Star Wars: Vow of Justice
Vow of Justice is a bit of an outlier among Star Wars comics. Featuring a rare format, a hard to relate to protagonist, and a tiny page count, this back up feature to the Prelude to Rebellion main story has all the makings of a filler piece thrown in to test the waters for similar, more marketable projects in the future. Does it live down to these dubious first impressions, or manage to surprise despite its humble beginnings?
The actual story is a fairly interesting one. Lots of stuff happens in these 18 pages, as we are treated to Ki-Adi's early years spent hiding from crime lords on his homeworld, a bit of his training with Yoda, and then a return to bring peace to his family. We learn about how Jedi take children for training, Ki's attachment to his master's teachings, and a little bit about Cerean culture. The main conflict isn't a particularly convincing one, because it involves a Jedi Knight going up against some generic thugs, and this is where the otherwise solid plot slips up a bit. To elongate the conflict, Ki does something unbelievably dumb and out of character, which was a huge blemish on an otherwise solid interpretation of the character's origins. This also has the unfortunate effect of really blunting the conclusion and making Ki's lesson feel a bit unnatural. Despite this blatant contrivance, it is an enjoyable enough story with solid insights on the Jedi and Ki, working as both a useful companion to Prelude to Rebellion, and a decent standalone story in its own right. The art is a lot like that of the Prelude to Rebellion title, although it manages to show the Cereans in a more positive manner (Ki's odd looking face aside,) which is appreciated. It isn't something to really take notice of for the most part however, the backgrounds are still bland and details are sparse and the Cereans still don't exactly look great, but it gets the job done.
Like the Aurra Sing short story I reviewed a few weeks ago, Vow of Justice represents something very important for the franchise as a whole: it marks the first and only time that Dark Horse has published a back up story with a Star Wars comic book. While this has been a staple of many comics for quite some time, it was a new experiment in Star Wars perhaps encouraged by the fact that this series was initially supposed to be the flagship title throughout the release of the prequel trilogy, and therefore it would have a consistently large amount of viewers each month. For whatever reason, this didn't last and that is quite unfortunate, because it would've been an absolute blessing during the Clone Wars part of the series.
Vow of Justice is, like Aurra's Song, not something you are going to want to track down on its own merits. It does have a more complete story however, with the exception of the underwhelming conclusion, and it does a nice job of giving us some more insight into Ki-Adi Mundi's earlier years. Ki-Adi is a decent character to be sure, but he isn't star material and after the second arc in the Republic series somebody apparently took note of that as he has been locked in to a supporting role in all of his sporadic appearances since then. As yet another historical curiosity, Vow of Justice is well worth a try as part of the Rise of the Sith omnibus.