Thursday, 16 February 2012

New Beginnings - Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...” is a phrase that has become synonymous with the Star Wars franchise. When Star Wars first hit the screen in 1977, the film opened with a crawl designed to present the backstory and provide further context. Love or loath the original and prequel trilogies, the question of where the Jedi and Sith came from has never been explained. So now Dawn of the Jedi aims to fill this gap. In an arc starting over 36,000 years before the Battle of Yavin, here is the Dark Horse’s production of the new era.

Dark Horse - in true Star Wars fashion - has created both an issue #1 and also an issue #0. The latter is more of a guide outlining various places, sites, locations and individuals that will be no doubt be found in the forthcoming issues. An opening crawl in comic form if you will. Although it can almost give the feel of a catalogue as it moves through the issue it also does build a sense of anticipation for the introduction of it all. What it lacks is any sense of story to it all. However, this is not what the issue is designed to do and so is not necessarily a failing. It’s hard to really say much more about it after that as you would have to go into the individual aspects without context. On the whole this is not an essential read, but if you do have a copy then it is worth looking at and I found myself flicking through it both before and after reading the main story.

Issue #1 is more about contextualising the ideas in the zero issue, fleshing out some of the bones so to speak, using it as a stepping stone. Written by John Ostrander, the issue for the first half is very narrative-heavy as it takes time in showing the origins of the Tythans as a race, one born of an amalgamation of various minds drawn together by the Tho Yor. This does lead to further questions about their origin but this is left alone. What is obviously alluded to is the affinity to the Force that these people have. This leads to an establishment of the new world but also its problems too. Due to the nature of Tython anyone who is not sensitive to the force is taken off-world to newly colonised planets creating a natural divide between its people.

This history lesson was then awkwardly veered away from on the whole as the story develops into one of a new danger on the horizon. The Rakata of the Infinite Empire have their own agenda, one fueled by fear and spearheaded by greedy Predors and their sniffer-dogs known as Force Hounds. Not only are they interested in expanding their own legions with slaves, but they appear to be destroying any individual with an affinity to the Force as well. Finally their greed turns to a planet which is plentiful in these individuals - the aforementioned Tython - and so they begin their march forward.

After their stunning work on Star Wars Legacy, Jan Duursema has once again partnered with Ostrander on both of the issues and although Star Wars is not a blank canvas to work with, a lot of creativity has been shown. The mix between archaic buildings and technological advancement shows a great variety in his ability and flexibility to draw. These are two very opposing concepts but they fit well together. It has a unique feel to it but also at the same time feels as if it fits within the whole concept of Star Wars when you think back to the various films.

Overall I think the issue #1 is a good comic, but not enough to emphatically hook you. It’s pretty to look at and you have the distinct feel that there is a lot more to the story to come, especially when you consider there are a lot of aspects that don’t look quite right but you know will be explained at some point too. If you’re a Star Wars fan then I would see a very big appeal as well as it is set in an unknown time period and will then fill in the blanks between the past and the current world as it is known. Even without this pull on the normal reader I can see it also being of interest.

Matt Puddy is bemused by the chaos one late comic can cause...

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