Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm #5 by John Ostrander and Jan Duursema (2012, Dark Horse)
In the final issue of this first Dawn of the Jedi miniseries, the ruthless Force Hound, Xesh, has something of a change in heart as he is surprised and apparently impressed by the compassion and camaraderie of Je’daii companions Shae, Tasha, and Sek’nos as they face down a lightning-breathing beastie.
He isn’t completely reformed, later deciding the Je’daii are his enemies after all. He is subdued with the help of Je’daii Master Quan-Jang, and is particularly surprised when Shae spares his life.
The story wraps up with Xesh, despite the protests of the Journeyer Je’daii, being shipped off to the moon of Bogan, where out-of-balance folks who skew toward the dark side are sent.
This issue brought all of the characters it had introduced together for a final confrontation, and gives us a very interesting turning point for the mysterious Xesh. The falling action is well executed, providing several good character moments while posing several questions that serve as hooks for the next Dawn of the Jedi arc, slated to begin in November. Overall, this issue was both a strong finish and a strong beginning.
The miniseries as a whole, however, has its failings. Primarily, it suffers from pacing issues. This first arc reads much like the first chapter or so of a novel, spending most of its time establishing characters and situations. Consequently, each issue of Force Storm feels much like a section of a first chapter, and doesn’t always satisfy on its own. In short, it’s not paced all that well for single issues. I suspect that it would read much better in trade paperback, and if you haven’t already been reading this series in singles, I’d recommend waiting until the trade comes out. Truth to tell, I’m not especially fond of the format Dark Horse has favored for their Star Wars books lately—the five-issue arcs spaced months apart. A standard ongoing series would be much preferred.
To be fair, though, Ostrander and Duursema had a lot of world-building to do in this series, as this is a completely uncharted period in the Star Wars universe. With this series, they are off to a good start. There are many promising aspects of this new era that have yet to be explored, and I’m cautiously optimistic about the next Dawn of the Jedi arc.