Review: Star Wars: Jedi — The Dark Side #1

Qui-Gon Jinn takes his apprentice on an ill-advised mission from the Jedi counsel.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

I believe that there's an inherent weakness in prequels because for the most part, we know how they're going to end. Take the Star Wars prequels for example. Was that story going to wrap up in any other way than Anakin Skywalker falling to the dark side and changing into Darth Vader?

Star Wars: Jedi — The Dark Side has a similar problem. This story is actually based on a pre-existing origin that was told in some of the Star Wars novels. On one hand, I can appreciate the attention to detail used here to go back and tell that story. But there's a certain inevitability about it that keeps the comic from giving us anything new… at least in the first issue.

This story takes place about twenty years before Star Wars: Episode 1, with Qui-Gon Jinn escorting his Padawan, Xanatos to his home planet during a brutal civil war. And once there, Xanatos finds a very familiar face waiting for him.

To be clear, this issue is very competently told by Scott Allie and artist Mahmud Asrar. Allie captures the flavor of the Prequel films by focusing on the Jedi without delving into self-parody like the first prequel did. And Allie also seems to have a good grasp on Qui-Gon's voice and character. However, Xanatos is almost a prototype for Anakin here. He's the brash young apprentice, overly convinced of his abilities while also having a tendency to whine about perceived slights to him and his desire to return home.

It's a character archetype that comes up a lot in Star Wars. And in this case, it makes Xanatos pretty one note. In theory, Xanatos should be the most relatable member of the cast, but he doesn't have any redeeming or distinguishing qualities yet. Xanatos' only interesting moment comes early in the book after a duel with Qui-Gon reveals him to be even more of a jerk than he ordinarily tries to let on.

There is some intriguing interplay between Qui-Gon and Tahl, a female Jedi who Qui-Gon is clearly in love with. Of course, they're both pretty repressed at this point and not acting on it. But their chemistry is so good that it would have been more fun to see these two on an adventure together without their respective Padawans tagging along. In fact, Orykan (Tahl's prospective apprentice) has exactly two lines in the entire book! Either she'll play a bigger role going forward or she's going to be cannon fodder.

Asrar brings a lot of energy to his pages, particularly during the light saber duel between Qui-Gon and Xanatos. It's not a conventional style and I would almost describe it as European. But I'm not sure that's the right word for it either. Depending upon your taste, it might take some getting used to.

While reading this issue, I also noticed how annoying the sound effects were. Obviously, there's no sound in comics, so we get a lot of "BOOM," "KRASH" and "BDOW" (which is supposedly the sound of laser fire). That's definitely an old school comics approach. But it also covers up the art during some otherwise crisp pages and they get in the way of the story instead of enhancing it. On some pages, the sound effects are so cluttered that they actually overshadow the action.

Overall, this is a solid issue that just didn't grab me the way that Star Wars Legacy has. If you're coming in without knowledge about where this is going, you may enjoy this more than I did. But personally, I'll be a lot happier with this miniseries if it manages to surprise me before it's over.