The Clone Wars #8
In the Service of the Republic Part 2 (of 3)
Script: Henry Gilroy, Steven Melching
Pencilling: Scott Hepburn
Inking: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Michael E. Wiggam
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Scott Hepburn, Brad Anderson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (02/08/2010)
On the ice planet Khorm, Republic forces led by Plo Koon and Kit Fisto are fighting the Separatists to gain control of the agrocite mine, a vital source of fuel. But first they have to destroy the weather-control station that prevents the Republic forces from providing air support. Local Separatist ally warlord Unger Gout orders the weather station in the Kafiri mountains to create a storm strong enough to eliminate the Jedi who are on their way there. It doesn't matter if Count Dooku's assassin Ventress is after the Jedi and might become a casualty as well. As the Jedi come into view of the faraway station, they are attacked by Ventress who leaves them for dead after she forces an avalanche on top of them. Meanwhile back at the Separatist-occupied agrocite processing facility, Major Ozzel's clone troopers manage to free themselves and their commanding officer from their cell and escape using a Trade Federation AAT. Ventress arrives in time to see the destruction the clones left behind and decides to follow them to the Republic's staging area. With their vehicles frozen, the clone troops don't stand much of a chance against the Ventress' droid army. Back in the mountains, the Jedi's Khormai guide Adaroo attracts three giant ice worms called aelids which they ride to get closer to the weather station. Having lost their explosives charges in the avalanche, the Jedi and their troops have to find another way to destroy it. Trooper Fixer taps into a junction box and manages to realign the storm right on the of the station, destroying it completely. Admiral Wieler is then able to launch reinforcements who arrive in time to help Major Ozzel's troops, led by Commander Wolffe, who were being overwhelmed by the Separatists' droids. The first part of the mission is successful, but now they have to take over the main objective: the mine itself.
I enjoyed this issue, and the pacing seems right on target. There's more action than in the last one, and a bit less humor about Ozzel's ineptitude and Plo Koon's age although it's still there. Plot threads that were started previously are resolved pretty nicely, and the stage is set for the final phase of the mission. The fight with Ventress is appropriate, the ground battle that follows is equally fierce, and the casualties are realistic. The destruction of the weather station seems pretty easy, but it's the trek to get there that is emphasized and I agree with that choice (plus the idea of riding inside living giant worms is a pretty original one). True to the animated show, there's still an importance and individuality given to the clone troopers and their interaction with their Jedi generals. Some of them are named for the first time: Sten, Deadeye, Blunt and Jark of the Devil Dogs are casualties of the fight with Ventress, while their raspy-voiced, still-nameless Captain and two others (including Fixer) participate in the destruction of the weather station. Comet and Spitter are among the troops who escape with Ozzel, and rejoin Commander Wolffe's forces (btw we also find out warlord Gout's first name in the inside front cover summary). The storytelling is handled pretty well and Ventress' role is actually important to the story as opposed to being just there to add a familiar face to the cast of characters. I definitely am looking forward to the conclusion of this story, in a good way.
Note: The letters column "Clone Words" only contains one letter, and it's mostly a negative one. I don't think this bodes well for the series, especially when the assistant editor pleas for readers to send in more letters.
I greatly enjoy the art as well. Hepburn doesn't limit himself to the style of the animated show, but instead creates real comic book art. The panel composition is pretty creative, the action easy to follow, and overall the art adds to the story. I think it's funny that Ozzel already has his famous mustache. And the furry ice worms also look funny with their big Human-looking mouths and also appear to have mustaches. I wonder if the choice to have Aqualish (commanded by Villpu Nagg) work at the weather-control station is inspired by the fact that they were at one point called "walrus man" and the native Khormai also look like walruses? The coloring is amazing and fits perfectly with Hepburn's style and the tone of the story. This is definitely my favorite issue of The Clone Wars so far.
A typical plot is handled very well in tone and pace, and the artwork is very cool.
Rating: 7.5 / 10