As has been noted in other reviews, there is a split in the book's narrative that, at first glance, makes the story seem somewhat disconnected. In fact, what appears to be the case is that the five issues collected here are actually a trilogy (set on Malastare) and duology (set on Nar Shaddaa). Though the two stories do have some common elements, and namely a common enemy, they're really two separate stories, instead of a single five-part adventure. Dark Horse does readers no favors by putting the cover art in five consecutive pages at the end of the book. It would help readers a great deal if they would instead present the storylines with their covers intact so as to make clear where one book ends and the next begins. We'd then come a lot closer to experiencing the books as the serialized adventures they were originally meant to be.
This fact makes the title of the collected volume a little misleading. Indeed, the volume is really misnamed. It almost would've been better to have simply called the work, "Jedi Emissaries", "A Failure of Diplomacy", or in some other way to have de-emphasized the whole Malastare angle. It's kinda hard to justify the current title, given that the last 64 pages don't take place on Malastare at all.
Likewise, my other frustration with the book is that the author's wrongly place the book "shortly before the Battle of Naboo"--which clearly cannot be the case. Anakin is seen as living in the Jedi Temple, fully wearing the standard padawan "uniform", which he only gets after the Battle of Naboo.
These doubts aside, there's a lot here to admire. The art, though not on a par with the higher echelon of DC, Marvel, and independent illustrators, is certainly on the higher end of Dark Horse's contributions to the STAR WARS franchise. It's not the best stuff they've ever put out, but it's closer to the best than not. Those used to the more conceptual, stylized art in, say, SANDMAN, BATMAN: YEAR ONE, or KINGDOM COME, will find the work here more reminiscent of "special" issues of "ordinary" comic books. And that's really what they are. EMISSARIES is from the first half of the second year of Dark Horse's main STAR WARS title. It's the beginning of the better art that would come to dominate much of Dark Horse's monthly output.
The two storylines--that of the diplomatic mission to Malastare and the police action on Nar Shada--effectively demonstrate the differing styles of Jedi, and there's a deft mixture of high action, solid Jedi philosophy, Sith manipulation, and appropriate comedy.
What's most intriguing to me, however, is the care with which the writers take with the franchise. It's important to remember that this book pre-dates the release of Episode II. Yet it feels like it could have been written today. Though the return of Sebulba is most obviously relating the book to Episode I, the Tusken padawan character deftly foreshadows Anakin's development in Episodes II and III, and also amplifies Dark Horse's own previous storylines. More than that, relationships described herein, like that between Mace and his ex-padawan Depa, would later surface in novels like SHATTERPOINT. Now that the film saga is complete, and the prequel-era expanded universe is much better-developed, it's fascinating to see how well-integrated even these early Dark Horse efforts are into entire universe.
Indeed, I would argue that this book is, in a way that's not typical with most comics, perhaps more relevant today than it was on first publication.