AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3.3 out of 5
Hawkworld: Book One - Flashzone
(Art by Alcatena)
On the planet Thanagar the privileged noble Katar Hol joins the law enforcement Wingmen Division and discovers a very different side of life among the poor and desperate denizens of Downside.
This book represents one of the many attempts to revise and revamp the character of Hawkman following the 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' (by Marv Wolfman), giving him a clear origin as a police officer on a divided alien world. Now, I can't claim to have ever been a Hawkman fan and I found that this definitely wasn't the book to win me over.
There's very little subtlety and nuance to what we're offered here, with the 'rich and privileged rookie getting a sharp lesson in the real world' story being pretty cliche. Also, this short book is the first of a three part miniseries, so nothing substantial gets developed or resolved here, meaning that unless it grabs you enough to keep you reading the subsequent volumes it'll prove disappointing. It certainly didn't grab me.
2 out of 5
Star Wars: Emissaries To Malastare
(Art by Tom Lyle, Jan Duursema, John Nadeau, Robert Jones, Walden Wong and Jordi Ensign)
32 BBY. Members of the Jedi Council, led by Mace Windu (AKA Samuel L. Jackson), travel to Malastare, mentioned several times in Episode I, to mediate a peace between two warring factions from the planet Lannik.
Whilst it's good to see the Jedi Council members in action for a change, instead of just sitting around chatting, the plot of their adventure on Malastare isn't particularly exciting or even interesting. There's plenty of exposition disguised as dialogue and in the end you just think 'do I really care?'. The return of Podracing is also fairly lukewarm, although it was interesting to see that Sebulba is now flying Anakin's Pod.
The reason I didn't give this book 2 out of 5 is that the latter part of it, in which Mace and his former apprentice Depa Billaba venture into the underworld of Nar Shaddaa, makes for great reading. The art of this part is also excellent and it made me wonder why we haven't seen more the Nadeau/Ensign team since their work on the X-Wing Rogue Squadron series.
Plus there's the first appearance of Quinlan Vos, who became so popular that he got a shout-out by Obi-Wan in Episode III.
Followed by John Ostrander's 'Twilight'.
3 out of 5
Star Wars: Outlander
(Art by Tom Raney, Rod Pereira, Rick Leonardi, Al Rio, Mark Lipka, Stephen Hawthorne and Marke Heike)
32 BBY. Set directly after 'The Phantom Menace', Ki-Adi-Mundi (the pointy headed Jedi from the Council) is sent to Tatooine to track down the famous Jedi Sharad Hett, missing for years but now a member of the clans of Sand People. Ki faces more than just a rogue Jedi Knight, however, when he finds himself caught in a turf war between the Hutts Jabba and Gardulla and in the sights of the Dark Jedi bounty hunter Aurra Sing.
I really enjoyed this book as it continues Ki's story, begun in Jan Strnad's 'Prelude To Rebellion'. I also enjoyed the concept of a Jedi who has 'gone native' and is trying to find the balance between a brutal lifestyle and the Jedi Code. Finally, you can't go wrong having a Dark Jedi in the book, because it means we're treated to a great lightsaber duel.
If I have one criticism of this book it is simply that fact I'm sick of stories set on Tatooine. The planet is supposed to be a backwater, but somehow just about every character in the Star Wars galaxy ends up there sooner or later!
Followed by 'Emissaries to Malastare'.
4 out of 5
Star Wars: The Hunt For Aurra Sing
(Art by Davide Fabbri and Christian Dalla Vecchia)
31 BBY. This book starts off in a surpringly dark and adult way as we witness the brutal murder of two Jedi on Coruscant by the Dark Jedi bounty hunter Aurra Sing. As for what the rest of the story is, well, the title should say all you need to know.
I liked this book a lot and highly recommend it, but you'll have to bear in mind that I'm a sucker for Dark Jedi stories and even more for lightsaber duels! I particularly enjoyed A'Sharad Hett's struggle to overcome his desire to exact vengeance on Sing for his father's murder (in 'Outlander').
4 out of 5