I never miss a chance to dip back into Knights of the Old Republic. Whether it’s the classic video games or comics books, I don’t want to miss a beat of this series. There’s something so special about seeing the Old Republic in its Wild West days, when the Mandalorians and the Sith Empire still staked claim to the galaxy, and the Republic was constantly forced to fight them off its borders.
That looming darkness over the galaxy, one that Lucas effectively created in the Original Trilogy and failed to reproduce in the Prequel Trilogy (the most organized Jedi Order in history can’t figure out that they’re being duped by the leader of the Republic? C’mon!), is perhaps most effective in Knights of the Old Republic (and its predecessor, Tales of the Jedi). The lay of the land is darkness. There is so much war, so much to still discover, and rediscover. The secrets of the ancient Sith Lords are buried deep below the rock and waiting in the void of space.
Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 3 focuses on the darkness, as Zayne Carrick and friends try to defeat a secret organization known as The Crucible, which forces slaves to participate in deadly dueling competitions. The Mandalorian Wars continue, and the Jedi have finally joined the fight, under the leadership of Revan, who will one day bring about a reign of terror on the Republic. Zayne has decided to stay out of it, still very much a sore subject for the Jedi Order, and much more comfortable running schemes with his partner Gryph, who rather leave the galaxy to burn than risk his hide for a good cause. Jarael, the Arkanian who is going through a bit of an identity crisis, is the real subject of this final arc. All this time, while Zayne was trying to prove his innocence to the Jedi after the Padawan massacre on Taris, Jarael was also running from her past. With the help of her friends, she must face her fears and right past wrongs.
I want to talk about the art: Ron Chan, Brian Ching, Bong Dazo, Andrea Mutti, and Dean Zachary make the pages come to life, turning them into reels for the best Star Wars movie you’ve ever seen. Knights of the Old Republic is a perfect balance between drama, comedy, and action sequences, and the artists can switch between these modes effortlessly. These pages flow, and they remind me why I’m such a big fan of this franchise. At its best, it’s damn good.
Interesting is how the colors, shadings, and textures change from arc to arc. Each arc feels like its own thing. You get a sense that you’ve been given a telescope into which to stare up at the stars, and each story has a different filter. Some stories are told in painting, others in watercolor, and yet others in the classic pencil sketch. I want to keep feeling like I’m jumping into something every time I begin a new arc. This is by no means new to the comic book world, but unlike the other two volumes of KOTOR, I really feel the differences here.
John Jackson Miller’s writing is at its height here. The man, like Kevin J. Anderson, is the ultimate Star Wars scribe. You could easily tap the guy to write script one of the next Star Wars movies. I would hope he’d be at the helm for future installments and/or spinoffs.
Does Zayne Carrick, the incredibly clumsy Force-yielding hero of the series, get a happy ending? The last we see of him is in the Mandalorian Wars, fighting off a rogue group of Jedi who have decided to join the enemy. At last, we get a sense of the state of Order, slowly becoming fractured, as opposing viewpoints begin to split the Jedi: those who want to fight the Mandalorians, those who to join the Mandalorians, and those who want to stay out of it altogether. But even Zayne, who belongs to the latter group, can’t avoid the imminent danger headed straight for the Republic. He fights for the Republic (and wins the girl in the end), but his fears do not lie with the Mandalorians or the Crucible. They lie with the Jedi. He knows they’re changing. And not for the better.
Writer: John Jackson MillerPenciller: Ron Chan, Brian Ching, Bong Dazo, Andrea Mutti, Dean ZacharyInker: Pierluigi BaldassiniColorist: Michael AtiyehCover Artist: Dan Scott
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