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A graphic novel by Kevin J. Anderson, Chris Gossett, Dario Carrasco, Jr., and Duncan Fegredo (1997, Dark Horse comics)
Book 1 of the Tales of the Jedi
5000 years before Star Wars: A New Hope

Two hyperspace prospectors come across the lost and ancient Sith civilization, sowing the seeds for its expansion.



2 stars+

Read on June 23rd, 2002 for the second time  
    Reading this graphic tale for the second time, I was impressed with the epic scale.  Unfortunately, the art did absolutely nothing for me, and too much of the story was told in narrative squares, which were all over the page.

The first section of the book looks like it may have been published as a prequel one-shot, as it contains its own precursor script, and a very different art style. The story also takes place years before the rest of the tale. While I am thankful that the artist was different for the rest of the book, there were things that I preferred from the first segment, like the colors. 

The colors in the majority of the book were very subdued, very pale, with no contrast. The artist used many thin lines to tell the story, showing jagged features to the characters.  This is opposed to the almost non-existent features of anything in the prequel section.

The story, once it got going, was quite exciting, making me desperate to read the conclusion to this two-part tale. But first we go through extraordinary buildup, of both the main characters, and the situation in the galaxy. 

On the galactic front, Empress Teta has united the seven worlds of her system together under one rule.  But it was not without devastating damage.  Critically, to the teenaged Gav and Jori Daragon, their parents are killed while flying a relief mission over one contested area. Orphaned, they take the remaining ship their parents owned, and went prospecting for new hyperspace paths, trying to find one that will make them money, while securing a faster route to other places in the galaxy.  It's a pretty cool idea, I think.  The hyperspace routes were charted by somebody, and it was undoubtedly the risk-takers that did this job, and the few who made it alive got rich from the task. Aside from Gav constantly saying that once they find a good route that they could retire, I doubt that would ever happen to these two.

Unfortunately, they are not very lucky.  Over the time since their parents' death, they have discovered one route worth taking, and even that one is extremely dangerous. When a trader loses a drone ship through that route, instead of getting a commission, they are nearly murdered.

Thankfully, two Jedi intervene. Unfortunately, it might have been better for the galaxy had they been quietly killed. For their next actions will precipitate not only the war that immediately followed, but also the Great Sith War because Naga Sadow formed the basis for Exar Kun's opportunities a thousand years later.

It was nice to see Odan-Urr, the Jedi who eventually became master of Luke's holocron, and the first use of battle meditation.  It was well-presented, especially in the way that the rebels' own fears made them retreat and surrender, making the battle a lot less bloody.

A bloody battle of another kind takes place on far-away Korriban, where a Dark Lord of the Sith is being entombed, and a struggle to fill the power void is underway. Ludo Kresh is the logical choice to succeed the dead Marka Ragnos, because he would likely keep the status quo, with the Sith ruling the Massassi. But Naga Sadow wants to expand the Sith Realm. 

Into that battle Gav and Jori land their ship.  I think it was pretty stupid to land that way, in the middle of a town.  No wonder the Massassi raised arms against them. They didn't even speak the same language! 

Sadow uses the Republic citizens as an opportunity to grab power, calling them spies, the prelude to an invasion, and breaks them out of their cell, leaving their own weapons behind at the scene, making it look like the Republic sent in a task force to rescue the two.  How nobody could have noticed Sadow's ships approaching, even in the night, I don't know. 

Sadow keeps Gav and Jori separated, at two different bases, and plans to eliminate Kresh once and for all.  Sadow was given status of Dark Lord, but Kresh led his factions away. Sadow stages a raid to take back Gav and Jori's ship, leaving evidence that both the Republic and himself were involved.  As he knew, Kresh took the bait, realizing that Sadow is staging the raids in order to make the Sith leaders think the Republic is a real threat. He and his allies attack Sadow's base, but are crushed.  It is not clear if Kresh survived, but I think this is the case.

It was a pretty cool battle, even though the art could have been better. I don't like the contrivance of Sadow having two bases, so that one could be sacrificed. I suppose it makes sense, but it feels like a cheat. Sadow keeps his fleet of warships at his secret base, and once Jori escapes back into hyperspace, he attacks Kresh's forces.

Sadow is of course tracking Jori back to the Republic, and will follow her when he has what he believes to be "enough" warships. He has also been teaching Gav, who has Force potential, the Sith arts, and will undoubtedly cause him to resent his sister.  If not her, then certainly the Republic that ignored their plight.

In the Republic, the Force sends Odan-Urr a message, which Empress Teta takes very seriously, but the Senate does not. Teta will be prepared when the Sith arrive, but what cost will the Republic face for not heeding the warning of a Jedi?  It is strange that the other Jedi did not rally around Odan-Urr.  I guess this is one reason a Jedi Council would be needed.

In another matter, it's pretty funny to see the artist's idea of what the Senate would look like, after seeing the extravagant Senate created by George Lucas.  I don't think anybody could have come up with something like that!  Instead, in all the novels and comics, the senates that these authors came up with were pretty dull!

As with most of Kevin J. Anderson's work, the story had such great potential, but the writing let it down a bit.  The art, which can make even a poor story so much better, did nothing to bring this tale up.  In fact, I would say it brought it down a little, as well.



2 stars

Also read August 21st to 22nd, 1998  
    The art was not to my liking in this installation, and the text was actually confusing at many times.  I think the authors were trying to do too much, involve too many characters in too many things in this short graphic tale.  

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