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

Dawn of the Jedi

Yes, I know the blog posts – when they actually come – are mostly about games and graphic novels at the moment, but it’s not going to become a habit. Probably.

Batman Hush

I’ve said before that I don’t really read graphic novels, and while this is still mostly true, there have been a few times when I gave in to temptation. The first time was when I’d just finished playing Batman Arkham Origins and, being underwhelmed, perhaps disappointed with it, wanted more Batman. The only thing I could think of was a graphic novel, so I got Batman: Hush and it was very good. I subsequently read two and a half other ones and they put me off graphic novels again. For me to enjoy a graphic novel, it has to have very good art as well as story. Sadly, too many of them have what I would call pretty crap art, so that puts me off. I can’t really see myself becoming an avid reader of graphic novels, even with good art and story, because of the way they’re written. For a novel writer, it can be confusing and at times frustrating to read, since dialogue often has to tell the reader what is happening in lieu of narrative (among other ‘issues’ (pun semi-intended)), and it becomes very forced and unrealistic. But that can be – not to sound too snobby and arrogant, of course – forgiven, if it’s good overall. But now I’m rambling.

This time, with all the hype about Star Wars Episode VII coming up, a handful of games and the Clone Wars final season on Netflix, which…they…let’s just…F*#%ING NETFLIX! The final season of Clone Wars (among many, many other films and TV shows) is exclusive to US Netflix. I would have less of a problem with that if I weren’t paying the same amount for less content. In fact, because I have a southern Ireland Netflix account and my bank is UK, I’m actually paying more for less content. But making it exclusive to Americans… I’d like to see them make it exclusive to white people and see if they get away with that. In this day and age…oh, never mind. What was I saying?

Oh, yes. All the Star Wars hype made me re-watch Episode III – the writing of which was a lot worse than I remembered – and go back and play Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2. Then I watched the final season of Clone Wars (yes, Netflix, I used a browser extension to get around your xenophobia, you p#*cks!). Then I wanted…more! More Jedi, more Force, more Star Wars. So again, I began to wonder if there were any good Star Wars graphic novels. I found a list of them, and looked for some screenshots to check the art. Everything seemed decent, so I got a three-part graphic novel, Dawn of the Jedi.

Dawn of the Jedi is set, as far as I know at least, as far back in the Star Wars timeline as possible. Technically, I suppose they could go even further back, but no one has. It tells the story of the early Je’daii, a group of people of several different races sensitive to the Force, and their struggle against the evil, dark-side-wielding Rakatan.

Lightsaber

Because I’m only coming to the end of my review of the first part of the graphic novel, and it’s longer than I intended, I’ve decided to post all this in four parts:

Force Storm

Prisoner of Bogan

Force War

Star Wars 1313: Drake’s Lawsuit

I stayed up until 4am this morning, watching E3. I suffered through the ‘comedy’, the dancing, the acting; I picked my jaw up off the ground after watching Watch_Dogs gameplay; I sat up, ultimately, to see what Star Wars 1313 was all about. I knew it was about a bounty hunter on Coruscant, and that it was meant to be ambitious and doing stuff never before seen, but that’s all. I looked forward to it.

Finally, after blabbering on about some rubbish, they got to the game.

They showed an in-game cutscene first. It was absolutely incredible looking. Nearly as good as Watch_Dogs had looked. I thought if the whole game was going to look like that, it would be hard to disappoint. I shouldn’t have thought that. I must have jinxed it.

After about 30 seconds, the cutscene was over, and it was back to the studio for talking. I was a tad irritated that they’d cut it off so quickly, after making such a huge fuss about it all week, but I assumed there’d be lots more to show.

Let’s ignore the fact that the whole thing lasted only a little over four minutes, talking and all (so about two minutes of actual game). That’s not what annoyed me. Granted, I’d stayed up till a ridiculous time mostly to see this game they’d been raving about. So when I saw only two minutes or so of actual gameplay, I was a tad annoyed. However, what really pissed me off was what they did show.

They showed Uncharted in space.

The first bit of proper gameplay they showed consisted of the player character (I don’t know or care what his name is) having to climb up the outside of a ship as it fell to pieces around him. My first thought was, ‘Drake?’

Nathan Drake must have cryogenically frozen himself aboard a time-machine-ship en route to a galaxy far far away, because that is who I saw last night. The sequence was nothing short of identical to the kind of climb-up-this-before-it-falls-apart sequences found in the three Uncharted games. And not just obvious similarities. Even the way the character moved, climbed and jumped was the same as Drake.

Another 30 seconds or so, and it cut off again. As impressive as the graphics were, all I could think about was the settling in of doubt and mild outrage. I replayed it in my head to ensure I’d seen what I thought I saw. I did. By the time I’d done so, the third and final piece of gameplay began.

This time, they were aboard another ship (or inside somewhere, anyway, I wasn’t really listening at this point).

This scene was very reminiscent of the plane in Uncharted 3, with crates and people sliding from side to side. But again, this wasn’t the only similarity. Nath…I mean, our brand new, unique bounty hunter character took cover behind one of these crates and began shooting enemies. It was somewhere around here when the proper outrage set in.

He was getting hit every time he popped out of cover to fire, so he blind fired. Now of course most 3rd person shooters let you do that, but there was just something about it that again made me think Nathan Drake was in disguise as a bounty hunter. Then, he moved from cover to cover, on the other side of a crate from an enemy. Then, there was no mistaking this bounty hunter’s true identity.

He reached over the crate, grabbed the enemy, pulled him over, and killed him on the ground. It was very nearly identical to two such attacks in Uncharted 2. The animation, you would swear, had been taken straight from Naughty Dog’s files and mixed together into something ‘new’.

They claim this is ambitious, and that it’s never been done before. Bullshit! It’s been done three times before for the PS3 and then again for the handheld. The only ambitious thing about it is the way they think they can blatantly rip off one of the biggest game franchises in recent history and get away with it.

Granted, they probably will get away with it. But still…

Star Wars 1313 had better introduce some massively original gameplay elements and a brilliant story on top of this stolen gameplay, or else I think they could be in trouble.

I understand the host’s excitement, because visually it looks amazing. But looks aren’t everything. And they can be fairly deceiving. Here’s the video, and a video of similar gameplay from Uncharted (go to 1m 15s). Spot the difference. Which is Uncharted, and which is Uncharted wearing sci fi makeup?

It…Ends!

Like the end of the world, come December. But with less violence, looting and I told you so’s.

The final stop on the tour is Tea and Text.

I admit, I was a little concerned about today’s review, as it was the only one that I hadn’t seen ahead of time. Ann also kept quiet in emails about whether or not she was enjoying the book. I know the run of four and five stars must end at some point, and I wondered if it might be today.

It isn’t. I nervously found my way to the review, and the smile hasn’t yet left my face. Four hot cups of tea is a lot better than a glass of prune juice. I don’t like prunes. I don’t like prunes at all. Although the dried ones aren’t too bad.

I’m sure I’ll be back in a short while to rant about Star Wars 1313.