Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi: The Golden Age of the Sith

Tales of the Jedi: The Golden Age of the Sith

Note: Tales of the Jedi: The Golden Age of the Sith is a comic book released in trade paperback form in 1997. It was re-released in the Tales of the Jedi, Vol. 1 omnibus in 2007. This will be my first comic review, and my format will simply be fifty points for story and fifty points for art. These two broad spectrums will cover many different sub categories, and should provide a very comprehensive review.

Story

This tale takes place 5,000 years before the events of the film series. It concerns two hyperspace explorers, Gav and Jori Daragon, and their accidental finding of the Sith Empire. Once in Sith space, they become an important part in a power struggle between Sith Lords Ludo Kressh and Naga Sadow. My favorite part of the story is learning how the hyperspace routes were mapped out, and the various dangers inherent in such activity. Though it isn't the central aspect of the story, it was important for several plot points, and fit into the "ancient" aspect of this series.

The second half of the story, set in the Sith Empire, is good, but not great. Seeing the homeworld of the Sith, and the insights into Sith culture was good, but the actual premise wasn't. The plotting and intrigue here feels very heavy handed, and it is just too easy for Naga Sadow to manipulate everyone. There are some good action scenes, but some incredibly bad scenes between Gav and Jori really drag this portion down. The dialogue is unusually cringe worthy here, as the two attempt to console each other with lines like "They're just afraid, Jori. We sure must have given them a scare!" and "We could have ended up anywhere in the galaxy...but our fate took us here!" These scenes feature some of the only truly bad dialogue in the book, though some of the characters themselves are suspect. Gav and Jori are more interesting in concept than they are in execution, they are too prone to whining and being completely inept to be truly likeable. The Sith Lords seem unreasonably gullible, and Jedi Odan-Urr is completely forgettable outside of the prologue, where he uses Battle Meditation to turn the tide of an engagement on the world of Cinnagar.

Odan-Urr's part in the main story is minimal, though he does factor into a barely mentioned sub plot concerning the unification of the Koros system. This sub plot does little but set the stage for the next book in the series, though it does provide some glimpses of early Coruscant and Jedi Knights. Be aware that this book does end on a cliff hanger, as Naga Sadow's forces prepare to follow Jori to the systems of the Republic, setting the stage for war in the next comic "The Fall of the Sith Empire." Overall, the story isn't the strongest, though it would've been much better with more likeable characters. Nonetheless, it does a good job of showing the ancient Star Wars world, and offers some great action scenes to boot.

Art

The execution of the comic is good, but the art design is severely flawed. The Sith have a very Ancient Egyptian feel to them, from characters to architecture, there is a definite nod to Egyptian culture here. This can also be seen in the overabundance of tan, excessive jewelry, and pyramids on Coruscant. This comes across as a bit lazy, and doesn't look anything like Star Wars, even in ancient form. The Sith people also left something to be desired, often looking like blank ape-like creatures, and never coming across as particularly threatening or imposing (with the exception of Naga Sadow and the ghost of Ragnos.)

Another flaw is the ridiculous looking characters added for no discernible reason. In the prologue, a Jedi that is essentially a giant brain in a crystalline tank has a conversation with Odan-Urr. Later, in the Sith Empire, we are introduced to a Sith Lord that has been decapitated, but lives on through his mastery of the Dark Side. He is essentially a head in a jar, and he accomplishes next to nothing. In fact, neither of these characters is important to the story, but their inclusion makes it hard to take seriously.

The art design isn't all bad, however. The ship designs were good, and the Sith Swords were an interesting touch. Overall though, the design itself just felt too derivative.

The actual execution of the artwork is much better. It is a shade/pencil heavy style that isn't quite realistic, but is quite effective at conveying actions and emotions, and adding a bit of depth to the shallow environments. I really enjoyed the various expressions and action scenes due to this. The style stays consistent throughout, and it is probably one of my favorite aspects of the work. The colors are very subdued. Mostly consisting of natural colors-brown, white, grey- it contrasts sharply with the vibrant colors in the twelve page prologue. I think I would've preferred the vibrant colors for this story, but the natural colors fit the motif well and definitely are more suitable for the designs. I have no complaint with the execution here, it never detracted and often added to the other stuff, so it earns above average marks.

Conclusion
An average story with below average design, The Golden Age of the Sith had potential, but is ultimately just another middle of the road Star Wars comic, artwork excluded.

Final Score
54/100



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