22 March 2016

Return of the New Jedi Order, Episode XXVI: "Equals & Opposites" by Nathan P. Butler and James Raiz

Digital comic issue, 58 pages
Published 2004
Acquired December 2014

Read June 2015
Star Wars Tales #21: "Equals & Opposites"

Script: Nathan P. Butler
Art: James Raiz
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Michael Heisler

Year Four of the Invasion (Month 8)
This issue of the Star Wars Tales comic contains another New Jedi Order-era tale, specifically, "Equals & Opposites," which takes place between volumes I and II of "Force Heretic." This story is about Kyle Katarn and Jan Ors, stars of the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight computer games, which I've never played-- but I have read the novellas and heard the audio dramas based on them. They're en route to an intelligence conference in the Empire, following the alliance forged by Luke and company in Remnant, when they divert to help an Imperial platoon save an insignificant planet from the Yuuzhan Vong and the Peace Brigade.

This story is, as far as I know, Nathan P. Butler's first and only professional fiction work; he and I used to be members of the "fan audio" community together, where Butler wrote a timeline, was a prolific podcaster, and wrote/directed/edited a number of fan audio dramas. Unfortunately, "Equals & Opposites" is a bit on the clunky side. Like this:
KYLE KATARN FACT: Kyle Katarn doesn't feel pain, pain feels Kyle Katarn.

Like, maybe the reason he mentioned the first kid is because she was standing right in front of you. It's an attempt at subtlety in characterization that sledgehammers in its actual consequences. Aside from that moment, there's not much to this 14-page story, which features two multi-page fight sequences and a number of banal aphorisms from Kyle to a green Imperial lieutenant. Of course, this might not be Butler's fault entirely: he is trying to make use of a character primarily designed as a blank for videogames, not as someone with a lived interior life. James Raiz's artwork is often equally clunky, as you can see from Kyle's extremely wonky proportions in the second panel above.

Next Week: Back to Luke and Mara, Leia and Han, Nom Anor, and companies in Force Heretic II: Refugee!

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