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Republic #53 Blast Radius

Story: Haden Blackman
Art: Brian Ching
Inks: Joe Weems
Coloring: Joe Wayne
Lettering: Digital Chameleon
Cover: Mozart Couto
Released: 04/30/2003

Reviewed by: JF Boivin (12/29/2004)

SUMMARY:

Returning to Coruscant with a vial of antidote, Obi-Wan recounts his near-fatal mission to the lava planet Queyta while honoring the loss of four legendary Jedi masters.


[final cover]


[preview cover]


THE STORY

Although it is labelled as a one-shot story, it is very much a continuation and closue to the previous two-parter story "The New Face of War." Obi-Wan tells the story, in a flashback, of his going to the planet Queyta on a mission to recover the antidote to the virus he found previously. There, he meets up with four Jedi Masters, the "nomads" of the Jedi Order because they operate without contact with Coruscant. They are four brand new characters, and it is unfortunate that they all have to die so early, and in some cases so easily. Writer Blackman brings in his knowledge of the EU in the character of Nico Diath (a descendant of Dace Diath from Tales of the Jedi); another Jedi is named Jon Antilles, the Star Wars equivalent of "John Doe", who used to be a student of the Dark Woman (just like Aurra Sing was); another is Fay, the beautiful hundreds-of-years old near-Human Jedi who doesn't use a lightsaber; and the Bothan Knol Ven'nari, who is known for her talents of controlling fire, among others. All these Jedi meet their fate at the hands of Asajj Ventress, Durge, and a lot of lava.

The story is fast and mostly enjoyable, but I don't get the whole exploding methane Techno Union dudes aside from giving the story a title. One of the Jedi explains early on that they can explode if they are attacked,so why don't they stay away from them once the bad guys show up? This is one of the instances where Jedi get dispatched way too easily. Another instance if when Diath is surprised by... a wave of lava? I can understand that Jedi are not infallible, but I think Blackman should have used inexperienced Padawans instead to be dispatched that easily. The only worthy death is Master Fay, who gives Obi-Wan her last strength so he can escape. This is after Obi-Wan was dangling over a pit of lava with one hand, at the mercy of Ventress, but she didn't kill him because of "Dooku's orders."

So the issue has some flaws, but it's a nice little tale that closes an early chapter of the Clone Wars.


THE ART

The cover artist from last issue (and also from Empire #5-6), Brian Ching, does his first interior work on a Star Wars comic. I must say that although overall this is good work, I find that there are too many lines, especially in the characters' features, reminescent of early Image Comics superhero art. While Ventress looks fine, Durge looks different from his previous comic appearances. I have some problems with some of the scene transitions too: for example on page 3, we see Anakin and Mace Windu looking down at Obi-Wan laying down on a hospital table, then we switch to a back view of Anakin and Mace, then all of a sudden Obi-Wan is standing there in his clock talking about the lost Jedi masters. Later on, Obi-Wan is looking at floorplans in a computer, then next panel he find Ventress and Durge talking about leaving the plant. I just had to double back in some cases to understand what was going on.

Another returnee is the cover artist from #51, Mozart Couto, with another cool cover. It still looks to me like an art tableaux that the artist colored himself with pastels. Very interesting look and style.


CONCLUSIONS

A nice little addition to the series, but not one of the best so far.

Rating: 6 / 10 Recommended

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