Knights Of The Old Republic: War continues with its next issue, bringing with it a little enlightenment into some of the new characters introduced in the debut publication. Along with some more depth into the culture of the Mandalorian Warriors, KOTOR: War strays rather from the traditional Revan/Malak and Jedi/Sith tome, and looks more into the impact of an ancient war on specific individuals.
Zayne Carrick, the principal protagonist of the KOTOR comic books, with his conscripted Phaedran troops, has been captured by Mandalorians. In the tradition of their culture, the Mandos have used the captured people as new troops for their cause, or enslave them for other purposes. Being a former Jedi, Carrick – and his captain representing the Republic – now find themselves attired in Mandalorian Beskar’gam (armor) fighting on the side they were warring against.
The faction of Mandalorian warriors in these specific campaigns is being led by the most unusual Mando recruits: other former Jedi Masters, who make up the bulk of a currently unexplored elite class only known as Mandalorian Knights. These Force-sensitive combatants are small in number, but formidable, as they cast an unusual image of Beskar’gam clad soldiers wielding lightsabers. Odd – but most certainly not unwelcome.
Carrick endures struggling in the war to try and limit as much bloodshed and killing as possible; hoping that his role may pave a small effort in minimizing unnecessary deaths. It is a futile goal, as he well knows, but it is nice to see his character fostering more confidence about his morals. Zayne, as a character, has come a long way since the days of the first KOTOR comics.
While the writing in this issue displays improvement, with some clues and hints of what is coming up in future chapters, there is a distinct lack of the Jedi elements that fans have come to know and love in the KOTOR sub-franchise of Star Wars. This series primarily focuses on the Mandalorian war machine – and yes it is always wonderful to get more Mando’a culture to immerse into, it seems and feels out-of-character for the KOTOR series.
In my earlier review of the first issue, I was quite welcoming of the artwork. In issue two, on the other hand, it does not come across as impressive. Believe me, it’s nice, and of good quality; but it doesn’t give the feeling that the creative team are coming up with an evident style and feel. In some frames of action or conflict, there’s some ambiguity as to what is actually happening, though it appears to be unintended, or at the very least a little difficult to interpret the specifics of the scene.
Do not get me wrong though – this is a minor criticism and observation. There are some wonderful frames combining the work of Andrea Mutti, Pierluigi Baldassini, and Michael Atiyeh that do truly stand out with some potency in this specific issue. The result of this issue does not stand out as much as the first. Additionally, I find myself sorely missing the wonderful artwork from the original KOTOR comic series, and often ponder what the outcome may have been with War had the original artists been retained.
So, yes, I was a little let down with this second issue of KOTOR: War – but you know what? The first issue opened up with such a huge bang that I imagine (for the creative team) it would have been a tough act to follow up with. Considering they have a story they need to solidly lay out for the next few issues, the story does have to move along, so my minor whining of artistic elements may amount to nothing once the whole story can be seen. I think this specific issue would mainly be valued by the KOTOR and Old Republic enthusiasts among Star Wars fans. Here is to hoping that the third issue has the same bang of the first one.