Knights of the Old Republic #7
Flashpoint Part 1
Story: John Jackson Miller
Art: Dustin Weaver
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Brian Ching, Michael Atiyeh
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (07/02/2007)
Zayne Carrick and his friends fool an entire mining colony on Vanquo to evacuate the planet due to an attack by Mandalorians. Soon after they gather some food and supplies, Mandalorians really do attack. The Jedi and his friends have to fight off the attackers while trying to reach their ship, the Last Resort. But one of the Mandalorians reach the ship first and takes off.
At the beginning of the series, I wasn't impressed. But Jackson Miller quickly won me over the course of 6 issues, and now a new story arc begins. We take a break from Jedi intrigue to go full into the frontlines of the Mandalorian War, which up to now has been a back story from the Knights of the Old Republic video game. Again it starts slow, but the action starts half-way through and does not stop. The planet Vanquo was first mentioned in a news story from the "Taris Holofeed: Prime Edition" back in issue #0 as part of the dividing line between Republic and Mandalorian forces (the Jebble-Vanquo-Tarnith line). That same story mentions that Suurja was the latest battlezone, one where neither side got the advantage. Apparently, Suurja and Jebble are already invaded at the time of this story, as both are referred to as possible places refugees come to Vanquo from. Zayne dresses up as such a refugee and starts up the elaborate con. Then Camper broadcasts an emergency message to the mining camp with Jarael dressed up as Jedi Master Q'anilia warning the colonists to evacuate at once. Before the colonists start to ask quesitons, Zayne uses the Force to make the emergency a bit more convincing, helped by Elbee rocking the main outpost for effect.
Once all the colonists have left, it's pillaging time. Apparently, the crew of the Last Resort have been hanging around for a while, because now they are short on food and energy sources. They have time to load up to pallets worth of equipment before the Mandalorians launch their surprise attack, led by Commander Rohlan. So inadvertently, they actually saved the mining colony by having them evacuate before the attack! At first, the warriors only see Jarael who stayed behind to play around with Zayne's lightsaber and admire the trees and mountains. They obviously mistake her for a Jedi but quickly overtake her. Despite Camper's desperate pleas to go rescue Jarael, Zayne and Gryph insist that the only chance they have is to reach their ship and get some weapons. Then the can plan a rescue. But reaching the ship is not that easy; the Mandalorians soon start pursuit, sending a constant barrage of laser bolts at the fugitives. Using jetpacks, two of the warriors get ahead of the Last Resort crew. They are dispatched by Elbee, but a third one which turns out to be the leader Rohlan attacks Zayne only to leave him when he sees a chance to take their ship before the crew reaches it.
Jackson Miller writes very intelligent dialogue, and I also enjoy the characters' personalities that he created. We find out more about Elbee the loading droid. He seems to be sentimental and take orders only if it has to do with Master Lucien. For some reason he doesn't like Lucien, and Zayne uses that to control the droid's actions. It's funny that a cargo droid would not do its primary function on command, a fact that is referred to by Gryph ("See if the Force can make a loader-droid actually load something..."). Even though it still has our friends again on the run from something, the story promises that Zayne and his friends will find a way to rescue Jarael and escape from the Mandalorians.
While I was slowly getting used to Brian Ching's art, I must admit that it's refreshing to have a new artist on this arc. Weaver is familiar with this period in Star Wars history, having drawn the "Shadows and Light" story in Star Wars Tales #23 (which is a prequel to both the game and this series) which was also colored by Michael Atiyeh. He knows how to show a lot of emotion in characters' expressions, and also through their postures. The big art highlight of this issue is the two-page spread on pages 10-11 showing an army of Mandalorians landing on Vanquo, with Zayne, Gryph and Camper in the foreground hiding behind rocks. Even though the perspective is a little skewed (there's a Mandalorian who looks like he's 2 feet away from them), all the technology in the ships, vehicles, weapons and armor is so impressive it had me study every little detail with awe. Right after that when Jarael is lost amidst a literal sea of Mandalorian warriors, it's impressive to see all the cool armor designs. I also like Weaver's depiction of the main characters, including Elbee and Gryph, although the latter is based more on Ching's design than on a real Snivvian. The art also lends intself well to the coloring, and the coloring work is more noticeable than usual. Atiyeh's talent must not be overlooked as it is as impressive as the line art itself, being an integral part of the overall artwork.
A lot of intrigue is set-up in this issue, I am looking forward to the next one!
Rating: 7.5 / 10 Recommended