Friday, September 1, 2017

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: The Last Command

For many years, very little was known about the Clone Wars, the galaxy changing event that Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi mention in A New Hope:

Luke Skywalker: "No, my father didn't fight in the wars.  He was a navigator on a spice freighter."
Obi-Wan Kenobi: "That's what your uncle told you.  He didn't hold with your father's ideals.  Thought he should have stayed here and not gotten involved."
Luke Skywalker: "You fought in the Clone Wars?"
Obi-Wan Kenobi: "Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight the same as your father."

A short while later, when the complete message from Princess Leia is retrieved from R2-D2, we learn a little bit more about Obi-Wan Kenobi's role:

Princess Leia: "General Kenobi, years ago you served my father in the Clone Wars.  Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire..."

In Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, it is intimated that clonemasters created clones that went insane and caused destruction across the galaxy during the Clone Wars.  A strong undercurrent of the final novel, The Last Command, is the ramifications of Thrawn's use of a clone army using the same technology that created the insane clones.  Mara Jade explains to Luke why she is accompanying him to Mount Tantiss on the planet Wayland, the location of Emperor Palpatine's storehouse which contains thousands of Spaarti cloning cylinders:

Mara Jade: "Let's get one thing clear right now, Skywalker.  I work for Karrde, and Kardde has already said that we're staying neutral in this war of yours.  The only reason I'm here is because I know a little about the Clone Wars era and don't want to see a bunch of cold-faced duplicates trying to overrun the galaxy again.  The only reason you're here is that I can't shut the place down by myself."

Clones are grown in Spaarti cloning cylinders and the process, which takes about a year, has the potential for clone madness.  The Dark Jedi Joruus C'baoth, enlisted into Thrawn's campaign against the New Republic in Heir to the Empire, is one of these insane clone.  Thrawn is using the technology in Mount Tantiss to create his own clone army to man the recently recovered Katana Fleet's Dreadnaughts.  He also is short-cutting the process and his clones are being grown in less than a month thanks to the use of the Force repelling ysalamiri.  Luuke Skywalker, a clone of Luke, is a clone grown using this accelerated process.

For almost a decade, the Clone Wars described in the Thrawn Trilogy was what Star Wars fans knew, until the release of the prequel trilogy.  With a definitive explanation for the Clone Wars, the situation about insane clones introduced in the Thrawn Trilogy was retconned into continuity as a separate event.

Dark Horse published a 6-part mini-series for the final book in the trilogy.  Yet another artist provides the interior artwork, Croatian Edvin Biukovic.  His artwork is a blending of the European style seen in the first mini-series and the traditional U.S. style seen in the second mini-series.  Like the previous two mini-series, the cover art for The Last Command is provided by Mathieu Lauffray.

Star Wars: The Last Command #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (November 1997)
Star Wars: The Last Command #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 1997)
Star Wars: The Last Command #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 1997)
Star Wars: The Last Command #4a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (March 1997)
Star Wars: The Last Command #5a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (April 1997)
Star Wars: The Last Command #6a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (July 1997)
Like the novel it is adapting, this mini-series is fast paced and juggles many characters and situations.  I believe each novel in the trilogy is more dense than a single two hour movie could contain and it is amazing how much story is squeezed into 6 issues.

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