Star Wars: Jango Fett
As the father of one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars universe, Jango Fett's introduction in 2002 came with quite a bit of hype. Besides appearing in that year's Star Wars film, Attack of the Clones, he was also featured in his own video game, Bounty Hunter, received an origin tale in the comic Jango Fett: Open Seasons, and starred in his own eponymous graphic novel, this story, which is the first part of a duology also featuring Zam Wesell. With all of the Jango Fett exposure that year alone, and the various works released since then including the Blood Ties series and the Boba Fett young reader series, does this graphic novel carve its own niche in the Star Wars universe, or simply blend in amongst other, superior stories?
The premise certainly doesn't do the book any favors. After his previous job goes sour, Jango turns to an enigmatic Dug for an assignment to obtain a mysterious artifact from a forlorn world. There isn't much in the way of intrigue, and from the way the idol is designed and the types of dangers (perilous mountain climbing, evil natives, enormous wildlife,) that befall Jango on his quest, this reads more like a particularly straightforward Tomb Raider or Indiana Jones adventure than an intergalactic bounty hunt. It's an ok story, albeit a totally forgettable one that doesn't fully utilize Fett's talents, nor does it capture the appeal of bounty hunters in the Star Wars universe.
As you might expect, Jango is the star of the show here, and we get a good look at all the various things that make him who he is. Through his interaction with his son Boba, we see the caring father and the "simple man trying to make his way through the universe" while the actual machinations of the story show us his ferocious killer's edge and willingness to do whatever it takes to fulfill his contract, while still behaving honorably in some respects. It's a very interesting contrast shown rather subtly, and it gives the book far more depth than the simplistic plot can manage. Is it a totally original take on Fett's character? No, we've seen this exact contrast in the Attack of the Clones novelization and more recently the Blood Ties comic, but it is well done and worthy of the character.
The only other character featured extensively in this book is Clawdite bounty hunter Zam Wesell. Zam didn't get a ton of screen time in Attack of the Clones, so her inclusion is appreciated, but the dynamic between herself and Jango is a bit awkward. It's a more flirtatious relationship than you might expect given that Zam isn't really a woman, or a man, or even human, and it certainly lends an uncomfortable edge to their dialogue when one considers that Fett is either extremely gullible when it comes to the ladies, or so devoted to his cause that he's willing to flirt with shapeshifting aliens to get it done. Either way, it's a totally unconvincing relationship, and doesn't add much to the book. Of course, strangely enough writer Ron Marz doesn't focus on the changeling aspect of Zam's character at all, instead giving us a generic femme fatale that uses her beauty, and not her ability to transform into all manner of creatures, to accomplish her tasks. In doing so, the only intriguing trait that Zam possessed in the films is sacrificed for some dumb banter and boring sexual tension. It will be interesting to see if this dynamic improves at all in the second book, because Zam adds little here.
The artwork featured in this graphic novel is unlike anything we've seen in a Star Wars book, something that works both for and against it. Tom Fowler's interiors do an absolutely fantastic job of bringing to life the environments that Jango travels to. From the seediness of a Coruscant bar, to the lush jungle world his assignment takes place on, to the sterile confines of Kamino, the simplistic color palate does an absolutely majestic job of characterizing these worlds, even though some of the layouts are a little bit cluttered. The same can be said of the action sequences, which look pretty cool but can sometimes be confusing, especially during the climactic battle with a giant creature.
On the other hand, the faces are almost universally awful. Boba Fett has an extremely chubby face devoid of many features, and looks absolutely nothing like he did in the movie. He isn't depicted as badly as the children in Crimson Empire III, but it's very close. All of the characters seem to have permanently angry expressions, generally sparse features, and very little depth, which is a shame considering how solid many of the environments are. Overall, the art in the Jango Fett graphic novel is a unique effort, but not a wholly successful one.
A passable introduction to the character of Jango Fett, we get a good look at the various roles that the character plays in the Star Wars universe, but unfortunately the actual plot is a bit of a dud and the artwork is certainly not for everyone. Diehard fans may want to check this out, but most readers can safely pass.