Lost Tribe of the Sith kicks off in comic format this week, with a new story set in John Jackson Miller’s Lost Tribe.
Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith – Spiral: A comic book series building off a set of free short stories (recently collected in print) that form the ancient back history to a faction that shows up in a nine-book series as antagonists to the main characters of Luke, Leia, Han, et al. Sounds like either Dark Horse is reaching for material or they’ve got something really cool on their hands – and with a story coming from John Jackson Miller, writer of the entire Knights of the Old Republic comic, Knight Errant comics and novel, and the Lost Tribe of the Sith short stories, it seems likely that we have received the latter. Miller has a knack for creating different eras in Star Wars with unique characters, so even if he wasn’t the one who brought the Lost Tribe’s history to life in the first place, he’d be the right person to write a comic on them.
“Spiral” #1 (Dark Horse profile) kicks off in the most recent part of the Lost Tribe’s history – the Restoration of the Sith traditions under historian-turned-Grand Lord, Varner Hilts, and the discovery of another continent on Kesh. We get a glimpse into the Lost Tribe’s culture now in a pre-industrial civilization as during the public celebrations of the anniversary of the Sith landing on Kesh, the aged Hilts confronts an arrested assassin, a human who fancies himself as the Death Spinner. Sparing the life of the impatient man, Hilts sends Spinner off to be crew on a sailing ship bound for the new Alanciar. Stowing away on the ship is Officer Takara, the woman who arrested Spinner, and daughter of the Grand Lord, ready to prove herself as a worthy Sith leader without her family connections. But Captain Chegg isn’t going directly to Alanciar – instead he lands on a polar continent. Takara rallies some of her fellow crew into a mutiny – only to find that Spinner has already started one of his own. As the two flee from Chegg’s soldiers, they get rescued from death by some mysterious archers – The Doomed!
Because this is a first issue of a storyline taking place in a new world and era for comics, there’s a lot of exposition that needs to be placed, and Miller doles it out in right-sized quantities. We first get the setting – a sort of late Middle Ages European culture, with humans (descendents of the Sith who crash landed) more or less on top of the native Keshiri, and then after Spinner’s arrest, we learn, as Spinner does, a little back history from archivist and Grand Lord. He’s not your typical Sith leader, scheming and evil – but simply pragmatic about having the Sith progress forward rather than continue internal fighting that moves them backward. We get a little more about the relationship between humans and Keshiri aboard the Southern Star, as well as the motives for both Takara and Parlan Spinner. Takara and Spinner’s start are similar to Zayne Carrick and Gryph’s relationship: untested law enforcer with a lightsaber and former target and troublemaker, now thrown in together in an uncharted world. Spinner is more the revolutionary than the conman that Gryph is, and Takara’s ambitions and self-confidence match a little more with Kerra Holt than Zayne.
I’m excited about seeing the world of Kesh depicted graphically. While the city of Tahv doesn’t quite fit with my mental image from the stories (I think I was expecting more stone and less wood), it comes to life like a medieval fantasy setting – and now that I say that, Varner Hilts’ appearance reminds me a bit of Dungeon Master from the old D&D cartoon. So is it Star Wars, without the blasters and space ships (On Kesh, there’s a lack of metal deposits make for a lower tech playing field)? We still have lightsabers and the Force, and now with the Doomed, some familiar alien species as part of the new player on the board. Andrea Mutti, who drew Miller’s Knights of the Old Republic: War story arc, does a fine job depicting both the characters and scenery in this tale, and there’s good pacing between characters and establishing background during some of the dialog in the palace. There’s a lovely shot of the ship in the icy waters, and a great shot revealing the Doomed at the end. And getting to see images of uvaks!
A good start – Spiral #1 sets us off on an adventure and drops a mystery on us at the end – Who are the Doomed?
As a bonus backgrounder, Miller also includes the text of a speech by Hilts, delivered only to the human descendants of the Omen, giving them a brief history and a sense of purpose: to stay organized and progress forward in order to prevent from losing control over the native Keshiri.
One nagging glitch: When Takara draws her saber in mutiny – are those blaster bolts flying toward her from Chegg and his crew in one panel? Seems unlikely that the Keshiri crew would have a blaster (especially if the only weapons we see them carrying are weapons of glass and stone and wood)