The Force Is With Leia – But Which Side?

Force Awakens - Leia

Recently, I saw someone on Facebook complain mention that Leia’s poster for The Force Awakens doesn’t have her holding either a blaster or a lightsaber. According to some who responded, it’s because she’s a woman. Not because she’s a politician, or because her brain and her words are her weapons… No, not holding a weapon is just outright sexism. But out of this came a question: Why was Leia not trained as a Jedi, but Luke was?

So why was Luke chosen over Leia? Is it really necessary to point out that these are only my opinions?

Let’s start with the fact that he was not chosen over Leia. He was barely chosen at all. Remember the start of A New Hope, where Leia is asking for Obi-Wan’s help? She doesn’t stand in front of him asking for help only for him to tell her, ‘Okay, but you’re not going to be a Jedi – that’s for men’. No, she sends a message through R2D2. Luke buys the droid, finds the message, and later relays it to Obi-Wan.

It is, therefore, Luke who is sitting beside him when he realises he needs to help Leia. So it is Luke whose training he begins by handing him Anakin’s lightsaber, because Kenobi himself is too old for this shit. Not once does Obi-Wan come into contact with Leia in order to give her, or indeed deny her, Jedi training.

Then comes Yoda. Luke finds Yoda because Obi-Wan tells him to. Could Obi-Wan have told Leia to go there too? Perhaps. Would she have believed the disembodied voice of someone she’s never met? Unlikely. Could he contact someone to whom he doesn’t have a connection and who has had no Jedi training yet? Would she have left the Rebel Alliance, where she was a very important figure, to go searching swamps for someone to train her in some mystical nonsense that the galaxy no longer believes is real?

Obi-Wan and Yoda

In the original trilogy, Obi-Wan doesn’t seem to know that Leia is Luke’s sister. He tells Yoda that Luke is their only hope, only to be told ‘There is another’. The prequels clash with that, so maybe his memory just isn’t what it used to be. Or maybe Lucas made it all up as he went. …nah.

In short, Leia was never in a position to be trained as a Jedi. Even Luke only received very basic training. Return of the Jedi has Luke telling her, ‘You have that power too; in time, you’ll learn to use it as I have’. Very clearly, he intends to impart his training to her.

However, there are some reasons that it would have been potentially disastrous to train Leia as a Jedi. Though she grows as a person throughout the films, she certainly doesn’t display any kind of personality traits conducive to being a Jedi. In fact, could she have ended up being too tempted by the dark side?

Leia is incredibly arrogant and hot-headed. She is spiteful. She’s borderline racist towards Chewbacca. She is very reminiscent of a certain Anakin Skywalker.

When Luke and Han find her, there’s no word of thanks. Just complaining and insults. And let’s take a moment to remember that she was not the damsel in distress. Not only does she immediately take over her own rescue, but Luke and Han didn’t go there to rescue her in the first place – they’re trying to rescue themselves.

Remember when Lando comes to apologise and explain his ‘betrayal’ to them? Leia doesn’t care about Lando’s plight and the difficult situation he’s in, trying to protect a city full of people. No, she just wants Chewie to choke him to death. At no point does she care about all of that suffering. Instead, she stands over him while he’s on his knees, gasping for breath. Does it remind you at all of Vader choking the Rebel at the start of A New Hope?

Leia lacks the humility that Luke has. While he was raised as a farmer on a backwater planet, working hard for his family, Leia was raised as a princess. She thinks of herself as hugely important and superior. He looks up to Obi-Wan and Yoda; Leia looks down on people.

In short, Luke displays many qualities of a Jedi. Leia displays many qualities of a Sith.

leia

And to complete that journey to the dark side, what would have happened if Leia had confronted Vader and the emperor instead of Luke? Yes, Luke tried to kill the emperor, but he believed fully that Vader could be redeemed. He threw aside his lightsaber and put his life in the hands of his mortal enemy, believing that the light in Vader would overcome the dark. And he was right.

But what if it had been Leia? What if the man – the monster – who, for her, embodied the Empire even more than the emperor himself lay helpless at her feet? The man who stood by while her entire planet, her people and her family were obliterated. Would she have done what Luke did? Or would she have given in to her hate and killed the man she despised more than anything?

Either way, I suspect The Force Awakens will see Leia with a little more knowledge of the Force. I doubt she’ll be a Jedi – I don’t think she’d even accept the training – but the Force will be with her.

The Force Will Soon Awaken

The Force Awakens poster, landscape

Are you ready to desperately want to be a Jedi again/still? Star Wars Episode VII is coming soon (December 17 in the UK) and we know little about it so far, aside from rumours and speculation. So here’s some more! I could babble on and on about it for ages, so I’ll just briefly give a couple of my theories.

I don’t really know what I think about the idea that Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are Han Solo and Princess Leia’s children. That might align too much with the no-longer-canon Expanded Universe books and be too predictable. But it might go some way to explain why A) Kylo is apparently obsessed with Darth Vader, and B) He says (or his toy does anyway) ‘That weapon is mine’ about, presumably, Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber.

I also wonder if Luke Skywalker might not be on the poster because he isn’t really in the first film or even dies fairly early on. My theory, kind of, is that Kylo was one of Luke’s students when he restarted the Jedi Order. Because Luke was never properly trained, he didn’t know how to handle a difficult student and it led to a clash – a physical clash that perhaps resulted in Kylo having to wear that mask. Luke, feeling like he failed, goes into isolation.

Kind of carrying on from that, I have another theory which I don’t think I actually believe. But I wondered if the Knights of Ren – the group that Kylo takes his name from – are either A) The Jedi Order that Luke failed, or B) Simply Force-sensitive people banding together to create their own group that is neither Light- nor Dark-side. The fact that they are supposedly hunters of Sith relics could simply be in an effort to better understand their powers. Or not.

Daisy Ridley - Rey

Rey, I think, will be the Jedi rather than Finn (John Boyega) – I think him having the lightsaber is misdirection. I also think she may already have some Jedi training. I even wonder if her ‘scavenging’ is actually a mission that Luke gave to her, and she is hunting for Jedi relics just as the Knights of Ren are hunting for Sith relics. Will that be one of the big twists/reveals? She seems to be a normal person and then suddenly uses the Force, perhaps to save Finn in that snow scene. (EDIT: The new trailer pretty much destroys this theory.)

That doesn’t cover the ‘There has been an awakening’ line. I have no theory for that. I do, however, have some theories about who some of Kylo Ren’s toy’s lines are delivered to:

‘I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.’ – Following my Luke/Kylo theory, this could be delivered to Luke when Kylo tracks him down again. This time, I think Luke will lose.

‘You know what I’ve come for.’ – This could be, as everyone assume, referring to Anakin’s lightsaber, but it might also be delivered to Luke along with the previous line.

‘Don’t fight it. You know you can’t’ and ‘Together, we will destroy the Resistence and the last Jedi’ – These could both be delivered to the terrified-looking Finn in that snowy scene from the second teaser trailer. Or the second line could just be delivered to Snoke (his boss/master, voiced by Andy Sirkis).

‘Is it true: you’re just a scavenger?’ – This is almost certainly delivered to Rey, as she is…well, a scavenger. But the way it is delivered is odd. Could it be that he has reunited with his sister and is disappointed with who and what she is?

Again, I could go on for ages with conflicting theories, but I won’t. What do you think will happen?

Kylo Ren lightsaber

The Galaxy Needs KOTOR III

It’s not the first time I’ve written about it, nor will it be the last! This article was originally written for Uproar Comics.

Knights of the Old Republic

A long time ago, not too far far from here, I picked up a gaming magazine of long forgotten origin. This was before I had decent internet or knew how much content I could find therein. Within the glossy pages that made a nasty creaky, squeaky noise against my thumbnail, I saw a Jedi. The Jedi was fighting another Jedi. There was a yellow lightsaber and a red lightsaber. It was a Star Wars game! Oh, but it was an role-playing game. And it was set in the Old Republic, not even the time we’d seen in the films. Never mind then: it would be a bit rubbish. The graphics weren’t even that great.

At the time, I hadn’t played many RPGs, and my gaming knowledge was pretty much limited to things like Half-Life, Doom and Unreal Tournament. And, of course, Jedi Knight 2! The idea of turn-based combat sounded incredibly boring, as did wandering about picking things up and talking to people. If I’m going to play a Star Wars game, I want to be going about cutting people’s limbs off and Force throwing them off ledges, not having a conversation.

So I didn’t buy it when it came out. The only game I knew the developer, BioWare, from was Baldur’s gate. As brilliant as that top-down fantasy game was, I couldn’t see how it could properly translate to a 3rd person Star Wars game and be in any way exciting.

As time went on, I forgot about it. I think it wasn’t until the following year, coming up to Christmas, that I heard about it again. My dad mentioned it a few times, asking if I’d played it yet and saying it had very good reviews, etc. But I still wasn’t interested.

Then Christmas came. I opened my present from my dad, and there was a plastic box with some bald man, a big-headed woman and a General-Akbar-a-like staring at me. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Goddamn it.

I pretended to be pleased and grateful, even though I’d said multiple times that I wasn’t interested in the game. I went and installed it on his PC and started it up. First things first, I had to choose to be male or female. Scoundrel, Scout or Soldier. Then I chose a face from a handful of presets. Next, I had to assign attribute points and choose ‘feats’. Bored already. Name? When the hell do I get to play?!

Finally, the music burst to life and the yellow text started to crawl away from me. At least it felt like Star Wars.

KOTOR - Reven and Malak

For the next eight hours or so, I was glued to the computer. I fought my way off a besieged spaceship, falling out of orbit. I rescued an ungrateful Jedi. I listened to my companion’s whining about his family. And eventually, I became a Jedi myself! Or it felt like it was me, anyway, and not the character.

The combat, while pretty simple, allowed me to give some commands and sit back to watch the fight. I got to dress my character how I wanted, use whatever kind of weapon I wanted, and best of all, talk to people how I wanted. I got to have conversations with my companions and get to know them, almost as though they were real people.

The story was a typically simple Star Wars story. Big, bad Lord Malak is trying to crush the Republic and you’re the only one who can stop him, with the help of your trusty companions.

The game is perhaps most famous, though, for its big twist. Perhaps a little more than 3/4 of the way through the game, some information is revealed to you, which left most of us open-mouthed. I probably shouldn’t overstate the quality of the twist by comparing it to that of The Sixth Sense, but to this day it’s often voted as gaming’s best twist. It’s not the twist itself so much as the fact that you don’t see it coming until the very moment the game wants you to. Even while Malak mocks you for not knowing, you’re trying to work out what it might be.

That is, in any medium, the best kind of twist. Not only do you not see it coming, but when you replay the game, you can’t for the life of you see how you didn’t see it coming. It’s clear as day. They practically spell it out for you. And yet we were all shocked when it was revealed. Kind of like The Sixth Sense…

This was my first experience of an RPG of this kind, and it couldn’t have been a better game. It made me feel like I was that character – even though he wasn’t voiced – and it made me want to be a Jedi! It’s probably just as well that I’d finished my first book before I played the game, or else it may have turned out to be a Star Wars clone.

I must have played KOTOR about 20 times over the next year, seeing how different the conversations would be if I played a woman, seeing how the game and story changed if I fell to the Dark Side, and stopping every now and then to check if my own Force powers were working yet. So far, they haven’t come to be, but I have faith…

KOTOR alignment

Then, just over a year after KOTOR was released, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords came out. I knew it was going to be even bigger and better than the first, and I was prepared to have the longing for my own galactic adventure rekindled!

Unfortunately, however, KOTOR 2 was developed by Obsidian Entertainment. They were to KOTOR what Treyarch was to Call of Duty, or Warner Brothers Montreal was to Batman Arkham [XYZ]. They thoroughly screwed that intergalactic pooch.

Bugs galore, framerate issues, missing content, plot holes, one completely pointless villain (out of three). What could have been a good twist – the reveal of who the real enemy was – didn’t come as any surprise, because you’re basically told that this character is bad within the first few hours. But perhaps that was for the best. I can’t blame Obsidian for not wanting to try to follow the original’s twist.

The thing I couldn’t forgive KOTOR 2 for as I played through it the first couple of times was, as well as an unnecessarily convoluted storyline, the fact that they decided to alter the story of the first game, albeit only slightly. They basically told us that your character in the first game did what he did with motives unknown to us in that game. They even went so far as to practically ignore the fact that my character had been a Jedi. They were quite intent on making it canon that he’d fallen to the Dark Side. Now, that may have suited their own storyline better than him being a Jedi, but I didn’t like them saying that my hundreds of hours of play was kind of irrelevant.

The other problem was that the game was barely finished. In fact, it wasn’t finished. Whole planets were missing from the released product. One of your companions, the much-loved droid HK-47, was missing his side quest. This resulted in gaping plot holes and loose ends.

That wasn’t Obsidian’s fault, though, as LucasArts rushed them and forced them to release the game before it was ready. They were given very little time to make a very big, complex game. Despite this, many people have come round to the idea that KOTOR 2 is actually the better game. I’ll admit that the story, while convoluted, is probably better and more in-depth. It did an even better job of making you feel like a Jedi, albeit an outcast, exiled one. There were several parts of the story where Force powers actually had a place outside of combat – such as using the Force to control your breath while the room is flooded with poison gas. All these things were an improvement over the first game, but I just can’t bring myself to count it above the original. Although, you did get to wear proper Jedi robes in it, which was an unforgivable omission in the first.

But then came…nothing. No more Star Wars. BioWare moved on to other things, claiming not to like making sequels. Of course Dragon Age 2, with 3 upcoming, and the Mass Effect trilogy, with 4 upcoming, don’t count. They don’t like to make sequels. But is that a good thing?

Mass Effect 2 was okay. It was nothing special and I didn’t like how much they changed it from the first, which is still just under KOTOR on my list of all-time favourite games. It was just padding to make Mass Effect a trilogy, really. It didn’t need to exist. The first Dragon Age is probably third on my list of all-time favourite games, but DA2…oh dear. From reused areas, to an overall claustrophobic play area, to magical nuclear bombs, it was pretty damn bad. Then came Mass Effect 3. Now, I could quite literally rant about ME3 for hours – and I have. But for the sake of brevity, let’s just say it was an absolutely abysmal, spit-in-fans’-faces atrocity. And I don’t just mean the controversial ending. From start to finish, it was piss-poor and, frankly, kind of disrespectful.

So do I really want BioWare to make KOTOR 3? Yes. They’ve fallen very far from their previous greatness: Baldur’s Gate, Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, Dragon Age: Origins, Mass Effect. The time that I didn’t even have to think about whether I would buy a BioWare game or not has long passed. But I don’t give a flying f***. It’s Star Wars. It’s Knights of the Old Republic, goddamn it. I need it! Sure, they’d probably simplify the combat and make it mindless button mashing, like DA2, but I don’t really mind that. In fact, I later came to quite like that button mashing. I just want to feel like a Jedi again.

Is it likely? No. I told myself and others that if 2014’s E3 didn’t bring news of Knights of the Old Republic III, then it would probably never happen. After all, the timing couldn’t be more perfect, with the Star Wars hype kicking in once again. But, of course, E3 brought ‘news’ – if you can call it that – of Mass Effect 4 instead, as did E3 2015. It seems BioWare is mastering the art of ignoring their fans desperate pleas and giving everyone what they don’t want instead.

They did make The Old Republic, an MMO that no one really wanted. And when they happily told fans that we didn’t need KOTOR 3 because TOR was essentially KOTOR 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, we knew that our hopes and dreams were doomed. And that BioWare had become delusional f***king idiots.

Lightsaber

Help Us, Obsidian; You’re Our Only Hope

But that’s okay, because the fans aren’t alone. Obsidian Entertainment wants KOTOR 3 just as much as we do. In fact, to this day, more than ten years on, they are still trying to get permission to make it. They nearly did make it. The series was meant to be a trilogy, as the so-called ‘ending’ of KOTOR 2 suggested. And the closing chapter of that trilogy was in pre-production at Obsidian, but LucasArts never gave it the green light. Even Obsidian don’t seem to know why.

But even now, Obsidian are pitching a new Star Wars RPG (or they were – I haven’t heard a thing about it since). It’s not KOTOR 3; it’s set within the timeline of the films. But it is Star Wars, and it is an RPG. So it may not be the Star Wars RPG that we deserve, but it may be the one we need right now. I don’t know why no one has thought that a sequel to two of the most popular and successful games of all time could probably do quite well, but never mind. Not all hope is lost. Even if it will be an Obsidian game.

I don’t have a lot of faith in Obsidian, but after playing a few of their games, I’ve come to the conclusion that they actually have pretty good writers. They have some good ideas for gameplay and systems. They just can’t program. And they can’t seem to get on with each other all that well. The latter is a problem, but they aren’t alone in their inability to program. Look at Bethesda. I’m not even sure their programmers know Dark Basic, let alone all the coding they need to know for AAA games. And yet theirs are some of the most popular and loved games out there: Oblivion, Skyrim, and Fallout, most famously.

So all is not lost yet. Let’s pray you can help us, Obsidian; you’re our only hope.

Knights of the Old Republic III

More dead than ever?

Knights of the Old Republic

So it seems as though Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 3 is more dead than ever. You may have gathered that from the subheading. A while ago, I wrote a blog for Uproar Comics about why the galaxy needs KOTOR 3, so if you’ve read that you’ll know that this news does not please me one bit.

In a move that shows just how clueless and out of touch BioWare has become, the developer has announced the newest expansion for their underwhelming MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game, duh!), The Old Republic. And it’s pretty much the death knell for KOTOR 3.

SPOILERS for both KOTOR 1 and 2 ahead!

As anyone who has played the first two games will know that the Knights of the Old Republic series follows the Dark Lord Revan. The first game deals with the aftermath of Revan’s rule over the Empire, now in the hands of his second, Darth Malak. Over the course of the game, it is revealed that your player character is, in fact, Revan. He was not defeated by the Jedi, as is the official story, but rather he was so damaged in Malak’s traitorous attack on him that the Jedi were able to create his identity anew.

The player of course chooses whether the Jedi formerly known as Revan will continue to be a Jedi or return to his dark-side ways. No matter the choice made, KOTOR II: The Sith Lords kicks off sometime after Revan has left the galaxy. Although you don’t play as, or even encounter him in KOTOR II, your player character – the Exile – kind of lives in his shadow.

The Exile fought alongside Revan, and we soon learn that the elderly Jedi Master who takes him under her wing taught Revan. She led him down the path of the Dark Side, until he betrayed her. She is, basically, trying to recreate Revan in the Exile.

KOTOR 2 Art

But that’s beside the point. The story of Revan in KOTOR II is that he left the galaxy, sensing something far worse than the Empire out there in dark space. We are led to believe (or perhaps outright told, I forget) that what he senses is the real Sith; the Sith species, not the pretenders in the Empire who call themselves Sith.

So back to the TOR expansion, and the premise is that Revan has returned to the galaxy far, far away. And he arrives at the head of an apocalyptic cult bent on the destruction of both the Republic and the Empire, the Jedi and the Sith.

That could certainly be the true Sith. But no matter what it is, the fact is that if they are continuing/finishing Revan’s story in this not-too-popular MMO, what chance is there of Knights of the Old Republic 3? Very little, it saddens me to think.

It doesn’t make sense to me. First off, wouldn’t now-ish be the perfect time to bring out the game? Star Wars Episode VII is coming out next year, after all. And what better Star Wars game to make than KOTOR 3 – the game that the vast majority of RPG/BioWare fans have wanted since KOTOR II came out in 2005.

On top of that, it seems as though BioWare are working on a Star Wars title. I’m not entirely sure of this, but BioWare’s Wikipedia page lists such a title as in development, and the source they use is a blog post on EA’s website, which does seem to say that. It could be a case of bad wording, but it seems like they’re making a Star Wars game. So, what the hell could they be working on that they think it’s more worthy than a sequel to one of the most popular series ever? That might be an exaggeration.

Yes, I know I wasn’t consistent with my numerals! I don’t care!

For more on BioWare, and their fall from grace, I wrote about that for Uproar too!

The Old Republic

Force War

(Part 1 / Part 2)

Force War is the third and final part of Dawn of the Jedi. It takes place a year after Prisoner of Bogan. The Rakata have attacked. They have cut a bloody swathe through the system’s planets, and even attacked Tython itself. The allied forces – the Je’daii and all remaining non-Force sensitives have joined forces against this common enemy – have blunted the Rakatan attack on Tython, and the bloodthirsty dark siders have fallen back. Daegen Lok has been asked by the Je’daii to lead their forces, and Xesh now fights alongside them.

Flesh Raiders

The Rakatan ground forces are mutated lower caste Rakata, Flesh Raiders, little more than beasts. They do not wield the Force, but they do fight with forcepikes (basically forcesabers, but with more hilt). They are strong and incredibly bloodthirsty. They are joined by a number of Force Hounds. Shae Koda’s presence and bond with Xesh is the only thing keeping him from being overwhelmed by the dark side. He has begun to learn the balance of the Force, but knows that only the dark side will serve him in battle.

After a tough battle, we see that tension is running high. It’s not only the strain of war, but the forcesabers. The weapons require the dark side to operate, and the Je’daii are finding it increasingly difficult to keep balance within themselves while wielding one. We also see that something more is developing between Xesh and Shae, which isn’t exactly surprising. Xesh seems willing to allow these feelings, while Shae is more reluctant, leaving with a weak excuse when things are getting too intimate.

It seems the Rakata are losing their connection to the Force. They have been commanding slaves more than they have been commanding the Force, and it is slowly leaving them. This is why Tython is so important to them. Not only will the planet restore their connection to Force, but it is also the location of the galaxy’s last remaining infinity gate (those Kwa Stargate things from part 2). This gate was the main one, and requires no connecting gate in order for the Rakata to travel wherever they want in the galaxy. As powerful as they are now, they will be unstoppable if they take Tython.

Tau

Remember the final revelation of Prisoner of Bogan? That Xesh has had memory blocks put in place by the Predor? He is beginning to have dreams about this. The blocks are perhaps beginning to fail. Drawn by the distress she feels through the Force, Shae wakes Xesh from his nightmares. Knowing that they could both die, she decides there no reason not to keep her ‘secret’ any longer: she’s in love with him. But Xesh doesn’t know what love is. The best he can do is tell her that she’s about the only person he doesn’t hate, and that she calms his anger. What a romantic. He also tells her that his name is not Xesh. He gave himself a name from the only word he remembers of his native language: Tau. Shae is now the only person to know it. Which is nice.

Now comes a bit that kind of confused me. Tasha Ryo, one of the three journeyers who were, I thought, meant to be main characters, took a backseat after part one. She is now a Seer, a Je’daii who basically sleeps all day to get visions. These visions are not clear and must be deciphered, much like normal dreams, I suppose. The reason I was kind of confused was that for some reason, I thought this was Tasha’s mother the whole time. So even though they keep calling her Tasha, I kept thinking “I wonder where Tasha is”. So, I’m an idiot. Anyway, Tasha sees a vision that leads Xesh to locate, through his old Force Hound astral travelling tricks, the location of the high Predor. They attack this planet.

Unfortunately, Trill is still about, and still a spy for the Predor. She tells him that the Je’daii are coming, and he has an ambush waiting for them. Sek’nos Rath is taken down in the battle, and taken prisoner. He becomes one of the many Force sensitives powering the Predor’s ship. Xesh, his memory block still keeping him from recognising Trill, is tricked into entering the ship, and she knocks him unconscious.

Shae feels that Xesh has been lost to the darkness, and resolves to save him, despite her master’s scolding at the emotional bond they now have. Said master also tells her that he must take command of the Je’daii troops, as Lok has disappeared.

Je'daii Master

This is where my complaint at the start of part two comes in. Predor Skal’nas is removing the memory blocks from Xesh’s mind, and we see that he ordered Xesh to kill his own master and sabotage the ship over Thython, so that Skal’nas would be the one to take the planet. However, if you recall the beginning of Prisoner of Bogan, Skal’nas is angry that Xesh and his master have not contacted him. This doesn’t make sense, leading me to believe that this was a twist the writer came up with quite late on, perhaps even after part two had been printed.

With the memory blocks gone, Xesh remembers some of the more terrible things he has done, and how he actually quite enjoyed it. It is easy for Skal’nas to bring Xesh back under his command. He is a Force Hound once more. Not only that, but he quite happily tortures Daegen Lok who, we find, has been taken prisoner. Xesh uses Lok’s own mind twist against him. Lok’s madness is sanity and truth to Skal’nas: he has found the infinity gate. Remember that chasm under the Anil Kesh temple, that drives people mad if they try to descend? That is where the infinity gate is located.

Next, Skal’nas uses Xesh and Trill to draw the power he needs to find all the Je’daii Seers through the Force, and blind them. The Je’daii’s only advantage is taken away, and the Seers are blinded both physically, and to the Force. The Je’daii are forced to retreat.

Now all they can do is wait on Tython for the Rakatan assault. The only up side is that, because Skal’nas wants the infinity gate, they cannot bombard the planet from space. Skal’nas launches the attack, but takes Lok and Xesh in a shuttle craft to the Anil Kesh chasm undetected. Almost undetected. Shae’s bond means that she senses them break through the atmosphere, and goes after them.

Sek'nos Rath

Meanwhile, Sek’nos Rath isn’t about to become a minor character. He gathers all of his pain, rage and hate and unleashes it, freeing himself and all the other Force sensitive slaves powering the ship. They kill their guards and join the fight. But Sek’nos is more interested in taking revenge on Xesh.

While the battle rages, the blinded Tasha Ryo once again activates the ancient holocron, hoping for guidance. It seems not all is lost. The Rakata arriving on Tython fulfills the true purpose of the holocron. “It is time,” A’nang says, “for Tython to awaken.”

Down in the chasm, Predor Skal’nas reveals that he knows how to reach the bottom without being driven mad by the infinite gate’s defenses. It is a simple symbol that he and Xesh must hold in their minds: the symbol of the Tho Yor that brought the Je’daii to Tython all those years ago. They leave Lok chained up and descend. It isn’t long before Sek’nos and Shae arrive. She and Lok follow their quarry. And so begins the final issue.

Sek’nos, left behind and thinking there is no way Shae and Lok could survive the chasm, is confronted by Trill. He hates her almost as much as Xesh now, and in an impressive but very short battle, he defeats her. His rage nearly overpowers him, but at the last moment, he spares her. The last we see of either of them is Sek’nos walking away, carrying the unconscious Trill.

Below, Lok is in battle with Predor Skal’nas, while Shae fights Xesh. She will not kill him, but he doesn’t seem to be interested in anything she has to say. They fight is interrupted when Lok tries his mind twist on Skal’nas. The pure evil in the Predor’s mind is too much for Lok, and Skal’nas strikes him down, and activates the infinity gate.

Above, at the core of Anil Kesh, Tasha has been guided by the holocron. A’nang tells her that it is time to awaken the Tho Yor. But he needs a Je’daii seer. Blinded is not severed; she can be reunited with the Force, but it will cost her ‘mortal shell’. This is quite a sad scene, but I can’t entirely put my finger on why. Tasha hasn’t been a prominent character to get attached to, yet she is likable. Perhaps it’s because she’s so young, or already been through a lot, or…who knows. But it’s a good, sad scene. This is on reflection, of course, as the first time round I didn’t realise it was Tasha. Again: idiot.

Said scene shares alternate pages with the battle below. Shae, in one speech bubble explains to Xesh/Tau what most of the world doesn’t understand: what love is. It seems enough to bring him back to the light. But if he needed any more encouragement, it comes in the form of Skal’nas striking Shae down with Force lightning. Xesh attacks in rage.

Tasha Ryo

Above, Tasha’s final moments are filled with selflessness. To protect the remaining worlds from the Rakata, she falls into the stream of energy flowing through the centre of Anil Kesh. In her last moments of life, her sight is restored, as is her connection to the Force. She finally understands the purpose of the Tho Yor.

And so do we. All nine of the Tho Yor awaken with a bright yellow energy. With immense power, they strike out and destroy each and every Rakatan ship. And the infinity gate below.

Skal’nas’s rage at this doesn’t help him. Xesh still slices him open and he falls into the weird…flesh-eating water.

Apparently, Lok is still alive, as is Shae’s trusty flying rancor, who swoops in to save them as the place falls apart…naturally. It wouldn’t be a climactic finish if the walls weren’t crumbling around their escape.

The penultimate scene shows Lok refusing to hand over his forcesaber. All the other Je’daii have done so, because of the way the weapon skews the balance of the Force. But it has served Lok too well to give it up. Nor will he submit to being sent back to Bogan, apparently. Instead, he sets out to hunt down the Flesh Raiders who escaped into the wilds after the battle.

Xesh – or rather, Tau – and Shae are heading through a forest. Even after everything, the Je’daii masters have put their trust in Tau, and in the Force, and allowed him to remain on Tython. The two are setting off to explore the planet, and the balance of the Force itself. With a kiss, they walk off into the…moonset.

Force War was, unsurprisingly, packed full of little but action. I enjoyed it, and I certainly liked the idea of the forcesabers corrupting the Je’daii. In the end, even the most powerful masters were beginning to feel themselves tipping more towards the dark side. Even enjoying the killing. That issue with Skal’nas and the memory block remains the only real issue I had. Although, Xesh going back and forth between good and bad got a little bit annoying. He’s evil; he’s ok; he’s bad; he’s good; he’s evil; he’s good again.

I was disappointed to see Lok was still alive. I’d hoped that Skal’nas had killed him, but sadly not. As far as I’m concerned, he’s still a villain. Not the main villain of this story, but he was driven mad in the chasm, even if his vision was true. He wants nothing but power, and the forcesaber will probably only make things worse. If they are working on another graphic novel, dealing with this, then that’s okay. Otherwise, I would have preferred that he die.

Hawk Ryo

I was a little disappointed that Hawk Ryo was barely in this one, as he was probably my favourite character. He was a bit like a tougher, more gritty Han solo, but with Force powers. The little tin star denoting his rank as Ranger helps make his look pretty good too.

The story between Xesh and Trill was left unresolved, which was a bit of a shame. Xesh’s actions caused her to become the hate-filled dark sider that she is, and she is taken prisoner by the Je’daii for it, while Xesh goes free with his new love. I would have been perfectly okay with Trill turning out to be the hero at the end, turning to the light side and stopping Skal’nas, while Xesh just…died. Although he was a good enough character, I never really gave much of a damn about him, whereas I felt sorry for poor Trill.

Lastly, I would ideally have liked to have the typical hero gathering to end things. All of the surviving main characters gathered together in one scene to have some kind of closure for all of them. But never mind.

So, overall, this was the second very good graphic novel that I’ve read, and has made me want to find more, particularly with the same artist. Although in places the art wasn’t what it could be, there are some very good images, and you can feel the tension and the heat of battle, and hear the forcesabers and the music.

I’d probably give Dawn of the Jedi a 7 or 8/10 So in short, I highly recommend this for anyone, whether you normally read graphic novels or not. Remember: I don’t.

Part 1

Part 2

Prisoner of Bogan

The hunt begins!

(Part 1 / Part 3)

This has turned out to be longer and more detailed than the last one, since I remember it better. I’m not quite sure what it is. It’s not a review, but it’s…something.

Prisoner of Bogan

Part two of Dawn of the Jedi – Prisoner of Bogan – begins with Predor Skal’nas using the Force to violently throw Trill about. If you’ve forgotten, Skal’nas is the main (‘High’, perhaps, I don’t remember) Predor of the Rakatan Infinite Empire. Trill is his Force Hound – a slave strong in the Force, and trained to hunt down Force sensitive planets.

Skal’nas is angry that he has lost contact with his subordinate, whom he sent to find Tython (home of the Je’daii, if your memory’s that bad). He’s taking it out on Trill partly because he’s evil and that’s what evil characters do, and partly because she failed to locate Tython, but his subordinate’s Force Hound, Xesh, succeeded.

Now, this confuses me. I didn’t think about it the first time round, but now I’m glancing through the pages again to ensure I’m not lying to you, this makes no sense to me. A revelation in the final part of the graphic novel makes me wonder if the writers were making it up as they went. Which is fine, of course, as long as you don’t leave inconsistencies. But I’ll say more about that in the last part of the review.

Trill assures her master that, while she may not be able to locate Tython, she can track down Xesh. Apparently, she has a ‘brood link’ with him. She and Xesh had already had a minor altercation in the first part of the graphic novel, showing that they have some issues with each other, and this mention of a brood link tells us there must be more than we had perhaps assumed.

Xesh is coming to the end of his second month of exile on Tython’s dark moon, Bogan. He believes that the Je’daii exiled him here not to find balance, but because they fear his power. There seems to be some hope, though, as he remembers Shae Koda. He remembers the light side emanating from her. He doesn’t know it, but she has kindled the embers of the light side within him. But for the moment, he sees these feelings only as a weakness.

While deep in thought, Xesh is attacked by Daegen Lok, Bogan’s only other prisoner/exile. Lok uses a ‘mind twist’ on Xesh, to make him think he’s suffocating. This is an irritating little version of the Jedi mind trick, and Lok uses it fairly often. It got on my nerves a bit, for some reason. Perhaps because I’d like to think the Je’daii he uses it on wouldn’t be so easily tricked. Xesh gains the upper hand regardless, but Lok’s words make Xesh realise that he, too, saw a vision of Xesh before he crash landed. I’m not entirely sure why, but this makes Xesh let Lok go.

Daegen Lok attacks

Lok takes his new friend to a cave. Here, he tells Xesh about the vision he had when he descended the chasm under Anil Kesh. Lok wasn’t alone. He was accompanied by his friend, Hawk Ryo, who denied seeing the same vision as Lok. The vision that caused the Je’daii to declare him crazy and exile him to Bogan. Yes, the Je’daii are kind of dicks in this graphic novel. Apparently Xesh and his forcesaber were part of this vision, and Lok wants Xesh to help him create more forcesabers with which he can prove to the Je’daii that his vision was true. Next, he takes Xesh to a crashed fighter, downed during the war Lok himself ended. Xesh uses his power to recharge the ship’s energy cells and they depart for a planet rich with the kind of crystals Xesh needs for a forcesaber.

Elsewhere, the Je’daii forge master tests the forcesaber, finding it to be stronger than anything he has, and seemingly indestructible. He also can’t activate it. Neither can Shae Koda, the only person other than Xesh to have done so. They determine that it is the dark side of the force that powers the forcesaber, hence why she used it while angry, but not now. Hawk Ryo appears from nowhere and in a pretty good, if slightly ominous scene, activates the forcesaber with no trouble. Impressed, the forge master asks him to keep the weapon, and report back on his findings.

Trill

Trill is searching for Xesh. She remembers their childhood. Even as children, the slaves of the Rakata were brutal to each other. She used her untrained Force powers to put down the leader of their little pack when he challenged Xesh. From there, they swore blood oaths to each other, vowing to always protect each other. But the brutality of the Rakata would not allow these oaths to be kept. For the Rakata’s pleasure, they would later pit the two against one another in a fight to the death. Xesh defeated her, but persuaded his Predor that she should be a gift to the high Predor, as she would make a decent Force Hound. To Trill, denying her a ‘good death’ is an even worse betrayal, but it seemed to me as though this was the only way Xesh knew of protecting her. This was actually a pretty sad scene, and made me feel sorry for Trill. The art and the writing here makes her devastation, rage and hate come alive. She locates Xesh, and sets a course.

Tasha Ryo is shown, by one of the masters, an ancient holocron. The master has been unable to activate it, but believes that she might. He is correct. With only a touch, she activates the holocron, and an alien by the name A’Nang of the Kwa speaks to them. He explains that they were brought to Tython in the same way that the Je’daii were. They spent their time spreading ‘civilisation’ and technology to other planets. They show him a skull, taken from the wreckage of the Rakatan ship. It is the only species they have been unable to identify. The holocron scans it. ‘Rakata!’ he declares, ominously, and the holocron swiches off.

Sek'nos Rath Falls

Meanwhile, the escape of Lok and Xesh has been discovered, and the other two journeyers are dispatched along with two masters and two rangers – including Hawk Ryo – to track them down. They find the two on the crystal-rich planet and attack. Lok uses his mind twist again to convince one of the masters that she is on fire. In saving her life, Sek’nos Rath plummets to his apparent death. But die, he does not. Instead, he is recovered by Trill. She hides her Force sensitivity from him and pretends to be a simple thief who saved his life. This is how she will get close to Xesh and the Je’daii.

While the master, her body manifesting the burns her mind is convinced she has suffered, is rushed to a medical facility, Xesh creates a new forcesaber for Lok. But it seems the saber alone won’t be enough to convince the Je’daii he was right. He needs an army, and he knows just where to find one.

The remnants of the upper hierarchy of the Je’daii’s enemy during the war aren’t pleased to see the man who killed their leader and put down their rebellion. With a little persuasion from the forcesabers, they are partway convinced to follow him, when they are rudely interrupted by Hawk Ryo. Shae Koda has used the connection all the journeyers inexplicably have with Xesh to track him.

Hawk chases Lok down and fights him, forcesaber on forcesaber. The two old friends exchange some meaningful dialogue about Hawk seeing the same vision Lok did, but denying it to save himself from Bogan. This betrayal hurts Lok still. Lok steps backwards off the high ledge and plummets. But Hawk realises that it was all a mind trick, distracting him while the real Lok escaped.

At the same time, Shae is chasing down Xesh. She takes him down and rages at him about his betrayal. She still believes that he has killed Sek’nos. Again the fight is short, but shown with some impressive panels. This time, Shae has two swords to try to counter the forcesaber’s power.

As Xesh begins to fight back again, a giant…squid thing breaks through the ground and grabs Shae. It pulls her down into a watery cavern below. Ignoring his instincts to leave her to die, Xesh dives into the cavern after them. His rage fuels the Force, and he stops the creature’s multiple hearts. Shae has been held under the water too long, and has passed out. Xesh breathes life back into her, and takes her prisoner.

Back at one of the Je’daii temples, the holocron is activated again, and the A’Nang returns from it to tell them about the Rakata. He is shamed to admit that it was they, the Kwa, who enleashed the Rakata on the galaxy. Misjudging the Rakatan’s nature, they gave them advanced technology, including ‘infinity gates’ (the Stars Wars version of Stargates). The Rakata focused on the dark side of the Force, and used it and their new technology to devastate and enslave planet after planet. The Kwa managed to destroy the infinity gates, slowing the Rakata a little, but were still defeated by them. A’Nang’s last helpful tip is that if the Rakata are coming to Tython, then the Je’daii are doomed.

The masters conclude that Lok’s vision is coming true.

Daegen Lok's Forcesaber

Back on Hawk’s homeworld (the Twi’lek world of Shikaakwa), Ryo and another ranger meet up with Sek’nos Rath and Trill. She is still successfully hiding her true nature from them all. The Je’daii attack Lok and Xesh as they try to assume command of the planet’s leading clan – the Ryo clan, that of Hawk’s brother. Sek’nos goes after Xesh and Shae, who has been rendered docile by another of Lok’s mind twists. They fight, but Xesh defeats Sek’nos. Trill appears as Xesh escapes, but we’re surprised to find that he doesn’t recognise her. She is glad to see this. Clearly there is more going on than we realise.

The beginning of this part’s climax is Hawk confronting Lok just in time to save his fellow ranger. Lok uses his mind twist to force the vision they shared into Hawk’s mind. Hawk is the first one strong enough to force him back out, and throw him hard against a wall.

Xesh intervenes in time to save Lok. While Hawk is distracted by Xesh, Lok cuts off his leg, which I wasn’t expecting. A bit unpleasant. This act jerks Shae back into reality, and she joins the fight. Xesh half-heartedly fights her while she tells him he has to choose between freedom and slavery, light and dark. Lok makes the mistake of calling himself Xesh’s master. Xesh turns on him and knocks him down. Lok tries to use his mind twist on Xesh, but the Force Hound’s mind is not somewhere he wants to go, and it defeats Lok.

Shae talks Xesh out of killing Lok, is reunited with her friend Sek’nos Rath, who she still thought was dead, and they all live happily ever after. Well, they don’t.

Hawk admits to the masters that he shared Lok’s vision. With one difference. It wasn’t Daegen Lok he saw leading the Je’daii. It was Xesh.

Prisoner of Bogan ends in dramatic fashion with Trill reporting back to her Predor, who gives the order to prepare the fleet. The last, full-page panel shows a rather imposing fleet of ships heading for war. Not only that, but it leaves us with one last reveal: Xesh didn’t remember Trill because the high Predor has places blocks on his memory, in order to use him as a spy.

Rakata

This was a much more complicated, action-packed, story-packed part of the Dawn of the Jedi graphic novel, and was probably my favourite of the three. The battles between the Je’daii and Xesh/Lok looked very good, for the most part, and you could almost hear the music and the humming of the forcesabers. As with the first part, I think there was only one thing I didn’t like about this part, and that was the start, where Predor Skal’nas was annoyed that he hadn’t been contacted by Xesh’s master, but you’ll see why in the final post tomorrow. Although, I also didn’t really like how easily Lok and Xesh defeated the Je’daii over and over. Yes, Lok was a general in the war, a hero and pretty powerful, but still…some of them were masters!

Part 3 – Force War

Back to part 1 – Force Storm

Force Storm

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).

Force Storm

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.

Rakata

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.

Xesh

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.

Saarl

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