It’s here! Knights of the Old Republic – War #1 is out today and GONK reviews it.
Zayne Carrick is back, and in trouble yet again! Writer John Jackson Miller kicks off this five-issue arc that re-launches the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic line, now with added sub-title: War. Let’s take a spoileriffic look at this first issue, designed as a launch point for new readers hoping to get into the KOTOR era. Want a little background on the KOTOR era? Miller pointed out his primer in yesterday’s twitter chat. And of course, there were more details about the series in my interview with John Jackson Miller earlier this week.
So what’s going on: the Republic’s at war with the Mandalorians, and many Jedi, led by Revan, have joined the fight against the armored invaders, despite the Jedi Council’s opposition to entering the war. Meanwhile, Zayne Carrick, no longer a Jedi or wanted criminal, has ended up drafted as a foot soldier by his home planet, Phaeda, and has been shipped off to the front lines, where a Jedi strike team led by former Council Member Dorjander Kace softens up the Mandos before the Republic Navy oversees the poorly-equipped Phaedan assault. Disliking the killing of retreating Mandos, Zayne clashes with Captain Morvis over the attack, when a basilisk war droid crash lands onto the command skiff. Zayne shields the Mandalorian pilot and her son from Morvis’ guns and helps them escape, which earns him another rough dressing down.
After learning that Morvis, with the Jedi strike team’s approval, plans to just burn down the forested cover guarding the Mando position, Zayne sneaks off to warn them, (and give a little bit of self-exposition) only to discover that it’s a trap for the Republic, and then gets Agent-Oranged by Morvis’ weapons. When Morvis comes to inspect, Carrick and Morvis are ambushed by the Mandos. Turns out that (BIG TIME SPOILERS – Highlight to read): Kace and his Jedi team are playing for the other team, and have just counter-drafted Morvis and his entire command, including one very unlucky Zayne Carrick, into service for the Mandalorians.
While the War series was designed to be read without needing the backstory of the fifty issues of Knights of the Old Republic, it still flows well for someone who knows Zayne’s background, without feeling exposition heavy. We’re thrown in into the situation just like Zayne, so we see things from his eyes, without him spending much time on what has happened to him, other than one page of reflection. Miller has planned to get all the readers, old and new alike, up to speed by slowly introducing (or re-introducing) characters throughout the story, starting from Zayne’s point of view. While there is plenty of action in the story, the focus isn’t so much on the fighting , but on Zayne’s behavior: he’s caught in a battle, and he wants the killing to stop, and he’s willing to stand up for his beliefs, and even betray the Republic forces to save the enemy. We also get a very strong sense that Zayne realy is a jinx – bad things just keep happening around him, though he’s one lucky barve to keep surviving (and he knows it, and can use that to his advantage).
A newcomer to Star Wars comics, Andrea Mutti does the pencils for this issue, and you can tell that Zayne looks a bit different from previous artists’ renderings. Plus, Carrick’s got a new outfit (is he using Kerra Holt’s armorer? is skintight the new trend in comics?), to perhaps signify that this is a new series, and not just a continuation of the old series (though the variant cover by Dave Wilkins, my favorite of the two, uses Zayne’s more well-known threads). For a storyline that has to both bring back existing KOTOR readers and launch off with new KOTOR readers, Miller manages to grab the audience attention and make the reader latch onto the individual story well (good for new readers) and then throw it in a different direction (good for established fanbase). While perhaps established fans would want to see some more familiar faces from KOTOR, we’ll just have to wait for it to unfold.
A good start, especially for new readers. Miller mixes some action with the guy who doesn’t want there to be any bloodshed, and manages even to throw in some humor: “Why does everyone I help punch me in the face?” muses our hero. Just keep on helpin’ people, Zayne Carrick. Eventually, they’ll realize they’re better off on your side.