Despite having a stellar writer and all-star artists at the helm, Star Wars: Age of Republic has been off to a rocky start. While each book has unflinchingly stayed true to its character, they’ve mostly failed to provide anything new or particularly notable. Surprisingly, and maybe even a little ironically, Age of Republic: Jango Fett #1 manages to provide a fresh, unseen look at the bounty-hunter-turned-clone-template. Most surprisingly and enjoyably, however, is how this issue shines light on young Boba Fett without taking the spotlight away from his Dad.
Jango Fett is a character that makes perfect sense for a one-shot comic book. Like Qui-Gonn Jinn (who also got the Age of the Republic treatment in the series’s best issue to-date), Jango is a character who has been left largely unexplored in Star Wars media. This gives writer Jody Houser, artist Luke Ross, and colorist Java Tartaglia plenty of room to tell a story of their own without feeling like a retread or inconsistent to previous iterations of the character.
More so than any of the Age of Republic books yet, Jango Fett #1 provides an unseen look into the mind of a pivotal character from the franchise who gets a surprisingly small amount of screen time. It’d be easy to assume this issue would be cliche story about the Star Wars underworld, but Houser eschews this preconceptions to instead tell a quick but memorable story about a man raising his boy.
This issue, in a way, reveals Jango’s true motivations for agreeing to be the genetic template for the grand clone army- he wanted a son. Sure, the heaping pile of credits surely helped, but Houser’s script makes it clear that Jango getting a clone of his own to raise was the primary driving force behind Jango’s cooperation. This thirst for fatherhood paints Jango as a more sympathetic character- a man who did whatever it took to get a family of his own.
Furthermore, as the issue carries on Houser shows just how great a father Jango really is, as surprising as that may be. Jango has the utmost admiration and trust in his son despite his age. Even when it seems like an obvious scolding is coming from the “villainous” Jango, Houser takes Jango in the opposite direction, showing a father who is nothing but supportive, loving, and trusting. Once again, this paints Jango in a much more sympathetic light, which may leave readers with a completely new perspective on the feared bounty hunter
That trust in Boba is well placed too- he’s a total bad ass! Young Boba is cooler in this single issue than he was in the entirety of his 8-minutes of screen time in the original trilogy. This moment of bad-assery is a welcome diversion from what could’ve been a predictable and trite story path too. Rather than allowing Boba to play the victim and forcing Jango to play hero, Boba saves himself in a way that not only diverts away from the predictable narratives of previous Age of Republic releases, but also gives a subtle hint as to how he grew up to be such a fearsome bounty hunter- because his father had been teaching him how to fight for years.
Working in perfect tandem with Houser’s script, the art from Luke Ross and colors from Java Tartaglia bring the seedy underbelly of Star Wars‘s criminal dealings to life wonderfully. Ross’s pencils and inks are detailed enough to really give each character, vehicle, and environment a movie-like in tandem with terrific splash pages that will remind readers just how cool Mandalorian armor is (as if anyone forgot). Meanwhile, Ross’s darker and more muted color pallet really give every scene a gritty feel- like a Zack Snyder film only much more effective and appropriate.
The only notable downside to this issue is the length and the speed in which it can be read. It is so enjoyable and insightful, 22-pages simply does not feel like enough. Issue length has been a problem for this entire series, though- it’s hard to make a one-shot feel special with only 22-pages to work with.
Undoubtedly, Star Wars: Age of Republic: Jango Fett #1 is the best this series has offered thus far. It eschews expectations at almost every opportunity while providing new, insightful looks at two major characters in a way that could even change readers’ perspectives on these characters. If anything, this issue makes the case that the fine folks at Marvel and Disney-Lucasfilm Publishing should give serious consideration to letting Houser, Ross, and Tartaglia run with a Jango and Boba series of their own.