Invasion: Refugees

Writer: Tom Taylor

Cover Artist: Jo Chen

Interior Art by: Colin Wilson, and Wes Dzioba (colorist)

Most Star Wars fans who’ve read the series of books known as the NJO have found memories of the dramatic adventures of their favorite characters. The Yuuzhan Vong war was a time when no character was safe and all of the people involved, even the big three, were confronted with the toughest challenges they’d ever faced. Jedi could no longer rely on their super powers to easily conquer their foes. Heroes could no longer rely on luck, fame, and skill to triumph. The New Jedi Order was an ocean of conflict that often destroyed character in order to remake them anew. That sense of gripping drama and gritty characters, with a little humor thrown in for balance, perfectly defines the comic series Invasion and its first volume Refugees.

This was a nice group shot that really felt nostalgic. Although Chewie is dead and gone, the Falcon still has a copilot in the way of Lowbacca, even if only for one scene. Jaina can be seen piloting the Falcon, while Anakin, Finn, Jacen, and Leia are in the background.

With images like this, it feels like the good old days. Here Anakin, Jaina, and Jacen can bee seen training on Yavin IV.

Reading Refugees is a very nostalgic affair and one enjoyable part is actually seeing all the characters from the New Jedi Order. Although the series focuses on an original cast, they often encounter and team up with fan favorites. At times the reader gets to see Luke Skywalker saving the day when all hope looks to be lost, or at other times running the affairs at the Jedi Temple on Yavin IV. Han Solo shows up in the Millennium Falcon still overshadowed by his grief for Chewie’s death and not yet having come to terms with his son Anakin. Leia, Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin all show up for various missions. In fact one of the main characters, Finn Galidrian, has a lot of contact with the Solo kids and they often team up together along with Lowbacca. Kyp and Mara round out the roll call leaving the rest of the cast to new characters.

I thought this was a pretty good moment: mixes humor with a great fan nod to Lowbacca.

The primary original characters in this trade paperback are the Galidrian family: Caled, Nina, Kaye, and Finn. Caled is a veteran of Hoth and the father. He lives with his wife, Nina, on the planet Artorias which quickly falls under attack by the Yuuzhan Vong. Their children, Finn and Nina, are then forced into new roles as their peaceful existence comes to an end. Finn is Force sensitive and ends up being trained to become a Jedi. Nina, on the other hand, does not get the luxury of such training and is forced to fight the Yuuzhan Vong on her own. The path Nina takes causes her to embrace her inner warrior. Rather than surrender or rely on others, she takes action and exhibits an inner resolve that allows her to fight on no matter what the odds are. For Finn the adventure is a little different. He too has to find his inner warrior but he also has to deal with his hatred for the Yuuzhan Vong and the vast destruction they have caused to everything he holds dear. The path between light and dark becomes a center point for his development which is handled extremely well. Too often the Jedi struggle with the dark side comes off cheesy. In Finn’s case it was not muddled around with or overly prolonged, but decisively addressed and used to mature his character.

In this action scene you can get a feel for how the art sometimes takes a stylistic approach familiar to comic books. Sometimes people look a little deformed in order to emphasize movement or emotion.

The Yuuzhan Vong come to life in the comic and I think the artist did an excellent job of rendering them. They have a certain alien/monster look that strikes fear. The warriors tend to look the most monstrous due to their disfigurements. Later on in the series when the Shapers are revealed, you can see the vast difference between the two.

The visual splendor of seeing the Yuuzhan Vong war brought to life on the comic pages was well worth the wait. Not only do readers get to see some of their favorite Jedi, but they also get to see the strange, fearsome visages of the Yuuzhan Vong and their living biots. Warriors bristling in vonduun crab armor, ravaged by ritual scaring, and modified by living biots, display their ferocity on the battlefield. Readers get a glimpse of Yuuzhan Vong command crews, Shapers, and even a Yammosk. At one point there are gigantic siege creatures destroying a city in a scene reminiscent of a Godzilla movie. Several times the artists displayed full page or multipage views of Yuuzhan Vong armadas. Though the art for the canon characters takes some liberties for style, the overall art has a very good feel to it balancing detail and emphasis to convey emotions. Often the artists will elevate the emotion of a scene by removing the background and focusing completely on the characters using the color of the background to set the emotion. Whether it’s a flashback of Chewbacca making his last stand, a cantina scene on Nar Shaddaa, or a group shot on the Falcon, the art throughout the volume was top notch and at times moving.

Han was drawn pretty well throughout the issues. Although there are some stylistic edges, it still comes off very much like Han, and sometimes the pictures are just spot on whether it's caputuring his smirk or showing him as he looked in the films.

Luke was a hit and miss throughout the series. He changed a lot picture to picture. Sometimes he felt off, and othertimes he seemed alright.

Refugees is a solid comic that takes an interesting approach to its story. Unlike Knights of the Old Republic and Legacy, there is more than one main character. By following Finn and Kaye, the comic is able to show different perspectives and angles to the war. Another difference is that KOTOR and Legacy were both personal journeys. KOTOR followed Zayne Carrick and his overshadowing prophecy of destruction and doom. Legacy followed Cade Skywalker and his battle with the dark side and Emperor Krayt. In Refugees the antagonist cannot be simplified to an individual foe or a personal goal for one of the characters. The Yuuzhan Vong war provides countless enemies for the main characters to fight. The war also provides just as many reasons for them to keep fighting. Overall it’s not a story about one characters journey to accomplish a given task but a tale of what they had to go through to survive the adventure. In that respect Refugees has a very different feel than other Star Wars comic series and comes closest to being like Knight Errant.

If you enjoyed the New Jedi Order, then you owe it to yourself to experience Invasion: Refugees. It may be the closest thing you will ever get to NJO movie experience. I give it five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren

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