Friday, October 30, 2009

3963 BBY: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 2: Flashpoint

Two weeks is a long time to go without doing what it is you enjoy. But alas, duty comes first, and my familial and professional duties required my full attention these last many days. That being said, assignments have been evaluated and handed back, mid-term marks have been entered, and colds and flus which have plagued the home-front seem to have subsided.

Our journey along Star Wars chronology can start once more. We will pick up from where we left off last: Knights of the Old Republic volume 2: Flashpoint.

I enjoyed this text, though not as much as the first one. Even though Flashpoint contained my favorite aspect of Star Wars (that being Mandalorians) it still seemed pale in comparison to volume one. I’m not quite sure why I feel this way. I guess the climactic ending of volume one, coupled with its commentary on fate and destiny, raised my hopes that such a thing might occur in the second volume. Such a thing never did occur, but volume two was still an enjoyable romp none-the-less.

Our story picks up with Zayne Carrick and gang still on the run from the Jedi order. In an attempt to flee to the one place they think the Jedi would look last, they head to the front lines of the Republic/Mandalorian war. Their idea is not completely insane, as they pick a small outpost on the Republic side of the conflict; an outpost they believe the Mandalorians would have no reason to attack.

They chose unwisely of course.

Just as they began to settle themselves, the entire Mandalorian force appeared on their doorstep. Jarael, one of Zayne’s companions was amusing herself with his lightsaber as the Mandalorians descended. Mistaking her for a Jedi, the warriors quickly swarmed and kidnapped her. Zayne and his companions attempt a rescue, but to no avail. Jarael is captured, and brought to Demagol, a Mandalorian scientist who is dissecting Jedi in an attempt to learn how they harness their power from Force.

As they scramble together a rescue party, the group meets Rohlan, a veteran Mandalorian who is willing to help them rescue their friend. He brings them to the planet Jarael is being held on, and using his status as a Mandalorian helps the group infiltrate the base.

It is explained that Rohlan, who we would presume has no reason to help the group, is doing so because he’s questioning the motives of Mandalore: the head Mandalorian warrior. He wants to know why the Mandalorian army is pushing so aggressively into Republic space. He feels something is not being told to the rank and file of the Mandalorian army, and he himself wants some answers.

The group heads to Flashpoint, where Jarael is being held, and through ingenuity and subterfuge, manage to rescue her, along with other Jedi being held prisoner there. The group escapes with their friend safely on board their ship.

A secondary storyline weaving its way through the plot is the story of Lucien Dray, and how he and the other four Jedi Masters came together. It seems that Dray’s mother put together this coven of Master’s long ago when they were just Jedi learners. She felt it was her mission to stop the next Sith threat coming, and did so by compiling a group of students who were the most talented in their precognitive abilities. They were specifically trained to look into the future, and discover where the next Sith threat would originate.

Lucien Dray never had the same abilities as these other four Jedi, but was included in the group by the fact that his mother was training them. Also, he was the fiercest warrior among them, being able to best all four of them in lightsaber combat. This story line ends with Lucien Dray asking the council if he and the other four Master’s may pursue Zayne Carrick. The council, however, denies his request, and instead separates the five sending them all too different parts of the galaxy to undertake different missions.

The Master’s hands are not all played out though, as they conspire amongst themselves on how to capture Zayne Carrick. Leaving no avenue unexplored, they decide to put pressure on the Carrick family, a move Zayne Carrick feels is "beyond the pale". A "low-blow" as it were.

It’s at this point the lines of Zayne and his group again intersects with the schemes of the Jedi Masters.

Heading to a banking world in an attempt to free some funds that have been frozen, Marn Heiroglyph concocts a plan to free up some money for the group so that they can stay on the run. The banker they are scheduled to meet is none other than Zayne Carrick’s father. It seems that the Dray foundation wanted to keep an eye on members of the Carrick family, knowing that at some point, Zayne might want to go to them for help. The Force is again at work in the life of Zayne Carrick, as he had no idea his father had been transferred to this world to work in a cushy banking job. Unfortunately for Arvan Carrick, he was kidnapped by some bumbling bounty hunters who were sent to observe his movements.

Volume two ends with Zayne and his group once again performing a rescue mission and safely escaping with Arvan Carrick. Zayne finds another job for his father and a safe place for his family, this time at the Jedi training facility on Dantooine. Knowing it would be hard for Lucien and the other masters to move against his family right under Master Vandar’s nose, he asked the old Master if his father could look after the finances of the Jedi council. Master Vandar agreed, perhaps realizing that Lucien Dray and the other Master’s are not what they seem.

My comments with regards to this text are fairly minimal. I really enjoyed seeing the Mandalorians in action. The allure of the Mandalorian armor, in all its original concoctions and individualistic ways of representation; how it can be colored, worn, and decorated, I find is very cool. I like how the Mandalorians are all unique, yet all the same. It was nice to see a Twilek Mandalorian on page 8.

There was one disturbing scene in this particular volume though. On page 24, box 2, there is a picture between Mandalore and his first officer. Mandalore is standing in the deck of his ship, with his very large gun hanging from his belt. Now, I’m not sure if this particular image was drawn like this on purpose, or by accident, but it defiantly looks like Mandalore the Great’s gun is depicted as a large phallus. What is more, his very large “gun” is defiantly in the shape of a penis. It’s so large, it could be called a third leg. I had to do a double take as I came across this image. I even handed the comic to my wife, and asked her to point out anything on that page that she might deem unusual. She said “Yeah, that guy’s gun looks like his penis”. She didn't say penis though. I slowly nodded my agreement.

For my next post I’ll be moving on to Labor Pains, a Hyperspace exclusive.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

3964 BBY: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 1: Commencement

The Knights of the Old Republic comic book series is a series I’ve been looking forward to reading for quite some time. I remember coming across this title a few years ago during one of my random stops at a comic book shop.

I used to collect comics when I was a kid and into my early teens, but I stopped collecting because it became too expensive, and I felt like no matter how much money I spent I couldn’t keep up with what was going on in the comic universe. When I saw the KOTOR title for the first time, I wanted to buy it, but I had that little voice in the back of my head telling me I’d be throwing my money away. I didn’t see the sense in collecting comics anymore. Still, every time I eyed this comic, I wanted to buy it. I guess one of the motivations I had for this project was that I could justify to myself the purchase of the KOTOR series, because I’d be doing more than just reading them.

I was impressed with this story, and I was impressed with Jackson-Miller, the writer of Commencement. My first encounter with this author occurred during the Lost Tribe of the Sith series, and in that series I wasn’t awed with Jackson-Miller’s writing prowess. KOTOR, however, left me with a great impression of what Jackson-Miller could do.

The story takes place in 3964 BBY, 22 years after the tale Shadows and Light, and a full 32 years after the events of the Sith War. At this time in Star Wars chronology, the Mandalorians are pressing into Republic space again, and once more are threatening the stability and peace of the galaxy. There are two camps in the Jedi order as to how the Jedi should respond to this. One camp is of the opinion ‘this is a matter for the Republic to deal with’. The other camp believes ‘the Jedi must necessarily be involved’.

The story centers upon a young Jedi padawan named Zayne Carrick. He’s a bit of a bumbling padawan learner, as he considers himself very unlucky. What he considers ‘bad luck’ though, almost always ends up being ‘good luck’.

Zayne, along with three other padawan learners, are each apprenticed to a Jedi Master on the planet Taris. Zayne’s Master is Lucien Draay, a well respected Jedi Master, and a pillar of the galactic community.

On the eve of Zayne’s coronation from padawn learner into knighthood, he arrived late at the knighting ceremony, only to find his three padawan companions killed at the hands of their own Masters. Zayne quickly fled the scene, himself barley escaping execution at the hands of Lucien Draay.

For much of the story, Zayne, with the help of his Snivvian sidekick Marn Hierogryph, manage to barley stay one step ahead of the Jedi Masters in their pursuit of Zayne’s capture. Zayne and his sidekick are then blamed for the murder of the padawan learners, as people begin to riot in the streets no longer trusting the authority of the Jedi order, and asking how could a padawan escape the grasp of five Jedi Masters. For much of the story Zayne is 'on the lamb' running not only from the Jedi Masters, but also all of Taris.

After much ‘almost’ catching and ‘barely’ escaping, Zayne decides to turn himself in to his Masters, but not before he discovered the motive for their actions. It seems that three of the four Jedi Masters involved in the executions of their apprentices were Jedi consulars: Jedi who are specially trained in the ability to see into the future. What these Master’s foresaw was the return of the Sith in the form of one of their apprentices. They then took it upon themselves to kill their padawans, acting in a way they believed Master Vodo-Siosk Bas should have behaved when he sensed that his own apprentice, Exar Kun, was falling to the darkside. If Master Bas had just killed Exar Kun, the events of the Sith war could have been avoided.

As Lucien Draay encroaches upon Zayne for what we think is the final death blow of the padawan, Zayne’s friends show up to rescue the embattled Jedi learner once more. Again, Zayne and his companions make an impossible escape from five Jedi Masters.

The story ends brilliantly. Weeks after Zayne escaped the clutches of his former Master, Lucien and the other Jedi Masters receive a holograph from the Padawan. He says to them:

“One day one of you is going to confess and clear my name. And to make sure I’m going to hunt down each and every one of you. The one that confesses lives. I don’t care which one of you does it. It doesn’t matter where they send you. You have a death mark, the same as me. Don’t look for me Lucien, because I’ll find you. And if I do end up collapsing the Jedi Order, just remember one thing. You started it.”

I loved this ending. I can’t wait to get to volume 2.

Plot summary aside, I want to make a note about a few things that stood out at me in this story.
It’s the first time in Star Wars chronology that the term ‘padawan’ actually comes into common parlance. I understand that the term was coined in the film The Phantom Menace, but it finally worked its way into Star Wars, in chronological order, now.

I loved the clothing in this piece. Especially the way the Jedi Masters are clothed. Lucien Draay was the most well dressed of all the Masters, but I liked how each Master looked unique. Brian Ching did an awesome job with the art in this piece; I really enjoy his work.

With regards to the Mandalorians, my favorite aspect of Star Wars; it seems that they are still pressing the action, even after the defeat of Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma. I look forward to having this particular story line flushed out in more detail in the upcoming issues. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; the Mandalorians are my favorite aspect of the Star Wars universe.

My final point deals with a flashback in the story. After Zayne saw the bodies of his fallen comrades, he flashes back to a childhood memory of them all playing together. In the flashback Zayne’s mother is speaking with Master Vandar after dropping her son off at the Jedi training centre on Dantooine. Master Vandar is a Jedi Master who is the same species as Master Yoda. Zayne’s mother asks Master Vandar about the Sith, to which he replies: “The Sith, we’ve been mercifully free from since the war ended – and we maintain a constant vigil against their return”. I think a continuity issue crops here, because how does the Sith academy on Korriban, from the story Shadows and Light fit into Master Vandar’s worldview here? Ultimately, I think the inclusion and mention of the Sith academy in that story was poor oversight by those attempting to reign in Star Wars continuity, unless of course, they had a specific reason for including its mention. It seems to me that the Jedi Order would not allow such an institution to exist. But, we all know that later on in the Star Wars timeline it does.

I tend not to get too upset over continuity issues, but I feel that I need to address them when they do come up.

For my next post I’ll be examining volume 2 in the KOTOR series. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

3986 BBY: Tales of the Jedi: Redemption

I’ve come to the conclusion that Kevin J. Anderson’s greatest artistic weakness is his inability to write dialogue. It seems that every time I come across a KJA piece in the Star Wars Chronology Project I’m consistently complaining about the same thing. It has come to the point that I’m beginning to dread his novels I’ll inevitably have to engage with down the line.

Redemption, by Kevin J. Anderson, was an interesting piece of Star Wars saga, but the story would have been better served in the hands of another writer.

Redemption chronicles the finals weeks of Ulic Qel-Droma’s life, and takes place in 3986 BBY, 10 years after the events of the Sith War. The story begins with Ulic being chauffeured around the galaxy by a pilot named Hoggon. We learn through the events of the story that Ulic is looking for a quite, uninhabited planet to die on. Hoggon first brings him to Yavin 4, but the memories are too painful for Ulic. The pilot then brings him to Rhen Var, an abandoned ice world the suits the fallen Jedi’s personality.

Making appearances once more in annuls of Star Wars are the famous Jedi, Master Thon, Nomi Sunrider, Sylvar, Tott Donetta, and Nomi’s now adolescent daughter, Vima.

A great Jedi council has been called by Nomi to remember the ten-year anniversary of the Sith War, to not forget the painful memories of the past, and to restore the Republic to its former glory. Vima is not impressed with her mother’s stature in the Jedi community, and has been feeling much maligned by her mother since Nomi is too busy with the responsibilities of leadership to begin her daughter’s training as a Jedi knight.

Vima takes it upon herself to find her own Jedi Master, and has her heart set on Ulic Qel-Droma, for she believes he’s not as bad as everyone thinks.

Using the Force to guide her, Vima hides on Hoggon’s ship, but the stowaway is quickly found by the pilot. Vima tells Hoggon she’s looking for Ulic Qel-Droma, and then shows him a holographic image of the former Jedi (an image she stole from her mother’s room). Hoggon confirms that he knows where Ulic is, and proceeds to take the girl to the fallen Jedi.

Once on Rhen Var, Vima finds Ulic, and convinces him to take her as his apprentice. Ulic protests, but if it was not for a recent visit from his former Master, Arca Jeth, Ulic may not have taken the girl has his learner. Before the girl arrived on the planet, Ulic came close to death. He was visited in spirit form by his old Master, telling him not to give up on life, and that there were still things he could do that were worthwhile. Vima was the answer to Ulic’s call for purpose.

Ulic and the girl form a quick bond, and although he is blind to the Force, he manages to teach the girl many things about the nature of the Force.

As Vima is being tutored by Ulic, Nomi is frantically searching the galaxy for her daughter. She is wrought with guilt at having neglected her daughter for so long, and promises that once she finds her, will devote more of her time to training her as a Jedi knight.

Nomi manages to track her daughter down to the planet Rhen Var, and once there comes face-to-face with Ulic again. Ulic tells Nomi that he has taught her daughter everything he can, and if Vima wishes, she may return home with her. Vima agrees, and leaves Rhen Var with her mother. The meeting between the almost lovers was uncomfortable at first, but ended amicably between them.

Unfortunately, Sylvar, the Cathar apprentice to Master Vodo Siosk Bas, with the help of the pilot Hoggon, also managed to track Ulic to Rhen Var, and once Nomi left, engaged the fallen Jedi in a lightsaber duel. Sylvar, still harboring anger toward Ulic for his involvement in the Sith War, but more importantly, still blaming Ulic for the death of her mate Crado, wants Ulic dead. It seems that the Cathar can only chose one mate for life, and once that mate is dead, they can marry no more. Throughout most of the issue, Sylvar is battling her own slip into the darkside because she carries so much anger and hate for Ulic. She feels he got off too easy, and should be rotting in prison for his role in the Sith War, or barring that, he should be dead.

Sylvar quickly bests Ulic in the duel, and knowing he cannot keep up his defenses for long, Ulic acquiesces to Sylvar’s onslaught, saying “I will not fight you”. Ulic de-ignites his lightsaber and stands’ waiting for Sylvar’s final cut. Sylvar comes close to killing the fallen Jedi, but stops her saber just short of his throat, knowing that a deathblow on her part would only signal her complete slide into the darkside. She realizes the irony of the situation, in that it took Ulic Qel-Droma, a former Dark Lord of the Sith, to teach her about not giving in to her anger, and indeed, letting go of her hatred.

The story ends with a surprising twist. Watching the drama unfold in the shadows, Hoggon, the pilot who brought Sylvar to Ulic, shoots and kills Ulic with his blaster, thinking he has taken out a wanted criminal for the Republic. He rejoices in his actions, only to have Sylvar nearly kill him. He thinks he is a hero, and can’t understand why the Jedi are so upset with him. Nomi and her daughter arrive on the scene too late, and Ulic dies in Nomi’s arms. He does not leave a body behind however; he simply becomes one with the Force, leaving behind his clothing and nothing more.

Although he fell to the darkside in dramatic fashion, Ulic Qel-Droma was indeed a Jedi Master.

This was a great story with excellent potential, but was held up by KJA’s inability to write effective dialogue.

There were three scenes in particular that really ground my gears.

The first scene in question was when Nomi Sunrider was listening to a speech given by Sylvar at the Jedi council. As Sylvar had the floor and was speaking against letting Ulic Qel-Droma run free in the galaxy, Nomi mused, out loud and in public: “Ulic, why did you leave me?” The fact that this was a question asked out loud in public made the scene, for me at least, seem very awkward. There were all kinds of ways to indicate Nomi’s pinning for Ulic, but a question such as this, asked openly, out loud, at a Jedi convention for all to hear does not seem like the way to do it. Nomi’s pinning heart could have been shown as a thought bubble, or even her simply regarding one of Ulic’s holographic images. This would have been enough to express to the reader that Nomi still has feelings for him. This piece of dialogue seemed un-necessary.

The next scene which contained shotty dialogue was when Vima hid herself on Hoggon’s ship. When the pilot discovered the stow-away, Vima revealed her plans to him, and asked him to help her find Ulic Qel-Droma. She then showed a holographic picture of the fallen Jedi to the pilot, to which he responded with “That’s Ulic?!” Vima responses with: “I sense you know something…” Well no shit he knows something, the idea that he knew something was clearly indicated in the way in which he asked the rhetorical question. There was no need to “sense” anything here. The picture of the pilot was even drawn with a look of shocked knowing. KJA is a crappy dialogue writer. He’s good at writing stories with the bigger picture in mind, but the details should be left to someone else.

My last bit of complaint with regards to this tale is the way in which Ulic’s face was drawn at the conclusion of his duel with Sylvar. As Sylvar’s saber halted at his throat, Ulic’s face was depicted way too smugly. There was a bit of a half-grin on his face, as if to say to Sylvar ‘I’d knew you’d stop”. What a jerkish way to react to a foe that had him clearly beat. What is more, the jerk half-grin on his face undercut the whole point of his refusing to fight. Ulic refused to fight not because he understood his opponent so well that he knew she’d stop, but because he had come to terms with his actions, as was giving his will entirely to the Force. His face should had been depicted has serene, with no emotion, not with a smug half grin. I feel like someone really dropped the ball on this.

All complaints aside, I enjoyed this story, as I felt it gave some closure to the Ulic/Nomi saga. Ultimately, I’m an unabashed Star Wars fan, and I’m going to like almost everything with regards to Star Wars history.

For my next post I’ll be moving on to the Knights of the Old Republic comic book series, which I’m very excited about. I have all of them up to issue 40, so I’ll be dealing with them in six Trade Paper Back series chunks, with some miscellaneous issues at the end. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

3993 BBY: Shadows and Light

There is no death; there is only the Force.

These are the opening words to the story Shadows and Light found within the pages of Star Wars Tales volume 6. Written by Joshua Ortega, and drawn by Dustin Weaver, this narrative takes place three years after the war of Exar Kun, and concerns three Jedi knights: Duron Qel-Droma, Shaela Nuur, and the twi’lek Guun Han Saresh.

For such a short narrative (only 20 comic book pages in length) there is much I want to comment on with regards to this particular Star Wars fable. But before I do, I want to quickly summarize the goings-on in this story.
As I said earlier, this tale takes place three years after the war of Exar Kun, otherwise known as the Sith war. The story begins in a cave on an unknown planet with four Jedi knights: Duron Qel-Droma, Shaela Nuur, Guun Han Saresh, and a forth Jedi known as Cale. These Jedi are hunting Terentatek, which are feral beats that eat “Force blood”.

The opening boxes of the comic depict Cale about to be devoured by one of the beasts, where he utters the words: “there is no death; there is only the Force”, as his shattered lightsaber lay by his side. Truly Jedi of him, I thought. The beast is quickly distracted by Duron, and killed by Shaela. The Jedi make their way back to their ship with what appears to be a fallen comrade.

A week later Duron, Shaela, and Gunn find themselves on Dantooine accepting another mission from the Jedi council. There are asked to go to Korriban, the seat of Sith power, to continue “The Great Hunt” there. “The Great Hunt” we learn, is an annual event spearheaded by the Jedi council to hunt down and kill the Terentatek, animals which ‘eat force blood’ and therefore presumably affect the ranks of the Jedi knights.

There is some disquieting concern about sending Jedi to Korriban to continue the hunt, due to the fact that the planet itself is very corrupting to Jedi. What is more, there is even more concern about sending a ‘Qel-Droma’ to Koribaan, knowing the fate of Ulic and his fall to the darkside.
The relationship between Duron Qel-Droma and Ulic Qel-Droma is never explored in the text, but for some reason I get the impression that they're cousins.

The three Jedi accept the mission, and spend their first week on Korriban collecting data on the Terentatek. The concerns of the other Jedi were not unfounded however, as the three companions find that they are being negatively affected by the environment. Guun Han is sleeping around with students of the Sith to gain information, while Duron and Shaela are having trouble containing their passion for one another.

Things come to a head for the three when Guun Han finds Duron and Shaela in an amorous act. Guun then tells the two that he can no longer work with them if they cannot control their feelings for each other. His own behavior is questioned by Shaela, as Guun replies with “you think I enjoy this?!?” As it is, Guun left the two lovers and made his way to Kashyyyk, where he intended to hunt some larger prey. Unfortunately, Guun Han was killed by a large beast.

Meanwhile, back on Korriban, Duron and Shaela found a Terentatek and engaged the beast in combat. Unfortunately, the beast got the better of the two, and killed Duron. Shaela, stricken by grief, and falling prey to her anger and rage, and in her desire for revenge, began to fall to the darkside of the Force.

The story ends with the words of Master Ood Bnar, Shaela’s Jedi teacher, telling Shaela to cling to the light – always.

Dustin Weaver does an excellent job with the art in this story. Of all the Star Wars comics I’ve encountered thus far, I enjoyed Weaver’s work the most. I thought the golden lightsaber held by Shaela was a nice touch. Though I know Weaver didn’t have much to do with that, it was refreshing to see a saber that wasn’t green, blue, or red. The golden saber also played a significant role to the character of Shaela, as the crystal which made the blade was a rare one given to her from her Master.

I found a particular scene at the beginning of this story telling to the character of Han Guun. As the four Jedi are leaving the planet the tale starts on, Guun is floating what appears to be a dead body back to the ship (perhaps it is a 5th Jedi companion?). This reminded me of the story Light and Shadow from the Star Wars Adventure Journal. In that narrative, the Jedi protagonist made a comment that the Sith constantly rely on the Force to do everything for them, even manual labour. The Jedi then describes a Sith Lord, weak and atrophied from doing no moving himself, sitting upon a throne moving things with his mind. I’m not sure if the scene of Gunn floating the body was drawn like that on purpose, but it seemed to me that such behavior, floating the body instead of carrying it using the sweat of one’s brow, was unbecoming of a Jedi. I also got the impression that Guun had dark tendencies. There was one scene in particular where is eyes were drawn red. Again, I’m not sure if this was done on purpose or by accident.

As the three Jedi are collecting data on Korriban, there is talk between Duron and Shaela of infiltrating the Sith academy. I found this fascinating because I had to ask myself ‘when did this happen?!?’ Apparently the foundation of a Sith academy happened in the three years after the Sith War, and part of the trials of being a student at the academy is to kill an innocent person. Many questions come to mind regarding the academy’s establishment. Who established it? When was it established? How long has Dreshdae been a settlement on Korriban? It seems to me that the Jedi council is aware of this academy, so this must be the result of the fallout after the war of Exar Kun.

Though I enjoyed this story, I do have some problems with its basic premise. Jedi are collected and sent out by the council to kill. Granted, the creatures they are killing are ones which are aggressive and ‘eat Force blood’, but I wonder if this is enough justification to take aggressive action against what Duron Qel-Droma considers a semi-sentient creature. Even he has problems with what the Jedi council have asked of him: “I don’t want to kill anymore, Shaela. I’m sick of killing. I’m sick of hunting. I’m sick of the blood”. Master Yoda himself says (to paraphrase him) ‘the force is meant for defense, never attack’. ‘The Great Hunt’, to me, seems a like a great hypocrisy found within the Jedi council. No one on the council bats an eye as to whether or not what they are doing is wrong. It seems genocide of these animals is socially acceptable. I could go on and argue that animals, if this is what these creatures are, are incapable of evil. Or if they are not animals but semi-intelligent creatures, should a group of people so matter-of-factly engage in their genocide?

Questions of genocide aside, the big topic of discussion with regards to this tale is the prohibition of Jedi relationships. It is the first time in Star Wars chronology that prohibition of Jedi relationship, and with that, marriage, is mentioned. As Guun Han walked in on Duron and Shaela kissing he grew very agitated with their actions: “Jedi do not behave like this. We do not form attachments. We protect a way of life that we can never have – that is our sacrifice. ‘There is no passion, there is serenity’ – sound familiar?”

So, in the three years following the Sith War, the Jedi council prohibited Jedi engaging in relationships of a “passionate” nature. What is more, it seems that this prohibition on attachments has worked itself into the Jedi code, because prior to this, even as far as a few years before, Jedi marriage and relationships was not something to be shocked about. This proscription was also alluded to in the hyperspace story Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji, when, speaking of members of the Praji family it was noted: “By marrying a few sons to daughters of the Draay family, the Prajii even produced Jedi Knights with their surname, the first since the Rianitus Period, although this branch went extinct after the modern marriage proscriptions were enacted following the Exar Kun War” (pg 4).

This is also the first time in Star Wars chronology that the Jedi code itself was quoted. As of yet, the code has not been etched in source text (non RPG sourcebook material).

Though I support the idea that Jedi should remain unmarried, I myself find a certain weakness in this part of the code. Are all male/female relationships “passionate”? Are there not some relationships that involve love between a man and a woman less about passion and more about serenity? Are there not relationships where the friendship comes first, and the passionate side of love works in the background of the relationship, flaring when needed, and cooling when needed? Can not a Jedi love, and keep the passion to a minimum? Should it not be that Jedi love more with Agape love, and less with Eros love?

I think Jedi are commanded to love, and I also think passion is not love. The Romans used to describe passionate love as a wild fire consuming wheat. This was not meant to be a positive description, as wheat was a staple for food, and ultimately for life. If the fire is destroying life, and consuming everything before it, how can it be a good thing? Passionate love can become distracting, it could make one not eat, not sleep, and feel ‘love-sick’. This is not the result of love; this is the result of passion.

For my next post I’ll be examining the five comic series Redemption by Dark Horse. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

3998 BBY - 3996 BBY: Jedi Protector

A while back I made a post about a short story from chapter 13 of the Jedi Companion source book, which was a Star Wars Role-Playing Game adventure. You can read my post here. Jedi Protector, from Star Wars Galaxy magazine, is the same kind of story, and comes at the tail end of the years 3998 BBY – 3996 BBY.

Before I get into the details of the narrative, I want to first comment on the Star Wars Galaxy magazine. Here’s what Wookieepedia has to say about it: “Star Wars Galaxy Magazine was a quarterly publication published by Topps, concerning everything related to Star Wars, including books, comics, video games, etc. It ran from fall 1994 to fall 1997, at which point it was cancelled and followed by Star Wars Galaxy Collector.”

For some reason I religiously collected this magazine, which puzzles me to some extent. I’m puzzled because The Star Wars Adventure Journal, in my opinion, was a way better publication than this, but for some reason I only have a few copies of it. But I have every issue of Star Wars Galaxy. The reason I liked Star Wars Galaxy was purely for the role-playing game content that could be found in every issue, which of course was what the whole Adventure Journal thing was all about! I’m still shaking my head wondering why I don’t have every issue of the Star Wars Adventure Journal, yet I have every issue of Galaxy.

Every issue of Star Wars Galaxy has a super short role-playing game narrative, with stats on new heroes or villains you could add to your own RPG campaigns.. In issue #1 there was a bounty hunter from Tatooine named Taggor Bren, which my GM used in one of our adventures to capture my gambler character (my character had forgot to pay some money owed to a Hutt). I guess it was this inclusion of Taggor Bren into my friends and I RPG adventures that got me hooked. From then on I ordered every issue.

It’s a shame it was cancelled and turned into a collector’s magazine. I’ve got nothing against Star Wars collector magazines, but I’d love to see the resurgence of a Star Wars Adventure Journal or Galaxy magazine type publication once more.

In Jedi Protector, we are introduced to Shalavaa, a Jedi novitiate sent by his Master to a far off world to police and negotiate nerf herder disputes.

For the first few weeks of his mission things are rather boring. Then, mysteriously, nerfs and their herders begin to disappear. Shalavaa is asked to investigate, and it is here that the solo adventures begins.

In a ‘chose-your-own-adventure’ type set up, you, the player, make decisions for Shalavaa based upon dice rolls. I played the adventure myself, and here is what happened:

Shalavaa made his way to a ravine the villagers considered haunted. After some successful attempts at reading the situation using the Force, he noticed a lost leather boot. Upon further investigation, Shalavaa noticed some rather unusual vines, and was then suddenly attacked by a carnivorous plant.

Successfully using his lightsaber, he dispatched of the plant. His Master then revealed himself from some shadows along the cliff-face wall, and told Shalavaa that his skills were complete, and he was able to face more challenging difficulties in the galaxy.

The opposite side of this adventure would have been if Shalavaa was unsuccessful with his sabre skill (which the player rolled with dice), his Master would have told him he needed more training.

As it is, it was a short adventure, meant to introduce the game to new players.

The time line for this story is mentioned at the beginning of the adventure, which states simply: “Four thousand years before Luke Skywalker…” I’m not quite sure how it ended up at the end of this time line, but I take Joe Bongiomo’s research into Star Wars chronology at face value.

For my next chronological investigation, I’m moving 3 years ahead to the year 3993 BBY, and the story Shadows and Light, from Star Wars Tales volume 6. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.