Before the Jedi returned, before the Sith got revenge, and before the Republic was old, there were the Je’daii.
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #1 is a story that Dark Horse Comics promoted as “A series that establishes the beginnings of the Jedi!” This is no mere hyperbole. In the sprawling timeline of the Star Wars franchise, Dawn of the Jedi takes place approximately 36,453 years before Luke blew up the first Death Star.
Let that sink in for a moment.
That’s a VERY long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
This first issue sets up the history of what can only be described as the distant ancestors of the Jedi that we’ve come to know and love. A lot gets revealed in the first half of the book: How the different Je’daii races are brought together and where, what their philosophy is, how they grew to understand the Force and use its powers, and how that power has affected the galaxy as the Je’daii ventured out amongst the stars. It delves into what became of the Je’daii children who were not strong in the Force, and their place in the grand mythology of Star Wars. It also gives us the Je’daii Code, which sheds a bright light on how different these Force-users are from the Jedi and Sith we know… and how similar they are at their core.
The real story, scripted by John Ostrander (sharing the story credit with artist Jan Duursema), doesn’t truly start until the history lesson is over and we see what the galaxy is like at this point in time. Enter the Infinite Empire and the mysterious Xesh, who has an affinity for hunting down Force-sensitive people and places for his master. This is the figure that dominates the issue’s cover, touted in ads as a Darth Vader-like threat to the galaxy at this time, and let me tell you that his subtle menace emanates from the page as sure as if it was infused with the Dark Side. It doesn’t take a protocol droid to tell me that the odds of Xesh and the Je’daii clashing are pretty good, and I hope we get a solid protagonist among the Jedi next issue to give him a challenge.
There are familiar alien races and planets brought to life in this book, penciled and inked by Duursema and Dan Parsons, respectively. While the races presented here offer the familiarity of having seen them in countless other stories, there’s one place in particular that is radically different from what we know it to look like in the movies. Even so, the art doesn’t disappoint. Nothing takes me out of a comic more than seeing an artist’s interpretation of an alien race that doesn’t line up with what we’ve seen before, but Duursema gets it, and the fans will be very pleased and maybe a little surprised by the races that show up before the end of the issue. We also get an awesome cover by Duursema that Dark Horse has been using for their ads, and an epic variant by Gonzalo Flores.
The real question, of course, is how this five issue arc will play out and how much will be revealed about the origins of the Jedi before it’s all over. I have faith, however, that Team Ostrander/Duursema won’t disappoint us. They won me over with Star Wars: Legacy, creating the distant future of our favorite franchise, so I have no doubt that they’ll do wonders in giving us the definitive origin of the Star Wars saga. I know I’ll be coming back for issue #2!
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #1 is in stores now.