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Star Wars Tales #21

[Also available in photo cover.]

Painted Cover: Lee Bermejo
Photo Cover: Keith Wood
Editor: Jeremy Barlow
Released: 10/20/2004

Reviewed by: JF Boivin (10/27/2004)

SUMMARY:

First, I'll mention that this comic inspired me to write comic reviews again. Then I'll mention the changes and improvements that begin with this issue in the five year old series. any one of them makes it worth to buy this series in my opinion.

#1 - The obvious changes: new logo and format. The issue still clocks at 64 pages, but no longer square-bound. It still comes in two different covers, which annoys me, but it's a minor issue.

#2 - New editor: Jeremy Barlow takes over from Dave Land. A lot of criticism was sent in Land's direction after he took over the series from Peet Janes. Land really probed readers to get their opinions, but he never got the point: Nobody cares about Infinities. Barlow's vision and plans for this series are just to good too be true.

#3 - Timeline: Barlow finally gets it right. Each story will be official, with the timeframe clearly indicated in the contents page. This was a very important point for me, and I always felt with previous issues that somebody didn't feel like separating each single story for fear of having to much work to do. So everything was labelled as "Infinities," and the serious stories were lumped in with the cartoon caricatures. Sure, there will still be more Inifnities stories, but only if they are really significant, according to Barlow. The previous issue almost made me quit reading the series it was so horrible. If I want to read cartoons of Star Wars I'll read Mad Magazine. Now I won't feel I'm wasting my money on stories that never really happened in the Expanded Universe.

#4 - Longer stories: This issue (and the ones to come) has three stories with a higher page count for each. No longer will we see four or five 5-page stories with no development.

#5 - Letter page: By popular demand, the letters are back, and Barlow even sent out preview issues to some readers. A tried and true method.


[art cover]


[photo cover]


"Nomad" [Part 1]
Story: Rob Williams
Art: Brandon Badeaux
Coloring: Dan Jackson
Lettering: Michael Heisler

SUMMARY
About six months after the Battle of Naboo, an enigmatic Jedi named Darca Nyl arrives on a planet. He is on someone's trail and looking for clues. He gets involved in rescuing a mining boss's daughter who was kidnapped by a rival.

THE STORY
An intriguing first part of a series of adventures of this new character, an ambiguous Jedi who seems to have a painful background. Although he appears very caring, he is not your average Jedi do-gooder. Come to think of it, he never admits to being Jedi. There is also an intriguing villain lurking in the background who is more than likely the one Nyl is after. Some flashbacks of a young man in dire situations. This story has enough to get me anxious for the sequel.

THE ART
The art is good. Fans of DC's Man of Steel might recognize Bradeaux's work. Very clear and almost movie-like. The coloring is just brilliant in this story, thanks to Dan Jackson. You can see for yourself on the Official Site where they posted the whole 22 pages of Chapter One.


"Walking the Path That's Given" [Part 1]
Story: Shane McCarthy with Thomas Andrews
Script: Thomas Andrews
Pencils: Michel Lacombe
Inks: Serge Lapointe
Coloring: SnoCone Studios
Lettering: Michael Heisler

SUMMARY
The time is about a year after the Battle of Yavin. A Clone Wars veteran-come smuggler is personally recruited by Lord Vader to lead a squadron of TIE fighters named the Black Eight. But not without interference from an Imperial commander who wants to get rid of him, even if it means risking the Emperor's wrath.

THE STORY
Another multi-part story. I hope they don't overplay that angle. The pilot in question, Nas Ghent, is not the same Ghent as the young slicer from Tim Zahn's stories. I imagine the name Ghent is like Smith in the Star Wars universe. It's hard to review a story whithout reading the ending, but this one leaves me in suspense: why did Vader recruit this guy, and why is the Commander foolish enough to cross Vader, right in his face! Stay tuned for #23, as this one is not announced for the next issue.

THE ART
The first thing I noticed are the facial expressions of all the characters. Lacombe seems to be very good at giving Humans that realistic, middle-of-a-sentence look on faces. I noticed some females among the Star Destroyer crew. I don't know if this is the artist's choice but it's a nice touch.


"Equals and Opposites"
Story: Nathan P. Butler
Pencils: James Raiz
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler

SUMMARY
Towards the end of the New Jedi Order, Jedi Kyle Katarn and partner Jan Ors rescue a group of slaves while talking about marriage and children on a Yuuzhan Vong-occupied world.

THE STORY
Nathan Butler has been a very involved member of the Star Wars community for a long time. You may know him from his Star Wars Timeline Gold website. Does he cut it as a professional writer? He certainly knows how to choose characters and settings, as we don't see many Kyle Katarn and/or New Jedi Order comics these days. I would qualify this story as passable. The idea is good, but the execution needs some fine-tuning. It's a fun, quick read

THE ART
Although it's not horrible, I thought the art was amateurish. People are not drawn right, especially in close-ups, and sometimes disproportionate, like big manga-style feet.


CONCLUSIONS

Although the contents are not excellent, this is a solid and entertaining issue overall, which I havent seen for a long time in the pages of this comic. I'd like to have more one-shot stories than multi-parters, but I can't complain given the valiant effort Barlow is putting into this. His plan is to "return to that stirring sense of wonder and excitement, of swashbuckling and romantic adventure that was so integrally part of the Original Trilogy." Jeremy, you had me at "Welcome..."

Rating: 8 / 10 Recommended

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