Claws of the Dragon Part 2
Story: John Ostrander, Jan Duursema
Script: John Ostrander
Pencilling: Jan Duursema
Inking: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Brad Anderson
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Travis Charest
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (12/29/2007)
Inside the Sith Temple on Coruscant, Cade Skywalker is held prisoner by Darth Krayt. The Dark Lord is intrigued by Cade's healing powers and forces him to use them on his friends Deliah Blue and Jariah Syn. Satisfied, Krayt agrees to let them go free if Cade joins with the Sith. In order to convince him, Krayt reveals that he was trained as a Jedi long ago, and removes his mask. Meanwhile, Grand Moff Morlish Veed still plans on acquiring Cade for his own ends, now that he knows the former Jedi is on Coruscant.
The behind-the-scenes politicking that started off in issue #8 still goes on. Darth Maladi informs the Moff High Council (including a new one, a Chiss named Fehlaaur) to abort the search for Cade Skywalker and recall their resources. This sparks an interest in Grand Moff/Grand Admiral Veed who orders them to disregard the Sith's orders and keep looking. Veed cannot count on the others, who are too busy with their own petty issues, but his lover Moff Calixte intends to uncover what they know. Her first order of the day is to meet with Moff Rulf Yage while he is having dinner with his daughter Gunn at the Naboo Queen. Turns out Gunner is Calixte's daughter as well, but they divorced long ago. Gunn has no love for her estranged mother, especially now that she is with Grand Moff Veed. Nevertheless, Calixte finds out what she wanted from the young Captain of Skull Squadron namely that she really feels it was Cade's ship the Mynock that she encountered last issue. She later reveals her findings to Veed, and they both agree to his Morrigan Corde for the job of finding Cade.
Back to our regular program, with Cade tied up to a torture rack being interrogated by Darth Maladi. Cade's deathstick habit helps his body to resist the effects of lethal doses of Ixetal celona (from which deathsticks are extracted). That's when Krayt himself takes an interest in the subject. He really wants Cade to join the Sith, but first needs a demonstration of the former Jedi's rumored powers of healing. Darth Talon brings in two other prisoners, Cade's ex-bounty hunting partners Jariah Syn and Deliah Blue. Although they both refuse to reveal anything, they serve as test subjects when Maladi activates some Yuuzhan Vong coral seed that she impanted in their bodies causing some major pain. Krayt releases Cade's restraints, and the prisoner does not hesitate to help his friends despite their brave protests. When Cade successfully heals them, Krayt is impressed enough to offer to release them if Cade is more cooperative.
Cade agrees and three days later he is brought in to a private meeting with Krayt and his most trusted allies Darths Talon and Wyyrlock. Krayt offers him food and shows him that he placed Kol Skywalker's lightsaber in a display case. Then Krayt goes on with his speech about the Jedi being misguided and weak, revealing that he knows so much about them because he used to be one himself. Like Cade, Krayt was trained by his Jedi father long ago but later found power in becoming a Sith. And it so happens that Krayt shows his real face to Cade, and identifies himself as A'sharad Hett. The long moment we have been waiting for is here, and it's a shocker (although I don't think it will mean much to Cade that a century-old Jedi is now a Sith.)
Krayt/Hett does not mention that he also was raised as a Tusken Raider, but I'm sure we will learn more in the next issue. His last appearance chronologically was in Republic #77 taking place 156 years earlier so a lot could have happened in the meantime during his transformation into the founder of the new Sith Order. It also makes Hett very old, and how a Human could have lived for so long is something else that will hopefully be revealed soon. The revelation is handled very well, and the rest of the story is very intriguing and leaves a lot to expect from the rest of the story arc. What happened to poor Hosk Trey'lis? And will Morrigan finally meet her son?
This is truly Duursema's talent showcase. At this point, the art is so good that I take it for granted. I am still surprised when something new is shown (like the deformed faces to Maladi and Krayt as seen through Cade's drugged eyes) and notice when a slight slip happens (Moffs Veed and Yage look so similar, I had them confused in some panels). But overall it is still extremely impressive work, including the contributions by Parsons and Anderson on inks and colors respectively. The covers by Travis Charest are amazing so far. I think there is a balloon confusion: when Cade is being escorted by Nihl and Talon, Nihl says "a parade in my honor? I'm touched", a line that would be better attributed to Cade given the circumstances. And although some fans might like to have a 2-page letter column, I would like to see more of Sean Cooke's spaceship sketches instead.
We finally know who Krayt really is, but more importantly will he succeed in turning Cade to the Dark Side?
Rating: 7.5 / 10 Recommended