Checking out the zeroth issue of the new Star Wars series, Dawn of the Jedi by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema.
This week’s Star Wars comic isn’t really a comic book story, but rather a primer or guidebook to the new world of Dawn of the Jedi. The team of John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, who brought us Quinlan Vos and Aayla Secura in Star Wars: Republic and Cade Skywalker in Star Wars: Legacy, are launching a new series that puts the “Long time ago” into the galaxy far, far away. Dawn of the Jedi takes place 36,000 years before the time of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, back before hyperspace travel, before the Republic, and before the Jedi and Sith were codified.
Issue #0 sets the stage for the storyline as a backgrounder. There’s no story, but rather a series of encyclopedic entries that focus on what the galaxy does have: Force-sensitive people have been found and brought to the Deep Core world of Tython, and live and study at a series of nine Je’daii temples, each with a different focus. Through words and pictures, we get a sense of the different temples, and each temple’s master. Je’daii technology and ships are introduced, as well as some old concepts of the Force: the balance of Ashla and Bogan, the light and dark sides, as viewed as Tython’s two moons. Descendants (both force-using and not) of the Tythans have spread across the system, colonizing other worlds in different ways. We also learn of previous wars, and the connection to the Rakatan Infinite Empire.
Finally we get introduced to some characters who are likely to be main players in the series: Tasha Ryo, the steady Twi’lek Je’daii Journeyer and daughter to a Je’daii master and a crimelord; Sek’nos Rath, the pureblood Sith Je’daii Journeyer aspiring for greatness, the reckless and skeptical Shae Koda, war-orphan-turned-Journeyer, and Xesh, a slave of the Rakatans used to find Force-strong worlds.
While we’ve gotten some of these handbook style pieces for other series, typically they come at some point other than the very beginning, so that they can serve as a jumping off point to get familiar with the story and protagonists and perhaps sum up some of the existing story. Here, since the timeframe is brand new, and designed to be dissimilar to all other eras, it helps a bit to set up that the Je’daii are not the Jedi – yet. Lightsabers – not really around – yet. The Sith – just a species at this point. Perhaps the actual story, when it comes out with Issue #1 will not take the time to world-build as much, although it really should. Here we just get the pieces of the puzzle, but seeing it put together will have to wait until the series starts. The art style varies in this issue, with a lot of finished painted-type pieces, a handful of sketches, some things that look like 3-D renderings, and every now and then, a piece that looks like a comics panel. Rodolfo Migliari’s cover looks cool, and helps to build a sense that these are not the Star Wars characters that you’re used to, but it also feels like it escaped from a 70′s rock album cover.
Honestly, I’d rather just get the first issue and have my curiosity piqued than be given so much background to try to keep straight without a story yet in place.