Scott Allie’s Star Wars: Jedi: The Dark Side was a highly entertaining bit of Star Wars lore, and provided for Star Wars lovers a rich and artful rendering of the events that took place prior to Jude Watson’s Jedi Apprentice series.What I enjoyed about this 5 part comic arc is that it is a classic example of intertextuality. This particular comic series would be an example of what John Fiske would call ‘horizontal intertextuality’, wherein a comic makes reference to a book, rather than ‘vertical intertxtuality’, wherein a book makes reference to another book. I know there is an MA thesis somewhere in this blog, pulling together the theories of Barthes, Krestiva, Saussure, and Bakhtin (to name a few literary theorists) and the literary behemoth that is the Star Wars expanded universe. I don’t know; maybe intertextual is not the proper word to define Star Wars literature; maybe interdiscourse is a more accurate definition simply because we have all these authors conversing about the same thing, over different mediums, over different spaces of time, concerning different aspects of the same mythology.
Anyways, enough of that literary theory nonsense.What I liked about this comic was the dialogue of Qui-Gon Jinn, the unsettling feelings Qui-Gon gave me as a “frontier Jedi”, Micah Giiett, the art, and Xanatos.
Scott Allie did an excellent job with Qui-Gon’s dialogue. When reading Qui-Gon’s words, I could hear the voice of Liam Neeson speaking through the comic. The cadence of his speech and the word choice was true to the Qui-Gon we all enjoyed in The Phantom Menace. I would even go so far as to say Allie did a better job than Watson in his verbal presentation of Qui-Gon Jinn, but not in his characterization of Qui-Gon.In issue four there was one scene which particularly shocked me. In an attempt to get to the bottom of a conspiracy against Crion, the ruler of Telos IV and the father of his Padawan Xanatos, Qui-Gon went undercover to create ties with a group of smugglers/revolutionaries. As part of his plan he took the guise of an old man, and made contact with a “child” as Qui-Gon called him in issue three – a young guy who looked like in was in way over his head from the moment we meet him in the story. Once it was discovered by the group of revolutionaries that the “old man” who was brought into their midst was a Jedi, a melee ensued, where Qui-Gon killed all involved. What disturbed me though, was the manner in which Qui-Gon killed the young man he called “child” in the previous issue. As the melee between the revolutionaries and Qui-Gon broke out, you can see the kid in the background neither firing his weapon at Qui-Gon nor doing anything rather aggressive. He’s mostly standing around with a shocked looked on his face, occasionally pointing his blaster at the Jedi, but again, not firing. Once Qui-Gon was done with the more threating members of the group, he plunged his lightsaber into the young man’s chest, accompanied by the pitiful pleas of the young man’s soft “no…”. The scene broke my heart a little, but I think this scene is what Allie meant in his preamble to the series about the idea of a creating a story around a frontier Jedi handing out “rough justice”. Indeed, I think Qui-Gon’s lightsaber through the young man’s chest qualifies as Jedi “rough justice”. I felt like Qui-Gon could have spared the young man’s life. It would have been the more “Jedi” thing to do.
Another Jedi to make he re-appearance into the pages of Dark horse’s comics is Micah Giiett, our Jedi Master friend from one of my favorite Star Wars Tales stories: Jedi Chef, and of course Jedi Council: Acts of War. His inclusion in this comic arc was a moment of ‘full-circle’ for Allie, as it was he who named Micah Giientt. In the letters to the editor section at the end of issue 1, we are told that it was Allie who won a contest to name Micah Giientt when the writer of Jedi Council: Acts of War was looking to create a new member of the Jedi Council. Allie’s submission of Micah Giientt won, but as a writer he never had the opportunity to use the Jedi whose name he was responsible for. Jedi: Darkside was his chance to put some words into the mouth of a character he helped to create. It was nice to see Giientt again. Considering that this story takes place in 53 BBY, and Giientt dies in 33 BBY, it’s important to note that prior to the Phantom Menace Giientt sat on the council for 20 years. We don’t know when his tenure on the Jedi Council began, but we know now that he must have been a prominent member, considering his years of service.Moving on, I want to make a quick note about the art in this series. Mahmud Asrar did an outstanding job with this comic. I’ve never come across his work before, but like I said, he did really well. His depictions of Qui-Gon were spot on, and his representation of Tahl was not what I imagined, but awesome none-the-less. I did not imagine Tahl to be so ‘sexy’ for lack of a better word, but the flirtatious tension between Qui-Gon and Tahl was illustrated well, as it is a key component to the backstory of this series.
Finally, along with my mention of Asrar’s artwork, both Allie and Asrar did well with their characterization of Xanatos, Qui-Gon’s wayward apprentice. Xanatos’ arrogance was captured well, and the background to his facial scar was flushed out, which I thought was pretty neat. I think we’ll most defiantly see more of him in the issues still to come that will fill in the 9 year gap between Qui-Gon “losing” his Padawan Xanatos, and before he takes young Oni-Wan to be his student.For my next post I’m going to take a look at Restraint, Luceno’s new story about Darth Maul. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.