Here we are, then – the long-awaited conclusion to the Quinlan Vos storyline that had begun all those years back! When we last saw him, he was moving his troops to Boz Pity (as we learnt from the movie, too), having finally embraced the position of General within the Grand Army of the Republic. He’s now on Kashyyyk, supporting Luminara Unduli as the Republic helps to defend the Wookiees against the Separatist incursions. The Separatists seem to be bolstered here by Trandoshian raiders, who are after more than Wookiee pelts this time – the promise of secret hyperspace routes has brought an invasion in force, and ultimately leads to Master Yoda himself coming to aid in the defence of the planet.
With the raid on Kachirho as we see in the film comes a fairly significant Republic victory, with no small part played by none other than Vilmarh Grahrk coming back into the limelight. Seems Villie has turned almost noble during the war, as every side has got it in for him. Villie has been running supplies to the Wookiees, and befriended many of them. One of those Wookiees who has accompanied him on a supply run leaked info regarding the routes, leading to the Separatist attack.
However, there’s little time to do anything, as just at that moment, Order 66 is enacted and Luminara is killed. Quinlan narrowly escapes death, with Clone Commander Faie leading sorties into the jungle trying to find him. Quin is able to evade capture, but comes dangerously close to the dark side in the face of the loss of what he thinks is the entire Jedi Order. However, Villie is able to rescue him, and they leave the planet for Nar Shaddaa to get Quinlan the medical attention that he needs.
Eight months later, the two return to Kashyyyk, where Tholme and T’ra Saa have arrived with Khaleen, who has been safely delivered of a baby boy, Korto Vos.
I think, as the end of the whole arc of Quinlan Vos and stuff, it’s a nice story to finish the Republic run. Looking back, it was probably always going to be on the cards for Quinlan to survive Order 66, as otherwise the story would have become far too bleak, if realistic, for Khaleen to have been left to raise Korto by herself, or even with Tholme’s help or something. It does make sense for someone as sneaky as Tholme to survive, and I guess T’ra Saa making it through is reasonable as well. There is a part of me that just finds it convenient though, and if it weren’t for Lucas deciding to kill Aayla off in the movie, I would guess she would have also been in that final all-together-now scene. But schmaltz aside, it was a decent finish.
Part of me does wish that we had the opportunity to see more of the Jedi in hiding in later stories, though that never came to pass of course. Not that he should have necessarily shown up repeatedly in the Dark Times run or anything, but I think an isolated miniseries set ten years later or something might have been nice! Jedi in hiding during the dark times does interest me though, so I suppose I am biased on that front.
Volume 9 of the Clone Wars graphic novel series also features arguably the first story in the Dark Times series. Into the Unknown introduces us to some of the key players in the later ongoing series, such as Dass Jennir, as we see the fallout of Order 66, and learn that the Emperor’s purge isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Speaking of Purge, the final comic in the collection is the one-shot that serves as a bit of a showcase for the new Darth Vader. Several Jedi band together in an attempt to take him down, but with disastrous results. Mostly nobodies, we nevertheless get to learn the final tragic fate of Tsui Choi, who featured all the way back in Jedi Council: Acts of War, as well as Bultar Swan, who was one of the arena Jedi from episode 2.
It feels a little bit emotional at this point, to have finished my Prequel Re-Read of the comics! I think there’s just one more novel on my horizon, and then I’m done, but yeah, what a ride it has been! I’ve missed out a few of the graphic novels that I wasn’t really looking forward to, and now I don’t know whether I ought to have re-read those as well, just for completion’s sake! That said, if I had re-read everything, I doubt it would have been a matter of months to finish this project – more like years!
In checking off the stories on Goodreads, I’ve found it interesting how many of the reviewers over on that site refer to their own personal canon of what constitutes the clone wars, and even more interestingly, many align with my own! I’m glad that I’m not the only one to miss out some of those less-than-stellar storylines.
The Republic run with Quinlan Vos has always been a favourite of mine, though. I think I have especially enjoyed how it broadened out to the high point with the Siege of Saleucami story. That arc really crystallised most of what we as readers had been enjoying for years already, and gave a really satisfying pay-off for having stuck with the series since the beginning. I think the way in which it followed a good number of characters, and interweaved them so beautifully, is worth commending time and again. I particularly enjoyed the four Jedi one-shot issues, which due to their increased size from a regular 32-page comic meant they could cover a lot more ground. They really pulled together a great number of threads, such as Aurra Sing and Dark Woman coming back in the Aayla issue, or introducing big players like K’Kruhk and Jiesel in the Mace Windu book, to have them go on to recur throughout. It was a big cast, but it seemed to perfectly run that line between not being so big as to be unwieldy, and not being so small as to shrink the galaxy.
The story arc has so many twists and turns that it becomes hard to follow at times – just whose side is he on? Well, mostly it seems that the answer to that is “his own”. Having infiltrated Dooku’s camp, and been forced to do some pretty unsavoury things along the way, killing the second Sith is Quinlan’s sole motivation as means of some kind of atonement. He does some very dark deeds, but does he ever go down the dark path? Yoda and others will often say that the dark side will forever dominate you if you so much as give it a toe-hold, but Quinlan is eventually able to fully reject the dark side almost like Luke aboard the second Death Star, and walks away from the Jedi Order as one of the lucky few who survived.
Of course, Order 66 doesn’t appear to have been quite so effective as we all thought, and rightly so, really. It was arguably only ever meant to break the back of Jedi supremacy, and eliminate as many as possible, not all of them. We see plenty of Jedi mystics who roam the wilds of the Outer Rim, and who were never part of the war effort – presumably, all of them survived? I find it interesting that we basically buy into the Empire’s propaganda by believing so many Jedi would be killed when, in reality, probably hundreds of them never went near a clone trooper…
Anyway, I’m getting massively off topic here!
Once I’ve read Dark Lord, I think it might be fun to have a proper look back on my Summer of Star Wars, and write up some more rambling thoughts about the clone wars in general – so stay tuned for that!!