I’m back with some more Prequel comics in the Summer of Star Wars! This time, we’re making our way through the early days of the Republic series once more, starting with Outlander: The Exile of Sharad Hett.
Ki-Adi-Mundi is dispatched by the Jedi Council to Tatooine, to investigate some rumours of a Tusken Raider uprising that is purported to be led by the wayward Jedi Master, Sharad Hett. Ki is approached by his friend the Dark Woman who warns him that events in the desert will change him forever, especially in this time of the Dark Side ascendant. On Tatooine, Ki is of course double-crossed by Jabba once more as he attempts to secure safe passage across the dunes, and ends up in a krayt dragon den. Luckily for him, though, killing the dragon is the rite of passage for a young Tusken, and the tribe in attendance is indeed led by none other than Sharad Hett. The young Tusken on his final test is Sharad’s son, A’Sharad Hett. Ki explains the Council have sent him to see if the Dark Side holds Hett in its sway, as they fear with the return of the Sith, he could be involved. It is clear, however, that Hett is not a Sith, and so Ki requests he return to the Jedi fold to help in the coming battle. However, none other than the Jedi hunter Aurra Sing then arrives, and manages to kill Sharad Hett before Ki chases her off. With his father dead, A’Sharad returns to Coruscant, where Ki promises to complete his Jedi training.
I do kinda like this one. There’s a real sense of trying to get some world building and some history going on in the days surrounding the premiere of The Phantom Menace, and despite the fact that we’re once again on Tatooine, we still get to see Jedi in action, and all that good stuff! Aurra Sing is one of those background characters who have taken on a life entirely of their own, as she was created simply to fill out the podracing sequence in episode one, and has gone on to loom large in the expanded universe. I think this is one of her earliest appearances outside of that blink-and-you-miss-it cameo, and we get hints of her backstory that are explored further in the next story.
Emissaries to Malastare is a bit like Jedi Council: Acts of War, in that we have a bunch of Council members on a mission. The premise is that the Gran of Malastare have agreed to host peace talks between the Lannik and the Red Iaro terrorist organisation, but they have agreed to do so during the Vinta Harvest Classic podrace, which follows on shortly after the Boonta Eve event that we saw in episode one. Of course, shenanigans are afoot, as the new Lannik crown prince is a waste of space, so the old guard have joined forces with the Red Iaro to assassinate him, and almost take out the Jedi with them, as the assassins fly through the podrace course (cue “hilarity” when Mace Windu et al find themselves hanging onto Sebulba’s pod…) When the assassins try to kill the prince with akk dogs, Mace takes particular offence as these animals are native to his homeworld. He decides to track down who is breeding them for violence, and the search takes him to Nar Shaddaa, and the Circus Horrificus.
I do like this story as well, but man is it weird. It’s almost like there’s too much story here for a six-part miniseries, so many points (like the peace negotiations) are just forgotten about, and it really detracts from the story overall. However, it is notable for several things, not least being the first appearance of the Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos, who bumps into Mace on Nar Shaddaa early into his investigations. We also have a strong suggestion that Mace is helped by Aurra Sing’s mother, and the Circus employs none other than Malakili, who later ends up in Jabba’s employ. Finally, we have the return of Vilmarh Grahk, who like Quinlan, goes on to greatness in the rest of the Republic run.
It’s definitely worth reading this one for the way it sets up a lot of what is to come, though I guess it isn’t exactly essential reading. When you re-read these things now, there’s a definite sense that Dark Horse either didn’t know in which direction they wanted to take things, or weren’t able to tread too close to the films so took a much wider course with things. The invention of Quinlan Vos, however, was almost like storytelling gold, because it gave the comics writers (mainly John Ostrander and Jan Duursema) free reign to tell the sorts of stories they wanted to, without worrying about whether Obi-Wan and/or Anakin could do something, for instance. I’ve said it before, and I’ll no doubt say it again, but Quinlan’s arc throughout the Clone Wars themselves has become, for me, far more interesting than that of Anakin Skywalker… but we’re not quite there yet!
So we’ve had a few weird stories now, but next time things will begin to get into the proper groove of it all, as we embark on the story of the man himself, Quinlan Vos!