Marvel's Star Wars comics have been fairly brilliant since Shattered Empire hit the scene two years ago, but it's fair to say that the publisher haven't always managed to bullseye that wamp-rat target when they've had to. Mace Windu is one of those books that seems to be falling into the latter bracket, sadly, despite some truly convincing art from Denys Cowan.
Set during the formative years of the Clone Wars, Matt Owens' Mace Windu spin-off focuses on the Jedi Master as he leads Kit Fisto et al. on an important mission for the Republic, although it's apparent that Mace isn't at all content with his newfound role as a soldier. There are some interesting moments in the issue that seem to pick up on that dynamic, along with the religious tenets of the Jedi Order, but Owens doesn't dedicate enough time to really flesh them out.
Instead, the issue gets bogged down heavily in action sequences, and while Cowan's pencils are exquisite to see (the artist has always had a great handle on fluidity and motion), Owens' dialogue lets him down. The book as a whole lacks the salience or premise most other Star Wars titles do and, as a result, it almost feels derivative, borrowing heavily from the more action-heavy episodes from the two animated Clone Wars series.
It's a shame, because Owens and Cowan clearly possess the skill necessary to create a truly splendid Mace book. Those aforementioned flashes of brilliance come when the issue pauses to contemplate Windu's attitude to conflict, but they're all too often interrupted by expository panels that serve no other purpose than to advance the already paper-thin plot, in which the Separatists are attempting to harvest a source to fuel their droids... or something.
There's no doubt whatsoever that Mace Windu deserves his own Star Wars title, or that Denys Cowan should be the man to draw him, but this series isn't the one that fans are looking for. We've already seen plenty of the character in the Clone Wars setting, and while yes, it's true that neither the live action films nor the animated series paused to really get into the character's head, there are countless other settings that could've been used to really flesh out the character.
Obviously the Original Trilogy is out of bounds for the character, but a lot could be done with a pre-Phantom Menace setting, surely? Either that or another Clone Wars prequel would do, as we saw in Charles Soule's Obi-Wan and Anakin mini-series last year, but the main point is that the series just isn't tapping the very obvious potential it has stored up.
Marvel are more than aware of the opportunities the Star Wars license affords them. If they could take Mace to another setting, or even just explore his roots in a non-linear fashion, then there's every chance the character could get a spin-off worthy of his fan favourite status. Sadly this one just isn't cutting the mustard.