*Okay, so I’m actually really excited to get into this. As you know, I loved Into the Void and found the foreshadowing of this series at the end of that book to be really intriguing. I’m pulling for these comics to be awesome.
*Okay, so this comic starts with a flashback to like 35,000 BBY. This is why DinoJim’s timeline and the Star Wars Expanded Universe Chronology have this trade broken up, I guess. But, for simplicity’s sake, I’m reading this according to the Wookieepedia timeline, which doesn’t break it up.
*It would have been somewhat helpful to get this information prior to reading Into the Void. I had to do some guessing about the Tython system and all that in Into the Void that’s explained here.
*So, there are these massive, mysterious ships called the Tho Yor. They show up on various worlds and are able to “speak” to the inhabitants of said worlds through psychic transmission or something.
*Basically, the monolith from 2001. Mysterious, unknown, strange communication, kick-starts a sort of evolutionary step forward.
*So, the inhabitants of these planets board these ships and the ships take them to the Tython system and drop them all off on Tython. And the Force is like all over Tython. Tython’s just drenched in the Force and all of the people who got picked up were Force sensitives, so they figure out that the Tho Yor have brought them here to study and learn about the Force. And they get the whole “Light Side/Dark Side” theory from the two moons we talked about last time and formulate the theory that the Force must be balanced in each person, as the moons create balance on the planet.
*They call themselves “Je’daii,” a word that means ‘Mystic Center.’
*This is pretty new agey. This would have been totally at home in the late seventies.
*So, anyway, all these Force sensitives start having non-Force sensitive babies and they just can’t stay on Tython. All the Force makes them crazy or something so they leave and go settle all the other worlds.
*Okay, so there’s this big war with some Twi’lek despot (is there a feminine form of “despot?” Don’t know; don’t care.). I don’t know what, if any of this, is actually that significant. The despot war, as it’s called (so apparently, there isn’t a feminine), happens 12 years before our story proper.
*So, here’s our first little “haha this was long time ago!” joke: “Tatooine, a lush world where twin suns warm fair skies. A thriving world, where the Kumumgah live peacefully in gleaming cities alongside its blue seas.”
*So, the Rakatan Empire. They’re sending folks around to kill any and all Force sensitives they can find. We catch up with Predor Tul’kar and his assistant, Xesh. Xesh is the one who can find the Force sensitives and then he does the dirty work. He’s called a Force Hound. That’s different.
*Anyway, Xesh wears dark armor and has a lightsaber. He’s obviously the dude Lanoree saw at the end of Into the Void.
*So, this leader named Predor Skal’nas calls in Tul’kar and Xesh for a conference. It seems that Skal’nas’ Force Hound, a weirdo female named Trill, has picked up ripples of a world that’s really, really strong in the Force, but she can’t pinpoint where it is. Skal’nas is hoping Xesh can figure it out.
*So, obviously, this world is Tython.
*Xesh ups the badass quotient: “Yes. I can find this world. I will take you to it and I will feast upon its bones.” MAIN PLOT INITIATED.
*So, then we just skip straight to Xesh’s ship arriving in the Tython system. Well, one assumes that’s what it is. We switch the Jedi perspective; they note a mysterious ship entering the system and then disappearing from their radar.
*And here’s Hawk Ryo from Eruption. Good on you.
*We’re introduced to Shae Koda, a female Jedi student, and her master, a male named Quan-Jang. They’ve having trouble controlling one of Shae Koda’s “experiments” in the Alchemy of Flesh, a cross between a rancor and a dragon.
*Yes, it’s a rancor that can fly. I’m not sure why this ever seemed like a good idea.
*It is, admittedly, a lot less freaky than Lanoree’s “experiment.” I’d love to see something along the lines of Lanoree’s Lovecraftian nightmare show up in the comics.
*Anyway, Shae has a vision of Xesh, much like Lanoree did.
*So, we’re introduced to Hawk’s brother, Volnos Ryo, and Hawk’s niece, Tasha Ryo. Volnos is a crime lord and he wishes Tasha would follow him into the family business. Unfortunately, Tasha has chosen to follow her uncle into the Jedi.
*So, this assassin hired by another crime lord shows up to kill Volnos, but he wasn’t expecting a Jedi. Tasha is able to stop the assassin.
*The assassin is kind of cool. I like this bit as he approaches the guards at the gate: “He’s expecting his old friend, Jaris Kan.” “The Baron is expecting no one.” “No one expects death. They die nonetheless.” *murders both guards*
*It’s not Boba Fett, but it’ll do for now.
*I liked this moment when Tasha has a vision of Xesh while she’s fighting the assassin. She thinks it’s another assassin and throws a Force Punch at it; it dissipates, of course, and this allows the assassin to briefly turn the tables on her. I just thought that was a cool, creative use of a vision. Don’t remember seeing anything quite like that before.
*There’s a great panel here of Volnos summarily executing the would-be assassin with a blaster shot to the chest. Really like that one.
*We’re then introduced to Sek’nos Rath. He’s a Red Sith Jedi student. When we’re introduced to him, he’s strutting around shirtless doing Force tricks for a bunch of girls. I am immediately quite sure he’s going to be my favorite character.
*Blah blah blah Sek’nos has vision of Xesh blah blah etc etc trick goes horribly wrong blah blah yada yada Sek’nos has horrible burns on his arms now blah blah
*That was actually a pretty funny moment.
*Ah, Daegon Lok, he that is the Prisoner of Bogan. Mentioned in Into the Void; titular character of volume two of the comics. He too, stranded on the dark moon Bogan, has a vision of Xesh. He remains cryptic; he murmurs only “Darkness” and then turns from the vision.
*So, led by their feelings about their respective visons, Shae, Tasha & Sek’nos all independently go down into the Chasm. They meet there and compare notes about the “Shadow Man” they saw in their vision. And then, quite suddenly, Xesh hits Tython like a ton of bricks. His ship crashes into the chasm, just like we heard in Into the Void.
*The Jedi approach an escape pod. It slowly opens and we get this great bit: SHAE: “I sense darkness.” SEK’NOS: “Intense darkness!” TASHA: “Anger!” XESH (unmasked, his face revealed, in a full page panel): “Death.”
*Couple of Jedi name of Rori Fenn and Master Ketu sense the ship crash as well. They murmur cryptically for a while and then send out a group of Jedi to investigate.
*Meanwhile, back in the Chasm cue big action sequence. It’s pretty good.
*Xesh’s lightsaber, which none of these guys have ever seen before, breaks all their swords. In the scuffle, Sek’nos manages to get the saber, but he can’t figure out how to turn it on. Apparently, only Xesh can do that.
*A few great shots here. I particularly like a long shot of Xesh Force throwing Shae over a cliff.
*Anyway, there’s a nice little kerfuffle here and then, outnumbered, Xesh flees deeper into the Abyss.
*Have I been calling it the Chasm? I swear they called it that. But they’re calling it the Abyss now. Maybe I’m crazy.
*So, I like these three main characters. They’re all drawn very broadly, but they’re all very different, so they throw sparks. Tasha wants to wait for more Jedi to arrive before pursuing Xesh; Shae gets angry about that and says they’ve got to follow him now before he escapes; Sek’nos agrees with Shae, but he’s more concerned about the fact that it’ll get him a lot of glory to capture Xesh with no help from the Jedi Masters.
*So a bunch of Jedi Masters show up to where the first fight with Xesh happened and figure out that some of their students were there. Hawk, Quan-Jang and a blonde female named Rori Fenn follow the students down into the Chasm.
*Rori Fenn, it should be noted, is going to be no help in a fight. Her outfit is far too low cut. One decent back-flip and those things are going to be right out in the open. Which, actually, might help, so never mind.
*Oh, okay, so the Abyss is part of the Chasm. Because our three mains arrive at the Abyss, which is where Xesh has fled. So, okay, that explains it.
*Tasha and Shae bond: “I hate this place! My garments are ruined, I’m soaked, I’m filthy and all the plants here scratch! Look, my hands are bleeding.” “Suck it up, princess.”
*Sek’nos is just standing over there flexing. His main character trait is his abs.
*So, Shae sees a vision of her parents in the Abyss. And you like think she’s going to like get guidance or something. But no, she flips out and starts screaming that she’s going to kill them. This looks like some good drama to explore later.
*So then there’s two pages where Shae and Tasha talk about how their relatives died in the Despot War. So, you know, good drama to explore later. Or, you know, now. In the middle of a chase scene.
*So, here’s the source of some of the tension. It seems that a lot of Tasha’s family actually fought FOR the despot while Shae’s family fought with the Jedi. So, opposite sides.
*You know, I’ve just now, seeing a full body shot of Shae standing still, realized how absolutely stupid her pants look.
*Oh, wow, here’s a twist I didn’t see coming. The ship crashed because Xesh went nuts and killed everyone on it, including Predor Tul’kas. Funny thing is he doesn’t remember why. That’s an interesting mystery to set up.
*I really hope it’s not the obvious and banal reason that Skal’nas ordered him to or some nonsense. I got enough “sci-fi where intriguing and fascinating mysteries are solved via the most obnoxiously stupid and boring solutions” from Prometheus, thanks.
*So, Hawk and Rori used to be a couple.
*So, our trio arrives just as Xesh is being menaced by a horrible Abyss monster. There have been a ton of those, by the way, that everyone’s been fighting. If you’ve read many of my reviews, you probably know I’m not big on the “just keep sending monsters in” style of plot.
*So, they grab Xesh and they want to take him alive, so they fight the monster to try to protect him. Xesh asks them to throw him his saber and Sek’nos does so. Xesh then heads out of there, leaving the three young Jedi to fight alone.
*I really dug the moment when he just catches the saber, briefly pauses and then just turns to go. That was cool.
*Xesh hangs around to watch. He expects Shae and Sek’nos to wound Tasha and leave her for the beast, giving them a chance to escape. Of course, this isn’t what happens. Tasha is wounded, but Sek’nos and Shae close ranks over her to protect her. Then Sek’nos goes down, but Shae still doesn’t run. Xesh is deeply puzzled by this. Shae has the perfect opportunity to flee, leaving the other two to die, but she’s choosing to stay and almost certainly die herself.
*Xesh feels through the Force the exhilaration and intensity that Shae is experiencing by being selfless. He realizes he’s never felt such a thing and, driven partly by curiosity and partly by just being swept up in the emotion, charges back into the fray.
*Then the three masters arrive and the beast gets taken out pretty quickly.
*Anyway, Quan-Jang gets wounded, trying to save Xesh. Or something. This was pretty chaotic. But Xesh goes down too. Shae grabs Xesh’s saber and, in her rage, actually somehow ignites it with her mind. So, she’s gonna kill him.
*I loved this moment. “My master may be dead because of you! You deserve death!” “I expect it. I sought a good death in battle, but this is my fate. So be it. When your people eat my body, you should have the honor portion – my heart. You were very brave.”
*This actually brings Shae up short. She closes the saber down and simply says, “Stranger, that is not our way.”
*Anyway, everybody recovers from their wounds. Unfortunately, Xesh still can’t remember much of anything because of his concussion. Tasha goes to visit him in his cell. She looks into his mind and is able to see the whole Rakatan Empire and their cruelties to conquered worlds and to Xesh and the other Force Hounds like him.
*Anyway, the Council decides to send Xesh to Bogan. Shae objects because she fears Xesh may not be able to bring himself into balance. He was carefully raised to know only darkness; how can he turn himself to the light? But the Council has spoken.
*So, the story ends with Hawk and Rori stranding Xesh on Bogan.
*But, far away, Daegon Lok, pauses in his tasks and looks to the sky. Then he whispers “It has begun.”
*It strikes me that the Jedi may have cause to regret stranding Xesh with Daegon Lok. I’m not sure what Lok’s up too, but I think it’ll be interesting.
*I enjoyed this pretty much. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as Into the Void. It just didn’t have the same strange atmosphere; it felt much more like the GFFA I’m already familiar with than Into the Void did. And the story definitely had a lot of filler; way too many monster fights, you know?
*But I enjoyed the chemistry between Tasha, Shae and Sek’nos, found Xesh to be a moderately compelling character and really liked the subtle, mysterious way this story teased Daegon Lok. That last especially; I’m looking forward to finding out more about this guy.
*I’m not as excited about reading on in this era as I was when I finished Into the Void, but I’m still interested. I’m certainly not dreading the next two trades. Hopefully, they’ll improve on this one, not that it was awful on its own.
*CANONICAL STATUS: While certain elements of this text are of doubtful authenticity, the events depicted here certainly happened, mostly likely in very similar fashion to their representation here. This work is RECOMMENDED as a historical resource.
** ½ stars.
*Okay, next time. Well, we’re going to keep blowing through this era at high speed. Next time, it’s Dawn of the Jedi: The Prisoner of Bogan!