Jedi: Shaak Ti
Story: John Ostrander
Art: Jan Duursema
Inks: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Joe Wayne
Lettering: Digital Chameleon
Cover: Jan Duursema, Joe Wayne
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (12/29/2004)
The war ravages the Core world of Brentaal IV. Several groups of Jedi fight to free the planet from a Separatist commander named Shogar Tok, even though the populace willingly follow him. General Shaak Ti, with only one clone trooper left, finds unexpected reinforcements when she comes upon a prison complex and promises to free the prisoners if they would help her. Together, they manage to infiltrate Tok's armed fortress, and allow the Republic to regain control of the planet, even though the Jedi are not popular in this sector of the galaxy.
Chronologically placed between Republic #53 and #54, this story takes place around the time of, or shortly after, the cartoon series. In fact, Dooku mentions that he has an army tied up on Muunilinst.
This issue has a lot of good things going for it. After an almost comical first page (did you get the Sean Connery reference?), this issue provides us with one of the most serious stories so far. We find that two of at least three Jedi generals successfully land their troops on Brentaal IV: Shaak Ti and Agen Kolar (the one who didn't make it is the aformentioned General Shon Kon Ray). But given the title, the story obviously centers more around the former. Brentaal IV holds strategic importance to the Republic, as it is a major civilized planet along the Perlemian Trade Route. The whole mission is supervised by Plo Koon, who is in command of the fleet in orbit. Once we are introduced to these characters from Attack of the Clones, we meet a group of new one once Shaak reaches a prison building. Turns out the prisoners have managed to free themselves and are fighting the same rebelling guards that the Jedi are trying to stop, so they figure out that an alliance might be beneficial for both sides. The prisoners include Ryyk, a Wookiee named after a popular kind of blade; Lyshaa, a Zeltron (the first I've seen outside of a Marvel comic) whom Shaak Ti put in prison for killing her Padawan; Saguro Autem, a former Senate Guard (and formerly named Sagoro) who appeared in Ostrander's "Honor and Duty" story from Republic #46-49; and the always cool Quinlan Vos, still undercover as mercenary Korto Vos.
Turns out the Zeltron woman is not only a Jedi killer, but she has a serious trust issue. She plays an important role, though, by revealing a bit of Shaak Ti's past, namely that she once had a Padawan named Fe Sun, and then by seducing the Sepratist commander thus allowing Shaak to mind-control him. But like every good villain, she gets herself killed only because of her own hate and lack of trust.
Trust is an important theme in this story, as is sacrifice. Whether it's the Wookie who attacks a creature in a rage (or is it to defend the others?) and putting himself at risk, or whether it's the faithful Clone trooper who puts the importance of the mission before his own life, these characters really believe they are fighting a worthy cause, and this is really what counts in the end. The character of Shogar Tok is not really fleshed out, as his role is only to be the "baddie". The focus is really on the characters who fight for what they believe in, whether it is freedom from a prison or freedom from oppression. But on the last page, Shaak starts to ponder about what freedom really is, given that she just "liberated" a planet by forcing a government they didn't want on the populace. What have the Jedi become? Instruments of war, she concludes.
I keep wondering how Duursema finds enough time to work on so many comics lately. Granted, she is freed from the Republic series for a few issues, but these one shots are double-sized! Even though this issue has twice the number of pages, it doesn't look like Duursema had to rush through, except for maybe a page or two. I have one little gripe though, which can be found on page 14. I think the Wookiee has way to much hair on this page, compared to all the other times he is represented. But again this is minor, as Duursema is one of the best artists who ever worked in Star Wars comics and she can be forgiven.
This is an essential addition to any Star Wars comic collection, and a very entertaining one at that. It is also a very good representation of the seriousness of war.
Rating: 9.5 / 10 Highly Recommended