Marvel’s republishing of various Dark Horse Star Wars adventures continues unabated, this time with a collection of Legends comics set in the Old Republic era. I have always had a soft spot for pre-film tales from the Star Wars universe; I recall fondly picking up the initial Tales of the Jedi runs published in the 1990s, using them to piece together historical context for the central pictures. This collection, while digging into some unknown corners of this universe, provides ample Star Wars action and drama, but may feel too similar to existing stories set in other time periods in this fictitious realm. Moreover, many of these issues feel like rushed products fashioned to milk the interest fans had in the video game series of the same name.
The Old Republic comic era came about as a result of the success of the Bioware video game, permitting creators to add texture to the worlds crafted in the initial games. A major push to release more comic tales in this era came about when the MMO version of the game was being built for 2011, and this Epic Collection gathers a few incongruent runs related to the universe presented in that media. We get #1-6 of the main series, #1-5 of The Lost Suns, #1-5 of the Lost Tribe of the Sith series, as well as some useful supplementary material from Star Wars Tales and Visionaries. This is a hefty book that will require your attention for some time; I’ve been reading it over the course of one week, putting it down after each individual series comes to its conclusion. On those grounds, this is a worthwhile addition to any fan’s shelf, as it provides ample bang for your buck.
The weakest part of the trade is, unfortunately, the arc that kickstarts this run of comics. The first issues written by Rob Chestney and illustrated by Alex Sanchez and Michael Atiyeh, initially existed as a web comic that was subsequently published in a physical form. The story focuses on the Old Republic and Sith Empire attempting to negotiate a peace treaty, putting the Jedi in a precarious position. There are bounteous Star Wars tropes throughout, giving it little creative voice when placed next to the multitude of other tales from within this universe. It also feels rushed and incomplete, with multiple backgrounds simply being blank space, adding little to the already confusing character movements.
The Lost Suns is an improvement, with Alexander Freed focusing on Jedi Theron Shan, and is well illustrated by Dave Ross, George Freeman and David Daza. The colors, also from Michael Atiyeh, are deep and vibrant, giving each page a real cinematic quality. It’s a clear visual improvement when placed next to the work found in the first portion of the trade. The espionage focus of the arc is also a welcome change to the tired Jedi vs. Sith territory many of these stories fall into.
Lastly, the Lost Tribe of the Sith by writer John Jackson Miller and artist Andrea Mutti tells the story of a Sith Princess looking to find her way in the universe. While a lost civilization of Sith is a fun concept that could provide plentiful narrative intrigue, the book feels painfully paced with lackluster dialogue and tropes galore. Mutti does a fine job with his spacecraft and tech designs, but his character work is stiff and lacks humanity. While I was excited to begin the journey, the tale was ultimately flat in its delivery, leaving me with thoughts of what could have been.
The supplementary material is useful, especially the encyclopedia entries that will help catch a reader up on the time and place these stories intermingle. Frankly, every Star Wars collection of Legends material should have these appendices, as even a seasoned fan like myself still needed these details to grasp the larger context. Unfortunately for this trade, many of these stories just don’t provide much to anyone not dedicated to the mythos. There is a lot here to digest — I just wish many of these issues didn’t feel like rushed products meant to capture the enthusiasm fans had for the video game counterparts.
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