The Other Lost Missions: Rare Clone Wars Comics and Literature, Part 2

These lesser-known tales added even more depth to the clash between the Republic and Separatists.

With the recent release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars – The Lost Missions on Blu-ray and DVD, as well as other stories stemming from the beloved animated series, we thought to make a cool retrospective about another set of “lost missions”: the rarest of the Clone Wars comics and prose spinoffs from that inheritance of older Expanded Universe literature now known as “Star Wars Legends.” Part one looked at everything from webcomics to prose anthologies; now, we continue with more rare tales from a fan-favorite Star Wars era.

Cover art by David Rabbitte

Skyewalkers: A Clone Wars Story with cover art by David Rabbitte.

SkyeWalkers: A Clone Wars Story (Abel G. Peña; 2011): Another Clone Wars story commissioned exclusively for StarWars.com’s onetime Hyperspace: The Official Star Wars Fan Club, this novella is actually a prequel to a classic Marvel comic, Star Wars Annual #1 (written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Mike Vosburg). The story unravels early in the Clone Wars, when Anakin is still a Padawan without an apprentice of his own and Obi-Wan takes his pupil’s close friend Halagad Ventor under his wing. The three Jedi are given a mandate by the Jedi Council to dethrone a genetics terrorist that has taken control of the distant planet Skye. With the help of the world’s native winged inhabitants and a squad of clone commandos, the three Jedi confront the mad scientist and his mutant army in his stronghold upon the planet’s highest and most sacred peak. The novella includes “Lone Wolf,” a narrative of Obi-Wan facing the realities of a Jedi outcast at the twilight of the Clone Wars as well, which dovetails serendipitously into the story “Incognito” by John Jackson Miller, also on this list.

CW comic UK

 

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic (Various; 2009-2013): The publication out of Great Britain called Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic has the distinction of pumping out the highest ratio of unique Clone Wars stories of any source on this list. And it didn’t even start out that way. Initially, the magazine was merely reprinting Star Wars stories created by the US comics publisher Dark Horse. But beginning in 2009, it began producing original, eight-page (sometimes 10-page) Clone Wars comics concurrently with the TV series — eventually more than 50.

Many of the early stories are simply fun romps largely focusing on the new team of Anakin and Ahoska. But as the series continues, it comes into its own, telling the heroic struggles of individual clone troopers (“A Trooper’s Tale”), pairing up Masters Obi-Wan and Yoda to infiltrate a Hutt palace (“The Guns of Nar Hekka”) and following the gunslinger Cad Bane back to his old neighborhood to confront an impostor — his childhood best friend, who ends up committing the Star Wars equivalent of seppuku (“Bane Vs …Bane?”). Another memorable story serves as a prelude to the last story arc of the final regular season of The Clone Wars TV series, with Padawans Ahsoka Tano and Barriss Offee deeply doubting the good that the Jedi are accomplishing in the war (“Paradise Lost”).

Finally, one of the subtle and surprising sensibilities of these British stories is that they frequently demonstrate a sympathy for the Separatists’ faceless B1 battle droids, giving them a good deal of personality and even integrity. This culminates in one of the very last comics, “Update,” which has a nameless Separatist battle droid recover an encrypted data chip that he discovers contains designs for a new model of warbot that will render him and his heroic platoon “brothers” obsolete. To spare them from the scrap pile, the ennobled droid blasts the chip (and the designs) to smithereens, sacrificing his life to the retaliatory fire of Count Dooku’s guards.

Approximately 80 percent of these comics were reprinted in the US within the pages of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Magazine.

Frontispiece art by Tommy Lee Edwards

Frontispiece art by Tommy Lee Edwards.

Star Wars Insider Clone Wars short stories (Various; 2003-2014): For many years, Star Wars fans have clamored for an anthology of stories in the style of the Tales series (such as Tales From the Mos Eisley Cantina) published by Bantam Spectra in the late 90s. But, while not technically an anthology, Star Wars Insider has given fans a remarkable run of Clone Wars short stories over a period of 11 years, making the single longest-running contribution of Clone Wars material from any one source.

The first story to kick things off was Aaron Allston’s “The Clone Wars: The Pengalan Tradeoff” (Star Wars Insider #65). In this tale, a Separatist trap on the planet Pengalan IV decimates a platoon of clone troopers. Among them is the cowardly accountant Joram Kithe: a temporarily commissioned lieutenant in Republic Intelligence who now finds himself suddenly outranking the half-dozen surviving soldiers. As they effect their escape, Joram coaxes the identical clones to think more individually and thus become more human…to the point that they actually defy Joram’s escape plan so that they can destroy a Separatist facility producing experimental diamond-boron missiles — even at the cost of their lives.

Allston then continues to torment his accountant in “The Clone Wars: League of Spies” (Star Wars Insider #73). After an undercover agent gets his cover blown, Joram and one of his surviving clone troopers, Mapper, are assigned to the ostentatious planet Tarhassan to hook up with a new Republic Intelligence team comprised of bureaucratic misfits — much like Joram himself. Only this time, it’s Joram that finds himself the one outranked. But by creatively fooling the overzealous desk-jockeys and demonstrating the virtues of improvisation, Joram is able to rescue the missing Republic agent and to keep the incompetence of his officious “superiors” from getting them all killed.

Frontispiece art by Jan Duursema

Frontispiece art by Jan Duursema.

Fan-favorite writer Michael A. Stackpole also contributed a short story to this era. “Elusion Illusion: A Tale of the Clone Wars” (Star Wars Insider #66) takes place a week after the Battle of Geonosis and sees the Twi’lek Jedi Aalya Secura teamed up with the more experienced Ylenic It’kla, a Jedi Knight of the wise Caamasi race. Master Mace Windu sends them undercover as smugglers to the planet Corellia in order to intercept a Techno Union researcher with files and a prototype integral to creating a more formidable generation of battle droids. Once they find the defector, however, they run amok of Jedi-sensing alien henchmen, Corellian Security officers, and a bold conspiracy that involves them all.

Frontispiece art by Douglas Chaffee

Frontispiece art by Douglas Chaffee.

For fans of the popular Star Wars scribe Timothy Zahn, he contributes almost a novel’s worth of Clone Wars stories. The three-part serial “A Tale of the Clone Wars: Hero of Cartao” (Star Wars Insider #68-70: “Hero’s Call,” “Hero’s Rise,” “Hero’s End”) begins one year into the war, with the cunning functionary Kinman Doriana arriving at the prosperous neutral planet Cartao to seize — ostensibly for Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and the Galactic Republic — the incredible Spaarti Creations factory, capable of producing cloning technology superior to that of the Kaminoans. When the Separatists arrive to take control of the same manufacturing plant for their own purposes, violence breaks out, and the Clone War obliterates the serenity on Cartao. As the carnage escalates inexorably, with the Republic and Confederacy both committing more and more troops and ships, the conflict promises not only to destroy the priceless Spaarti production facility but to envelop the entire planet. Cartao’s only hope is Jafer Torles: an aging, local Jedi guardian. While Torles is highly resourceful, however, the respected Jedi’s wits are no match for the intricate machinations of Darth Sidious, who secretly has Doriana in his employ and wants the Spaarti factory razed to the ground.

This contribution was followed by Zahn with the two-parter “Changing Seasons” (“Guardian of the People” in Star Wars Insider #77 and “People of the Guardian” in Star Wars Insider #78). In this story, Obi-Wan is shot down on the agricultural planet Dagro while investigating rumors of a Separatist presence there. Taken in by a farming family, the Jedi Master pulls his weight on the property until battle droids find him. Fortunately, however, so does his Padawan Anakin. Together, the two Jedi surreptitiously follow a river to the Separatist base, where they are beset by a crawl-carrier: a new camouflage-adept terrorist weapons platform. Though they manage to incapacitate it, a second one threatens the Dagro’s main city and all the farmlands on the way, and the Jedi and locals must work together to immobilize it.

“Cover” art by Eric Vedder and Roberto Campus

“Cover” art by Eric Vedder and Roberto Campus.

Death in the Catacombs” (Star Wars Insider #79) by Mike W. Barr takes place mere days in the wake of the first battle of the Clone Wars, in which almost 200 Jedi gave their lives. The just-promoted Jedi Knight Jyl Somtay is on Geonosis, the site of the outbreak, helping to carry out a mission to eliminate sources of technology on the planet that the insectoid natives — savvy weapons manufacturers — might use against the Republic. However, after being betrayed by an opportunistic Republic scientist, Jedi Somtay joins a xenoarchaeologist turned smuggler in hunting down the turncoat researcher and the Geonosian-weapons-laboratory mother lode. But the Jedi finds herself not only fighting for her life against a deadly pack of nexu predators but also struggling with conflicting feelings of duty to her Jedi principles and attraction to her scoundrel ally. (Jedi Somtay also appears in “Jedi Masquerade,” a story in the rare Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic series on this list.)

“Cover” art by Randy Martinez

“Cover” art by Randy Martinez.

As its title suggests, the short story “MedStar: Intermezzo” (Star Wars Insider #83) by Michael Reeves and Steve Perry serves as a bridge between the two novels of the MedStar series, which focus on the medical horrors of the Clone Wars. Stranded in the soul-crushing quagmire that is the hellish battlefront of the planet Drongar, the Republic surgeon Jos Vondar drinks himself into oblivion mourning the death of his best friend Zan Yant, killed in a Separatist attack. Suddenly, however, Jos is ripped out of his bereavement and faced with a fateful moral dilemma when he finds before his own operating table the wounded enemy commander responsible for his dear companion’s death.

Frontispiece art by Robert Hendrickson

Frontispiece art by Robert Hendrickson.

Similarly, author Karen Traviss’ Clone Wars contributions to Star Wars Insider tie into her popular Republic Commando series of novels — themselves based on a video game of the same name. “Omega Squad: Targets” (Star Wars Insider #81) finds the titular squad of clone commandos up against an armed siege of the Galactic City spaceport on Coruscant, involving Korunnai terrorists taking a half-dozen hostages in protest against Republic interference on their homeworld. When the Jedi negotiator assigned to deal with the situation ends up getting blown to indiscriminate pieces, Omega Squad does what it was trained to do: rescue the hostages by pinpoint extermination of the political radicals — who might actually be Separatist operatives. Traviss follows this up with the polemical “Republic Commando: Odds(Star Wars Insider #87) in which clone troopers specializing in intelligence gathering (known as Nulls) recover information about Republic-soldier and Separatist-droid strengths that potentially belies the most fundamental beliefs about why the Clone Wars are even being waged. These stories were reprinted in the novels Republic Commando: Triple Zero and Republic Commando: True Colors.

“Cover” art by Chris Scalf

“Cover” art by Chris Scalf.

Next, author Jason Fry ushers in the contemporary era of Clone Wars storytelling (beginning with the recent television series) with two extremely distinct tales. “Speaking Silently” (Star Wars Insider #139) is a work of subterfuge and military tactics that focuses on the clone trooper Captain Rex. The skeptical officer is forced to rely on Lorrdian militiamen and their astonishingly refined body-language-reading abilities to surreptitiously acquire intelligence on a Separatist compound in order to liberate captured Republic soldiers. By contrast, “Hondo Ohnaka’s Not-So-Big Score” (Star Wars Insider #144) follows the titular Weequay pirate and his band of buccaneers in a kidnapping plot that goes absurdly awry. The charismatic Hondo goes undercover as an import-export magnate and art collector on the luxury liner Salin Mariner in order to case the ship for the easiest wealthy passengers to ransom for a boatload of credits. But in this comedy of errors, the would-be abductor ends up getting drunk on cheap Vasarian brandy, besieged by spoiled swamp dogs and bored to death by the passive-aggressive prattle of the well-to-do. When his lackeys (and uncooperative kidnappees) blow the plan with their incompetence, the unfailingly optimistic pirate makes do with a few paltry cases of the inebriating Vasarian as his prize instead of millions of credits in extortion.

Frontispiece art by Chris Scalf

Frontispiece art by Chris Scalf.

Incognito” (Star Wars Insider #143) by John Jackson Miller takes the point of view of the rodent-like Republic senator Dewell Bronk, a Kedorzhan who is fleeing aboard one of the same transports as Obi-Wan Kenobi with a newborn Luke Skywalker. When the meek Bronk risks his life to defend a janitor from harassment by some Imperial clone troopers, Obi-Wan in turn intercedes and saves Senator Bronk. The short story is a prelude to Miller’s novel Kenobi and was conveniently reprinted in the paperback release.

“Cover” art by Joe Corroney and Brian Miller

“Cover” art by Joe Corroney and Brian Miller.

Finally, “Hammer” (Star Wars Insider #147) by Ed Erdelac tells the cautious tale of a failed Jedi apprentice, Telloti Cillmam’n, who wants nothing so much as to prove himself on the frontlines of the Clone Wars just as that epic conflict is winding down. Instead relegated to dreary archaeology duties under a bookish Jedi Master that refused to train him in the ways of the Force, Cillmam’n stumbles on a discarded set of ancient Sith armor with a dark life of its own. The suit possesses the desperate young man, granting him the terrible powers — and lightsaber — to take revenge on his hard-hearted Jedi guardian.

Special thanks to Eddie van der Heijden and Jean-François Boivin for their important research assistance.

Abel G. Peña is the author of dozens of Star Wars fiction and nonfiction articles for Star Wars Insider, Star Wars Gamer, Star Wars Fact Files and StarWars.com, the novella SkyeWalkers, a co-author of Vader: The Ultimate Guide and Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide, and a translator of rare and forgotten Star Wars comics and storybooks. Abel can be found at abelgpena.com, Facebook and Twitter.

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