Star Wars Tales #3
Cover: Dave Dorman
Editor: Dave Land, Peet Janes
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (08/30/2005)
This is the first issue where Dave Land takes over as editor from Peet Janes. Well, he is credited as editor on "Deal with a Demon" and co-editor on the other three stories, which makes it feel like he left the company right in the middle of editing this issue. It is also the first issue that does not include a comedy or cartoon piece. I mean, they all take place within the continuity unlike "Skippy the Jedi Droid" or "Stop That Jawa!" from the previous issues (although they were both good).
Of course, with Peet leaving, we also loose his cool editorials. But here at least we get some reader letters and some assurances that the book is in good hands.
One last thing: I really love that cover by Dorman! He manages to make even Jar Jar look beautiful. Great piece of work.
"The Death of Captain Tarpals"
Story: Ryder Windham
Pencils: Tom Fowler
Inks: Tom Fowler
Colors: Dave Nestelle
Letters: Vickie Williams
Jar Jar Binks is caught stealing food in Chef Marshoo's eatery, but he is saved from a beating by the chef when Captain Tarpals arrives to arrest him. Turns out Jar Jar is held responsible for a recent incident at Boss Nass' mansion with his heyblibber, and this time the boss decided to banish Jar Jar from Otoh Gunga. So Tarpals escorts Jar Jar to the surface, where he is left on his own.
Although this story can be enjoyed on its own, it is really the missing chapter of Windham's novel The Bongo Rally, the twelfth book in the Episode I Adventures series from Scholastic and the last of four books which forms one continuous story about the events that lead to Jar Jar's banishment. However, I thought that the story was better when the book was read first, so I enjoyed it more on my second reading. It takes place right between the last two chapters of the book, and in fact there is a big gap in the narration where this story should be.
Furthermore, a lot of characters and events from the books are mentioned here; Brass Marshoo was introduced in Festival of Warriors (#10) as Jar Jar's boss when he worked in the kitchens; the accident at the zoo was recounted in Rescue in the Core (#9) and was the reason Jar Jar was put on probation for one year; and the accidents with the "gasser" and "da boss' heyblibber" are described in The Bongo Rally (#12) where he obviously broke his probation.
But enough about the book. The title of the story can be misleading, as Tarpals doesn't really die, but explains that Jar Jar is known as the death of him because of all his shenanigans in which Tarpals somehow ends up resolving. Windham shows how adept he is at handling the annoying Gungan-speak. He also portrays Captain Tarpals as a kind-hearted warrior, and I really had a sense that he would have like to be Jar Jar's friend but the Gungan is just hopeless. He didn't necessarily like banishing Jar Jar, but he also felt it was for the best. The story is very brief, with one action scene where Marshoo sneaks up behind the two Gungans but the handcuffed Jar Jar accidentally knocks him out.
I wouldn't want to see too many Gungan stories, but so far there is only this one and Windham was the right choice as a writer.
Fowler is really good at depicting movement and expression through still images, which is not always easy when the characters are aliens. The motions of the Gungans' ears when they move, and the faces Tarpals makes are very naturalistic. The colors are also natural, with a lot of the browns, blues and greens that we see in the Otoh Gunga scenes in The Phantom Menace.
"Deal with a Demon"
Story: John Ostrander
Pencils: Jan Duursema
Inks: Rick Magyar
Colors: Dan Jackson
Letters: Vickie Williams
The Devaronian smuggler Vilmarh Grahrk is hired by the Loyalists of the planet Ootoola to smuggle young princess Foolookoola off the planet to Dur Sabon. She is the last surviving member of the royal family, former rulers of the government who were killed and taken over by a new Purist government. Part of his plan is to appear to betray the princess and her Mistryl bodyguard Naradan D'ulin, and then break them out of their cell once they are captured. The plan works, and they escape just as the purists realized what happened, but the princess and D'ulin don't really appove of Villie's methods and warn him never to return.
This is Villie's first published appearance. He will play a larger role three months later in the Jedi Council: Acts of War series and "Twilight" story arc of the ongoing series. This solo adventure seems to also place chronologically between or before the two series.
It also serves to establish his roguish character (think Han Solo is greedy?) and his droid co-pilot NT, who is integrated into his starship Inferno's computer. Villie does thinkgs his own way, and he seems to adapt very well to changes in plan. When Villie betrays the two females and has them captured, Ostrander doesn't reveal if Villie changes his mind because he finds out the Loyalists would pay him more, or if he planned it from the start. Of course, Villie makes it sound like he had planned it...
The aliens, who are only derogatorily referred to as "fishfaces," are not particularly developped or interesting but they play their part in the story. I can understand why Ostrander didn't use an already established species, as the story calls for a government that's been recently overthrown and assassinated, still it would have been nice if he had used one of the lesser-known species from other comics or books.
The idea of using a Mistryl Shadow Guard is an interesting one, and Naradan is probably a relative of the sisters Manda and Karoly D'ulin mentioned in the short story "Hammertong: The Tale of the Tonnika Sisters" by Timothy Zahn (Karoly D'ulin is one of the fake Tonnika twins with Shada D'ukal.)
It's an enjoyable and satisfying story, starring a character you (will) love to hate.
The team of Duursema/Magyar will end up illustrating the Darth Maul series later that year, so this is a kind of a preview of things to come. And what a treat it is! This is Duursema's third Star Wars story (after drawing Marvel's Star Wars #92 back in 1985, and one third of last month's Chewbacca #2), and she will later become the most well-known and -loved Star Wars artist of the decade which is saying a lot. The full page depiction of the water planet's surface on page 1 is truly breathtaking, with the colors enhancing the effect tenfold. And it's all uphill from there. There is a lot of character in Villie's facial expressions, and the fight scenes with the Mistryl are well-handled. One little blooper: in the top panel on page 9, one of Villie's horns is cut off by the word balloon. It just looks funny.
Story: Rich Handley, Darko Macan
Pencils: Chris Brunner
Inks: Chris Brunner
Colors: Michelle Madsen, Dave Stewart
Letters: Steve Dutro
Lando Calrissian angers rival gambler Barpotomous Drebble in a game of sabacc, and in return Drebble tries to get his revenge by rigging a game against the Baron-Administrator of Bespin's Cloud City, Dominic Raynor. But even though the cheat is discovered, Lando still looses, until he receives 5 million credits from an anonymous source to continue with the game. On a final wager, Lando bets his starship lot on Nar Shaddaa against the ownership of Cloud City and wins! It turns out that the gift of credits was from thousands of workers who wanted a new Baron-Administrator for their city.
Writer Rich Handley has displayed his knowledge and love of the Marvel series and other aspects of Star Wars in different medium. He wrote several articles for such magazines as Star Wars Galaxy Collector, Star Wars Insider ("Who's Who in the Max Rebo Band," #67) and Star Wars Gamer ("The Marvel Series," #1), and also co-wrote a short story ("Crimson Bounty" with Charlene Newcomb, Star Wars Adventure Journal #14.) and an unpublished sequel. Combine this with the comic expertise of Darko Macan (X-wing Rogue Squadron: The Phantom Affair, Vader's Quest and Chewbacca among others) and you get a pretty entertaining story that will appeal to the most knowledgeable readers (for more details, check out the interview with both writers that I did right before this book came out.)
The story is mostly based on one of the Galaxywide NewsNets in Star Wars Adventure Journal #14, which was in turn based on a reference in the West End Games adventure Crisis on Cloud City. Like the news item, it describes the events of how Lando won Cloud City from Baron Raynor but adding a lot of details and flavor. Among those added details are a couple of Marvel references. Issues #71-72 of the Marvel Star Wars series introduced Drebble, a rival of Calrissian's that keeps referring to how the gambler cheated him the last time they met enough to place a bounty on his head. Well, this is where it all started. There is also a mention of Lando's ship the The Cobra, which was first seen in issue #79.
There is also a lady involved, of course. In this case, the lady hangs around the table during both sabacc games, which Lando happens to both win. The "lady luck"'s name is Ymil, Raynor's lover, and she wears a very special pendant. It's a good thing that Lando got it back from a couple of thieves in the beginnng of the story. A lot happens in only 16 pages, and it's always fun to read about Lando's past. This is definitely my favorite story from this issue.
Brunner's work is perfect for this story. The characters and aliens (lots of them in the cantina) are instantly recognizable. My favorite is the Toydarian thief Zlato, who tries to steal the lady's pendant. He looks really cool zipping away with his aviator goggles. The desing of his unnamed partner is also interesting. Of course, Drebble is based on the Marvel version, and this first illustrated depiction of Baron Raynor makes him out to be slightly demented. There is one visual gag that I noticed: on page 1, Drebble is holding a drink that is labelled "45". Colt 45, Lando... get it? I also love the Cloud City landscape on the last page. The colors (by two colorists no less) are just amazing.
"Three Against the Galaxy"
Story: Rich Hedden
Art: Rick Leonardi
Inks: Mark Lipka
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: Steve Dutro
Grissom, a down-on-his luck Gamorrean, gains two unlikely allies after he becomes a prison worker on Otunia and is involved in a mine explosion. The mine is owned by Lord Kabul and the incident was the result of sabotage by his brother Seth who wants to take over the mine and ally himself with the Empire. He was trying to kill the Lord and his daughter Arista, but only partly succeeds when the young woman is rescued by Grissom. After they are finally found, they escape with the help of a Jawa named Tek. The three companions plan to leave the planet, but not before they exact a little revenge on the new Lord Kabul.
This story has 22 pages, which is almost the size of a regular comic. It has a few points in its favor; first, I love Jawas. Second, although it takes place on a desert planet it is not Tatooine. Third, it's an origin tale of characters that can go on to lots of further adventures (but unfortunately don't, but it tickles the imagination). I also like the fact that one of the main characters is a Gamorrean, an alien species that is largely untouched in most Star Wars stories. The fact that Grissom was a guard in Jabba's Palace when Luke came to visit also feeks like it could belong in the Tales from Jabba's Palace anthology.
Tek the Jawa is very cool, handling weapons and explosives like a champ, and Arista is not the typical rich spoiled brat but is longing to be free from her controlling father. I found it highly enjoyable: the characters are interesting, the plot is entertaining, the action is energetic and the narration is creative. Bravo, Mr. Hedden.
The team of Leonardi/Lipka previously worked on parts 2 and 4 of "Outlander" (issues #8 & 10 of the on-going Star Wars series) and I enjoyed the art in this story just as much as those two, maybe even more. Because this time, this is a complete story in itself and doesn't have other points of references from other artists. They are free to create whatever they want. Otunia might not be distinct enough from Tatooine not to be confused, and seeing a Jawa there doesn't really help. But the aliens are mostly done right, and the Humans even more so. The characters Moff Harsh and Seth Kabul have unique distinguishable features that immediately portray their personalities even before they utter any dialogue. The various action scenes and explosions are equally good. Although not the best of this issue, the art is still enjoyable.
So far, this series is 3 for 3. These are the last batch of stories to be edited by Peet Jane. Let's see what the future holds.
Rating: 10 / 10 Highest Recomendation