*So, this concluding volume to the Dawn of the Jedi comic series (and entire era) takes place the year following everything else we’ve read so far. The story picks up an unspecified number of months after The Prisoner of Bogan ended.
*I kind of liked the way they threw us in the middle of the war here. When PoB ended, the Rakata were preparing to ship out to attack the Tythan system. When this one opens, the war has already been going on for a while.
*Oh, actually it does specify: “It has been a year since the Rakatan Infinite Empire first attacked the Tythan system.”
*So, what this “jump to the middle of the war” method means is that I can basically summarize the first twenty pages of this trade by just saying, “hyperviolent action sequence.”
*So, Daegon Lok is off of Bogan and a General now. I guess the Jedi kind of figured out what I was talking about last time. And, of course, he’s been right all along – they need him.
*So, all of our major characters are back, doing various things in the battles. That’s all.
*Hawk is still kinda pissed at Lok. Understandable since Lok chopped his leg off last time. Though Hawk seems to be doing all right with a darn fine prosthetic. I mean, it just never comes up. If you read this trade without reading the last one, you’d never know that Hawk’s leg got cut off.
*So, Shae and Xesh have a moment when they nearly kiss or something.
*God, Shae Koda looks like a totally different person in this one. In the previous stories, she’s had a much harder look to her face; more distinctive, but less “pretty,” I guess. And she typically keeps her hair like pulled up in braids or something. But here she has this insane tidal wave of long red hair that she just wears totally loose and her face has just totally changed.
*She looks like Mara Jade, actually. I hate when they do that. The same thing happened to Nomi Sunrider, you know, where a female character starts out less “hot” and more realistic and then just becomes a comic-book stereotype babe.
*We are briefly introduced to Predor Ceh’let, a female Rakatan. Just in case the male Rakata weren’t weird looking enough. Just add pony-tail.
*So, there’s a scene where she and Skal’nas discuss that the war on Tython must be won because the Rakata are “losing our connection to the Force” or some such nonsense. Then Skal’nas murders Ceh’let with Force lightning just for fun.
*There’s a really wonderful panel where they are JUST about to kiss and I was really pulling for it. An image of two Rakata making out. Think about that for a minute. And you’re welcome.
*Oh, there is one interesting thing here. Somehow Skal’nas has figured out that there’s an Infinity Gate on Tython. So, of course, if he gets an Infinity Gate again, the Empire can just expand outward all over the galaxy.
*I initially thought this was a cool tie to Into the Void, where the central plot revolved around an Infinity Gate on Tython. But this one is apparently a different one, given the location where we finally see it. So, almost a cool tie-in between novel universe and comic universe.
*So, anyway, Shae decides to crawl into bed with Xesh while they’re both half-clothed and tell him that she loves him. Taking the bull by the horns. In a manner of speaking.
*But Xesh is, of course, still too tormented by his past and too troubled to allow himself to love. Didn’t see that coming.
*But then he tells her his true name, Tau, something he’s not shared with anyone since the Rakata gave him the name of Xesh. And then they actually do have sex. That’s interesting. I mean, they cut away, of course, but they kiss and then they go down on the bed so, yeah, it happens.
*So, Tasha has a Force vision and then Xesh is able to kind of do an astral projection thing and they figure out that Skal’nas’ base is located on Ska Goro. They launch a raid on it, unaware that it’s a trap.
*So, yeah, cue more violence.
*There’s a cool half-page panel of Xesh loosing an explosion of Force lightning. All of the enemies around him are lit up and you can see their skeletons. It’s a cool visual.
*Right, so Lok gets captured, Seknos gets captured and then Trill captures Xesh. He doesn’t remember her, due to his amnesia, remember, so he thinks she’s on the Jedi’s side. But she gets him alone and knocks him out.
*So, at this point we get an extended flashback to what happened prior to Xesh’s landing on Tython. We see him find the planet and then travel to it; he does a Force probe (or whatever) of the planet and this is when Tasha, Shae, Seknos and Daegon all have their respective visions of him. “Four beings on Tython sensed me! That . . . has never happened before.” Anyway, then Xesh kills everyone on the ship and, yes, this is at Skal’nas’ orders, like I figured.
*Hmm, you know what? Lanoree Brock also sensed him, so that’s actually five. So, interestingly, since this comic shows Tasha, Shae, Seknos & Daegon, I think the implication here is that somehow Xesh didn’t sense Lanoree, even though she sensed him. That’s interesting.
*I mean, from a real world perspective, it’s yet another example of novels and comics pretending they don’t exist. And it would have been weird for people that were only reading the comics for there to suddenly be a panel of a woman with a horribly scarred chest to just suddenly be there.
*But from an in-universe perspective, it’s fun to think about.
*Oh, you know what, I think I have a technicality to make his scan. Xesh says, “Four beings on Tython sensed me!” Daegon Lok isn’t on Tython. He’s on Bogan! So, though the comic doesn’t show Lanoree, he did actually sense her; she’s one of the four beings on Tython. Daegon Lok is the fifth being and he’s on Bogan.
*I’m inordinately proud of myself over that.
*Oh, darn it, Lanoree’s not on Tython either, she’s still on her ship, in transit. Well, actually I think she was actually in the atmosphere, out of space, I mean, so I suppose we could call that “on Tython.”
*But then a twist. It turns out that Xesh’s “amnesia” was programmed into Xesh by Skal’nas. The whole ploy was for Xesh to arrive on Tython and be taken in by the Jedi; Skal’nas has always intended Xesh to be on the Jedi’s side. Now, it’s time for Xesh to wake up and come back to Skal’nas. Xesh has, essentially been an unwitting spy this whole time.
*I’m guessing Xesh will be deeply tormented by this despite the fact that he really had no option and no idea of his actual purpose. Dude gets tormented a lot.
*So, Skal’nas kind of actually convinces Xesh of his true destiny or maybe Xesh is faking, I’m not sure. Anyway, Xesh accepts it when Skal’nas tells him that the Jedi wouldn’t accept him if they really knew the atrocities Xesh has committed and Xesh starts working for Skal’nas again.
*Xesh uses the Force to blind Tasha, both literally and in the Force. So much for her visions.
*That’s kinda dark actually.
*Seknos goes off on this really inappropriately hilarious rant about how he’s going to kill Xesh once he’s free. He concludes by saying he’s going to eat Xesh’s heart, which I found really funny. Remember when Xesh first met the Jedi and they captured him, he told Shae that she could be the one to eat his heart? And she was like, “That is not our way?” I’d like to believe this is a purposeful, sly callback to that moment. Not sure though; might just be a coincidence.
*So, the Rakata attack Tython.
*This one isn’t as interesting as the others, mainly because it’s has so many long action sequences. I mean, prior to this book, the character work has been the big thing that really set this one apart. Some of that is still here, but there’s just page after page of action sequences. I’m not saying this makes this one necessarily bad. But it’s definitely different.
*So, Skal’nas and Xesh take Lok to the Chasm; Skal’nas has figured out that the Infinity Gate lies at the bottom of the Abyss, so he’s going to use Lok to find a way down to the Gate. Anyway, Lok takes them as far as he knows, so Skal’nas chains him to a rock and he and Xesh descend.
*Seknos escapes and frees the rest of the slaves as well. They ask him to take them with him and we get the following really awesome dialogue: “Take you where? I sense the Force within you all, but it is dark side only. You have no balance and I doubt you could learn it.” “We don’t need anything but our hate to kill Rakata. Tells us where to strike and we will kill them for you!” “Works for me. Follow.”
*The panel of Seknos saying that last line is great; it’s a really close up shot of his face, covered in shadow. Very demonic and striking.
*I will say that this story allows for everyone to have their little badass moment. Several of Skal’nas soldiers arrive to where Lok is chained to the rock in the Chasm and he manages to get free and just start kicking ass. This moment is really great. We get a half page panel of Lok, a saber in each hand, atop a small mound of rocks posed against a group of Skal’nas soldiers: “This is what I saw in my vision! This is who I am! Invincible! Unstoppable! Come to me, fools, and die!”
*Kind of a Ganner moment there. Really cool.
*Seknos shows up where Lok is fighting and the two start really going after it. “How’d you find me here?” “Wasn’t looking for you. I sensed Xesh in the Force. Came here to kill him.” “Get in line.”
*Awesome shot of Seknos and Lok fighting a bunch of raiders on the edge of a cliff. More than a bit reminiscent of that shot in 300.
*So, Shae then shows up, also looking for Xesh. She’s on that flying Rancor she’s always riding around, so she heads into the Abyss. Lok jumps after her and so it’s the two of them on the Rancor. Seknos gets left behind to finish off the raiders.
*Trill shows up and she and Seknos take each other on. Seknos takes her out. I loved this bit: “Je’daii, you seek the balance and that makes you weak . . .” *Seknos grabs Trill by the throat* “Does this feel like balance to you?”
*So, Shae and Lok get to the bottom. Lok takes on Skal’nas while Shae and Xesh start dueling as well.
*And by dueling, I mean arguing philosophically about the Force and reminiscing about their relationship while occasionally waving a saber in the air.
*Lok decides to throw a mind twist down on Skal’nas. You’d think he’d have learned from trying the same thing on Xesh, but no. The results are fantastic.
* “Aaaahhh! What . . . is . . . this?!” “Me. Crawling around in your mind. Like it, Rakata?” “Welcome.” “Oh no . . . no!” “Oh, yes. Become me. Enjoy my memories – all the deaths in the Force that I have experienced. I devoured some of my victims as they died. Taste what I am and despair, little Je’daii.”
*The art here is wonderful. I love the wicked smile on Skal’nas’ face when he says “Welcome.” And the half-page panel of Lok, frozen in place, surrounded by the howling faces of those Skal’nas has killed . . . fantastic.
*Anyway, while he’s distracted, Skal’nas perforates Lok with his saber and then the Infinity Gate opens.
*Shae finally gets through to Xesh when she tells him that she forgives him for everything he’s ever done: “That is what it means to love someone.” Then Skal’nas takes her down with a blast of Force lightning. But Xesh has turned. Xesh and Skal’nas start fighting.
*Meanwhile, Tasha has managed to awaken a Tho Yor by using the holocron they found in PoB. And it destroys the Infinity Gate. Or something. But it also kills Tasha. I don’t know, this is kind of just . . . you know, very mystical and I’m not at all sure what’s actually happening here.
*Great panel of Xesh bisecting Skal’nas at the waist.
*So, the Rakata are destroyed by the Tho Yor or . . . yeah, the Jedi win. Let’s leave it at that.
*After the war, some of the Jedi attempt to move away from the lightsaber technology and take the metal swords back. They think the lightsabers encourage the Dark Side. But Lok isn’t going back in a lot of ways.
* “Until I know they are all dead, until I know the Rakata will not return, I will not put down my Forcesaber – nor will those who follow me.” “Follow you? Be careful, Daegon Lok. You could wind up back on Bogan.” “This war has changed the Je’daii, Master Ketu, in ways I think none of us yet fully understand. One thing you need to understand, Masters – I will never again consent to be sent to the dark moon. It’s no place for a hero.”
*So, the story ends with Shae and Xesh heading out into the wilderness of Tython. Together, they will find balance.
*So, I’m assuming that the creative team here knew that Dawn of the Jedi was ending at this point. I’m guessing that the whole EU decision was already kind of on the horizon or had possibly even already happened. But they do something really great, which is end by setting up even more awesome stories.
*Shae and Xesh are interesting, of course, but, once again, Daegon Lok is my favorite character here. And the path he takes from this point could lead to some really great stuff. He’s sort of forming his own group within the Jedi and he’s breaking away from the authority of the council as well. And he’s also reinventing himself; at one time, it seemed he was content to play the villain. But now Lok is ready to become, or at least believe that he is, the hero. That’s some great set-up.
*Also, Hawk was in like two scenes in this one. There’s still a lot of emotional baggage between the two of them. I loved their scenes together in Prisoner of Bogan, but the emotional journey they’re on together is far from over.
*Anyway, this was kind of a letdown after the absolute brilliance of Prisoner of Bogan. The war violence was fine, well-done, I mean, but it took a lot of time away from the character development that made Prisoner of Bogan so good. Some of the characters, like Hawk and Rori, were basically cut; I would say Hawk appears on less than ten pages of this whole book and he has, to this point, been one of the most central and complicated characters in the series. Others appeared but had little to do but run hither and thither swinging their sabers.
*And I do kind of not like those really mystical deus-ex-machina endings. The Tho Yor/Infinity Gate/Tython awakes ending here was just weird and confusing. That’s the kind of thing I don’t particularly care for.
*But the groundwork laid in the previous two books did help. Lok didn’t get a lot of quiet time to develop in this one, as he did in the last one, but his plot was still really great. Same with Seknos. When the action sequences were rooted in characters we actually were interested in and cared about, they worked. I’m talking about scenes like Seknos freeing the slaves and Lok fighting in the Chasm. Other times, it’s mainly just various underdeveloped characters dashing around and that got a little boring.
*But I did like the way Skal’nas got developed in this one. He’s definitely more of a central character here, as opposed to just being behind the scenes pulling the strings and I ultimately thought he was a really effective, threatening villain.
*All in all, this one isn’t quite as good as PoB, but then I gave that one my highest possible ranking. I’m going to downgrade this one just a bit.
*CANONICAL STATUS: This work is considered to be very accurate. The events depicted here mostly occurred as they were recorded. This work is RECOMMENDED as a historical resource.
*** ½ stars
*Okay, next time . . . next time, we’ll leave this era behind forever and jump forward to an era that the EU opened up, but then didn’t get the chance to really explore. Join me next time for 10 Key Battles: Uquine.