Despite a couple of interesting ideas, Star Wars: Age of Republic – Qui-Gon Jinn doesn’t do much for an enigmatic (and underexplored) hero.
In principle, I’m certainly not opposed to Marvel’s latest exercise in worldbuilding, which is to take three broad periods of galactic history and tell stories of iconic heroes and villains in each. But I am slightly opposed to Star Wars: Age of Republic – Qui-Gon Jinn, which feels like a thin and half-arsed treatment of a character who has received virtually nothing but in the current canon.
Age of Republic, by the way, is the first of those three big chunks of Star Wars history to be given the maxiseries treatment, and who better to start with than Liam Neeson’s famously rebellious Jedi Master? After being unceremoniously offed in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace by the subject of the next of these comics, the unorthodox warrior-sage has appeared only sporadically in various associated media. Here he’s given his own story, but it’s one that feels reiterative of the things we already knew about him and offers little to nothing in the way of new insight.
Some of those things include Qui-Gon’s increasing disillusionment with the Jedi Order and the Republic, and the gradually contorting public perception of the Jedi as heroes-for-hire rather than pacifistic conduits for the Force. This is all expressed through a mouthy ruler, whom Qui-Gon has sworn to protect after a breakdown of mediations, but it’s mostly the same things we’ve heard before expressed in a slightly different way. Yes, we know Qui-Gon was a maverick and yes, we know he was right all along; we also know he was an apprentice under Count Dooku. Where’s the story about that?
I’m falling into the trap of complaining about how I want things to be rather than how things are, but that’s the point – things, as they are, aren’t particularly interesting. It’s clear that Marvel intends for these one-shots to be limited in their depth and scope, as the format prohibits anything else. But the obvious consequence of that is, funnily enough, a complete lack of consequence. These are canon stories that feel like they don’t matter and add very little to the established continuity, which is the complete opposite of what they’re intended to do.
There are undeniable highlights here. Jody Houser does a fine job of articulating Qui-Gon’s ideals and his staunch stance on the Jedi’s involvement in galactic disputes, and there are plenty of parallels to The Phantom Menace and allusions to the Clone Wars in general that give the issue some texture. But I’ve complained about this before, and I’ll continue to do so – the “Prequel” era has been covered so extensively and convincingly that these days only really outside-the-box storytelling is going to land with any kind of impact. Star Wars: Age of Republic – Qui-Gon Jinn, despite some of the good things it does do, is not outside-the-box storytelling, and so lands with almost no impact at all.