THE FORMER JEDI BEGINS LAYING THE GROUNDWORK FOR HIS SITH MASTER! However, an unexpected encounter with an old student threatens his plans. Caught between his old life and his new, will DOOKU be able to protect the secrets of the SITH? And does he control the DARK SIDE, or is he merely its tool?
Written by Jody Houser
Art by Luke Ross
Colors by Java Tartaglia
The new issue in Marvel’s Age of Republic comic run is dedicated to Count Dooku, former Jedi Master and in the comic’s timeline, current apprentice to one Darth Sidious. As the issue opens, Dooku arrives at Sullust to attend the business negotiations with local corporation represented by Kap Klyp. But, Dooku has another, secret task on Sullust – he has to establish an alliance for his master.
The Count of Serenno is forced to play nice with his host, which includes the tour around the city. Just when he is about to extricate himself from the situation, he is recognized and greeted by a Jedi Knight Jak’zin.
So, let’s get the tiger elephant out of the way: Yes, Jak’zin joins a number of alien species in Star Wars modeled after felines, like Togorian H’sishi from Zahn’s novel Thrawn or Dorae of unnamed species from Han Solo comic. It might be that the big cats are joining the tentacles as one of the most popular visuals in the new canon, but the character design is, to say the least, uninspired.
The Jedi remembers Dooku from his youngling days in the Jedi temple when he was inspired by Dooku’s dueling demonstrations with Yoda. He also knew his former apprentice Qui-Gon Jinn. Dooku invites Jak’zin to dinner in spite of Kap Klyp’s obvious dissatisfaction.
Before the dinner, Dooku contacts his master and is instructed to befriend the Jedi and ensure that he doesn’t learn of their goals. When Dooku inquires if he should attempt to make an ally of the Jedi, Sidious reminds him that Sith requires only one apprentice.
During the dinner, Jak’zin shares the rumors about Dooku among the Jedi, the most common one being that he is forming the new order of Force users. Jedi, however, remains tight-lipped about why he is sent to Sullust.
After dinner, Dooku joins Jak’zin during the walk. This entire conversation is a master-class in manipulation. Dooku acts concerned for the distracted Jedi Knight. He tells him that when Qui-Gon Jinn died, he couldn’t help thinking that he might have changed his fate if he was still with the Jedi. Now, seeing that Jak’zin is alone, he also feels he might be of help. He learns that Jak’zin is investigating Kaldana Syndicate, the same organization Dooku was sent to contact and manages to insert himself in the Jedi’s plan.
It is worth noting at this point that this story takes place between The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. The Clone War is still on the horizon and the Jedi are still peace makers rather than soldiers. The way Jak’zin treats Dooku makes it clear that there is no bad blood between the Order and those who leave it. He treats Dooku with respect and not a little awe. The fact that the possibility of Dooku establishing another Force order is discussed calmly and as a legitimate possibility also shows what Jedi used to be. But, more than anything, Jak’zin trusts Dooku – just because he used to be a Jedi.
Jak’zin takes Dooku to the location where the syndicate is hiding. Dooku saves the Jedi’s life and Jak’zin protects him from the criminals during their entrance into the criminal stronghold. They discover that the criminals are arms dealers. Jak’zin and Dooku are surrounded until Dooku pulls out his own – red – lightsaber and massacres the criminals. Too late, Jak’zin realizes his mistake and he is killed by the Sith.
Dooku demonstrates his power to the surviving criminals and their cooperation is secured. They are another puzzle piece in Sidious’ plan to spread the chaos through an already corrupt Republic. After finishing his official business as well, Dooku leaves Sullust thinking how the galaxy would soon be what the Sith make of it.
I was impressed by the tandem of Jody Houser and Luke Ross from the start of this series: Houser found a relevant story to tell and Ross the matching art for each character while deepening the lore and/or their background. This is the reason why I was mildly disappointed by this issue.
Count Dooku was always one of the more interesting villains in the Saga, not just because he was a Jedi who became Sith, but because his motives never quite seemed to fit with the image of Sith. His decisions were not fueled by rage or fear or desire for power, but seemingly by noble reasons. When he captured Obi-Wan in Attack of the Clones, he told him complete truth about the state of the galaxy, leaving forever doubts about his character behind. This is the reason why I expected this issue to shine some additional light on his character and motivations. And while he does suggest to his master to recruit the Jedi to their cause, once he is refused, he kills him without pause. He believes that Republic is corrupt but we never learn a single cause for this belief. Our knowledge about Dooku hasn’t changed at all.
However, the issue is not without merits, on the contrary. As I mentioned, we learn more about the state of the Jedi in this issue than about Dooku. Through the character of Jak’zin, we learn a lot about the Jedi in this moment of time; we get a glimpse of their ways and the mentality when they are not yet clouded by the dark side and doubts. Dooku is trusted and respected because he used to be a Jedi and isn’t shunned because he left the Order. Other Force schools are accepted and tolerated. These little glimpses show us just how far the Jedi Order had fallen during the Clone War.
While I would have liked a closer look into Dooku’s character, I still found enjoyment in it. As the sun is slowly setting on the Age of Republic,
THIS ISSUE GETS 6.5/10 STARS.