Claws of the Dragon Part 3
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 (01/01/2008)
Darth Krayt relates a tale of his encounter with Obi-Wan Kenobi to his prisoner Cade Skywalker, and manages to convince him to become his Sith apprentice. Meanwhile, under the guise of working for Grand Moff Veed, Cade's mother Morrigan Corde hires a team to help her mount a rescue. The candidates are Cade's partners Deliah Blue and Jariah Syn, and the crew of the Grinning Liar Chak the Wookiee and Kee the Devaronian.
This issue opens with ex-Imperial agent Morrigan Corde sneaking into Grand Moff Veed's high security apartment. She wakes him up and tells him what she wants in exchange for pulling Cade Skywalker out from the Sith Temple. She then proceeds to Rik's Cantina (first seen in issue #14). Jariah Syn and Deliah Blue are there, watching Cade's holo that he left for them. While Deliah insists that they should rescue him, Jariah is more inclined to do as Cade tells them in the recording to take the Mynock and leave Coruscant. Captain Chak and Kee also drop by, requesting their ship back from the pair of bounty hunters. But they tell them the Grinning Liar was stolen by their old boss, the pirate Rav. That's when Corde introduces herself to the group as Cade's mother, and tells them she wants to recruit their help in rescuing Cade. She tells them to meet her at the given coordinates where she will lay out her plan to infiltrate the Temple. Of course it is no surprise that Corde would double-cross the Imperials over her son. But out of the group, Deliah is the only one who shares the same goal as her. While Jariah could be convinced to help his old friend, I don't see why Chak and Kee would help Corde unless they would somehow get their ship back. But this scene is to be continued next issue.
Back inside the Sith Temple, Darth Krayt reveals more about his past and how he managed to survive for so long by using Sith techniques and spending time in stasis. I must have missed something last issue, but in the opening text on the inside front cover it says the reason Cade was captured was to use his powers and cure Krayt from his Yuuzhan Vong-induced affliction. At the end of last issue, Krayt told Cade that he used to be known as A'Sharad Hett back before the Clone Wars, son of Jedi Sharad Hett. Of course that name doesn't ring a bell for Cade, but the Sith Lord uses that lack of knowledge by saying Cade's Jedi Masters hid important information from him. Cade also didn't know that at least two other Jedi survived Order 66: Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi (maybe Krayt is not aware of K'kruhk). Krayt then goes on to relate a story from his past: after he survived the Jedi Purge, Hett went back to Tatooine where he became war leader of several Tusken Raider clans. Over a period of time he was helping the native reclaim the land and water that was stolen by colonists, until he met Obi-Wan. The Jedi Knight was determined to stop Hett from his war-like ways, and a lightsaber duel followed. Of course, Obi-Wan defeated Darth Maul and Anakin Skywalker so Hett is no big deal. He cuts off Hett's right arm but let him live, dishonoring him and casting him out of the Tusken clans. The tale ends here, but I would be curious to know what happened afterwards in the 100+ years leading up to the current events (I still want to know how he got that cybernetic eye).
After he insults Darth Krayt, Darth Talon tries to give the young Skywalker a lesson, but ends up being beaten down by his powers. Cade threatens to use his healing powers to find her weak points and kill her but she admits defeat and surrenders. Krayt cuts off Cade's shackles and orders him to heal Talon because she will be his new teacher in the Sith ways. It goes without saying that Cade agrees to become a Sith apprentice. Although it is an important turn of events, I can't say I'm entirely surprised by Cade's decision. He has been pretty irrational so far, renouncing his Jedi heritage, then taking it back, all the while being addicted to deathsticks. But still, it's hard to tell if he is sincere or if he has some ulterior motives to get on with his mission of rescuing the Bothan Jedi Hosk Trey'lis (whom we haven't heard from since issue #14). Whatever his intentions are, Cade's descent into darkness is felt by his Master all the way on Ossus. Masters Wolf Sazen, Shado Vao and K'kruhk are still hiding with Yuuzhan Vong master shaper Nei Rin beneath the Jedi Temples ruins. and we see that the Imperials are still conducting a search, overseen by Darth Stryfe aboard a Star Destroyer in orbit. The stormtroopers on the ground include Sergeant Harkas and Anson Trak from the 407st legion, who were both introduced in issue #4. I can see that they still don't like being ordered around by a Sith, but that's life in the Empire these days. Maybe they should join Fel's remnant.
While the intrigue is unfolding nicely, the Obi-Wan flashback takes up 9 of the issue's 22 pages which sort of breaks the flow. But it's my favorite part of the story! I really love to see a tale from the Dark Times timeframe, especially since it features Obi-Wan around the time of the Last of the Jedi book series. Krayt relates that the confrontation happened when the Tuskens were attacking a moisture farm, which he found out later was where Luke Skywalker was being raised. So it's one more danger that Obi-Wan protected Luke against. The way he defeats Hett is totally in character: his goal was to remove Hett from his position as leader of the Tuskens because he was causing too much chaos, but he does so without killing him but by using doing a cho sun, his specialty move of dismemberment. So like I said, this part does not bring much to the ongoing storyline, but I find it totally enjoyable on its own. Plus, when collecting in the eventuall Claws of the Dragon TPB, the flashback will be less of an interruption. As for the "framing story", in a short amount of space there are still important developments going on making me look forward to the next issue!
Duursema has a chance to create another great lightsaber fight. It is accomplished so well, every move the fighters make is clear and cinematic. The duel itself is four pages long and totally without dialogue. The Tatooine backdrop is obviously pretty bare, but it helps concentrate the focus on the fight. Everything else is great art-wise. Favorite pose: an unmasked Krayt on page 7. Favorite moment: when all four mercenaries turn their guns on a seated Morrigan Corde on page 4. In the Tatooine scene, the choice to make the banthas' eyes visible is also pretty interesting, since we don't usually see them under their long shaggy fur. And is that Artoo projecting Cade's message to Syn and Blue? I thought he was still aboard the Mynock. Maybe it's one of Queen Jool's astromechs.
This issue has my favorite cover of this year! What an amazing piece of art by Travis Charest.
Cade surrenders to the Dark Side. Or does he?
Rating: 8 / 10 Recommended