two big revelations (to the Jedi, not the readers who have been following the series): Krayt was once a Jedi named A'sharad Hett (whom K'kruhk and T'ra Saa knew from the aformentioned series), and he discovered Cade's healing ability. The Council intends to meditate on both proposals, ending the session and probably reserving the decision for next issue. What follows is each "faction" giving out their personal thoughts on the matter. The "newcomers" Shado and Wolf Sazen question Cade's motives, not sure if he was indoctrined by the Sith or not. The Imperial Knights however think Cade's plan is a great idea, and if successful (with or without the Jedi's help) would probably allow Roan Fel to reclaim his throne as the true Emperor.
During the Council session, the non-relevant guests are left outside under guard. Syn and Blue are watched by Master Tobias Sun (Human male) and Azlyn Rae by Master Mai (Zabrak female). But the need to separate the two groups is not needed for long: while Blue goes for a joyride with Master "Tobe", Syn joins with Azlyn to talk. They seem to get along fine, until Rasi Tuum, Azlyn's former master, shows up. As revealed last issue, Azlyn thought her Master had died years ago on Ossus.But he is still alive and as the pair walk away to discuss allegiances, Syn follows them in the shadows. The reason for his sudden interest (and hitting Master Mai) is soon revealed: he thinks Rasi Tuum is the one who killed his father, thus inciting Syn's life-long hatred and distrust of Jedi and vow to take revenge. Next issue should show the explosive results of that confrontation.
Trust is an important theme in this issue. Starting with Azlyn betraying Cade's trust, the Jedi and Uncle Nat not trusting Cade, and the potential alliance between the Jedi and Emperor Fel. There is also a revelation of mistrust between Syn and the Jedi, first sensed by Rawk during their trip to Taivas. Even though this issue doesn't have any battles or fights (aside from the short confrontation with the Imperial Knights), the potential impact of the events in this issue is staggering. If the Jedi or Imperial Knights (or both!) join Cade, he might be successful in his personal mission of ridding himself (and the galaxy) of the Sith. It's also fun to see another well-known EU character survive to this era, bringing the sense of a coherent universe. As usual, the dialogue is witty and informative, and I think Ostrander is getting better at it with each issue. The spoken words are more fluid and the conversations sound more natural. By the way it ends, this leaves the reader in a total cliffhanger.
The first impressive thing from Duursema's pen in this issue (aside from her usual greatness) is the 2-page reveal of the hidden temple. It's a hodge-podge of berthed starships located inside a deep crevasse, all from the Rebellion era. Some recognizables ships are an Imperial Star Destroyer (the classic one), a couple of Corellian Corvettes, the front section of a Nebulon-B frigate, and a pair of Calamari cruisers. The cover offers an overhead look on the temple, displaying a few additional ships like a Corellian Gunship, a Corellian Star Shuttle and a Gallofree medium transport. The creatures living around the temple are intriguing, like floating octopi and bat-like dog-faced things. Other artistic highlights include the look of pure hate on Syn's face on page 18, the depiction of an older T'ra Saa, and the amazing coloring by Brad Anderson which is always so crucial to me.
Preparing for battle and recruiting help. That's what it's all about.
Rating: 7.5 / 10 Recommended