30 September 2013

Review: Star Wars Omnibus: Tales of the Jedi, Volume 1

Comic trade paperback, 395 pages
Published 2007 (contents: 1993-2000)
Acquired November 2007
Read August 2013
Star Wars Omnibus: Tales of the Jedi, Volume 1

Scripts: Kevin J. Anderson and Tom Veitch
Art: Chris Gossett, Stan Woch, Mark G. Heike, Bill Black, David Jacob Beckett, Perry McNamee, Dario Carrasco Jr., Mike Barreiro, Janine Johnston, and David Roach
Colors: Pamela Rambo, Dave Nestelle, Perry McNamee, and Ray Murtaugh
Letters: Sean Konot and Willie Schubert

Tales of the Jedi is a series I've known and wondered about ever since I became a serious Star Wars fan, a mysterious and unknowable marker early on chronologies. Now, thanks to Dark Horse's exhaustive Omnibus program, I've gotten a chance to read it. This book collects four stories.

The first two, "The Golden Age of the Sith" and "The Fall of the Sith Empire," take place 5,000 years before the films. They're not great-- thin characters with flimsy motivations act out enormous events. Okay, so that's Star Wars in a nutshell, but these stories lack style and fun. I did like the Hutt with a hat (anyone who knows me could have seen this coming), and I'll admit the final battle was suitably epic. But the protagonists, who seem to be aiming at Luke Skywalker redux, are far more whiny and far less interesting than he ever was. I really liked the visual aesthetic of the stories, though; making the Old Republic look cod-Egyptian during this time might be a cheap trick, but it works.

Then we jump a thousand years with "Ulic Qel-Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon," which is okay. I feel like I'm supposed to like Ulic more than I do. He's kind of a jerk. And so is his master, Arca Jeth, for sending him off on his own, untested. Seeing how he'll fare is a flimsy motivation when lives are at stake!

Finally, though, is "The Saga of Nomi Sunrider." Now this is more like it! It feels like an ancient legend come to life, something out of the Grail mythos. Nomi is the wife of a Jedi who sees her husband gunned down in front of her and must learn  to become a Jedi herself... except she doesn't want to ever pick up a lightsaber. It's an atmospheric tale by Tom Veitch, Janine Johnston, and David Roach, about grief, regret, and violence, with well-used bits of weirdness. Just a perfect little slice of storytelling.

One thing I do really like about both of the last two tales: that they're not about Jedi caught up in big, galactic events, but Jedi who serve as peacekeepers, reclusive mystics, and what have you. These are stories on a local scale, but no less important for it. When I imagine the Jedi Knights of the Old Republic, this is what I like to imagine-- a more civilized age.

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