Title: Star Wars Annual #1
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Angel Unzueta
Series: Star Wars Annual #1 (Official Canon)
Publisher/Copyright: Marvel Comics, 2015
I’m annoyed by comics stories that don’t have a proper title. It makes things like this more difficult. Ah, don’t mind me. I’ll get over it….
Rebel agent Eneb Ray has spent years in deep cover on Coruscant as a minor revenue official. It’s not the most glamorous assignment, but it does allow him access to information on Imperial shipping that he can feed to the Alliance. Eneb Ray will be the first to tell you he’s no hero…until a small collection of Alliance-sympathetic senators are scheduled for execution. On orders from Princess Leia, Ray infiltrates the prison only to find himself presented with an unprecedented opportunity–the Emperor himself is scheduled to arrive in under an hour….
This was a pretty good story. As a one-shot it has little relation to the events of the ongoing series, and its not entirely clear when exactly this is set other than sometime after the battle of Yavin. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. Ray was an interesting character to get to know, and I look forward to hopefully seeing him show up again in the future. I think given the early setting and our knowledge of later events I can say without spoilers that the assassination attempt goes poorly, in no small part due to the machinations of Palpatine. You simply don’t outwit that guy, not usually. Bottom line: this story is non-essential but well worth the read.
CONTENT: Mild violence, no gore. No sex or profanity.
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Cully Hamner
Publisher/Copyright: WildStorm, 2009
This is one of those cases where your expectations will affect your experience. I first encountered Red, as did many, through the film starring Bruce Willis.
Honestly, I loved that movie. So when the library got a copy of the comic it was based on, I snapped it up. While the movie was more or less based on this comic, it was a very different animal. They added a LOT of material, for one thing. They’d have to, given how short this was. But they also completely changed the tone. The comic was entirely straightfaced about its over-the-top violence, and there was not a joke to be had. It was all rather grim. The film was an action comedy. Both were good, but they were very different. You need to be aware of what you’re in for, and temper your expectations accordingly.
The plot? The plot is simple. I can sum it up in two sentences. The new politically-appointed head of the CIA learns the scary truth about the agency he is now in charge of and orders the death of its greatest operative, the now-retired Paul Moses. The kill squad fails, leaving Moses bloodied and on a rampage to find the men who ended his solitude. That’s really all there is to this, but it’s very well executed. Small details like Moses standing in his kitchen during a storm, reliving the lives he’s ended with every crack of thunder, or the flashbacks he experiences when he takes up a sniper rifle once again, really lend some emotional weight to a character that is not entirely sympathetic even as they remind us that he is, in fact, a self-described monster. There’s some definite political commentary here, but its more generally aimed at American foreign policy (in the guise of the CIA) than it is any particular individual. I would recommend it, assuming you can stomach the violence.
CONTENT: Strong, gory violence throughout. PG-13-grade profanity. No sexual content.
Title: Dark Disciple
Author: Christie Golden (Novel); Katie Lucas, Matt Michnovetz, & Dave Filoni (Original scripts)
Series: Star Wars (Official Canon, The Clone Wars)
Publisher/Copyright: Del Rey, 2015
New Star Wars! Dark Disciple is based on a collection of scripts from the canceled Clone Wars animated series on Cartoon Network which serve to tie up the story arc featuring Asajj Ventress, Count Dooku’s former apprentice.
The galaxy-wide Clone Wars have raged for almost three years, but an end is nowhere in sight. Every Republic victory is matched by a corresponding setback, almost as if both sides were being played by a single entity bent on preserving the stalemate. The Separatist forces led by Count Dooku grow only more ruthless as the war drags on, committing atrocities that haunt the Jedi with their inability to prevent innocent bloodshed until even the Jedi council is ready to consider the unthinkable: assassination. This dangerous mission will forge strange alliances, forcing unorthodox Jedi Master Quinlan Vos to ally with Dooku’s former apprentice Asajj Ventress, a deadly assassin holding a grudge against Dooku for betraying her and slaughtering her entire people. Together, Vos and Ventress could just be powerful enough to take out Dooku…if they don’t kill each other first.
I have to say, I really enjoyed this one. Towards the end of the animated series Ventress was becoming one of the standout characters, gaining some real depth as she dealt with the consequences of Dooku’s betrayal and her private war for revenge. Add Quinlan Vos, one of my favorite characters from the Legends version of the Clone Wars, into the mix and you’ve got a winning proposition. If you followed the animated series, you owe it to yourself to check this out. If you’re a newcomer, you’ll probably be fine as well, though most of the references to past events will likely be lost on you. If you’re a veteran of the pre-Cartoon Network Clone Wars though…you’ll have to come at this with a clean slate. A lot of this, especially Vos’s storyline, is territory we’ve seen before, albeit through the looking glass. I’ll refrain from saying more in the interest of spoilers, but those who were reading Star Wars: Republic in the run-up to Revenge Of The Sith should know what I mean.
CONTENT: Some disturbing violence and torture. Mild profanity. Mild flirting/sexual innuendo, but nothing explicit.
This is a longer version of a review I did for the Manhattan Book Review. You can find that here.