In this week’s Star Wars comic “Age of Republic Special 1,” we get three different short stories about three different people from the Republic era. There’s a story about Mace Windu, about Asajj Ventress, and about Rex and Jar-Jar Binks.
It’s that latter story that was particularly exciting, because we get to see Jar-Jar and Rex fighting alongside one another during a battle on Mimban during the Clone Wars. And as an added bonus? Jar-Jar wields a lightsaber!
In this short story, Captain Rex and the 501st fight on Mimban, alongside Jedi General Laan Tik. Rex orders the Mud Jumpers to assist General Tik, but the Jedi assures Rex that he can take care of himself. Rex then orders Hardcase to get Senator Jar-Jar Binks out of there. Hardcase mentions that Binks should never have been there at all, but Rex explains that, “We needed a swamp native to interface with these Mimbanese.” It’s safe to say that it didn’t work out too well, and so the clones realize they must get Binks to safety. Before they can do that, however, General Tik is shot in the chest and killed, which means that the chain of command now rests with Senator Binks.
After the clones retreat and regroup, the clones realize that taking out the shield generators is a suicide mission. Rex orders the clones to pull out, but he ventures on alone. He’s planning to take out the shield generator on his own, because that way there are fewer casualties. As Rex trudges on, he battles droids for hours. Eventually, he is shot and is about to be killed by the droids when Jar-Jar slices through them with a lightsaber, having appeared out of nowhere. Jar-Jar is clearly not comfortable nor capable of wielding the lightsaber, so Rex takes it. Jar-Jar explains that he’s there to save Rex, saying that Rex’s plan was brave but not smart. He then recalls the words of Anakin Skywalker at the Battle of Arantara (which is how the comic begins) saying, “A true leader always leads from the front.” Rex gives Jar-Jar a blaster, and together they push forward toward the shield generator while battling reinforcements.
It’s pretty amazing to see Jar-Jar wielding a lightsaber, and I can’t help but think back to that episode of The Clone Wars, “Bombad Jedi,” where Jar-Jar is mistaken for a Jedi. Here, Rex initially thought it was General Laan Tik who had recovered to come save the day, so in a way Jar-Jar was again mistaken for a Jedi. But this time, he actually got to wield a lightsaber, too. He apparently recovered the lightsaber of General Tik and came to the rescue of Rex. I appreciated that he’s not very capable of using it – since Jar-Jar isn’t trained whatsoever in lightsaber combat – but he knows enough to save Rex’s life before the Captain takes the saber away. They then together battle the reinforcements that come as they push toward the shield generator.
We don’t know whether they are successful in disabling the shields, but we do know that both of them live (so the answer is that they probably did succeed). We learn an important leadership lesson from Anakin that has stuck with Rex, that a leader always leads from the front. Rex certainly does so here, as does Jar-Jar. But we also get another perspective on the much-maligned Gungan, as he’s pretty much always portrayed as clumsy and clueless. There’s certainly a bit of that here – he runs around the battlefield screaming, he fumbles the lightsaber, he’s used for a comedic touch at one point, etc. – but we also see his loyalty in returning to aid Rex, and that he at least seems to hold his own in combat. Throughout the comic Rex had been insisting that his men get the Senator out of the combat zone, but at the end Rex offers Binks the opportunity to fight alongside him. It’s a shift in perspective for Rex.
And ultimately? It’s just pretty awesome (and hilarious) to see Jar-Jar arrive as the hero to save Rex’s life with a lightsaber on Mimban. That’s pretty great on a number of levels.