Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Strange Allies by Ryder Windham (penciled by Ben Dewey and colorist Mae Hap) is a stand-alone graphic novella, meaning it’s shorter than most graphic novels but longer than a single issue of a typical comic book. It takes place between episodes II and III, for those die-hard fans that want to know (and obviously since I know these things I may be outing myself a bit).
I should confess here and now that I’ve never read a Star Wars comic before. I pause now for the collective gasp of shock I know is inevitably happening right now but, apart from a few movie-to-comic graphic novels I have stored somewhere, I never invested in any of the Star Wars comic books, probably as a preemptive strike, knowing how many there would be and how expensive it would become to keep up with purchasing each and every issue.
I share this because I am writing this from the perspective of someone who is not intensely immersed in the Star Wars universe. I chose to read this graphic novella because I trusted that I could dip in and out without being overly caught up. Of course, had I found it to be an amazing read, I’d likely have been trapped in spite of myself.
Fortunately, this was pretty much a mediocre addition to the Star Wars mythos. The comic begins with the very familiar faces of both Chancellor Palpatine and Jedi Master Yoda before shifting almost immediately to the unfamiliar faces of the protagonists: Padawan Nuru Kungurama and Gizz. Nuru is sent by Yoda on a mission and he brings Gizz along, a brute of a sidekick making up the titular allies. (One could also argue that there is a strange alliance between Palpatine and Yoda.)
But what they don’t know is that Darth Sidious is working with Lord Dooku to prohibit the Jedis from succeeding. Add a Twi’lek and some orphans and the end result is an attractive but fairly mediocre graphic novella. The story is predictable and the characters are fairly trite, including a drone, named Cleaver, that immediately made me think of Data (from Star Trek: The Next Generation in the unlikely event that, at this point, you had any doubt of my being a hopeless geek).
My expectations were that a graphic novel (or novella) would allow for a lot of action but there was very little. I hoped it would add a sophistication that might even add some darkness to the ongoing story. Instead the plot and characters are so cliché that only a younger reader who is a recent Star Wars convert could enjoy this book enough to praise it. Or perhaps a truly die-hard fan which, in spite of the obvious and numerous allusions in this review, I clearly am not. (For the record, I held back on referencing characters and such because I really didn’t want to overwhelm the non-Star Wars-fan who might be reading this and I know there are some of you out there although you make my mind boggle.)
Needless to say, I am not overly inspired or eager to read another Star Wars comic. I’ll just stick with the movies which I have on dvd and can watch as often as I like. Unless I want to see them in HD which means I have to take myself over to my son’s house and watch it there. Oh well . . . maybe the novels are better . . . ?