Sunday, 28 June 2015

Jedit Ojanen #1-2

Legend of Jedit Ojanen on the world of Magic: the Gathering #1-2

Issue two credits Tony Harris & Ray Snider for the cover.

Jedit Ojanen hails from the isolationist Cat Warrior nation of Efrava. One day he saves a human called Johan from the desert. The other cat warriors thinks they should kill this guy, but Jedit wants to explore the rest of the world since he thinks his disappeared dad may be out there somewhere. He and Johan escape Efrava and join up with he Robaran Mercenaries, which include Adira Strongheart and Hunding Gjornersen. Johan turns out to be the ruler of an evil army out to conquer Efrava (Why the leader is doing his own scouting, I don’t know), but the Mercenaries join up with the Efravans and Hazezon Tamar’s sand warriors and defeat Johan, though Adira dies. Jedit ends up leaving Efrava again  to look for his dad (Even though Johan admitted he killed him, and had an amulet that belonged to the dad to prove it…)

You might be thinking: that’s a short summary! Well, you’d be right. There’s two reasons for that. For one, this is one of the most peripheral comics in the Armada line. After the great coming together of storylines that was Ice Age, Shandalar and the unpublished Alliances, this and the comic I'll look at next let slip the leash of continuity to tell stand alone stories. Even more peripheral than Fallen Angel, the characters here do not shown up anywhere else. Well… there is one other place where they show up, which brings me to the second reason of my short summary: the novels Johan, Jedit and Hazezon are a direct adaptation of these comics, replacing them in the canon. This is exactly what happened with the Antiquities comics, but while those covered a pivotal moment in the canon, Jedit Ojanen is utterly skippable. As such I've decided to keep things short here. You’ll get more details when we cover the version of these events that are still in continuity.

For now though, let's take a quick look at the comics. The writing is actually pretty good, most of the time. It adds little touches of world building, for example by digging into the Efravan's worship of a god called Terrent Amese. That said, the ever present “the comic is to short” problem rears its head again, resulting in some clunky exposition at times

The bloke on his back is Johan, using a spell to appear normal. No reason is given for why his regular form is red with horns and an arrow on his forehead.

Jedit immediately falling into exposition about his dad doesn't feel like very natural dialogue. This happens a few times during the comic. The dialogue also comes across a bit.. modern at times. Maybe a bit to colloquial compared to the "fantasy speak" people use elsewhere in the comic.

Other complaints... Adira Strongheart's death was entirely pointless. Though she does get pretty funny last words...

On the plus side, we have this scene of Johan explaining his motivations I really like:

It’s a bit of an info dump, but it makes him sound… I don’t wanna say nice, but at least slightly altruistic. He’s not just being nasty for the sake of it, he actually cares about his city. This lines up nicely with the white in his mana cost, something that will be rather lacking from his character in the novels.

You've probably noticed that the artist is doing a lot of cool stuff with the panel layout. The art in general is very nice and very detailed, but it is the page layout that really elevates the comic.


I liked the art so much, that I decided to see if this David Boller person has drawn any other comics. Turns out he has, but my according to Google he mostly drew naked women. Lots and lots of naked women. Mostly super heroines. And not even with awesome panel layouts, just boring pin-ups! I am disappoint.

I've included the following scans, telling the Efrava origin myth and the story of Jedit's dad, so we can easily compare the differences when we get to the novel. (Also, more cool page layouts!)


Here's a picture of Adira and Hunding.

Oh, and I didn't want you all to miss this scene.

We've already seen Loot Niptil and his cat warrior girlfriend, now this, and later we'll see Mirri pining for Gerrard and Raksha hooking up with Glissa's sister. What is it with Magic and human(oid)/catfolk pairings?

Not much to say about this, really. There is absolutely nothing that ties this story to the rest of continuity, and it is replaced by the novels anyway, so... yeah, no continuity talk today. Timelinewise, the comic itself places it 400 years after the Ice Age. If memory serves the novel places it 300 years after the Ice Age, so that's a minor revision. We'll see whether my memory was right in... oh. About a year?

The only thing that might be relevant here is that the chronology in Urza-Mishra War #2 puts Jedit Ojanen before Serra Angel (whoops, there I go giving away what the next review is!), and Serra Angel itself says it happens before the Gathering of the Sages of Minorad. That Gathering. The placement of the Gathering is tricky in itself, but it is supposed to happen shortly after the Flood Age (a.k.a. Alliances), when the climate stabilizes after the World Spell ended the Ice Age. The Story of the Battlemage Ravidel suggests this was a matter of decades, and the novel The Shattered Alliance supports this. So how to square that with the placement of Jedit Ojanen 300/400 years after the Ice Age?

Well, it is important to realize that we are dealing with a timeline revision upon a timeline revision here. If you go through all of the comics looking for temporal references, it becomes clear that they operated on a vastly decompressed timeline. Remember how in Ice Age the fall of Storgard was supposed to happen 4000 years before the Gathering, but only 500 years before the World Spell? If that were true, than Jedit Ojanen could've happened 400 years after the World Spell, and you'd still have 3100 years left between it and the Gathering for Serra Angel to take place in. Another example of this elongated timeline can be seen in Fallen Empires, which supposedly takes place 1157 years before the Ice Age!

The first revision to the timeline is seen in the Fourth Edition Pocket Players' Guide, which places the Brothers' War only 4000 years before the present, thus greatly reducing the time between events. This is then copied by in The Story of the Battlemage Ravidel,  I have been critical of TSOTBR in many reviews so far, but this alteration of the timeline is backed up by the Pocket Players' Guide timeline and forms the basis of the later official timeline, which is still in use to this day. So this revision is clearly still canon, and if it places the Gathering of the Sages of Minorad decades after the World Spell, it invalidates the "400 years" quote from Jedit Ojanen.

The second revision is then made in the novels based on the comic, which puts the events back to several hundred years after the end of the Ice Age. You can see where things have gone wrong: clearly author Clayton Emery was given the comics to adapt, but wasn't told about the compressed timeline. (In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if by 2001 no one at Wizards of the Coast even remembered the alterations made to the timeline in 1995.)  Luckily Jedit's story is not linked to anything, so its relative placement to the Gathering can be altered without any problems. So when I get to the novels, you can expect them to take place wherever they say they take place, rather than where the Urza-Mishra War chronology places the comic. I'm just counting this as a ret-con.

So yeah... ret-cons upon ret-cons, Isn't the Magic chronology fun? Having gone over all these comics by now, and having talked with Jeff Gomez about some apparent inconsistencies, I've now got a much clearer picture of what exactly was changed and when, so I'm planning to do an article on which sources we can still believe and which have been altered when I'm done with the comic reviews. Hopefully then we can finally clear up which parts of The Story of the Battlemage Ravidel we should believe and which we shouldn't!

But first, a little breather episode: next week I'll look at Serra Angel. A proper comic, not replaced by any novels like Jedit, not an unpublished script we have to cobble together from different sources like Alliances, no continuity nightmare like Ice Age or Shandalar... it will be a nice change of pace!

Also, Rebecca Guay on art!

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