Siege of Saleucami Part 3 (of 4)
Story: John Ostrander
Art: Jan Duursema
Inking: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Brad Anderson
Lettering: Michael David Thomas
Cover: Jan Duursema, Brad Anderson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (07/09/2005)
The Republic forces on Saleucami have lost the two Jedi Masters who had been causing the most grief to the Separatists. The remaining Republic forces have to do without Rancisis' battle meditation powers, but Quinlan Vos comes up with a plan to create a diversion on the ground and in the air while he and Aayla would slip into the tunnels and destroy the power supply to the shield that protects the Separatist compound. He leaves Aayla to the task and leaves to report to Count Dooku. But when he Dooku wants him to kill Khaleen to prove his loyalty, Quinlan reveals his true allegiance when he turns against Dooku's agents Sora Bulq and Skorr. Quinlan is then joined by his former Master Tholme who everybody thought was dead, and as they fight the Dark Jedi the base is being flooded with lava due to Aayla's succesful task. The tide of the months-long battle might be finally turning in the Republic's favor.
This issue (and the next) was intended to come out before Revenge of the Sith. It just feels different now reading this after seeing the movie, and now that most of the EU fiction has turned away from the Clone Wars. It's also strange to see K'kuhk after seeing the third season of the Clone Wars cartoon (even though the Whiphid has been around in several issues, we do see him die in the cartoon).
I can't say I'm not surprised to see Tholme return. I thought for sure he was a goner, as all Jedi are expected to die by the end of next issue. Not that I don't like him, but he has to die eventually by the time A New Hope starts. Maybe Ostrander wants to keep him for the eventual "Jedi Purge" period between Episodes III and IV.
Speaking of the movies, I was reminded of Return of the Jedi in two places; first on page 8 when K'kruhk is fighting off the forces and says they have to give Quinlan more time, then it cuts to Quinlan planting explosive charges; the second time is on the full-page shot of Quinlan resisting Dooku's temptation to go the the Dark Side and says "I am a Jedi."
Once again, this issue has all the Ostrander trademarks: intense action, lots of drama, surprising twists, great characterizations, and a well-balanced narration. One of my favorite scenes is in the beginning where the remaining Jedi pay homage to Master Rancisis and the other Jedi who were killed during the battle (Ausar Auset, Xeltek, Durnar, T'bolton and Tholme). Then Quinlan proposes to read the dead Master's body using his psychometric powers in order to figure out how he had the battle planned out. The way that the Jedi react at the prospect, considering the act disrepectful but necessary, is just priceless.
The revelation that Tholme "cut himself off" from the Force to make the other believe he was dead is a bit forced, but believable. Another surprising twist is that Khaleen is revealed to have been spying on Quinlan for Dooku since the beginning. Although she claims she fell in love with Quinlan and stopped spying on him, Dooku uses this to try to force him to kill her. That's when we get the pay-off for three years of developping Quinlan's character, never knowing if he went to the Dark Side to spy on Dooku or to spy for him. Ostrander managed to keep me guessing right until now. But as I mentioned earlier having seen Revenge of the Sith kind of spoiled that revelation.
In my review of last issue, I mentioned that we see Quinlan's demise in the movie, but it turns out we only saw it in the comic adaptation. I also remarked that Xiaan Amersu might be part of the Republic forces. In this issue, it is confirmed as she has a bigger role in this one, taking part of the aerial attack with A'sharad Hett.
The issue ends abruptly with sort of a cliffhanger, and I really can't wait to find out what happens next, Revenge of the Sith or not!
I'm running out of words to describe how much I love Duursema's (and Parsons' and Anderson's) work, so I'm just going to name my favorite panels from this issue: a closup of Aayla at the bottom of page 5; the depiction of the ground battle at the top of page 7; the first panel on page 8 with K'kruhk and Bly; Quinlan and Khaleen kissing on page 13; and Sora and Tholme facing off in the last panel of page 20. Check it out.
A very exciting and eventful story that leads right into Revenge of the Sith and will resolve a lot of plot points that have been going on for years. Not to be missed.
Rating: 8.5 / 10 Highly Recommended