Thursday, June 9, 2016

Retro Dark Horse: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is the second most important series published by Dark Horse after Star Wars: Dark Empire.  Dark Empire pushed the envelope for Star Wars comics by showing there was a demand for serious mature stories.  Tales of the Jedi takes this one step further and showed that Star Wars fans were also interested in stories that did not focus on the main characters or era of the original trilogy.  The first Tales of the Jedi 5-part mini-series is set approximately 4000 years before events in the movies, during the era of the Old Republic.  Dark Empire introduces the concept of holocrons, artifacts created by ancient Jedi and Sith to pass lessons and stories to future generations, and it is the holocron in Dark Empire that is the inspiration for the Tales of the Jedi series.

Issues #1 and 2 of Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi contains a story arc titled Ulic Qel-Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon.  The story focuses on Jedi apprentice Ulic Qel-Droma who, along with fellow apprentices Cay Qel-Droma and Tott Doneeta, is sent to the planet Onderon by Jedi Master Arca to quell an ongoing war.  In many ways, this story mirrors the arc told in Marvel Star Wars #11 - 14, where Luke Skywalker gets caught up in a war between Governor Quarg's floating city-ship and the Dragon Lords.  In that story, the Dragon Lords are exiled scientists from the city-ship who tame the world's sea-dragon species and ride them into a final battle against the evil Quarg.  In the Tales of the Jedi story, Beast-Riders are exiles from the walled city of Iziz who tame the flying Dxun beasts of Onderon and ride them into a final battle against Iziz's ruling Queen Amanoa.  Queen Amanoa is under the influence of a long dead Dark Jedi Freedom Nadd and only through the intervention of master Arca are the Jedi able to defeat the queen and save the Onderonians from this long war.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi #1a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (October 1993)
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi #2a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (November 1993)
Issues #3 - 5 contain a story arc titled The Saga of Nomi Sunrider.  Nomi Sunrider is the wife of Jedi Knight Andur Sunrider and mother to infant Vima Sunrider.  While delivering Adegan crystals (used in the construction of lightsabers) to Jedi Master Thon, Andur Sunrider is killed by gangsters attempting to steal the crystals.  Nomi Sunrider, at the urging of her dead husband's force ghost, uses her latent force powers to defeat the would be thieves and deliver the crystals to Thon on the planet Ambria.  Nomi Sunrider is initially reluctant to embrace her powers, but eventually circumstances force her to accept her fate as Thon's apprentice when the gangsters travel to Ambria to make another attempt to steal the crystals.

Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi #3a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (December 1993)
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi #4a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (January 1994)
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi #5a - Dark Horse Comics, U.S. (February 1994)
The first Tales of the Jedi mini-series does a good job of world building.  Destinies are hinted at for Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider and those destinies, as well as other situations introduced in this series, are explored in future Tales of the Jedi stories.

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