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Lit Join Me In Rereading: Knights of the Old Republic

Discussion in 'Literature' started by Slater, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. Slater

    Slater Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2014
    Hello all, or one, or none. Welcome to the first (shockingly) "official" Rereading of the "Knights of the Old Republic" comic, or if you prefer Kotor.

    [​IMG]

    Now its no secret on these forums that kotor was a gem among gems, even in its time of multiple other successful star wars comics and other expanded universe materiel it always managed to stand out by way of its humor, story and above all else, wonderful characters. Specifically its protagonist Zayne Carrick, who managed to stand in bright contrast to the complete glut of brooding, conflicted, dark, prodigy Star Wars hero's, by being the complete opposite of that in literally every way imaginable.

    I gained the desire to make this thread after rereading every single issue thread on these forums, with the benefit of hindsight the discussions and theories broached here were hilarious and very often dead wrong, but what wasn't was an almost jarring amount of love and investment in the story John Jackson Miller crafted. Even my own substantial time spent here talking about it really does not do justice to how well (for most) this comic did at keeping people satisfied and intrigued for its whole run, a rarity among rarity in Star Wars fandom. And that positive experience, as well as my own desire to reread my favorite comic ever has flowered into this.

    So, how am I going to do this, the maybe 3 people who might read this thread ask? Well simple by rereading and musing on all of it. Its continuity, its connections to the 2 Kotor games and the wider EU, including specifically the way it contrasted it sister series' also running at the time so heavily. As well as the occasional separate posts on individual characters and my thoughts on them. (If that"s actually of interest to anyone). Also the occasional theory on where things might have gone if Kotor had continued or maybe even how these wonderful characters could be slotted into the NEU, IT COULD STILL HAPPEN SHUT UP.

    Starting with 0, each issue post will include the cover for the respective issue as well as a link to JJM's issue notes which our criminally under read. Who knows, JJM frequents here, maybe he could even stop by to answer some questions and share his thoughts if this thread gets any traction.

    This was probably incredibly long for a reread thread intro, that doesn't even include the first Issue in it, but to me Kotor deserves the love, and I hope many, or really any of you might feel the same. With all that said, let's get started.......the second I'm done talking a nap.
     
  2. Tython Awakening

    Tython Awakening Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2017
    I applaud your rereading of this series. JJM has been known to interact with fans on message boards, so you never know.... I read this entire series in the past two years. I'm interested in the Issue Notes and whatever else you can dig up. JJM put out endnotes and short stories.
     
  3. Slater

    Slater Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2014
    Nap done, ready set go

    Knights of the Old Republic 0: Crossroads
    [​IMG]

    Issue Notes: http://www.farawaypress.com/comics/swknights/swkotor0.html

    So Kotor starts with its uh, second start as 0 was not released until after 2 of the ongoing on Free Comic Book day, as such it hits a lot of the same beats that 1 will as well, only Crossroads, especially with hindsight is much more overtly connected to the wider Old Republic era.

    As a sorta second introduction were immediately (re) introduced to Gryph Hierogryph* being the keen and hilarious mastermind we all know him as, and with him so organic exposition about the Mandalorians and Republic in the sector as the embers of what will become the Mandalorian Wars burn.

    Zayne makes his not really first intro to the scene trying and failing to apprehend Gryph "again" and we get our not really first look at what type of protagonist he is, which I will expand upon in Issue 1. But alas, for now Zayne fails and as he casually plummets towards death is saved by a strapping young Jedi named Squint with a full hair of good hair, with the type of sheen that just says he will have it till the day he dies. They talk shop and Zayne twice gives words to what type of Master he has, someone evidently very willing to mock his failures, yeesh.*

    The issue ends with Squint and his Master heading off to the front after he tells Zayne he thinks he'll have a bigger role to play then he believes. Meanwhile the Taris masters plan to learn "something"

    Musings-
    - 0 offers something which I think deserves to be pointed out, Zayne is very accepting of his failure, he takes it all in remarkably good stride even as he notes having a master who seems to be in on treating him like a joke. Its a HUGGGEEE contrast to pretty much every other SW protag, and I'll talk about that more in 1 as stated above

    -Something I will note right away, during my time spent rereading the issue threads, all 50 of them, not a single negative thing was ever said about Gryph. Ever. He might be one of the most universally loved characters by his media's fanbase ever. And in Kotor it stands out even more because the entire cast is very well regarded, but occasionally there would be small arguments about what certain people would prefer they do. This is never the case with Gryph everyone adores everything he ever does, and with good reason.

    - Also theory crafting about which comic characters are connected or actually are the games characters ran rampant for over 30 issues, and yet Crossroads didn't stroke many flames at the time. Which in hindsight is hilarious
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  4. spicer

    spicer Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 14, 2012
    The KotOR comic series is one of the best Star Wars ever, in any medium!

    Ah, I have such fond memories reading this comic back in the day. I wasn't a member here then, and I didn't read any of the comments/reactions for the series, didn't bother with any speculation on what might happen in future issues, so every issue was a completely uncharted path to me. I sometimes wish I could regain that innocence when it comes to reading the new comics. For example, I was so giddy when Zayne started to recite the Jedi Code while pursuing Gryph - untill that point, I was aware of the code's appearance only in the KotOR games and was so excited to see it referenced in a different medium (prior to reading the KotOR comics and soon after Dark Times, Rebellion and Legacy, the video games were the only EU stories I've experienced). Also, I had no idea that Alek was Malak when I first started with the comics.
     
  5. Grievousdude

    Grievousdude Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 27, 2013
    A quick question from someone who's never read the comics. Does this series take place before or after the KOTOR games?
     
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  6. spicer

    spicer Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 14, 2012
    Before. Also, the story in the comic does not rely on the reader to have played the games. There are references sprinkled here and there, but nothing that would confuse someone that haven't played KotOR.
     
  7. tatooinesandworm

    tatooinesandworm Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 30, 2015
    I got into the comic after multiple playthroughs on the game. I ended up loving the comic just as much as the game and wanted so badly for a follow up game that featured characters from the comic.

    The main cast is stellar. I think that the characters i was most irritated by were the masters. I never could square what they did with being Jedi Masters. It seemed like they were Prequel Era Masters instead of generations back Masters.

    The art was fantastic. I miss this kind of art in the Marvel era. We really don’t have anything that is like it. However, I would say that the Aphra line gives me similar feeling when reading - so even though it isn’t the same style, I appreciate it on a similar level.

    I never did get a hold of issue 0, so thank you for this recap. It always irritated me that they never collected 0 in the trades.


    Sent from my Ornithopter using The Force
     
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  8. spicer

    spicer Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 14, 2012
    Not exactly what you may have had in mind, but in SWToR, there is Carrick Station in honor to Zayne :D

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Carrick_Station

    I love how unconventional the villains were in this series. The main protagonist is a Jedi. And the main antagonists are...also Jedi!

    While not very similar to KotOR, I agree that Doctor Aphra has the most similar vibe to these comics out of anything MARVEL has published thus far.

    It has been collected in Legends Epic Collections: The Old Republic volume 1:

    http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Star_Wars_Legends_Epic_Collection:_The_Old_Republic_Volume_1
     
  9. iPodwithnomusic

    iPodwithnomusic Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Nov 23, 2012
    I do plan to re-read this series eventually, I'm just waiting for the last epic collection to be released so I can read physical copies of all the issues.
     
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  10. Nobody145

    Nobody145 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 9, 2007
    Always nice to hear about KotOR again. One of the masterpieces of the old EU. I think I got into collecting Star Wars comics thanks to this (and the concurrent Legacy series).

    I actually think I read this series before I had played the games, so while I missed some of the references at first, the writing was more than enough to enjoy the story. Even to this day Zayne is such a rare character. As mentioned, he's a breath of fresh air compared to all the other brooding angst-ridden characters, despite his dire circumstances, as well as his weaker abilities. Its too bad nothing like this series will happen again, or at least not for another long while, not with the nuEU still growing.

    One of the nice things about the Epic Collections is that they include some of the harder to find stuff, like these extras that used to be exclusive to the individual issues.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  11. JediBatman

    JediBatman Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 3, 2015
    It was only relatively recently that I got into reading and collecting the Dark Horse Star Wars comics, and KOTOR played a big part.

    I never really played the game (unless you count one time at my cousins house when we were there for a birthday party or something). I did heavily read Wookieepedia and reference books like The Essential Atlas, so I knew the main story details. I had a couple of Star Wars comics, had read some at the local library, and had heard good things about series like KOTOR and Legacy, but wasn't really ready to jump in the deep end yet. The big push was the Disney buyout and the announcement that the comic rights would go from Dark Horse back to Marvel. I didn't know whether or not Marvel would ever reprint the old material, (though of course the Epic Collections later came along) and the Dark Horse website was having huge sales on digital Star Wars comics. I thought "this might be my only chance" so I bought a bunch of them, (probably too much for a college student living with his parents) and eventually branched out into collecting physical trade paperbacks. But the first digital comic I bought was the entire KOTOR series.

    KOTOR is probably my favorite of the Star Wars comic series I've read. True story, I recommended this series to a friend after he'd just read the rather bleak Dark Times, and told him this story was a lot lighter. After reading the ending of the first issue, he rather understandably texted me "I thought you said this was less depressing!" But I think that was part of KOTOR's charm: while things could and did get dark, it didn't wallow in darkness. It had an excellent sense of humor and adventure and optimism, and as other's have already said Zayne was an excellent contrast to the usual sort of Star Wars protagonist we get, not just in comics but in all media. Another thing that stood out to me was the villains. I've seen a lot of attempts over the years to bring moral ambiguity into the Jedi, but to this date I think this is the only series that did it without a lot of navel gazing or feeling forced. Rather than a Karen Travis diatribe, we had Jedi who hadn't exactly turned to the dark side, but were doing the wrong thing for what they thought were right reasons.

    I look forward to re-reading it and following along with this thread.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  12. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 7, 2012
    A lot of very pleasant memories from me over this thread, too.

    Way back in the day I got into Star Wars comics with DE, TOTJ, and XWRS, but never kept up with them even through the nineties. And for a few years in the early aughts I kind of drifted away from Star Wars fandom overall. Around the time ROTS came out, I started getting back into Star Wars comics with the Republic Clone Wars stuff, but even then I was reading them out of order and only after they came out in trades. I started playing KOTOR around the same time, and loved both of them - I had a circle of friends, none of whom were Star Wars fans, who also got heavily into the games and so if they were into them, I knew they were hot stuff.

    Anyways, once I heard there was going to be a KOTOR comic series, I knew I was going to get onboard. Actually, KOTOR and Legacy are maybe the first comics series I actually started reading in issues from the start. In any case, I loved the entire series (well, it drags a bit 2/3 through...) but I remember the excitement of reading the new issues for that first storyline in particular. I remember when the Force vision is revealed in issue 5 (I think) and all the fun that went into speculating over that. As well as the amazing visual connections from the Mandalorian Wars storyline. But we'll have plenty of time to talk over those, I'm sure.
     
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  13. Tython Awakening

    Tython Awakening Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2017
    On first impression, I thought the "cops and robbers" relationship between Zayne and Gryph was going to wear me down. Surprisingly, I grew to have affection for Gryph. I grew to have a fondness for him.

    (Battery just drained on my comp)

     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
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  14. Slater

    Slater Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2014
    Knights of the Old Republic 1: Commencement, Part 1

    [​IMG]

    Notes: http://www.farawaypress.com/comics/swknights/swkotor01.html

    So not gonna just give an abridged summary, again, wookipeida does that far better. More just musing and my own thoughts.

    The comic starts with Gryph as it should and he's immediately as charming as they get, and our first intro to Zayne is just so incredibly different then the usual SW fair, a charming bumbler already mostly accepting of his inevitable failure, with a weird relationship with the Force. Not broody about failures, not a prodigy, not treated with any respect from anyone, including himself.

    The contrast from the regular is already strong, but it sticks out even more when you place it at the time at release, were the other 2 Comic protags we had were Quinlan Vos and Cade Skywalker, who our both the posterboys for the morally conflicted, super powerful broodmares the SW universe is saturated with.

    Also, speaking about how nobody respects Zayne, the Taris Masters all immediately come off like massive tools, which isn't surprising. But Kotor does such a good job at putting a microscope onto all the Jedi's faults, while using Zayne to reconstruct there positives.

    Finally, something that's worth noting is just how many story threads our set up organically right from the start. Aside from the iconic massacre, you have the Constable, Mando's moving into the sector, the Taris Senator, everything from the Taris hollowfeeds. Its all right there from the start, and it all comes back while mattering. This will be a running theme in Kotor, no threads get dropped, everything has a purpose, and the continuity is spotless across the board. Contrast to Legacy where Vao's sister and entire subplot just vanished forever without mention.

    God its still such a strong start.

    -Sidenote, even after all these years its never been clear to me, where Zayne and Shel actually an item or were there feelings not hidden(obviously) but never acted on because of timing?
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  15. Nobody145

    Nobody145 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 9, 2007
    Yeah, its amazing how many characters that show up in just the first issue later get names and backgrounds. Most of them don't seem that relevant, but later on, well. Which reminds me, I wish the KotOR Campaign Guide was still in print, that was a fantastic piece of old EU lore for this era, with JJM writing parts of it too.

    I never liked Quinlan (and his double-triple-quadruple-quintuple agent thing), and Cade was probably worse with Skywalker angst added on top of everything else. Zayne is still one of my favorite characters ever. And who doesn't love a mastermind?

    I don't think Zayne and Shel were an item ever, or at least hadn't reached that stage. There was attraction there, sure, but well, 1) Zayne and Shel probably didn't see each other much, as he was busy with Jedi training. 2) its not like its unheard of for things to be awkward for a while before an official romance, or maybe not, even with how "interesting" Zayne's life is about to become. 3) I'm not sure how much the no-attachments doctrine was in effect. Its mentioned later on, but there are quite a few Jedi factions and the Taris masters are quite conservative. Or maybe Zayne was waiting to flunk out of the Jedi and then he'd move on with his life.
     
  16. JediBatman

    JediBatman Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 3, 2015
    Yeah I don't think there was an official thing between Shel and Zayne, I think it was just a crush/mutual attraction. Shad jokes that Zayne's bumbling is part of a plan to flunk out of the academy so he can stay on Taris with Shel, but given the way Zayne so tirelessly pursues Gyph I don't think Zayne was seriously considering it.

    One thing that sticks out to me from the author's notes: "In my first draft, Gryph was a member of the Ortolan species, the same as blue-elephant Max Rebo from Return of the Jedi. Clever crooks are supposed to be fairly rare for that race, givig Gryph an opportunity to play against type. But Brian Ching quickly realized it would be hard for Gryph to convey the many expressions my story required without a visible mouth, so I went back to the casting room. I’d always liked the Snaggletooth action figure from the first movie, so it took me less than an hour to suggest that Gryph be a Snivvian. It turned out to be great move for all involved, and a good example of how collaboration in comics works."

    It's interesting that even in the beginning Miller was thinking of ways to subvert that standard "species stereotypes" of Star Wars. That's probably also why we later got a Trandoshan who dosn't like fighting, Ithorians who are violent, and
    a Zeltron lacking any empathy.

    It's interesting to think that while the Master-Padawan relationships in the films usually show a strong connection, it's not necessarily universal. In other cases it can seem more detached (which makes since given the Jedi principles), or at the very least more like a formal student-teacher relationship (which makes since considering some masters train multiple padawans over the years). Besides Lucien and Zayne, the other stand out example to me is Jorrus C'baoth and Lorana Jinzler in Outbound Flight. (Hmmm. There seems to be a pastern of Jedi Masters who aren't very understanding teachers turning out to be fanatics . . . )
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  17. Stymi

    Stymi Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jan 10, 2002
    I was JUST reading through back issues of this. Crazy.

    This really is an excellent series. I would say the best Star Wars comic series. By far. One of the best Star Wars stories overall.

    I was also thinking today that there has not been a Star Wars comic book nearly as good since.

    2006 to 2010 was like the golden age of Star Wars funny books.

    Still can't believe DH ended both this and Legacy for their weird 6 book story arc formula. Ruined both books.

    Sent from my Moto X-Wing
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2018
  18. Nobody145

    Nobody145 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 9, 2007
    Yeah, that cancellation really ruined Legacy. Well, Legacy was starting to drag anyway, but still. KotOR on the other hand had reached a natural stopping point at #50. Zayne had already finished his main storyline at #35 already, so the rest was to wrapping up several other major plotlines. KotOR War on the other hand was... unnecessary. Not as good as the rest, but still a mostly decent story (and excellent use of continuity).

    I still have really fond memories of those years. The EU was so vast and seemed to have no end in sight. It'll take years (if ever) before we approach that level of detail again.
     
  19. spicer

    spicer Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 14, 2012
    I too don't think that Shel & Zayne were an official couple, but I always had the impression that it was more than just a crush, as in later issues Zayne states that if he failed to become a Knight he would stay with Shel. Which to me implies that at least Zayne, if not Shel too, was confident that their relationship would work out.

    The last page with the Masters looming over the dead bodies of their padawans, lightsabers ignited, is one of the most iconic panels in any Star Wars comic.
     
  20. JediBatman

    JediBatman Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 3, 2015
    On Wookieepedia, that image is listed as WhatTheHeck.jpeg, which I think is very appropriate.
     
  21. Slater

    Slater Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2014
    Knights of the Old Republic 2: Commencement, Part 2

    [​IMG]

    Notes: http://www.farawaypress.com/comics/swknights/swkotor02.html

    So the issue opens with a flashback to young baby Zayne being cute while his mom and Master Vandar* talk shop and it's the first sign of something else that really sets Zayne apart from other protagonists, not just in Star Wars but in general. Zayne has a very good and stable home life. I'll go into this more when a later issue highlights it more, but it does go along way to filling in the blanks on how he turned out so well, because the neglect and mockery his masters subjugated him to along with a literal magic disability would have logically led to a very different person if he wasn't so grounded by a stable support system of some form. His padawan friends being good lads about how far behind them he was being another.

    The flashback ends with "After all, were not just there teachers, were there protectors" coupled with the imagery of the massacre, and Zayne's terrified face is in my opinion incredible moment that resonates even to something like TLJ or the Prequels.

    Afterwards is when we get the first look at Zayne and Gryph's dynamic while on the same side, and its immediately everything you want it to be, providing humor and character depth to a tense situation without ruining the seriousness of the moment, something that continues throughout the whole comic

    The second they get some space and Zayne has a moment to process, shoutout to the art because its not really the focus but he's very clearly breaking down and the visuals for it our great. Also Gryph being furious about being called an accessory and the accompanying panels are both hilarious and character defining. Then the bar which has Zayne holding it together at the seems while Gryph keeps providing levity, and another key moment happens. We see how fast Zayne's brain works, how quickly he can put things together, and we see him make his first decisive decision thats not running for his life or a task given to him by a Master, even if he doesnt have a concrete way to do it, he has a goal and initiative.

    Speaking of character defining moments and the masters, Lucien's words on the final page really give a good glimpse of the way the Covenant thinks and how they can justify things like murder while not being Sith, "They hate the Sith" but hatred doesnt always lead to becoming a Sith, you can become something even worse, and frankly the fanaticism the Taris masters show is a great window into that reality.

    -Since 2 was released before 0 this is also the first time a game character appears in the comic*

    -Zayne faking the masters out then jumping down the shaft is the first time he does something that doesnt backfire on him in anyway, and its also the first example of him being straight up more cunning then everyone else. (No matter what Gryph thinks)
     
  22. AdmiralNick22

    AdmiralNick22 Fleet Admiral of Literature star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    May 28, 2003
    @Slater

    As a friendly reminder, "re-read" threads require prior Mod approval. Mostly because we want to make sure they are well organized and flow issue to issue. It's apparent you've done a good job on this thread, so we're gonna leave it open. :)

    I'll add personally that I love KOTOR. In a lot of ways, this series is one of the pinnacle achievements of the old EU. I'm excited to follow this thread, I may have to dust off my old comics as well!

    --Adm. Nick
     
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  23. Nobody145

    Nobody145 Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 9, 2007
    Its funny but I have mixed feelings on the KotOR era in general. While TotJ was strange and not the greatest set of stories (aside from Redemption), I'm not that happy that the KotOR game revamped the era (set only a few decades after TotJ) into something much closer to the prequel era. Not to mention SWTOR ripping off even more things, but that's later on.

    One of the best things about Zayne is that he's closer to the knight errant aspect of the Jedi then most Jedi are, especially after most of the EU started taking their cues from the prequel era Jedi (and that idea pops up in another certain series years later too). Of course, the KotOR comic runs with that which is why we get the Taris masters. Its always fun seeing Zayne put up a better chase than anyone, even himself, could ever have dreamed of. As well as early signs that Zayne really isn't that incompetent or weak (like the shattering glass shows) but that was due more to poor teaching. Now that he's found a better teacher, well, the galaxy better watch out.
     
  24. Dr. Steve Brule

    Dr. Steve Brule Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 7, 2012
    KOTOR was able to wrap itself up more smoothly than Legacy, but I think it's still very apparent that the series was cut short a lot sooner than JJM intended, and that if it had gone on longer, it wouldn't quite seem like the first 35 issues and the last 15 were so different, but that the first 35 were maybe the first third of a longer story (it is Star Wars after all) that could still link up into a longer overall story than what we got.

    I still like the series, obviously, but I do wonder just what we lost from it being cut short.
     
  25. Slater

    Slater Jedi Master star 2

    Registered:
    Oct 12, 2014
    Well the end of the original run was planned for a rather long time, early 2009 in fact. It wasnt a sudden thing. DH and JJM were prepping for Knight's Errant and JJM decided to end with Demon as it was a logical stopping point.

    I dont think anything would have changed significantly from what we got tbh. The second half was always planned to end around where it did before going into a Zayne solo adventure, which became War, per JJM's own notes and this post: http://boards.theforce.net/threads/...otor-war-comics.50016528/page-3#post-51182979

    So if the plan had been for Kotor to just keep going, I can see the second half having maybe a couple more issues, then a version of "War", then from there it gets into conjure, probably slowly bringing back the rest of his crew into the fold again per that post by John, but we know for a fact that Zayne ended up doing something important enough while with the Military to be remembered centuries later and have his named used for the main staging area of the Republic Fleet in TOR.

    I will eventually make a post about where Kotor could/might have gone past War if it had (along with a post about what makes Jarael so good, and one what if post if the comic had come before Kotor 2.)
     
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