The Evolving Anthropological Tone of Star Wars in "Dawn of the Jedi"

When examining a work whose mythology is an expansive as Star Wars, it almost becomes a historiographical investigation as opposed to a literary one.

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm #1

Publisher: Dark Horse
Length: 22 pages
Writer: John Ostrander, Jan Duursema
Price: $3.50
Publication Date: 2012-04

When examining a work whose mythology is an expansive as Star Wars, it almost becomes a historiographical investigation as opposed to a literary one. Between the films, the television series, the dozens of books and the hundreds of comics, piecing together where the various stories fit into the grand historical narratives and the requisite contributions made by each author, follows a very similar pattern to the works of historians organizing and analyzing various historical texts in order to understand the broader trends. This principle is upheld with any truly large body of work, regardless of whether or not the history it chronicles – as with Star Wars – is ultimately fictitious.

The editors and publishers of various Star Wars products have embraced even this historiographical paradigm. With the Battle of Yavin, the concluding event of the first released film, taken as a mean event in the Star Wars Universe, fans of the novels and comics are able to trace to the exact year where the various stories take place. To add to this much needed organization, the resulting corpus has even been broken up into various eras to make accessing them and understanding the intertextual relationships easier for both the casual fan and the hardcore completest. As a result, there are some fans who attempt the keep up with all the books being published in the genre, while others specialize, like historians, to specific eras, such as the time of the Old Republic, or the era of the Empire.

Understanding this framework is key to truly appreciating Dark Horse’s latest contribution to the Star Wars canon, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi. This series takes place 36,000 years before the Battle of Yavin and explores the origins of the Jedi in an era before hyperspace travel and the founding of the Old Republic. This series, which even reads like a historical chronicle and has very little actual dialogue, focuses on seven large temple-shaped ships that travel the galaxy in search of force-sensitive races, who are taken to the center of the universe to learn the ways of the Je’daii.

Depending on how one engages with the story, Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi will either be replete with significance or an uninteresting adventure that takes the reader thousands of years from the characters and events that made them love Geroge Lucas’s vision in the first place. Those who are more concerned with drama and novelty may not find this new series particularly compelling. In may ways issue may seem like previous tales dressed in new skins; there are the Je’daii warriors and an evil Empire that they are being into conflict with. Not exactly untrodden narrative landscape.

But for those readers who have passionately and studiously attempted to chronicle and follow the series in all its forms, Dawn of the Jedi is not just a good read, but a necessary one. One that provides important background information, and whose seemingly clichéd affectations actually reveal the cyclical nature of a well-developed mythology.

Historical events examined from a broad perspective often trace periods of cohesion to entropy, expansion and contraction, rises and falls. While some examine the events of the world through the lens of uninterrupted progress, others see, like Oswald Spengler, an episodic movement more like that represented in the natural world with its seasons or with the very movement and convolutions of the cosmos. Stepping back to a macro perspective one sees these movements in the iterations of the Star Wars universe.

The first storylines, particularly the films, chronicle the fall of the Old Republic, the Empire, and then with its defeat, the New Republic. As the story advanced following the Vong War – a war against an alien race from beyond the known universe – there was a subsequent movement towards unity. From disharmony and polarization comes order and a unification of the two extremes.

So if the overarching mythos begins with division and moves towards synthesis, it forces out attention inevitably backwards and demands that there must have been a previous era of balance and harmony that proceeds all that has been encountered before. Dawn of the Jedi is this era.

The entire storyline is premised on the idea that unlike later iterations of the Jedi, these force wielders attempt to maintain a balance between the light and dark sides of the force. There is no Jedi/Sith division, there is instead an understanding that both sides have strength and weaknesses and that an excess of either energy can be harmful. Consequently, this period of balance nicely sets the stage for all that is to come thousands of years in the future as it will no doubt include the sundering of the Je’daii and the perhaps even the origins of the Sith.

This concept of balance and harmonious coexistence between light and dark, functions as a necessary extension of the mythology of the Force with its allusions and references to Eastern philosophy. Not only does it fit into the narrative, but it also is readily acceptable to the reader who is used to this recurring trope throughout out society, whether in politics, spirituality, or even pop culture.

Ultimately it is too early to early to tell how effective of a story Dawn of the Jedi will be. As with any first issue the emphasis of this particular book was on setup and exposition and so a full appraisal cannot accurately be made. However, when shifting perspectives slightly from the book as a story to the book as a historical artifact, as lore, then its significance is revealed. Dawn of the Jedi is as much a product of historical forces as it is one of editorial and creative decisions. Its necessity was foreshadowed by all that has come before, and its very existence is a testament to the continuing ubiquity of one of our greatest cultural institutions.






PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.


South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.


Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Sufjan Stevens' 'The Ascension' Is Mostly Captivating

Even though Sufjan Stevens' The Ascension is sometimes too formulaic or trivial to linger, it's still a very good, enjoyable effort.

Jordan Blum

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.