Knights of the Old Republic #32
Vindication Part 1
Story: John Jackson Miller
Art: Brian Ching
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Brian Ching, Michael Atiyeh
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (10/25/2008)
Zayne Carrick, along with Gryph, is finally captured and brought before the Jedi Covenant by Xamar. But what Lucien Draay doesn't know is that his former ally Xamar has confessed everything to the Jedi High Council and Zayne's capture is part of their plan to infiltrate the Covenan't compound. Part of the plan is also to draw out Lady Krynda and open the gates to let an army of Jedi investigate the area. But the treachery is discovered by Krynda's aide, Haazen, who puts a treacherous plan of his own in motion.
This story really surprised me. After Masters Vrook and Vandar found Zayne in the grip of Xamar last issue, apparently events took an unexpected turn after that. We now find out that Xamar and Zayne have forged an uneasy alliance, after Xamar confessed of his innocence to the High Council and thus incriminating the Jedi Covenant. This information warrants a massive investigation by the Jedi, but first as part of the deal Xamar has to infiltrate the Draay Estate where the Covenant resides and escort Lady Krynda out before the attack starts. To help him accomplish this, Xamar arrives with a shackled Zayne in tow, disguised as a Sith and carrying a fake Muur Talisman. Gryph also tags along to perform his part of the plan. This scene is reminiscent of the time when Luke and Han, disguised as stormtroopers, were dragging Chewbacca around the Death Star as their prisoner.
Thus prepared, entering the compound is easy. Plus the Covenant have no reason to suspect Xamar of anything at this point. Once they are brought before Lucien Draay himself, they are unable to convince him to meet with his mother Krynda. Instead, Lucien unexpectedly threatens to end Zayne's life right there. The one thing that save him is the arrival of Haazen, Krynda's long-time aid and Lucien's old teacher. Up to now, Zayne has kept up his Sith act, but Haazen sees through the disguise not sensing any evil emanating from the fake talisman. Fearing this reversal of fortune, Zayne whispers to Xamar to proceed with his plan to open the gates and that he will ensure Lady Krynda's protection. So Xamar sneaks away on the pretense of retrieving some Sith artifacts he saw aboard Zayne's starship. Xamar opens the gates and dozens of Jedi operatives invade the estate. Inside, Haazen and Lucien are warned of the turn of events when the security system sends off an alarm.
This is where events become even more interesting. At this point, Haazen immediately puts his plan in motion and reveals his true self. He starts by calling all the Jedi loyal to the Covenant who live outside the estate. Some are in the Jedi Temple, and follow their orders to cut off communications and secure all artifacts inside. Lucien was accomplice to this contingeancy, which was unknown to the other Jedi, but it was only in the event that the Sith would threaten Coruscant. He never expected betrayal from his former Master, nor that Haazen would order Admiral Karath's fleet to fire on the Draay Estate. Xamar and several other Jedi, Covenant or otherwise, are killed in the bombardement that destroys the skybridge and courtyard and thus the prophecy becomes true: Xamar is killed by friendly fire. Even worse, Haazen reveals his real agenda, and that he has been controlling events from the very beginning in which Lucien was but a pawn. The half-cyborg veteran of the Sith War appears to be some sort of mastermind, much like the Sith Master who will emerge millenia later as Darth Sidious.
After Zayne's string of bad luck, Xamar's epiphany is most welcome. Even though he still believes that what Lady Krynda did to the Jedi Order was most important, Xamar does not approve of the actions of her son starting even with the murder of the Padawans way back in the first issue. And from the first time I saw Haazen (back in issue #9) I knew there was something up with him, but I still love the way how his involvement is revealed. I also love the way the issue opens and how everything is revealed in increments, leaving the reader puzzled and surprised at every turn of events. This is one of the best issues of the series so far, and in a series of consistently good stories this is telling. And with the next issue promising to reveal "Untold Tales of the Jedi" and possibly the origin of Haazen, there is even more goodness to come.
This is only my opinion, but Ching seems to have improved a bit with this issue. Characters are more defined, and some shading is added in appropriate places. While he's still not my favorite artist, there is some improvement here. I associate Ching with this series as he has been the main artist throughout the series, and being the artist of fantastic stories as those of Miller definitely is an advantage.
This seems to be the resoluction to all of Zayne's problems so far, and also the beginning of new ones?
Rating: 9 / 10 Highly Recommended