The Clone Wars: Shipyards of Doom
Story: Henry Gilroy
Art: The Fillbach Brothers
Coloring: Ronda Pattison
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Scott Hepburn
Released: 09/24/2008, Target exclusive 11/11/2008
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/04/2009)
After several losing battles due to the Separatists having more ships, the Jedi Council plans to destroy their primary shipyards belonging to the Intergalactic Banking Clan on Gwori. Anakin volunteers to go through the security lifeform scanning gate, past the Separatist blockade and then transmit the coordinates of the shipyards for the Republic to send a bomber group. Obi-Wan, Captain Rex, three clone troopers and Ahsoka go with him, although Ahsoka does against her Master's orders. After their cover freighter is discovered and destroyed, the group land on Gwori and find the shipyards. While Ashsoka sends a transmission to Plo Koon, Anakin and Obi-Wan discover that the workers are living beings and they must delay the bombing attack. But unfortunately the Banking Clan is jamming all further communications, so the Jedi now must convince the slave workers to leave. Meanwhile, with the coordinates Plo Koon, Saesee Tiin and their Y-wing squadrons make a risky precision hyperspace jump and arrive directly at the site. The Jedi manage to take off in a completed frigate with thousands of slaves just as the shipyards are destroyed. A great victory for the Republic.
First, I just want to mention that nowhere inside or outside this digest-size book is it printed that this is Volume 1 or anything similar. I guess this is to make each issue stand on its own and thus more marketable. I will not use any numeric patterns in the reviews, although Dark Horse do on their website. This is a separate series than the regular-sized The Clone Wars series now going on with the 6-part "Slaves of the Republic" storyline.
This issue starts in media res during a battle between Republic and Separatists at Nexus Ortai, an important hyperlane crossroad that would give an advantage to the winner. Admiral Yularen's Resolute is among the fleet, as are Anakin and Obi-Wan in their Jedi starfighters. Ahsoka has been ordered to sit this one out and stay aboard Resolute. The V-19 Torrent starfighters of Ghost Squadron lead them to victory when they destroy a Separatist frigate, but General Grievous soon arrives with a reinforcement fleet and the Republic fleet has to withdraw from the system. Later at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, Mace Windu reveals that this is one of several battles lost because the Separatists outnumber the Republic in starships, so he comes up with an idea to attack one of the primary Intergalactic Banking Clan shipyards in the Gwori system. Plo Koon then explains that the system is protected by a Separatist blockade and a security system that destroys any lifeforms, insuring that only droids can pass. Anakin volunteers himself to go on the planet's surface and send back the coordinates for the exact location of the shipyards, so the Republic can pinpoint exactly where to attack. The best way to do it will be to bomb the place. Begrudgingly, Obi-Wan has to go as well, and Captain Rex and three of his men volunteer as backup. Ahsoka wants to go too but is not allowed.
The way Anakin plans to go through the scanning gate is to freeze the group in carbonite and have Artoo fly the ship and free them when they are past. After they go through the freezing process (showing where Vader got the idea to freeze Luke in The Empire Strikes Back), Ahsoka gets herself frozen as well to go along with her Master even though he forbid her to come. The carbonite slabs are loaded aboard freighter VX-391 and they pass through the gate in the Gwori system. But when battle droids report an extra freighter, Overseer Juhm fears an attack and orders the ship destroyed. Artoo manages to jettison his friends in carbonite right before their ship explodes and they do a hard landing on the planet's surface. Artoo wakes up Ahsoka first, and when she thaws her Master out he is not happy to see her. They whole group is unfrozen (except for Toomer) and they have no trouble finding the shipyards in the planet's equatorial canyons.
All transmissions are jammed so they are unable to transmit their location to Masters Plo Koon and Saesee Tiin, awaiting in the nearby Moskk system. Ahsoka has the idea to take over a jamming tower and rewire it to transmit, and Anakin and Obi-Wan agree to let her go with the clone troopers. They are succesful in the mission, but their transmission is detected by Juhm and the tower is blown up. They must then hideout for a while but Ahsoka and Rex are eventually captured (the other two troopers were killed).
Meanwhile, Obi-Wan and Anakin are surprised to discover that the shipyards are manned by living beings who are held as slave labor by the Muun Overseer Juhm (the Jedi hadn't seen them when they first scouted the place because the workers were in the middle of changing shifts). But they are not necessarily held against their will and when the two Jedi try to convince the foreman, a Kajain'sa'Nikto named Mirax, to escape with them he instead turns them in to his master. The four prisoners are reunited, and manage to free themselves using the Force. But they have to hurry because Plo Koon, Saesee Tiin and their Y-wing bomber Hunter and Tracker squadrons are on the way to destroy the place, unaware that thousands of innocent lives are in danger. Now that they have the exact coordinates for the location of the shipyards, Plo and Saesee are able to perform a very risky precision hyperjump that brings them past the Separatist blockade. They take the Overseer by surprise and the Y-wings have time to launch all their proton bombs on the construction site. Meanwhile, the three Jedi and Rex are loading the slaves inside a nearly-completed Separatist frigate and they manage to lift off after the first bombing run which destroyed their shield generators.
At 88 pages, the story equals at least a 2-part episode of the TV show. And being written by Henry Gilroy, one of the show's writers, it feels very much like the show itself and has all the trademark elements of a fun adventure: Jedi action, clone banter, battle droid humor, dangerous creatures, wily villain, and a development in Anakin and Ahsoka's relationship (the issue of feeling unwanted vs. being put in danger). There are also several fun little details that I greatly enjoyed, like appearances by Dooku and Darth Sidious manipulating events from behind the scenes as always, cameos by General Grievous and Asajj Ventress, and a scene involving a slave named Kirraa who steals back the Jedi's lightsabers right from under Overseer Juhm's nose (or whatever Muuns use for their sense of smell). The appearance of Y-wings and the mention of the next mission involving a new Separatist weapon seems to indicate that this takes place around the time of the Malevolence episodes from the show. The show had Shadow squadron, this issue has Hunter and Tracker squadrons, although Tracker is only mentioned once and seems like it could be an editorial error (maybe a leftover from a previous draft?).
The Fillbach Brothers have worked on the previous Clone Wars Adventures series based on the micro-series, and their style was appropriate for that adaptation. But compared to the more realistic 3D "puppet" style of the new cartoon series, their artwork seems blocky and childish. They do create a lot of details, but the simple style might throw off some fans of the new cartoon expecting the same look. For me, it's fun to look at all the background details and expressions of the characters that communicate a lot of what they are thinking. The cover by Scott Hepburn is a bit weird, where Ahsoka seems like a tiny pixie in front of the other two Jedi. As an incentive for purchasing The Clone Wars on DVD and Blu Ray on Nov. 11th, Target offered the comic with an exclusive variant cover, and I prefer that one way better.
Feels like a lost early episode or two of the cartoon series, which means it's worth reading if you're a fan.
Rating: 7 / 10 Recommended