Friday, April 13, 2012

Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic: War issue #2

    Just a quick one today. I finshed this review shortly after the issue came out but it's been tucked away on my laptop for almost a month now. I bought and read the second issue of Dark Horses' Star Wars series Knights of the Old Republic: War written by John Jackson Miller. I didn't pick up the first issue or any issues of the previous series. However that wasn't much of a problem because this issue does a good job of laying out the situation,who the characters are and what their motivations might be. This a major plus for the series because I've read countless first issues where I still had no idea what the hell was going on by the time I reached the back cover.
    The very first page opens up with a shot of Mandalorians wielding lightsabers... a sight that instantly turned me off to the comic. I know the urge to create Mandalorian Jedi lurks deep in the heart of every fan boy. Trust me, I get it. It's a combination of the two coolest things in the Star Wars universe...lightsabers and Mandalorian armor. But I'm a solid believer in the idea that what really, really makes the Mandalorians so cool is the fact that they're not Jedi. They have no Force powers, no lightsabers. They're just normal men and women armed with some cool armor, a warriors code,  and an iron will...and that's enough to make them a match for any Jedi. So when I saw the "Mandalorian Knights" jetpacking onto a battlefield swinging their lightsabers around I groaned.
    But, you know what? By the end of the issue Miller had sold me on the Mandalorian Knights. First off, they aren't really Mandalorians at all. Instead they are a small cadre of rogue Jedi who joined the War on the Mandalorians side. They adopted the code and armor of the Mandalorians, fighting beside them against the Republic...but they're not trusted or accepted within the army. They're tolarated by the common soldiers because the higher ups order them too and because they can see the tactical advantage of having their own Jedi but that's about as far as it goes.
    This makes sense to me and eases my fears that Miller is just some fanboy running wild...but the thing that really seals the deal is the leader of the Mandalorian Knights, a former Master named Dorjander Kace.
    What makes me love this guy is not as much his dialogue as it is the way he's drawn. He's got this look and presence to him that just perfectly encapsulates the Mandalorian Knights and their philosophy. He wears Neo Crusader armor, but his long blonde hippie hair hint at his past as a Jedi. He gives off this impression of charisma and menace, like you'd find in a cult leader or a radical political idealist.
     This series looks like it has the making of a really good villian in Kace, someone to serve as a foil for the  hero Zayne Carrick, an idealistic Jedi padawan who takes his vow of pacifism more seriously than most Jedi Master's do. Not every villain can be a Darth Vader ripoff and there's nothing that says you have to "Fall to the Dark Side" to become a bad guy in Star Wars. An intriguing villain challenges the hero, both physically and ethically. He offers a contrast to the heroes personality and ideals.
    The issue also features a gorgeous cover by Benjamin Carre'. As with all modern comics, though the better the cover art the worse the interior art. I actually like parts of Andrea Muti's pencils. He gives the armor, weapons, and background an interesting style. Bodies are a little awkward and action hard to follow in some places but overall it is clear and effective. Faces, however, are the artists biggest weakness.
    It says a lot when an issue would be vastly improved if every character was drawn wearing a helmet.
    Overall, a decent, interesting book. I don't have the funds to read ANY series regularly at the moment and even if I did I'm not sure I would pick this one up when so many supposedly great series are floating around out there...but if this review interested you go pick up the latest issue. #3 is probably out by now.

So what did you guys think? Anybody else read this issue and want to share their opinions?

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