As there isn’t a great deal to say about either of these books, it makes sense to lump the Age of Republic Special and the Age of Rebellion Special together into one overview.
Simon Spurrier’s IG-88 story isn’t especially memorable: but it’s a funnish little window into the elusive character of IG-88.
The IG-88 story has a very retro feel, like a Star Wars comic from twenty years ago – which is actually suits it quite nicely, giving it a stylised element. Jon Adams‘ Biggs Darklighter and Jek Porkins story is forgettable, but that might be a less a reflection on the quality of the story and more just the fact that I don’t really care about those characters much.
Marc Guggenheim’s Yoda story, however, is the reason to read this book. This Yoda story, set on Dagobah, is so good in fact that I can’t figure out why Yoda didn’t get his own ‘Age of Rebellion’ book.
In relatively few pages, this story manages to get into your psyche, tap into all your old nostalgia, and also express a great deal about Yoda’s psychology during his exile on Dagobah.
The familiar visuals of Dagobah landscapes and Yoda’s hut are absorbing throughout; and the Jedi Master’s inner struggle and the shape and tone of his lonely daily routine really makes you think about what life must’ve been like for all those long years of Yoda’s solitary life in the swamp world.
The story highlights the Jedi Master as both a tragic figure in his exile and as a faithful and steadfast adherent to the Force and the possibilities for the future.
This Yoda tale is also decidedly poetic: the substance and poetry of the text really compensates for the obvious lack of dialogue.
This definitely should’ve been its own book. In fact, there should be an entire series just of Yoda on Dagobah.
As for the Age of Republic Special, Ethan Sacks‘ Mace Windu story is a forgettable, but fairly enjoyable affair: but it highlights one of the in-built problems with this format of comics – which is that it creates very hit-or-miss entries, some stories working well enough in this mini-length format and others not feeling suited to it at all.
This Age of Republic Special demonstrates this dynamic perfectly, with the Mace Windu story feeling like something that really should’ve been longer and more expanded on, while the Assaj Ventress story in the same book actually feels pretty well suited to the format.
The Windu entry doesn’t really tell us much about Windu – it’s really just a snapshot of a mission. Whereas Jody Houser’s Ventress story, though the same short length, actually manages to tell us something relatively new about her character, giving us some insight that makes the story worthwhile.
In this case, we get to see that the bitter, vengeful Ventress does in fact have something vaguely resembling a soft side – or at least some compassion.
On the other hand, Marc Guggenheim’s Jar Jar story is, like the Windu tale, pretty forgettable filler: but it’s a fun little dip into familiar Clone Wars territory, as Jar Jar finds himself on a battlefield with a Clone unit and eventually earns the respect of the commander.
In truth, however, both these ‘specials’ feel lightweight and lacking in substance. The ‘Age of’ format we’ve been getting with these Star Wars comics feels like the stories are too short even when a character has a whole book devoted to them: when you make them even shorter by splitting three character stories into the same book… well, it’s even more difficult to be engaged or to connect with anything.
With the the exception of the Yoda story in the Age of Rebellion Special, these books really don’t have much to offer.