by Nick Chidgey
Coming from the creators of Star Wars: Legacy, is a brand new Star Wars series: Dawn of the Jedi. Like Legacy, which took place 140 years after Return of the Jedi, John Ostrander and Jan Duursema's newest saga is far removed from the familiar timeframe of the films, and goes even farther back in time than the popular Old Republic series, to an era before the Republic, before lightsabers, before the Jedi.
I got to look at, Dawn of the Jedi #0, a special introductory issue, much like Legacy's #0 which was released before the launch of the series proper. The book features character sketches and locale designs, each with short blurbs to familiarize readers with the new world of Dawn. Duursema's pencil work is always a joy to see, though the overall art style looks like early CGI. With due respect to digital art, in this case it looked shoddy and flat and, at least for me, cheapened the impact of the book. I can only hope that this was not true, final art and the actual book will display a little more detail and depth and be less distractingly digital.
But the strange thing (at least for me) in terms of the whole package, is that Dawn #0 will set readers back $3.50. It's a perplexing business move on Dark Horse's part. Perhaps they need to offset the cost of all those $1.oo #1s they put out this year? This is, after all, promotional material, and unlike the heyday of Wizard Magazine offering #0 and #1/2 issues of new series, books which usually featured actual story art, this is merely a sketchbook primer for Dawn of the Jedi. Imagine having to pay a full ticket price just to see a trailer for a new movie. If print costs were such an issue, why didn't they simply offer it as a free digital download? To justify the price, a better move would have been to feature actual story art, heavy in exposition, which would then provide not only the necessary introductory elements, but would even have some entertainment value, to boot. That is, after all, why we buy comics, isn't it? Keeping in mind that I actually read a free review PDF, I was still a little insulted as a potential reader that I was expected to pay the same price I would pay for a full weekly story for a sketchbook. But I digress.
Overall, the concept of the series is intriguing and unique, as it goes back to a time unexplored in Star Wars canon. Though there was very little exposition in this preview issue, I know this much: we get to see the origins of both the Jedi and the Sith, the discovery of the Force, and the laying down of the foundations which will lead to our favorite science fiction film saga. And there's something really cool about that.
But something as fundamental as the origins of the Jedi does beg the question, at least from the perspective of Star Wars purists (a recurring concern regarding the Expanded Universe): how much of this is from the mind of Ostrander and how much of this backstory was already developed and sanctioned by the Maker himself, George Lucas? If it is from Ostrander, I'm sure I will be far from disappointed, as he has proven himself time and again to be a fantastic writer capable of holding his own in the tricky world of the Star Wars franchise. But the purist in me still frets. Time will only tell how much this series strays from what Lucas had previously envisioned, and whether readers will actually care about the difference.
TL;DR Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi looks like it will be an intriguing new direction for the EU. The art style didn't impress, but the overall concept could make up for an odd choice of execution. A new book worth at least investigating for any Star Wars comic fan.
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi is new series at Dark Horse, written by John Ostrander with art by Jan Duursema. The #0 issue came out February 1. Issue #1 hits shelves next Wednesday, February 15, so if you want to get in on the ground floor of this series, ask your local comic book shop to put it on your pull list now!
A review PDF of Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #0 was graciously provided to Spandexless by Dark Horse.
Nick Chidgey is a contributor to Spandexless.com.