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Knights of the Old Republic #12 Reunion Part 2

Story: John Jackson Miller
Art: Harvey Tolibao
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Hoon
Released: 01/10/2007

Reviewed by: Paul Urquhart (02/09/2007)

SUMMARY:

For a misfit crew of unlikely heroes, life in the Old Republic is anything by idyllic. Scheming to scrounge up some scratch on the banking world of Telerath, they've run afoul of two bounty-hunting brothers as dangerous to the galaxy as they are to each other. It's going to take more than a lightsaber to get Zayne and his friends out of this one-such as deceits, disguises, and a bit of the good ol' fashioned Force!


REVIEW

Iíll be honest. I wasnít unhesitatingly impressed by Knights of the Old Republic when it first came out. It seemed to be a competent but pretty generic Star Wars adventure, with nothing beyond a few funny fashion-statements in the way the characters dressed to define the era in which it belonged.

Now, a year later, perhaps Iím still not quite experiencing the same synaesthesia of delight as I am with stablemate series Star Wars: Legacy (#7 of which I review here), but Iíve grown to love this series, too.

At the start of the Commencement story arc, I could see nothing to distinguish the characters as more than basic cut-outs from the stock of Star Wars storytelling; more seriously, I could see no obvious reason why this story should be taking place on Taris in the days of the ancient Republic, rather than Coruscant in the Prequel era, or Denon after the Yuuzhan Vong War.

Over time, though, the characterization and the backstory have both taken root. The integrity and ability which writer John Jackson Miller has brought to this series have turned it into something really rather special.

On one level, itís a compelling story where we care about the core characters, and their emotions come alive on the page Ė Jedi outlaw Zayne Carrick, alien con-man Gryph, and Arkanian fringers Jarael and Camper. On another level, though, Knights of the Old Republic has established itself emphatically as a story that defines the era in which itís set.

This comic has been billed as a prequel to the computer game series of the same name, and for sharp-eyed readers, thereís an increasing trail of little nudges and hints anticipating the events of the games, teasing us by making us wonder just how the storyline will evolve from here to there... whether that character is really him, or if that remark really means what we think it will.

Whether youíre an aficionado of the games, or like me, simply a Star Wars fan with a working knowledge of the Mandalorian Wars and their aftermath, itís hard not to be entertained by the subtle suggestions and Ė in all probability Ė massive red herrings. Even for readers who can only engage with the comic on its own terms, there are plenty of questions to catch and hold the attention, not least the hidden past and unknown future of characters like Camper and Jarael, or Zayneís antagonist, ruthless Jedi Master Lucien Draay.

But this approach isnít just an intellectual game for fans. It creates a sense of building excitement, rising tension, and burgeoning possibility, and it gives the storyline a symphonic sweep to the storyline, uniting the charactersí personal journeys with the wider events of the gathering storm that will become the Mandalorian Wars. The great strength of Knights is its ability to engage the reader, imbuing a sense that there are answers to be discovered and mysteries to be revealed as the adventure travels forward. The disparate events of the series are intertwining into a story of truly Galactic scope, seen through a truly human perspective. Brilliant!

The art is another bonus in Knights, too. Thereís a new team illustrating this issue, artist Harvey Tolibao and colourist Jay David Ramos, but their work, which is lovely in its own right, also captures the distinctive mood and aesthetic established in previous installments by the stylish pencils of regulars Brian Ching and Dustin Weaver, and the vibrant palate of Michael Atiyahís colours. Even with such a complex group of creators working on the visuals Ė or perhaps because of it Ė this series has acquired a consistent and impressive look which, while recognizably belonging in the Star Wars Galaxy, is coming to define this distinctive era every bit as much as the storyline.

Almost the only thing Iím not sure about here is whether readers whoíre not already caught up in this comic will get into this issue in quite the same way as the initiated do. Itís half way through a two-part story that represents a deliberate change of pace between major story-arcs for the regular characters and the readers following their adventures. Itís flawlessly done, but taken on its own terms, there doesnít seem to be much thatís very significant in the tale of a young hero and his con-man sidekick rescuing a kidnap victim from a couple of gangsters whose only danger lies in their incompetence. The strength of this issue lies in the details and the continuity, the subtle development of established elements in the storyline, and the anticipation of future events.

For long-term readers, though, even those who werenít wild about Knights at the start of the series, this is just great stuff. People looking to jump in mid-stream should probably do so in a monthís time, when a new story-arc kicks into gear.

And is that HK-47 on the cover of the next issue...?

Rating: 8.5 / 10

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