If you came looking for angst and drama, this is not the Star Wars comic series you are looking for. Sure, there’s some here and there, but ultimately, Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) is a tongue-in-cheek epic that has more in common with a show like Leverage than it does the original trilogy. Set several thousand years before to the backdrop of the Mandalorian Wars and before the events of the Knights of the Old Republic video games, we’re introduced to Zayne Carrick, a former Jedi padawan on the run after several masters killed their students and pinned it on him. Oh, and Zayne is the biggest screw-up this side of Endor, who would have flunked the Knight trials had he been allowed to take them.
KOTOR features a wide cast of characters, which is the title’s greatest strength and weakness. The core group consisting of Zayne, the Snivvian con artist Marn “Gryph” Hierogryph, and the Arkanian warrior Jarael, but they team up with everyone from a group of idiotic Ithorian bounty hunters, a Mandalorian gone rogue, and a Jedi on his path to becoming a Sith lord. Every character is a complex individual with different motivations and goals, which when piled on can make it difficult to keep track of who is who, what they’re up to, or even if they’re really on Zayne’s side. KOTOR has a less black-and-white view of the Star Wars galaxy, especially with regards to Force users. During this era it’s not uncommon to see Force Sensitives outside of the Jedi order or splinters of Jedi that think of the Force and morality in different ways. Oh, and that’s not accounting for the criminals and professional killers who are ready to slit Zayne’s throat one moment and the next saving civilians in the middle of a war zone.
When the character numbers are more manageable, KOTOR runs a great heist plot with Zayne and Gryph more often favoring deception and plans to brute strength. It’s a refreshing change of pace from many other Star Wars titles. When Zayne and company are in a situation that Obi-Wan or Luke would solve with a lightsaber, I wait with anticipation knowing that Zayne will scheme, and plot, and do anything but the obvious, most likely involving a clumsy getaway. This different way of thinking is made more apparent when Zayne or Gryph is paired with a proper Jedi Knight or a trigger-happy bounty hunter.
One thing I was disappointed with is this volume’s choice of starting story arc “Daze of Hate” and final story arc “Prophet Motive,” because, in both cases, it starts and stops in the middle of an arc instead of wrapping it up. Although I’ve read the issues before, it was difficult to jump into the middle of “Daze of Hate” and catch up on what was going on, made even more difficult by the fact that “Daze of Hate” is one of the more character-intensive stories. Meanwhile, “Prophet Motive” was right at the start of a new chapter while the previous issue had a perfect ending point. Although Dark Horse may not have been able to line up the arcs any better, I still had a difficult time getting going and stopping because of that, so if you are going to give KOTOR a try, I highly recommend picking up the first omnibus and then hopping over to this one once you’re all caught up.
Four and a Half Remote-Controlled, Giant Space Slugs out of Five