Thursday, September 12, 2013

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm review

     I admit I wasn't initially interested in the Dawn of the Jedi series. The prospect of finding out about the origins of the Jedi Order didn't particularly tantalize me the way new stories about existing characters did. There was so much going on in the Old Republic and Legacy Eras it seemed silly to have stories set in another one.

     I am pleasantly surprised to say I was mistaken in my assumptions. Dawn of the Jedi is the best Star Wars material I've read in years. It's almost equal to Knights of the Old Republic, which is high praise for anyone who knows my opinion of Zayne Carrick.

The introduction where force-users from all over the galaxy are transported to one place is quite magical.
     Dawn of the Jedi does something different with the Jedi, which is something I had long despaired of seeing. The Jedi Knights of the DOTJ period are a diverse and multifaceted lot. They have family troubles, relationship issues, doctrinal differences, and even varying senses of fashion.

    There was a weird moment when I was looking at a couple of Jedi with one of them being a shirtless flirtatious Sith hunk and the other being a sexy blonde with a low-cut outfit. Initially, I thought this was just the comic providing fanservice before I realized these Jedi don't wear robes because the attachment issue (and, by proxy, sex) isn't a big issue.

The art, as always, is beautiful.
     Which is the central crux of the setting: that the ancient Jed'aii didn't fear the Dark Side. Much like Luke Skywalker, they are beings who have grown stronger for their association with multiple types of beings and being willing to stretch their philosophical assumptions. Most notably, the Jed'aii believe in Balance rather than the Light Side.

    This has its dangers. There's a couple of parts to the Jed'aii's story which are unsettling. They perform genetic experiments like the ancient Sith to domesticate their animals, they don't think hate is something to stamp out (merely that it has a place and a time), and quite a few of them have a confidence bordering on arrogance. Still, I think I'd like to be part of these guys versus the Jedi proper. Luke should pay a visit to Tython and have a talk with these guys via holocron or surviving offshoot. It would be an interesting book or comic series, to say the least.

    The Force Storm arc has the tough job of not only introducing the new time period but telling a coherent and interesting plot. Thankfully, it manages to pull this off. The first story arc deals with the introduction of Xesh into the Jed'aii's world. Xesh is a force-user raised and trained by the Rakata to be one of their 'Hounds', a figure who seeks force-sensitives for the Infinite Empire to enslave.

    Xesh is an intriguing character because not only is he a Darksider, he's a figure who has grown up in a hellish environment where the Light Side was practically nonexistent. As a result he's unfamilar with mercy, pity, remorse, or other concepts central to a Jedi. Watching him get 'seduced by the Light Side of the Force' and his reaction to these strange concepts is interesting. Likewise, as a Force User totally given to the Dark Side, he represents an ideological challenge for the Balance-seeking Jed'aii.

Xesh introduces a certain weapon to the sword-fighting Jedi.
   The choice of the Rakata as the first major villains of the setting, if not the entire comic series, is inspired. First introduced in Knights of the Old Republic, they represented a fascinating look into the early life of Star Wars' history. While the hammerhead shark-looking aliens are somewhat silly looking, I am amazed at how expressive the artists have been able to make the creatures. They're simultaneously completely given to the Dark Side but somehow more pathetic than the Sith--given to pettiness which undermines their sense of authority. The future Dark Lords have inherited a dignity from their Jed'aii forebearers it seems. I also like their "kill, prey, scavenge" mentality as it fits with a race descended from sharks.
    The lead trio of the comic is also a plus as each of them brings something into the table. We have a member of the original Sith series, who is a cocksure ladies man. We have a beast-riding human female who has issues with her parents' Jed'aii past. We also have the daughter of what passes for the local nobility. They're all fascinating characters and, combined with Xesh, I want to see where they all go storyline-wise.

    I applaud Dark Horse, this was a great idea for a series.


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