**Full Spoilers for Star Wars Mace Windu: Jedi of the Republic**
“Star Wars fans and Marvel mavens alike spoke—no, shouted—and Marvel listened: one of the greatest Jedi Knights of all will finally star in his own series, STAR WARS: JEDI OF THE REPUBLIC: MACE WINDU.”Jim Bear, Marvel.com
This was the top line for an interview with writer Matthew Owens on finally giving what comic readers were asking for.
Mace Windu, the Jedi Master, first introduced in The Phantom Menace in 1999, is often used as a foil for more righteous Jedi and a finger-pointing reason for why the Jedi Order fell (despite other Jedi like Yoda having a more significant role). But because Mace Windu is supposedly firm in his beliefs and has little character development, it is easier to blame him.
First, let’s get the failings of the Prequel Trilogy out of the way. The Prequels did nothing for Mace Windu except align him with the unique purple lightsaber. He gets one action scene in Attack of the Clones but spends most of the trilogy vacantly staring into space until his hand is cut off and he is Forced out of Palpatine’s office in Revenge of the Sith.
But canon never explored the mythology of that purple lightsaber further. There is fertile ground to explain this and add more context and development to Mace’s character and philosophies as a Jedi.
Per Owens, this series attempts to paint Mace as a complex hero whose unwavering faith in the Jedi Order makes him blind to the complexities of war. It succeeds in some regards but fails in others. Overall, this series is very telling and might be the only blueprint for more Mace stories if Lucasfilm decides to bring Samuel L. Jackson (who is more than willing) back to wield the purple blade.
Taking place shortly after the Battle of Geonosis, the Jedi discover Separatist activity on the Outer Rim planet of Hissrich. The Jedi Council asks Mace Windu to investigate but cannot afford to send a clone unit with him, so he chooses three Jedi to accompany him: Kit Fisto, Prosset Dibs, and Rissa Mano.
Mace confides in Yoda his doubts about asking more Jedi to fight in this war, but Yoda tells him that the Jedi must. When they arrive on Hissrich, a consistently dark planet that only gathers light from a distant sun once per month, Prosset equally confides in Mace his own doubts about the war.
While on Hissrich, the Jedi are tested by AD-W4, a mercenary droid hired by General Grievous to harvest the plants that provide energy to the natives. But they are also tested by each other. The natives have been living underground in caverns powered by the roots of these plants. When the harvesting from the Separatists and fighting with the battle droids causes debris to fall and crush many of them, Prosset loses it and blames the Jedi Order.
The Jedi Master, who is blind but supposedly incredibly perceptive, feels like the Jedi Order lured them to Hissrich under false pretenses and just wanted the plant power for the Republic. Prosset focuses most of his anger on Mace Windu, saying he and the Jedi Order are perverting the Force. Prosset then challenges Mace Windu to a lightsaber duel.
We get a flashback to a younger Mace with his Master Cyslin Myr apprehending a charlatan pretending to be a Jedi to profit from the suffering of locals dealing with a plague. Master Myr stops Padawan Mace from killing the charlatan out of anger, and Jedi Master Mace in the present stops himself from killing Prosset.
Mace, Kit and Rissa defeat AD-W4 (Mace cuts his head off and explodes it in the sky) and prevent the Separatists from harvesting any plant power. The Order convicts Prosset of treason, but Mace asks for him to be confined to the library in hopes that Prosset will learn from his misguided beliefs. He then has a conversation with Rissa that mirrors his earlier conversation with Yoda, where he has now bought into the need to fight in this war.
A lot happens in these five issues, and there is a lot of monologuing. AD-W4 and Prosset Dibs both are foils for Mace but do not feel like real characters, more like tools for the writer to show Mace’s arrogance. But AD and Prosset are also arrogant. AD somehow thinks he knows Mace, calling him arrogant within seconds of meeting him and with apparent hindsight from Revenge of the Sith (maybe droids can be Force-sensitive). Prosset hurls insults toward Mace that are so personal that it feels like something is missing. As if there is a history not established between the two.
So half of this series consists of antagonists telling Mace that he’s wrong while trying to kill him, and the other half consists of Mace telling them he’s right while mostly trying to kill them.
It’s a lot of telling and little showing.
Owens talked more about how he views Mace Windu before the comic series release:
“I see Mace as a person who needs the way of the Jedi. He believes so strongly in the Force, believes it is the true path to peace in the galaxy and harmony amongst all peoples…
The role of the Jedi has changed, leading armies into battle. Is this their place? If peace is the ends, are the means justified? Are they on the right side of said peace? These are the kind of soul-searching questions Mace will have to dig deep and answer for himself.”Matthew Wood on Mace Windu, Marvel.com
Unfortunately, there is no digging deep in this series for Mace Windu. Conclusions and decisions come quickly in this story to the point that the actions of certain characters seem too drastic. Prosset Dibs journey from A to Z is questionable. He is contentious from the beginning and does not seem to like any part of being in the Order, but what happened with the natives of Hissrich was the Separatists’ fault.
But Woods is partially correct. Mace Windu is a devout believer who questions his faith internally but outwardly projects confidence. However, he is often portrayed as an arrogant person set in his ways and unyielding in his beliefs.
Mace’s sin is not that he is too headstrong in his beliefs but that he isn’t. He relies too much on other members of the Jedi Council and accepts their assurance all too quickly. If Mace Windu were more headstrong, the Jedi Order would not have accepted Anakin Skywalker, and the galaxy spared a lot of suffering.
But that hardly warrants how he has been maligned in other media after the Prequel films as one of the main reasons the Jedi Order fell.
A more interesting storyline is the brief flashback with Master Myr. Star Wars does a good job of showing character progression for Jedi through their training as Padawans and Jedi Knights. Aside from learning more about Master Myr, getting the perspective of Mace as a young Padawan without the baggage of the Clone Wars would have benefitted the character and added some much-needed context to where he is at the start of the Prequels.
Instead, we have this continued narrative of arrogance, even with arcs like “The Disappeared” in The Clone Wars showing a different side of the Jedi Master. In the season six arc, Mace accompanies Jar Jar Binks to Bardotta. Mace learns from the Gungan and adjusts his approach with the Bardottans as they face great danger from a dark side force. It is a nice change of portrayal that is in an otherwise skippable arc.
Star Wars Mace Windu: Jedi of the Republic is the promise of a man torn between his faith and the moralities of war. However, it turns into a slight roast of Mace Windu and nicely summarizes the wasted opportunity of the character’s tragic end.
There is a reason why a part of the fandom wants Mace Windu to return…somehow. Here’s hoping this comic series can be a stepping stone to something more substation one day.