STORY: Haden Blackman

ART: Omar Francia with Manuel Silva

PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics

REVIEW: Master Filmmaker Mark Mackner

Salutations, my fellow STAR WARS geeks! ‘Tis I, rabid Star Wars enthusiast and local indie horror icon MASTER FILMMAKER MARK MACKNER, with a look at this new SW graphic novel that’s a direct tie-in to the new video game of the same title.

Now, not owning a PS 3 or XBOX 360 yet, I’m a little behind on some of these things. We just got a PS 2 early this year (Times are tough, indeed), and so I’ve never even played the terrific BATTLE FRONT games until fairly recently. The back cover of this book informs us that it was written by HADEN BLACKMAN, who scripted both FORCE UNLEASHED games. Sadly, I haven’t had the pleasure in playing either as of yet :(

So, how then, does this story read to someone completely unfamiliar with the games? Well, there’s enough familiar characters involved to make it simple enough to follow. In fact, unlike the games, the focus of THIS story is BOBA FETT, and honestly, that’s the main reason I picked it up. I always grab new Boba comics. Always. His current mini series BLOOD TIES is a lot of fun, and if you aren’t keeping up with it, I highly suggest you purchase the trade when it hits the shelves.

OK, now based on the information given in THIS book alone, I gleaned that, in the first game/graphic novel, DARTH VADER was training a secret apprentice, unbeknownst even to THE EMPEROR. This apprentice is named STARKILLER. Starkiller turns against Vader and basically begins THE REBELLION, heroes of the ORIGINAL TRILOGY. Starkiller is killed somehow. This story, THE FORCE UNLEASHED II, deals with a CLONE of Starkiller that has gone rogue, and is a major threat to Vader.

Vader employs the assistance of Boba Fett, the Most Feared Bounty Hunter in the Galaxy, to track down and terminate the Starkiller Clone. Having Boba as the protagonist pretty much guarantees lots of action and all-around badassery. He defeats a giant monster, rebel soldiers, captures his target’s girlfriend, hell, he even gets laid in this one! Yeah, in the beginning, he has a female partner named XASHA. They have an intimate relationship, as well as a professional one. They get up out of bed, and head out on assignment together. We rarely get a glimpse at Boba’s love life, so that was a welcome addition.

She takes off kinda early on, though, but that’s OK. There’s lots more going on here. Boba gets a recap of events from the first game/comic from Vader, then proceeds on his mission. There’s lots of action, lots of the awesome ship SLAVE-1, and a lively climax on the Clone-making facility of KAMINO. The bit on Kamino is great. Boba finds out about MORE clones being made (And not JANGO clones this time), and makes a rare, un-contracted kill. And that’s part of what’s so cool about him. Even though he’s a villain, he does have a code he lives by. His own “Way of the Samurai”, if you will. Earlier in the story, he lets a Rebel mechanic go with the simple explanation that he’s “not getting paid” for his scalp.

Toward the end, he even gets to display a moment of mercy. I won’t spoil too much, but he does let his feelings get in the way of his assignment. The Starkiller clone, presumably the main character in the game, gets short shrift here, but he does get a climactic duel with Vader, which is pretty nice. And Boba’s battle against an appearance-altering droid and a Jedi by the name of GENERAL KOTA is another standout moment. Add that to the depth added to Boba’s character here, and I’d say it’s got quie a bit going for it.

If you’re a Star Wars fan, I think you’ll really enjoy this. And, if you’re a Boba fan, then this is REQUIRED READING and a MUST-OWN.

Story: A. A cracking sci-fi hit-man yarn. LOTS of fun!

Art: A. Nothing mind-blowing, but a perfect fit for the material.

And THAT is THE WORD, so sayeth THE MASTER!!!!

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(MASTER FILMMAKER MARK MACKNER is the resident Poptards Spider-Man nut, and the author of SPIDEY’S WEEKLY WEB-UP right here on this site! Also, true to his name, he is the writer/director of the locally made films DAISY DERKINS, DOGSITTER OF THE DAMNED!, EVIL BREW, and THE HALF-LIFE HORROR FROM HELL or: IRRADIATED SATAN ROCKS THE WORLD!)

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