Story: John Ostrander & Jan Duursema
Script: John Ostrander
Pencils: Jan Duursema
Inks: Dan Parsons
Colors: Wes Dzioba
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Gonzalo Flores
20,000 years before the battle of Yavin in a galaxy far, far away, there was a time when there were no Jedi, Sith, Republic, or Empires, but there was the Force. While Jedi and Sith were still to come, there was the Je’daii attempting to balance the Force within and around them. Then came one unbalanced individual on the Je’daii home planet of Tython who would shake the very planet as well as their teachings.
I’m going to get this out of the way right now – this story was not my kind of Star Wars story. That’s the nice thing about Star Wars and having a long history; certain eras will ring more truly with some, but not all. I know several people who like these kinds of Star Wars stories, because while Star Wars may be held as science fiction, it’s really fantasy with science fiction trappings. You have your magical warriors side by side with aliens, robots, and space travel. I tend to enjoy my magical warriors working with robots and flying about through space. Some prefer to stick to one planet of the galaxy and that’s fine, too; this story falls into that category.
This story feels so far removed from what I love about Star Wars that it could pretty much be its own fantasy story. This would be a really cool Dungeons and Dragons type of story I’d want to play in, but I wouldn’t want to do this in Star Wars. So keep that in mind when I talk about the story.
The story is about a group of Je’daii apprentices being drawn by the Force to meet a “Force Hound” of a race of conquerors. They live on a planet with a harsh environment that is effectively the embodiment of the Force. As the apprentices follow this Hound, their mentors are searching for them. The whole story is a big chase of catching one another while the titular storm looms overhead to destroy them all. Who is this new Force user and can he be brought to balance? That’s just one of many questions you’ll be asking when this book is over.
There are some pacing issues with the book in the exposition; the story jumps around through time so much I had no idea exactly what year it was anymore or who was talking. We spend a lot of those pages getting glimpses of characters, and the major players don’t interact with one another until about 40 pages in. It takes quite a bit of time for the plot to really start up with the time spent on the origins of the Force (I’m not a big fan of answers to questions I never cared to know the answers to, such as that one).
There are characters you will see for a short time and then never again in the book; I don’t even know if they are in the same timeline as the others, or if they are further into the future. I had to ask someone who had read the Wikipedia timeline to help me figure out what was going on. I understand that the reason the story is so far removed from anything I know of Star Wars is because it takes place 20,000 years before the movies, but at the same time I wonder how they could have linked it together better. There’s this big push in Star Wars media to push for races that are from the Expanded Universe, and then you get the movie favorites pushed to the wayside. Wookiees are in it as kind of lip service, but if you didn’t have Twi’leks and the one Rancor, it really could have been anything. This also really relies on what I (stupidly) call “space words,” which is making up names of things that sound very much like you are reading a space opera or an epic fantasy story. When they sound too made up and not grounded in anything, it takes me too far out. I think I’d have been more interested if the words used were from maybe an ancient or dead language (maybe it is, but they picked one that sounds too far-fetched from the setting as I know it).
The art is rather nice, though I did notice some scenes where the action looked a little too posed. The above image is an example of everyone looking like they had posed instead of feeling fluid. They are all jumping, and I feel like they are jumping in different ways that don’t work. The Twi’lek looks like she’s about to spin, the woman front and center looks like she could be saying “GO TEAM!” and it wouldn’t be out of place for that pose, and the guy looks like he’s going to tackle that poor Twi’lek. For the most part, though, the art is great; I see what few Wookiees they have for a few panels in the background and would like to see more Wookiee artwork.
In the end, this book was alright for a fantasy story, but when it came to scratching the Star Wars itch, I’ll have to look elsewhere. If you want a very fantasy setting version of the Star Wars universe then you will probably enjoy this one. It definitely could go in some interesting directions. Thanks to Dark Horse for giving me a copy of this to review.