Review by Frank Plowright
Jedi vs. Sith is set early in Star Wars Old Republic continuity by Darko Macan, but there’s already considerable hostility between the conflicting ideologies of those tapping into the force. The opening sequence has a Sith Lord slaughtering innocents, followed by a Jedi Knight searching for new adepts on a remote planet and only finding Bug and Tomcat, two young boys and Rain, the even younger sister of one. It’s slim pickings with less than ideal candidates.
At first Jedi vs. Sith seems to be the young adult version of Star Wars: A New Hope, but with different characters. Macan broadly follows a template plot for the opening chapters, introducing an aloof villain in Darth Bane, and overplaying the innocence of the new Jedi recruits, but he thankfully moves away from the first ever Star Wars, although where he’s heading is always broadly predictable.
Spanish artist Ramón F. Bachs would later drop his middle initial for American work, and here uses fantasy designs and locations for his cartooning rather than the usual SF visuals expected for Star Wars. It’s good, expressive art, but maybe not what the Star Wars audience would expect.
Both Jedi and Sith here are well below desirable strength, yet are determined to finish their war. Strangely, it’s the character who seems to be surplus to requirements whose arc eventually becomes the only one to transcend the general predictability. Rain is separated from the others early, and falls in with one of the creatures populating the different planet they arrive on. Macan keeps her in focus, but prevents her interaction with others until the end approaches.
The last chapter is both the least predictable, and most gruesome, Macan and Bachs finally pulling away from the perception that this is a young adult story. The underlying messages are that there’s good and bad in everyone, and war is hell, neither of which are eye-opening revelations, and it caps what’s a largely less than captivating Star Wars outing.
Mystifyingly expensive in paperback form, Marvel have reissued Jedi vs. Sith as a digital only package, and it was also one of just a dozen graphic novels selected for hardcover reissue in 2007 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Wars.