Books: Knights of the Old Republic

Commencement and Flashpoint
John Jackson Miller
illustrated by Brian Ching, Travel Foreman, Dustin Weaver and Harvey Tolibao
2006-2007 (Dark Horse)

Zayne Carrick is a strangely inept jedi padawan who one day finds himself accused of several murders committed by his jedi masters. As he mourns the loss of his fellow padawans at the hands of their trusted masters he does the only thing he can – he runs. He needs to not only stay out of the hands of his pursuers (who quickly have the public on their side), but also find out what happened and why. Along for the ride is a shady businessman, a mechanic with a slightly faulty memory and a skilled young fighter. Zayne and his new friends find they have quite a mystery on their hands, and barely any resources at their fingertips.

Knights of the Old Republic is an ongoing monthly comic and the first two books collect the first twelve issues of that series. Typically in an ongoing series stories are either fairly short (two to six issue arcs are most common) or tend to wander a bit, showing that they probably weren’t planned out that far in advance. This is absolutely not the case with Knights of the Old Republic. The story here is a classic mystery with plenty of adventure and no extraneous plotlines mucking up the story. The writing is solid and suggests that the story was well planned out ahead of time (the importance of things that happen early on occasionally don’t become evident until much later).

As great as the writing was in this series, however, I was less impressed with the art. It tended to vary a great deal as a few different artists appeared to trade off the illustration of this comic, and they had very different styles. The first book (Commencement) started with a great style – faces had lots of expression and definition, every face was unique and different, details like hands and weapons and clothing were completely drawn, not just suggested. Later in the book, however, a sketchier, looser style appeared – there was less definition in faces (if someone was standing back, they might not even have any face), hands and details were suggested, but often had no definition (fingers and such weren’t actually drawn in). I was far less fond of this sketchy style. It didn’t have as much personality and the writing spent so much time developing personality that the loss of it in the art was noticeable.

After twelve issues, the mystery still isn’t at an end. Some things have been figured out, but others have not and new questions keep arising. I was very intrigued by this story, more so than I ever expected to be. The writing is absolutely fantastic. I was disappointed by the variability of the art and the fact that some of it didn’t fit with the style of the story and writing at all, but it didn’t hurt my enjoyment so much that I won’t seek out more of this series. I highly recommend Knights of the Old Republic. It’s got some great characters and an excellent mystery!

- Publisher’s Description of Commencement
- Publisher’s Description of Flashpoint
- The Official Star Wars Website

- John Jackson Miller’s Website
- Brian Ching’s Blog
- Dustin Weaver’s Blog

- Buy Commencement from Amazon
- Buy Flashpoint from Amazon

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