The concluding chapters of KOTOR: War completes the prospect of an escalating war between the Republic and the Mandalorians through the eyes of former Jedi, Zayne Carrick. The final two issues of the Star Wars series deliver a satisfying conclusion, which sadly smarts from some somewhat disjointed storytelling. Despite this, the concluding episodes fare much better than the initial episodes, indicating that it should make for some fair reading as a collected edition.
To set the stage, the Republic is deep into its crusade against the Mandalorians. Unwillingly drafted into armed forces representing his home world, ex-Jedi Zayne Carrick eventually finds himself captured by a group of Mandalorians lead by several disgruntled former Jedi Masters. Redubbing themselves as “The Mandalorian Knights,” they set their sights on prolonging the war against the Republic.
To strike a decisive blow against both the Republic and the Jedi Order, the Mandalorian Knights commence a major operation – targeting the Jedi Academy on Dantooine, home to countless younglings. Zayne Carrick has no option but to try and stop the offensive, or defend the younglings; and at the same time avoid as much death as possible.
In my previous reviews of KOTOR: War, I made numerous moanings about the plot. It felt very disjointed in areas, and very far removed from the context that was initialized in the first KOTOR comic series. In the concluding issues, this disjointed feeling continues, but diminishes as the story progresses. Elements introduced in the first issues become significantly active, revealed, or resolved in these final issues; providing a feeling of closure to a great deal of these moments.
What KOTOR: War was really combatting in the first few issues was the prejudicial mind of continuity-obsessed Star Wars fans (like me). Taking Zayne Carrick out of his newly established life from the previous series and dumping him in a war zone felt tremendously out-of-place. It may be that because of this changed scenery, I allowed my own personal expectations get in the way, prejudging the story as it was progressing.
With the closing stages now in hand, many of those questions and issues and problems have been addressed, thankfully to some considerably hard working plot writing on the parts of John Jackson Miller – who has taken a long overview of the series as a whole with his writing, contrasted with just focusing on individual issues being tied together. This gives the effect that, in my mind, KOTOR: War will turn out to be a much more exciting and thrilling read as a collected edition or trade paperback; a release that, undoubtedly, will be inevitable.
Bearing that in mind, the disjointedness continues inside these last chapters. The absence of much-loved characters introduced in the first series becomes to the forefront of the readers’ minds with some small cameo appearances. These cameo appearances do not have the intended effect of making it a charm for the reader, but rather gives off a “salt to the wound” experience, reminding us that this is all will be seeing of them.
Maybe, however, this is a deliberate move on the part of Miller and Dark Horse. It may be that a future KOTOR comic series seeks to integrate these first introduced characters with the new ones from the War series; which truly could be an enticing proposition.
Like the writing, the artwork from the team of Andrea Mutti, Pierluigi Baldanassi, and Michael Atiyeh makes a discernible improvement in the concluding episodes. As the plot gathers greater clarity, more refinement is made to specific characters in the story (notably Zayne). As mentioned, the overall package of KOTOR: War would function better in collected form, and I believe the artwork would come across stronger in a trade paperback than in the individual issue format it currently is in. In my opinion, it underserves the artwork, and in a collected edition it would be far easier to take in the evolution and transition of the art as it follows the eventual strengthening of the plot.
As a story overall, Star Wars fans would probably enjoy KOTOR: War – but I believe that readers should probably wait for the collected edition. The experience will be far more satisfying taking in the story as an overall composition (as I believe it was probably meant to be). Some casual comic book readers may be interested in this title, but I think that this one is mostly for the Expanded Universe fans.