Slowly but surely the comic book drought is beginning to end. Clone Wars – Battle Tales returns this week with the second issue in the limited series. At the conclusion of the previous issue we saw a holographic transmission from Plo Koon to a squadron of troopers calling for help. If the distress call weren’t enough, Anakin and Count Dooku could be seen in the background on the verge of crossing sabers. Unsure about their orders, the troopers must decide whether to help the Jedi or finish their mission. SPOILERS AHEAD….
The battle is in full-swing, with masters of both Sith and Jedi bringing their apprentices to the fight. Canonically speaking, we still haven’t seen the first meeting between Ventress and these two Jedi. The original Clone Wars shorts by Gendry Tartavosky have mostly passed into Legends (save Ventress and Dooku’s first meeting thanks to Dooku: Jedi Lost). Ventress greets them as if they’ve met before so perhaps we have that first meeting to look forward to in the future. Plo Koon, watching from the distance (not sure why he’s not helping, ha ha) informs Commander Wolffe they’ve located members of the Hisseenian Parliament and the troops must reach them before the droid contingents Dooku dispatched get there.
The squad is uncertain about their next course of action. They feel like they should finish the mission but they also feel compelled to help their Jedi commanders, as well as stay behind to support their fellow troopers. Most of all, they’re uncertain about whether they have the agency to complete the mission on their own. They also seem to be conflicted about if the Jedi would trust them to handle a mission without one of their own in command. Wolffe senses this and decides to share a story.
We’re taken to the Nexus, where Captain Wolffe and Plo Koon prepare to liberate the floating outpost from occupation by the Separatists. It looks like the format of Battle Tales is revealing itself to showcase moments where the Jedi and clones found common ground, trust, and learned to work together. In my opinion, the show did a great job of establishing those qualities in their relationships but a little extra material never hurt. The art by Megan Levens (the work was split between her and Derek Charm) is really nice, especially as the battle at the Nexus picks up.
Emir Tambor has Orkle, the Nexus’ custodian, as a hostage. She tried to disable the facility before the Separatists gained control, though not to aid the Republic but to maintain the neutrality of the Nexus. Like other parts of the galaxy, she’s not interested in watching her home become a theater of war. Tambor sees this as an opportunity to distract the Republic, as he knows they will do everything they can to preserve the safety of a neutral hostage.
Plo Koon leads a squadron of fighters toward the droid forces in an effort to distract them from the real attack, some airborne clones. The troopers will fly in at a low altitude, evading the scanners and allowing them to slip into the Nexus undetected.
This is really when I felt like I was watching an episode of The Clone Wars. The love writer Michael Moreci has for these stories shines when the action heats up. We’re so used to vibrant visuals of the battles it almost makes these horrific, exciting moments seem elegant and beautiful. The Nexus defensive systems have awoken and they are giving the Wolfpack some trouble. Tambor’s also dispatched airborne droids and as Wolffe says, “If there’s anything worse than a clanker it’s a flying clanker”. The clones have to get creative, as infiltrating the Nexus has become more difficult than they’d expected. It seems to be impenetrable until Wolffe realizes the droids can still access it. He is able to plant an explosive on a droid and hurtle it into the command center of the Nexus, detonating it and shutting down the defenses.
Tambor presents them with the original dilemma he predicted. Using the hostage as distraction he pulls out a detonator and blows the platform they are standing on. As it breaks off from the Nexus, two droids swoop in to rescue him but Orkle and the troops are left behind. Luckily, they still know how to fly.
The Nexus is about to explode so our heroes must make a quick escape. Plo Koon has just finished up and brings a gunboat down to rescue them, clearing them from the blast radius. Wolfpack lives to see another day. Once aboard, Wolffe is apologetic about their failure to secure the Nexus.
Plo Koon reminds him that their squad stuck together and managed to save the hostage. The Jedi doesn’t see it as a failure and reminds Wolffe the war won’t be won in a single battle and this misstep will only teach them how to do it better next time.
Back to the mission at hand, the parliament has been spotted and are about to be transported off the planet. Wolffe and Wolfpack realize this is their last chance. They prepare to move in for a daring rescue.
This issue is so much fun! These stories have been short and sweet, but Moreci’s respect for the characters and what his stories contribute to the greater Clone Wars story is great. It’s nice after the show has finished these comics allow us to go back to the early days of the conflict before the Jedi and clones worked as a cohesive unit. It only strengthens the bonds we later see, right up until the end. I’m so happy this series continues to build upon that bond. If you enjoyed The Clone Wars this is a must-read series.