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Review: Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Slaves of the Republic

Star Wars: The Clone Wars- Slaves of the Republic
Written by Henry Gilroy
Illustrated by Scott Hepburn, Ramon Perez, and Lucas Marangon
Published by Dark Horse Comics, 2009
ISBN 978-1595823496
136 pp
For ages 8-up

Dark Horse Comics may be losing their beloved Star Wars license at the end of the year, but they’ve done a fantastic job with the property over the decades. In our continuing series this year, I’ll be examining a selection of Star Wars graphic novels in detail with more to come.

Next up is the graphic novel Star Wars: The Clone Wars- Slaves of the Republic. The graphic novel was the first in a line of stories Dark Horse Comics published based on The Clone Wars animated series which aired for 5 seasons from 2009-2013 on the Cartoon Network. Bridging the gaps between the feature films Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith, the series chronicles the Clone Wars, which are fought between the Galactic Republic under Chancellor Palpatine and the Confederacy of Independent Systems (AKA The Separatists) under Count Dooku. Little does the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Knights serving the Republic know that Chancellor Palpatine in reality is Darth Sidious, a Sith Lord manipulating both sides in a staged conflict to conquer the galaxy with the aid of Darth Tyranus (Count Dooku). The series was highly regarded by Star Wars fans and received Emmys for its fifth season on the Cartoon Network. The unaired final 13 episodes of the series debuted on Netflix this month as a sixth season.

With The Clone Wars in full swing, inhabitants of planets all over the galaxy are finding themselves torn between the conflict, and some are unwilling to take a side. On the planet Kiros, a peaceful colony of Togrunta aliens have created a utopia free of violence. They are a colony of artists, not warriors, and have known peace for over a century. Jedi Master Yoda is contacted by Governor Roshti of Kiros to tell him that Count Dooku’s Separatist Droid Army has converged at the capital of the planet. Arriving earlier than the Republic, Dooku offers to build a defensive base on the planet to protect other peaceful planets and to remove the Togrunta to a sanctuary away from harm. With no choice in the matter, the governor caves in to Count Dooku’s bleak option.

Days later, the Republic forces of Clone Troopers, led by the Jedi Knight Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Anakin’s apprentice, the Togrunta alien Ashoka Tano, arrive at Kiros. After defeating the Separatist forces and deactivating bombs around the capital, they discover that all 50,000 peaceful Togrunta inhabitants of the planet are missing and all signs point to the fact that they’ve been given by the Separatists to Zygerrian slave traders. The three Jedi and their clone troopers set off to track the location of the missing Togrunta, and along the adventure they outwit pirates, disable bombs, battle a giant space octopus, ride giant beasts, and experience all sorts of adventure and excitement that Jedi don’t seem to crave (according to Yoda) but they tend to do a lot of.

The story isn’t all about adventure and excitement. There are poignant parts to the storyline as well. Anakin and Ahsoka have a touching scene amidst the ruins of Kiros where she regrets the destruction that they’ve done to the capital in the name of peace. There’s also a good deal of focus on the topics of slavery and in particular what it means to Anakin. Star Wars fans will know that Anakin was born a slave and was freed from the bonds by Jedi Master Qui Gon-Jinn in the original Episode I: The Phantom Menace film. That attention to detail Gilroy added to the story really brought more depth to Anakin’s character. Fans will also remember that as a boy in The Phantom Menace Anakin had a premonition through the Force that he freed slaves. Though it was never done in the live action films, it was a touching moment to see Anakin actually fulfill his own destiny.

What I really enjoyed about the graphic novel is that it felt exactly like an episode of The Clone Wars animated series. Writer Henri Gilroy, who was a co-writer of the show, also wrote the graphic novel. Part of the problem of adapting a licensed property is to make it feel like the original source material. Many times adaptations can seem flat, derivative, or clunky, like a distant cousin of the licensed property. Not this one. It actually FEELS like it could be an episode of the The Clone Wars, and you can’t really ask for anything more than that. Marvel Comics, when they originally had the Star Wars license, was hit or miss. Dark Horse has perfected this and it continues in their other licensed properties like their Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novels. What’s even better is that this graphic novel storyline WAS adapted by Lucasfilm Animation and was aired in Season 4. The storyline was adapted into three episodes of the animated series: “Kidnapped,” “Slaves of the Republic,” and “Escape from Kadavo.”

The only minor complaint is for the graphic novel, it took three artists to complete the storyline. All three artists do an admiral job matching the look of a computer generated cartoon show into a comic book, but I personally preferred the look of Scott Hepburn, who does the artwork for the first few chapters.

So, while we’re all eagerly awaiting the debut of the new Star Wars: Rebels animated series in the fall, enjoy Season 6 on Netflix of The Clone Wars and the great tie-in graphic novels available from Dark Horse Comics.

Mike Pawuk About Mike Pawuk

Mike Pawuk has been a teen services public librarian for the Cuyahoga County Public Library for over 15 years. A lifelong fan of comic books and graphic novels, he was chair for the 2002 YALSA all-day preconference on graphic novels, served as a judge for the Will Eisner Awards in 2009, as well as helped to create the Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee for YALSA. He is the author of Graphic Novels: A Genre Guide to Comic Books, Manga, and More, published by Libraries Unlimited in 2006 and is working on a followup to his book.

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