Siege of Saleucami Part 1 (of 4)
Story: John Ostrander
Art: Jan Duursema
Inking: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Brad Anderson
Lettering: Michael David Thomas
Cover: Jan Duursema, Brad Anderson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (04/28/2005)
The Separatists have set up a Morgukai clone factory located in a crater city on Saleucami. A Republic task force, commanded by General Oppo Rancisis, has been laying siege on the planet for five months. The Republic's attemps at destroying the installation so far have been unsuccessful, but now a ground force led by a few Jedi generals finally advance forward by taking a big step towards victory. Quinlan Vos manages to infiltrate the tunnels below the city and blow up the shield generator, allowing Aayla Secura to offer air support. Both of them sense that their former master Tholme has been helping the Republic from inside the enemy base all this time. During a break in the battle, Quinlan, acting as a spy for Dooku's forces, receives a message that he is to meet with Sora Bulq and reveal the Republic's battle plans. But Quinlan fully expects that he will be walking into a deadly trap.
This is the final story arc that precedes Revenge of the Sith. It actually takes place three weeks before the events of the movie. In the next issues, I fully expect to see a lot of storylines that have been building up for over three years to be resolved. But let me talk about this issue for now.
Taking place a full five months after last issue, we find out that nothing has really changed since then: Tholme is still believed dead, but sabotaging the Separatist base from the inside; the Republic has been fighting the Anzati-trained Morgukai clone army, led by Sora Bulq, on the planet with no reinforcements from either side. It is specified that supplies are starting to get thin, which is understandable. Also specified is the fact that the Seps, all comfy in their city, have access to unlimited power and water. So, you can say that the Reps are at a definite disadvantage. The clever explanation here is that Master Oppo Rancisis has been using Jedi battle meditation to steer the course of the battle. This Force power was first introduced in the first Tales of the Jedi series back in 1993. Wonder why this hasn't been used anywhere else in Clone Wars fiction. Score another one for Ostrander!
This issue marks an advancement in the battle with a chain of events. A lucky blast from the Seps opens up an underground tunnel, which Quinlan infiltrates and uses to blow up the city's shield generator, thus allowing starfighters and reinforcements to come for help. There is also a Republic fleet in orbit (commanded by a returning Sagoro Autem, last seen in Jedi: Shaak Ti, now an officer) but they are held off by a planetary gun. Quinlan manages to blow that up too, securing the Republic a new territory. Victory seems secure, but after we find out Quinlan is working for both sides, it is still up in the air.
That sub-plot has been going on for three years. Is Quinlan really back from the Dark Side, or is he working as a spy for Count Dooku? Or does he really have his own agenda and want to kill the Sith Lord, which he believes is Sora Bulq? The last page seems to hint at the third theory. I hope this becomes all clear by the end of issue #77. Another unresolved issue is if Quinlan truly loves Khaleen, his lover and partner in crime who's been a constant presence since Republic #49.
Ostrander cleverly wrote in a few key characters that allow couple of other ongoing plots to be addressed, if not resolved. For one, K'kruhk explains that he made peace with the fact that Quinlan tried to kill him back in Republic #63. Also, there is one page of Quinlan and Aayla discussing the events of Republic #68, in which Commander Bly saved Aayla by shooting Quinlan who was about to kill her. Quinlan also has a brief discussion with Bly.
Other Jedi included in this issue fighting at Quinlan's side are A'Sharad Hett, Jeisel (from Jedi: Mace Windu and Jedi: Dooku) and a new Nikto named Ausar Auset (although it would have been cool if Ostrander used Fi-Ek Sirch instead, the Nikto Jedi from Attack of the Clones.)
The issue also has a two-page interlude from the Separatist point of view, followed by another two-page scene in which the Dark Jedi Skorr intimidates Khaleen into relaying a message to Quinlan.
Whew! Who said that Ostrander doesn't know how to jam-pack an issue with a complex story and lots of action?
Not only is the story very detailed, the art is as well. Duursema must have put a lot of time and effort in this issue. With the upcoming movie, artists and writers have an opportunity to use vehices and ships from Revenge of the Jedi. Duursema depicts ARC-170 and Tri-Droid fighters, Jedi Interceptors, AT-RT Walkers, BARC Speeders, and even a Juggernaut. The AT-RT drivers look very similar to the Snowtroopers from The Empire Strikes Back. They appear especially cool in the bottom panel of page 7, fighting alongside K'kruhk and Hett, both shooting blaster rifles in action poses. That one panel is worthy of being turned into a poster, or at least a Windows wallpaper. I don't know, there's something about Jedi using those clumsy and random weapons that appeals to me.
Other artistic highlights include the amazing splash page of Jedi vs. Morgukai, and the very cool depictions of characters, especially the rarely-seen Oppo Rancisis, Sora Bulq, Aayla Secura, and the original Morgukai, Bok (who also graces the amazing cover). It looks like there's no such thing as too much work for Duursema.
This final story arc is quickly building up to be of epic proportions. Be sure not to miss this issue if your a fan of the series at all.
Rating: 8 / 10 Highly Recommended