Underworld: The Yavin Vassilika #1
[Also available in photo cover]
Story: Mike Kennedy
Art: Carlos Meglia
Coloring: Dave Stewart
Lettering: Steve Dutro
Cover: Andrew Robinson, Dave Stewart
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (11/14/2004)
During an arguing match between three Hutts (Jabba, Embra and Malta) about which one of them is better at running a clan, Malta's aide Jozzel suggests that they settle matters with a contest. With some clues from Garindan to the possible location of the fabled Yavin Vassilika, each Hutt can hire three contractors to locate and bring the object to Nar Shaddaa and the first team to do so proves that the Hutt who hired them has better managing skills. Little do any of them know that Jozzel is planning to get the Vassilika to help finance her own organization.
Jabba hires Han Solo, Chewbacca and Lando; Malta hires Bossk, Dengar and IG-88; Embra hires Zuckuss, 4-LOM and Sardu Sallowe. The pawns are in place...
The first thing I was worried about before reading this story was that it wouldn't fit in the tight timeframe of Rebel Dawn's final chapters. Kennedy does acknowledge A.C. Crispin's novel, as there are many references to the Ylesia raid, but the problem lies with the relationships between Han and Lando, Jabba and Greedo. I'll elaborate more on this at the end of the series.
This story feels like a light-hearted, fun adventure with some characters that we all know and love. It's not to be taken too seriously, I don't think, but it should. The set-up rolls along nicely, as each character is introduced into the story and ready to go on the treasure hunt by the end of it. I thought that the whole reason this hunt is started in the first place, the Hutts' wager, is kind of silly. But I'm willing to give the series a chance.
This first issue has some problems plot-wise. Some things are unexplained, like 4-LOM telling Embra that Jabba only contacted two contractors when he contacted Han, Chewie and Lando (although this might be intentional). Same thing with Jabba forgetting to mention Sallowe. And some scene transitions are kind of misplaced, like Jabba saying 4-LOM and Zuckuss were contacted before it actually happens in the following scene. And in that scene, when the three bounty hunters suddenly jump from Jabba's Palace to the cantina with no transition.
It's always nice to see new characters in the Star Wars universe. This includes Malta the Hutt and his aide Jozzel, who seems to have a lot of ambition of her own; Embra and his female Bith aide Farquil; the tracker Sardu Sallowe, who has an entourage of Jawas and kind of looks like one himself; plus some minor characters like Rooty the Cragmoloid, Holgurn, and Illyan Webble the president of Seraphan Industries.
The existing characters are fun, but don't be looking for major developments for them as this is not the kind of story. These include Han, Chewie, Lando, Jabba, Bib Fortuna, Greedo, Wuher, Garindan, and the five bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back. Oops, did I just give away a spoiler?
Anyway, I have a feeling this series will be fun to read once, but can cause some unneeded continuity glitches.
Meglia's art is very Cartoon Network, and is not a bad fit at all for this kind of story. Meglia previously drew a Lando story in Star Wars Tales #5, and I kind of like his style. It's reminescent of all those new cartoons like Teen Titans and Batman the Animated Series that are all the rage right now. My only pet peeve, those little rectangular sticks that are supposed to be body hair...
We're threading on delicate territory in this "shortly before Episode IV" period. Readers who don't care too much about continuity might enjoy this series more.
Rating: 6 / 10 At your own risk
The same day this issue hit the stands, the Official Site posted an Underworld Rogues Gallery.
Also, Wizards of the Coast created stats for Rooty, Embra and Sardu Sallowe in Star Wars Gamer #6, and Malta on their SW RPG website.