Over the course of late 2017 and into this year, Jean Grey, for the first time, got her first solo ongoing, not in the form of her adult self (who was, until recently, deceased), but in the form of her time-displaced teenage self, brought into the present day (it’s complicated) – which lead into the return of Adult Jean Grey. As the series recently wrapped up, I figured I might as well give my thoughts. (more…)

Advertisements

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.

 

I’m something of a fan of The Shadow, both in terms of the radio plays, and in terms of the pulp character. The feature film starring Alec Baldwin holds a special place in my heart for how it combines the two very different versions of the character into one with some success. So, when I ended up having to find a new comic shop after my old one (Ancient Wonders in Tualatin – which was also my FLGS) closed, I found myself in need of a new comic shop. When I found my new one (Comics Adventure in Gladstone)  I ended up checking out the quarter bins in the back, and finding almost all of Howard Chaykin’s 4-issue The Shadow miniseries – Blood and Judgement. I picked that up, and found the first issue on Comixology. Having read it, it’s time to give my thoughts. (more…)

Akira (film)
Akira (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I’m re-watching Akira again, for the first time after having seen the first part of Megazone 23. It’s interesting to compare Megazone 23 Part 1 and Akira. Both came out within 3 years of each other – Megazone 23 in 1985, the year I was born, and Akira in 1988. Both have similar leads – biker punks who get in over their heads with sinister government conspiracies. Both series have hawkish military figures who overthrow the elected government in a coup, and both figures are certainly antagonists. However, it’s interesting to see how in Megazone 23, the military figures are clearly evil, while in Akira, the Colonel’s actions are given a stronger justification.

 

This is kind of a spoiler for Megazone 23, so don’t read further if you’re worried about having the story spoiled:
(more…)

I have a manga review that’s actually topical for Valentine’s Day next week.

Hayate the Combat Butler, Vol. 7

Hayate the Combat Butler, Vol. 7 by Kenjiro Hata

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whenever I’ve had a rough day, and I feel like I can’t remember the last time I laughed, one of the manga or anime I turn to, in order to lighten my spirits is Hayate the Combat Butler. The blend of oddball comedy and reverentially referential humor, along with a willingness to just chip away at that fourth wall blends together well to make an enjoyable comic, and the fact that the characters are incredibly likable really helps to keep me coming back in a way that TV shows like Family Guy, which also relies on referential humor, fails to do. (more…)

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Volume 2The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Volume 2 by Eiji Otsuka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery service is a very interesting manga to describe, in terms of being a horror manga that contains elements of the supernatural, but is ultimately bases its horror out of what people do to each other, then it does with the actions of the restless dead – though those elements are there. (more…)