WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Star Wars: Age of Republic – Count Dooku #1 by Jody Houser, Luke Ross, Java Tartaglia, Travis Lanham, and Paolo Rivera, on sale now!
The Star Wars Universe has no shortage of unique species of alien creatures, but when you look back at the original 1977 film that started it all, strange insectoid bipeds and blue elephant men weren’t exactly prevalent outside of the Mos Eisley Cantina scene. In fact, only Chewbacca acted as a constant reminder that something other than humans exist in this galaxy far, far away. Eventually, though subsequent films, comics and the Lynchian nightmare that was the Star Wars Holiday Special, more and more exotic characters have become permanent fixtures in the mythos, including a few Jedi Knights.
Yoda was the first non-human we met who was also a Jedi, but to be fair, in 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back debuted, we hadn’t met many. But once the Prequels kicked off in 1999, the number of on-screen Jedi exploded. Rooms full of the warriors populated the screen, and many (if not most of them) were not human. Marvel’s Star Wars: Age of Republic -Count Dooku #1 has revisited this diverse era once again, and in the process has given us one of the coolest non-human Jedi of all.
Jedi Knight Jak’zin is a tiger man. We don’t mean he’s a humanoid who has orange and black skin or has some minor cat-like feature. No, he’s an anthropomorphic tiger, as if Hobbes picked up a robe and lightsaber and moonlighted as a Jedi while Calvin was asleep. OK, making the aesthetic connection to Calvin and Hobbes is low-hanging fruit as far as comparisons go; Jak’zin actually has more in common with another cat person from pop culture, John Blacksad, the anthropomorphic black cat detective from the the Spanish/French comic series Blacksad.
When we meet Jak’zin in Star Wars: Age of Republic Count Dooku #1, he has a friendly meeting with the man who was secretly Darth Tyranus, unaware of the Sith Apprentice’s intentions. Jak’zin doesn’t reveal his true reason for being on the planet Sullust, nor does Dooku. Only after Jak’zin believes Dooku to still be on the side of the Light does explain his mission is to seek out a criminal organization who has become a problem in the eyes of the Jedi Council. Dooku is looking for the same syndicate.
We’ve seen the Jedi detective story before; Obi-Wan Kenobi played gumshoe in Attack of the Clones for most of its run time (which honestly might be the best part of that film). This reoccurring trope does make it feel like the Jedi have less to do with the Samurai of Feudal Japan and operate more like the FBI (Special Agent Ben Kenobi has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?), and a detective cat person Jedi is something pretty special.
Sadly, like a lot of great characters who have been introduced in comics that fill in the cracks between Star Wars film, Jak’zin doesn’t make it off Sullust. His stint as a gumshoe (gumpaw?) ends in tragedy the way so many hard-boiled crime stories do, though there’s part of us that hopes we see him again. He is a giant cat, after all, and we don’t know how many of his nine lives he has or hasn’t gone though before we met him.