The Jedi Order in Star Wars has a habit of driving its most promising students away. Throughout various Star Wars shows and media, the journeys of many Padawans and Jedi have been chronicled. These journeys have revealed some patterns, but one major one in particular: young Jedi and Force sensitives that should have promising futures end up turning to the Dark Side or going off on their own. The Jedi Order during the time of the Fall of the Jedi falls alongside the Republic for a reason, but what the comics help to reveal is how the Jedi Order weakens itself by pushing its best, upcoming talent away.
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The Fall of the Jedi is the era of time covering the prequel trilogy, The Clone Wars animated series, and several tie-in comics and novels. This era is defined by the fall of the Jedi Order, which culminates in the execution of Order 66 and the remaining Jedi going into hiding. This era is preceded by The High Republic and followed by the Reign of the Empire. During this time, the Jedi Order is directly linked to the Republic and serves as an army or as army leadership during the Clone Wars. The Order is partially focused on trying to face Sith threats, but this task often falls to the wayside, eventually leading to the rise of Darth Sidious.
During the Fall of the Jedi, the Jedi have many strong warriors in their ranks trained rigorously in both lightsaber combat and Force use. However, several Jedi leave the Order during this time. Count Dooku is one of the first Jedi turned Sith who the saga introduces in this era. Anakin Skywalker is another Jedi who is one of the most promising Jedi in the Order before turning to the Dark Side. His Padawan Ahsoka Tano is proven to be a strong Jedi, though she leaves the Order as well. Contrarily, she does not turn to the Dark Side or join the Sith as a result of leaving the Order. Asajj Ventress, as shown through The Clone Wars and various comics, could have been a promising Jedi had she been fully given the chance. She is initially a Padawan to a Jedi within the Order, but ultimately succumbs to the Dark Side. Quinlan Vos is seen as a rogue Jedi at times and he also succumbs to the Dark Side, before fighting it and returning to the Light Side around the time that the Order falls.
Count Dooku was initially Yoda’s Padawan. He was abandoned by his former house, House Serenno, as a result of being Force-sensitive and joined the Order. His in-depth story is revealed in the novel, Dooku: Jedi Lost by Cavan Scott, but there are also traces of his history and reasoning for leaving the Jedi Order in Marvel’s Star Wars: Age of Republic – Count Dooku #1 (2019) written by Jody Houser with art by Luke Ross and Paolo Rivera. In this issue, Dooku sees that there is corruption in the Order, due to its connections with the Republic. He believes that the Jedi way is outdated and takes the opportunity to leave the Order after his home planet is invaded. He takes on the role of Count and eventually becomes Darth Sidious’ apprentice.
Though he is swayed by the Dark Side, Count Dooku is not capable of maintaining his position as apprentice and seems to be predominantly used as a pawn by Sidious in the Clone Wars. In Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir—written by Jeremy Barlow with art by Chris Scalf—it is revealed that the Jedi Order at one point thinks that Dooku is the master Sith that they were seeking, with Maul as his apprentice. This helps keep the Jedi off the track of Chancellor Palpatine. Star Wars: Age of Republic – Count Dooku also reveals a time when Dooku is simply known as a planetary leader and not a threat. Dooku leaves the Order largely due to personal responsibilities he undertakes, but he is also largely influenced by the corruption that begins to grow within the Order as a result of joining closer together with the Republic.
Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side is well-known. He is a former slave who is picked up by Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn on Tatooine. Following Qui-Gon’s death, Anakin is trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi, despite the Jedi Council advocating against his being trained at all. This almost leads to him and Obi-Wan leaving the Order to train. As seen in Star Wars: Age of Republic – Anakin Skywalker #1 (2019)—written by Jody Houser with art by Cory Smith and Paolo Rivera—Anakin’s former life provides him with life experience that causes him to question a lot of what the Order does and how they do it. He is a skilled tactician who, during the Clone Wars and seeks to save as many lives as possible, despite the risk he and other Jedi are put in. He is also disillusioned with the Order after its treatment of his Padawan, Ahsoka Tano.
His emotions, attachments, and routine disagreements with the Jedi Order gradually lead Anakin to seek counsel elsewhere. This is what leads him to eventually become the apprentice of Darth Sidious. The Jedi Order teachings stress lack of attachments and control of emotions, but Anakin never masters this. He is also never fully embraced as a potential Jedi and is often treated with caution. Despite turning to the Dark Side over time, he does succeed in training a Jedi who leaves the Order, but never turns to the Dark Side herself, proving that many of his approaches had merit.
Despite being a fan-favorite, Ahsoka Tano does not fully appear in any current Star Wars canon comics—though she does in some Legends issues. On occasion she is mentioned in some canon comics. In Star Wars: Age of Republic Special #1 (2019) story “Sisters”—written by Jody Houser with art by Carlos Gomez—Ahsoka’s wanted poster is seen by Asajj Ventress, who has taken up bounty hunting. This notice goes out because Ahsoka is being framed by a former friend and Jedi. During an interview, Ahsoka’s interviewee is murdered with the Force, and it is made to look like Ahsoka did it. Unable to prove her innocence and aided by her unknown enemy, Ahsoka escapes, only to be eventually recaptured. Instead of dealing with the matter internally or waiting for the trial’s results, the Order kicks out Ahsoka and turns her over for a Republic military trial.
Anakin is one of the only Jedi to stand by Ahsoka, actively capturing the real culprit, Barriss Offee, another Jedi who is disillusioned by the Order. Despite her innocence being proven, Ahsoka sees how her commitment means nothing in her time of need and leaves the Order. The Jedi Order’s involvement in the Clone Wars creates severe paranoia within the Order and disagreement with Jedi teachings, particularly when the Order completely turns its back on its own.
Asajj Ventress is best known for being a Sith villain in The Clone Wars, but she actually has her own history with the Jedi. Previously a slave for a group of pirates, Ventress was the Padawan of Jedi master Ky Narec. After the death of her master, Ventress falls into deep mourning and eventually, with the added guidance of Count Dooku, becomes a Sith. Had Dooku not left the Order to begin with, he wouldn’t have been able to pick up Ventress for the Dark Side. Eventually betrayed by Dooku, Ventress seeks revenge on him, becomes a bounty hunter, and in the novel, Dark Disciple by Christie Golden, joins up with Quinlan Vos. Ventress’s path as a Jedi ends with the death of her master, but she is a powerful Force wielder and at times is seen to have potential for good. With better guidance, Ventress might have been a powerful Jedi. In Star Wars: Age of Republic Special #1, Ventress is seen assisting a pair of sisters who are being attacked, after she sees Ahsoka’s wanted picture go up.
During The Clone Wars, when Ahsoka is being hunted by the Republic, Ventress actually aids Ahsoka. What does this have in common with her assistance of the sisters in this issue? They are all girls like her, dealing with loss and others turning their backs on them. Ventress sees her younger self in each of them, Ahsoka included. She chooses to fight for others who are being thrown into a position of weakness, when she could just go about her business as usual. She had previously fought Ahsoka and the Jedi regularly, but when push comes to shove, she knows that the Jedi Order is the problem, not Ahsoka.
Additionally, Asajj Ventress, despite having trained Quinlan Vos in the Sith ways, is instrumental in bringing him back to the Light Side. By sacrificing herself to save Vos, the Dark Side loses its hold on him. This places them both on the Light Side, though Ventress is the predominant reason that Vos plans to leave the Order. His attachments and life experience are enough to convince him that the Jedi Order is no longer the path for him. However, there is a high chance that Quinlan Vos also would have been lost to the Dark Side and out of the Order were it not for Ventress. His fate in the galaxy is currently unknown, though he is believed to have survived long-term.
The Jedi Order is corrupted by the Republic, loses sight of its mission in the galaxy, and frequently turns its back on—or isolates—its most promising students and Force users. The ties that the Jedi have to the Republic and the way it is involved in the Clone Wars prevents the Jedi from clearly seeing the threats they face—both externally AND internally. The Jedi Order also fails to effectively teach its students how to manage heightened emotions such as fear and grief, despite being constantly affronted by loss and fear within the galaxy—which paves way to more fear, under the Empire. The continuous influence of the Republic on the Order causes a chain reaction from Count Dooku down to Quinlan Vos that leads to the Order losing its strongest fighters for the Light.
Had the Order adapted to their trainees a little more, meeting new needs as they arose, they may have kept some of their trainees. Additionally, had they maintained their role as seekers of peace—instead of being used as an army for a galactic government—they may have been able to see where the true threats to peace were coming from. Being able to effectively isolate their actual dangers instead of being led to corruption and paranoia might have saved the Jedi Order—and the Star Wars galaxy—in the long run.
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