Unfreezing Carbonite: The Knights Of The Old Republic Comic
On April 24th, 2014, it was announced that the Expanded Universe of Star Wars was to become Legends. In Legends, those stories would exist outside the canon timeline. Basically, they were frozen in carbonite. Preserved to those, who seek them out. Below is one such story recommended to readers to check out.
Knights of the Old Republic
Knights of the Old Republic comic series from Dark Horse original released in January 2006 and ran as a monthly comic until February 2010. The series consisted of 50 issues, and a short one-off issue to set up the comic. Written by John Jackson Miller, who played many times in the Star Wars sandbox. Canon novel A New Dawn, and Legends novel Kenobi being great recommendations of his work.
This article’s focus is on the zero issue Crossroads and issues 1-6 Commencement. The artist was Brian Ching, with Travel Foreman substituting in one issue. The colorist was Michael Atiyeh. The series can be currently collected under a three volume Omnibus as Knights of the Old Republic or Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic (Currently only the first volume has been released in the newer version). The difference between the two in the physical version is the size. In addition, the Omnibus is no longer in print as it was released under Dark Horse.
The Setting of The Knights of the Old Republic
Set approximately 3,964 years before A New Hope, and about 8 years before the first Knights of the Old Republic video game comes a tale of vengeance. Long before the First Order was a twinkle in Snoke’s eye. Way before the heroics of Luke Skywalker. Before the trial of Ahsoka Tano comes a tale set during one of the many wars of the Mandalorians and Republic. The Sith of that time were vanquished, for around 30 years. Fear of their return was rising. The Jedi Order was against joining the Republic in their war against the Mandalorians, but a select few Jedi took up the cause. One of those was a famous Jedi known simply as Revan! And… this story was not about him. This story was about the notorious Zayne Carrick!
Human Padawan Zayne Carrick was not as sensitive to the Force as his Jedi Master Lucien Draay wished him to be. He was not really that attuned at all to the Force… But he had heart. One of five Padawans on the formerly lucrative business world of Taris, he was edging toward the end of his training. At least he hoped to be. It wasn’t the lack of determination on his part. No, the Force wielded in his future a natural occurrence of mishaps and disaster. What the Crossroads issue made clear were his ongoing attempts to apprehend local “entrepreneur” Marn Hierogryph (Gryph for short). The snivvian Gryph was quite the fast-talking con artist that Zayne hoped to bring to justice. To find some redemption to his lack of skills. He did not catch him that issue.
The Commencement Arc
In the Commencement arc, we are told a tale of self-fulfilling prophecies and the danger that come, when altering one’s destiny. The mystery of this arc and the series hinges on the self-told lies of those five Jedi Masters on Taris. The fear they fed themselves in their search to prevent the inevitable shone in full force. A fear that caused Zayne Carrick so much pain. What started out as a simple story of Zayne capturing Gryph spirals out of control at a shatter point in Zayne’s life. Jedi Knighthood was thrown off the menu as the catch of the day became murder. Four dead Jedi Padawans. Zayne became murder suspect number one (as did his accomplice Gryph).
While on the run Zayne and Gryph brought others into their web of misfortune. Crazy old man scavenger Camper and his protector Jareal, who were Arkanian refugees hiding from their own demons. After a sloppy escape to the Rogue Moon, where they picked up a bulk-loader droid the story became into focus. What greater good would justify the actions of those Jedi Master pretenders? The arc does begin to answer that question; however, to dig deeper requires reading past this arc. Before the arc began Zayne Carrick would not have fathomed the position he was going to be in. He most likely would not have known the perseverance he had deep inside to seek justice… Vengeance!
Setting Up The New Characters
The beauty of this arc is how well it sets up the new group of characters. Well, there is another character that shows up later to join the crew of the Last Resort, but that is in the next arc! Gryph is a character similar to Hondo Ohnaka in his opportunistic ways. However, he does lack Hondo’s scoundrel tendencies. Camper is a complex engineer that lost some bolts and a hydrospanner years ago. Jareal is a straight to the point character that uses her staff to protect her and Camper. The droid T1-LB (Elbee) is a fresh take on a droid where he was retrofitted, with a smarter brain in a droid not meant to have one that creates all this existential chaos in his mind.
Zayne starts out as the worst jack of all trades Jedi, but by the end of this series goes through an amazing transformation. Even in this arc he learns so much about himself, and how others perceive him. Lucien Draay and the other Jedi Masters each have their own personality that this arc teases. Over the course of the series their backstories do get revealed, and the directions they go… Even minor one-off characters in this comic have so much personality!
Art And Design
The writing and placement of panels work really well at setting the tone. The dialog is precise, hilarious, and at times gut wrenching. It took the wonderful execution of not only the writing but the art and colors. This comic is straight up beautiful and makes great use of space. The colors make some panels look like they fit right into the video game it is based on. The comic does make use of flashbacks, and I was never confused at the transition. Each flashback has a purpose to the story, and the sting of the situation is ever so much worse when going back to the present.
Relationship To The Video Games
Now, the wonderful thing about this comic series is it takes place before the video games. There are a ton of visual references to places, characters, etc in the games; however, it is not required to play those games to enjoy this comic. In fact, it would be ideal to read this before jumping in, and going back afterward. When I originally read this comic series it was before Star Wars Rebels was released. I had beaten both Knights of the Old Republic games and was well versed in that part of the timeline. Consequently, I could not put the story down and I binged through it like no tomorrow. Mainly because it felt fresh and exciting.
There are long overall story arcs wrapped inside the smaller ones. One of the twists in the story was a huge surprise that was so well orchestrated that it would be a disservice to spoil. It must be experienced! As for what to bring back into canon… Well, it is all wonderful world building. I would hope they retain what they built of Taris. Don’t get me wrong, I know the world is in canon. The mentions of the planet have been amazing in other canon stories. I just hope the uniqueness and beauty of that planet can shine again! If you are a fan of Rebels TV show, then I strongly encourage you to check out this comic series.