With the massive Star Wars “retcon” a few years ago numerous comic series and novels were thrown out. Instead of having years of lore and expanded storylines, the official storyline now contains the main series, The Clone Wars and Rebels TV shows and any spin-off movies made since 2012.
Don’t get me wrong. The Clone Wars is a great show. It has plenty of memorable moments, good storylines, reintroduced Darth Maul and created plenty of new characters. However, there’s another show about the clone wars that some tend to overlook.
From 2003 to 2005 Star Wars: Clone Wars aired on Cartoon Network. Written and directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (creator of Samurai Jack) Clone Wars had a unique feel and style, similar to that of Samurai Jack. It also managed to tell the clone wars in only three years compared to the later show’s six.
What made it so good? First it was fast. Clone Wars was actually a micro-series, with each episode lasting under ten or even five minutes. This meant a breakneck pace with plenty of action scenes. Next, the 2D animation provided the writers a chance to show fast lightsaber duels, the Force in a way not previously seen and give certain characters the spotlight. For example, one episode is devoted to Mace Windu beating an entire droid army near-singlehandedly, sometimes without his lightsaber!
Obi-Wan and Anakin are given most of the spotlight, with the latter being the main character. Through the show’s three seasons an overarching story was told, eventually tying into Episode III. You can consider it today as “a certain point of view” of the events in The Clone Wars.
Many elements from this show also transitioned to its successor. Many of the voice cast of The Clone Wars provide their voices here, including Anakin, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Windu and Dooku. Ventress also made her debut on Clone Wars and was an integral part of the first season.
However, the best parts of the show were ARC Troopers, the music and General Grievous. The ARC’s were led by Captain Fordo, who makes Captain Rex look like an average recruit. They hardly spoke and did things a dozen-man team wasn’t supposed to do. Take out a Banking Clan building? No problem. Rescue Jedi? Sure. Fordo’s given an underwhelming send-off by the end and he deserves to be retconned back into the universe.
The music was composed by James L. Vernable and Paul Dinletir, who also composed Samurai Jack. Both composers do a wonderful job handling the show’s breakneck pace with breakneck music while also using many John Williams themes. Its a shame their work hasn’t been officially released. Even though it was composed and performed on a computer it’s excellent.
Then we have Grievous. For those of you too young to remember, in the Expanded Universe Grievous was a cold-hearted, fast, killing machine who’d stop for nothing. Clone Wars recreates that version here in spectacular fashion. Instead of coughing and not being able to kill one Jedi, here he kills multiple and injures even more. Most of the time he’s only using two lightsabers and his own mechanical body. And when he does use four arms it’s among the most epic moments in the show.
Overall, the series became well-respected, winning three Emmy awards and one Annie award and proving popular with fans. The entire show was released on DVD in two volumes and has never re-released. Considering the retcon I doubt it’ll see the light of day anytime soon. However if you do manage to find the full show or the volumes its worth your time. Star Wars fans in particular will enjoy it and even casual fans will like it.