One of the weakest of Marvel’s Star Wars miniseries, Jedi of the Republic: Mace Windu is an embarrassing showcase of the fan-favorite title character and a wonky bit of art and storytelling in its own right.
Jedi of the Republic: Mace Windu is part of the current Star Wars canon. You can check out the entire timeline by clicking these words.
Jedi of the Republic: Mace Windu is a bang-average miniseries. Written nondescriptly by Matt Owens and drawn bizarrely by Denys Cowan, it’s undeniably a low point in Marvel’s character-specific offerings. It’s largely unnecessary and leaves no lasting impression beyond the eternal horror of seeing Master Yoda depicted as a melting blob of green putty.
It’s set at the beginning of the Clone Wars – a period of galactic history that has been covered in considerable depth in other Star Wars media. Here, it’s little more than an excuse to have the Jedi react in slightly different ways to their newfound role in the war. Owens mistakes these arch ideological viewpoints for characterization. Cowan mistakes these humanoids for bits of scrap paper on which to wipe his brushes clean.
In Jedi of the Republic: Mace Windu, the titular Jedi is despatched by the Council to the remote jungle world of Hissrich. The Separatists are up to no good, as usual. The mission is apparently critical to the Republic, but there’s nothing to set it apart from the dozens of other, similar sorties we’ve seen in The Clone Wars and elsewhere. It involves the local plant life and AD-W4, a money-hungry mercenary droid hired by General Grievous to oversee the local operations.
I didn’t even know droids could be money-hungry, which at first makes AD-W4 a fairly compelling presence. But don’t worry – he’s written into a generic antagonist and promptly f****d up by the end. That might constitute a spoiler, but frankly, I don’t care. Nor will you.
There are many issues (no pun intended) here, even beyond Mace Windu being drawn with a different face every page. Let’s see. His character arc is, frankly, a mess. He begins as a reluctant servant of the Jedi dogma, unsure of how the Order can adhere to their peacekeeping principles during wartime. He ends up believing that it’s all the Force’s will, and is keen to continue the fighting. The story tries to play this off as some kind of happy, heroic realization. Perhaps this is intended to be ironic, but the writing doesn’t support that reading.
Perhaps the relatively small scale and stakes of the mission don’t really lend themselves to grand character revelations, but in that case, why tell the story at all? This period of Jedi disillusionment has been explored thoroughly and with much more nuance in other Clone Wars-era media – the bulk of which I’m sure anyone reading this will already be familiar with.
Beyond Mace Windu himself, his team in Jedi of the Republic includes the tentacled fish-man Kit Fisto, blind Jedi Knight Prosset Dibs (he’s kind of like a budget Kenshi from Mortal Kombat) and the impulsive rookie member, Rissa Mano. You can almost predict the various viewpoints. Fisto, a Jedi Master, is confident and sure of himself and his role in things. Dibs is the obligatory turncoat. He sees the Jedi Order’s interference in the war as a betrayal of its purpose; he has the makings of an interesting, fully-drawn character, but his writing is too toothless to have any real impact. Rissa is brash and eager but doesn’t fully understand her role or that of the Order as a whole.
None of these characters really move beyond their pre-assigned traits in any sort of meaningful way.
Often in a miniseries, they wouldn’t necessarily need to. In the case of Jedi of the Republic, though, they do. The plot is too weak and too inconsequential in the grand scheme of things to hold any weight on its own. The nefarious Separatist scheme is wartime skulduggery of a type we’ve seen often within this franchise. There’s no saying that the characters introduced here won’t reappear in other Star Wars media to be developed further (excepting Fisto, obviously, who showed up a fair amount in The Clone Wars and briefly in Revenge of the Sith) but I can’t say I’m all that interested in seeing any of them again. And knowing so much about what happened in this time period, including Order 66, only serves to make the whole thing feel pointless.
It’s tough to recommend Jedi of the Republic even to fans of Mace Windu. Sure, it’s nice to see a story focused on him, especially given that he was so aloof in the films and in The Clone Wars. But he’s so inconsistently written here that he’s barely recognizable as the same guy. In his interactions with the Jedi Council, he’s often written as a subordinate; as a leader, he’s brash and reckless and illogical, despite his internal monologue often running contrary to that attitude. It’s hard to justify the decisions he makes, and his eventual realization that he’s just better off doing what he’s told is deeply unsatisfying.
I might even suggest that big fans of the character should avoid this more than anyone else.
Hold up, though, because I have some minor nitpicks, too. The first is that it’s incredibly bizarre to conduct what is ostensibly a stealth mission by leaping from the bushes with lightsabers and hacking droids to pieces, thus alerting everyone else nearby to the Jedi’s presence.
What’s also weird is that the Jedi Council never mention knowing in advance about the special properties of Hissrich’s natural resources, despite the opening crawl in issue #4 stating explicitly that they did. And this is important – it’s central to the dissension of Prosset Dibs, who discovered the knowledge was being kept secret and ends up on trial for his betrayal. If this is supposed to represent some kind of illicit Jedi scheming, it’s extraordinarily poorly-written. Me, I just think it’s plain old bad storytelling. I guess I’m a cynic.
Anyway, avoid Jedi of the Republic. It offers nothing of worth and in fact actively sullies the name of an enigmatic, underexplored character.