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The Force in Four Colors (Expanded)

Dark Horse invades summer with its very own 'Attack of the Clones' - a veritable horde of Star Wars comics

By Arnold T. Blumberg     June 01, 2002

Jango Fett
© 2002 Hasbro
There's no doubt that this summer will be at least partly ruled by the Force (web-swingers notwithstanding) thanks to the arrival this May of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. But for those of us who recall those heady days of yore when the gaps between the original movies were covered by the Marvel Comics series (see sidebar), there is another aspect to this periodic Star Wars revival. This time around, it's Dark Horse that's carrying the lightsaber for fans, and they've done an incredible job of filling comic shop shelves with all manner of mini- and maxi-series, one-shots, and trade paperbacks. Now that we're in smack dab in the middle of the prequel trilogy with a new installment in theaters, Dark Horse have kicked into hyperspace with an all-new assortment of Jedi goodies.

First up, the ongoing Star Wars monthly goes through a "Rite of Passage" in a four-part story rife with action and intrigue. Focusing on Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos and his former Padawan, Aayla Secura, writer John Ostrander has crafted characters that drew the attention of the Master himself - George Lucas.

"Aayla Secura, who first made her appearance in our story arc 'Twilight,' so intrigued George Lucas that he's put her into Episode II!" says Ostrander. "Our current storyline, "Rite of Passage," tells how Aayla went from being Quinlan Vos' Padawan to a full-fledged Jedi Knight as she appears in the movie. It shows how Aayla became a Jedi in the first place and the bond she shares with Quin and also features some pretty cool opponents, the Morgukai, who are able and all too willing to give the Jedi a fight."

According to Ostrander, "Rite of Passage" also features a familiar Machiavellian manipulator.

Learn all the Jedi secrets in the comic book adaptation of STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES.

"Pulling the strings behind the scenes is a character viewers of the movie will know all too well," says Ostrander, who also heaps praise on the title's penciler, Jan Duursema. "Jan, who did the stunning work on the comic adaptation of [Attack of the Clones], dazzles even further. And this is just the start of what we will be doing long term in the ongoing Star Wars book."

While Ostrander and company push forward with tales that expand the existing Star Wars universe, David Land is looking The Empire Strikes Back, and what might have been. Following up on the previous successful Infinities mini-series that offered a "What if?" look at an alternate Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: Infinities - The Empire Strikes Back is a four-issue excursion into unknown territory.

"The coolest thing about Dark Horse's Infinities stories is the fact that they're not tied down by the dense continuity of the Star Wars universe," says Land, who also serves as Dark Horse's Star Wars editor. "We're able to tell an entertaining and interesting story without having to worry about things like Han's ex-girlfriend's brother showing up and explaining how Han couldn't have been at Cloud City during a specific point in the story, because in fact he was with him on Tatooine at the time. Continuity is cool and definitely has its place, but it's fun every once in a while to be able to step outside that and just tell a fun story. That's what Infinities is for."

In this case, the new mini-series written by Land, and illustrated by Davide Fabbri and Christian Dalla Vecchia, takes the beloved middle chapter in the original trilogy and sets it on its head. What happens when Luke is not saved by Han on Hoth? Will Lando strike a deal with Boba Fett on the side? And what vital information does Vader discover in the innards of his old droid, C-3P0, that could turn the tables on the Rebels once and for all? Land threw himself into the project and came up with a tale that leads to a lightsaber-dueling climax quite different from the one seen in the original Empire.

"When the opportunity to write this story came up, I jumped at it because there's a lot of stuff in The Empire Strikes Back that could be altered to tell a different yet very interesting story," says Land. "Phil Amara, Scott Allie, and I sat down at the beginning of this project to talk about what would be cool to change in Empire. Within a short amount of time we'd come up with a series of exciting events that rang true to the original film, yet were different enough to make a very interesting 'alternate history' story. It was a fun process, and writing the scripts and being able to work with Davide Fabbri in a different capacity than we have before has been very rewarding as well."

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) gets Jedi training from Master Yoda (performed by Frank Oz) in STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

But what of Empire's most infamous figure, the bounty hunter that so enthralled a generation with his air of mystery and menacing demeanor? Well, Attack of the Clones not only gives us a glimpse of a very young Boba, but of his "dad" as well, Jango Fett. This summer, Dark Horse gives Jango his very own mini-series, thus ensuring that countless Fettians will be sated.

Written by Haden Blackman with art by Ramon F. Bachs and Raul Fernandez, Star Wars: Jango Fett - Open Seasons will trace the background of a man who will emerge as one of the most significant figures in the history of the Star Wars universe. As important as Jango may be, Blackman admits that he had some qualms about writing a "bounty hunter" comic.

"Initially, I was a little worried about writing a 'bounty hunter' comic because there are a lot of very tempting clichés that arise with these types of characters," says Blackman. "Fortunately, the focus on Jango's backstory gives me a chance to explore how Jango became a bounty hunter rather than dwell on his activities as a bounty hunter, which are shown so well in the film anyway."

In the series, Jango faces Count Dooku (also seen in Attack of the Clones) while serving as commander of the Mandalor warriors on the planet Galidran.

"In the comic, I wanted to show that Jango's past has taught him how to be a formidable warrior and soldier, but also gave him a sense of loyalty and commitment," says Blackman. "The events of the comic reveal how Jango could end up as a self-reliant bounty hunter, but still have some rationale for wanting a clone of himself. Of course, I also wanted to make Jango a total baddie."

Blackman also relished the opportunity to look at Jango in "four very distinct stages in his life - the child Jango we see in #1 shares some traits with the adult Jango in #3, but he's also changed quite a bit. In my mind, Jango is one of the most interesting STAR WARS characters because he's much more complex than he initially appears."

That complexity makes him, in Blackman's mind, one of the most intriguing characters in the saga, surpassing his infamous son.

"He's not just a masked, enigmatic villain like Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back. We learn that's he's also a father. Everything you learn about him just raises more questions. Why is he a father? Why has he agreed to become the 'prime clone?' Is he evil or just mercenary?"

Fans will have to wait for those questions and many more to be answered later this summer, and we haven't even talked about the many trade paperbacks reprinting the Marvel stories of old as well as the multiple editions of the Attack of the Clones adaptation itself. This summer, Dark Horse is making sure that everyone can seek out the power of the Force. Buy these comics, you must - on this, all depends.


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