Hidden Enemy Part 1 (of 3)
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 (02/21/2006)
Masters Quinlan Vos and Luminara Unduli and their clone troops are on Kashyyyk, defending the village of Palsaang from Trandoshan slavers. When Separatist reinforcements come in the form of crab droids, the Jedi get unexpected help from an old acquaintance of Quinlan's. Vilmarh Grahrk is back, he's got a Wookiee nephew, and he may have more susprises up his sleeve.
After three post-Revenge of the Sith issues, Ostrander is back with a tale of Quinlan Vos continued directly from Republic #77. In the movie, Obi-Wan mentions that "Saleucami has fallen. Master Vos is moving his troops to Boz Pity." In the comics adaptation, we see Quinlan being shot down on Kashyyyk during Order 66. Ostrander had to take these two seemingly contradictory sources and make them fit together (although Quinlan's stay on Boz Pity couldn't have been more than a day or so.) There is a mention that Yoda requested Quinlan's and Luminara's presence on the Wookiee planet. While Yoda is heading the main army on the Wawatt Archipelago with Commander Gree, Quinlan brought his own Commander Faie and their troops to help Palsaang village elder Gumbaeki rescue some Wookiee slaves from a Trandoshan camp. In this first scene, we learn about how Quinlan is back to his old self and how Kashyyyk is helping his spiritual healing. This is also the two Jedi's first meeting, allowing for some interesting interaction. (At one point, Luminara mentions how ironic that they and their Padawans never met before, while now they were both together while both their former Padawans were together on Felucia, as depicted in the online comic strip "Reversal of Fortune".)
The narration is from Quinlan, and much like in a novel, we get to know his thoughts and impressions about what is happening on the page. This is one Ostrander's strengths, to tell a story from his main character's point of view. It allows for deep reflections as when Quinlan is unsure of how he feels about Dooku being killed by someone else. Also through dialogue (Quinlan is not afraid to speak his mind) we know that Quinlan doesn't like clones and why, and what he thinks of his old "pal" Villie.
Speaking of the wily Devaronian, we (and Quinlan) haven't seen him since Republic #43, part of the "Rite of Passage" story arc. Here, he greets the Jedi exactly the same way he did in that story: "How nice for you to be seeing me again!" For Quinlan, he'd be lying if he thought 11 years was too long. Villie's apparent "rescue" of the Jedi, where he blasts the crab droids with his ship the Inferno, serves as a great entrance. Quinlan has time to set up their encounter to his clone and Jedi friends, advising them to keep their eyes open. Of course Villie is not greeted with hugs and kisses by the Republic troops, but we find out that he's made friends with the Wookiees (one in particular named Chak) from Palsaan village for whom he's been smuggling goods for the past year. Quinlan doesn't trust Villie, but he's been useful enough in the past for Quinlan to order Commander Faie to leave the Devaronian in his charge.
One thing Villie is useful for this time is that he offers to Quinlan to use his ship's holocomm to contact Khaleen pivately, which he promptly does. This is where the story really ties in with the events of "The Siege of Saleucami"; Quinlan is still planning to leave the Jedi order after the war, and go live with his woman and their baby. But it also sets up (almost certainly) the next couple of issues by adding Master Tholme and T'ra Saa to the mix. The two elder Jedi are planning to hide on Nar Shaddaa with Khaleen, but I'm sure the reasons will be made clear pretty soon.
During the attack on the Trandoshan camp, the leader of the slavers, Karniss, while fatally wounded, revealed to the Jedi that an informant told him that members of the Claatuvac clan are in the Wookiee village. These people know some secret hyperspace routes that could be helpful to the Republic. So later that night, after sending the message to Khaleen, Quinlan does some searching in the Inferno's navi-computer. But unfortunately he is caught by Villie who pulls a blaster on him. Will Villie betray Quinlan yet again? Or is the informant someone else?
On top of a great narrative and great dialogue, as always Ostrander manages to craft a lot of action, suspense and humor in this one issue. Do I have to say I cannot wait for the next issue (which I actually received before this one, but more on that in the next review.)
After taking a break for a few issue, Duursema is back in full form. By now I'm sure she can draw Quinlan and Villie with her eyes closed (she contributed to their design after all), but she also drew clone troopers before, in stories such as the memorable "Armor" (Republic #68), and she also did some Wookiees and Trandoshans to near-perfection in Chewbacca #2. So of course those are looking great, although Gumbaeki looks a lot like Tarfful and the Trandoshans all wear the bleached X-Wing pilot suits that Bossk had in The Empire Strikes Back. I would have liked some diversity, but the familiar appearances might appeal to some fans. I love Trandoshans, and my favorite panel must be the one on page 13 where Karniss is about to be touched by the "Jedi witch". The look of panic and horror is so well depicted. Speaking of which, Luminara Unduli looks exaclty as in Attack of the Clones. Duursema has a knack for likenesses. One thing I noticed in this issue, as far as the art and coloring are concerned, is that the backgrounds have no details or texture. But this is more due to the fact that the focus is on the characters and the action, and not on Kashyyyk's treeline.
If you want to have a glimpse of what happened off-screen during Revenge of the Sith, or if you just want to read a well-written comic, this one is a must.
Rating: 7.5 / 10 Recommended