Knights of the Old Republic #23
Knights of Suffering Part 2
Story: John Jackson Miller
Art: Dustin Weaver
Inking: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Colin Wilson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/27/2008)
In Taris' Lower City, Zayne, The Gryph and the Hidden Beks entered the Resistance headquarters. But some members are not willing to ally with them, including the Jedi Raana Tey and Zayne's former friend Shel who both accuse Zayne of killing his fellow Padawans. But Goravvus, the Resistance's leader and Senator of Taris, mediates the encounter and together they plan to blow up the Mandalorians' operation center inside the former Jedi Tower. Raana Tey will go along with them for now, but she still has plans of her own for Zayne.
Last issue ended in a tense cliffhanger, which resolves itself pretty quickly. Being a Jedi, Raana Tey cannot possibly kill someone in cold blood in front of her allies of the Resistance, so she planned to convince Shel to do it. But the effort is countered physically by The Gryph and his associate Del Moomo. The Hidden Beks' leader Gadon Thek also won't stand by and let members of his group be attacked. Then the Constable and her police force threaten to arrest Thek who is a known swoop gang leader and criminal. All these confrontations are stopped when Senator Goravvus asks everyone to calm down. Thek delivers the Constable's children back to her saying that Zayne found them, so then they have another member on their side. The only ones whose opnions are not so easily changed are Raana Tey and her protégé.
As seen last issue, The Gryph came here for a reason. He was hired by Jervo Thalien, head of Lhosan Industries, to find the Senator and deliver a message to him. The bulky briefcase The Gryph has been carrying around (and which took the brunt of a hit aimed at Zayne last issue) contains an emergency holo transmitter that can get through the Mandalorians' communication jamming. So when The Gryph activates the communication with Thalien, he finds out to his dismay that the company mogul didn't want to find the Senator for their friendship. Turns out that Goravvus threatened to reveal publicly that he originally bribed some Senators in order to bring Taris into the Republic. In exchange, he received a seat in the Senate. But when Lhosan Industries abandoned Taris in the face of the Mandalorian invasion (and relocated on Wayland), Goravvus threatened to go public with the crime. The Mandalorian invasion has held him back, but Thalien didn't want to have the Senator run loose with that knowledge. So Thalien put a bounty on Goravvus' head and sent the Moomo brothers to catch him, and used The Gryph for his knowledge of the Lower City but left him unaware of his true motives. The holoreceiver still works even though the briefcase was damaged, but thankfully for everyone, the bomb planted inside does not throwing off Thalien's backup plan. Realizing he's been duped and that Thalien was willing to sacrifice him, Del Moomo throws in with the Resistance and thanks to his knowledge of explosives is able to make the bomb fucntional again, providing them with a means of destroying the Mandalorian control tower. The Senator makes a deal with the defeated Thalien: he asks the head of Lhosan to use his resources to provide every resistance cell with emergency transmitters like this one, and in exchange he won't reveal anything about the company's shady past.
The next scene involves Zayne trying to convince Shel of his innocence, starting with the revelation that the money she received to get her and he younger brother Shay off planet was sent by him. But as soon as Shel starts to believe him, Raana Tey comes in and puts more doubts in her head. Zayne and Raana have a verbal confrontation, and Shel becomes more confused. The Senator then arrives and tells them that they learned that Cassus Fett himself is inside the Jedi Tower and the Resistance plans to destroy it with Thalien's bomb. During a conference with all members of the Resistance, it is determined that a recon team has to be sent inside the tower first. Zayne and Shel volunteer for the task, and Raana Tey wants to go as Shel's protector. This will put her in perfect position to have Shel kill Zayne when they are alone. Meanwhile, Gadon Thek and his riders will clear the Lower Sith foundation area, with The Gryph along to keep in touch with the recon team via commlink. So the stage is set for next issue!
This issue also has a few interludes. The opening scene shows Cassus Fett (after hearing about him, we finally see him in person) commanding his army from his war room, formerly known as the Jedi Council chamber. The are a couple of scenes aboard the Moomo Williwaw showing Rohlan, Jarael and Alek distracting themselves while waiting to hear from Zayne. Alek and Jarael have a tender moment after a practice duel, but Jarael resists the Jedi's advances. There is also a letter page, and another installment of "The Adjudicator: The Freelance Security Professional's Holofeed" which reveals that Lhosan Industries have offered 100,000 credits for killing Marn Hierogryph... I guess Thalien is not keeping his promise of dropping the charges and bounties against him and Zayne.
This is the third issue in a span of 5 weeks, not counting the KotOR Handbook! Is this a bi-weekly title now? I am not complaining, I am just impressed by Miller's productivity. This title has always been on track, as opposed to other series such as Rebellion and Dark Times which suffered some long delays in the past. This is a major plus for the series. But more importantly, this is a very elaborate, well tought-out plot. Miller manages to skillfully weave together several elements (a major corporation, a Senator, an insane Jedi and a swoop gang) against the backdrop of a full-scale Mandalorian invasion. As always, the dialogue is intelligent, adding some humor where appropriate to keep all the drama from becoming too intense. The interaction between these numerous characters is interesting and makes sense: each of their actions and motives are well-defined without resorting to clichés. The writer manages to still surprise the reader at every turn and come up with unexpected twists and great cliffhangers. All this while also resolving subplots that were set-up way back in the "Commencement" story arc from issues #1-6!
I mentioned this before, but I really love Atiyeh's coloring work. He's my favorite Star Wars colorist so far, and his style works perfectly with Weaver's artwork. It's just a great combination. Whether it's a wide view of a cityscape or a starship fleet, or a close-up of a character, Weaver includes details that give life to the story. I really love to see Del Moomo in action. the Ithorian's likeness is amazing, and his outfit and weaponry add a lot to his personality. From his actions in this issue, you wouldn't know that he's the bumbling idiot from the "Reunion" story from issues #11-12. We see mostly the interiors of Lower City buildings in this issue, and the designs and lighting schemes are inspired by the ones in the first KotOR video game. The Resistance meeting to plan their attack (in a circular room with a large holoprojector in the center) is reminiscent of the Mon Mothma scene in Return of the Jedi. There's even a Mon Calamari among the audience! Overall, while not perfect, the pencils, inks and colors combine perfectly together to create a very nice looking book.
Still more set-up for the action that will come in the third act.
Rating: 7 / 10 Recommended