DEFENDERS Is A Throwback To The Days When Comics Were Mostly Just Good, Clean Fun
Mar 31, 2013
Alas, if you haven’t heard the news yet, but STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS has reached the end of its television run. Lucasfilm released the announcement just on March 11 (2013). While showrunner Dave Filoni makes it clear that there are still stories in that universe yet to tell (a planned sixth season was well underway despite the announcement of cancellation), who knows how soon those episodes or direct-to-DVD releases will see the light of day? In the meantime, Dark Horse continues to explore the most fragile time for the Galactic Republic, so I welcomed DEFENDERS OF THE LOST TEMPLE with open arms. As though of you who’ve followed my reviews over the years know, I’m definitely a fan of all things Star Wars, and this was a very nice story told for an audience wanting more.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
The outer rim moon of Draay 2 holds a secret: deep within its jungles, there’s a lost Jedi temple. And somewhere within its walls, there’s a hidden Sith artifact known as ‘The Gauntlet of Kressh the Younger,’ an object that can protect its wearer from any physical harm whatsoever. A clone assault team – lead by Jedi Knight Utrila and her apprentice, Rennax Omani – are sent with one goal in mind: either retrieve the gauntlet, or make sure that it cannot be found by Count Dooku’s Separatist forces.
With just a touch of the charm that elevates the Indiana Jones stories to the level of mainstream entertainment, DEFENDERS OF THE LOST TEMPLE pits the Jedi, her padawan, and the troopers in a race-against-time to uncover what booby traps await their discovery in the ancient structure. Lightsabers and blasters will only protect them so far; what really works to save the day in this adventure is their collective enthusiasm for solving puzzles and ‘sensing’ where others have been trapped before. Plus, a surprise attack lead by Pre Vizsla and some Mandalorian warriors of the Death Watch might pose the greatest challenge to completing their mission successfully … assuming they all survive, that is.
For those concerned about ‘continuity’ or liking to know where this tale fits in to the Star Wars universe, it’s set during the Clone Wars, and a quick explanation in the opening clarifies that it specifically takes place between Seasons 4 and 5. The artwork is heavily reminiscent of what’s seen graphically on the popular Cartoon Network television program, and the narrative mostly matches the maturity of the stories told there. If anything, LOST TEMPLE might be considered a bit more ‘kid friendly’ than some of the meatier episodes – much of the story’s focus deals with padawan Rennax and Clone Trooper Glitch as the two of them try to come to grips with who they are and what they’re meant to be. In fact, there’s an inspired ‘twist ending’ of sorts in the final pages that serves to remind its audience that it isn’t so much who you are that shapes your world; rather, it’s what you choose to do.
Fans of the show should definitely pick this one up. Younger fans will probably be drawn to the simpler animation, as well, so it’s suitable as a gift for that Star Wars youngling in your life. May the Force be with you and them!
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS: DEFENDERS OF THE LOST TEMPLE is published by Dark Horse Comics. The story is written by Justin Aclin; the art is by Ben Bates; the colors are by Michael Atiyeh; and lettering is by Michael Heisler. This graphic novel bears a cover price of $7.99 in New Republic credits, a bargain for any reader.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Sure, it may lack some of the intellectual depth of the more complex tales of the Star Wars universe, but so much of DEFENDERS OF THE LOST TEMPLE is a delight. It’s filled with adventure, likeable characters, and some simply drawn artwork. Buckle up and pull back the cover to explore this jungle world of adventure – complete with Jedi-inspired booby traps for those who brave these territories – and remember what it was like to be a kid again when reading a grand comic book. Everything you could possibly want is here, and fans of the Clone Wars TV show are even treated to a few inspired guest appearances.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Horse Comics provided me with an advance digital copy of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS: DEFENDERS OF THE LOST TEMPLE for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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