Force Storm is the first part of Dawn of the Jedi. It starts off with an alien race investigating a strange pyramid-shaped object that has landed on their planet. It’s called the Tho Yor. The aliens can sense something from it through the Force, though they don’t yet know about the Force. We then see several other races encountering their own Tho Yor (I think there are nine of them).
The Tho Yor transport these aliens to the centre of the galaxy, to a planet called Tython. Tython itself is alive with the Force, and is consumed by raging Force storms. The artwork up to this point was very nice indeed and, more than the story, kept me turning the pages.
Many years pass (I don’t remember how many, but lots!), and these aliens now call themselves Je’daii. Unlike the later Jedi, who were light side only, they seek a balance inside themselves, between the light and dark side of the Force. There are two important things to note in this early part of the graphic novel (I refuse to refer to it simply as a novel!). First is that one of the Je’daii temples, Anil Kesh, was built over a vast chasm. No one has ever reached the bottom of this chasm without going mad. The Je’daii cannot see the bottom of the chasm with either their senses or their sensors.
The second important thing to note is that not all of the aliens were Force sensitive. Those who were not were in too much danger from Tython itself to remain. They were forced to say goodbye to their Je’daii friends and family, and spread to other planets. Eventually, there was an uprising of non-Force-users against the Je’daii. It was only ended when a Je’daii general, Daegen Lok, killed the uprising’s leader.
Lok later tried to descend into the aforementioned chasm. He claimed to have had a vision of a powerful, dark army marching on Tython, and of himself leading the Je’daii to victory against this foe. The Je’daii claimed that he had simply been driven mad, and exiled him to Bogan, one of Tython’s two moons. Bogan and Ashla are the dark and light moons, representing, of course, the two sides of the Force. On Bogan, Lok is meant to meditate on the balance of the Force, to regain his sanity so that he may return to the Je’daii. But that’s for later.
Force Storm also introduces the Rakata. I’d encountered these aliens in the game I mentioned in the previous post, KOTOR. I knew a little about them, but didn’t remember much. The Rakatan Infinite Empire is purely evil. The Rakata wield the Force, but only the dark side. They invade, conquer, and then eat their enemies. Force sensitives are captured alive and imprisoned in torture capsules. The dark side energy their pain, anger and fear causes them to emit then powers the Rakatan ships.
The Predors, the Rakatan leaders, use Force Hounds to find Force sensitive planets. These are slaves strong in the Force, trained specifically for this task. I think this is a very early version, in some ways, of the Sith’s rule of two – master and apprentice – except that there are many Predors, each with Force Hounds, who answer to one, main Predor. One such Hound is Xesh. He is brought before the main Predor, Skal’Nas. The Predor’s own Force Hound, Trill, has sensed a planet strong in the Force, but is unable to locate it. Xesh is stronger, and finds it easily: Tython.
On Tython, we are introduced to three Je’daii journeyers. Shae Koda is training a flying Rancor with her master. Tasha Ryo is arguing with her crime lord father when an assassin strikes. Her strength in the Force allows her to easily defeat the assassin. Sek’nos Rath is practising Force lightning to show off in front of a couple of girls. He is quite an interesting character for me, because he is a Sith. Not the Sith we know from the films, but a member of the Sith race, which has supposedly become extinct by the time of the KOTOR games, which themselves are set thousands of years before the films. It was the first time I’d seen a true Sith in anything I’ve watched or played.
Each of these journeyers sees a vision of a man in dark armour: Xesh. They feel that the Force is directing them, and each follows it to a dangerous canyon. Here, they meet up and we see that they already know each other. There is some mildly unpleasant back and forth between Shae and Tasha, but it’s pretty weak, and we never really know why Shae seems to dislike her. It’s made all the weaker a bit later when they’re fighting for their lives, and Shae is as worried about Tasha as she would be for anyone.
No sooner have they arrived at the canyon than a ship hurtles out of the sky and nearly crashes into them. It’s worth noting here that the closer Xesh came to Tython, the worse the Force storms on the planet became. The creatures on its surface become more active and more aggressive. The Je’daii don’t know the cause, of course, but Xesh is so dark in the Force that it is throwing Tython out of balance. There is also the fact that Xesh has sabotaged his master’s ship, causing the deaths of all the Force sensitives powering it. The death of so many is felt by all the Je’daii, as well as contributing to the unbalance of Tython.
The journeyers reach the crashed ship, and Xesh emerges. For the first time, he is not wearing his helmet, and we see that his face is branded. He says only one word in the final page of the issue: ‘Death!’ It does make sense. He says it in response to something they say. He doesn’t just walk out and shout ‘Death!’ That would be stupid.
Xesh refuses to believe that the Je’daii mean him no harm, and he attacks them. His powerful ‘forcesaber’ easily cuts through their swords, and it is only Tasha’s strength in the Force – and the fact that she uses no weapon but the Force – that prevents him from killing them all right away. Even her strength isn’t enough, however, and Xesh escapes.
Meanwhile, Shae’s master and a couple of Je’daii Rangers are searching for the source of the turbulence on Tython. They know it is centred around a dark presence, and assume that it came in the ship that crashed, so they set out to track it, and their journeyers.
Xesh finds himself dazed and confused, partly by the crash, and partly by the noxious gasses of the canyon. He hallucinates about the Rakatans he has betrayed and killed, but these hallucinations turn out to be savage beasts, out for his blood. As he fights them, he is attacked by a saarl (some variation of, or perhaps slightly different name for, the saarlac from Return of the Jedi). The journeyers arrive in time to save him from it.
The saarl, however, is not something one usually fights, and the journeyers have little chance of surviving its attack. Not only that, but thanks to the Force storms, this saarl has gained the ability to…well, vomit electricity at them, basically.
Xesh, despite being saved by the three, takes the opportunity to escape and leave them to their deaths. He takes the high ground and watches the fight. While he watches, it becomes obvious to him that these three are very different to anyone he is used to. He expects them each to leave the others to die. When Tasha is knocked out, he thinks the others will leave her to distract the saarl while they escape. He is surprised to find that they fight all the harder to protect each other, selfless and, in his eyes, weak. However, there is something about Shae Koda that intrigues him. Little does he know, it is the light side of the Force that shines from her; something he has never felt.
Thanks to this, Xesh finds himself diving off his perch and slicing the saarl open with his forcesaber to save the journeyers.
At this moment, the rangers arrive with Shae’s master. He immediately recognises that Xesh is the eye of the storm. He connects with the storm through the Force in an attempt to return it to balance, but its power is too great. Thinking that the storm has killed her master, Shae takes up Xesh’s forcesaber in anger and nearly strikes the dark warrior down. She does not, however, and he is returned, unconscious, to a temple of healing.
As part one winds down, Xesh realises there is more to the Force than just the dark side. The journeyers know that the Force guided them to him for a reason, and that he can be taught the balance. But the Je’daii masters refuse to listen to them, and banish Xesh to Bogan. Even though he knows nothing of the light side of the Force, they expect him to meditate on it, and find balance. This is a weak excuse to imprison him, really, and the journeyers know someone so steeped in the dark side will not gain balance without help.
As you can see from the screenshots I’ve included, the artwork is very nice. Only a few times throughout the graphic novel was a I confused about what I was seeing. I had little to complain about in the first issue, except what I’ve already said about the weak interaction between the three journeyers.
Part 2 – Prisoner of Bogan
Part 3 – Force War