Review Shooter: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: War 1

 Writer: John Jackson Miller
Artist: Andrea Mutti/Michael Atiyeh 
Review by Tim Taylor (Yes, really) 

Dark Horse is releasing a new 5 issue limited that ties in with Knights of the Old Republic, pretty basically titled Knights of the Old Republic: War. John Jackson Miller scripted the introductory issue to the series, and the story starts immediately in the action. Based shortly after the adventures of Zayne Carrick conclude in Knights of the Old Republic, we find our familiar fumbling hero thrust into another situation beyond his control. Chances are you may miss out on a pretty decent amount of subtle suggestion about Zayne and who he is if you haven’t read the previous arcs regarding him, but you can get a basic idea of what is going on just by how he is treated.

Initially, I read over the art team and was excited to see Michael Atiyeh on colors, as I like his (usually) broad-stroked sort of watercolor style. Unfortunately, I was less excited once I actually got into the issue. Pencils were done by Andrea Mutti and inks by Pierluigi Baldassini, and while both are clearly solid artists, I had trouble in being too enchanted by the mix of them all together. It’s difficult to tell where pencils end and inks begins sometimes, and this is one of those times, but regardless, the resulting style seemed to contrast with what Atiyeh would usually do. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but Atiyeh’s colors seemed muffled quite a bit, resulting in a pretty muted palate that was then just repeated. All the shadows were hash marked and used rather little detail as well, so when combined with a muted palate, the art came off as flat. For example, the vast majority of the backgrounds were either light blue or orange due to fire or explosions. Really, that’s pretty much all there was, I’m afraid. There were no scenes inside a ship or transport, no night time, just these two options, which can become a bit tedious to look at.

That said, the story is, well, another story (no pun intended). I love the Star Wars universe and have since I was young. One of my favorite aspects of it is the sense of a grey area, morally speaking. Sometimes, especially when directed towards younger audiences, the stories in the Star Wars universe can become too blatantly one sided. Sith are evil, Jedi are good, a battle of black and white. The stories I love most, however, are the ones that examine the grey between good and evil. Quinlan Vos was thought lost to the dark side many times in his under-cover spying, for example. Knights of the Old Republic was always a pretty reliable story in terms of blending the moral with necessity, questioning how much wrong can be justified by the “right” ends. This limited arc certainly starts off in that same vein. Just in the first few pages you already are confronted with attacks on retreating forces, on women and children, on arrogance and on deceit. The arc is a wonderfully woven (albeit rather abrupt) entrance into a new story with our favorite under-powered hero. The issue pulls off surprises and twists quite well, as things shift one way and the next. The only criticism I have of the introductory issue’s writing is that it does move a bit awkwardly sometimes, temporally speaking. The pacing is nearly always fast, but it does occasionally, in comparison with the rest of the issue, slow to a crawl, and then, all of a sudden, action is back happening and you struggle some to keep up.

Overall, the story more than makes up for what can seem to come off as a bit dull or, at least, not entirely inspired or cohesive art. I’m not entirely sure you’ll grasp all of the nuances of the dialogue and ways Zayne is referenced if you haven’t at least some experience with Knights of the Old Republic stories in general, but even if you didn’t finish all 9 volumes, simply knowing the type of character he is will help a lot.

Accessibility Scale: 3

Recommendation: Buy it.

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