Friday, July 4, 2014

Star Wars: Legacy (hardcover) volume 1


    Star Wars: Legacy is one of the few grand experiments in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. A fifty-six issue comic book series with an ongoing sequel series, it was one of the rare attempts to do something original. Set a century and a half after the events of A New Hope, it followed the adventures of antihero Cade Skywalker as a new Sith Empire had risen to take over the galaxy.

    The problem is there's already some issues with this premise. The Sith returning after George Lucas made such a very big deal of the "Rule of Two" and their order being extinguished rang false. Likewise, I'm not sure any fans wanted to see a drug-addicted PTSD-suffering bounty hunter and occasional pirate version of Luke Skywalker.

    Much like Superman, Luke Skywalker is one of those incorruptible symbols of purity in modern mythology. Seeing Luke's "heir" as such a wreck of a human being while the galaxy was once more under the sway of a tyrannical regime couldn't help but cause me to feel like his quote-unquote legacy was being tarnished.


    The issue is further troubled by the fact Cade Skywalker has no interest in being either a Jedi Knight or studying the Force. The refusal of the call is a basic part of Campbellian mythology but it's usually resolved quickly. Watching the entire galaxy suffer while Cade talks about how hard it is to deal with the death of his father is hard to take seriously. Not to diminish his loss but a lot of people are losing their fathers during this time period and the fact Jedi Master Kol Skywalker was killed by the Sith should make Cade more determined to oppose them.

    The first third of this three volume collection of omnibuses mostly centers around Cade's series of false stops and starts along his road to (maybe?) getting his act together. Unfortunately, any number of events which would normally convince a hero to take up the fight against the Sith and their Imperial minions gets ignored by Cade. Quite simply, Jon Ostrander and Jan Duursema seem more interested in Cade's angst than I, the reader, am.

    Despite this, I maintain the series still has much to go on it. The writers have taken a great deal of time to plot out the backstory of the characters they've created. Darth Krayt is a great villain, even if he's got a bit too many similarities to Anakin Skywalker (and visually resembles Mortal Kombat villain Shao-Khan). Likewise, I love the concept of the Imperial Knights (Jedi who serve the Emperor-in-Exile Roan Fel) and the entire Fel family.

    The art is incredible. Every scene is like a painting come to life and while it's a much darker world than the original trilogy, the world is both vibrant and realistic. I love the look of characters like Marasiah Fel, Roan Fel, Rav, and even Cade himself. The action scenes leap off the page and if the One Sith are a bit generic--I never get tired of seeing them sliced up by lightsabers.

The interrelationships and tie-ins between characters can be overwhelming but I like it.
    Much of this volume exists to set up the extremely complicated universe and its backstory. We find out how the One Sith took over the galaxy, what people are happy with the Sith Emperor, who prefer the "good" Emperor Roan Fel, and why Darth Krayt needs Cade Skywalker so badly. The situation is extremely well set up but I almost feel like the story might be better if it followed some of the supporting characters more than Cade.

    One thing I don't like is the attempt to do a more "gritty" version of Star Wars. Cade Skywalker is a drug-addicted bounty-hunter who turns a Jedi over to the Sith due to not wanting to 'out' himself as a Jedi. While he recants of this decision, it doesn't make up for the very negative first impression I have of the character. Luke Skywalker's Jedi spirit attempts to coax him out of his fugue state but even this ends in Cade threatening suicide over trying to do something for the galaxy as a whole. Watching Jedi knights Wolf and Shado talk about how Cade is their last hope is just depressing.

    I'm also not a big fan of the Imperial Remnant and the Imperial Knights being heroes this time around. While a lot of fans are excited about "good" Imperials, they come at the expense of those who might still believe democracy and the Jedi way are worth fighting for. Despite this, I'm quite fond of the characters and hope they'll remain as supporting cast. I just hope the series creators remember there's a reason we liked the Jedi and Rebel Alliance. Darker and edgier does not mean better.

    And that's me saying that.

Luke really deserved better than this Joker.
    Much of the early story is designed around setting up Cade to confront his demons but the expected "Road to Damacus" moment never happens. Cade becomes a slightly less awful person but he never quite manages to make the turn-around to full hero. The fact Cade is able to defeat Darth Krayt, his chief enforcer, and anything less despite not being a fully-trained Jedi also makes the conflict between them somewhat questionable. It's hard to root for a hero who can easily overpower the villain if they get within a few feet of each other. I would have preferred Darth Krayt to be more powerful than Cade, if only because of experience.

    The Sith are visually interested even if they're all rather one-dimensionally evil as many seem to think the Dark Lords should be. Despite the fact they're ostensibly supposed to be loyal to each other, they come off as the same level of scheming backstabbing Sith as before. I would have preferred a bit more camaraderie and love between them as even evil ones can have family. I'm also intrigued by third-side characters like Morlish Veed and Nyna Calixte who seem more on their side than Fel or Emperor Krayt's.

     Star Wars: Legacy Volume 1 is a rather small book, larger than a standard paperback but not by much. It is very reasonably priced, being only about twenty-dollars for four-hundred pages of color comics. If you're interested in an epic storyline, albeit one marred by an attempt to be "gritty" in the least gritty setting in fiction outside of My Little Pony, then you might enjoy picking up this volume.

8/10

Buy at Amazon.com

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