While Star Wars Celebration 2022 is still weeks away, we already know one of the new projects Lucasfilm will be revealing at the convention. Thanks to a now-deleted panel schedule posting, we’ve learned a new animated anthology series called Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is in the works.
Fans of the classic Legends timeline will probably recognize that particular branding. Tales of the Jedi is a name with deep significance to the Star Wars mythos. The original Dark Horse Comics series was among the first Star Wars stories to flesh out the ancient history of the Jedi Order and their war with the Sith. Will this animated series follow that example? We don’t know much yet, but this is a good opportunity to look back at Tales of the Jedi and how the original comics may inform the newest animated Star Wars series.
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Tales of the Jedi: The Basics
Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi is a series of comic book story arcs published by Dark Horse between 1993 and 1998. The series was originally conceived by writer Tom Veitch, who is considered to be one of the core architects of the Star Wars Expanded Universe. While Veitch’s first Star Wars project, Dark Empire, was a sequel set six years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Veitch included references to ancient Jedi Knights and Sith Lords in that series. Those references became the foundation on which Tales of the Jedi was built.
Tales of the Jedi is largely set 4000 years before the era of the movies, in a time when the ancient Jedi Order is at war with the Sith (who at that point were depicted as a singular race of Force-sensitive aliens rather than the secretive order they would later become). Later Tales of the Jedi arcs delved even further back in the Star Wars timeline, exploring a period 5000 years before the movies.
Together with co-writer Kevin J. Anderson (who also penned the Jedi Academy Trilogy of novels around the same time), Veitch fleshed out an era of Star Wars history that fans knew almost nothing about at the time. And even though Tales of the Jedi has been rendered non-canon like most of the Expanded Universe, it’s a series that continues to exert a strong influence on contemporary stories.
The Plot of Tales of the Jedi
While Tales of the Jedi is ostensibly an anthology series focused on different characters and conflicts in the Old Republic era, the various stories do connect to form an overarching narrative. The series is largely about the rise and fall of Ulic Qel-Droma, a Jedi Knight from Alderaan who becomes corrupted by the Dark Side. Over the course of the series, Qel-Droma battles the Sith Empire and falls in love with fellow Jedi Nomi Sunrider, only to succumb to the temptation of darkness himself.
Qel-Droma’s story is deeply intertwined with that of Exar Kun, another former Jedi who turns to the Dark Side. Kun was originally created by Anderson for the Jedi Academy Trilogy, which reveals that his spirit was tethered to the abandoned temple on Yavin IV that briefly served as the base of the Rebel Alliance. Working together, Anderson and Veitch integrated Kun into the overarching Tales of the Jedi storyline, and the comics showcase the Sith Lord at the height of his power and reveal how he met his eventual end.
Tales of the Jedi proved to be hugely influential for the franchise, establishing key pieces of the Jedi/Sith mythology in a time before the Star Wars prequels began to cover that ground. Among other things, these comics cover pivotal conflicts like the Freedon Nadd Uprising and the Great Hyperspace War and introduce the ancient Sith Empire and the warriors of Mandalore. Above all, Tales of the Jedi proved that even thousands of years before the time of Luke And Anakin Skywalker, some of the galaxy’s most powerful Jedi battled the influence of the Dark Side.
You may be wondering where the Knights of the Old Republic games fit in. The KOTOR name actually originated in the comic, as it’s the subtitle of one of the major Tales of the Jedi story arcs. The games themselves are also essentially direct sequels to the comic. The original Knights of the Old Republic is set roughly 40 years after the conclusion of Tales of the Jedi.
KOTOR builds on the Jedi/Mandalorian conflict introduced in the comic, introducing Sith Lord Darth Revan and their apprentice Darth Malak. Like Exar Kun and Ulic-Qel Droma before them, Revan and Malak were distinguished Jedi Knights who fell to the temptation of the Dark Side. The exact reasons for their shared downfall weren’t revealed until the release of The Old Republic, an MMORPG set several centuries later. In the process, The Old Republic ties back to the Sith Empire mythology introduced in Tales of the Jedi.
KOTOR puts players in the shoes of an amnesic main character and a ragtag band of Jedi, smugglers, Mandalorians and one extremely cranky droid as they seek to prevent Malak from unleashing one of the galaxy’s deadliest super-weapons. The sequel, set a decade later, shifts focus to a disgraced Jedi known as the Jedi Exile as they battle a triumvirate of upstart Sith Lords.
While the KOTOR games are sequels to Tales of the Jedi, there are some storytelling discrepancies between the two. Tales of the Jedi was released before the Star Wars prequels materialized, whereas KOTOR arrived a year after Episode II hit theaters. When Tales of the Jedi was being published, George Lucas hadn’t established basic details like the idea that “Darth” is an honorific adopted by all Sith Lords, not just Vader. The technology and architecture of KOTOR is also wildly different from Tales of the Jedi. The latter showcases the Star Wars universe in a much more primal and less technologically advanced state, one where the influence of Westerns and samurai movies is even more apparent.
With the announcement of a Tales of the Jedi animated series and the upcoming Knights of the Old Republic remake, it’ll be interesting to see how closely intertwined the two projects are. Will we see a more unified vision for how the Star Wars universe looked 4000 years before the movies?
Tales of the Jedi: The Animated Series
Currently, very little is known about the Tales of the Jedi animated series, and that likely won’t change until the show’s official reveal at Star Wars Celebration 2022 on May 28. For now, only two details have emerged – Tales of the Jedi is an anthology series consisting of short, animated episodes (similar to the anime-styled Star Wars: Visions), and The Clone Wars executive producer Dave Filoni is involved. Presumably, the series will be exclusive to Disney+, but even that detail has yet to be confirmed.
At this point, it’s unclear if Tales of the Jedi is directly inspired by the original comics or simply repurposing the name. It’s possible the series will take place in a similar setting, exploring the Old Republic era and introducing reimagined versions of characters like Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider into the official Disney canon.
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However, it’s also possible the series might cast a wider net. The show might focus on established Jedi like Luke, Rey and Ahsoka Tano as well as older generations of Jedi Knights. It could also explore the High Republic era, a setting that has been a major focus of Lucasfilm’s publishing division in recent years. If so, it would be the second Star Wars series to take place during the High Republic, after Leslye Headland’s Star Wars: The Acolyte.
Be sure to stay tuned to IGN for more on Tales of the Jedi and other big announcements from Star Wars Celebration. Until then, cast your vote in our poll and let us know what era you most want to see in Tales of the Jedi:
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.