Thursday, October 15, 2009

3964 BBY: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 1: Commencement

The Knights of the Old Republic comic book series is a series I’ve been looking forward to reading for quite some time. I remember coming across this title a few years ago during one of my random stops at a comic book shop.

I used to collect comics when I was a kid and into my early teens, but I stopped collecting because it became too expensive, and I felt like no matter how much money I spent I couldn’t keep up with what was going on in the comic universe. When I saw the KOTOR title for the first time, I wanted to buy it, but I had that little voice in the back of my head telling me I’d be throwing my money away. I didn’t see the sense in collecting comics anymore. Still, every time I eyed this comic, I wanted to buy it. I guess one of the motivations I had for this project was that I could justify to myself the purchase of the KOTOR series, because I’d be doing more than just reading them.

I was impressed with this story, and I was impressed with Jackson-Miller, the writer of Commencement. My first encounter with this author occurred during the Lost Tribe of the Sith series, and in that series I wasn’t awed with Jackson-Miller’s writing prowess. KOTOR, however, left me with a great impression of what Jackson-Miller could do.

The story takes place in 3964 BBY, 22 years after the tale Shadows and Light, and a full 32 years after the events of the Sith War. At this time in Star Wars chronology, the Mandalorians are pressing into Republic space again, and once more are threatening the stability and peace of the galaxy. There are two camps in the Jedi order as to how the Jedi should respond to this. One camp is of the opinion ‘this is a matter for the Republic to deal with’. The other camp believes ‘the Jedi must necessarily be involved’.

The story centers upon a young Jedi padawan named Zayne Carrick. He’s a bit of a bumbling padawan learner, as he considers himself very unlucky. What he considers ‘bad luck’ though, almost always ends up being ‘good luck’.

Zayne, along with three other padawan learners, are each apprenticed to a Jedi Master on the planet Taris. Zayne’s Master is Lucien Draay, a well respected Jedi Master, and a pillar of the galactic community.

On the eve of Zayne’s coronation from padawn learner into knighthood, he arrived late at the knighting ceremony, only to find his three padawan companions killed at the hands of their own Masters. Zayne quickly fled the scene, himself barley escaping execution at the hands of Lucien Draay.

For much of the story, Zayne, with the help of his Snivvian sidekick Marn Hierogryph, manage to barley stay one step ahead of the Jedi Masters in their pursuit of Zayne’s capture. Zayne and his sidekick are then blamed for the murder of the padawan learners, as people begin to riot in the streets no longer trusting the authority of the Jedi order, and asking how could a padawan escape the grasp of five Jedi Masters. For much of the story Zayne is 'on the lamb' running not only from the Jedi Masters, but also all of Taris.

After much ‘almost’ catching and ‘barely’ escaping, Zayne decides to turn himself in to his Masters, but not before he discovered the motive for their actions. It seems that three of the four Jedi Masters involved in the executions of their apprentices were Jedi consulars: Jedi who are specially trained in the ability to see into the future. What these Master’s foresaw was the return of the Sith in the form of one of their apprentices. They then took it upon themselves to kill their padawans, acting in a way they believed Master Vodo-Siosk Bas should have behaved when he sensed that his own apprentice, Exar Kun, was falling to the darkside. If Master Bas had just killed Exar Kun, the events of the Sith war could have been avoided.

As Lucien Draay encroaches upon Zayne for what we think is the final death blow of the padawan, Zayne’s friends show up to rescue the embattled Jedi learner once more. Again, Zayne and his companions make an impossible escape from five Jedi Masters.

The story ends brilliantly. Weeks after Zayne escaped the clutches of his former Master, Lucien and the other Jedi Masters receive a holograph from the Padawan. He says to them:

“One day one of you is going to confess and clear my name. And to make sure I’m going to hunt down each and every one of you. The one that confesses lives. I don’t care which one of you does it. It doesn’t matter where they send you. You have a death mark, the same as me. Don’t look for me Lucien, because I’ll find you. And if I do end up collapsing the Jedi Order, just remember one thing. You started it.”

I loved this ending. I can’t wait to get to volume 2.

Plot summary aside, I want to make a note about a few things that stood out at me in this story.
It’s the first time in Star Wars chronology that the term ‘padawan’ actually comes into common parlance. I understand that the term was coined in the film The Phantom Menace, but it finally worked its way into Star Wars, in chronological order, now.

I loved the clothing in this piece. Especially the way the Jedi Masters are clothed. Lucien Draay was the most well dressed of all the Masters, but I liked how each Master looked unique. Brian Ching did an awesome job with the art in this piece; I really enjoy his work.

With regards to the Mandalorians, my favorite aspect of Star Wars; it seems that they are still pressing the action, even after the defeat of Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma. I look forward to having this particular story line flushed out in more detail in the upcoming issues. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; the Mandalorians are my favorite aspect of the Star Wars universe.

My final point deals with a flashback in the story. After Zayne saw the bodies of his fallen comrades, he flashes back to a childhood memory of them all playing together. In the flashback Zayne’s mother is speaking with Master Vandar after dropping her son off at the Jedi training centre on Dantooine. Master Vandar is a Jedi Master who is the same species as Master Yoda. Zayne’s mother asks Master Vandar about the Sith, to which he replies: “The Sith, we’ve been mercifully free from since the war ended – and we maintain a constant vigil against their return”. I think a continuity issue crops here, because how does the Sith academy on Korriban, from the story Shadows and Light fit into Master Vandar’s worldview here? Ultimately, I think the inclusion and mention of the Sith academy in that story was poor oversight by those attempting to reign in Star Wars continuity, unless of course, they had a specific reason for including its mention. It seems to me that the Jedi Order would not allow such an institution to exist. But, we all know that later on in the Star Wars timeline it does.

I tend not to get too upset over continuity issues, but I feel that I need to address them when they do come up.

For my next post I’ll be examining volume 2 in the KOTOR series. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. You're a Fandalorian, huh (a member of the Fando'ade)? You'll definitely be enjoying some of the KOTOR arcs, then. And just wait until you reach Karen Traviss's novels!

  2. Fandalorian? Ha! Great term, never heard it before. Yes. I'm defiantly a Fandalorian. I wasn't really looking forward to Karen Traviss's novels (not for any particular reason), but now that you've hyped them a little bit I'm looking forward to getting to them.