AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
2.9 out of 5
Star Wars Adventures: Boba Fett And The Ship Of Fear
(Art by Daxiong)
2 ABY. Boba Fett finds himself on the trail of a long-lost treasure ship, pursued by a pair of bounty hunting brothers with a grudge against Fett.
Any book where we get to see the galaxy's coolest bounty hunter in action is a good one and here we get to see both his skill and his cunning in full evidence.
However, it has to be said that there isn't much weight to the plot of this book and it doesn't contribute much to the overall Star Wars saga.
3 out of 5
Star Wars Adventures: Han Solo And The Hollow Moon Of Khorya
(Art by Rick Lacy and Matthew Loux)
1 BBY. In debt to crimeboss Sollima, Han is forced to work with his screwup childhood friend Billal to infiltrate an Imperial base in order to save Chewbacca's life.
Don't be fooled by this book's truly dreadful title, it's actually a fun adventure for our favourite smugglers before they got caught up with farmboys and princesses. At first I wasn't sure about Billal, introducing a new character and trying to convince us that he's always been a big part of Han's life, but ultimately it does work when we see their fraternal bond in action.
It's also worth mentioning that there's a nice vein of humour running through this book which peaks with a great scene featuring a callback to Marvel's 1980s comics ("Please not Hoojibs").
3 out of 5
Star Wars Adventures: Princess Leia And The Royal Ransom
(Art by Carlo Soriano)
2 ABY. Han, Princess Leia and Chewbacca become embroiled in a botched kidnapping whilst being pursued by Imperials and bounty hunters.
There's nothing particularly remarkable about this story except for the scenes where we get to see a little of the romantic tension between Han and Leia in the build up to 'The Empire Strikes Back'.
There is an appearance by the crimelord Raze, however, for those who were fans of 'Rebellion: The Ahakista Gambit'.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: Darth Maul - Son Of Dathomir
(Art by Juan Frigeri, Mauro Vargas & Wes Dzioba)
Set in 20 BBY, following the final series of The Clone Wars CGI TV series. Darth Maul's Shadow Syndicate was a rising power in the galaxy until he was defeated and humbled by his former master, Darth Sidious. But Maul's allies are regrouping and, backed by the will of Nightsister Mother Talzin, they plan on destroying Sidious and his new apprentice, Count Dooku.
Star Wars is usually a clash of good versus evil, but I really enjoyed the refreshing idea of evil versus evil presented here. On the one side you have Maul, Mother Talzin, the Mandalorian Death Watch, Black Sun and the Pyke Syndicate, whilst on the other you have Sidious, Dooku, General Grievous and the Separatist armies. And both sides are done great justice here too; whereas in most of their confrontations with the 'goodguys' the villains have to be defeated and flee, here we see each of these monsters unleashing their full potential. I was particularly pleased to see Dooku and Grievous redeemed from the easy-to-beat cowards they appear as on the TV show. I'm also a big Obi-Wan fan, so it didn't hurt to have him show up for a bit too!
There are two main downsides to this book and the first is the fact that it began life as the script of four episodes of the TV series which went unproduced. That means that we're often exposed to the stunted and obvious dialogue that's all too common in 'The Clone Wars'.
The second, and far worse, downside is that despite this being the perfect opportunity to give Maul's story the conclusion that the TV show couldn't, we're instead given yet another open-ended anticlimax which leaves the story feeling incomplete and left me, as a reader, feeling cheated.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: Rebellion - Small Victories
(Art by Colin Wilson)
0 ABY. Rebellion volume three, following on from the events of volume one, 'My Brother, My Enemy'. The Alliance flagship Rebel One drops out of hyperspace amid an Imperial refuelling depot. The small band of Rebels on board see an opportunity to deliver a crippling blow to the Empire, even though it will probably cost them their lives.
Although Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia are main characters in this story, I really enjoyed the fact that the actual focus is on Deena Shan. She's been through a lot since her first appearance as a ditzy girl with a crush on Han Solo and as the book opens we find her deciding that she simply doesn't have what it takes to be a soldier of the Rebellion. It is her journey from despondent drop-out to hero that makes for the most compelling reading, showing that you don't have to be a Jedi-in-training or royalty to really make a difference.
Another interesting element introduced and which it's a shame that we'll not see more of, given the cancellation of the series, is Dagger Squadron. The Daggers are a little bit like Rogue Squadron except their ship of choice is the heavily-armed B-Wing. The B-Wing was always my favourite toy as a kid, so I enjoyed seeing them in action again and it doesn't hurt that the former smuggler Nera Dantels (first featured in a Rogue Squadron story) joins Dagger Squadron for this mission.
All round a thoroughly enjoyable Star Wars adventure.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Deadly Hands Of Shon-Ju
(Art by Brian Koschak)
22 BBY. This book follows Jedi Knight Aayla Secura (the scantily-clad blue woman) as she is sent to confront the war profiteer Attuma Duum. When the mission goes awry Aayla is rescued by Shon-Ju, a former Jedi student who has developed his Force-skills into the art of unarmed combat.
This book's strongest moment is the first few pages where we get something of a flashback epilogue to John Ostrander's 'Darkness' in which Aayla returns to the Jedi Temple after having fallen to the dark side and been redeemed.
Unfortunately most of the rest of the book is just okay. I liked the comically deranged villain, Duum, but that good point is counterbalanced by the bad point of the callous way that Aayla treats Shon-Ju and his pupils, who save her life don't forget. It's no wonder these people become evil.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Colossus Of Destiny
(Art by the Fillbach Brothers)
22 BBY. Here Mace (Samuel L. Jackson) Windu returns to a planet he visited as a young Jedi Knight, only to discover that his friends there have fallen in with the Separatists and plan to awaken a powerful ancient war machine.
This is pretty standard, unremarkable Clone Wars fare in which a Jedi goes to a planet to confront a new Separatist plot and then comes out of it looking like the bad guy. In fact, almost this exact storyline was done with Yoda in 'Clone Wars: The Best Blades' and, frankly, it was done much better there.
Where this book does make itself standout from the crowd a bit, however, are the flashback scenes where we get to see Mace's previous adventures on Simocadia but told with a somewhat mythic quality.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Enemy Within
(Art by Brian Koschak)
22 BBY. This book follows a squad of Clone Troopers and focuses on its newest member; Sergeant Banks, straight out of training on Kamino. The squad's covert mission soon goes awry and Banks begins to discover that there is more to the situation than appearances present.
I always enjoy clone-focused stories because they tend to tell the grittier side of of the Clone Wars than that experienced by the Jedi. Here we get to meet a group of veteran troopers and see them through the eyes of a 'shiny'; a trooper new to the field whose armour has not yet got the scars of battle. As well as dealing with how the clones interact with each other, this story also tackles how they confront the fact that retirement and happily ever after are not likely to be in their future.
The downside to this book is that the plot itself isn't remarkable and the twist in the story is largely unsurprising.
3 out of 5