Zayne Carrick’s now fighting for the Mandalorians? Curse you, double mandatory conscription! GONK gets a kick out Knights of the Old Republic – War #2.
“I’m told it’s not unusual for a soldier to invade two planets in one week — but who ever heard of one invading them for two different armies?”
And with this, Zayne Carrick, former Jedi, former galactic fugitive, and now former Phaedan militia draftee, starts his secondary military career of the week: conscript grunt for the Mandalorian Army. And worse off, he’s invading a Republic world. and he’s still stuck with his former Republic officer who doesn’t like him at all, Morvis, also conscripted by the other side. And who’s leading this Mando army? Former Jedi Council member Dorjander Kace and his Jedi squad.
Things aren’t looking up for Zayne in this second issue of Knights of the Old Republic – War, but they do look good for the reader with this story. John Jackson Miller brings the young man who doesn’t want to fight right into the front lines of the war, and has him try his darndest to keep the bloodshed on Halthor to a minimum, confounding Morvis and Mando alike. Zayne Carrick does get an unlikely ally: Ko Sornell, the Devaronian female Mando who was saved, along with her young son, by Carrick, in the first issue. After Carrick and Morvis earn the ire of their rallymaster, Sornell takes the pair on as her responsibility, and even lets them bunk in her family’s house. Kace’s victory speech and Zayne’s subsequent conversations with Morvis and Sornell help set the stage for what the Mandalorians are about as a people in this era, without coming off as Captain Exposition-y. Eventually Morvis and Sornell face off, but Carrick defuses the situation, and gets pulled aside by Kace, who reveals the Mandos’ next target: Zayne’s homeworld of Phaeda, and they’re bringing a huge force to take it.
Miller balances out the story well: some action to start things, some storytelling to set the greater context (which is good for those just starting in the KOTOR era with this series), and a tense hook for next time. He also tosses in some good humor., like with one of the Gran defenders getting his surprised gun crew to fight back with “I don’t care if it’s Captain Goodvalor and the Valorettes –they’re after us! Start firing!” Not only is it funny on its own, it’s also a reference back to a Gryph’s propaganda tool for the Republic from earlier KOTOR stories. Andrea Mutti has some great panels in this issue – one of my favorites is in the opening, as the Mandalorians go into battle, Zayne, in his pitted Mando armor, has this utterly horrified look on his face. Another panel that helps set the mood is a shot of Sornell’s home, with a armed Mando and a fuzzy rodent in the foreground, and in front of the house, two armored figures playing ball. Really the only things that pulled me away from the story is that Kace’s armor pattern keeps reminding me of the Punisher and I’m left wondering why Ko Sornell has switched from more female-body-shaped armor in the first issue to a more generic build in this issue.
Overall, I’m really pleased with how this storyline is shaping up and the lessons that Zayne is learning, and teaching, in this war story.