Knights of the Old Republic #44
The Reaping Part 2 (of 2)
Script: John Jackson Miller
Art: Bong Dazo
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Benjamin Carr?
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (02/11/2010)
Zayne and Jarael manage to bring a group of slaves aboard the Hot Prospect, but Admiral Dace Golliard of the Crucible warship Galdiator is not willing to let them go easily. Especially since he and Jarael have a past history. With help from Rohlan and with Slyssk flying the ship, Zayne manages to escape using everything inside the unarmed Hot Prospect that can cause some damage. Once they reach a safe place and disembark the rescued slaves, Zayne, Jarael and Rohlan outvote Gryph on going after the Crucible. At Crucible's base, Chantique is about to execute Golliard when Magister Protector Bar'injar decides to keep him alive for the information he has about Jarael and her Jedi ally. Meanwhile on Coruscant, a long sleeping enemy of the Republic named Demagol is awakening.
I really love how this saga is building up. There's a big build up for the Crucible making them seem like a formidable enemy, and we learn more and more about Jarael and her past with them. Golliard is one more link to that past, as we find out that he's the one who found Edessa/Jarael when she was very young (he calls her "snow-hair"). We see her being captured by Golliard in the opening flashback scene, after skreapers destroyed Master Wyrick's school looking for her specifically. More mystery. Then supposedly, she was brought to the Crucible. There might be more to this story than it seems to suggest. Plus we get to see a bit of the hierarchy of the Crucible, with the Zeltron lady Chantique (last seen in issue #41) being overruled by a new character, Magister Protector Bar'injar who seems to be in charge of security for the organization. He feels that Jarael's new Jedi companion is a threat to the Crucible, and intends to go after them. (This is good for Golliard since he has information that Bar'injar wants). Meanwhile, Chantique seems to be in charge of "press gangs" and "the placement of conscripts once they leave the proving ground," so mostly in charge of training slaves. Another question arises when Bar'injar mentions that Jarael "doesn't suspect the real nature of the Crucible."
The reason for Golliard's court-martial is because he was unsuccesful in re-capturing the slaves that were rescued from the Crucible's comet-mining client which Zayne and Jarael rescued. The was the escape is executed is nothing short of formidable. Once the spacesuited slaves are all cramped aboard the ship (an opration started last issue), Jarael has to be freed from one of the skyreaper drones that are dispatch to retake the escapees. Zayne manages to do that with help from Rohlan. Once everyone is aboard (to Gryph's dismay), they now have to escape the comet's gravity field and go into hyperspace while fighting off the heavily-armed Gladiator. First off, it is established that the Hot Prospect only has one fixed cannon. But it is a mining ship. So the crew use every feature and cargo from the ship that can cause damage. First, they send a drill to dig through the Gladiator's hull; then they throw some explosive charges; then they spray the skreapers with xenoboric acid with a hose; then they shatter the viewport with a big crane hook; then when the two ships are hooked, they use the big centrifuge (that Gryph was harvesting crystals with) to make the Hot Prospect spin while Jarael shoots the ship's cannon. Pretty daring escape.
Once the crew is safe, they transfer the slaves (much to Gryph's relief) to a bigger freighter that will take them to a safe place. They also have time to discuss what they learned about Jarael's connection to Golliard and the Crucible. Jarael reveals that the slave organization might still detain some of her former schoolmates and wants to do something about it. Rohlan is with her 100%, as is Zayne (as he revealed in an earlier issue). Gryph is not so keen on the idea but has to go along with the majority. This sets the stage for the big confrontation hopefully that's been long in coming. The issue ends on a surprising twist, with Demagol waking up from his coma back on Coruscant (where he was brought as a prisoner of war back in issue #10). Demagol was a Mandalorian doctor who was doing experiments (aka torture) on some prisoners of his own aboard a space station named Flashpoint. He was captured with Rohlan's help and was later reported to be in a coma. This is another mystery to be resolved, as Rohlan has been acting pretty protective of Jarael recently even to the point of threatening Zayne (as he does again in this issue). Could there be a link between Rohlan and Demagol dating back to their meeting on Flashpoint? Fan speculation has been going on for months about this.
As you can probably muster from my review/analysis, I am once again very impressed with JJM's storytelling and the way he builds up mystery and anticipation. I simply can't wait to read what happens when Jarael and Chantique meet again (the next issue's cover seems to hint heavily to that), or even see if the Demagol/Rohlan thing gets resolved. And what will Zayne's role be in all of this? This is a winner series so far, and the intrigue and action keep rolling.
Dazo's art is pretty basic and simple, but I'm so caught-up in the story it hardly seems to matter. The aliens seem not-quite-right (is that a Mon Calamari aboard the Gladiator? And I wouldn't know what species Bar'injar is if JJM didn't reveal he's a Sanyassan or "Marauder" in his production notes). Though I have to admire the whole starship battle. It is handled very well, not an easy feat for such an unconventional physical space battle. The cover is simply breathtaking. How can something so beautiful can be the work of only one man?
Now the Crucible is after Zayne and Jarael, and they are after the Crucible. Who will win?
Rating: 9 / 10 Highly Recommended