Comic Review: Star Wars: Legacy, Vol. 11: War

Star Wars: Legacy, Vol. 11: War
Written by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema
Pencils by Jan Duursema
Inks by Dan Parsons
Colors by Brad Anderson
Cover Art by Jan Duursema
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: January 11, 2012
Cover Price: $19.99

When I found out that the Star Wars Legacy series was coming to an ending, I was not amused. I had fallen in love with the series, and wished it would continue, but all good things – actually, in fact, all the best things, must come to an end; or in this case, a conclusion. The Legacy series had everything against it in the beginning – a Skywalker tale set over a century after Return of the Jedi seemed (to many, including myself) a tacky, desperate move by Dark Horse. But something very odd happened:

It worked.

The concept of duality, or contrast, of a chosen one on a hero’s journey of self-discovery – pitted against evil – learning how to rise above the obstacles impacted upon his life. This concept works as a template for any story, particularly in the Expanded Star Wars Universe, whether it is prior to the movies or after them.

But what really made Legacy work was the clever way in which the writers were able to make fans ask more questions about what happens (or rather, what has happened) to the characters we recall. How do the New Jedi Order/Legacy eras connect to the Star Wars Legacy comic series? What happens to the Skywalker clan between Ben Skywalker and Kol Skywalker? How did Jagged Fel declare himself Emperor, and why does his Empire have its own adaptation of a Jedi Order, named the Imperial Knights?

Some of these questions are not answered in the Star Wars Legacy: War trade paperback, and quite rightly so. What John Ostrander and Jan Duursema have done with this series have unfastened a grand amount of questions to answer and opportunities to write more tales of the Expanded Universe. I would hazard a guess most of these tales will come in the form of new novels, to help complete the spaces.

But this is beside the point.

The conclusion of Legacy, and rightfully so, solely focuses on the key characters and events we have been introduced to in the Legacy series. The hero is Cade Skywalker, descendent of Anakin, Luke, and Ben, who has taken on the life of a smuggler after the second fall of the Jedi Order. The Sith are in control of the galaxy now, with the compliant aid of the Empire (or at any rate part of it), and the Jedi are in hiding. Leading the Sith is Darth Krayt, who was a former Jedi from the Clone Wars era named A’Sharad Hett (I would have avoided this as a spoiler, but the actual cover of Legacy War makes that a controversial point).

In the previous issues leading up to War, Krayt is believed dead, having been betrayed and murdered by Darth Wyyrlok. But Krayt is shrewder than the rest of his Sith army (named the One Sith – a concept revisioned by Krayt who believed the Rule of Two was outdated and unnecessary), and has lived a long life since the days of the Clone Wars. He accomplishes in cheating death, and sends out a call through the Force to his loyal followers.

The beginning of Legacy War finds Cade Skywalker and his group attempting to track down and find Krayt – essentially he is hunting them down. Cade has become, at this point, neither light nor dark, neither Jedi or Sith – he uses both sides of the Force as easily as each other side. His companions, and the Jedi, are concerned about this.

Krayt’s return to commanding the galaxy has come with his new perspective (or madness) – a belief that in how he died and was reborn must also be emulated by the rest of the galaxy. Thus, his goal is to inaugurate a new war of total destruction. Meanwhile, the united forces of Imperial Knights, Jedi, Republic Navy, and others begin planning strategies to take on the Sith, while Cade focuses in on catching up with and assassinating Darth Krayt.

Darth Talon also makes a few essential appearances in this collection – looking as deadly, and as sexy, as ever. The character of Talon has become well-liked among Expanded Universe enthusiasts, and it’s nice to see her playing a significant role in this tale. It is, however, in my mind, the Sith Troopers that steal the show.

The Sith Troopers, while essentially introduced in the last collection, are decisively placed into full attack during the course of Legacy War. Wielding lightsabers and built-in blasters, they look like a combination of Boba Fett, Stormtroopers, Sith Lords, and the YVH-Series Battle Droid all blended into a combatant from the darkest of nightmares. They are formidable and deadly, and their appearance on the battlefield is a delicious introduction to their form. I, for one, would love to see more of these Sith Troopers in Star Wars media yet to come.

The artwork of the Battle of Coruscant is also magnificent, effortlessly capturing the scope of the battle, without attempting to get lost in the detailed environments of the city-wide planet as we’ve seen in other Star Wars media. No, the talented team of Jan Duursema with Dan Parsons and Brad Anderson has done a wonderful job at catching the significant moments of both the stated battle, and also in The Fall of the Hidden Temple. The individual lightsaber battles are caught so nicely – as if it was a snapshot during a choreographed ballet-style fight. These frames capture the moments of the lightsaber-fights remarkably well, with the stillness accenting the motions of the fights more accurately than you would believe.

The artwork dedicated to the protagonist and antagonist is also of significance. The eyes are the windows to the soul – and this unimaginative but essential catch phrase has been a common theme in Legacy. The close ups of Krayt’s eyes (one burning Sith Red, and the other of Yuuzhan Vong creation) capture his deep evil motivations creepily well. Cade’s eyes switch backward and forward between his natural eye color and Sith red. Profile wise, Krayt looks even more intimidating in his carefully designed Sith armor as opposed to his previous Vong suit.

Cade’s looks on the other hand, deliberately change from frame to frame. In some he is delicately portrayed as the hero of the day; and in others, he is portrayed in a manner I can only explain as ugly and poorly shown, to underscore him balancing on the edge of the Dark Side of the Force. Along with careful use of color palettes and tones, the overall art direction of Star Wars Legacy – from the first issues to this final conclusion in Legacy War – can be summed up in nothing more than an absolute success. It captivates, it mesmerizes – but it also captures the strongest elements of the writing, and strengthens areas that might be perceived as somewhat weaker. This collaborative team is brilliant.

The writing in Legacy War, as it has been right the way through the entire series, is of an excellent standard. It is somewhat drawn out and repetitive in the beginning of the book, but this exposition is clearly present for newer readers who haven’t seen the previous comics. While long time readers might find this a little tedious, it does open up the book to newcomers, which is a good move in my mind. Outside of this, the plot quality is up to the standard we’ve since expected from the inspired team behind Legacy, bringing forth a very much suitable conclusion while leaving the door open to future possibilities.

Expanded Universe fans will be thrilled to know that both within the writing and the artwork there are numerous references and flashbacks to other tales from other eras. From mentions of elements from the movies, to flashbacks of Krayt’s days as A’Sharad Hett during the Clone Wars (complete with some art of Jedi Aayla Secura and Bounty Hunter Aurra Sing); and from leftover pieces of the Yuuzhan Vong invasion during the New Jedi Order era, to a wonderful reprisal of Luke Skywalker in Jedi Spirit form. Even the Wilhelm Scream (or at least an attempt at it) makes an appearance.

R2-D2 is also present in Legacy War, though in the previous issues, there was little to none of the droid’s “saving the main characters at the last minute” motif that has been successfully used in all other Star Wars media – conversely this time, Artoo comes through, albeit during a critical moment that I shall not spoil for anxious readers. I do wonder though if we will ever discover what the hell happened to C-3PO“¦

As for endings, without giving anything away, I can say that a resolution of sorts is reached, which is highly satisfying as a reader of the series from the beginning. There are also hints and glimpses of some doors left open for the opportunity of a future series further down the line, which I am very hopeful for.

Legacy has succeeded where many attempts in other Star Wars media have failed. They have represented this concept of “duality and dichotomy within self” in Legacy meticulously within the age old tale of good (Cade) versus evil (Krayt). Essentially this all boils down to the choices that one can make in their life, by zoning in on our main character facing his destiny, after having questioned and struggled against it for so long. Legacy is successful because it captures the same elements of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader that made those characters so cherished.

Star Wars Legacy: War is an extremely recommended read. Followers of the Legacy series and Expanded Universe fans will be ecstatic with the results, while I’m confident casual Star Wars fans will enjoy reading this too. I believe that other comic fans may find this collection enjoyable as well – because the writing is solid, the artwork is captivating, and there is ample backstory and exposition provided to avoid too much confusion.

So lift your blue milk in cheers to John Ostrander, Jan Duursema, Dan Parsons, and Brad Anderson. Here’s to a fine accomplishment in the Expanded Star Wars Universe!

Overall Rating: 4½ out of 5

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