Lit The 181st Imperial Discussion Group goes Read Squadron: Tales of the Jedi!

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Grey1, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    Oct 31, 2000
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    I found Nomi's arc to be the more interesting of the two. Granted, we don't get any real action until the end, but what made it more interesting was it was more moving. It wasn't what the typical "individual seeking out a teacher to learn the ways of the Jedi" plot. We had a woman who watched her husband get murdered before her eyes. Her world was torn apart, and now she has to pick up the pieces while at the same time beginning to play the role of a single parent for her daughter.

    When she arrived on Ambria, she started to put the pieces together, but she wanted to cling to a huge part of her old self - the one that was reluctant to hold a lightsaber and fight others. Then again, part of her reluctance could be attributed to the traumatic experience she had when she killed her husband's killers. I know that there was an argument over whether it was justice or revenge, but as Nawara Ven once told Corran Horn in Rogue Squadron, it was one of those instances where the distinction between the two blurs.
  2. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    @Grey1: normally the radio writeups take about 3 times as long as the actual runtime :p I should have the next one up within the next 12 hours or so.

    So, let's take a look at the Saga of Nomi Sunrider, via stream-of-consciousness:

    First of all, I'm not as horrified by the faces as by the hair. Andur had to die; his hair was sooooooo 80s. And I have to wonder if Nomi's egregious baldspot wasn't some attempt by Veitch and Anderson to depict a "space-y" hairdo.

    The spacestation near the hyperspace beacon reminds me of Firefly and Cowboy Bebop- both shows had similar concepts, though I doubt they took the idea from TotJ (though it is notable that the Starlight Intruder from Dark Empire makes an Easter Egg appearance in Firefly).

    Thon himself is a neat, if goofily executed, concept. Obviously not all Jedi are going to conform to a humanoid body form, and Thon certain demonstrates this with his whole goat-meets-a-Protoceratops gig. I'm not entirely sure why the item "Thon's Robes" existed in KotOR II, when even the in-game text description cast doubt on whether he owned the robes.

    I also have to agree with @Jedi Ben here- Roach did some fantastic artwork in this arc, and I rather wish that he had been the lead artist for the rest of TotJ. His art alone conveys Nomi's emotional turmoil far better than the script does.

    Nomi's flashbacks are neat in how they beat Lucas to the punch with the whole Jedi-having-families gig. Andur seems to have the whole "attachment" thing under control (though I thought that was overblown to begin with). What's also interesting is how the Sunrider family seems to have been integrated into an ordinary community on some world in what is likely the Rim. It's a neat take on how the Jedi operated in the past, and I'd like to note that this seems to be the last gasp of the less structured Jedi Order. In 30 years, the Jedi will have a temple on Coruscant, an inept council, and generally a far more structured Order. It would be interesting to compare just how effective each model was at maintaining peace and stability in the GFFA; clearly the Great Sith War, the destruction of Ossus, and the relocation to Coruscant caused the Jedi to restructure themselves into the format that we see in the prequels. It seems that the pre-KotOR Jedi chose to isolate themselves through hermitage, rather than ensconcing young learners in the Temple at an early age. Which, of course, hearkens back to the depictions of Jedi during the OT, where we had Yoda camping out in the swamps and Ben living on the edge of civilization as a crazy old wizard.

    Once again, I dig the ship designs in TotJ to an extent, particularly in how there seems to be this conscious effort to not emulate the designs of the movies (though Bogga the Hutt's Enforcer One vaguely reminds me of the ship on the cover of Revelation Space), Fun fact about Ithull, the home system of the Colossus Wasps: it's inhabitants were exterminated by the Mandalorians in 200 BBY. I can't help but wonder if this was one of the events that led to the schism between the Death Watch and the True Mandalorians. Also, the panel of Nomi standing beside of Thon reminds me weirdly of Dinotopia.

    Bogga is a pretty typical Hutt, and differs little from Jabba, so there's not much to comment on there other than his palace having towers reminiscent of the Capitol dome and that the panels that show the planets and moons about his lair are neat. Oh, and @JediAlly - I would call it self-defense more than anything else.

    Oh hey, I just now noticed that TotJ suggests that Neti originated on Myrkr. Which is interesting, since it is supposed to have been avoided by the Jedi, yet every single Neti to have been depicted in Star Wars has been, in fact, a Jedi. Also, why is the background in the Ood Bnar panels Mordor? And of course the dark Jedi shown during Ood's recollections looks like a rip-off of Vader.

    Anyways, back to Nomi. There's very little transition between "I don't want to use a lightsaber" and "Let's go on an Ezio Auditore-level kill-streak", but all the same, I think I like her more in this arc than in the rest of TotJ. Her romance with Ulic seemed forced, out of nowhere, and reeked of "let's throw them together just to tie the arcs together", and to some extent I agree with @Rogue1-and-a-half that she acts out of the dark side as much as Ulic does during The Great Sith War- but here I feel sympathetic towards her and her story.
  3. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    The concept is kind of weird, starting with Andur's gloriously silly death. Nomi is Force-sensitive, so why hadn't she been trained before now? Why does it only start after Andur dies? It seems like a weird sort of statement to make -- she doesn't need to be a Jedi as long as she's a happy wife and her husband is out Jedi-ing, but now that she's on her own it's time to get a job? And then it just kind of devolves into this back-and-forth, inexplicable standoff over lightsaber training, and hey a Hutt who wants things so let's have a our big Jedi death and fight against street trash.

    Again, we've got a case of interesting basic concepts -- a more introspective personal journey in coming to use the Force; a struggle to accept the use of violence; a Jedi single mother, which is an interesting concept; and Thon, who is clearly a riff on Yoda, the strange, enigmatic Master in unexpected, appears-less-than-he-is form, while feeling fresh and interesting, because it's taken the concept at its absolute core and gone off in a completely different direction with it rather than just ripping off the whole package -- where the execution just isn't there. Veitch has solid concepts, but he doesn't know how to execute them with the sort of depth that they call for. So we get a shallow, dull sort of execution of good concepts. And again, because the concepts are so compelling and the title so groundbreaking and the execution so forgettable, they get lauded for their ideas and ambition and groundbreakingness while everyone just kind of forgets to notice that the stories aren't actually any good.
    instantdeath and RC-1991 like this.
  4. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    Dec 2, 2009
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    Well this is Veitch and Anderson- as you pointed out in the Jacen snark, Anderson in particular doesn't really think through the implications of his writing (Daala sexing her way up the command ladder) :p

    It would be neat to see what TotJ- and Dark Empire, really- would have been like had Veitch been paired with someone who could translate his ideas into stuff that works. An Irvin Kershner to his George Lucas, essentially.
  5. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Well, DE has almost no ideas other than "do ROTJ over." I think the setting may have been a big boon to Veitch; when he had a Big Three, post-ROTJ story, he didn't know what to do with the characters, where to take the story, and didn't dare do anything original, so he just copied the movies over again as slavishly as possible, and buried a few ideas as additional fluff around the ROTJ setup -- Nar Shaddaa, Vima-da-Boda, Empathyjaybird, Ossus, of which only Nar Shaddaa was a particularly intelligent addition to the saga. But away from the characters and setting we all know, he's forced to make it all up himself, and that pushes him to at least come up with some interesting original concepts and lets him show off his concepts for the setting as he pleases.
  6. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

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    Nov 2, 2000
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    The art is incredibly striking. Until you start thinking about it. I mean, would a Colossus Wasp ever actually evolve? And why would it need a stinger? But it looks frigging amazing.
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  7. TrakNar Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 4, 2011
    star 5
    Many females of larger wasps, such as the giant ichneumon, have large ovipositors that are often mistaken for stingers. They may appear formidable, but they don't sting. If a Colossus Wasp were a parasitic species that preyed on, say, exogorths, then a large ovipositor used for burrowing into asteroids in order to lay eggs onto the slug would be quite useful.

    [IMG]

    A wasp of the giant ichneumon variety with extended ovipositor.
    Last edited by TrakNar, Jan 8, 2013
  8. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    Alright, time for round 2 of this endurance match with hell itself inspiring audio drama!
    -And we have an opening battle scene. Think "we have spotted Imperial Walkers!" but with war beasts. Less badass.

    -"Gunner 4, please repeat the last bit of your message!" After gunner four blatantly dies and gurgles to death

    -This gunner then gets shot in the back. And here I was expecting him to be the protagonist of Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi: Watching a Forest for Pterosaurs to Come and Eat Me.

    -One of the Jedi is cutting his way into the throne room. Doesn't have an annoying enough voice to be Cay, but you never know.

    -"By the ghost of Freedon Nadd, he's just one man!" What's with the vaguely French accents for the Onderonians? Seriously. And all the beast riders sound like some sergeant in a stereotypical World War II film.

    -The Onderonian commander is unconcerned by reports that the beast riders have overrun the walls, because the Queen has some weapon more powerful than any of them. Presumably, it's the ability to forcibly rename them something as ridiculous as "Freedon Nadd".

    -Yeah it's Cay. Overconfident Cay.

    -The Onderonian Commander decides to shoot at Cay because he's overconfident or something. His shot manages to take Cay's whole arm off. Man, did I call that or what?

    -And the Onderonian commander just kind of giggles as he runs away and Cay screams that they've "cut off his arm".

    -Actually Cay, they shot it off. GET IT TOGETHER, SOLDIER.

    -For some reason this results in us hearing a stanza from the Imperial March. No wait, its the bit of Vader's theme that plays during The Emperor's Arrival.

    -Yes, I am that pedantic.

    -And now back to the battle on the walls.

    -Yeah, since the last episode was the first issue of TotJ plus half of the second issue, they are padding out the 35 minutes of this via extended battle scenes.

    -"Down with Iziz! Down with Freedon Nadd!" And now that pronunciation of Iziz is really starting to get on my nerves.

    -I mean, it's kind of neat how this same scene gets repeated 40 years later when the Jedi Exile storms her way into the Royal Palace, but that was way more entertaining and coherent. Also, it had more Kreia. Here, you have no idea of the layout of the city (other than it having big walls; well, so did Helm's Deep), a vague idea that some squads of Beast Riders have penetrated the defenses and are loose within the city, and then it cuts back occasionally to Cay and Ulic derping around in the palace.

    -Anyways, the Beast Riders have been able to infiltrate some of their men as far as the outer defenses of the Palace itself.

    -And now Oron pops up; Gallia is safe with Tott Doneeta, who once again is a full-name-only kind of guy.

    -"The reign of the dark side is over!" Great! I can't wait to have 4000 years of Star Peace!

    -Ulic is treating Cay's wounds. Man, Ulic always looks out for Cay's well-being.

    -They just happen to be in Ommin's old mechanical lab, where he dabbled in "bio-reconstruction", according to Cay.

    -Cay just grabs a droid arm and bolts it onto his stump, because that's how prosthetics work.

    -Cay and Ulic decide to go after the queen.

    -The queen hides in Freedon Nadd's tomb; based on her dialogue, she's gone senile and thinks that this is some lethal game of hide and seek.

    -She starts praying to Freedon Nadd. Apparently the dark side is very ritualistic. The whole "dark side is ritualistic" shtick is kind of odd. However, in a way it makes sense for a culture that only recently made contact with the Republic- and in particular the Jedi- to see the Force as something that requires ritual.

    -Oron Kira's accent is odd. Reminds me of the governor on Life of Brian.

    -Kira interrogates some royal guardsman as Arca Jeth's ship approaches.

    -The guardsman is cocky because the Queen is a darksider.

    -And suddenly a darkness comes over the city like a storm out of Mordor.

    -This is demonstrated by Oron's lieutenant screaming "Pain, pain!"

    -Okay, that got a genuine LOL out of me.

    -Did this seriously get played over the radio? Or did LFL just release some audio cassettes?

    -At least we haven't heard the swishing transition yet this episode.

    -Tott and Gallia are running to the Nebulon Ranger, when Tott has a temporary aneurysm due to the dark side surge. Which apparently starts mind-raping Oron's army.

    -The guardsman tries using Dun Moch on Oron Kira, combined with the dark cloud talking to Oron or something.

    -Arca Jeth flies in to screw things up save the day just kind of sit there and watch the fighting. Man, what a great Jedi Master this guy is.

    -Onderonian troops execute Beast Riders who try to surrender, which is not cool.

    -Only now does Arca decide to intervene. What's he going to do, just sit in the middle of the battlefield?

    -The royal guardsman goes into full ham mode as he taunts Kira.

    -And now that sequence with the soldiers trying to knife each other gets narrated. Apparently the beast rider in that scene is Kira. Neato.

    -Oh okay Arca is battle meditating.

    -And now he comes to meet his apprentices. Is this where he excoriates them for their "failings"? Because if so, this is a classic Arca-is-dumb scene.

    -Okay, WTF. Are you SERIOUSLY getting on Cay for getting a prosthetic? HIS ARM GOT BLOWN OFF YOU BLINKERING MORON. Not to mention bigotry against amputees with prosthesis. I thought that was an Imperial thing. HOW DARE YOU REPLACE YOUR DISINTEGRATED ARM WITH A FUNCTIONAL PROSTHETIC IN THE MIDDLE OF A WAR ZONE YOU DANGEROUS CHILD.

    -You know, Arca, maybe if YOU had reconoittered the system, YOUR APPRENTICES WOULDN'T HAVE MISSED THE SITH GHOST ARRRRRRRRRGH.

    -This guy is ridiculous.

    -OH GOD SWISHING TRANSITION SOUND.

    -Somehow, that's just a perfect cap to Arca's silly little lecture.

    -Anyway we are back at the tomb of Freedon Nadd.

    -"Why is she kneeling in front of that stone coffin?" Well, Ulic, just a guess, but I would wager that she's praying or something. But what do I know.

    -"No! The Light! The LIGHT! AAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!"



    -You know, I really can't tell what he's saying between "blinnnnnndeeeed by the light".

    -Sorry.

    -Anyhoo, the queen just kind of crumples from some light. Apparently she's dead, and she was only held alive by the "dark power". So like Sion, but wimpy. Got it.

    -Arca just forces the sarcophagus open, which is definitely NOT how archaeology works. YOU'RE CONTAMINATING THE SITE, ARCA. ALSO CONTAMINATING YOUR APPRENTICES' MINDS WITH YOUR DRIVEL.

    -So even Freedon Nadd's bones look evil.

    -Arca gives a big explanation of Freedon Nadd's history and the history of the Onderonian Royal Family. Gee, maybe you could have told your apprentices this BEFORE they went off on this mission?

    -Now it's time for the marriage ceremony; Cay is too busy fixing his arm to notice, because one-note character.

    -Arca is a big party-pooper and tells Ulic that the war is not over because Ommin is likely still alive.

    -Arca decides that he should call upon other Jedi to aid them in the war for Onderon, which is his first good idea ever.

    -Specifically he cites Master Thon of the Stenness System. Oh boy, I can't wait for Beast Wars part 2: DINOSAUR JEDI!

    -Ulic asks Arca how a Jedi trained in the light can fall, and Arca says that it happens anyway. And that he hopes that it never happens to Ulic. Gee, that's helpful.

    -TRANSITIONAL SWISH

    -Leia's theme. I'm guessing we are going to Nomi now?

    -And there's a bird chirping.

    -Oh no, Nomi spilled juice on her blouse! But don't worry, Andur will buy her a new one at the spaceport! Because gender roles I guess.

    -Vima sounds waaaaaay too old.

    -"Where we're going, we won't need much money". Where we're going, Nomi, we won't need roads.

    -So why did Andur leave Master Chamma? Just curious.

    -"Is this master Thon a nice Jedi Master?"

    -Apparently Adegan crystals make these noisy sparkling sounds.

    -Nomi is too timid to be a Jedi. Once again, Veitch/Anderson not noticing the unfortunate implications of their writings.

    -And now a bunch of expository dialogue about jump beacons and those newfandangled navicomps.

    -Wait, now we jump to Satal Keto?

    -Why is he in the Stenness system? And from Empress Teta, of all places? The astrography makes no sense.

    -And he pronounces "Coruscant" as "Coru-SCANT", not "Coru-SAUNT".

    -Somehow some outlaws on the station have a scanner that can detect Adegan crystals on a space ship that is a thousand kilometers away.

    -"Oh boy, Adegan crystals! Hey Gdub, what are Adegan crystals?"

    -Oh hey, a Hutt who can speak Basic.

    -"Hey, a Jedi! Let's go mug him!"

    -Great thought process there.

    -Okay, if these jokers had actually killed Jedi before, they wouldn't be some two-timing mooks on a backwater space station. They would at least be making money as bounty hunters.

    -SWISHING TRANSITION!

    -And now we get an automated message from Stenness station, which has brothels on levels 54-1000.

    -Hmm, I actually remember that detail from @Rogue1-and-a-half's write-up of this audio drama.

    -Some guy offers Andur some Norvanian Grog.

    -Some guy tries to pickpocket Nomi right in front of her Jedi husband. Great idea, that.

    -Vima laughs at a 3-armed man with a purple feather.

    -Nomi is shocked that there are pirates in the Stenness system.

    -And now the family droid has an altercation with the thugs.

    -So Andur draws his lightsaber, and gets bitten by a gila monster for his trouble.

    -.....That actually worked?

    -The thugs just kind of gloat at Nomi, which is a jerk move.

    -Andur's ghost starts talking to Nomi; only she can see it, and this is played for laughs vis a vis the thugs. Incidentally, Ostrander and Duursema did this same gag with Cade, Luke and Jariah in Legacy at one point, only there it was neat and didn't fall flat on its face.

    -The thugs try to take the crystals, prompting Nomi to draw a lightsaber.

    -The thugs don't get that they don't have the jump on Nomi.

    -And Nomi just slashes the thugs to pieces. i know it's violent and all, but we can call it self-defense. If she had hunted down Bogga, that would probably have been vengeance.

    -SWISHING TRANSITION!

    -BOGGA DOES NOT TOLERATE FAILURE!

    -He threatens the surviving thug with feeding him to a monster. Now that's a quality attempt at writing a unique Hutt.

    -SWISHING TRANSITION!

    -Nomi dodges Vima's "hey where's daddy" questions.

    -Nomi just navigates to Ambria using the Force, just like Kyp does later on.

    And that's it for episode two. God, Arca is insufferable. Best thing that he does in this series is get shot in the back. Also, @Havac informs me that these did not actually play over the radio, which is probably for the best.
    Gorefiend likes this.
  9. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    It's interesting how these audio versions add a lot of really dumb comedy attempts. With Dark Forces, we had that black-and-blue thing, but this here just takes the cake.

    But then again, they try to rationalize some stuff that's just in there to get handwaved. Like Cay getting his new arm in that "bio-reconstruction lab", which may sound more plausible than the comic book version - using a screwdriver on a damaged droid in a secret passage way and make it up from there - but helps remind us even more that you couldn't just glue the new arm on like with your Kenner action figures, but that it would be a bigger surgical moment than this story can handle. The comic book just shows Cay sheepishly showing off his shoppings to Arca, and then a few days later surgery has taken place and he's attuning it. So, comic book beats audio drama.

    Also, I don't see Arca being that much of a punk towards Cay and the arm situation. The comic book just has him - and I read this as a sad comment - that Cay is so not ready to be a Jedi that he immediately gets his arm hacked off (another stupid change - it's hacked off in the comic book, not shot off). And I wouldn't assume a Jedi Master to go hug his hurt apprentice and comfort him with a lollipop outside a Karen Miller novel. Just a hint of disappointment is totally okay with me. Especially after Ulic already took most of the F+ grade.
  10. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    Dec 2, 2009
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    Eh, Arca's words to Cay came across as berating him to me. Arca might have at least asked what happened, instead of getting on him for losing the arm.

    I think that the thing with the audio dramas is that, at least in the case of TotJ, it adds little to nothing to the story. The Dark Forces dramas, despite their appalling lack of Jason Court, did add bits and pieces to the story, whereas this is a glorified audiobook, except loltastic.
  11. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Chapter the Third: The Freedon Nadd Uprising, in which our heroes from the last two chapters finally meet, and in which we learn about the antagonist of the story: Warb Null King Ommin Satal Keto & Aleema!

    - So, the basic plot is this: The changes introduced in the first arc led Onderon to another kind of civil war, one in which those loyal to the evil former queen call themselves the Naddists, because the dark side stuff isn't a secret anymore. They even got their own lightsaber-wielding Vader prototype in Sauron Warb Null, whose name, after all those years, still makes me think of "Warp Zero". Which is fitting, since he's about as effective as moving at Warp Zero. The uprising only really starts when the coffins of the deceased dark side icons are to be removed.

    - Something that has not been removed yet is King Ommin, an old cripple who didn't factor into the first arc at all. Fromer Princess Now Queen Galia suddenly remembers that her old man was pretty much into the dark side, to (making her a shining symbol for youthful rebellion, sticking it to her parents by being a good person). Turns out that Ommin couldn't be bothered to rule Onderon with his dark wife or lead the Naddists openly but rather played the cripple until he could get his hands on the one thing he always wanted: his very own Jedi Master to torture and turn. Arca fits the bill.

    - Therefore, the basic plot revolves around the young Jedi Knights (not to be mistaken for the Young Jedi Knights, KJA still hasn't shown up) getting Arca back and killing Ommin in the process. There is a hidden plot, though, years before TPM: More important than what happens with Onderon is that Satal Keto & Aleema go Dark Side Seeing (sightsee what I did there?), learn about the Sith ways, get adopted by Freedon Nadd and escape in time to become the true threat for the future. Well, except for Ulic, who's around in the exact panel where Nadd is making a blanket foreshadowing that one or two Jedi are about to fall to the dark side.

    - Again, while the plot doesn't seem to be that long, I feel like the two issues are just crammed with stuff. I tried reading these before bedtime and couldn't finish them properly because they are telling so much, not just showing stuff that your eyes can fly over. Do you think that's because there's a lot of stuff to be said, or simply because Veitch is a very talky author? In that regard, would the Freedon Nadd Uprising be a four or five issue arc these days, with a lot more padding of huge action scene panels?

    - While the art is turning worse, I think it's still okay in keeping the basic style of being a bit detailled and a bit convoluted. The strange thing is the colouring - why is Ulic suddenly of darker complexion than before, and especially different to Cay? This is something that I'd have accepted as dark side influence, but that's clearly not the case here.

    - Ulic's heroic acts include holding off Null, then killing him during the next fight, and hitting the old wizard where it hurts - right on the exoskeleton. While Ulic sure looks angry, the text assures us that he can only fight off the darkness by embracing the light side. This leads me to two questions. First, and more obvious: how do we rate Ulic's character here, and Veitch's idea behind Jedi in general? Do we see him as the light side warrior he's supposed to be? Or as an impulsive, aggressive figure who's not really surprising us with his dark side fall later on? Second, and maybe more interesting, what does this tell us about our preference when constructing canon out of comic books? Are the visuals "more true" than the text behind them, because seeing is believing? How does the third level of secondary literature factor into this? If a character guide or encyclopedia rewrites this scene into something else entirely, it takes explicit preference over any information conveyed by author and artist. Where does that leave the comic book that gave us the story in the first place?

    - Elements worth noting... Ulic being struck by Nomi' beauty and running to her side, only to have a distinctly matter of fact discussion with her. Cay being turned from the second of three caballeros into the third of seven samurai, and not really pulling off the running gag of losing his left arm.

    - Finally, the prophecy of the return of the Dark Lords of the Sith, and Nadd's apparent inside knowledge on what's going to happen... clearly meant to set up the next arcs and the reign of that guy we haven't met yet. But in retrospect, I can't help but wonder how both the coming Sith War and the subsequent reign of Revan and Malak all pale im comparison of the Sith Empire that's coming in TOR. All this stuff we're talking about now, all of Revan's arc, is nothing more than an inside struggle. Sure, it depends hugely on the scale of how you show it, but the Sith Empire is not half of the known galaxy starting a civil war. It's the other half of the galaxy coming around to say hello. So while Exar Kun is playing around, and while Revan is "preparing" the Republic, there's a stronger Sith faction waiting in the wings, one that couldn't possibly bother about Kun and Qel-Droma - except for their "lightning rod" qualities, maybe. Where does that leave us and our huge epic Tales of the Jedi Knights of the Old Republic?
  12. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    I basically agree with you, but I think one thing can be seen the other way round. I think TOTJ is pretty often remembered as a set of comics that's kind of dumb, but as I said in the opening post, it's astonishing how much impact it had even though it seems to constantly be overlooked. And this I find very interesting: a story that stumbles a lot in its execution - especially in the constantly changing artwork, DE was at least one concise experience (if you ignore the last arc which is just the definition of stumbling) - but that still manages to have the right ideas, and a lot of them, with some concepts that spectacularly crossed over. For all the design choices that got overruled by KOTOR you still have the origins of Maul's saber. In spite of the design and quality missteps, you still have people asking for a Nomi novel. Does that make it a beautiful comic? No. But we still got a lot out of it.

    OK, while it sits uncomfortably next to the idea that a mother wouldn't have any need or ambition to do something else with her life than look after the family, the idea in itself is not outrageous - maybe Nomi just didn't want to do it. There's a choice involved in being trained in this age: she can start her training at any point in time, and that means that she wouldn't have been collected as an infant. Actually, TOTJ seems to have a lot of force-sensitives running around that never bothered to become Jedi, who rather dabble in dark arts. I don't even know where Warb Null comes from.

    If TOTJ is big on one idea, it's the idea of destiny. Ulic can't escape his fate; neither can Nomi. They get told often enough that they will play big roles in the future, and it's not really a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nomi doesn't become a Jedi because of all of Thon's maneuvering, even though his capture is meant to drive Nomi over the edge. She does it because saving people feels right to her, which is because she couldn't save Andur. In that regard, Andur has to die not only because of his hairdo, but because Nomi has to leave her comfort zone and accept the training. Compare this to Luke not wanting to join Ben until his home has been destroyed, or if you must to Bilbo Baggins sitting around happily with his pipe and his second breakfast, never wanting any adventure.

    And for all the feminist reading that this comic asks for, it's simply a simpler setup than going against convention and have, say, Ulic Qel-Droma the houseman happily raising the children and doing the dishes and only making something out of his talents once his heroic Jedi wife died. And anyway, in a story that sells based on people running around with lightsabers, a career raising children as "the support staff" will always feel less glamorous and less important, even though it should of course be the other way round in real life. But we wouldn't be here reading action hero stories if we didn't like those, would we?

    I must admit I never invested too much thought into DE and therefore just took it as it was, but you're right with that. However, comparing it to Zahn's HTTE, which was the other big continuation after ROTJ at vaguely the same moment, it's interesting to note that's there's obviously some limitations in what people would make out of the movies.

    Zahn does choose a different setup - a New Republic instead of DE's Rebel Alliance 2.0 - and a very different villain - concentrating on the military Empire aspects of SW and pretty much ignoring the magic part that was always around as it was the driving force behind the important plot - Luke's hero journey. Sure, there's Force stuff, and even a Dark Jedi, but that's all just secondary to the idea of Thrawn and his mystical powers of strategy and art appreciation.

    What Zahn does not change from the movies is the state of the characters. While Veitch goes for a ROTJ situation, Zahn goes for a TESB situation. There's a lot of hiding involved, and a lot of visiting planets to find information. HTTE is probably kinder to Leia in giving her the politician, pregnancy, and Jedi training angles; DE, on the other hand, doesn't revert Lando to his guy-on-mining-planet persona. And while DE simply takes Luke through what could have been Anakin's journey and Leia through Luke's journey, HTTE reverts Luke back to needing a master. Seeing how the novel format is more forgiving than the comic book format in storytelling aspects, I do agree that HTTE makes for a more interesting non-movie experience; still, I feel like both struggled a bit to come up with a story for Luke after the happy end.

    To force this into the topic, I'd like to point out that Luke's DE story was a new concept compared to the movies; actually, it's the one that's also used for Ulic - trying to fight the dark side as a kind of covert agent and failing. We can't all be as ace as Quin and Cade, can we. I'm not sure how much of the TOTJ stuff was revealed in the DE supplementary material as that wasn't found in the TPB I have, but I think it's obvious that Veitch was more invested in the TOTJ story, and as the Wook tells me, that was his original idea that could only be made after DE paved the way for SW comics. Would have been really weird to have an ancient SW universe comic at a time when there was no SW stuff around at all, wouldn't it? But who knows, maybe even a greater form of weird.
    Last edited by Grey1, Jan 13, 2013
  13. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Oh gods, the art in Freedon Nadd Uprising was a horror all right.

    And Warb Null, has there ever been a more unfortunately named redshirt villain?
  14. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Seeing how low we'll go with the sixth issue of DLotS, I can honestly say that I at least like that there's a lot going on in these pictures. Not yet the bad simple drawings that cast out all backgrounds.

    Warb Null really is something very special. He's coming out of nowhere just to prove that he's nothing. Maybe he's from another universe or something and dropped into the story because... well, because.
  15. Jedi Ben Chosen One

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    Jul 19, 1999
    star 6
    Heh, yeah that sixth issue is on par with the X-Wing arc Maskerade for art horrors.
  16. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    Oct 31, 2000
    star 4
    I agree that the art could have been done much better. And I think even back then, this story should have been longer. Definitely a three-issue comic. Maybe four. Five or six issues? There would have to have been a lot more going on to warrant that.

    Now, onto the plot. First off, I don't recall if Ommin was ever mentioned during the first story. if he wasn't we were left with the possibility that he was already dead, so he wouldn't be that big of a factor. Instead, he's alive. If the Jedi already knew this, I'm surprised they didn't visit him or investigate him sooner. I would have done it for no other reason than to cover my bases so that I won't be blindsided later. Unfortunately, the Jedi did get blindsided big time. Not so much at the ambush during the funeral, but rather when they visited Ommin. And speaking of Ommin, I see in him a little bit of how Palpatine was during the interval between ROTJ and Dark Empire. Rather than focus on the "mundane" task of ruling, both of them focused their attention on studying the dark side, though their reasons for doing so were very different.

    Civil war - in all honestly, I'm not surprised this happened. Nadd's descendants have been in control for four centuries. That's more than enough time to form a cult and/or a gathering of loyal soldiers. If they had been all wiped out during the earlier story, I would have seen it as an act of efficiency and thoroughness one would expect from Thrawn, Tarkin, Vader, or Palpatine.

    In a way, the arrival of the Keto siblings helped to make Nadd's prophecy more ominous and more likely to occur. And speaking of that prophecy and how the events of the KOTOR games and TOR might fit into it, unfortunately it's all up to interpretation at this point. The events of the next two comic arcs definitely fit into the prophecy, but at the same time, to quote Yoda, "A prophecy, that misread, could have been." By that I mean after the forthcoming war against Kun was over, the Jedi obviously believed that Nadd's prophecy had come to pass. It's now over and done with. Make certain the events are recorded in the archives, and proceed with rebuilding. It's what we or anyone else would have expected. Times like this I wonder if the Jedi should have been more aware of the future like Palpatine seemed to have been. In asserting control of the galaxy, he was also preparing the galaxy to face the forthcoming Yuuzhan Vong invasion. Had the Jedi considered the possibility that the prophecy could have been referring to events that would be occurring decades or even centuries later...

    As to where this leaves these comics, I would say that they're still essential to the EU timeline. Granted, these could be seen as prefaces or backstories to the forthcoming conflicts, but still they were important events at the time.

    In regards to Ulic's actions - impuslive, aggressive, and headstrong. Yes, these fit him like gloves. But I don't see any signs yet of him falling to the dark side. He might be an
    "aggressive" defender, but that's definitely better than being a zealot or a fanatic. I'd want to say more about the beginnings of the romance between him and Nomi, but I want to wait until we get to the next part.

    BTW, I figure we're going to do Dark Lords of the Sith and The Sith War next, but what about Redemption? I would add it for no other reason than it ends Ulic's story.
    Last edited by JediAlly, Jan 13, 2013
  17. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    We'll definitely do Redemption. We're considering adding Golden Age of the Sith, which I found a bit much at first, but seeing how quite a bit of stuff is set up in direct relation to that timeframe, I think we might add it after all.

    Ommin wasn't mentioned before if I'm not mistaken. This makes it especially jarring, because Onderon seems almost like an alternative version in this third arc. Yes, seeing how crippled Ommin is it's not a stretch that he would be seen unfit to rule, or to leave his chambers. But to not mention him... And for Galia to not mention before that he was dabbling in the dark side, too... Same goes for the Naddist movement. Yes, it makes sense that those loyal to the queen but not to her daughter would organize. But have them organize with some kind of dark side behemoth like Null? And apparently orchestrated by that crippled king that nobody noticed before? It's a strange construct, and while I'm all for the idea that we miss some parts of the story's evolution in order to see later timeframes, this is all about a timeframe of very few months. Nomi's story taking three issues out while stuff happens on Onderon is a bit jarring. But maybe it's just that the release I have had the first two arcs in one TPB, then FNU as single 48 page TPB, and everything after that came from a different publisher which severed the connection between arcs further.

    The prophecies... yeah, I actually see this as a big problem of the SW universe. A prophecy is invented as a story tool for a very special purpose. But the way the EU is structured in "cyclical history", i. e. ever recycled plots, you can't be sure about these prophecies anymore, making them no longer a valid tool for storytelling but a comment on the nonsensical nature of the metaphysical distilled from a story that thrives on metaphysical aspects. The way I see it, though, is that you'd normally think that Ulic's story should hold special importance beyond being an OOU historical footnote that tells us where all the ancient republic ideas originated. But in reality, Revan's story already seems much grander, maybe because OOU the game had a larger impact than these dated comic books. And finally, TOR did its best to reduce Revan's story to "well, he didn't stop what he set out to stop but just set the game into another timeframe. I know why a game like TOR would have had a harder time in an established timeframe, but storywise, it would have been much more satisfying if it had been set during Revan's reign, or maybe even during the Sith War with Nomi and Ulic as your leaders on the different sides. But yeah, that obviously wouldn't have happened.

    By the way, do we have a retcon tying him into the Null ARCs? If not, can we have one?
  18. RC-1991 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    Alright, so first of all I have to agree with everyone that the art is atrocious. Ulic and Satal both look like they have jaundice, and Shoaneb Culu looks like she's wearing a lampshade instead of a blindfold. Iziz looks almost nothing like its previous illustrations (though I do see the Sky Ramp, which figures into KotOR II). The third level of secondary literature- reference sources- has a varying effect on how we perceive these stories. Occasionally they can undermine a character arc or the impact of a scene. In other cases, such as the Atlas, they greatly enhance a scenario- the Atlas gives us a better idea of just why the events of the next two arcs would be known as the "Great" Sith War. Though at the same time, it requires you to factor in gaps of time between the events of the arcs, or even between individual panels in the next two arcs. I think that, to some extent, even the secondary literature can be taken with a grain of salt. Many of the essential guides are written from an in-universe perspective, which allows for such errors, and many of the Saga guides and supplements were so full of errors ("Jacen Skywalker", Mon Mothma being possessed by Exar Kun) that they can also be taken with a grain of salt. And of course, the variance between art and narration leaves room for interpretation. While the art helps to foreshadow Ulic's fall a bit better than the comic does- and make it a little more realistic than "they poisoned me into it", which is incredibly dumb- I have to agree with JediAlly that Ulic being a bit aggressive isn't necessarily a dark side thing, nor is there no precedent for such Jedi staying in the light. The Keto siblings going all Nic Cage on the Declaration of Independence random book of darkness is silly, though not as silly as the artwork of their ship.

    Warb Null is a silly character. His armor is clearly based on Vader, and if I remember correctly from @Rogue1-and-a-half 's Journey Through the EU, there was a short story/article in one of the adventure journals or WEG guides that further tried to connect Null to Vader, only he got the armor by reading a magic book or something. IDK, post truncation makes it hard to read some of Rogue's glorious reviews. And while I'm on those, in his reviews Rogue mentions that there is somehow a two-year span between the events of the Beast Wars and the Freedon Nadd Uprising. Which both works and doesn't; that's more time to build up an army, but you would think that Gallia would mention having put daddy in the retirement home sometime in the last two years. As for retcons tying him to the Null ARCs: no, but that would be funny :p

    Nomi and Ulic's relationship is clearly telegraphed here, yet that romance has always felt particularly forced to me. There's no romance between them, yet suddenly Ulic is the love of her life. And of course Cay has to lose his arm again, because one-note character.

    And idk, The Sith War had some hilariously awful artwork at times as well, whereas issue 6 of DLOTS is so bad that it's semi-awesome. For example:

    [IMG]
    The again, Vodo Baas looks absolutely hilarious. And shiny.
  19. Dr. Steve Brule Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 7, 2012
    star 4
    Well, the Luke DE/Ulic TOTJ similarity was directly intended by Veitch. Up to Ulic's name being a reversal of Luke's syllables, to show how Ulic failed while Luke succeeded.

    I don't have my DE TPB on hand but what I remember from the endnotes was that Ulic's story was broadly similar up until he joins the Krath. There's no Exar (obviously) and Ulic kind of just slums around and leads them and dies a bitter broken dark sider. Of course I haven't read it in a long time but that's what I remember from it. He fails, but is neither killed nor redeemed in the end.

    The other really interesting thing I remember is that Nomi is completely absent, but Vima is mentioned as being a major Jedi of her time. So someone who had read the DE backstory and went into TOTJ would probably be expecting it to be setup to show how little baby Vima eventually grew up to be the major Jedi Master she was established as being in DE.
    RC-1991 and Grey1 like this.
  20. JediAlly Force Ghost

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    Oct 31, 2000
    star 4
    I say save the Golden Age of the Sith/Fall of the Sith Empire for another month. Let's do DLOTS, TSW, and Redemption this month.
  21. Gorefiend Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2004
    star 5
    Established in Dark Empire which kind of invented Hutt Space, though afaik the Dark Empire Sourcebook was the first place to hint at that it was an impressive number of worlds. Whats interesting is that Bokka was actually protecting the ore miners, so he seems to be more of a local warlord than strictly a crime boss.
  22. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Made me think of "You can get it if you really want it" out of the blue. I guess the image works with any description or soundtrack, though, it's that evocative.
  23. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    And we continue with Chapter The Fourth, Dark Lords Of The Sith, in which our story adds another important figure, one fascinated by the ancient Sith and by the power to make stars explode, one that will lead us to Yavin and be remembered for his role in the JAT, one who teams up with the protagonist up to this point but will dwarf him and thus eventually earn most of the fear and scorn directed towards the events of this series. Oh, and Exar Kun is in it, too.

    - So, yeah, KJA is here. Anderson and Veitch realized that they could connect their ancient Jedi in action / ancient Sith trapped on Yavin stories for a kind-of-crossover event that is arguably one of the first and best instances of EU interconnectivity at a time when HTTE and DE were still stubbornly sitting in their respective corners of the room (and were both referenced in a matter of seconds in JAT's opening chapters). Seeing how Veitch already got much flak in this discussion, what does Anderson add to the mix? Does he add more movie references than just that Hutt crime lord guy, the Yoda beast variant, and the Luke syllable shuffle?

    - In that regard, what does he add to the story in terms of this suddenly being blown up to six issues instead of the usual two or three? We have Kun's backstory, which would probably have been another the size of the Nomi, and we have Ulic's next adventure that might seem more epic since it's spread over a longer amount of time, but still involves a strange deja vu/filler second rescue attempt that makes this feel like Peter Jackson dramaturgy.

    - The fall to the dark side... yeah, it's poison messing up Ulic's brain. But it's also a peculiar approach to the Force, like inviting in a demon in that permanently alters the wiring of the brain. Somehow the other fall to the dark side, Kun's, is similarly esoteric, with the dark side repairing a broken body but also reforming it so that Exar, no matter what he's been before, emerges as some kind of dark side avatar. What do you make of that approach to the dark side?

    - Also, isn't it interesting that in this era (i.e. with these authors) the Force isn't so much about all the usual hopping/levitating/fighting stuff? That is in here, too, of course, but you seldom get the idea that one of the Jedi is using Force Lightning or Force Jump or something like that. The important things here are Battle Meditation and mass hallucinations, the destruction of stars, survival in ghost form, and a precursor of flow walking when it was still meant to set future events (something not too outrageous when you're thinking about a universe in which destiny implies that everything is already set anyway). The Force is a power of nature, not just an athletic enhancement. Could this also be because the art isn't really highlighting a lot of the physical battles?

    - Ulic and his intentions. The Jedi warn him of what he's about to do, but the one thing that makes him fall is obviously the poison event that had nothing to do with his plans. Maybe only with his inexperience and his carelessness, walking straight into a trap that you can't simply walk out of (one could argue that Kenobi and Skywalker did wrong by "springing the trap" in ROTS, but then again how else should the plot move on if you're destined to fail?). There's also the love vs. seduction angle and the reason he's trying to stop the Sith his way: speed vs. revenge for Arca. And let's not forget to factor in his ends-justify-means-assault on the rebel miners. Jedi those days.

    - Okay, I'll throw this one in quickly. Arca's death. Poorly executed. There, I said it.

    - Exar and his intentions. He's starting off as a pretty evil guy bullying his co-students, stealing a holocron, telling lies, all to find out more about the Sith. But why does he want to know? The interesting part is that when it's actually time for him to fall, he's so dead set against it at first that he's suddenly a riddle. So this guy doesn't like the idea of power? He genuinely just wanted to know the stuff? He's only turning because he's about to die a painful death? So all great Sith Lords are simply tricked into their dark side acceptance? (This will become even more interesting when the next chapter gives us conversion by holocron demon). And once the dark side transforms him, he's simply another guy? So why was he such a jerk when in training?

    - And while we're at it - specicism? Really? In an era when the art is showing quite a lot non-humans?

    - So okay, the Jedi way in those days includes not rushing your plans when it's too dangerous (hello Luke abandoning your training, then being careful about putting your Jedi into a war) and not being curious about forbidden stuff (hello Palpatine). It also involves letting Jedi go make their mistakes because there's no authority over them, everyone can do as they please. Could this policy be in place because nothing ever really went wrong for a few centuries? I can hardly believe that since both Freedon Nadd and the well-remembered 5000BBY phase should show how much destruction can be dealt by rogue Force users.
    Last edited by Grey1, Jan 19, 2013
  24. RC-1991 Force Ghost

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    Dec 2, 2009
    star 4
    What are you talking about? Arca's death is his best scene! :p Maybe if he had been paying better attention to where he was, what he was doing, he wouldn't have kicked the bucket!

    First of all, let's tackle the art of DLOTS. There's some silly art in this, and then there's some hilarious art in this- see the picture of Ulic and Exar's handshake of power in one of my earlier posts- yet I don't hate the art in this arc, aside from the godawful last issue. I actually think that, on the whole, much of the art in DLOTS tops much of the rest of the series (Redemption and the Saga of Nomi Sunrider issues 2-3 excepted). I think that this art style is great at conveying emotions, in fact. And of course, I dig the ship designs. While the Republic fleet clearly draws on 20th century battleships, it is still able to have its own unique design philosophy that is quite divorced from the movies, other than the Sith vessels vaguely resembling Star Destroyers.

    The way that the Force is used and portrayed in TotJ is interesting. It's certainly not the flashy flips and telekinesis of the prequels, but it does feel in line with the more subtle yet powerful Dao-esque power seen in the Original Trilogy.

    The whole Jedi way that we see in TotJ is a great concept, but as usual has a flawed execution. The whole "letting the students make the mistakes no matter the consequences" is highly irresponsible and reckless, not to mention stupid writing. I will note that, once again, it is Master Arca who seems to truly embody this philosophy, whereas Master Vodo seeks out Exar and tries to stop him in the next arc, in a scene vaguely evocative of Yoda's duel sequences in the Prequels. I think that, to some extent, it is an outgrowth of the less structured, less formalized Jedi Order that seems to be the norm between the founding of the Republic and the KotOR era, where after the First Schism you don't really see a great deal of dark side activity (aside from the Order of the Terrible Glare during the Pius Dea Crusades, but more on those later) until the Second Schism in 6900 BBY, which is of course the origin of the Sith Order that we know today. Despite the periodic Sith troubles since that date, the Jedi seem to have been lulled into a state of complacence and confidence in the ability of the Order to respond to crises. The Great Sith War seems to be the primary factor in the move towards a more structured Jedi Order, which we see in KotOR and might see the beginnings of in the Great Convocation in Redemption. In any case, the absolute passivity thing is bad and should feel bad. Arca has a perfect opportunity to put a kibosh on Exar's antics before he can kick off a galactic war that will serve as the prelude to the next three centuries of chaos and death, and he just mumbles something about him being on a dark path and shrugs it off. Seriously. These are supposed to be the guardians of peace and justice, yet Arca can't be bothered to even make a half-assed effort to change Exar's path, other than mumbling that Exar is not welcome on Onderon. We can't even chalk this up to Arca missing the danger of Exar, because the old man directly states that he can see into Exar's heart and perceive just what a danger the man is. And he lets. Him. Go.

    As for Exar's specicism, I can actually see that in the Star Wars universe at this point. There are bound to be scattered human colonies along the edge of the Republic that have suffered at the hands of external alien polities- see how the Hutts preyed on early Republic colonies, as well as the Tion. The Pius Dea crusades may also have played a factor- while they undoubtedly caused many alien species to mistrust humanity, it is just as likely that some human groups felt the same about aliens as a result of the crusades- particularly on worlds that were raided by the Alsakan-Duro-Herglic-Hutt-Jedi alliance towards the end of the crusades. There's also the likelihood that Exar is just an arrogant individual who sees himself as a superior individual, and his fellow trainees-who all happen to be non-human- as being inferior.

    I think that the way that both Ulic and Exar fall to the dark side is odd, and Exar's story in particular sends a rather weird- and honestly rather wrong, IMO- message. I do think that the whole letting the dark in as a sort of demon via poison angle is interesting from a history-of-the-EU perspective- this is part of an earlier era, where the Force was sometimes depicted as being more ritualized, more esoteric, and more of a form of magic than in later, post-1999 depictions. I think that the scenes where Exar is reticent to embrace the dark undercut his character, as they come out of nowhere and contradict every other scene involving the man. I also think that the poison angle, in addition to just being weird, is a bit of a moral and storytelling cop-out. Instead of really examining Ulic's motivations for falling to the dark side, the writer just decided to poison him while throwing in some bits about infiltrating the Krath. I think that it might have been a bit more convincing, had it been handled better.

    There's... a little more elaboration on Ulic/Nomi in this arc, but not enough to really sell me on their relationship. I found Anakin/Padme to be more convincing in Episode II. It goes straight from "they're kinda friendly" to "Heal Ulic!" to "OMG LOVE OF MY LIFE DON'T LEAVE ULIC NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO". I understand that the EU has taken the healing thing and ran with it a bit, made it work better- look at Bastila keeping Revan alive after the ambush, or Cade/Deliah/Azlyn, but at least in those circumstances there are other factors, particularly in Cade's case. Here, it just feels forced, and Nomi begins a downward character slide that won't be recovered until Redemption.

    More thoughts to come, and possibly an audio drama!
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  25. Grey1 Host: 181st Imperial Discussion Group

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    Isn't it strange how most authors get the arrogance angle completely wrong? If a Jedi is superior to everyone and thus becomes arrogant as in "I'm always right and nobody could know or do better than me", that's fine with me. Still a huge training mistake, but at least it's somewhat internalized. But having those arrogant kids openly show their contempt for fellow Jedi based on reasons that should never have entered the minds of people growing up constantly surrounded by the Jedi Order - breathing in the principles of the Jedi - that's outrageously bad writing based on a demand for schoolyard relatability. Whether top student Exar Kun may call his co-students inferior because of their species, or whether Xanatos is shown to base his self-image on a connection to his heritage that should never have meant anything to him in the first place, being pretty arrogant to worthless peasants like Qui-Gon's first student, there's no reason why those rascals would either have been kept away from lightsabers as soon as they showed any negative signs or have developed their damaged personality growing up in the Jedi Order in the first place.

    Unless it's the laissez-faire of "a Jedi is free to be a racist hateful bigot, he has to see for himself what consequences that'll have".
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