Discussion in 'Literature' started by Jedi Ben, Sep 3, 2012.
The new Star Wars comic series by Brian Wood. And yes, that's it's full title. Just plain Star Wars.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic: Volume 10: War
Enjoyed this more than I expected as I didn't care for the opening issue, which was as far as I got. The problems?
The removal of the ensemble cast established, for me Zayne works best in a group - it can be argued he ends up doing that here but it's a different set without the history or the relationships.
Jace, his character truly grates - I think it's his utter incoherent notion that war should be fair, yet he's quite happy to spring ambushes and be under-handed, and then there's his infatuation with the Mandos...
Ah yes, Mandalorians, such "honourable" warriors, such "noble" culture. Utter rubbish more like and the story has this running through it and never really manages to eject it, more's the pity.
Despite that, there's a couple of major points to like:
Zayne first. He's been drafted so is refusing to simply accept it as he was coerced, nor does he rush headlong into the joy of killing that everyone else around him is doing. In a way this is perhaps how Jacen's pacifism should have been handled in NJO, Zayne does a much better job at it too and at a similar age.
Intellect versus violence - intellect wins! Now this was refreshing! Zayne out-thinks, out-smarts or just out-influences Jace's crazed idiocy on multiple fronts.
So, it's probably pretty even, what tips the balance? It's the little things, things like this:
The identity of Captain Goodvalors - so very fitting, the conversation he has with Zayne was a joy to read!
The sequence at the end with Zayne's sisters and Jareal.
The final pages showing what Zayne and, a now somewhat more mature, Morvis are doing.
That tips it into a positive outcome. It was, to my surprise, not one of DHC's stronger series, particularly given the writer - but no one can be great all the time and this remains "merely" very good! Art is very good too, supported well by some excellent painted cover images. One thing that would improve DHC's trades is a cover gallery section!
To buy or not to buy? Well, completist factor aside, this does actually do something sufficiently different that I'd still say it's definitely worth checking out, if only as a library read.
I agree that removing Zayne's awesome ensemble weakens the series, but I don't think putting Zayne on the battlefield is a strength. His determination to solve things nonviolently is great and I enjoy seeing him put that to use in dangerous zones (and the fact that his finale plan involves people with soup on their heads redeems all weaknesses), but it does bad things for Zayne when he's not in a crafty-plan situation. Having him running around on the battlefield screaming at people that it's wrong to shoot the enemy doesn't make him seem moral or Jedilike -- just stupid, preachy, and detached from reality. For him to be nonviolent is good. To try to force it on everyone on his side in the middle of combat -- less so. Trying to amp up the "wrongness" of the violence by having Morvis act like a giant over-aggressive ass exacerbates rather than solves the problem. Does Zayne really think that the Republic should be able to win a war against an aggressive warrior race with a war-centric ideology that has attacked the Republic unprovoked by . . . not hurting anybody? The focus should stay on his personal do-no-harm Jedi pacifism rather than the morality of violence as a whole. The finale, where he gets to launch a nonviolent plan, the end setup, where he's a sort of moral advisor and mediator, and the bits where he's just asserting his personal preference for peace and understanding are good, but anytime it strays out of that, it gets silly.
Kace is part of the same problem, I guess -- when War goes out for the bigger philosophical stuff, it's too simplistic. So we've got a Jedi who's for the Mandos -- which could work if you spent the time on it and worked out something subtle, but if you don't, you end up with a guy who thinks that a perpetual-war ideology and warrior-or-slave culture is the best, most truest Jedi thing ever, and everyone goes, "WTF?" And War doesn't spend the time on it. There are arguments Kace could make that would make his character make sense (though he wouldn't be able to come off quite so righteous-good-guy in his affect), but he doesn't make them, and he makes arguments that make his character make no sense instead. War clearly wants to go for an examination of "War is wrong and both sides are at fault and good at the same time," but that requires some significant degree of equivalency in order to avoid the false-equivalency fallacy. And the Mandalorian War, as it is already set up, does not afford an equivalency situation. Zayne can still understand the personhood of the Mandos and want to spare as many lives as possible on both sides, but any attempt at equivalency is just going to ring hollow, and War leans way too hard on that false equivalency.
I tend to agree with your post Hav, but I don't think Zayne's outlook does go as far as you're wondering, the sense I got was that he didn't want to be fighting the war because he wasn't suited to it, he'd been drafted and that was as far it went. Does he wish to set war policy? I'd be surprised if the answer is yes. The reason I quite liked what was done with Zayne is that it would have been quite ludicrous to have him be at ease being a soldier in this way. He's clearly not in the right place, right role but is by the end.
Though I do wonder if this series wouldn't have worked better as a KOTOR Volume 2 start - with a new set of characters, using the Mando Wars and Revan as a springboard for it. As I'm not really certain it works with Zayne. I'll take what KOTOR comics I can get, but I can't help but think what might have been with a bolder step.
Well, there are some clunker moments right in the opening sequence -- Zayne complains that Morvis is firing on "unarmed" Mandalorians (because apparently Zayne chopped the gun of one in half, but not the other's in the same panel, but anyway clearly they are for a fact unarmed and Morvis should know this fact about these two or three particular Mandalorians psychically when he comes upon the scene and starts firing), then demanding that Morvis stop firing (and actually manhandling a gunner) because the Mandalorians "aren't a threat anymore" and were retreating. And as is well known, you can't shoot anyone on the battlefield who isn't looking you in the eye. You have to let him run away and regroup, and wait until he's ready to launch an attack again, like a good sport. The whole opening sequence is basically one long scene of Zayne telling Morvis that he can't do things, because Zayne is the ultimate judge of what is and isn't a legitimate target (coincidentally, no one is ever a legitimate target).
Then Kace says the Mandalorians are regrouping in the forest, and he and Morvis plan an attack, to which Zayne objects that they should just take prisoners, because if you just show up the Mandalorians will surrender, right? Then Zayne deserts to go warn the Mandalorians, which isn't treason at all because he has decided that he sets the rules of engagement himself and the Republic doesn't get to put the Mandalorians in "incredible danger" by shooting at them when they're not necessarily expecting it.
Then he gets captured by the Mandos and forced to fight for them, at which point he starts telling the Mandalorian commander that "We don't need to do this" (shoot at the enemy, who is shooting back) because Kace's Jedi have already attacked, so apparently that's enough and they should all just go sit down now. Then Zayne gets the bright idea to go chop up the big guns that are shooting at them, and when the Mandalorians keep attacking the gunners, who are themselves armed with mere blaster rifles, Zayne gets in front of them and again whines that the Mandalorians don't have to do this, because the biggest guns are not firing anymore, and apparently now, since they can more-or-less safely run away and sit down, they should do so.
At no point does Zayne appear to concede that anybody does actually have the right to shoot at the enemy, or to shoot back at the enemy, or to do anything warlike, because he always finds some reason why the person is not a threat, or not enough of a threat, or is a threat they should leave alone, or is someone they could theoretically capture or disable nonlethally. Sometimes he's right, but most of the time he's being ridiculous, and he never appears to recognize that everyone else isn't in the position of being a Force-powered, blaster-deflecting, precision-disabling, sneaky genius like him. It would be one thing if it was just his personal code of conduct, especially in private life. Trying to impose it on everyone around him in the middle of a war is, well, dumb.
So, instead of being an intelligent, moral, and life-respecting Jedi, Zayne's just kind of . . . a very, very stupid, very, very preachy and self-righteous doctrinaire pacifist.
OK, I'll admit it, I was being restrained in my review with regard to the negatives! All that is why I didn't continue with the issues, reading it in TPB improved it just enough for me to feel I got my money's worth - though that was £9.60 on £14.99 TPB!
Or, to put it another, how do you think this is going to stack up against the next 2 - Dark Times and Agent for the Empire? Odds not good.
Well, I picked up the same three in a batch as you. And AOTE is great. It's very fun, and basically flawless until one dumb decision for the finale that doesn't ruin the comic. DT doesn't hit as many highs, but it also has a much smaller clunker at the end.
Don't get me wrong -- I too thought War was worth it (and unlike the others, it gets its clunkers out of the way first, then finishes strong), because Zayne's capers are always fun, and once it gets off the battleground and to where Zayne's my-way-is-better pacifism makes sense -- planning nonlethal capers -- it gets going. It's still a lesser effort than DT or AOTE, but it's fun.
Uh oh... Those are going to be interesting reads when I get to them then!
Hmm, I like your term - nonlethal capers - which makes me think - if we can have SW James Bond why not a Gryph's 11?
Because we're still waiting on Calrissian's Eleven.
Star Wars: Dark Times: Volume 5: Out of the Wilderness
First, the art glorious on this, for all the delays, rescheduled shipments - none of that matters if you're only buying the trade and does it pay off here! Excellent ship designs, a stunning Vader, some excellent action sequences - yep, art's great.
However, the old rule on comics is that great art cannot make up for weak writing and it applies here as much as it does to the likes of Avengers Vs X-Men (hint: don't ask).
For 80% of the story, things proceed logically: Assassin kills Janks in an Imperial prison and escapes, his aim being to find Jennir. Jennir and Ember get shot down by the Empire, on the planet Ember admits she has no family, that it was all a scam. Later Jennir becomes aware of his pursuer and starts to counter him, then Ember gets captured by slavers. Hey, of all the people for that to happen to...
Of course, if Jennir wasn't going to permit the townspeople on Telerath to lynch her, he isn't going to let her be enslaved either. The rescue isn't entirely successful, he rescues one slave, his pursuer nabs Ember to use as bait. Parallel to all this Bomo and co are also tracking Jennir.
It's at this point the book goes careening off the rails with such gusto I have to wonder what the hell they were thinking! In the final confrontation, the droids of both combatents are killed, as is Ember - much to Jennir's dismay! Why? Oh, he's apparently fallen in love with Ember. Guess all the Jedi control in the galaxy doesn't matter when the brain says no the groin says go! It's not as if there's a personality to fall in love with! As is obvious, not only do I not buy this, but there's no basis whatsoever for it!
Fortunately, it recovers a bit by having Jennir on the Uhmele with Bomo and co, unfortunately Ember also lived - worse luck. Meanwhile Vader has turned up on the planet, found the assassin and is severely cheesed off!
For all I've liked Dark Times, this latest volume effectively makes the case for concluding the Jennir plot. I know the next series, Fire Carrier deals with the hanging plot of K'Krukh, but once that's done this also needs to come to a head, especially as Vader's on Jennir's trail. That can only end one way but done right it would be very good - hopefully, in the process Vader takes out Ember too. There is one plot I would like to see resolved too - the Emperor's "plan" for the Jedi, it's been mentioned a few times, would be good to see what that is. Could be done in the same series.
Why? With the Disney purchase of LFL, it is by no means certain how long DHC will have the licence for. Second, a strong conclusion to the arc will create a piece of work that can be sold as a set. A weak conclusion or the lack of one will practically kill the same set! DHC aren't going want that, so a strong conclusion is the way to go. An 8-volume run in today's comic marketplace would be entirely respectable and some lines don't even rack up half that! (Knight Errant)
well, I got Agent of the Empire, KOTOR: War and Dark Times: Out of the Wilderness all delivered in one go from Amazon this week. Surprisingly, the least anticipated for me was the best in the end. I'm speaking of AotE, which really, really surprised me in a positive way. Good, solid story; the art got better with every page and the content? I think the Han Solo/Chewbacca cameo was sold really well and there was even, like you know, sex?! this war really suprising, though it was always sold as James Bond in a GFFA. Really looking forward to the second arc.
Dark Times was okay, though I liked "Blue Harvest" better. The art saved it mostly for me. It was a nice read, but nothing remarkable.
KOTOR? Well, I was always a huge fan of Zayne but this final chapter... I don't know if I just couldn't get into it because of the - imho - really bad art or because the story was just meehh. I missed Gryph and Jarael. And, getting back to the art, Zayne mostly just didn't look like Zayne.
Of that trio, Agent of the Empire remains to be read for me.
Same here. Love AotE. Definitely my favourite series currently, and that's including DOTJ.
Finally finished reading Out of the Wilderness. Really enjoyed it, and there's something kinda rewarding about taking six months to finally get from Issue 3 to Issue 4.
I'd been spoiled about Ember -- only to pleasantly learn the spoilers were just for the first half of the issue.
And Sadheet is bad. No question. It seems too obvious for him to just be an Inquisitor (although we've not seen any in recent Dark Horse series, so it'd be appropriate given they've shown up in a lot of the YA series), but... not sure what else to expect. Vader doesn't seem to know about him or else he'd not be having to hunt Jennir himself, so something fishy is going on. Wouldn't be surprised if he just wants to use Jennir as bate to lure out Vader for revenge, but... that still seems too easy.
Hmm, that's a thought Zorr - we've had Palpatine claiming to have a plan to deal with the Jedi - maybe Sadeet is an example - why go to the trouble of killing the remaining Jedi, when you can get other Jedi to do it for you? Sick, twisted but very Sidious.
Was Palpatine directly involved in the formation of the Inquisitors in that webcomic series?
Yeah, I just shorten it because we have to call it something. And Star Wood, besides being humorous, is easier than tying That Star Wars Ongoing By Brian Wood.
Is it the cyber-spider Stark?
And that will be all that matters to everyone else who ever reads this story (even if they track down the single issues to read). The delay whiners need to understand that big picture.
Yeah, insane spider-cyborg Stark. It takes the narrative for a loop, away from the basic corruption story and into crazy world-domination plotting, and in a silly way, at the last minute. Stark himself is also ridiculous-looking, and doesn't get to anything but be foam-at-the-mouth crazy. Waste of the character.
Afaik herorders Vader to "select" candidates for it, though they seem to be pretty self running once they got going after that.
The Evasive Action trilogy of web strip series that used to run on Hyperspace.
Where is Dark Time Volume three again? One of the Vector's, right?
I'm being reaaaaally slow catching up on all these arcs I stopped midway through...
Finally read the last two issues of KOTOR: WAR tonight and I was pleasantly surprised. It came together at the end much better than I had found the first couple of issues, which like Jedi_Ben I felt suffered from the loss of the regular cast.
Admittedly, since KOTOR was originally designed with a sort of "video game storyline" in mind, with Zayne levelling up as he battled his way to the next boss, I suppose WAR was a typical RPG sequel, with new companions (something I always initially find offsetting in most games too, as while I ended up loving Mass Effect 2, I spent half the game annoyed Liara wasn't in it anymore).
So from that perspective, maybe it was to be expected...
Still, I enjoyed Morvis's development, and while I didn't like Kace that much I was pleased how his story ended (and liked his appearance on I presume the same stone court pillar that we once saw in TOTJ I think?).
The final ending surprised me... I sure didn't expect Lieutenant Carrick, but I now demand a sequel, as with KE and LTOTS over (and I'm not aware of him doing any further Mass Effect work at the moment either?) I still want my JJM comic fix, and Zayne's fate (alive or dead) is something I'd like to see addressed before Disney takes over. I was content after #50 to just imagine possibilities, but as an officer in the Republic, his fate seems much more uncertain now, so I'd like to see how he handles the Revanchists when Revan and Malak start going properly off the rails.
JJM can even include the Exile now too, due to TOR having done what the comic avoided by nailing down her name and appearance, so it'd be interesting to see some closer interaction there, like how we've seen the Dantooine Academy Masters a little.