Love it or hate it, it is pretty amazing to see just how far the Star Wars franchise has come since the release of the prequel trilogy. Novels, video games, new toys, an animated series and comics have fleshed out a period of galactic history that was nothing more than a passing comment from Luke Skywalker. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the newest animated series on Cartoon Network (not to be confused with the Genndy Tartakovsky micro-series) that presents the battles, victories and defeats of the Galactic Republic as they engage in open warfare with the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Dark Horse has launched a new line of Star Wars comics that tells stories not featured in the show, making the Clone Wars feel much more epic in scale.
As war continues to rage throughout the galaxy, Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi are sent by Chancellor Palpatine to investigate possible connections between the neutral planet of Valahari and the construction of a new class of droid fighters that are technically superior to the Republic’s own ships. As Anakin and Obi-Wan meet with Lord Harko to diplomatically discuss matters, they are shocked to discover that Count Dooku has also been invited to speak on the Confederacy’s behalf. As expected, the meeting breaks down resulting in the Republic establishing a blockade around the planet, an act that greatly angers Harko. While attempting to run the blockade, Harko is killed and his death inspires his son to side with Dooku to launch guerrilla attacks on Republic forces and Anakin Skywalker, whom he believes responsible for his father’s murder.
Younger fans of Star Wars (which this comic seems to be directed towards) will eat Hero of the Confederacy right up, as it gives them something to enjoy while they wait for new episodes to air on Friday nights. The comic attempts to match the show’s style as much as possible and because the work is hand drawn (rather than using CGI stills), it gives illustrators Koschak and Parson the opportunity to add their own unique flourishes. The story is solid, but unoriginal as it uses the familiar trope of an enemy using deception to turn someone into a weapon against the opposing force. Certain parts of the narrative are forced, such as the appearance of Asajj Ventress. The sudden introduction of Dooku’s apprentice feels tacked on, as if the writers felt that Obi-Wan didn’t have much to do and threw her in at the last minute. The Obi-Wan/Ventress dynamic is interesting, considering that the villain originally served as a foil for Anakin and was, for the first season at least, his biggest rival. The comic could have explored this new relationship further, but ultimately this side story is fairly useless and doesn’t really contribute anything to the larger narrative. However, I sincerely doubt that the target audience will care about that.
The story is brief and not very deep, so young readers won’t be too bored with material and the last half of the comic features several exciting sequences involving ship-to-ship combat. There is very little violence to worry about as it is on the same level of the cartoon. If adults are fine with their younger children watching the show, they won’t complain over this. That said, the conflict and torment Tofen experiences after the death of his father might fly over the heads of younger readers. If you’ve got readers clamoring for more Star Wars, Hero of the Confederacy is a sound purchase.