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A graphic novel by Tom Veitch, Tony Akins, and Denis Rodier (1997, Dark Horse Comics)
Book 4 of the Tales of the Jedi
3998 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

The Jedi fight a spirit of the Dark Side after he captures a world, and a Jedi Master.



2 stars

Read on August 4th, 2002 for the second time  
    Contrary to what I said in my two-line review three years ago, I found this episode in the Tales of the Jedi to incorporate some of the worst features introduced into the Star Wars extended universe comics.

Thankfully, this episode only takes place on a planetary scale, instead of being a galaxy-spanning conflict. Even so, our main characters don't take up much of the page-work. We get grand images of large battles, with Republic forces securing the city of Iziz. But the Jedi rarely get any close-ups.

The magic that I despise in so many graphic novels starts almost right at the beginning. So the droids that attack the funeral procession are infused with Dark-Side energy? How, when the Force only comes from living things. I dislike the way the Dark side of the Force is shown to be so much stronger. This frail man, King Ommin, who needs an armature to stand, but can project a Dark side pall over vast distances, and even capture Master Arca.

What happened in the mere days between Knights of the Old Republic and now? Arca was so strong then -he defeated Nadd's spirit at that time. And why did Ommin not intercede with the take-over of Iziz in the last book? The Queen didn't seem to even know of his existence -the kind of person she was, she would have uttered threats of his revenge when she was about to lose. Even though his existence was given as a rumor in the last book, his sudden strength and appearance here seems like something new the authors dreamed up.

I never understand why people don't destroy the bones of threats like Freedon Nadd. They know that his spirit is linked to them, yet they entomb them, where they will certainly be discovered, even if it is in a thousand years, when everybody has forgotten about these events. That seems to be a fatal mistake for Arca -not now, but in the next book.

I realize that these books were pre- Episode I (so the authors didn't know about the early adoption program of Force-sensitives), but I still have trouble with having so many people with Force talents who are not trained. It's no wonder that so many of them fall to the Dark Side, which is "quicker, easier". Both the Queen and King of Onderon were able to use the Dark Side. Does that mean Galia is able to as well? Now we have Aleema and Satal, who have "dappled" in Sith magic. Why are they Sith magicians? Why is it not simply Force power? They steal a Sith artifact from the museum on Coruscant, go to Onderon, where they are given an amulet by King Ommin, and escape with help from Nadd's spirit, all before the Jedi know they are even there. Of course, these two will play a critical part in the next two books.

It's nice that we get to see Ossus, and the Jedi who will keep Luke's holocron, Vodo Siosk Baas. I see that it's here that Vima is left behind for the first time, culminating in her rebellion in Redemption! Maybe this is why Jedi are forbidden to love! Coruscant was funny. What's that about people congregating around the equator? I don't understand that. But the funny part comes in the form of the Senate -a dozen people sitting around a desk! Compare that with what we saw in The Phantom Menace.

Of course, with the help of Nomi Sunrider and the other Jedi, they are able to enter King Ommin's chamber and defeat him. I liked the way Ulic destroyed the armature instead of trying to kill Ommin himself! But how many times will Cay lose an arm?

I wonder if all the narrative boxes were really necessary to this story. It was a little distracting to read them all. I'd rather have the characters tell us stuff, instead. Or just use fewer words, period. Some of the text in the boxes was rather out of place. With phrases like "fightin'", "mopping up their enemies", and "without a hitch", it seems rather trendy instead of telling a serious story.

The art was also quite lack-luster. For the most part, I was not impressed. It seemed that the authors had a story to tell, but didn't know how to express it in visual form. The close-ups of the characters were nicely done (except for the return of the stringy-haired Nomi, which makes her less beautiful than in Knights). But any time we turned to a grand exterior shot, we lost all of the artwork. It looked more like scribbles.

All of which makes this one of the lowest of the Tales of the Jedi. Ulic seemed quite passionate, and is suddenly in love with Nomi, but I can't stand magic in this setting, and the ability to transfer Dark Side power to just about anybody. If the Emperor could do it in Dark Empire II, and Nadd can do it here, why can't Luke give Han or Wedge Force powers? Add some giant machines (the diggers of Nadd's followers), and unimpressive artwork, and I was not interested in what happened here. As a prologue to what happens next, I suppose it works in context.



4 stars

Also Read on August 22nd, 1998  
    This is the quality of the Tales of the Jedi that I like.  It has the passion and intensity, even though it's only two issues long.  Excellent work.  

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