Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha: The Jedi Who Fall

Dark Lords of the Sith

(Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha is a foolish attempt to examine the entirety of the now decanonized Star Wars Expanded Universe and quantify its assorted artistic merits. Read the introduction. Check out the archives.) 

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Authors: Tom Veitch and Kevin J. Anderson

Artists: Chris Gossett (issues 1-5), Art Wetherell (issue 6)

Medium: Comic

Publication Date: October 1994 – March 1995

  • Reprinted April 2008 in Star Wars Omnibus: Tales of the Jedi Volume 2

Timeline Placement: 3,997 BBY

Series: Tales of the Jedi

“The Jedi who fall are the most dangerous of all.”

—line from a children’s rhyme

After three arcs of buildup, we finally arrive at the main-event storyline of this series. Originally pitched as a 12-issue mega-arc but ultimately split into this mini-series and its follow-up, Dark Lords of the Sith marks Kevin J. Anderson’s entry into Tales of the Jedi. We open with the story of Naga Sadow in its original telling, which differs drastically from the fully fleshed-out version we witnessed in The Fall of the Sith Empire.

Sadow’s Jedi heritage was a point of pride for him in KJA’s prequel comics, but here he’s identified as a pure-blooded Sith in rebellion against his Dark Jedi masters. Also, rather than the pink-skinned aliens with mustache-tendrils we’ve come to expect as the original Sith race, Sadow and his followers are basically human in appearance. He isn’t even the Dark Lord of the Sith; instead, Sadow is just a lowly priest, “exiled by his Dark Lord, branded a criminal by the Republic”—although the Republic didn’t even know he existed until he launched a full-scale war against them. (It looks like, as soon as Tom Veitch left the writing team, KJA completely overwrote his former colleague’s work with a new and largely implied back story. This is what happens when you open source ten thousand years of space history.)

Anyway, we pull back to see that all of this is just projected images from a holocron being studied by a young Jedi named Exar Kun. He has more questions to ask it about the history of the Sith, but at that moment his teacher, Master Vodo-Siosk Baas, walks in and catches him in the act. Vodo orders him to turn off the holocron, explaining that this knowledge is meant only for Jedi Masters.

Exar Kun complains that this doesn’t make sense, which is true, because the dude is clearly old enough to be a college graduate and hiding this basic knowledge of history from him is just going to make him want to know it even more. Kun relents, however, and there’s a nice panel of him and Master Vodo silhouetted against the sunrise, traveling side by side in one of their last moments of calm before the coming conflagration.

Meanwhile, in the Empress Teta system, Sith cultists/yuppie scum Satal Keto and his cousin, Aleema, are staging the most effortless coup in history. Using Sith illusions learned from the book they stole in the previous comic, Aleema turns their tutor’s tongue and parents’ guards’ swords into space snakes. Having gained the loyalty of the Tetan military and most of its corporations somewhere off-page, Satal and Aleema kill their parents by dunking them in molten carbonite. “I think you’ve discovered a new use for carbonite, Satal!” Aleema exclaims as they hang their parents’ frozen bodies on the wall, because no one would understand that this is Star Wars without a billion pointless callbacks to the movies.

After these two introductory scenes, it’s time to catch up with Ulic Qel-Droma, Nomi Sunrider, and the rest of the main cast, who after three story arcs are still dicking around on freaking Onderon. Ulic and Nomi’s relationship has progressed off-page to racing flying Dxun beasts together, which is like second base I think. True to character, Master Arca Jeth is here to cancel everyone’s fun with news of the Tetan coup. Since it was caused by Sith knowledge escaping Onderon under the Jedi’s watch, Arca has decided that he, Ulic, Nomi, Cay Qel-Droma, the Twi’lek Jedi Tott Doneeta, Oss Wilum, Dace Diath, Shoaneb Culu, Qrrrl Toq, Gho’r-Bon Zhuma, Gloomu Uptu, Klagnon Moogufu, and Mike Wallace are responsible for putting down this uprising.

Ulic and Nomi will have to deal with that on their own, though, because Arca sends the unimportant characters back to the Jedi planet Ossus while Ulic’s brother, Cay, and the Twi’lek Jedi Tott Doneeta remain with him on Onderon to do nothing. While Arca gives Nomi one last lesson in Battle Meditation before she departs, Ulic heads down to the Jedi storeroom to investigate the late King Ommin’s Sith artifacts. When he touches one of the relics, the spirit of Freedon Nadd appears and warns him not to interfere with the work of the dark side. “You will be one of the great ones,” Nadd promises, “and there is another even greater than you.”

That foreshadowing transitions us to Master Vodo’s training academy on the planet Dantooine, which you may remember as not the location of the Rebel base in Episode IV. Under Vodo’s supervision, Exar Kun spars with one of his fellow apprentices, Crado, whose lover, Sylvar, watches from the sidelines. Crado and Sylvar are Cathars, one of the EU’s two billion sentient cat aliens.

Crado gets his ass handed to him but can’t stop fanboying about how Exar Kun is so awesome he doesn’t even mind losing to him. Come on, dude, your girlfriend’s sitting right there. Vodo sends Sylvar to test herself against his “greatest student,” and she is eager to avenge her mate. “It’s time you learned that animal Jedi are no match for humans!” taunts Exar Kun. Yeah let’s just make him incongruously racist for no reason, why not? Sylvar fails Master Vodo’s test by striking out in rage and slashing Exar Kun’s face with her claws. Kun is enraged in turn, however, and Sylvar hypocritically claims that he is no Jedi, which prompts Kun to attempt to murder her.

With his wooden staff, imbued with the Force to resist the blade of a lightsaber, Vodo bats Exar Kun’s weapon from his hand, lecturing him on controlling his anger. Kun acknowledges that Vodo is still his master, but claims he doesn’t appreciate the extent of Kun’s abilities. Crado tosses over his own lightsaber, and Exar Kun and Vodo-Siosk Baas duel one another. Vodo easily bests his student, but Kun says that he still underestimates him and summons his original lightsaber back to his hand with the Force. Exar Kun overpowers Master Vodo by dual-wielding and finally cuts his staff in two.

“Hmm . . . A mighty Jedi . . . two lightsabers against my poor stick,” Vodo chastises him. “Exar Kun, you are the most formidable student I have ever had . . . But I sense something is missing in you. —An empty place hidden even from yourself—a place that remains unseen because no light escapes from that region of your heart.”

“Only I know my heart, Master,” Exar Kun replies.

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Hey how did this real art get into this Star Wars comic?