Welcome everyone to a wonderful new year, starting with something the 181st Imperial Discussion Group normally didn't do: a round of discussion of a comic book series. Old people in here may remember that there was another group called Read Squadron that did comics, and the onehundredeightyworst did novels. Without further ado, let's mix that up a bit, shall we. This month sees a series of comic books that hold a pretty special, if not universally beloved, place in the EU. Tales of the Jedi could best be described as an experiment that had very unexpected results. Author Tom Veitch had the idea first in 1988 and used some of the concept as backstory for Dark Empire. Based on the success of that series, he could finally begin telling his tales of Jedi living millennia before the actual SW movies - a new era was born, and with it the very idea of different eras in SW. Veitch would collaborate with Kevin J. Anderson when they found out that they could combine Veitch's ideas for the saga of Ulic Qel-Droma with Anderson's plans for a Sith spirit imprisoned for millennia in his Jedi Academy Trilogy. Anderson finally took over and brought the series to a conclusion. After that, the distant past of SW was pushed even farther back with the Golden Age of the Sith series, and Qel-Droma's story got an epilogue with Redemption. But the idea went farther, giving us first the KOTOR RPGs with Revan and the Exile, then the KOTOR comic book with Zayne Carrick, and finally the entire The Old Republic era centering on that multiplayer game you might have heard about in December 2011. OK, if you post here, you know all this, but I thought it would be illuminating to bring all of this into focus again... ...as we start with Chapter The First: Ulic Qel-Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon. - The art! I've heard a lot of negative stuff about it, but I think it brings something very distinct to the era. Including the fact that people are serious most of the time and yell a lot. There's some great ideas for panels going on here, such as the second to last panel with Ulic and Arca in profiles, not looking at another because we do not need a faithful reprensation of how people stand in relation when they talk in reality. Or the page showing the battle meditation reinforcing the will to fight. Or the young Jedi reacting to their assignment. - The pacing! This is only two single issues. Today, I'm sure this would be stretched over four, five or even six issues. - The characters! There might not be a lot of development here, but are the characters solid nonetheless? - The world building! We get a planet with an entire backstory going through two phases, and the Freedon Nadd backstory comes on top of that and tells us something about the Jedi Order. What do you think about the planet's unique features? - The designs! This is not Luke Skywalker's timeframe, It most definitely is not. But they've got lightsabers. I do love the ship designs. - The details! Showing Ulic's reaction to his assignment as a smug smile, seeing the armored guard's eyes through his helmet as he's overpowered. The dead droid in the secret passage, setting up the place Ulic is carrying Cay to. - The emotion! When I first read this, Cay's loss of his arm really came as a gut-wrenching moment. Looking at it grown up and knowing the story, it might seem less shocking and gets negated by the new arm thing quite fast. But it does set up that we are talking about stakes here - worse stuff might happen to the main characters, and it's thanks to the fact that these young Jedi aren't really ready to act as Jedi. Cay is set up as the one that doesn't pay attention, maybe as the weakest, but also somehow as the "little brother" that everyone loves to protect. What now if Ulic doesn't pay attention to his teacher, how will he end up? An interesting little scene, and still pretty powerful for the little amount of space it has. - The foundation: Wars not make one great! As much as Ulic is set up for his fall, his entire way of doing things is set up to take blame. Good Jedi don't kill beasts, they talk to them (hello Jacen). Great Jedi don't rush into battle, they meditate and influence the outcome (hello Clone Wars and Vong invasion). - The reverse grip! Okay, I'm just being silly, but seeing how the Legacy drinking game referring to the number of times a Duurseema character holds their lightsaber in reverse can be continued in Dawn of the Jedi without ever putting your glass down, I must point out how there's no reverse grip lightsaber back in 1993. But the training droid on page two has an awesome reverse grip blaster shot. Back before it was cool, people! I know some of you will also go for the audio drama, which should be interesting. Either way, now is the time to discuss!