Set thirty-six thousand years before Luke Skywalker made the shot and destroyed the first Death Star, this series sets the foundation for the Jedi. At least, that’s what I’m expecting from a book titled, “Dawn of the Jedi.” The first eleven pages of this issue are a quick history lesson. Images suitable for slides with voiceover tell the tale of the Tho Yor. These eight mysterious mythical interstellar pyramids gathered species from many worlds and brought them to the planet Tython.
Once on Tython, the pyramids became the foundations for civilizations with Force-sensitive inhabitants seeking balance in their world. John Ostrander’s story tells of the roots of the Je’Daii reaching down into the ground of Tython, while their less sensitive offspring are relegated to find other homes. Shared within this issue -- as the centerpiece of this issue -- is the Je’Daii Oath. It’s a nice inclusion that is sure to please longtime fans.
Ostrander handles the script for this issue, which gains relevance once the issue shifts to the alternating stories of Master Ketu and his young students and the lush environs of Tatooine (yes, lush and Tatooine) where we are introduced to the overtly sinister Predor Tul’Kar. Tul’Kar follows the lead of his Force Hound, Xesh, in his mad quest to exterminate the indigenous Force sensitives found on Tatooine. This is much more brutal than Order 66 was in “Revenge of the Sith” but, thankfully, not as widespread.
The story, itself, beyond the specific credit of the script, is attributed to both Ostrander and his longtime artistic collaborator, Jan Duursema. It’s nice to see Duursema credited with collaboration in this story as she’s been traveling through space and time alongside Ostrander for almost two decades.
Duursema’s art immediately sets the table for the look of this saga and wonderfully brings in items of familiarity: symbols, species and visual effects. Duursema is an underappreciated character designer. As she did with her previous work in the Star Wars universe, there are characters introduced here that immediately snap right into the landscape around them. Xesh is one such character. Powerful and mysterious, hidden behind a countenance evocative of the helmets of Boba and Jango Fett, Xesh is sure to become a fan favorite, just as Boba Fett did following his introduction over thirty years ago.
Of the species gathered by the Tho Yor, we see Wookies and Twi’lek, but we don’t stick around with them much. This series starts with some familiarity, but quickly shifts from the familiar to the new wild settings and characters introduced here. This is the magic that Ostrander and Duursema bring to their work on the Star Wars brand: instant familiarity through new contributions. It is surprising to see Tatooine with vegetation upon it, but it is not difficult to imagine the ravages awaiting that planet following the events set in motion in this issue. All too soon, this galaxy will transform into the one Star Wars fans are familiar with, but the journey ahead is filled with excitement and uncertainty, wonder and adventure. The beginnings of the Jedi -- or Je’ Daii as they are referred to herein -- are in place here, related through an oral history we have only just begun to hear.