Saturday, March 21, 2015

7 Days of Legends: Dawn of the Jedi–Force War


I had high hopes for Dawn of the Jedi, especially when Force War was announced. There was a lot that this could cover. There were members of the Sith species chastised for being too fond of the Dark Side. There was a Galaxy-wide threat in need of fighting off. Between the title and Force Storm, I could only assume that both were going to be resolved.

To anybody who followed Prisoner of Bogan (or my review of it), it was clear this wasn't going to be the case. This wasn't a story of various tales about the history of the Jedi, spread out over the millennia. This is a story about a single group of individuals over the course of a few years, at best. That's not to say that it couldn't still cover both, and Prisoner of Bogan indicated a very powerful Darksider intent on becoming leader of the Je'daii. It's also a single story arc in a decompressed style focusing heavily on the undersold romance of a Je'daii and a Rakata Force hound.

Unfortunately, Force War spends much of its time pretending that much of Prisoner of Bogan never happened. At the start of Force War, Daegen Lok is in charge of the Je'daii forces defending the Tythan system against the Rakata. That is to say, the villain that we have seen invent new Dark Side powers, attempt to murder those who aided him, and try to raise an army of war criminals to take over the Je'daii is now treated as the lovable rogue who is just too useful not to be in charge. His entire redemption occurred off-screen. The closest analogy to this I can think of is if Jabba the Hutt became a general at the Battle of Endor, or if Count Dooku spent the first Act of Revenge of the Sith fighting alongside Obi-Wan. A story could definitely be told to redeem him, or of the necessities of war forcing him to the front line, but this story is never told, and it is no less jarring in the context given than either of the two examples above would have been.

A significant portion of the story is spent “fleshing out” the romance between Shae Koda and Xesh. I say “fleshing out” in quotes because this love story suffers the same way that many love stories in Star Wars do, especially in comics: characters are shown to have a vague connection that has nothing to do with romance, help each other out from time to time, announce their love for one another, and then sleep together. This is, of course, key in Xesh's redemption – more on that later – but it makes the story feel even more as though a chapter was missed between Prisoner of Bogan and Force War.

The other main plot of Force War features Predor Skal'nas redeems his investment. Throughout Force War and Prisoner of Bogan it is alluded to the fact that Xesh doesn't remember everything about his purpose on Tython, and that he may be responsible for the death of his own Predor. This plot pays dividents in Force War, in which Skal'nas reveals Xesh to be a sleeper agent sent to kill Tul'kar and infiltrate the Jed'aii. During this, Trill reveals her true purpose and betrays the Sith, Sek'nos. Sek'nos barely restrains himself from killing her in a fit of rage, held in check only by a reminder from a Jed'aii Master.

While it starts off weak, Force War ends strong. Tasha Ryo, torn between her duties in Force Storm, finds herself with a clear duty in Force War and sacrifices herself to defeat the Rakata. The war isn't followed to every last detail, but the actions taken by the protagonists set the stage for the defeat of the Rakata (which, lore suggests, sets the stage for the foundation of the Republic). The purpose of the Tho Yor that brought the ancestors of the Jed'aii to Tython is revealed, as is their creators: the Kwa.

Force War isn't terrible, and neither is it perfect. It is more of an ending than Prisoner of Bogan (for which I'm thankful) but it still doesn't feel like an ending. The story plays out as if it were planned by a team who knew they would get three volumes, but weren't sure whether or not they would get four. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but many of them are in the “it's a new era for the planet” vein rather than the “what's going on with this plot thread” way. The Forcesaber thing still bugs me, but the rest of the openings only stand out to me because of what I had hoped Force War would be about and know what it can be about, not because they are gaping holes. If not for Trill and Xesh's arc, I would almost recommend to skip Prisoner of Bogan and go straight to Force War, but it feels like you would be missing something by doing so. Ultimately, I leave it up to the reader as to which would trouble you more: the missing development of Daegen Lok, or missing some of Xesh's development.

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