Review – Negotiations Get Aggressive In Marvel’s Age of the Republic: Padmé Amidala
The Age of Republic continues to dazzle fans with writer Jody Houser’s stories elaborating on characters from the prequel trilogy. We are approaching the end Republic and it wouldn’t be the prequel era without a Padmé Amidala Naberrie story. You’ve no doubt been hearing readers anticipate and rave about E.K. Johnston’s Queen’s Shadow which arrived in bookstores this week and as someone who loved that story, Houser has provided a great story of her own to complement the book’s arrival. I’m not sure if these releases were coordinated, but this story of Padmé and her handmaidens risking their lives to help the Republic is right in line with Queen’s Shadow. SPOILERS AHEAD….
This story seems to take place not long before Revenge of the Sith but there’s no mention of Padmé’s pregnancy. The Clone Wars rage as Padmé and Anakin find themselves temporarily reunited in the Senate building on Coruscant. They lament on the time separated, but Padmé reminds Anakin they both have jobs to do. I’ve included this frame above for no other reason than it’s gorgeous and I’m happy to see Padmé get a few seconds of happiness before resuming the duties of navigating political turbulence in galactic affairs. The kiss is brief, as Padmé’s handmaiden, Moteé, interrupts and reminds Padmé it’s time to go. Anakin seems flustered but Padmé knows very well she can trust her friends and comrades the handmaidens. It’s time for them to depart for a planet called Duro.
Only thing is, Padmé and her handmaidens aren’t going to Duro. Padmé just told Anakin that because she already recognizes his toxic, controlling behaviors and what she’s about to do is not exactly above board as far as official Republic business is concerned. Also, Padmé notes how close Anakin is with Palpatine, which makes me think she and the Jedi shared the dubious outlook on their relationship. Moteé is concerned about how close-to-the-chest Padmé is keeping their destination, which she hasn’t even shared with the only two handmaidens she’s bringing along. Padmé keeps their destination a secret because she’s concerned about Palpatine’s declaration that systems either stand with the Republic or face isolation. She’s interested in bringing this mystery system into the Republic and feels that it’s well worth the risk she’s taking, also noting that the three of them don’t need protecting. My queen!
Padmé even insists on flying to the mystery planet so that she’s fully accountable for whatever trouble they may or may not get into. While she pilots, we get a look at what Moteé and Dormé think of Padmé’s relationship with Anakin. Dormé seems to have known for a while – regardless of whether or not Padmé told her – but Moteé is still processing the kiss she witnessed back on Coruscant. Dormé acknowledges her concern but reminds her that Padmé is quite selfless and should be allowed a little happiness. I’ve always wondered what the handmaidens thought of Anakin and I’ve especially wondered it since reading Queen’s Shadow. This is a little glimpse and it doesn’t look like they’re exactly thrilled. Can’t say I blame them.
Welcome to Clabron, the mysterious planet that’s remained neutral during the Clone Wars but Padmé hopes she can pull into joining the Republic. As soon as they arrive, Padmé suspects something is up. The Clabronians were supposed to have contacted and received her but it’s been radio silence since their approach. She’s not sure whether to expect a trap but once they are on the platform, the three handmaidens are ready for anything. They spot a figure waiting in the enclosed entryway but warns them they must go.
The warning doesn’t seem to be without merit as a sniper targets them. Since they’re all hooded the shooter can’t see which is Padmé, who is livid that she’s being kept from Clabron’s leader, Grand Minister Stin. Her protests are cut-off by a shot that slams right into the shoulder of Moteé, knocking the handmaiden to the ground. Padmé and the handmaidens act quick, with Dormé ordering the other two back to the ship as she provides cover fire.
Padmé is just as protective of Moteé as the handmaiden would be of her charge. Defying Dormé, Padme moves to take cover under the small overhang to the entrance of the landing platform they’re on. This is no longer about diplomatic protocol, this is a matter of Padmé protecting her friends and herself as she demands the person keeping them out let them in. We learn it isn’t the Grand Minister, but Second Minister Tarmin, who seems like he wants to help but really wishes they would just fly back to Coruscant.
The Second Minister finally does the right thing and lets them in. Dormé holds her blaster to him, asking him if he was involved, but Padmé quickly discourages the aggression. Padmé sees that these people can help the Republic and the greater good that can be achieved, so she’s going to try and keep heads as cool as they can be when blaster fire is involved. Once inside, the three of them learn the assassin actually got to Grand Minister Stin, who is actually grateful he’s the only one who was mortally wounded.
Stin knows he is dying and actually sends the single medical droid to help Moteé so her wound doesn’t become fatal. It sounds like he was mostly onboard with Padmé’s plan to bring Clabron into the Republic but the Separatists intervened. After Stin passes away, Padmé looks to Second Minister Tarmin to continue the negotiations. He thinks Stin was foolish to involve Clabron with the Republic and he’s not going to ship their people off as cannon fodder. Padmé makes a heartfelt plea about how she is against the war and has always been an advocate of peace. She implores Tarmin to consider that the Republic will become more united after the war and that serving the greater good sometimes brings conflict, whether it’s advocating for peace or not. We readers know why the Clone Wars started, but to people like Padmé they have to struggle every day to find rationalization. This is a great look into her mind and how she retained her morals to the very end of the Clone Wars. Tarmin seems impressed, but there’s still an assassin to deal and wonders how her peacekeeping skills will do in that arena.
These negotiations are more swift than aggressive but don’t mess with Padmé or her handmaidens. If you do, be prepared to answer to Padmé. The bounty hunter turns out to be a rather notorious one named Lis Mohles (though I couldn’t find anything about her on Wookieepedia) and is a fugitive from the Republic. The Clabronians are happy to hand her over to Padmé to be brought to justice. Newly annointed Grand Minister Tarmin has a lot on his plate and can’t make any promises about joining the Republic but assures Padmé the Clabronians will consider it and try to help the Republic in any way they can. Padmé is happy because all she wanted was a chance.
I feel this is my favorite of the Age of Republic books, so far. Maybe it’s because I’m fresh off of Queen’s Shadow, but I loved seeing the Republic function in outreach and diplomatic capacity rather than sending in Clone Troopers. People like Padmé and her handmaidens fought the battle on multiple fronts and not always with blasters. Writer Jody House did an excellent job of conveying Padmé’s hope that the galaxy could come back from the war, as well her tireless efforts to fight for her truth. The art by Cory Smith and Wilton Santos; inkers Walden Wong; Marc Deering; and colorist Java Tartaglia is a bit choppy at times, but overall solid and it’s still a great addition to this series. These books are a must-own for fans of the prequel trilogy and I urge all Star Wars fans to check these out. Can’t say enough how great Jody Houser’s writing has been in every issue and this is a huge contribution to the canon.
In the back of this issue, you’ll find a great essay by StarWars.com writer Bria LaVorgna (@chaosbria), which is worth the cover price. It speaks to how complex and unique a character Padmé was, as well as how much she meant to young women discovering Star Wars. I’ve enjoyed the character essays that have been featured in these issues but highly recommend you take a couple of minutes to read this one. LaVorgna is one of the best writers out there covering Star Wars and her essay is a gem.