Review: “Age of Republic – Jango Fett #1”

Oh, hi! As mentioned in my entry here, I’ve decided to try my hand doing some more reviews. Neato, right?

Well, let’s dive right in…

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SPOILER WARNING! There may be spoilers in the review! I’ll try not to go into extreme detail about any of the plot-points, but I will be talking about the way that the issue made me feel and characterization, so beware!

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Star Wars: Age of Republic – Jango Fett #1 is a comic released today on January 9th, 2019, by Marvel. This comic is, like the others in the (limited) series, written by Jody Houser; the artist for this issue is Luke Ross, and the colourist is Java Tartaglia.

AoR-JangoFett-Cover.jpg

(Cover Variant A by Paolo Rivera)

I’ve followed the rest of the series thus far — Jango Fett #1 is the fourth issue overall, of nine — and while I’ve enjoyed the others, I think that this is the first that I can really say that I loved. A lot of the current (and recent) slate of Marvel Star Wars comics have been excellent, in my opinion — I’m a major fan of the now-completed Poe Dameron series, as well as the still-ongoing Doctor Aphra — but, perhaps due to my personal affinity for the characters Fett, there was something extra special about today’s book.

Some people might not get as much as I have out of the run because they want something more from the stories they consume, and that’s totally fine. (For what it’s worth, I tend to expect a bit less than I think others do from comics, whatever that says about me.) I think I see the series for what it really is: Short character-building pieces that offer a glimpse into icons from throughout the franchise. These comics aren’t necessarily meant to blow your socks off the way, for example, issue #25 of Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith was meant to; no, these comics are more or less meant to build on or provide insight into an aspect of the character that has been previously established, or maybe provide a jumping-off point for further character development.

Speaking to these ideas, Jango Fett #1 is primarily concerned with a topic that has been previously established (and focused on) in the Canon, specifically in Attack of the Clones and The Clone Wars TV series: The relationship between the eponymous bounty hunter and his “son,” the other (and perhaps more famous) Fett bounty hunter, Boba. The setting of the comic isn’t precise, but the art suggests that it’s Attack of the Clones-adjacent, probably within a year or so of the events of the film; in the course of the issue, we see flashbacks to earlier events in Jango’s life — at least one before Boba’s “birth,” and directly showcasing something only briefly mentioned in Attack of the Clones — but the main thrust of the story is concerned with the dynamic between the pair.

In this regard, it’s not dissimilar to previous stories about the characters — The Clone Wars briefly touches on it, and more in-depth showcases may be seen in various now-“Legends” Dark Horse comics — but what’s interesting about it (and what I enjoy most) is the way that it takes a very familiar “parent/child relationship” story and twists it into something…not quite right. A character like Luke has a complex relationship with his father because of their lack of contact, his hero-worship in absentia, and the revelations that occur in the original films, whereas Boba’s relationship with Jango is complex because of the close bond that’s shared between them — and then brutally severed during the first stages of a galactic war. Both families are defined (at least in part) by tragedy, but Luke was eventually able to redeem his father and share his love with him; Boba had any chance of that taken away from him, and it rather obviously had a negative impact on the rest of his life, as indicated by his descent into crime and the underworld.

Judging by their interactions in the comic (and other media), I’d say that Jango does seem to care about Boba — why else would he ask for an unaltered clone to raise as his son? — but, unlike what we saw in last week’s issue (Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi #1), he’s less interested in building an emotional connection with his son than he is in building a working relationship or a legacy. Boba Fett is brought along by his father on a bounty hunt and put in extreme danger intentionally, unlike the situation Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker found themselves in during the course of the aforementioned previous issue. There’s an interesting parallel between the characters Skywalker and Fett here: Anakin freezes up during the fight, and afterward apologizes to his master for his inability to defend himself; in this issue, Boba acts almost as the aggressor, going beyond this reader’s expectation of self-defence. (Jango actually admonishes him, albeit lightly, for allowing himself to be grabbed and held at knife-point!) Boba is still a child, probably not much younger than ten years-old, but already we see hints of the cold-hearted killer who would years later brutally hunt down the name of Luke Skywalker on Tatooine — ironically enough, for Darth Vader aka Anakin Skywalker — or the plotting hunter who would track the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City and escape with his precious bounty for Jabba the Hutt.

In a way, what’s most interesting about Jango Fett #1 is the degree to which the comic isn’t about Jango Fett at all — it functions almost like an origin story for the man that Boba Fett would become, both in a literal sense (here is how he was trained) and in a metaphoric one (the father is the son and the son the father, in an oddly literal way, because of Boba’s nature as a clone).

As someone who has followed these characters all his life, and who has come to really appreciate the intent behind their appearance in Attack of the Clones (and the overall Canon portrayals), this comic was simply a joy to read. Couple it with the depiction of Jango Fett as a man worthy of his reputation, and some glimpses into the intriguing backstory of how he came to be in the situation we find him in during Attack of the Clones…well, that was just icing on the cake!

I’m not a visual artist in the slightest, so I can’t really speak to form or technique, but alongside Ross’s other Star Wars offerings, I find his work in the current issue impeccable. I love it! I really appreciate the way that Ross draws the characters true to life without resorting to things like obvious tracing, which is an unfortunate problem I have with certain other comics in the Marvel pantheon. I really liked the colours in the issue, too — they weren’t so vibrant as to take me out and make it look like I was in a different universe, but they weren’t flat or boring, either. Kudos to Tartaglia.

In summation: If you’re interested in a story that showcases a snapshot in the rise (and fall) of one of the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunters — or, should I say two? — as well as some cool little glances at things that flesh out the Prequel era and tie the universe a little more together? Then by all means, go out and buy this comic. It’s great!

Looking forward to next week’s issue, and I’ll be keeping an eye on Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Boba Fett #1 (coming sometime later in 2019) to see if there are any connections between the two.

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