Knights of the Old Republic #31
Story: John Jackson Miller
Art: Alan Robinson
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Brian Ching, Michael Atiyeh
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (09/21/2008)
Zayne Carrick has obtained evidence against the Jedi Covenant's secret activities and is trying to get it to the Jedi High Council on Coruscant. Unfortunately, Lucien Draay is a member of both and has ordered Admiral Karath to put his fleet on the lookout for Zayne's ship, the Moomo Williwaw. When Zayne arrives, he is unable to get past their defenses, but Jarael creates a diversion allowing Zayne to pass the blockade undetected. But Zayne is followed by Master Xamar, another member of the Covenant, and his meeting with Masters Vandar and Vrook may be compromised.
This issue advances the main plot that guides the series, while referring to a lot of previous events. It starts out with Lucien Draay settling in his new office at the Jedi Temple, which comes with his new appointment to the Jedi High COuncil awarded in issue #28, and thinking that his father would be more deserving of this post. Then it cuts to a secret meeting between two other members of the Council and two of Zayne's allies in a seedy Coruscant underworld cantina. As mentioned in issue #29, Jedi crusader Alek was sent ahead, along with Zayne's former flame Shel Jelavan, to warn the Council about the Covenant's plot. Under the alias "Captain Malak" (more on tha later), he and Shel meet with Masters Vandar Tokare and Vrook and plead Zayne's innocence, informing the Jedi that he is planning to come in person to bring some evidence against the Covenant. Vrook is not too convinced that Zayne's case can be won: accusations against Lady Krynda will be stacked against her status as a Jedi war hero, and because of Admiral Karath branding him a Mandalorian spy, the evidence Zayne brings might not give him any credibility.
Speaking of Karath, we find him on the bridge of the Swiftsure commanding a whole fleet of Hammerhead-class cruisers and other types forming a cordon around Coruscant. He is not thrilled with the job, but he takes his orders very seriously. Plus, he has a personal grudge against Zayne Carrick ever since their meeting in "Days of Fear, Nights of Anger" (issues #13-18). He is showing off the latest upgrades to his ship to his guest, Master Xamar (who was given the assignment by Lucien last issue) who is also a starship pilot and war veteran. When the Moomo Williwaw arrives in the system, Xamar recognizes it right away, and Karath offers the Jedi Master a starfighter to join the attack.
Meanwhile, with the whole crew aboard: Zayne, Gryph, Jaral, Rohlan, Dob and Del Moomo, and Slyssk. They are immediately met by Lance Squadron stsrfighters, led by Lt. Carth Onasi (who lost his bridge position aboard the Courageous after Zayne's escape in issue #21). Onasi always had a soft spot for Zayne, whom he recognizes as soon as Zayne identifies himself as "Shad Camper" from when they first met in issue #14. Unfortunately as much as Onasi would like to help the Jedi fugitive, his ship has been identified by the fleet and he can only warn them to leave. Despite Zayne's determination, the Williwaw suffers heavy damage and he decides to abandon his mission and save his crewmates instead. Just then, he comes up with a plan and Jarael volunteers to help: she flies the damaged ship into the Swiftsure's docking bay, blocking the main entrance, while Zayne, Gryph and Slyssk steal a smaller ship which happens to be Onasi's old hauler the Deadweight. When the Admiral finally cuts through the debris and enters the docking bay, he is met by Jarael whom he recognizes from their meeting aboard the Arkanian Legacy in "Daze of Hate" (issues #19-21) and Zayne is long gone.
Carth Onasi sees his chance to help when he realizes that Zayne stole his old ship but calls off his squadron. Zayne and Gryph (after paying Slyssk to go to a hotel) then go to deliver the evidence to a meeting place, but as soon as they get off the ship, they are met with Master Xamar. By the time Vrook and Vandar arrive with Alek/Malak and Shel, the Khil Jedi is threatening both fugitives with his lightsaber, prepared to deliver justice one way or another. Another cliffhanger!
As usual, this issue is full of fun little tidbits as well, such as Morvis now being Captain of a cruiser named the Veltraa; the Moomo brothers naming their gun turrets; Xamar reluctantly following his destiny but always reminded of the prophecy that he would be "felled by enemy fire", and a funny joke about "hammerheads". But most intriguing is the fact that Alek now adopts the name "Malak" because of an arrest warrant for all Jedi who join the Revanchist to fight the Mandalorians against the Jedi Council's orders. As we all know, this is the name he will keep when he becomes the Sith Lord Darth Malak. He also explains that his last name Squinquargesimus (first revealed in the KotOR Handbook) was really the name of his village that wound up on his Republic immigration records, since on his homeworld of Quelii no one adopts surnames. I just love Miller's writing, as he keeps me interested one issue after another. But after the galactic events of the previous issues, this story has a more intimate tone, centering only of a few key characters.
Robinson's art is a little rough, but it's smoothed out by Atiyeh's coloring ability. The artist puts a lot of exagerated expressions on the characters faces, which adds a bit of cartoon-style to the realism of some scenes. It's a nice mix of styles. The starships and backdrops are also depicted very well. The one problem I see is that he tends to put lines on a lot of characters foreheads, which makes Zayne look a bit older than he should.
As a side note: this month sees the return of the annoying cardboard inserts for the Science Fiction Book Club. I feel a compulsion to remove them from the comics as the insert's smaller size creates some creases in the pages surrounding it. And sometimes to remove them, the staples have to be opened and put back.. it's quite an ordeal. Also this month introduces a new old-school ad for Wizards of the Coast illustrated by Jan Duursema. This time it's for their latest product the (appropriately enough for this issue) Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide and Miniatures. This fun strip features a rolepayer named Todd who is actually witnessing several fights among different Star Wars characters from different eras.
This issue has a lot of intrigue, as Zayne returns to Coruscant where he is accused of a crime he didn't commit.
Rating: 8 / 10 Highly Recommended