Published: March 17, 1999
Rating: Rated T
Writer: Jan Strnad
Penciler: Anthony Winn
Inker: Robert Jones
Colourist: Dave Nestelle, Guy Major
Cover Artist: Dan Bereton
Sylvn and the fugitives have taken flight from Cerea, but their starship’s cargo hold is fit to burst with a load of unstoppable alien beasts. Action was what the youngsters hoped to find in the space lanes beyond their provincial homeworld, but now they have more than they bargained for, and a trial back home to face the consequences of their actions is beginning to sound downright cozy!
Going back to review these older issues is such a joy. They still feel fresh and the themes that are covered seem as relevant today as they did over twenty years ago. These issues have each providing something very different, the last a huge tease for what fans were eagerly waiting for. For although relevant to today, you can’t lose sight that this series was part of the build up to The Phantom Menace and plays on it extremely well. So far, Strnad has left the reader on Cerea, really exploring the politics of the planet. This issue promises to take us to the larger galaxy…
…And by larger galaxy, we mean Tatooine. I shouldn’t have laughed, but, well, yes, I did. Fans use to joke that everything in Star Wars seems to happen on this insignificant planet and this would seem to be evidence to support that assumption. Yet when you think about it, Strnad did need to give us a familiar planet. At this point in history, fans wanted to know more, to see new planets. Strnad keeps us on a new planet for three issues, one that was unheard of until this point. The next planet needed to be grounded in what had come before. Tatooine? So maybe a different planet would have been better, but fans also know that Ephant Mon worked with Jabba, has connections to the criminal underworld and when we first see him in the films, is on Tatooine. Him travelling to here actually makes sense…. even if this is yet another time we’re going to this planet.
For this issue, we don’t actually go down to the planet (although we will do in the future). Instead, the story follows the characters in orbit with what can only be explained as an Alien tribute. Dark Horse Comics, who originally published this issue, also had the Alien license and so it’s perhaps no wonder this influence came through into Star Wars. Being an Alien fan, this is rather welcome. It brings yet another dynamic to this story arc, from teasing to outright horror and a race against the clock. The creatures look extremely threatening and are also a challenge, even for a Jedi. It adds a much higher threat level to what Ki-Adi has had to already face and hopefully will mean that Mundi has to try a different approach to save his daughter.
Slyvn is a very interesting character when compared to her father. The two are very similar. Both are ruled by their emotions, it’s why Slyvn went off with Ephant Mon and also why Ki-Adi makes the choices he does to rescue his daughter. He maybe a Jedi, and she still a girl, but they are both being driven by the same emotional force. We also see Slyvn regretting her choices, rushing into a situation she should have stayed away from. Ki-Adi did exactly the same thing in the first issue, rushing into a situation only to make it worse. I like this echo of each character, that Slyvn has her father’s influence in her. It’s interesting to note the development of force powers. At this early stage of Star Wars lore, Ki-Adi can’t sense his daughter through the force. If written today, this would not be the case.
The art by Winn in this issue really caught my attention, for what was there and for also what was not. There are lots of panels here done in a classic style. This issue it seems really noticeable, that there are so many blank spaces behind the panels. In today’s comics, this isn’t done, every bit of paper is used to allow to tell a fuller story. Winn does do this in odd panels, which means when the whole page is used, you sit up and take note. It’s a different way of telling the story and what that I keep finding myself liking more and more than the modern equivalent. His designs in this story really fit in with Star Wars, the divviks, the robots, they are all new, yet fit so well. And the hatch at the end of the issue? Taken straight from Alien but to me, that gives it more charm and instantly brings to mind that sound and twist of it as it opens.
I came to the end of the issue thinking what a great story, but it seems rather short. It was only then I discovered that the issue had a second, smaller story. Still written by Strnad it follows Ki-Adi on his home planet. I said in my last review that I wasn’t ready to leave Cerea and so to find this, it was a pleasant surprise. It immediately reminds me of the format that is now adopted by IDW’s Star Wars Adventures. It seems to meet the wants of both readers, those that want to explore the galaxy and those wanting to take a closer look at Cerea and in particularly, Ki-Adi.
It is very short, yet Strnad gets over the first part of a very emotional tale. The similarities between Anakin and Ki-Adi continuing to grow, with Ki-Adi also starting his training late. But what really affected me, was just how precious Ki-Adi is to his father and to Cerea as a whole. We get to see what the effect of having so few males on a planet is like. They are people yes, but they are also a valued commodity to others. A parent’s love is unmatched and even in these few short pages, you can’t help but feel for Ki-Adi’s father. He doesn’t want him to go and yet it is the only way to keep him safe and perhaps bring hope for the planet. Short and sweet it maybe, but it conveys so much and although I wanted more of the main story, the sacrifice of some of its pages for this is well worth it.
As always, Strnad provides a different sort of story yet again. We move from Cerea (well sort of) to the confines of a ship and the horrors that lay within. Taking cues from Alien, it sees the introduction and reintroduction of things both old and new. Splitting the comic into two, while sacrificing some of the main comic, allows Strnad to explore multiple threads of the story he started out with, as well as making the reader feel like they’re getting that bit more from a comic. I can’t help but think it might have been this that influenced the format of other comics, most notably Star Wars Adventures, as the sort of format that works effectively. Both stories are captivating, and I can’t wait to move onto the next issue and see what else Strnad has in store…
Star Wars Republic was an ongoing series originally released by Dark Horse that ran from 1998 till 2006 encompassing 83 issues. Prelude to Rebellion is currently available in digital format from the Marvel Online Comic Store, via the Marvel App, comiXology or by subscribing to Marvel Unlimited. A physical copy can be found in one of the many trade paperback releases from Marvel. A physical copy can be found in one of the many trade paperback releases from Marvel. Please check with Amazon UK and US or your local comic bookstore for availability.