The charm of the “Star Wars” brand frequently tracks back to an immediate familiarity with the characters. This crosses from the movie screen to the various licensing vehicles the brand has become synonymous with – action figures (and other toys), video games, novels, and, of particular interest here, comic books.
Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda both appear in this issue, but beyond that we are given a new handful of Jedi and Padawans to embrace. These characters have been introduced elsewhere, but if comics are your only “Star Wars” supplement to a primary connection through the feature films, this is the first you’ll meet Tahl, Xanatos, and Orykan.
This book is largely by-the-numbers: political turmoil on a far away planet requires the attention of the Jedi. The Jedi, as it turns out, have personal investment related to the political plot that truly is more than it seems. The Jedi are certain to be tested emotionally, but not in this first issue where we simply see that there are signals of emotional frailty. Xanatos strikes me as quite petulant and unworthy of accomplishing even a Padawan post, but if all characters were to pre-ordained expectations stories would have nothing to drive them, I suppose.
There’s potential here, especially for readers who are compelled to read more of the pre-“Phantom Menace” adventures of Qui-Gon Jinn. Jinn is largely an untapped resource, resplendent with stories much the same way Luke Skywalker or Han Solo were following their introduction in the first “Star Wars” film thirty-odd years ago. Jinn has the benefit of being a Jedi Master while also being a human character with compassion towards others. Surely that’s the perfect blend of a leading character in a “Star Wars” story. Scott Allie doesn’t make Jinn as compelling as he could be, but Allie is mindful of the voice Jinn uses and the concerns that would drive him. Pairing him with both a Padawan and a trusted ally gives Jinn much to work with.
Mahmud Asrar’s art in this book is more sketchy than I am accustomed to seeing from him. In this case it works, delivering the essences of the characters without soullessly tracing from photos or movie stills. Paul Mounts’ moody colors help this book deliver a range of emotion. Xanatos feels pangs akin to what we’ve seen in the films from Luke or Anakin, and mounts’ colors call those scenes to mind with adept skill.
This is a fine addition to the “Star Wars” brand under the Dark Horse stable. With Jinn’s fate prescribed in “The Phantom Menace,” Allie is able to give the character a chance to live a little, to breathe, and to show us why he is such a lauded Jedi.