Knights of the Old Republic #8
Flashpoint Part 2
Story: John Jackson Miller
Art: Dustin Weaver
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Brian Ching, Michael Atiyeh
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (07/08/2007)
Jarael, mistaken for a Jedi and captured by Mandalorians on Vanquo, is brought to the Flashpoint stellar research station to be studied by the biologist Demagol. Meanwhile, the crew of the Last Resort take back control of their ship from Mandalorian commander Rohlan Dyre. Rohlan reveals that he has been trying to escape his people and now has the opportunity, but unfortunately for him Camper is heading for Mandalorian space to resuce Jarael. During this time, the leaders of the Mandalorians and the Republic have goals for the planet Taris.
A lot is going on in this issue, if mostly told in an expositionary way. To start off, in a reversal of roles the crew of the Last Resort manage to climb back on board, thank to Elbee (who had to sacrifice a hand to get in). As soon as they are inside, Camper heads for the cockpit to take back his ship from the Mandalorian who stole it. Either he is taken completely by surprise, or Camper is a better fighter than he lets on, but using Jarael's shockstaff he manages to stun the seasoned warrior. Camper brings him to the cargo hold where Zayne and Elbee overtake him and put him inside a "Camper special", a 2-meter square box used for smuggling people. Later when Rohlan overhears Zayne and Gryph talk about going to into Mandalorian space to rescue Jarael, he convinces them that they need his help. They release him, and then we get a lot of information inside a few short pages.
First off, we find out why Rohlan stole the ship in the first place, why his own men were shooting at him and why Mandalore mentioned that they better find him dead than alive (in the very cool opening sequence). He is considered a hut'uun, a coward or deserter who refused the call of battle. Ever since then, the Mandalorians have been placing him in the most dangerous places on the frontlines as a sort of sentence where he could die for the glory of Mandalore. But he managed to survive six times, only to be recaptured and placed back in a battle. Every time he'd tried to escape, and this time it looks like he managed it and hopes that the Last Resort crew will help him (and during this whole conversation he removes his helmet to prove his sincerity). He also reveals that even the Mandalorians forgot the reason they started fighting the Republic. Back in my review of issue #1, I questioned why the Mandalorian Wars were already started when they are officially chronicled at one year later. We find out through Rohlan's explanations that up to now there has only been border skirmishes and police auctions [sic] and not really a declared war. But recently because of some events on Taris involving a Jedi student who killed his graduating class, the Jedi were recalled to Coruscant and civil order has collapsed, Taris has become open for assault. Mandalore is planning to take control of it because Taris is the key to the entire sector. Who knew that poor ole Zayne would be responsible for the start of the Mandalorian Wars? He certainly wasn't aware himself, nor does he reveal who he is to Rohlan.
Rohlan also tries to convince them not to go to Flashpoint because it is an impregnable prison on a planet which is too close to its sun, creating a deadly environment of heat and radiation. The Flashpoint stellar research station was first mentioned in the "Taris Holofeed" in issue #0 as having been taken over by Mandalorian four months prior. It is especially dangerous for Jedi like Zayne the station is the home of Demagol, the top Mandalorian biologist who takes a particular interest in finding out what makes Jedi tick. Rohlan of course doesn't want to go because he doesn't want to be re-captured again. But it seems that he is outvoted on that, because Zayne comes up with a plan which won't be revealed until next issue.
Thoughout the story, we see Jarael in the prison hold of the Mandalorian ship leaving Vanquo, then later as an environment suit is forced on her and she is pushed onto the surface of the Flashpoint planet, and finally inside the station with other Jedi prisoners who are in bad shape. Apparenlty they have not been treated very good, and when a freshly-tortured Jedi named Squint is brought in (rememeber Squint from issue #0?) he immediately senses that Jarael is not a Jedi. He manages to delay her fate by convincing Demagol to take him again for "study" as he knows that a non-Jedi would not survive the trials. But before that, as the Mandalorian is leaving the battle over Vanquo, it is detected by the Republic vessel Courageous who is commanded by Captain Saul Karath. Now this is the first actual appearance by a character from the video games, and I hope it wont be the last one. An officer named Morvis also mentions that Admirals Veltraa and Sommos are commanding a last stand to defend Taris against the Mandalorians, and he seems to think that an admiral position will soon be open. But Karath puts him in his place saying that the Republic will be victorious. Soon after, they detect a smuggler ship which turns out to be the Last Stand (in pursuit of the previous Mandalorian ship), the last known ship aboard which the Jedi traitor Zayne Carrick was aboard. The captain has a very personal interest in the capture of Zayne for reasons as yet unknown, and he's even willing to put his ship in the enemy's line of fire but at this point the Last Resort jumps to hyperspace.
Writer Jackson Miller proves that he's an able storyteller. He created very interesting characters with distinct personality which show through the rich dialogue. Every little detail is well thought-out and researched, and with each issue more and more references are made of previous events which makes it all fell part of a bigger whole. I mean, he managed to make me feel sorry for Elbee when he lost his hand while hanging on to the ship...
There are several artistic highlights in this issue. First, we see the current Mandalore's armor, and it looks very similar to his Mandalore predecessor's armor from the Tales of the Jedi: The Sith War series although with different colors. His aide, wearing a yellow neo-crusader armor, as well as several others with blue armor on pages 13, 16 and 20-21, look exactly like several of the Mandalorians encountered in the Knights of the Old Republic games (such as the memorable Bendak Starkiller). The rest of the Mandalorians all wear different new armors, probably representing different functions, and they all look cool. That includes the commander from last issue Rohlan (who takes off his helmet in this one) as well as the weird Doctor Demagol appearing on the last page. One Mandalorian on page 3 is shooting at the Last Resort with two pistols, reminiscent of Jango Fett.
The same can be said about the Republic fleet and officers. there is some new and some old. Saul Karath looks almost exactly like he did in the first video game. On pages 8-9 there are several ships that are the same class as the Endar Spire, also from the first game. The writer John Jackson Miller even makes a cameo appearance at the bottom of page 10 as a crew member of the Courageous. The other starships seen in the space battle are pretty impressive. Overall I really love Weaver's art, more than Brian Ching's (who is drawing the covers for this sotry arc). Be sure to check out his portfolio. He's equally good with characters, costumes, starships and backdrops. The coloring is very impressive, and has to be seen to be believed. This will make one good-looking trade paperback.
This is the middle part of a three part story arc? How do they manage to cram so much in?
Rating: 8.5 / 10 Highly Recommended