Published: May 20, 2020
Cover Artist: Derek Charm
Writer: Michael Moreci
Artist: Derek Charm (1-5; 19-20), Arianna Florean, Mario Del Pennino (6-18)
Colourist: Luis Antonio Delgado (1-5; 19-20), Valentina Taddeo (6-18)
Letterer: Jake M. Wood
This exciting weekly series explores a time of great upheaval in the galaxy—the Clone Wars! While Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and other Jedi Knights fight against incredible odds, Commander Cody, Captain Rex, and other clones, pinned down for the duration, swap war stories that feature your favorite characters from The Clone Wars animated series, such as Padmé Amidala, General Grievous, and many more!
A long time ago, in what feels like a galaxy far, far away… And the world we are living in is vastly different. Most of us are staying at home, working the best we can from there (as a teacher reading to an entire school each day is an experience, I can tell you!) and having the things we took for granted stopped. In the case of this review, comics. We have not had a new release in comics for several weeks (with the exception of a digital release of the new Doctor Aphra). To have a new Star Wars comic is very exciting and it is with eager anticipation I have been waiting for this series. Many of us will have been watching the final series of The Clone Wars on Disney Plus, feeling like we want more. To release this series now is perfect timing. What is even more perfect, is that this series is written by Michael Moreci. For any who have read my previous reviews of Star Wars Adventures, you will know how much love I have for this writer. His work in Adventures, as well as in his other work (most notably in his own novel Black Star Renegades), is Star Wars through and through. That might sound like an easy skill to have, but Moreci always shows that there is a level that he is able to reach that goes beyond what others can do. To have him for this series is simply wonderful and to top it off? It’s the anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, what could be better?
The first thing that really struck me before any of the writing was the artwork. After the opening moral, a great way to get readers into the right frame of mind, was the incredible artwork of Derek Charm. As a huge fan of the original Clone Wars, Charm drew me right back to that series. Charm’s style, the way he frames shots, he was made to draw this story. He has really managed to bridge the gap with the two different series and has left me wanting more, a lot more. There are two other artists, who I will look at later, but to have Charm illustrating the main story is a match made in heaven.
To the story itself, Moreci quickly establishes that this is set before the main series, or at least where the main series started. It may seem like an odd detail to pick up on, but with how much jumping around The Clone Wars did, I like to know where I am in the timeline. Where one might think that Moreci would have placed this further into The Clone Wars, he holds back and does it before Anakin has an apprentice. That story has been told and what I like is that Moreci has picked a period where the characters are still getting to know one another, where they are not sure how the other will act. It also allows Moreci to utilise characters that we haven’t seen in a long time. To have Plo Koon, Anakin and Obi-Wan working together on a mission is fantastic and I look forward to seeing where that goes. It also allows us to see the clones of those generals getting to know one another. Not only do we get to see Rex and Cody’s relationship develop but we also get to see Rex and Wolffe’s. Both are important. At the start of The Clone Wars, Rex and Cody worked closely together and then it trailed off as more important story elements took over. It’s a relationship that needs more developing. And as for Rex and Wolffe, this is a crucial meeting due to their future relationship in Star Wars Rebels. These characters have not been picked by random but because they are important to the story of Star Wars. I’ve often referred to Moreci as the master weaver, who weaves pieces from every corner of the galaxy together, and I’m sure he is laying a lot of foundation work here for the rest of the story.
The rest of the story then diverts back in time to a different incident. Moreci places it there to teach us about character and I can’t help but reference Lost. It is a show that I rate above all others and this issue felt like a crossover with it. With setting the story so early on, the character development is crucial. Although the main story is following a range of characters and jedi, the flashback allows Moreci to focus on Anakin and his battalion. They do not trust each other, yet they are not sure how they feel about each other. This leads to the clones feeling like it is up to them to look after themselves because to everyone else, they are just clones. Moreci writes Anakin perfectly, because he isn’t like the other jedi. Anakin has attachments and they matter. The Clones are more than just clones and Moreci shows us how Anakin wins their trust. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a moment near the end of the flashback between Anakin and another character, which Moreci writes beautifully. You’ll know it when you see it and some of you may even hear, “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…”.
The artwork for the flashback is by Arianna Florean and Mario Del Pennino. As much as I like Charm’s work for the main story, having Florean and Del Pennino do the flashbacks was an excellent choice. They provide some variety to the story as well as letting the reader know that they are reading about a different time period. The action that the two draw is excellent and easily carries the reader through. Florean, as always, and Del Pennino make use of every available space and really draw you in to the new planet of Benglor.
It is easy to write Star Wars as a lot of action about some people. At its heart, it has always been about character, about those small moments. It was Irvin Kershner who really got this when he was doing The Empire Strikes Back. Everyone was worried about the effects; he was worried about the character. You can’t help but see that in Moreci’s first issue. He is focused on character. Yes, there is action, but the reason Moreci is here is to strengthen those bonds between the characters that we have all come to love through The Clone Wars and Rebels. Not only that, but Moreci is showing us how those bonds were first formed, something that the original series never did. With a trio of artists to bring his story to life (and take us back to the style of the original Clone Wars) and following a format similar to Lost, you have an incredible first issue. In this time where we can’t see people, we ourselves have relationships with, Moreci is able to do so through the characters of Star Wars. All I can say is, thank goodness we only have to wait a week for the next part. You can try to predict what Moreci will do next, but he always leaves you surprised with what turn he will take next…
Star Wars Adventures: Clone Wars – Battle Tales is a five-part series available from IDW Publishing. This issue is available from all good comic bookstores in the USA and from Forbidden Planet in the UK. This issue retails at $3.99.