Yoda is sending two Jedi masters and two padawan to Telos IV to deal with the issues there. What are the issues? Why are two masters necessary? Who are the masters? Find out after the jump.
STAR WARS JEDI: THE DARK SIDE #1
Writer: Scott Allie
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Cover Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Editor: Randy Stradley
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Previously in Jedi: Well, it’s a first issue so there’s no previously in this book itself, but there is some backstory. Set 53 years before the Battle of Yavin (that’s the first Death Star fight). The story will be following Qui-Gon Jinn the twenty years or so before the prequels. He doesn’t even have Obi-Wan as his padawan yet.
LIGHTSABERS AND BLASTERS
The story opens with a lightsaber duel between Qui-Gon and his current padawan Xanatos. Everyone knows who Qui-Gon is, the strong and resolute Jedi master from episode one has apparently been that way for some time, so the early character development is focused on Xanatos. In a good job of show don’t tell, we see that he is a clever padawan willing to work with a team with a bit of arrogance. Of course, as a good teacher, Qui-Gon points these out immediately, but this just helps to strengthen the overall writing. Most of the moments between Qui-Gon and Xanatos are built like this, with Xanatos showing his character further and Qui-Gon pointing out the strengths ans weaknesses of his actions, and it is done for the betterment of the story.
The pair are summoned by another master, Tahl a Noorian, to meet with Yoda. The three are joined by a Twilek padawan, Orykan, and are sent on a mission to Xanatos homeworld, Telos IV, where a political assassination is causing some potential issues that may need Jedi interference. Here again, we get good moments with both padawan hinting at key parts of their character and the masters, Yoda mostly, pointing them out to help them grow. Also, a fantastic single panel that shows just how Xanatos feels toward his homeworld (the answer is angry).
Once they are sent on the mission we finally get some subtle character details with the two masters interacting on the ship. Worries of why two masters may be needed are quelled (temporarily) by Tahl letting Qui-Gon know she asked to join the mission to recover holycrons from the old academy and bring the last of them to Coruscant (she’s kind of a Jedi librarian/historian). Of course, the worries come back as the ship gets shot down on the way into the planet and the four are ambushed by renegades at the crash site.
ALIENS AND FIGHTS
Asrar is a fantastic artist. With the exception of Yoda, his faces were expressive and appropriate. Yoda seemed to me to be angry or frustrated when looking at him, which is just counter to how the guy usually acts. Tahl’s design was fantastic (it’s the first time her species has had an actual visual appearance) with a golden hue and interesting cat-like pupils only in a close-up. The fight scenes are also very active without sacrificing any details. The only other oddity, which may or may not be deliberate, was the creepiness of one of the masters statues in the training room. His hood is pulled far enough forward to conceal his face and he reaches one arm out seemingly grasping at Tahl standing just in front of him. If this is some sort of fore-shadowing as to her fate, that would be awesome, if not then it feels very out of place.
BOTTOM LINE: IT’S GOOD
I am not a fan Expanded Universe stories set in the prequel era, or before the end of Return of the Jedi for that matter, but this one has me interested to see what comes next. With a strong story and good characters, this is likely to be a Star Wars book I keep coming back to. Issue one definitely earns 4 out of 5 stars from me.