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Star Wars: Obi-Wan and Anakin (Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin) Paperback – July 19, 2016
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I dinged this a 1/2 star because one event at the end of the trade happens much too quickly. Too say more would spoil it (I am very concerned about time and space issues). As with most of Marvel's Star Wars books, the art here is very nice and excellently depicts the characters, equipment, vehicles and worlds quite consistently with Lucas's (and now Disney's) vision.
There are two narratives in this story. The main one is that Obi-Wan and Anakin have traveled to a far off, non-republic planet in order to investigate a Jedi distress call in an ancient dialect/code. They immediately come across the two factions in a global fight that is still taking place many years after the world has been ripped asunder by unrestrained pollution (caused by business) and war. The other narrative is about Anakin's questioning of the Jedi order and the possibility that he might leave. Many conversations between Obi-Wan and Anakin, as well as Palpatine and Anakin, are given to us bit by bit throughout this trade (all of those conversations happened before the mission to investigate the Jedi distress call).
It's very well done. Star Wars fans will be most pleased.
Having read a number of these graphic novels/trade paperbacks from Marvel over the past several weeks, I found this one to be a decent read. It's certainly not one of the better stories, but Charles Soule is a very solid writer and certainly turned in a solid script. It's just that the story itself isn't that compelling and neither are any of the supporting characters. And while the flashback sequences do illustrate the beginnings of Anakin's relationship with Palpatine, they are only a small portion of the overall story. In addition, while the ending works fine, it mostly resolves Anakin's internal conflict and somewhat ignores much of the leadup in the first four chapters dealing with the warring faction on the Carnelion IV. The artwork is solid (particularly the coloring work), but there is a bit of an overuse of double-page spreads that make some of the action difficult to easily follow.
The art style is very detailed and does not suffer from off-model issues. However, I did have problems with it at the beginning. The second page is divided into four vertical panels with the first panel showing the Jedi's damaged ship descending, the back of the two's ejected seats deploying safety measures, the safety measures completed and the two landing safely, and finally, the ship crashing. However, with how small the ejector seats are in the first panel and with the view in the second panel being behind the seats and in mid-deploying and just slivers of the Jedi's robes being shown, I was confused on what was happening, thinking the seats were small cargo ships or escape pods or something. It isn't until I looked closer at the first panel did I realized that what I mistook as debris from the ship was, in fact, ejector seats.
The other problem I had with the art followed shortly after, with Obi-Wan pointing into the distance in response to Anakin's question. However, his hand is drawn in a way that suggests he is using the Force to dispense the fog/mist. But with Anakin moving forward and Obi-Wan's dialogue, it suggests that he isn't and that Obi-Wan is just pointing very weirdly in the direction of the ruins.
I also found the mechs the Open used near the end to be un-Star Wars in appearance. They look more like something out of Battletech.
The story is okay. It is split into the present and flashing back to a couple of days before the mission. The present segments follow the two Jedi as they are pulled into the conflict between the Open and the Closed, the two factions that are fighting on the planet for centuries, having destroyed their civilization and ability to leave their planet. The flashbacks show Anakin's doubts with his Jedi training and the start of Palpatine trying to worm his way into Anakin's life and manipulate him.
I did enjoy the twist near the end when Obi-Wan found the person who sent the distress call and how they were able to send it. I also enjoyed how the story didn't have Obi-Wan and Anakin not declaring one side better than the other, showing how the Open, Closed and the Scavenger as all being alike with just different names.
Overall, it was okay. The art is decent and detailed. The plot point of Anakin wanting to leave the Order is a foregone conclusion and forced conflict and wasn't really needed, though it was nice to see how the other padawans treated him for being emotional and coming into the Order later than the others. I also liked that we got to see the start of Palpatine and Anakin's "friendship". However, the fishers, members of the Open and Closed who were mutated by the poisonous gas that was used in the past and forms the Celadon Sea, just come and go; only coming into the story to separate Obi-Wan and Anakin halfway through. However, it was a nice change of pace that the two don't declare either side as good and evil, instead, both the Open and Closed, having raged war for so long, is shown as being the same thing with different names.
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I enjoyed the story too, it's a slower-paced, rather meditative approach to dig deeper into the relationship of the master and apprentice, how they relate to each other and to the disciplines and philosophy of the Jedi Order.
The whole scene and the conclusion fits perfectly into the main narrative of the saga while also adds a lot to the characters.
The story started slowly and at first it seemed quite bland and generic. But by taking the time to set the scene Soule actually sets up a really good tale. As I read further into the book the pace began to increase a little and we also saw flashbacks into what went on on Coruscant just before this mission. While there is plenty of action in this story I would say it's focus is more character driven than some of the other Marvel Star Wars books which I really liked.
The artwork is good but there are a lot of bits anbd pieces sprayed all over lots of scenes which I think are supposed to give atmosphere to the background but end up hindering a clear reading of what's going on. If there was less of that I would give the story 5 stars rather than 4 becuase that particular artistic effect is everywhere and I felt that it didn't help the story. It constantly drew my eye away from the action to the background.
Overall though a pretty good read.
But what this five-issue story does is to contribute to and strengthen the larger story. The relationship of the two title characters is tested and developed, we learn new and surpring things about each. Anakin is drawn into Palpatine's web for the first time, and it's full of subtle foreboding. The Republic is shown in a less than positive light. These are just the main elements, there are a number of smaller moments which build on (or build to) things that appear later in the movie saga.
Not to say Anakin & Obi-Wan doesn't work as a story in its own. The theme here is how people are stronger together, explored by the relationship between the title characters, and also two agressive factions on a world devastated by Centuries-old war. All the beloved Star Wars tropes are here - rollicking action, monsters, swashbuckling heroics, even a lightsbaber duel - but this is a more thoughtful, meditative story, carefully paced.
The anime-infused artwork is a delight. Each panel looks like a screenshot from a beautiful animated series, with a high level of detail and lush, organic colouring. Add in mech walkers and green-haired post-apocalyptic warrior girls, and you've got a genuine Star Wars anime, albeit as a comic.
Wonderful art, compelling story and captures the difficulties between a master and padawan.
Also, a fantastic and unexpected look into Palpatine's relationship with a young Anakin.