Comics Review: Tales of the Jedi – The Sith War

I’m wrapping up the first major arc of Tales of the Jedi this week with the conclusion of the saga of Ulic Qel’Droma and Exar Kun.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi—The Sith War
Published from August 1995 to January 1996
Written by Kevin J. Anderson
Pencils by Dario Carrasco, Jr.
Inks by Jordi Ensign, Mark G. Heike, Bill Black, David Jacob Beckett
Lettering by Willie Schubert
Coloring by Pamela Rambo, Rachelle Menashe
Covers by Hugh Fleming

Tales of the Sith: The Sith War is available from Amazon in a physical edition and through the Kindle store and Comixology (and also on Marvel Digital Unlimited).

Plot Notes

Ulic Qel’Droma and Exar Kun have joined forces, with Kun as the new Dark Lord of the Sith, and Qel’Droma as his apprentice, with their goal of besting the Jedi Order and the Galactic Republic and gaining hegemony over the galaxy. As part of this plan, Qel’Droma challenges the leader of the Mandalorians, known simply as “Mandalore”, to single combat in order to get them to work for him. Qel’Droma wins, and Mandalore and the Mandalorians swear to follow him.

Meanwhile, Exar Kun’s treachery has yet to become widespread among the Jedi, allowing Kun to move among them and recruit some less experienced Jedi to his cause. It also allows him to sneak into the residence of Master Odun-urr, who possesses a Sith Holocron, which Kun murders him to steal. However, Kun does not know that before his death, Odun-urr taught Nomi Sunrider of a technique that can allow a Jedi to cut a person off from the Force entirely. It’s a powerful technique and one which should not be used lightly. While Kun returns to Yavin 4 with his apprentices, Qel-Droma and the Mandalorians launch several strikes on Republic shipyards, stealing warships.

However, at this point, Kun and Qel-Droma end up running into conflict. Qel-Droma, feeling that Republic forces would now be spread too thin, calls for a lighting strike on Coruscant, while Kun prefers caution. Ultimately, Qel-Droma launches his attack anyway.

On Yavin 4, Exar Kun works to corrupt his apprentices, by tricking them into believing that they were going to release the taint of the Dark Side from Yavin 4 and infecting them with it instead – in particular through destroying the Sith Holocron. Qel-Droma’s attack on Coruscant, on the other hand, doesn’t quite work as planned – as on the brink of success he is betrayed by Aleema Keto, who withdraws their forces while Ulic is in the Republic command center, allowing him to be captured by the Jedi Knights.

Mandalore goes to Exar Kun, asking for his help in rescuing Ulic. Exar Kun agrees while sending his Dark Side tainted apprentices out to slay their masters. Kun and Mandalore crash Ulic’s trial and uses the Dark Side to silence the Republic Senate while Kun basically delivers his manifesto. However, they do not escape unopposed. Vodo Baas challenges Exar Kun to a duel, and Kun accepts, revealing his new double-bladed lightsaber. Kun slays his former master and leaves with Ulic.

On Ambria, Nomi Sunrider has returned to Master Thon, seeking guidance, along with Sylvar. However, Oss Willum, one of the Dark Side controlled Jedi, has arrived as well, seeking to murder Thon. With him is Crado, another apprentice who Kun recruited, but who was passed over by the Sith Holocron – and who is Sylvar’s mate. In the fighting, Oss Willum is captured, and Crado is wounded and driven off by Sylvar. Credo returns to Kun alone. However, the rest of the assassinations are generally successful.

Credo and Aleema are sent by Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma to be part of a trap against the Jedi – to wipe out the Republic Fleet and render Ossus uninhabitable (at least for a time), by triggering a cascading series of supernovae. However, the plot is a trap against them as well, as the attack destroys their ship as well, punishing Aleema for her treachery and Credo for his failure.

As the wave of destruction approaches Ossus, Kun and Ulic attempt to slip in and steal whatever they can, while Ulic directs Mandalore to launch an attack on Onderon. Cay Qel-Droma spots them and launches an attack, but both Ulic’s ship and Kay on the Nebulon Ranger are both downed. Meanwhile, Master Odd Bnar, spotting Kun’s attempted theft, protects a cache of lightsabers by forming a tree above it.

Cay and Ulic engage in a lightsaber duel, with Cay pleading with Ulic to return to the light, but in the heat of battle, Ulic slays his brother. Realizing what he has done, Ulic is consumed by grief, and when she sees his actions, Nomi Sunrider strips the Force from Ulic. On Onderon, the Mandalorians realize that they’ve launched their attack when Dxun is at it’s closest, which means that the Beastriders are on high alert. Their forces are repelled, and Mandalore orders a withdraw to Dxun to regroup. This is his undoing, as he is slain by the local wildlife.

Back on Ossus, Ulic tells the Jedi of Exar Kun’s base on Yavin 4, and Jedi, along with the surviving Republic forces, launch a final attack. Kun sacrifices the spirits of the Manassi in a last ditch effort to blast the Jedi and the Republic out of existence using the power of the Dark Side, but through meditation, the Jedi create a wall of light shielding them from the onslaught. In the end, Kun’s spirit is left alone and imprisoned to the Manassi temple on Yavin 4, to remain alone, with no communication, for thousands of years to come.

The final fate of Exar Kun – until the Jedi Academy Trilogy

Worldbuilding

  • We have our first look at Mandalorian society.
  • We see the destruction that is brought to Ossus, and how Ood Bnar came to protect his precious cache of lightsabers.
  • We learn that a person’s connection to The Force can be stripped from them.
  • We have the first appearance of a double-bladed lightsaber and in the hands of a Sith.

Characterization

  • Exar Kun: After a series of seeming successes, had his plans come crashing down around him in a manner of days through Ulic Qel Droma slaying his brother in the heat of battle – ending with him binding his spirit to a temple on Yavin IV.
  • Ulic Qel-Droma: Cut off from the force by Nomi Sunrider, after he slew his brother.
  • Cay Qel-Droma: Dead.
  • Nomi Sunrider: Has learned the ability to cut a person off from the force, and was forced by circumstance to use it on the man she loved.
  • Master Vodo Baas: Slain on the floor of the Republic Senate by Exar Kun.
  • Oss Wilum: Was consumed by the Dark Side of the Force, but was brought back by Master Thon.
  • Master Thon: Now one of the few remaining Jedi masters.

Other Notes

This is the first installment of Tales of the Jedi to be written exclusively by Kevin J. Anderson.

Final Thoughts

Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War, definitely puts the operatic into space opera. The scope of the story feels absolutely Wagnerian, with much of the climax of the story being based around very apocalyptic events – the supernova encroaching on Ossus, Exar Kun’s sacrifice of the Manassi, and his physical body, in one last desperate attack. Even Kun’s character arc and ultimate fate feels like the tragic arc of a character in an opera – Exar Kun launches his efforts consumed by pride, and ultimately ends up alone and forgotten in the dark for thousands of years.

Similarly, while the romance between Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider needs a lot more development to make it work as text, their arc thematically feels right for a tragedy, along with the story of Kay and Ulric.

Man, if I the musical talent for it, and I thought I could get away with it without getting legally shut down by Disney, I’d write an adaptation of the Tales of the Jedi saga into a cycle of opera, like Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

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