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Star Wars Tales #23

[Also available in photo cover.]

Art Cover: Brandon Badeaux, Brad Anderson
Photo Cover: Richard E. Jones
Editor: Jeremy Barlow
Released: 05/11/2005

Reviewed by: JF Boivin (05/18/2005)

SUMMARY:

Another video game tie-in, another installment of "Nomad", and a Wedge story. This issue is only three weeks late this time, although the inside cover has a March 2005 date.


[art cover]


[photo cover]


"Shadows and Light"
Story: Joshua Ortega
Art: Dustin Weaver
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler

SUMMARY
Four thousand years before the rise of the Empire, the Great Hunt for the terentatek is officially over. But unofficially, some of the beasts are still alive on the Sith homeworld of Korriban. The Jedi Council decides to send the three best candidates for this secret hunt, the three Jedi who are most likely to resist the Dark Side that permeates the planet: Duron Qel-Droma, Shaela Nuur and Guun Han Saresh. But once there, Shaela and Duron's loving relationship creates a rift between the three friends, and Guun Han abandons them and goes to Kashyyyk by himself based on rumors of a possible terentatek that the Council were not aware of. Unfortunately, all three Jedi are never heard from again.

THE STORY
When I first saw this story was advertised as a prequel to Knights of the Old Republic (which takes place some 40 years later), I thought this was ridiculous. KotOR is the sequel to the Tales of the Jedi comics, which are in fact the real prequels. But after reading the story it makes perfect sense.

This story is entirely derived from a backstory of the Great Hunt that is told in KotOR by a Twi'lek at the Jedi Academy on Dantooine. It is also based on three journals that are found at different locations in the game: Guun Han's in the remains of a terentatek on Kashyyyk; Duron's in the Shyrak caves on Korriban (along with the Qel-Droma robes); and Shaela's in the tomb of Naga Sadow. Here, we find out exactly how those journals ended up in those places.

Not only did the writer do his homework, he also manages to take all these bits of backstory and put them together, fleshing them out with characterizations, motives and dialogue. It's just a cool concept that works whether you know about it from the game or taken entirely on its own. What is new is that it took place three years after the War of Exar Kun (i.e. the Sith Wars series), Guun Han is a Twi'lek, and Duron has visions of the future (i.e. of the KotOR game.) We even find out that Shaela was trained by Master Ood Bnar on Ossus, a nice tie-in to the Tales of the Jedi comics. It's also cool to see elements taken straight from the game: Master Vrook and the Dantooine training academy, the Dreshdae settlement on Korriban, a Selkath, a solari crystal, and the game of pazaak.

As a side note, one thing not mentioned in the story but is in the game, is that Duron Qel-Droma is Cay and Ulic's cousin.

Like I mentioned before, even if you don't know all these things you should be able to enjoy the story, although it's got one heck of a downer ending. It's less of a downer if you know the story from playing the game. I really hope that we see more stories in this time period.

THE ART
The art in this story is very appropriate. It's a nice combination of the style from the game and from the Star Wars movies. The scene in the cantina is very reminescent of the one in A New Hope, and the settings from the game are dead-on. The aliens from the movies (Quarren, Ithorian, Rodian) and the game (Selkath) are equally faithful. Although one might confuse the three main characters for Ulic Qel-Droma, Nomi Sunrider and Tott Doneeta, the character designs and costumes are well-though out. The terentatek look even more vicious than in the game. And those visions of the future are instantly recognizable by fans of the game. I hope to see more work from Dustin Weaver in these pages.


"Nomad" Chapter Three
Story: Rob Williams
Art: Brandon Badeaux
Coloring: Dan Jackson
Lettering: Michael Heisler

SUMMARY
Darca Nyl, closing in on Lycan, has reached the planet Molavar right in the middle of a local dispute. Will he choose to help the moisture farmer who offered him shelter against the local tax-collecting crime lord? Or will he leave and catch up with Lycan?

THE STORY
The adventure continues. It opens with more clues about Darca's past with a flashback scene where he fails to save his rocket trooper teammate. Then we find out he's closing in on Lycan on the Tatooine-like planet of Molavar, which he's been trying to reach since the first chapter but was delayed by various encounters. He finds Lycan's ship, then he meets a moisture farming couple who had an encounter with Lycan only three days earlier. His hunt is again delayed by a local boss harassing the farmers for taxes. Darca decides to get involved and puts the farmers lives in jeopardy.

The way he deals with that situation reveals a lot about his personality. But I still don't remember reading any confirmation that he is a Jedi. Everybody assumes he is because he carries a lightsaber. The next issue promises to be the last chapter, and I'm looking forward to some revelations.

THE ART
Brandon Badeaux (who also did the cover) has his own unique style. Although the action poses are not always typical of comic book artwork, his costume, starship and weapon designs are incredible. It's the type of artwork that has a lot of lines and details, but Badeaux makes it work. The coloring by Dan Jackson is also very distinct and covers a lot of varying colors on each page.


"Lucky"
Story: Rob Williams
Pencils: Michel Lacombe
Inking: Serge Lapointe, Andrew Pepoy
Coloring: Will Glass
Lettering: Michael Heisler

SUMMARY
After a lucky crash landing, Wedge Antilles, hero of the Battles of Yavin, Hoth and Endor, remembers a period of his life when he was living on the Corellian moon of Gus Talon. He was lucky to be off-planet when an Imperial garrison, led by Captain Turrant, arrested Wedge's girlfriend Mala and her father Rallo on suspicion of being allied with the Rebellion. But when they resist arrest, Mala, Rallo and the whole city were not as lucky.

THE STORY
The first thing I noticed is some kind of typo on the index page about the chronological placement of this tale. It states "seven years before Episode IV: A New Hope," but the narrative in the story itself indicates it's more like seven years before Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. More specifically, the framing sequence takes place 2 weeks after the Battle of Endor, and the flashback takes place 6 years before that (which makes it 2 years before Episode IV: A New Hope.) Following?

Then I noticed that this issue has no references to the X-Wing: Rogue Squadron series of comics (who start around the time of the framing story) or to Wedge's parents' recent deaths in the flashback story. I don't know how much Rob Williams knows about the EU, but he missed some opportunities to add some cool references. Nevertheless, the story does not contradict anything either and thus easily fits in the continuity.

It's always cool to find out more about the backstory of a movie character, although secondary. But in this case, the story is so generic that Wedge could be substituted by any other character that witnesses the horrors of the Empire and then wants to join the Rebellion. The concept of Wedge being "lucky" because he survived some major battles is the theme here and the story relies on it a bit much.

This is not the strongest story of this issue.

THE ART
The art is also not the strongest of the three stories. Although it's not bad, much like the story itself the art is very generic and a little bland. The faces, when not looking like they are copied from reference photos, are slightly exagerrated, almost cartoony in some panels.


CONCLUSIONS

These new revamped last issues of Tales have been really good. I am really disappointed that next issue will be the last one. I can't believe all those negative threads on the boards and in the letters page. Readers just don't get it. They complain that the stories are taking place within continuity. What kind of complaint is that? I really hated the previous 2-3 years of the series because I felt like I was wasting money on stories that don't really happen. Yes, some of them were good, but what's the use if it doesn't really happen? Sadly, I guess I'm in the minority.

Rating: 8 / 10 Recommended

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