Knights of the Old Republic #42
Script: John Jackson Miller
Art: Ron Chan
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Benjamin Carr?
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (12/02/2009)
Zayne and his friends from the Hot Prospect are taking a break from adentures on the peaceful planet Wor Tandell. Zayne confronts Jarael about not revealing her dark past, and they receive a visit from Malak who is looking to recruit Jarael into the Revanchist's ranks in his crusade against the Mandalorians. Zayne misdirects the Jedi into leaving them alone and give her time to make a decision, which she and Rohlan appreciate.
Nothing much physically happens in this one-parter between story arcs, aside from a couple of confrontations, but true to Miller's style there is still plenty of story and wonderful characters and dialogue. First, to create a little action Jarael falls off a tandreed that she's been riding in the woods of Wor Tandell and this sets up an encounter with Zayne. To follow up on the last storyline "Dueling Ambitions" (#39-41), Zayne confronts her about not revealing her past as a member of a slaver gang named the Crucible. Here she unveils a few more details, that much like Jedi she was kidnapped as a young child and raised as a slave fighting other slaves in the pens until she beat their master. After she couldn't take much more of being unable to help other slaves, she escaped with the help of Camper and has been on the run ever since hoping the Crucible would forget her.
Then Jarael returns alone to the plantation house where they are temporarily staying and she is surprised to meet someone who is waiting for her. It's her old friend Alek, AKA "Squint", now known as Malak (as revealed in issue #31) who is out recruiting Jedi to participate in the Mandalorian Wars (which corresponds with his backstory from the KotOR video game). He wants to recruit her for personal reasons even before he hears Gryph mention that she has Force talents, which surprises him (especially after he didn't detect any Force talent in her in their little adventure on Flashpoint back in issue #8).
Meanwhile, Zayne rides into the town of Gantra Lea where he sees the locals are curious about a Republic ship that recently landed. He meets one of the passengers, a Cathar Jedi named Ferroh (another prisoner that was rescued in the "Flashpoint" storyline) and the liaison for the Jedi force and captain of the Testament, Telettoh. Ferroh proceeds to explain to Zayne why he decided to fight the Mandalorians, while Malak back at the plantation is relating the same tale to Jarael and Gryph. Basically, Ferroh went back to his homeplanet about 12 years before to find it abandoned. A group of Jedi came to investigate more recently to find out clues about Mandalorian atrocities, with Malak and his master Revan among them. Revan finds a Mandalorian mask, and when he touches it it triggers a vision of events that replay in front of all the Jedi present. A group of Mandalorians led by Cassus Fett are pursuing severl Cathar people and pushing them back towards the sea. The Mandos then boil the helpless civilians with their ships' reactors, including a lone Mandalorian who rebelled against the slaughter and to whom the helmet Revan found belonged. On that day, Revan put on the mask and swore to defeat the Mandalorians and stop their atrocities. Malak then goes on to reveal that the Jedi Council now sanctions the crusade and lent Revan's Jedi an army and a fleet of ships.
At this point, Rohlan comes back to the camp in time to see that Malak is trying to take Jarael away. As he swore to protect her, he starts dueling with the Jedi (another brief but effective action scene). Zayne, Ferroh and Telettoh arrive in time to stop Malak while he is dipping Rohlan's head into the campfire. Zayne then kisses Jarael in front of everyone and reveals that they have a relationship. Everyone is surprised, especially Malak who then leaves the planet knowing he cannot recruit Jarael. Zayne then reveals that this was all a ploy to allow Jarael to take time to make her decision, if she would go with Malak or help Zayne fight the Crucible. She finally agrees to the latter, and the stage is set for a major confrontation with the organization that's been feeding slave fighters to arenas (such as Jervo's World) across the galaxy.
As noted before, this issue has lots of references to the "Flashpoint" and "Dueling Ambitions" storylines. In addition, Rohlan is referred to as a "sports hero" due to his win of the Tandem race last issue. It's great to see how the writer is interweaving all his stories together, and a lot of pieces are starting to come together. We are learning more and more about Jarael, Malak and Revan and that's the way I like it. It's very cool also to see where Revan got his famous mask and what it signifies to him. The one thing that gave me pause in this issue is the actual flashback/backstory part; it starts being related by Ferroh to Zayne during the day, then at the end we realize it's being told by Malak to Jarael at night, with no apparent switch in the narration. Also, when Ferroh says he visited his homeworld of Cathar 12 years ago, there is no other time reference of when Revan and the other Jedi came back with him so it's also confusing to see when this event happened. But the story overall still makes sense and is highly enjoyable.
At fist I was sure this issue was drawn by Dustin Weaver, since Chan's style is very similar. But the facial expressions are not the same and the backdrops not as detailed. Which is not to say it's bad, on the contrary I really loved the artwork. It's very realistic and expressive, the way I like it. A couple of things I'd like to point out: the plantation house looks a bit too much like Earth architecture for my taste; and among the Jedi who visited Cathar with Revan, Malak and Ferroh we see characters who look a lot like Masters Zhar and Vrook, members of the Jedi Council on Dantooine in the KotOR video game which they can possibly be but it is not confirmed in the narration; and the fight between Malak and Rohlan is pretty exciting, and very reminiscent of the Obi-Wan/Jango duel in Attack of the Clones.
More backstory about Malak and Revan, which is always interesting.
Rating: 8 / 10 Highly Recommended