One of the perks to this “job” is that I occasionally get to read material well before its publishing date as is the case with Star Wars: Jedi Academy. I was excited to read this after checking out Jeffrey Brown’s adorable sequel Vader’s Little Princess. To be honest I thought this would basically be more of the same, but instead it was a lengthy story set in the days before the prequels. As with all of Brown’s Star Wars works he bends continuum and takes the overall knowledge of the movies and meshes everything together. At this point I doubt there are many Star Wars fans that expect the continuity outside of the films to be intact and so I see very few people getting “up in arms” about Brown’s alterations of the world. In fact I think that’s what makes this story so charming is that it focuses on the general Star Wars knowledge. The story follows a boy named Roan Novachez. He lives on Tatooine and wants to grow up to be a fighter pilot like his Father and older brother; he’s about to start middle school and so his mother has put in an application for him to attend Pilot Academy Middle School. The day comes though that he discovers that he hasn’t made it into the school like his friends and his dreams are crushed. It looks like he’s going to end up going to Tatooine Agriculture Academy. A surprise arrives in the mail as Roan is invited to Jedi Academy by Master Yoda. Feeling it’s better than Agriculture he decides to give it a shot because lightsabers are better.
The story has two major narrative elements. The first is Roan’s journal as the character himself tells us his thoughts, fears and triumphs in his first year at the academy. The second is through Brown’s comic panel style of art. Both work incredible well together to paint a complete picture. We see how Roan handles himself and some of the more visual things that he’s forced to deal with. That and it’s the most effective way to show how he and the other character’s use the force. The journal’s also include Brown’s art, but in a different way. It’s presented as Roan’s art and there are several mentions of his artistic talent throughout the story.
If you breakdown the story is it’s Star Wars, meets elements of Harry Potter with a dash of Diary of A Wimpy Kid mixed it for familiarity. It’s a fun story and while it’s nothing that breaks the mold, it is very different for the world of Star Wars. Brown honestly reminds me of why I loved Star Wars to begin with and while the movies and oversaturation of tie-ins have made me distance myself from the franchise, Brown keeps me coming back. How can anyone not appreciate the charm of this story and the universe that incorporates elements from our daily lives, but is mixed with Star Wars? Brown reminds you of everything that’s wonderful about the franchise and that’s no easy task.
I’m sure there could very easily be a follow-up to this series, but if this is it, then that works too because it doesn’t hold back. If you enjoyed either of Brown’s Vader books, but wanted something longer to enjoy then this is it. It delivers in spades.
Writer/Artist/Creator: Jeffrey Brown Publisher: Scholastic Publishing Price: $12.99 Release Date: 8/27/13