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Visionaries TPB

Cover: Ryan Church
Editor: Jeremy Barlow
Released: 04/02/2005

Reviewed by: JF Boivin (04/16/2005)

SUMMARY:

"For the first time ever Star Wars concept artists and designers write and draw Star Wars comics stories!" Eleven tales (the cover says ten) written and illustrated by some of the visual creators behind Revenge of the Sith. The book is framed by an introduction by J.W. (The Making of Revenge of the Sith) Rinzler and two pages of creator biographies.

Note: for better summaries, read this inside look on the Official Site.

[preview cover]


"Old Wounds"
Story & Art: Aaron McBride

SUMMARY
Owen Lars and a three-year old Luke receive an unwelcome visitor on the moisture farm. But an old friend is there to protect them against his former nemesis.

THE STORY
Based on a concept sketch when the artist was considering bringing back Darth Maul as a villain, this story is in the vein as the Maul vs. Vader story in Star Wars Tales #9. Difference is, this one doesn't have to be Inifnities. With a little open-mindedness, this can easily fit in the overall Expanded Universe continuity. It is very interesting to see Maul finally catching up to Obi-Wan after tracking him for 16 years. This story has a very Western-style to it, when the two old enemies face off mano a mano.

THE ART
It is easy to see that McBride is a true artist. He is especially good at depicting motion with simple body language. This brings at third dimension to the page. Most notable are the panels where Maul smashes a blaster rifle in Owen's face; when Obi-Wan comes at his while changing his grip on his lightsaber and then pouncing; and when Obi-Wan gets thrown on top of the landspeeder. Really cinematic action.


"The Artist of Naboo"
Story & Art: Erik Tiemens

SUMMARY
A painter gets mesmerized by Padmé Amidala when he meets her in Theed. He starts using her as inspiration for his art, until he risks his life to save her life.

THE STORY
Light on dialogue, this is more of an art piece than a story. It's a bit too abstract and I'm not sure I understood the full meaning of the tale. It is a series of paintings that tell the story of the artist, I guess.

THE ART
Althought the paintings are really nice, sometimes the narration isn't easy to follow. How would the artist know Padmé has (or will have) twins? And who is it exactly was aiming at Padmé and shot the artist instead? The final panel does not answer, but just shows a reflection of a Naboo ship flying by (?)...


"Wat Tambor and the Quest for the Sacred Eye of the Albino Cyclops"
Story & Art: Michael Murnane

SUMMARY
Techno Union foreman Wat Tambor is summoned to the Power Mound of the Elders, where other representatives of his species grant him access to the Albino Cyclops eye to replace the one he lost at the hand of Anakin Skywalker.

THE STORY
This is decidedly a very weird story of a naked Wat Tambor getting a replacement mystic eye that will stay focused on Skywalker, meets the Lord Being of the Swirblies, then is sent off to Mustafar to meet his fate... It doesn't make a lot of sense, but for some reason I really liked it. It is very reminescent of a lot of European science ficton comics, as in the old days of Heavy Metal magazine and French artist Moëbius. When did Tambor lose the eye? What's even weirder is that it takes place right before Revenge of the Sith.

THE ART
Like the story, the art is very odd and abstract. Very interesting is a first look at how Wat Tambor looks underneath his armor, and at other members of his species. Tentacles, mystical books, Swirblies and a giant albino cyclops. This one has it all!


"Sithisis"
Story & Art: Derek Thompson

SUMMARY
Darth Sidious communes with the Dark Side and causes ripples in the Force that can be felt by Jedi across the galaxy.

THE STORY
There is not one word in this story, yet it tells a lot. In a small number of pages, Thompson has Sidious studying a Sith Holocron, then eating some kind of worm, only to be consumed by a giant worm himself before reverting back to his more peaceful Chancellor Palpatine appearance. Everything in between is very creepy and scary. Sidious communicates with ancient Sith spirits, then lashes out Dark Side lightning causing storms over Coruscant. The lightning also apparently curses Padmé's unborn babies, as she displays a look of surprise and terror while holding her womb. Sidious also communicates his hate to Anakin, fighting the Clone Wars on some planet, probably helping him to unknowingly achieve victory. All this Force-manipulation causes major mental anguish to Jedi all over, especially the young children in the Temple. Even Yoda has a bad feeling about this from off-world. This has to be seen to be believed.

THE ART
Again, Thompson's art is very dark and creepy. Sidious looks especially evil in this one. He is good at depicting looks of terror and worry on his characters.


"Entrenched"
Story: Alex Jaeger, M. Zachary Sherman
Art: Alex Jaeger

SUMMARY
Young Rebel trooper Corporal Jobin is in charge of an Echo station during the Battle of Hoth. He recites his story as a letter to his mother in case he dies in the trenches.

THE STORY
A very good story, told from the point of view of Rebels this time. It features some events that were just off-screen during The Empire Strikes Back. For example, Jobin is the one we hear saying "Imperial troops have entered the base..." and he is also the one who shot the ion cannon that disabled a Star Destroyer allowing a Rebel transport to leave orbit. Now we see how it all ties in together. This type of storytelling can be tricky to pull off, but when done properly it is very rewarding and enjoyable. Which is the case here. Unlike Tag and Bink are Dead, this story takes itself very seriously. What's even cooler is there is a reference to the Battle of Daluuj (from the old Goodwin/Williamson newspaper strip story "Revenge of the Jedi") and a revelation that the main character's mother is a very famous Rebel leader... It's kind of out of place, being the only story not taking place in the prequel era, but it's one of my favorites.

THE ART
This story, along with "Deep Forest," is the most comic-book-looking of the collection. And it is the best-looking of the two. It's a very realistic water color painting look and very cinematic. The costumes and vehicles are very faithful to the movie versions, which not a lot of artists can do.


"The Fourth Precept"
Story & Art: Stephan Martinière

SUMMARY
In the depths of the universe, two powerful forces are fighting to keep order and chaos in balance.

THE STORY
This five page story is very abstract. Looks like a couple of ancient Jedi in pre-Republic times are fighting for the balance of the universe. No words or narrative.

THE ART
Very mystical and sci-fi looking. Much like the Wat Tambor story, it reminds me of the old Heavy Metal days. This one is more in the style of artists such as Raza. It is a more intriguing piece to look at than it is to follow.


"Prototypes"
Story & Art: Robert E. Barnes

SUMMARY
Durge and his mentor Jaing go to see a doctor to undergo cybernetic surgery in order to improve their fighting abilities. In return, the doctor asks for protection against Mandalorian mercenaries, who just happen to attack the compound looking for a Sith artifact the doctor stole. Durge and his Master are victorious, but not without one of them loosing his life.

THE STORY
Whether this is within continuity or not, this is the closest to Durge's origin that I've seen yet. It shows how he got his armor improvements, and explains why he hates the Mandalorians so much. Although I'm not sure what the doctor refers to when he mentions that he started a war between the Sith and the Mandalorians (could it be the same war mentioned in the Knights of the Old Republic video game?), this story seems to take place a long time before the Clone Wars. But we know that Durge has been around for centuries, if not millenia. Barnes also mentions Durge's species' ability to regenerate. These elements make the story interesting, as well as the big fight scene.

THE ART
Barnes' art is a bit abstract, with very thick lines and a lot of dull gray colors. The backgrounds are not very detailed, so we don't know where this happens exactly, creating a certain atmosphere. The look of Jaing's armor is interesting, looking like the protoype for the Mandalorian horned symbol. Another little in-universe reference.


"Imperial Recruitment"
Story & Art: Feng Zhu

SUMMARY
Recruitment posters for the Imperial Army and Navy.

THE STORY
This is nothing more than two posters promoting Imperial recruitment. They sport captions such as "See new worlds!" and "Join today!" Each one depicts a sexy woman, which someone who joins the Navy will never really meet, one with a rancor and one in a TIE fighter pilot outfit.

THE ART
The TIE pilot woman is cool. The rancor is strangely small-sized. The two women look incredibly similar. Maybe the are twins? Or Maybe it's the same woman?


"Deep Forest"
Story & Art: Sang Jun Lee

SUMMARY
The Trade Federation is in negotiations with the Royal Families of Kashyyyk. The Wookiees don't want to join the war, but when General Grievous' droids kill King Grakchawwaa's son Rikummee, the war is delared.

THE STORY
Great little story that shows the state of affairs on Kashyyyk during the Clone Wars, and pre-Revenge of the Sith. The Wookiees are reluctant to go to war, but are not given a choice if they want to defend their honor. The cameos by Grievous and Yoda are a nice touch.

THE ART
Lee's style is more of a sketchbook type of art. Colors are pretty sparse and Earth-toned. Wookiees, creatures and droids are depicted equally well. My only gripe is that the Wookiee characters always have their mouths open in every panel, especially the Prince Rikummee who looks like he's yawning all the time. I guess it's hard to convey expression in Wookiee faces any other way.


"Celestia Galactica Photografica"
Story & Art: Ryan Church

SUMMARY
A series of twelve paintings representing various planets and landscapes.

THE STORY
Much like "Imperial Recruitment," this is not a story but a series of paintings with titles. So let's get to...

THE ART
Church's style is very reminescent of the cover for the A New Hope novelization by John Berkey. The paintings cover all sorts of planets and different time periods of the Star Wars Universe. Highlights include "AT-AT Villa," "Bad Pet," "Utapau Surrenders" and "Mygeeto Burns" (which was used for the cover of this book). Each page has its own little story if you look at the details and let your imagination do the rest.


"The Eyes of Revolution"
Story & Art: Warren Fu

SUMMARY
A Kalee general is greatly injured in a shuttle crash. His body is picked up by Count Dooku and brought to Geonosis for an experiment. His body is rebuilt as a droid, and trained to become the leader of a great droid army.

THE STORY
This is my favorite story in this anthology, only for the fact that it is the one and only origin story of General Grievous. Not only do we see his home planet, his accident and his reconstruction, but we also see that he was chosen by Darth Sidious and Dooku even before he joined the Separatists. It seems to take place sometime before the Battle of Geonosis. There is also a sub-plot about Dooku picking up Sifo-Dyas' frozen body on Serenno to get his blood for transfusion that begs to be explored more deeply, but that is for another story.

THE ART
Another reason this is my favorite story is that Fu's art is by far the best. His photo-realistic paintbrush style is some of the best I've ever seen, and the character likenesses are just amazing. I would love to see more artwork like this is Star Wars comics.


CONCLUSIONS

A very eclectic mix of artistic visions, by some of the most creative people. Obviously, this is mainly an art showcase, but it shows that talented artists are also talented storytellers. The diversity of stories by itself is a highlight of this book. My favorites are "Entrenched" and "The Eyes of Revolution," which alone make this collection worth reading.

Rating: 9 / 10 Highly Recommended

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