Thursday, April 25, 2013
"Crawl back to your Dark Side pit, Scum!"
Welcome to Star Wars Rediscovered and my review of Tales of the Jedi Volume 1. This review encapsulates two stories 'Ulic Qel-Dromo and the Beast Wars of Onderon' and 'The Saga of Nomi Sunrider'. There are more stories within this volume but this review will concentrate solely on these two stories.
Writer Tom Veitch
Penciller Chris Gossett (#1 & #2)
Artist Janine Johnston (#3), David Roach (#4 & #5)
Inker Mike Barreiro (#1 & #2)
Letterer Willie Schubert
Colourist Pamela Rambo
Cover Artist Dave Dorman
Ulic Qel-Dromo and the Beast Wars of Onderon
Within this collected volume we do not have all of the individual cover art and so i will be commenting on the one piece of artwork that is available within this collection. I really like the cover art in this arc. The use of shadow and colours are amazing, the artwork looks really gritty. In this first cover we have firstly a very cool background of a line of gloved hands each holding orange lightsabers. In the foreground we have Ulic ready to attack with his bright green lightsaber. The detail of Ulic is brilliant, we can clearly see the creases in his clothing and the determination on his face.
The plot to this story in a nutshell is about two things, Ulic’s development as a Jedi and the centuries long conflict on Onderon. There is no real depth of any significance to this plot but it works quite well for what it is and there is a good twist half way through the story which i genuinely didn't see coming. We jump straight into the action with our main character Ulic Qel-Dromo sparring with a training droid. We are told that he is fearless and bold but that overconfidence is his weakness. This is almost immediately proven when he tries a risky move on the droid and receives a shot in the back for his trouble.
The Jedi Master Arca then gives us the history of Onderon, how it came to develop warfare and evolve to protect itself from the beasts that migrated there from the moon Dxun. A massive walled city was built to protect everyone from these beasts but criminals lost this protection as punishment.They were exiled to the wilds outside the the city of Iziz but over time they learned how to survive and tame the beasts. Onderon became a divided world in a constant state of war. I think this is a fairly good setup in which to introduce the Jedi’s in training to and also shows potentially how entrenched the hatred between those in the city and the exiled prisoners is.
Each Jedi master looks after a planet system and Ulic's master has chosen him, his brother Cay and the Twi'lek Tott Doneeta to go and help Onderon end the war. It is implied by the Jedi’s journeying to the Iziz and not to those in the wilds that those within the city are the good guys and naturally the exiled criminals are the bad guys, these assumptions are questioned however the second that our Jedi meet the city’s officials.
The Onderon's don't like outsiders! They attempt to take the Twi'lek Jedi for interrogation! However the queen arrives, calls the Twi'lek worm head but let's him go.The queen really is not friendly to the Rebels, almost as if they owe her something or that their presence offends her, she is certainly not a nice queen.
The rebels suddenly attack and kidnap the queen’s daughter, the queen retaliates by trying to summon the power of Freedom Nadd against the invaders but it fails, nothing happens. We now know for sure that the Dark Side has a hold over the queen.
Our Jedi’s ship is shot down on their way to rescue the queen’s daughter and so they are forced to make the way on foot instead but are cut off by one of the beasts, fortunately however the Twi'lek can speak beast languages and manages to pacify the beasts so that they can ride them. This development was just a bit too convenient for my liking.
They arrive at the beast riders camp and immediately start attacking but the beast rider leader shouts for them to halt and explains that the queens daughter actually wants to marry him and not go back to her mother, can't blame her. The abduction was planned by the queen’s daughter! The beast riders are actually the good guys in this story, this is a good twist. The riders tell them that Iziz is ruled by the Dark Side! It was brought to Onderon by Freedom Nadd, which explains why the queen was trying to use his power earlier.
Ulic persuades the beast riders to go with him and try and reason with the evil queen but on arrival a major battle breaks out with the beast riders calling every various tribe to them. During this battle Cay is fighting the queen but her soldiers cut off his arm! I thought this scene was made more gruesome and harrowing by Cay’s torturous shout to Ulic. Initially it looks like the beast riders have the upper hand in the battle but the queen uses a dark side battle meditation to sap the will from them and it starts to work. We then go back to Cay who even though he has only just lost his arm has found a robot whose arms would make a great prosthetic, surely he needs medical treatment first? He is then shown to have a robots arm, so he was just able to fit it to his bleeding stump?!
A mysterious Jedi then arrives in a ship who is more experienced at battle meditation and breaks the power of the dark side. It's Master Arca. The dark shadow over the city is broken just by his presence and he reveals the remains of Freedom Nad and tells the queens daughter that she is now free from the dark side. However he warns our Jedi that The cult of Freedom Nad is still active on the planet and so they are told to remain for a while. During this last conversation it is revealed that Ulic did not realise that a Jedi call fall to the Dark Side, this seems to be quite a failing on Master Arca’s behalf, surely one of the very first things he would have taught his students would have been the danger of the Dark Side.
The artwork within this series is generally quite good, colours and shadow are used well and help to enhance the drama and tension within the story. Some of the best panels are the ones with the most movement and action. Gossett chooses some interesting panel layouts and they help to move the action along and keep everything fluid. One of the very first of the panels within the story is Ulic's training scene which has a great sense of motion with Ulic jumping about everywhere. The other few panels that I think work really well include a great panel of the wisened old queen, she looks almost reptilian and certainly not kind or friendly. Almost immediately after this scene there is a panel with a great close up of Ulic's eye, he says he will be Freedom Nadd to herself and a great splash page of the beast riders attacking the city! Overall I would say that the artwork within this arc is above average, the good art mentioned above elevate just enough for me to confidently say that there is some solid art within these two issues.
honoured to help defend them against the sudden attack but the tension that is displayed within this close up of his eye tells us he is saying this behind gritted teeth.The design of the lightsabers within this series are very interesting, the hilts are very intricate and complex and they almost look like they are on fire, certainly not the sleek weapons we are used to seeing. During the scene where our Jedi's are attempting to rescue the queen's daughter we have a really good panel, the image of them crashing the barbarian wedding with the queens daughter as bride is great! The action lines along with lightsabers and blaster bolts all work really well together. During the final battle there is an amazing panel of the evil queen summoning the power of
The Saga of Nomi Sunrider
The cover art for these collected three issues is brilliant. The use of colour is really good with the purple of the sky contrasting great with the pale white of the ground. I love the use of light and colour in the lightsaber, the way it draws your eye to it and reflects off the presumably dead man's hand is a nice touch. The faces on these characters is fantastic, you can tell that the woman cares for this man and yet almost looks resigned at whatever she is looking at off the page. Overall a fantastic cover for this collected series which I would happily hang on my wall.
The crux of the story within these three issues is all about Nomi, it is her development from seeing herself as just a wife to being a skilled Jedi. This is definitely my favourite story of the two, I feel that it has the necessary depth and character development that I look for. I find it interesting that even though the Force is strong in Nomi she considers herself too timid to become a Jedi, I get the feeling she will be proven wrong. Her husband Andur assures her that he will train both Nomi and their child Vima, once Jedi Master Arca has trained him.
On their way to meet Master Arca they are attacked by the minions of a Hutt who want their lightsaber crystals. They unleash a poisonous lizard that kills Andur! Although from the cover art we knew Nomi was going to be left without him, this is still very soon within the issue for his death. Brutal!
His force ghost materialises and tells Nomi to take his lightsaber and defend herself, the Force fills her as she picks it up and she feels strength and conviction, she defends herself. The magnitude of the Force within her almost puts her in a trance-like state as she does not realise her actions until it is over. She comes back to reality and continues in the search for Master Arca. She arrives on his planet but has been followed by Bogga the Hutt. The jedi whom Nomi finds and tells her story to falls quite quickly when being attacked by the Hutt's minions. The Jedi's beast comes to his rescue and emits a force field that protects him. The beast is the Jedi Master Thon! This is a good and unexpected twist. Thon takes Nomi and her daughter as his
apprentices but yet ignores them for a long while, we are told that Thon has left them alone because of the pain and sadness that they have felt but that events are happening elsewhere that mean their training must being. He knows that she will be a great Jedi.
We then change the scene into space where Ore pirates are attacking a ship and trying to steal their cargo, but this mining ship has paid Bogga the Hutt for protection. The Hutt Lord's ship appears and uses its tractor beam to bring all of the pirates on board.
We switch back to Nomi where we get a nice reference to the previous story with Ulic, If Thon approves then his assistant Wilum will be leaving to battle the Dark Side alongside Ulic and his companions. Thon agrees to help Master Arca in the Freedom Nadd uprising! We can assume that this takes place after the previous story and that they will be assisting Ulic in battling the cult of Freedom Nadd.
Back with the Hutt and Bogga gets his pet to kill the captured main pirate's first mate to prove to him that he has no choice but to kill Jedi Master Thon for him and retrieve the crystals.
The pirates arrive on Ambria and attack Nomi and Thon, Thon tells her that she must use her lightsaber, she still refuses as it reminds her of Andur's death. Thon has a ploy to give himself up to force her to act, it works! She uses battle meditation to make all the enemies fight and then picks up the lightsaber, she ignites it and the force shows her not the horrors of the past but the heroic trials of the future. Thon and Nomi fight together, Thon hurling Force energy at his enemies. They are victorious and Nomi looks ahead to an uncertain future. I really liked the character development of Nomi, this was definitely the highlight of the story.
The interior artwork is nice and clear, with good bold colours. The character work is excellent with no issues with recognising who each character is at any point. Some of my favourite panels include a great image of the Gorm-Worm biting into Andur's neck, very realistic flow of blood, it might be too much for young readers
though. The panel of Nomi looking serene with the light of the lightsaber covering her face is fantastic and there is a great one of Nomi and her robes sprawled over Andur lamenting that he is dead. I think my favourite design in this entire review however is an amazing splash page of a mining transport ship created from the shell of a giant colossus wasp of Ithull! The design is amazing!
Conclusion & Rating
To conclude the artwork within this series is consistently fantastic, both Johnston and Roach do a great job. Naomi's story is definitely the highlight of the two with Ulic's being a fun adventure but the character development and depth is simply not there. This collection is far from perfect but if you are looking for some fun romps set far in the past of the Star Wars universe then maybe consider picking this up.
Rating: 6/10 - Midichlorians