Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Dawn of the Comic Book in My Life


A few months ago I finally decided it was time I started reading some comic books to round out my nerd proficiencies. As has been the case over the course of my entire life I wanted to start at the beginning and I wanted to start with something Star Wars. If you’re as unfamiliar with comics as I was, than you wouldn’t believe all the options that are available, but since I wanted to start with something from the beginning (and had my tax return money to fund the project) I picked up the first 4 issues (0,1,2, and 3) of Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm and started reading.

Concept
Dawn of the Jedi issue #0
I have to tell you, I couldn’t think of a better place to get started with a comic series than one that’s going through the earliest history of the Jedi Order. I will admit that I actually write campaigns for the Star Wars Roleplaying Game using the Saga Edition sourcebooks, and I love to include ancient secrets of the Jedi lost to time in the plot lines. For me there’s nothing more exciting than rediscovering a lost Force power or uncovering an ancient manuscript detailing a piece of the original Jedi Code and Dawn of the Jedi gives you everything you need to do just that. If you don’t write your own roleplaying game campaigns though, you can still enjoy the rich level of background this series provides on the Jedi and on familiar races from the Knights of the Old Republic era comics and games like the Rakata. If you really want to dive into the history of the Star Wars universe, Dawn of the Jedi is going to take you back about as far as you can go.

Artwork
An example of Jan Duursema's fine work
The artwork for the Dawn of the Jedi series is done by Jan Duursema who has also worked on Star Wars 92, Star Wars: Republic, and Star Wars: Legacy. An alternative cover art for issue #1 of Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm was done by Gonzalo Flores. As I mentioned before I’m a bit new to the realm of comic books and graphic novels, however I found that I was very impressed by the artwork presented in Dawn of the Jedi. It proved to be very rich and detailed (and way better than anything I could even hope to do). The characters were very realistically drawn and added to the believability of the story and those that took part in it. Likewise the artwork for the different locations throughout the system and especially for Tython was simply stunning and almost makes me jealous that I don’t live near anything that magnificent. In my opinion the comics are worth reading for the artwork alone as you can easily get a sense of the story and where it’s going just from looking at the artwork. My one criticism and it’s more about the media itself than the artist, is that fights are difficult to depict in a comic, especially when you’re attempting to depict highly complex, Force assisted acrobatics. Still I never really graduated from stick figures, so it’s difficult for me to be too critical and I honestly find myself inclined to just stare in awe at what this fantastic artist is capable of.

Story
The story for Dawn of the Jedi kicks off with pyramid shaped alien artifacts of an unknown origin (I’m thinking C

elestials though this has yet to be confirmed) picking up groups of Force sensitive people from worlds across the galaxy and delivering them safely to the planet Tython where they are brought together to study and learn to master the Force. This story line had me very excited right from the start. I love the idea of the Jedi not being a chance happening, but an intentional construct of an ancient and obviously powerful alien civilization who knew the galaxy would need someone to keep it in order and organized the Jedi as the agents of that order. Even the choice of planet and how it reacts to the presence of the Jedi is perfect, almost leading one to believe that it might have been created specifically for the Jedi by the same people who created the ships that brought them though. The planet actually forces them to maintain a balance, leading to a philosophy that embraces the entire nature of the Force rather than just one of its two aspects. Story elements are well incorporated to reinforce what the Jedi become (like the moons Ashla and Bogan representing the light and dark natures of the Force) and the history of this mixed group of people is carefully considered and well thought out. I’m a little bothered by the fact that in the time between arriving on Tython and the actual story line beginning there was a war that we really know nothing about, but I imagine this is something that will be fleshed out in the comics to come. In my opinion John Ostrander, the writer for the series has done an excellent job setting the foundation for what the Jedi are in this series and what they will eventually become down the road, even weaving together the Jedi and the Sith codes and adding a flair belonging solely to this series to make the original Jedi Code:

“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 darkness.”
“In balance with chaos and harmony.”
“Immortal in the Force.”

I find that I’m most impressed with the focus on balance over a dedicated bent toward either good or evil. If I’ve learned anything in my life it’s that balance is the key to almost everything and I’m glad to see that the Jedi realized that at least in the beginning.

Conclusions
While there are those who are not terribly impressed with the Dawn of the Jedi series up to this point, I find that I truly enjoy it. I look forward to catching up on my reading and enjoying Prisoner of Bogan and eagerly anticipate finding room for the series to follow in my N3rd C0rn3r.