Having finished the second book in the Jedi Academy Trilogy, this seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the comic book storyline discussing the rise of Exar Kun – The Freedon Nadd Uprising and Dark Lords of the Sith.

Credits

Freedon Nadd Uprising

Writer: Tom Veitch
Pencils: Tony Atkins
Inks: Denis Rodier
Lettering: Willie Schubert
Colorist: Suzanne Bourdages
Covers: Dave Dorman
Publication Date: August – September 1994

This is available independently in a Kindle/Comixology edition from Amazon.com.

Dark Lords of the Sith

Writer: Tom Veitch & Kevin J. Anderson
Pencils: Chris Gossett (1-5), Art Wetherell.
Inks: Mike Barreiro (1, 3, 5-6), Jordi Ensign (2, 4),
Lettering: Willie Schubert
Colorist: Pamela Rambo
Cover artist: Hugh Fleming
Publication Date: October 1994 – March 1995

This is available independently from Amazon.com.

Both stories are available in a combined form in Tales of the Jedi Vol. 2 (along with the next two arcs of the comic).

Plot Notes

Following the defeat of Queen Amanoa in the events of the first Tales of the Jedi storyline, Jedi Master Arca Jeth has decided that it’s best to remove the remains of Sith Lord Freedon Nadd from Onderon to the nearby moon of Dxun. As Jeth, and his students Ulic and Cay Qel-Droma, Tott Doneeta, and Master Thon’s former pupil Oss Wilum, move Nadd’s sarcophagus and the remains of the former queen, Amanoa, to Dxun, they are attacks by followers of Nadd, stealing the sarcophagi.

The Jedi consult current Queen Gallia’s father, King Ommin, for assistance. To their surprise (but not exactly mine), Ommin turns out to also be a Nadd cultist, betraying the Jedi. Arca Jeth is captured, through the rest of the Jedi get away. Meanwhile, another group of Jedi, including Nomi Sunrider are sent to help defend the planet.

While all of this is going on, two other Sith Cultists – Satal and Aleema Keto – heirs to the throne of the Empress Teta system, steal a book on the Sith from the Galactic Museum, which leads them to Onderon. They manage to steal a few relics of Freedon Nadd and return to their world home system, and murder their parents to seize the throne.

Once again, the Jedi are drawn into action to take down the two. As Republic and Jedi forces work to retake the Empress Teta system, a Jedi Knight named Exar Kun raids the crypt of Freedon Nadd and takes several relics. Nadd’s spirit directs Exar Kun to Yavin IV, and the temple and Sith laboratories of an earlier Lord of the Sith known as Naga Sadow. Nadd manages to corrupt Kun to the Dark Side of the Force, making him accept the mantle of the Sith in order to heal an otherwise mortal wound.

Back in the Empress Teta system, the Keto siblings are able to fight the Republic forces to a standstill using their Sith powers, and in particular Aleema’s ability to conjure illusions. As Kun turns to the Dark Side, a wave of power runs through force, that allows the forces of the Keto Siblings to attack a gathering of Jedi, with their battle droids killing a bunch of Jedi, including Master Jeth.

In response to this, Ulic Qel-Droma proposes a hazardous plan – to infiltrate the forces of the Empress Teta system, and to attempt to overcome the Sith from within.  Several Jedi masters, along with Ulic’s brother Cay and Nomi Sunrider, attempt to talk him out of this, but he decides to go forward with this plan anyway. Ulic manages to gain the confidence of Aleema, but Satal does not trust him – drugging him with a Sith poison that will kill him if he tries to draw on the Light Side of the force. Kay and Nomi attempt to pull out Ulic, but he insists on staying to see this through.

This all comes to a head when Exar Kun travels to the Empress Teta system himself. Kun kills Satal, and ends up doing battle with Ulic. Ulic puts on an amulet from the cache of Sith artifacts in Aleema’s possession – which resonates with a similar amulet that Kun had on his person. They get a vision of a Sith Lord far older than Freedon Nadd. He informs them that this moment has been planned for long before they were born – Exar Kun is to be the new, true Dark Lord of the Sith, with Ulic Qel-Droma as his apprentice.

Worldbuilding

  • That there was an ancient race known as the Sith, and they were enslaved by a group of Dark Jedi, who called themselves the Lords of the Sith.
  • The Force has something in common with Qi in Wuxia novels or humors in medieval medicine. It’s not just a matter of mindset when powers are used, it’s mindset and body chemistry in unison. Thus, when Exar Kun’s body is rebuilt by Freedon Nadd, he can block Kun off from the Light Side, and the same applies for the Sith poison that is injected into Ulic Qel-Droma.
  • We have the first mention in print of Korriban – Sith Tomb world, the place where they buried their secrets on their death, but specifically with the intent that later Sith Lords would come their to try and retrieve those secrets, and thus placed challenges that would have to be overcome to obtain those secrets.
  • First appearance of the Empress Teta system, and first major mention of Naga Sadow.

Characterization

Ulic Qel-Droma: Still somewhat naive and brash, but also somewhat driven and idealistic, as he’s willing to put everything on the line to infiltrate the Sith in order to end this war once and for all.

Cay Qel-Droma: Still the more mature brother, tries to talk Ulic out of his plan, and tries to pull him out with Nomi Sunrider.

Nomi Sunrider: At some point fell in love with Ulic. Is a little more willing to use her lightsaber, and she’s demonstrated the ability to use Battle Meditation to get her opponents to turn on each other.

Master Arca Jeth: Dies during the Battle Droid attack on the Jedi gathering.

Oss Wilum: Has a vision that he will be “learning a great deal” from Ulic Qel-Droma.

Other Notes

This installment does a great job of building up the backstory for the events that are going on in the Jedi Academy trilogy, while also forwarding the existing Tales of the Jedi storyline. That said, again – I feel this would work better as an ongoing comic than a bunch of short miniseries, but that’s how Dark Horse rolls in the ’90s.

Final Thoughts

This is a great continuation of the story from the last Tales of the Jedi series. This ups the scope to a more galactic threat, and gets across why this is a big deal.

The Keto siblings are generally introduced in an interesting manner. They are something of an archetype – rich, decadent spoiled brats who turn to occultism when bored – almost the Star Wars equivalent of Fenris from the Marvel universe (though with less implied incest).

That said, once Exar Kun is introduced in full in Dark Lords of the Sith, it’s made clear that the Keto Siblings are placeholder villains. They’re certainly dangerous, but the amount of attention that Exar Kun receives makes it clear that he’s the big bad – something that is made all the more clear if you read Dark Apprentice.

The action this volume is well done, and the environments panel layouts and art really works with the scope as well. We have some tremendous vistas in this story – which in the modern era of decompressed storytelling would probably be shown as massive two-page spreads, but here are kept a little more confined. Still, they’re given a lot of page real estate to play-up the impact of the art.

The end of this part is definitely a cliffhanger, and it feels almost like our Empire Strikes Back moment, but we’ll see when we get to Part 3 of Tales of the Jedi, with The Sith War.

However, on the novel side, we need to finish off the Jedi Academy trilogy with Champions of the Force, and after that we have, on the comics front, Dark Empire II.

 

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