The Clone Wars had been launched into Star Wars canon with a single line in the authentic movie, Luke Skywalker asking Obi-Wan “Old Ben” Kenobi if he fought in them. It took 25 years for Star Wars followers to get any additional exploration of the battle that pre-dated the rise of the Galactic Empire and “the dark times.” Then, they bought two tellings of the struggle that always contradicted each other. Star Wars: The Clone Wars — the animated collection that lastly concluded after a decade of releases, cancellations, and returns with its seventh season on Disney+ in 2020 — is the best-known model and the one that’s half of Disney’s new Star Wars canon.
However, in 2003, 5 years earlier than Star Wars: The Clone Wars debuted, Lucasfilm launched the Clone Wars multimedia mission. This initiative noticed the Star Wars Expanded Universe chronicling the Clone Wars battle between its starting in Attack of the Clones in 2002 and finish with the launch of Revenge of the Sith in 2005. The crown jewel of that mission was Genndy Tartakovsky’s Star Wars: Clone Wars collection, now an element of Disney+’s Star Wars: The Vintage Collection. With that “2D micro-series” changing into out there to stream for the first time, it appeared like the excellent second to revisit that authentic telling of the Clone Wars, which has a strikingly totally different, darker tone than its successor.
Lucasfilm used the template it established with Shadows of the Empire in 1998 for the Clone Wars multimedia mission, telling an interconnected story throughout numerous mediums. While Shadows of the Empire was restricted to a single novel, one comedian guide collection, and a Nintendo 64 online game, the Clone Wars mission had a number of releases in every of these codecs, plus the animated collection. I did not learn the seven Clone Wars novels launched as half of the mission as a result of life is simply too quick (although possibly I’ll give Shatterpoint a shot when it will get re-released as half of the Essential Legends line later this yr). The remastered version of Republic Commando, the best-remembered online game hooked up to the mission, was solely simply launched, and I have never had time to dig into it. But the animated collection is now available on Disney+, and the comics concerned in the mission — mainly Star Wars: Republic — can be found to learn by way of Marvel Unlimited or buy on Comixology. I indulged in each.
The 2008 animated collection actually takes on wartime themes, notably relating to the Jedi’s function, however it nonetheless presents itself as a youngsters’s journey collection. The most hanging distinction in the Clone Wars multimedia mission is how a lot the tales stress that this can be a struggle, initially. The Tartakovsky collection is lower than two-and-a-half hours lengthy in whole and remains to be supposed for kids and thus a cold affair. Yet the give attention to fight, the sheer numbers of troops concerned, the quantity of element put into how the clone troopers struggle in shut fight all converse to try to bolster the struggle’s scale and depict it as a army battle.
While the animated collection serves to drive dwelling the Clone War’s scale, Star Wars: Republic makes an attempt to offer the battle a way of realism and value. As a showcase of Tartakovsky’s animation model, the present’s emphasis was as a lot on the Jedi utilizing their energy and pulling off not possible acrobatics because it was on the particulars of clone trooper habits. Republic nonetheless had lightsaber duels as a result of, of course, however it’s a a lot much less glamorous affair.
Republic pulls on threads just like these centered on in the 2008 animated collection. It exhibits that the Jedi selecting to desert their roles as peacekeepers to change into generals was the starting of their finish. It highlights how conflicted many Jedi felt about the struggle and underscores the value that selection inflicted on the galaxy. It provides the clones that fought by the Jedi’s sides character. But it goes extra in-depth and darker than the 2008 collection does.
One instance is the two-part “The New Face of War” story from Republic #51 and #52. The story introduces the villains Asajj Ventress, Dooku’s disciple, and Durge, a mighty bounty hunter. Both would seem in Tartakovsky’s collection, although with vastly totally different personalities and backstories. Ventress would get one other backstory do-over in the 2008 collection, and Durge will get his reboot in the new canon in an upcoming Marvel Comics launch.
Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker first encounter the duo throughout “The Battle of Ohma-D’un,” which takes place on a Gunan colony on one of Naboo’s moons. They uncover that the total Gungan inhabitants is useless, worn out by an experimental chemical weapon deployed by the Separatists. Yes, Star Wars has dealt in mass homicide since the Death Star blew up Alderaan in the first movie. But that was a cold affair. Rarely, if ever, has the present Star Wars canon depicted a struggle crime so starkly.
One character epitomizing the distinction in tone between the two takes on the Clone Wars is Alpha, one of the ARC troopers who fights alongside Obi-Wan and Anakin for a time in Republic. He’s a stark distinction from Rex, the character who fills that function in the 2008 animated collection (Rex was going to be Alpha, however George Lucas felt the collection had too many “A” identify between Anakin, Artoo, and Ahsoka, and so Rex got here into being). Rex is an efficient soldier, loyal to his Jedi leaders and clone brothers however not unempathetic or unthinking. Alpha is far more like his progenitor, Jango Fett, in that he willingly embraces the generally callous decisions and sacrifices that include combating a struggle.
When it wasn’t filling in the blanks in Obi-Wan and Anakin’s timeline, Republic centered totally on Quinlan Vos. He’s a Jedi conflicted sufficient to make Anakin Skywalker appear steady. Truthfully, it appeared like nobody might point out Quinlan Vos with out additionally speaking about how he “has always had darkness within in” or “has always walked in darkness.” Writer John Ostrander (creator of the trendy Suicide Squad) and artist Jan Duursema informed Quinlan’s story, making him each the personification of Republic‘s model of the Jedi’s inner battle throughout the Clone Wars and a parallel to Anakin’s story.
Quinlan’s former grasp, the Jedi spymaster Tholme, sends Quinlan undercover, first as a prison to assemble info after which as a double agent infiltrating Dooku’s camp. To persuade Dooku that he is loyal, Quinlan has to embrace that darkness everybody retains speaking about, and ultimately, he comes perilously near falling to the Dark Side.
As with Anakin, Quinlan falls in love. For Quinlan, it is with Khaleen; a contact turned agent turned lover who turns into pregnant along with his youngster. But moderately than driving him in the direction of the darkness, it is finally Khaleen who brings Quinlan again to the mild, although solely after he duels his former grasp over a pit of lava (not kidding). When Anakin loses every part to the darkness, Quinlan not solely recovers himself, he manages to flee Order 66, reunite with Khaleen, and see his youngster born.
Star Wars: Republic is not a comic book that everybody will love. As talked about, it embraces the darkness. If you favor your Star Wars with a lighter tone, then you definately’d finest steer clear. But should you take a look at Star Wars: Clone Wars on Disney+ and wish extra tales in the identical vein, it is value giving a learn on the digital platforms the place it is out there, or by way of the Star Wars: The Clone War Epic Collection collection that Marvel has been publishing, which embody another tales set in the identical period.
In the finish, I desire the 2008 present’s tackle the Clone Wars, with its give attention to character and the manner it makes use of Ahsoka to convey readability to themes buried in the prequel trilogy. But suppose you, like me, generally miss the outdated Expanded Universe’s tone, which leaned into the dense, sometimes darkish sci-fi facet of issues somewhat extra. In that case, this alternate model of the battle is an attention-grabbing diversion. And Tartakovsky’s Clone Wars is value a look ahead to any fan of magnificent animation, regardless.