“Star Wars: Age of Republic” is a series of comics that have been recently published in a single volume. It is one of several Marvel’s “Age of…” projects that have appeared in recent past.
Originally published separately and later in two volumes as Heroes/Villains, “Age of Republic” tells the stories of major characters from Episodes I-III. Anakin, Obi-Wan, Qui-Gon, Padmé, Count Dooku, Maul, Grievous and Jango Fett each have their own story. “Age of Republic Special”, also included in the complete issue, featured three more shorter stories: of Mace Windu, Asajj Ventress and the adventure of Captain Rex with Jar Jar Binks.
All of the comics are traditionally high quality, however the same can’t be said about the content. The better ones illustrate very well some characteristic qualities of their protagonists – such is the case of all the “heroes” (including Rex and Jar Jar!) and only a couple of the “villains” (Ventress, Dooku, Jango Fett).
The remaining “villains” fare considerably worse. The plot of Maul’s story looks like the author tried to come up with something the horned Sith could have done before he was unleashed on the Galaxy (which, to be fair, is not much) and ended with a patchwork of random elements associated with Maul (crime, hatred of the Jedi, Malachor). There is a very interesting scene of Maul being “tempted by the Light Side”, however, the whole story leaves a bit of empty after-taste.
That, however, is nothing on Grievous. Grievous’s story is simply boring and a wasted opportunity. “Grievous kills Jedi and wants them destroyed” is about the exhaustive summary. There could have been at least some flashback into the past, why does Grievous want to do it, et cetera. There is one hint of something more interesting in the whole story that gets promptly forgotten in the next panel.
Tree-Huggers and Moons of Bogden
The best among the stories is probably Qui-Gon’s. Showing the Master in his prime, it illustrates Qui-Gon’s doubts about the way things tend to get solved in the Galaxy – violently. And that includes the ways of the Jedi. That makes the story run fairly deep. Everything happens against the background of Qui-Gon’s mission to a distant world with a fairly straightforward conflict between “tree-huggers” and “techno-warriors”. The wood-priestess Qui-Gon was assigned to protect would prefer to see the “technos” killed, but Qui-Gon doubts that kind of approach. Eventually, the story turns to reflect on what it means to be a Jedi. Qui-Gon says: “We are seens as soldiers. Servants of politicians. With little mention of the Force itself.”
Another surprisingly outstanding comic is Jango’s story. It features surprisingly well-rounded characters, perhaps better than in all the other stories combined. As a bonus, we actually see (however irrelevant to the story itself) the meeting between Tyranus and Jango on the moons of Bogden, as mentioned in Episode II.
Many of the stories offer nice little insights into unseen moments of characters’ relationships. In Obi-Wan’s story, there’s young Ani and the early struggles of the Master and apprentice as they adapt to their new roles. Padmé’s story has a glimpse of her handmaidens discussing the Senator’s secret relationship with a Jedi.
The Quest For More Money
Overall, my rating of the “Age of Republic” would be mixed. Especially the villains comics (except Jango and Ventress) are sub-par, and many others are lacking something that would make them worth reading. They may be pretty, but there are thousands of pages of other SW comics that are just as beautifully illustrated and have some actual content. I also have found very few panels that would stand out by showing something very funny or witty or visually stunning.
None of these is a “must-read”. A few intriguing ideas pop up here and there, but that’s about it. It seems clear that all in all, the series was piled together as a way to make more money, without a clearer plan what it should show – and that is a pity.