In Review: Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order: Dark Temple #1

If you need a Star Wars fix, this will do, but it's not great.

The cover: Jedi Master Eno Cordova uses his lightsaber to deflect crimson blasts of energy from unseen foes. Behind him his Padawan Cere Junda turns to assist her master. This is good introduction to both characters and they look sharp. Created by Marco Checchetto this looks great. And is it me or does Cordova look like actor Héctor Elizondo? He’d be perfect for a screen version of this book! Overall grade: A

The story: I should say upfront I haven’t played a Star Wars videogame in years, and that was The Force Unleashed, on a Wii. I don’t really have time to play videogames, so I couldn’t tell anyone how this ties into the upcoming videogame. The issue opens with a TIE Interceptor landing on Ontotho as several troopers are encountering heavy fire. The Inquisitor exits the ship and goes to Commander Atty, currently under fire, to ask what they’re fighting. Rumor said it’s someone with a lightsaber. The Inquisitor ignites her blade and goes forward with the troopers. The blasts stop as they confront someone who ignites a blue lightsaber. This story is then put aside for the remainder of the issue and writer Matthew Rosenberg turns to “Years Earlier” on Nameel where Cordova and Janda are trying to keep some Dupei monks and Trandoshans from killing one another. This is a good way to show how each acts when on a mission and there’s some good action and humor there. The two soon return to the Jedi Council where they receive new orders. They are to go to Ontotho to investigate a newly discovered temple. It’s not believed to be a Jedi temple, but someone needs to go to check it out. Janda isn’t thrilled, but Cordova is. Once on the world they encounter something odd and things go horribly wrong on the last two pages. This issue sets up the plot for the next four issues. The leads are interesting, with Junda being fantastic. How this story in the past ties in with the present will be interesting. A decent start. Overall grade: B

The art: I’m not loving the art by Paolo Villanelli. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. The first page features the Inquisitor’s arrival and she looks great. The large panel at the bottom of this page looks terrific. It’s on the second page that the characters get sketchy, with the Inquisitor’s troops looking unfinished, such as the trooper on the right in the third panel: his lower legs become a point of darkness. No characters’ feet appear on the second page. There are several panels where characters’ feet are blocked or obscured. The movement on Page 3 looks good, but what’s up with the helmets at the top of that page? The next page is just a mess, with characters composed of slashes and silhouettes. I want to see the action, not imagine it. I’ll read a book instead of a comic, if that’s the case. The first panel on 5 suggests characters from a distance. Janda looks terrible in her first appearance, with a massive forehead. And look at her hand in that second panel. When Villanelli pulls back, the characters are sketchy. Much better is the bottom panel when Cordova appears; he and Janda look good here. The third panel on 6 is just horrible. The action that follows on the next pages is very well done, with the top panel on 9 spectacular. Unfortunately her large forehead returns at the end of the page. The large panel on 10 is drowning in mist, making the art concealed. Accident or done on purpose? That’s the basic gist of this issue’s visuals: hot and cold, with tepid being more often than not. I can’t believe that these were considered the best possible visuals for a Star Wars comic. Overall grade: C-

The colors: Arif Prianto is doing a lot of work on this book. Not only does he color the art, he’s completing much of the illustrations with his colors. The Inquisitor looks great when she appears. Rather than have her be an ebony blob, Prianto gives her several different shades of black to make the details in her design stand out. I like the highlights on the troopers’ armor on the opening. The action the Inquisitor takes on Page 3 is delightfully colorful. I like the blues used for the water on Nameel, with it not being a blanket of universal navy, but many different shades. The highlights on the Jedi clothes and skin makes them pop and give them depth. The sketchy panels, such as that cringe inducing third on 6, has a lot of colors to give some depth to the characters. I love the red borders on 9, making the reader focus on each element of the fight. The mist on 10 is covering too much of the art. Again, this could be intended. The reds and oranges on 17 define much of the imagery. However, there’s only so much Prianto can do with this art. Overall grade: C+

The letters: Scene settings, sounds, dialogue, Trandoshan speech, and yells are created by VC’s Joe Sabino. The scene settings look blurry after the first page because their colors blend in too well with the background. I’ve long advocated for a change in this font, with any of the recent Age of books having vastly superior scene settings. The sounds are a high point in this issue, with there being plenty that are a joy to read aloud. The dialogue font is the disappointing frail, thin design that makes every character sound weak, including strong individuals such as the Inquisitor. I do like the Trandoshan speech, though it resembles the dialogue of the Ithorian Dok-Ondar in the recently concluded Galaxy’s Edge. They don’t speak the same language, so they should have a different font. The yells are good at least. Overall grade: C+

The final line: If you need a Star Wars fix, this will do, but it’s not great. The story is fine, but it’s the visuals that are this issue’s downfall. They look unfinished and rushed, with the colors trying to help where they can. I’m a hard core Star Wars fan and I don’t know if I’ll make it all the way through this series, based on this premiere. Overall grade: C+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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