Think you know everything about the Jedi? Next month, a brand new series will explore some of the earliest eras in Star Wars history.
Courtesy of Dark Horse, here's an exclusive preview of Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi, a series from the Star Wars: Legacy dynamic duo of writer John Ostander and illustrator Jan Duursema. Also, check out an interview io9 conducted with Jan and John about the backstory behind this cryptic chapter in Jedi lore.
Dawn of the Jedi #1 hits stores Wednesday, February 15. Here's the plot synopsis, and you can find our conversation with Ostrander and Duursema below:
On the planet Tython, in the center of the galaxy, an order of warrior monks strives to maintain peace and to balance the mysterious power known as the Force. But a stranger is coming—one who will destroy both peace and balance, and open the galaxy to exploration and conquest. This is where it all begins!
Cover by Rodolfo Migliari
John, Dawn of the Jedi takes place in the ancient days of the Jedi Order. What were some of the challenges writing a story so far back in Star Wars history? What can fans expect from DOTJ?
John Ostrander: It's what the Disney people refer to as "imagineering" -– in this case, reverse imagineering. You figure backwards from what little is known and extrapolate from there. For example, it was said that the future Jedi were Force sentients who came to Tython and studied the Force. It's also a given that Tython is in the Deep Core where hyperspace travel is very difficult at best and at a time when the ability to travel in hyperspace was rare. So, unless you want to say all of the future Jedi came only from the planet yourself (which makes it homegenous and visually not as interesting), you start with the question – "How did all these sentients and different types get to Tython in the first place?"
So Jan and I created the concept of the tho yors -– giant pyramidal shaped ships that collected Force sensitives from around the galaxy and brought them to Tython. Over the next ten thousand years, these sentients became the Je'daii, from whom both the Jedi and the Sith ultimately would evolve. Not even the Je'daii know who built the tho yors or why they were brought specifically to Tython to study the Force.
We also know the number of planets in the Tython system but they were never named or developed. Jan and I have and have created civilizations and cultures for each. It's a given the Force Wars erupted at some point on Tython and would result in the Je'daii leaving the planet. We're going to show why and how. Jan and I think of Tython and its sister planets as akin to Atlantis here on Earth – a great and fabled civilization that died and disappeared.
We're also using the Rakata in this story. These are really nasty dark side Force users, extremely powerful, and you'll see a bit more into their society and what makes them tick. And, of course, we have new characters, ships, and technology for the readers to get into – and a different way of looking at the Force. Even if someone is only a mild fan of Star Wars, I think this series will be accessible and of interest. It's how the Jedi began.
Jan, what were some of design cues you took in creating these unexplored times in Jedi history?
Jan Duursema: The further John and I got into developing Dawn of the Jedi, the more we realized how huge in scope this project is! We're establishing the Order which pre-dates both Jedi and Sith.
Watching Star Wars, I've always felt that I was looking at the history of the GFFA. Stuff gets used, recycled and then reused. Bits of higher tech might wind up in some more primitive world's jewelry or weapons; parts of a military cruiser might be later made into a personal skiff. I've always had the impression that nothing gets wasted. I tried to keep that in mind while developing the characters and other designs for Dawn of the Jedi.
Another aspect I was conscious of was how long, long, long ago this was and how much things would have changed over the millennia. Given that, I still wanted to make sure it looked like Star Wars and felt like Star Wars— so I tried to figure out where later elements might have come from. I've always been interested in fashion throughout history and culture, so this was a great opportunity to utilize some of that interest.
So much of Star Wars mythos has been inspired by older scifi films, books and comics and that's very appealing to me. I've been inspired by the same myths, legends, and stories as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is of a small blue metallic robot I got one year (he's still with me). His eyes lit up red and his gears ground so he kind of roared. I think that was the day I became scifi/fantasy fan. I grew up on stories about ancient civilizations, knights and far off worlds and later with all the scifi and fantasy I could get my hands on, so I know I've drawn bits a pieces from all of those eras, both real and imagined, as well.
So designs in Dawn range from gleaming cities with azure skies to spider-like tech crouching over a chasm and plumbing the depths with a laser beam. Each temple was great fun to design. Every one of the temples is different and focuses on different Force skills. The planets were fun as well and I can't wait to explore them. And the characters—I've had a lot of these design elements tucked away in my mind and some notebooks for a long time. With Dawn, those elements have come together and made characters that are going to be a real blast to explore. At lot of times, these characters may go against the accepted notion of certain species, but this is a very long time before the OT and Prequels, so I think the differences are going to make these characters even more fun to read about.
At first I was hesitant about the metal swords—I mean, what is Star Wars without lightsabers? But as we are exploring the origins of the Jedi and Sith, we are also exploring the origins of the technology of the GFFA, including lightsabers and hyperdrives. We've got an intricate story we're planning to weave with Dawn of the Jedi. It's the beginning of everything!
What was the coordination process like with the Lucas team in creating Dawn of the Jedi? What sort of spitballing went into crafting the plot?
JO: Everything that we create or do –- from the concept to the writing to the art –- has to be approved not only by our esteemed editor at Dark Horse, Randy Stradley, but by Lucasfilm Licensing. We'd come up with the ideas, they'd have questions, and so we bounced back and forth.
JD: As we delved into research about what already existed in this era, we came up with a lot of questions for LFL. A lot of questions! They were great about answering all of these and letting us know what had not been named or developed in this era — for instance, the Tython System and all of its worlds. Usually, the answer that made us think the hardest was the "that hasn't been done yet" answer.
Legacy fans are certainly psyched to see that you're both on this project. Are you nostalgic for Legacy now that it's wrapped? Also, what's your favorite storyline or moment you've helped create in the Star Wars universe?
JO: We loved doing Legacy and there are enough loose ends to play with if we ever got a chance to do so. That story, however, did reach an ending. I love what I'm doing now as well. As for picking a favorite story or moment –- man, it's like asking who's my favorite kid. How can I choose? We've been doing this for ten years or so. Before Legacy, Jan and I also did Star Wars: Republic with Quinlan Vos, Aayla Secure, Vilmahr Grahrk, and so many others. And I'm also currently doing Agent of the Empire. I'm not sure if I could pick just one story or moment from any of those.
Wait. There is one moment. It's the first time I saw Aayla Secure on screen in Attack of the Clones. Watching something you created in your head actually show up on screen in a Star Wars movie –- well, if you're a Star Wars geek like me, that was totally amazing.
JD: I'm thrilled that fans really loved Legacy because I did too. Sometimes, I feel like I have a hundred ideas for Legacy that have not yet been explored. Love to do more Legacy someday to see what kind of trouble everyone has gotten into. Right now, I'm having a great time with Dawn. There's a ton of potential for story (can't wait for the Force Wars!) and the characters are developing distinct personalities. Some of them are troublemakers too and some of them will be...
Favorite storyline, that's a tough one. I think it would have to be the Count Dooku issue of Star Wars: Jedi. Both art and story came together exactly how I wanted it to in that one. But there are issues of Legacy that were positively soul-satisfying. Best Star Wars geekout moment, seeing Aayla Secura in Attack of the Clones!
Above artwork: Covers to Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #2 and #3 by Jan Duursema.