Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Circa 35-33 BBY: Life, Death and the Living Force

Life, Death and the Living Force is a terrible comic which I really enjoyed. What made it terrible was its story, what made it enjoyable was its art.

I guess I’ll begin with what I liked about the comic, as I have some ink to spill on why I thought its story was terrible. The art by Robert Teranishi was very well done. The depiction of Ewan McGregor as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi on the opening page completely captured the likeness of the actor. Also, Teranishi’s artful representation of Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn was spot-on. I’m not sure if that particular style of art has a name, but Teranishi strongest attribute in this comic was his ability to capture the emotion of the protagonists; Obi-Wan’s look of outrage on page 4 and his look of disgust on page 5 all captured the drama of the scene. What is more, Qui-Gon’s constant facial expression of serenity throughout the entire narrative gave the reader a sense of his complete sureness of himself and his abilities – and it’s this sureness I want to address.

Though Teranishi did well with the art, I did not enjoy Jim Wooding’s script: Qui-Gon came off as a complete psychotic – and I’m not being hyperbolic here, I literally mean he came off as a person with psychosis: a mental disorder characterized by symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations that indicate impaired contact with reality. Apparently the “Living Force” is giving Qui-Gon some conflicting commands – at one moment it could be a command to serve, in the next moment it could be a command to kill. I couldn’t tell if Qui-Gon was coming or going in this text.

Allow me to explain what I mean. After helping a Moggonite, a species known for self-centeredness, arrogance, and treachery, Qui-Gon proceeds to tell Obi-Wan that he’s helping this creature because “The Living Force” has basically commanded him to do so. Obi-Wan basically says, ‘Ok, we’ll help him because you’ve told me, but can we get out of here before this guy comes back to slit our throats’. Qui-Gon basically dismisses Obi-Wan and tells him to get some rest, when lo-and-behold, the Moggonite returned to slit their throats. Turns out Obi-Wan was right. So now Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan have to kill their attackers, along with the Moggonite Qui-Gon so graciously helped not a few hours before. At this point in the story Obi-Wan is trying to not question his Master’s judgment, but it seems like Obi-Wan’s conscience is getting the better of him. Rightfully the padawan asks the master why he killed so remorselessly when he knew this creature’s treachery was a strong possibility. Now the Jedi have a copious amount of blood on their hands. Qui-Gon’s response: ‘The living Force works in mysterious ways and it told me to kill him’. Oh boy! Its at this point I imagine Obi-Wan’s conscience starts kicking into high gear. He must be thinking – is this guy off his rocker?

Next, the two Jedi come to a large mountain where an ancient and mythological creature lives. I’m going to pause here for a second and talk about this, because besides the art this was the other aspect of the comic I really enjoyed. I’ve learned that in the Star Wars universe, if one person recounts something as a myth, then it did, or does, in fact, exist. The mythological creature in question here is a Silan. But what I thought was really neat about this particular scene was Obi-Wan’s reference to other mythological creatures: a barracle and a glooth. Nothing more is given on these creatures anywhere else in Star Wars mythos. Even wookieepedia says little about them. But what I loved about this scene was their mere mention. Here is an example of what I love about Star Wars, like in the last story I looked at The Monster, someone can take these creature references and build an entire narrative around them. The story could center on why people think they are only myths, or how these “primordial” creatures came to be.

As it is, Qui-Gon gets it into his head, because “the Living Force” is leading him to the spooky mountain, to kill the Silan because it is “evil”, according to him. Its “evil” because its lair is surrounded by a sacrificial altar with the skulls of various humanoid species. Let me pause here for a second time. The altar wasn’t created by the Silan – it was created, presumably, by some group of people offering a sacrifice to the Silan in the first place – the whole “sacrificial altar” part. If there is evil to overcome, it’s in telling whoever is feeding the Silan to stop sending it sacrifices. If some superstitious tribe is sending it sacrificial victims, stop the tribe – tell them what they are doing is wrong, release their sacrificial prisoners, and if they believe the Silan is their God, tell them they are fools and that’s it’s not morally right to sacrifice people. Oh, no? We won’t do that Qui-Gon? It’s not politically correct? Ok, well then let’s just kill the ancient and mythological creature for doing what its nature intended for it to do!

As they approach the creatures lair Obi-Wan starts to say “I don’t think”, and I can only imagine him saying something like “I don’t think this is the right thing to do”, only to be interrupted by Qui-Gon saying “That’s right don’t think!” The Silan attacks and the two Jedi kill it. Later, both are remorseful for what they’ve done. Obi-Wan rightfully points out that: “The Silan had its place in the natural scheme of things didn’t it? It only did as its nature told it to do. What right had we to seek it out and destroy it? It wasn’t harming us” (pg. 50 of Star Wars Tales vol. 1). Qui-Gon’s like “The Living Force works in mysterious ways!” WTH?!?

By listening to the “Living Force” in this story, Qui-Gon killed A LOT of beings. Maybe he should stop listening to that crazy little voice in his head, because man, from what I know of the lightside of the Force, whatever Qui-Gon was following in this story wasn’t the Living Force at all. Qui-Gon’s “Living Force” requires too much killing. What is more, couple Qui-Gon’s actions here in this narrative with him tearing a strip off of Obi-Wan in the Ord Mantell story for wanting to kill the Savrips, and nothing adds up.

Like I said at the start, Life Death and the Living Force was a terrible comic which I really enjoyed, mostly because of its terrible story, if that makes sense. For my next post I’m going to look at Jedi Chef. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. You're making me want to go back and reread this. I remember being confused by this story, but I don't recall why. Maybe it was what you're pointing out.

  2. This was in a very early issue of Tales wasn't it? Quite representative of the varying quality that series produced

  3. I think your observation is spot-on daveytod. It was published in 1999, so a lot of our current understanding of the Force is different from this story, as I think we've been coloured by the plethora of material published since then