Shiny Shelf

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #1

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 27 February 2012

‘There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no fear, there is power.
I am the heart of the Force.
I am the revealing fire of light.
I am the mystery of the darkness,
In balance with chaos and harmony,
Immortal in the Force.’

With that oath begins ‘Dawn of the Jedi’ #1, the inaugural issue to the new era for ‘Star Wars’ brought to us by writer John Ostrander and the artistic team of Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons.

Beginning 36,000+ years before Episode IV, and then jumping ahead roughly 10,000 years, ‘Dawn of the Jedi’ #1 covers a lot of ground. And as enthusiastic as I was about the issue #0 that was released a few weeks ago, my response to the first issue was a bit… underwhelming.

Part of my issue is that the first half is loaded with exposition. Although framed as history being recounted to a child, the pages spent on the origins of the first peoples that were brought to Tython – and who would become Je’daii – drag on. The first 6 pages recount the same experience for 5 different races in essentially the same way.

There could have been an economy of words and panels embraced here. The following 5 pages discuss what the early Tython settlers endured in taming the world and subsequently sending off the non-Force sensitives, and events that eventually lead to the Despot War, an important event early on in their history.

That is a ton of history to cover, and while the trend towards decompression in comics has at times been a detriment, it would have behooved the creative team to expand upon these events. Perhaps they will down the road, but the illustrated Wikipedia edition we are treated to leaves a lot of tidbits yearning for more development. The second half of the issue brings us into our ‘current’ day, and establishes events that will chain-react into the rest of the storyline, called ‘Force Storm’.

If you know zero about ‘Star Wars’, you’ll do fine with this issue. Occurring so far in the past of ‘Star Wars’ lore that it is almost mythological, you can appreciate the series on its own merits.

Long-time ‘Star Wars’ fans may or may not embrace the series, depending on their preferences. There are a number of ironies and minor details flipped on their head from the ‘Star Wars’ canon. The depiction of Tatooine here is one; another is the Je’daii’s discussion about anger and hatred having a place. This is far from being the Jedi and galaxy you know and (may) love, which is what makes ‘Dawn of the Jedi’ a potentially fascinating series.

Another nitpick is the dialogue and characters. The latter half of the issue is spent on members of the Rakata Infinite Empire, the ruling power during this era. They have technology and Force abilities that surpass their rivals. The problem is the dialogue is clunky. The Rakata are evil but have a strict protocol/code of honor. The dialogue puts this across, but in the process they feel flat and cliched. As if I there were any question on who were the bad guys, we now have posturing bad guys and power plays. Which is fine, but make it more engrossing.

And one last one: how do you have a first issue where, by the end, you don’t have a strong hero to latch onto for the series? Ostrander and Duursema’s last series, ‘Star Wars: Legacy’, started in a similar fashion, focusing more on the enemy Sith than the Jedi protagonist Cade Skywalker, but at least Cade received some screen time and development. Nothing similar really happens for a protagonist here (unless it’s Master Ketu’s one page appearance, and that doesn’t do much).

Duursema’s artwork here is, as usual, very fluid and strong. She has a wonderful knack for presenting technology in a bold way, giving it the same amount of detail as she would humanoid characters. She ‘gets’ ‘Star Wars’ in the comic book medium.

Despite my reservations, ‘Dawn of the Jedi’ is not a bust. Typical of a new series, it will take some time to get into a good rhythm, and hopefully ‘Dawn of the Jedi’ will ramp up quickly. It’s worth a read to decide if the issue works for you, but hopefully more solid plotting and dialogue is to come.

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By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.

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