The debut issue of Star Wars: Dawn Of The Jedi is, in essence, a Creation Myth, telling the very beginnings and origins of the Jedi and the Sith. Set tens of thousands of years before the events of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the story tells of how the original order, called the Je’daii, came into being, and how their approaching conflict with the Rakatan Infinite Empire set their course away from balance and into division.
Dawn Of The Jedi, for the Star Wars continuity geek (such as myself – I like to consider myself a bit of an in-universe SW historian) is a dream come true – the publication we’ve long waited for. From start to finish, Dawn Of The Jedi #1 is chock full of new information about the deeply unexplored ancient history era of the Star Wars universe, providing a solid glimpse into a time where swords were used instead of a lightsaber.
The comic opens with a style of “on the first day” kind of dialogue, evoking imagery of Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, and even the Book of Genesis. The introduction tells of how the very first Je’daii came into being — a group of remote beings on countless worlds who could feel and detect some kind of mystical field, eventually to be known as the Force, were literally picked up by colossal pyramid-style ships called The Tho Yor.
Assembled, the beings migrate to a planet in the central core of the galaxy called Tython. It is there the Je’daii Order is formed – curiously seeking Balance of the Force. Their initial philosophy is intriguing, as it embraces both the Dark Side and the Light Side, as they struggle to not turn to one or the other, but rather keep the Force balanced between the two.
Millennia pass as the Je’daii migrate across the galaxy, becoming the earliest version of the guardians of the galaxy, following the will of the Force to strive for balance, and in upholding justice where needed and as requested by the early regimes of the galaxy.
Meanwhile, the Infinite Empire run by the Rakatans (formerly alluded to in the Knights Of The Old Republic video game series), are continuing an ongoing conquest of the galaxy. Using Force-sensitive apprentices they call “Force Hounds,” they ‘sniff out’ planets rich in the Force, for the utilization of the Empire, and to continue their reign of power.
Shadowing rumors of a central core planet extremely rich in the Force (in a subplot comparable to the Conquistadors quest for gold), the Rakatan leaders decide to hunt down and discover Tython – a decision that will shift the face of the galaxy for eternity.
The introductory writing for Dawn Of The Jedi is exceedingly solid, and one couldn’t expect anything less from John Ostrander and Jan Duursema. Working on a tale that is essentially a Creation Myth could quickly become either a tedious exposition or a cheesy script, but neither is the case here. They have magnificently created a nice balance of writing in this context, without delving too deeply into complicated origins or relational exposition, and without leaving important details that are essential to the plot.
What is also striking is the ease at which the creation tale segues into the storyline. Quite often, introductory text can feel like a huge drop-off as the actual story begins, but the transition feels seamless in this debut issue; and works substantially well within the context of the Star Wars universe.
The artwork by the uber-awesome team of Jan Duursema with Dan Parsons and Wes Dzioba is unparalleled. The creative team has worked on numerous Star Wars projects in the past, and has accomplished a consistent level of quality with their product that fans fairly much have ultimate trust in their outcomes now. The art has the hints and feels you would expect from the style of, say, Star Wars Legacy; but they are clearly working also on getting a unique spice and flavoring for the art of this series. The attention to detail is magnificent, and the character profiles are absolutely wonderful.
Some other highlights came to my attention while reading. A couple of lightsabers do make a cameo – both without the power packs we’ve previously seen in Old Republic comics. This could mean a different kind of technology the Je’daii is eventually introduced to, or perhaps a weaponization designed distinctively for the Force Hounds of the Rakatan. It is hard to say at this point in time.
Tatooine also features prominently in this issue. But instead of the desert planet we are familiar with, we find it to be a lush planet, similar to Alderaan or Yavin IV – and discover the reason WHY it becomes a desert planet to begin with, which is an enjoyable to see. The native species of the planet are of interest, and I am curious to see whether they evolve into the infamous Tusken Raiders aka Sandpeople or not – though this may not figure prominently into the central plot focus of this new series.
Expanded Universe fans are going to LOVE this series, and will find this introduction issue to be their highlight of comic book reading for the month – no doubts. General Star Wars fans will also find it enjoyable; and other comic fans may find it worth a glance. This may be clearly aimed at Star Wars nerds, but it may just be one of the best comic book series set in the galaxy far, far away ever to have been published.