Star Wars: Darkness - John Ostrander, Jan Duursema Embracing the "Darkness"

Aayla Secura, memory wiped Jedi Padawan of Quinlan Vos, arrives on Kiffex to release Volfe Karkko, a Jedi Anzati, from his long slumber. Meanwhile, the Jedi Council send Quinlan Vos to Kiffex for an entirely different matter: apparently, the Guardians on Kiffex were brutally killed by unknown assailants. Vos teams up with his former master, Tholmes; a sprightly Jedi chef (of sorts), Zoa; and Jedi Watchman of the sector, T'ra Saa.

I had just about given up hope that I liked any graphic novels. Seemed like all the ones I got my hands on were mediocre: mediocre to bad art, sloppy plotting, boring story, unremarkable characters. I got so many in fact, that I was thinking it was just me; I just wasn't a graphic novel person.

And then I found this one.

I bought "Darkness" during a Star Wars comic binge, and after a slew of meh graphic novels, I was beginning to regret that purchase. I really didn't expect to like this graphic novel much. Sure it stars Quinlan Vos and Aalya Secura, two characters I really like, but it had the potential to go South really quickly.

Fortunately, it didn't.

The part where I knew I was going to like this graphic novel was during the introduction of Villie, a wily Devaronian (I think I've read something about him before, but I can't remember which comic that was). He is asked why the Jedi should trust him, and his answer is, "I know. Terrible moral dilemma. Trust Villie and maybe live or go by selves and most certainly die! How to choose?" That line made me laugh out loud--something that a lot of novels don't get me to do!

In fact, that very scene showcases a lot of what I liked about this graphic novel:

The story: Quinlan Vos meets up with his former master, Tholmes, on Kiffex, investigates a compound filled with the dead, and meets up with Villie. Then the story takes a new twist--we learn about Vos' tangle with the Dark Side, his hatred for the Anzati, and how he became a Jedi (and no, it didn't involve the Jedi stealing him as a baby! I can't tell you how I wish that horrible bit had never been included into Star Wars canon!). This story, even with its great action, is ultimately a personal story of Quinlan Vos overcoming the Dark Side.

The characters: Villie is the comic relief of this graphic novel--and yet, he doesn't resort to being stupid or slapsticky in the slightest. All of the characters were awesome--Quinlan Vos, Tholmes, Zoa, T'sa (loved the hint at a romance between her and Tholmes!), Aalya, Karkko--each one of these characters were real and important to the story, not thrown in as a special cameo or just because.

The art: Good action scenes. Clear transition between panels. Characters who stay the same in appearance from panel to panel. Not too much verbiage cluttering the panels (the beginning gets a bit crazy with a weird narration that sounds like something you would see in a comic from the 70's, though). Not too overdone with colors, and yet enough colors to see what is happening. Sure, I wasn't fond of the cover art included at the end (there is one that makes it look like Aayla has a runny nose!), but overall, the art was clean and helped tell the story, instead of distracting from it.

This sort of quality ran throughout the novel. It was obvious that a lot of effort and care had been put into this. I had such a good time reading this graphic novel, I was almost upset to reach the end. This graphic novel has restored my faith in graphic novels and I am no longer as scared to open one up.