Posted by Curto on October 26, 2004 at 12:00 AM CST
Star Wars Tales #21, the first issue of the "new and improved" series revamp loses the "Infinities" classification and features 3 new stories set in continuity. Have doubts? Look no further than the first page, which conveniently explains just when each tale fits into the timeline, and also has a handy guide to the 5 different "Eras of Adventure" that stories can fall under. Right away you know you've got something different in your hands.

Much like previous issues, there is a humorous editorial page by new editor Jeremy Barlow and artist Lucas Marangon that brings a smile to your face and can help calm the nerves of those that fear change.

Beginning with the first chapter of "Nomad", readers are suddenly transported to a world in the Outer Rim Territories six months after
The Phantom Menace and introduced to Jedi Darca Nyl, a character with a mysterious past and a strong sense of justice. Rob Williams, Brandon Badeaux, and Dan Jackson have taken a seemingly simple damsel-in-distress rescue story and turned it into a beautiful work of art. There's a lot more going on here, as hinted at in a few flashback scenes that foreshadow a confrontation brewing for a future issue.

The cover story is "Walking The Path That's Given" by Shane McCarthy, Thomas Andrews, Michael Lacombe, Serge LaPointe, and SnoCone Studios. It's a year after A New Hope, and we meet Nas Ghent (or re-meet? There's something very familiar about this character I haven't yet placed), a former soldier in the Clone Wars who is recruited by Darth Vader to lead a new Imperial TIE Fighter squadron made up of cutthroats, murderers, and convicts called the "Black Eight" destined to fly for the glory of the Empire. However, Ghent earns his share of enemies the first day on the job. This tale is a very promising beginning (there is at least one more chapter on the way), and it's always fun to see Vader in action, but the real character to watch in this story is Imperial Commander Millavec, who has plans of his own and does not like having this squadron around. Welcome to the Empire, Ghent...hope you survive the experience!

Finally, "Equals and Opposites" by Nathan P. Butler, James Raiz, Michael Atiyeh features the return of fan-favorite Expanded Universe character Kyle Katarn taking on the Yuuzhan Vong during the New Jedi Order era. While there's plenty of action in the story, the best part can be found in the interaction between Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors, who fans of the Dark Forces and Jedi Knight video games will be glad to see are still a team 28 years later.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? But is it worth your $5.99 (not counting whatever store discounts your local comic shop may offer)? Absolutely. This issue really has everything you could want from a Star Wars comic book. There's Jedi lightsaber action, Imperial dogfights, Darth Vader(!), and a NJO story that fans have been wanting for years! The stories are interesting and entertaining, and the artwork is exceptional, especially in "Nomad". I wish Kyle's story was longer, as it felt a bit rushed due to the page count, and I'd like to have seen more interaction between Kyle and Jan.

One thing about Ghent's tale that bothered me is a small nit-picky detail. However, it actually has nothing to do with the story. There is a female officer onboard the Star Destroyer Crucible. This is not something that would happen under Palpatine's rule, and since we're striving for in-continuity stories, for some reason I noticed it right away.

The entire issue is lettered by Michael Heisler, and the painted cover is by Lee Bermejo. like previous issues, this comic is also available with a photo cover, which I wish would have been discontinued, but I don't normally pick these up anyway.

Star Wars Tales 21 (Photo Cover)

For a 12-page online preview of this issue, click here.
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