WRITER: JODY HOUSER / ARTIST: CORY SMITH AND WILTON SANTOS / PUBLISHER: MARVEL / FORMAT: SINGLE ISSUE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The ‘Age of’ series of Star Wars comics is well underway, bringing us stories from the Republic and soon from the Rebellion and the Resistance. Instead of linking these issues together in a coherent storyline they are standalone tales, and as such sometimes fail to satisfy. Much like many of Marvel’s run since the 2015 relaunch, each issue brings 24 pages of art filling out a minimal amount of plot. Sadly, Star Wars Age of Republic: Anakin, like the issues before it, is guilty of such shortcomings, showing little that we’ve not seen before.
Set during the Clone Wars, we follow Anakin Skywalker – now no longer under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi and a hero of the Republic in his own right – as he struggles with a command decision that will see the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians. It’s a common trope of war stories, the decisions made by Admirals and Generals far removed from the theatre of war, and Anakin is understandably uneasy with the orders he is given.
All well and good, but the issue fails to ring true as Anakin flashes back to his own past as a slave and frees them within the droid foundry he was sent to destroy. It’s too pat, too convenient, and fails to acknowledge the burdens of war that accumulate over the years. The previous comic stewards of Star Wars at Dark Horse did a magnificent job of showing the weight that the horrors of the Clone Wars piled on Anakin and Obi-Wan. This single episode fails to hit the right notes, and where this would sit in the timeline is anybody’s guess.
The art by Cory Smith and Wilton Santos is perfunctory at best, lazy at worst and almost certainly rushed to deadline. The layouts are satisfying but the execution is less than impressive and while writer Jody Houser largely finds the voices of the central characters – Obi-Wan being the standout – the lack of plot is disappointing. The opportunity to return to the era of the Clone Wars in the anniversary year of The Phantom Menace should offer chances to expand and enlighten readers who didn’t follow those battles as they were released, but much like the Darth Maul and Qui-Gon ‘Age of’ entries before them, they pad out the page count with unremarkable stories.
With variants, reprints, trade paperbacks and fresh titles arriving thick and fast, Marvel and the Lucasfilm story group need to up their game and make this comics line essential again. People may mock the 1977 – 1986 run, but they were FUN, and fans of the time remember them fondly. Right now, Marvel has some catching up to do.