Lockdown Legends: The New Jedi Order: Invasion – Refugees #0 Review

As far as the original Expanded Universe goes, I have always seen The New Jedi Order period as one of my favourites and quite possibly, my outright favourite. It was a story arc that challenged the normal rules of the Star Wars galaxy and the fight between good and evil. For this time period, it was no longer about Jedi vs Sith, Rebels vs the Empire, it was the galaxy against an extra galactic invasion by an alien race called the Yuuzhan Vong!

This new enemy is so hard to explain in a short introduction, but I will try. Sorry, I will do or do not, there is no try!

Entering the galaxy while fleeing from their own dying galaxy in search of a new home. The Yuuzhan Vong are formidable warriors, duty bound by honour in their death for the cause of their gods. They embrace pain and see scars as a badge of honour and even akin to a souvenir of battle. Their scientists in the form of ‘Shapers’ add appendages and upgrades to their warriors to make them more powerful and as a reward for their triumphs in battle. But they also practice this on their captives so they can utilise them as a near zombie army against their own worlds. The same applies to the planets too. Their biotechnologies are used to transform the worlds they capture and turn them into barren wastelands where their own ‘technology’ can develop and be cultivated. The biggest thing that separates from the rest of the galaxy, is that they are a complete void in the Force and have no connection with it in any way.

At this point in The New Jedi Order story arc, the planet of Sernpidal has already fallen and that alone has had a huge consequence. Our favourite wookiee, the mighty Chewbacca, has perished rescuing Han and Leia’s youngest son, Anakin during the evacuation of the planet. Exclamations of shock have just rippled through the Force as thousands have just screamed out in anguish.

The first The New Jedi Order novel hit shelves in October 2009, but it was a full 10 years later before it finally got a comic series of its own. The prologue issue was previewed in 2 instalments on StarWars.com in the May and June of 2009, prior to its comic book format release in the following October. This shows how important this era was at the time and sadly since the literature timeline reboot in 2015, these are now confined to ‘Legends’ and most articles and reference pieces are now lost to the annuls of time.

I could go on for hours explaining all about The New Jedi Order and the intricacies of what we were treated to. This was the driver for me writing an article (for Tatooine Times) to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the release of the first novel, Vector Prime, so if you wish to learn more, you can read that here.

Hopefully, you will also enjoy this extraordinary tale from a galaxy far, far away.

May the force be with you!

Published: October 14, 2009
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Colin Wilson
Colourist: Wes Dzioba
Letterer: Michel Heisler
Cover Artist: Dave Dorman

The synopsis;

PROLOGUE

Approximately twenty-five years after the Battle of Yavin, the galaxy has been rid of the evil Empire and a New Republic has been formed.

Jedi Master Luke Skywalker is rebuilding the Jedi Order, and has formed a Jedi Academy to train new students as Jedi Knight, protectors of the weak and upholders of peace.

Still, not all is right in the galaxy. While the Sith are no longer a threat, there are other things to fear…

The review;

The cover sets the tone for what is to come. Dave Dorman was the master of Star Wars covers during this period and the Yuuzhan Vong attacking their prey. This as a first look at what the Vong were like and a great introduction to them as well.

It is 25 years after the Battle of Yavin and a vessel with 2 explorers onboard glides through space. Its inhabitants, a Chiss female called Sanha and a wookiee who goes by the name of Sarkkin. Sarkkin is attempting to intercept a message, while the ship is on auto pilot. The message comes through and it shows a brute of a human. In the message, he continues to explain how their brutal lives are lived and then his dread and fear surface. They were strong until the Yuuzhan Vong arrived. This message is a warning to anyone that hears it, the Vong are coming!

Panha immediately sprints for the cockpit, Sarkkin bemused to her reaction. He follows her to the cockpit and on the scans, they can see what looks to be a Vong Armada heading towards the planet Artorias. The Chiss have encountered the Yuuzhan Vong before, only in small numbers, but they seemed unstoppable. They must warn the Artorian’s.

A great start to a comic, we get to meet 2 interesting new characters and an unlikely pairing they are. The Star Wars ‘sandbox’ of the time is definitely being enjoyed by Tom Taylor. A wookiee pilot or co-pilot is a good start, but a Chiss female partner, this grabs plenty of my attention. Grand Admiral Thrawn has had a huge resurgence in the recent years and was one of the catalysts for the original start of the new wave of Expanded Universe novels back in 1991. The Chiss are such an elusive part of the Star Wars galaxy and it won’t be long before Timothy Zahn starts to unfold their mystery to us in Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy series.

The brute who is in fear for others in the galaxy is very medieval crossed with a Viking style twist. The art of Colin Wilson really has so much detail, but for me the real wow page in the opening sequence is the 1 page shot of the Vong armada fleet. A truly great piece of art.

On Artorias their main communications hub is down, their tech guy frustratingly bashing at it with a hydrospanner. A dark hooded figure approaches to relieve him of duty, he hands over the spanner and allows him to take over.

Sarkkin and Panha send out urgent calls to Artorias, no reply. Again, they try, then a lone hooded figure appears on holo acknowledging their information and thanks them.

Their ship is now under attack from the Vong and they are about to be boarded. The Vong attack is brutal, but somehow, they survive the attack. Sarkkin is in bad shape and has been wounded, he knows this is the end for him. Sanha realises it too, they cannot outrun the Vong’s but they can at least inflict some damage.

The Vong stand proud on their vessel thinking their forces have won after boarded the ship. The ship turns towards them, but it accelerates and buries itself in the side of their own vessel causing it to be destroyed.

Another high-octane passage of events that sees Sarkkin and Panha become heroes, dealing one final blow to the Vong, sacrificing themselves. They fought heroically against a foe that is brutal, well that’s an understatement, I think.

A big thinking point at this stage for me is around the cloaked figure who took the message on Artorias. Who is this person? It makes me feel like the message has reached the wrong person.

A badly damaged Yoric-Vec escapes the dying vessel with a Vong warriror onboard. Tsalok, is a hulk of a being and has tasted death and violence since he has arrived in this new galaxy and he likes it so far.

Around the galaxy important events take place, but on Yavin 4, Luke Skywalker senses a great darkness approaching.

On Artorias, the Galfridian family celebrate their father’s birthday, a simple family moment to cherish, unknowing of the impending armada. In the communications room the hooded figure hands the spanner back, he cannot repair the comm station and concedes defeat in his attempts to repair it. He walks away and finds a secluded spot. He pulls back his hood and his skin starts to peel away, pain on his face. As it recedes it reveals a Yuuzhan Vong. They don’t know that Vong are here and others are coming!

Han Solo finds a wookiee hair in the cockpit of the Falcon. He stares at the empty co-pilot seat; how many have fallen already? More will fall.

The final third of this comic slows the pace down but allows you to digest the ferocity of the story to that point. We see Tsalok, almost licking his lips with pleasure and excitement of what is ahead for him. Then we see Luke at the Jedi Temple on Yavin 4 almost pensive and tinged with fear. Then, Han Solo, grieving the loss of Chewbacca, dealing with his sorrow, knowing that they have been through so many fights, knowing they have lost so many on the way, knowing that there will be many more lost to the Vong.

This gives us so many little glimpses as to how life has changed for so many already, but how the Vong will change it even more so. If you have read any of The New Jedi Order books, you will know that the Vong had been sending agents into the galaxy ahead of the invasion fleet on reconnaissance missions for quite some time. Nom Anor and Yomin Carr to name 2 of the most important ones. So, to have an agent already acting on Artorias and sabotaging their communications systems is part of their plan.

Taylor sets out the story so well. He has recently been involved with Star Wars again in the Age of Resistance series from Marvel. He is no stranger to this galaxy over the years and this really does show. The art department need a special mention too. Wilson and Dzioba combine to bring the story and the pages to life. All the information at this time would have been in the novels, so it must have been a huge undertaking. Their imaginations must have been running wild bringing the Vong to the pages.

Issue 0 is an amazing prologue to what is going to be something different to any Star Wars comic you have ever read before.

The invasion starts for real in issue 1.

Availability;

Star Wars: The New Jedi Order: Invasion ran for 3 series from 2009 to 2011, encompassing 17 issues. Invasion – Refugees #0 is currently available in digital format from the Marvel Online Comic Store, via the Marvel App, comiXology or by subscribing to Marvel Unlimited. A physical copy can be found in one of the many trade paperback releases from Marvel. Please check with Amazon UK and US or your local comic bookstore for availability.

Steve Galloway
Steve was 5 years old when he saw Star Wars for the first time during its first UK cinema release. He considers himself a first generation Star Wars fan and in his own words is a ‘Child of 77’.