To hear me read this review and its two previous parts, check out episode 525 of the Spiritblade Underground Podcast, go to timestamp 25:38.
This week I’m sharing my thoughts on Force War, part 3 of the awesome Dawn of the Jedi comics TPB trilogy. If you’ve started reading my blog just now, please jump back at least to my review of part 1 of this series.
(W ) John Ostrander (A) Jan Duursema, Dan Parsons (CA) David Michael Beck
The Rakata, powerful users of the dark side of the Force, have invaded the Tython system to enslave the Je’daii . . . With Forcesabers in hand, the Je’daii fight, led by mad Je’daii Daegen Lok and the mysterious Force Hound Xesh. But when Xesh is captured, the direction of the war is changed . . . Collects Dawn of the Jedi: Force War #1-#5.
Since the third trade paper back (TPB) starts with the perfect recap, let’s insert that here.
This is the perfect last part of any trilogy you’d like: it has our heroes in very dire circumstances, the promise of great love has now come true, the one who seemed to be the Last Hope has fallen to the dark side, mysteries are solved – at least partly – and a gigantic climactic battle covering an entire solar system threatens to wipe out everything. In fact, part of Force Storm reminded me of two SW movies: the way our redeemed hero falls to the dark side (again) leaves us with an “Oh no!” in our souls, maybe not as deep-felt as when Anakin fell in Revenge of the Sith but similar nonetheless. Plus, one of the comics issues in this story arc ends with a cliffhanger which masterfully reminds us of that other great second part of a trilogy: The Empire Strikes Back: all seems lost, our one true hope is nowhere to be found and the evil empire is stronger than ever. Just, wow.
I won’t spoil the ending of course, but suffice it to say that it very satisfactorily follows not only SW tradition but also most of our own historic archetypal hero legends and myths.
I’ll highlight some details of this third and last story arc. First, there seems to be some inconsistency in the way the Je’daii view romance. In part 1 Force Storm it is made clear that according to the Je’daii masters, love is best avoided. We see two Je’daii masters who are obviously former lovers, and one tells the other “There are reasons we cannot be together, and they have not changed. We must concentrate on the Force, on the balance.” On the other hand there is Shae, one of our young Ranger heroes – a Ranger is like a Jedi Knight – who not only falls in love, but then goes on and acts on it. I have to say, in context of the story and the way this was built up throughout the previous two TPB, it came off as mature, not adolescent. So one wonders, was Shae simply not aware of the rule prohibiting love, or did she intentionally ignore it?
Another detail worth mentioning is we learn Xesh’s name was given to him by his evil masters, and that he has chosen a true name for himself, Tau. Of course this had to be one of the not-so-subtle references to buddhism, for inspite of the different spelling it reminds us of the Chinese concept of Tao. Even the meaning of the name here, Soul, refers to something from the spiritual realm.
Third, it’s very nice to learn more about how Force Hounds like Xesh do what they do: they allow themselves to fall into the darkness and send themselves outward, which enables them to ‘sniff out’ almost anything and everyone in the Force, dependent on their own strength in the Force.
Which brings me to the one issue I had with this story as a whole: if Force Hounds are as strong as Xesh and Trill, then why haven’t they risen against their masters? One theory could be their slave mentality: apparently when someone has been reduced to slavery for generations, especially when it’s enforced with brute force, it’s very difficult to break free from that mindset. We can even see that in the Old Testament stories of liberated Israel, which kept longing for Egypt even though they had been slaves there for generations. Nevertheless, the issue is resolved in the end, with Xesh finally rebelling against his hated master, fighting to gain his freedom once and for all.
One final point to make about this entire trilogy, is the artwork by Jan Duursema (penciller), Dan Parsons (inker) and Wes Dzioba (colorist). It is beautiful all the way through. Just look at the money shot below, simply gorgeous.
In conclusion, this was a more than fun, thrilling ride through ancient Star Wars lore, re-kindling my fandom after the so very, very disappointing two parts of the Disney-owned Sequel Trilogy. I wish there were a sequel trilogy to this one!