It is a busy week in the Star Wars universe for author Ryder Windham. Hot on the heels of the reference book Star Wars: The Complete Vader co-authored with Peter Vilmur, he has a new trade paperback (TPB) release from Dark Horse Comics.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Strange Allies is a continuation of the story of Jedi Padawan Nuru Kungurama and his rough around the edges sidekick Gizz that begin in Windham's young reader book series, Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Secret Missions.
With so many Jedi Generals occupied with the Clone Wars, assignments that would usually go to Knights or Masters are falling to Jedi in training--in this case, masterless Padawan Nuru Kungurama. Accompanied by his squad of clone troopers and a hulking swoop biker named Gizz, Nuru's job begins as a routine protection detail but soon evolves to include a mystery massacre, the hijacking of a space freighter, and the kidnapping of a group of orphaned younglings!
* Ryder Windham's Breakout Squad from the prose series The Clone Wars: Secret Missions come to comics.
While I haven't read the Secret Missions series but this comic picks up after those tales and finds Nuru back at the Jedi Temple awaiting his next mission or possible even a new Jedi Master (apparently Nuru's first two Masters are deceased).
At the heart of the story we have two independent operators a Hutt named Noggox and a Neimoidian Pirate Dool Pundar. Noggox is selling droid brains to the Republic for use in its Starships, while Pundar is attempting to abscond with these shipments. In order to continue its war efforts the Republic dispatches Nuru, the Clones of the Breakout Squad and Nuru's two strange sidekicks, Gizz and a droid that wants to become a Jedi, in Cleaver. Along the way we get to see Gizz' difficulties making a love connection and the struggles of the young Nuru to be a leader and his compassion as a Jedi in trying to help orphans.
The comic features some interesting cameos from Yoda, Dexter, Palpatine, Kit Fisto, Count Dooku and Savage Opress. In fact this comic actually contains the story that was released on Free Comic Book Day, Opress Unleashed.
The comic itself is targeted at a younger audience (@8 year old reading level) and is reasonably priced at $7.99. If you are used to reading the adult novels or even reading other Dark Horse Star Wars titles, then this book will probably leave you wanting.
The art in the book is by Ben Dewey and its a rough style, it lacks some of the realism and fine detail that I like to see in comic art. But it isn't really a postiive or a negative, it just is what it is.
My favorite part of the comic is one of the orphans, a young Trandoshan named Charky. He basically carried this book for me and was very amusing and very rude. There is also a fun little scene in swamp when one of the villains gets their just deserts.
While it is cool to see a Chiss Jedi and it is always fun to see some of Savage Opress in action, this story was just a little to straight forward and lacked the real emotional depth a mature audience expects. If you are younger or have young kids that are fans of The Clone Wars animated series, then I would recommend this comic as a way for them to slip there toes into the Expanded Universe. There are enough connections to TCW series that it will fit conceptually for kids.
I really like the idea of this Chiss Jedi and would be interested to see Nuru integrated into TCW series, after all after they start building Chiss character models, how far away can Captain Thrawn be from making an appearance?
In the end, Strange Allies is a solid comic for the kids, but will probably disappoint adult readers. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Strange Allies is on-sale now, you can order it for $7.19 on TFAW.com. For more on Strange Allies and to see some preview panels visit Dark Horse's website.