Star Wars #23
Infinity's End 1 (of 4)
Scripting: Pat Mills
Pencilling: Ram?n F. Bachs
Inking: Raul Fernandez
Coloring: Dave McCaig
Lettering: Vickie Williams
Cover: Andrew Robinson, Matt Hollingsworth
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (12/18/2009)
Three months after the planet Ova disappeared, Quinlan Vos arrives on Dathomir to investigate why the local witches are excavating the Star Temple. He is captured upon landing and put to work on the digging as a slave for a clan of witches. Quin becomes friends with a fellow slave, a Givin named Yag Shushin, and sees the clan's matriarch Zalem and her deformed daughter Ros Lai who is constantly ridiculed by the clan sisters. When a rival clan led by Yongti attacks the malelings compound astride rancors, Quin helps the witches defeat them and thus preventing his plan from derailing. When the witches attack with an old star cruiser which they modified for digging instead of leaving the planet, Quin realizes that the secrets of the Star Temple must be very important.
After the mysterious and funny 3-page prologue, in which a Republic starship is sucked in a space rift that consumed the planet Ova, the action gets underway pretty quickly. Quin ejects from his starship which goes on to crash on Dathomir. On the way down, he is attacked by a flock of flying creatures so there's a brief battle in freefall. Thanks to the low gravity (!?!), Quin manages to land safely in a forest and right where a band of witches are prowling around. The witches are looking for slaves, and as we know from The Courtship of Princess Leia they see males as inferior.
As soon as he is put to work, disguising his identity as a Jedi (how come the witches never checked him for weapons?), Quin spots a prefect canditate for an ally to gain information from. The fellow slave is a Givin, which we don't see much in comics, and his name is Yag Shushin. Quin is whipped for talking to him by the slavemaster Vonya, one of the witches who captured him. Their confrontation is interrupted by a ground collapse which reveals that the witches are digging underground as well. The slaves then receive a visit from matriarch Zalem who says to continue work as usual.
That night in the slave pen (an exterior encampment surrounded by an energy fence), Quin reflects on his mission and what he witnessed so far. He felt a great energy when touching the temple stones, and the Jedi Council sent him to investigate. A similar, smaller temple was discovered on Ova (before it vanished in the prologue) and it had glyphs on its walls pointing to Dathomir as the source. then there is a scene introducing Ros Lai, the matriarch's daughter who is harassed by the witches because of her deformity. They even nicknamed her "The Rancor" because of her ugliness. Unfortunately, Ros Lai is the one guarding the slave compound (the other witches are drunk) and she goes down pretty easily when Yongti's clan attacks looking for breeders. Yongti herself spots Quin and captures him by ensnare him Boba Fett-style. But Quin gets irritated that this could ruin his plan and he kills Yongti and her rancor by using a Force trick. The rest of Yonti's clan is decimated by Vonya when she appears out of the ground piloting a tunnelling vehicle.
Pat Mills is new to the Star Wars universe (I was expecting Ostrander to write all of Quin's stories), but this issue introduces a lot of interesting characters, and the action scenes (namely the flying creatures attack and the rancor-riding witches' raid) are pretty exciting. As I mentionned, this story borrows heavily from The Courtship of Princess Leia which introduced Dathomir and the witches. There is also a mention of Yoda and the Chu'unthor in a one-page scene on Coruscant with Mace Windu and Saesee Tiin, which serves to show the Jedi Council's differing opinions about Quin and his mission. The whole concept of Star Temples and what is has to do with disappearing planets is just tickling the curiosity, but this could prove an interesting subject.
This is also Bachs' first Star Wars work (he also illustrated the upcoming Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan: Last Stand on Ord Mantell) and he does deliver. His designs are very faithful to the universe and familiar characters and species like the Givin, the Dathomir witches, and the Jedi are truly inspired. The artist does show a lot of emotion through characters' facial expressions which sometimes might make it look somewhat cartoony (eyes wide open or shut, clenched teeth) but it adds a lot to the storytelling and drama. The rancor beasts are just incredible and look exactly like Jabba's pet in Return of the Jedi. The movie poster-style cover by Robinson is also pretty cool to look at, although it makes it look like the story takes place in a desert instead of on Dathomir.
A new mission for Quinlan Vos: investigate the witches of Dathomir!
Rating: 7 / 10