Author: John Ostrander
Artist: Jan Duursema
Publication Date: February 15 – June 20, 2012
Timeline Placement: 25,793 BBY
Series: Dawn of the Jedi
Okay, let’s start again, for real this time. How does this true beginning kick us off on our journey through the EU?
“Our story begins a long, long time ago, on planets far, far away . . . ten thousand years before our time.”
Oh it’s kind of just a lame ripoff of the opening text in the movies, except much dorkier. “Planets” has a more scientific connotation, if you’re waxing poetical just use “worlds.” Also I’m not sure how I feel about beginning a story already set 25,793 years before the movies by immediately flashing back to 36,453 years before the movies. And what is with these oddly specific dates? I remember when Yoda saying he was 900 meant that he was literally born exactly 900 years before the moment he said it. Stop trying for historical realism, Star Wars!
Through eleven pages of exposition, we learn that 10,000 years ago, several planets throughout the galaxy had these giant space pyramids (which mysteriously appeared a thousand years before that, but thankfully we’re spared any more stacking back story) called “Tho Yor.” After sitting there doing nothing for a long-ass time, one day they randomly sent out a telepathic summons to everyone on each planet who was sensitive to the Force and they all piled into the pyramids, which then blasted off into outer space.
[Continuity Note: Among the planets visited by the Tho Yor is Dathomir, which is already populated by witches despite earlier continuity pegging their origin at 600 BBY, more than a 35,000-year discrepancy. Furthermore, the witches are all human, but at this point in history humans should still be confined to Coruscant until the Rakata, an evil alien race from the Knights of the Old Republic video game who ruled the galaxy in ancient times, spread them across the stars as a slave species (according to Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology, anyway, although that actually contradicts the game it was referencing). But you can’t have an EU story without rancor monsters and rancors come from Dathomir and the Dathomir witches are one of the EU’s most popular inventions apparently so what are you going to do!
[The Tho Yor also recruit several Twi’leks, the tentacle-headed aliens from Return of the Jedi whose females became a nerd sex icon after one of them appeared as the dancing slave of a slug. But according to The Old Republic, BioWare’s Star Wars MMO, Twi’leks were a genetically engineered race created thousands of years later by the Rakatan Mother Machine. I don’t know what the point of that retcon was, but they did it, and Dawn of the Jedi got it wrong.
[I’m also pretty sure that having Wookiees this early is a continuity error as well, as earlier continuity had them evolve from banthas brought to the planet Kashyyyk by Neimoidian space traders, and the Neimoidians evolved from Duros, and the Duros shouldn’t even have spaceflight yet. Also I don’t think this is at all how evolution works.]
The monoliths from 2001 take all these wacky aliens to the planet Tython at the center of the galaxy and dump them there. Fortunately, the Tython system improbably boasts eleven planets capable of sustaining life, several of which have multiple moons capable of sustaining life, so these dudes have a lot of space to move around in. They spend the next few thousand years studying the Force and fighting dinosaurs. Eventually they figure out that they have to maintain a balance between the light and darkness within themselves or the planet will be out of balance and start killing them even more than it already does when they’re being eaten by giant birds. Anyone who breaks that balance and falls to the dark side is exiled to Tython’s dark moon of Bogan. The light moon, Ashla, is presumably for people who fall to the light side and just spend their time going around not being dicks to people.
Flash-forward to modern times and cut to everyone’s favorite insignificant planet that keeps showing up over and over and over again because people remember it from the first Star Wars movie: Tatooine. Only this Tatooine is awesome because instead of being the desert wasteland from the movies it’s a lush tropical paradise covered in oceans.
[Continuity Note: Finally, some good continuity: if you engage in a long dialogue tree with the Tusken Raiders in the first Knights of the Old Republic game, you can learn that Tatooine used to have thriving rainforests and seas before it was bombed to shit by the Rakata, resulting in the desolate hellhole we see in the films.]
When we find it, the planet is in the middle of being enslaved by the Rakata. The Rakata employ specially trained slaves called “Force Hounds” to seek out planets strong in the Force (which is apparently just every important planet from the movies and EU); Tatooine was found by a human named Xesh, who kind of looks like an emo Zach Braff.
Predor Skal’nas, a high-ranking Rakatan muckety-muck on their capital planet of Byss (another awesome continuity connection to something that won’t be important again until much later), has heard rumors of a Force-strong planet in the Deep Core, but his own Force Hound, Trill, is unable to locate it because of all the black holes and gravity anomalies at the center of the galaxy. Xesh has a reputation for being the best at what he does, however, and promises that he will find this planet and Predor Skal’nas will feast on its bones. Uh-oh, all those characters I don’t know or care about are in trouble! Their planet’s bones are about to be eaten! Let’s meet some of them now!
We get a trio of unimportant scenes to introduce the personalities of our three main Je’daii characters: Tasha Ryo, a female Twi’lek torn between family and duty who’s also the niece of that Hawk Ryo guy from “Eruption”; Sek’nos Rath, a happy-go-lucky male Sith [Continuity Note: At this point in history, the word “Sith” refers to an alien species rather than the cabal of evil Force-users seen in the prequels. Long story.] who never wears a shirt and makes all the ladies swoon despite his creepy face tentacles; and Shae Koda, one of those anachronistic Dathomir witches and the first of many hot red-haired, green-eyed ladies in the Star Wars EU (I’m not sure how that recessive combination became such a sex obsession in nerd culture, but it’s going to get pretty ridiculous by the time we’re through). Each of these three has a vision of Xesh and sets out to meet their destiny. Shae is accompanied by her pet rancor, Butch, whom she mutated by experimental alchemy to be able to fly, like any responsible pet-owner would do. So does the ASPCA exist in Star Wars, or . . . ?
Meanwhile, we catch up with our old friend Hawk Ryo, who is just as bland and uninteresting as he was in “Eruption,” only now that he’s illustrated we can see he has a black little soul patch on his chin and now I kind of hate him. He senses the Rakata aboard Xesh’s ship as it enters the system and sends a warning to the Je’daii Temple Masters, then sets out to investigate. The Rakatan ship mysteriously crashes on Tython, however, and everyone aboard is killed, save of course for Xesh. Shae, Sek’nos, and Tasha brave the perils of wild Tython to arrive at the crash site where they are confronted by Xesh. He makes short work of their swords with his “Forcesaber,” which is a lightsaber that can only be activated when its user taps into the dark side and was invented by the author so he could have lightsabers in a time period where there aren’t supposed to be lightsabers.
They fight for a while and eventually Xesh flees deeper into the Tython wilderness, the imbalance in the Force caused by his darkness and the deaths of all the Rakata resulting in the titular Force storm and the three musketeers turning on one another as they’re forced to confront their inner demons or something. They get over it though. Meanwhile Xesh almost gets eaten by spiders but then he doesn’t. The Je’daii catch up with him again but then they’re all attacked by the sandworms from Dune. The Je’daii save Xesh’s life and he repays them by hightailing it out of there. He watches their battle from the top of a cliff and predicts that Shae will sacrifice the others to the monster in order to escape, but he is taken aback when she refuses to abandon her friends and is ready to sacrifice herself to save them. Enraptured by her heroism and cleavage, Xesh rushes back to save her and kills the sandworm by stabbing it in the eye. Hawk Ryo and some Je’daii Masters with dumb names finally show up, and the one who looks like Morpheus from The Matrix sacrifices himself to end the Force storm by getting struck by lightning. He doesn’t even die though so it’s not much of a sacrifice.
The dissipation of the storm weakens Xesh for some reason and Shae subdues him with his own Forcesaber, being the only Je’daii able to activate the weapon because of her female emotionality. Xesh surrenders and tells her that when they devour his body, he wants her to eat his heart. She’s like, “Um, we don’t really do that here,” which is maybe the mildest possible underreaction to that request.
After the Je’daii take Xesh back to their temple and heal his wounds, Tasha, who has done nothing for the whole story, decides to make herself useful and mind-meld with the stranger, who conveniently has amnesia and can’t remember how his ship crashed. She sees a panel of the Rakatan fleet surrounding the Star Forge from Knights of the Old Republic and that Xesh was brainwashed as a child to be evil. She and her friends beg the Je’daii Masters, and I feel like a fool every time I have to type that term, to let them try to help Xesh find balance in the Force, but the masters are like “lol eff that” and just ship him off to the evil moon prison. TO BE CONTINUED . . .→