Knights of the Old Republic #24
Knights of Suffering Part 3
Story: John Jackson Miller
Art: Dustin Weaver
Inking: Dan Parsons
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Colin Wilson
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/29/2008)
Zayne and Shel enter the Jedi Tower, now the siege of the Mandalorian invasion, to confirm if the leader Cassus Fett is inside so the Resistance can destroy the building. But Zayne doesn't find Fett inside the temple that was his home for most of his youth: instead, he must confront Raana Tey the Jedi Master who intends to finish the job that became known as the Padawan Massacre. Zayne finally proves his innocence to Shel, and finds some answers as to who would be behind the plot to falsely accuse him of killing his friends, including Shel's brother.
After a flash back, which becomes relevant later on in the story, we see the Resistance's plan from last issue set in motion: Raana Tey enters a vent that leads inside the Jedi Tower, while Zayne and Shel walk through the front door disguised as Mandalorian and prisoner. On the way, they have a very heated 4 pages-long discussion in which Zayne tries to convince Shel of his innocence. Some Mandalorian warriors outside the tower come to investigate what the commotion is about, and Shel improvises a classic cover up which prompts the funniest line of the issue: one Mandalorian exclaims "Leave him alone. He's recruiting."
Once the two get inside the storage level of the tower, Zayne unlocks the vent door as planned and they wait for Raana Tey to enter. But Shel also has a plan of her own which Raana Tey secretly gave her last issue. While Zayne is reminescing about his lost friend Shad, Shel picks up one of the Padawan's lightsabers off a rack in which she is supposed to insert a crystal that Raana Tey gave her. But she hesitates and Raana arrives as Zayne is leaving the room to complete his mission to confirm the presence of Cassus Fett. He goes upstairs to the Jedi Council chamber where Fett is supposed to be located, only to find it empty. A lone Mandalorian explains to Zayne, which he mistakes for one of his kind, that Mandalorians are nomads and never stay in one place for long. So the whole mission is a bust; Cassus Fett is not in the tower. Even worse, Zayne learns that the Mandalorian leader has found the Resistance's secret base and is presently planning an assault.
As Zayne prepares to leave in a hurry, Raana Tay enters more insane than ever and kills the Mandalorian. Zayne has no choice but to defend himself with everything at his disposal: his own lightsaber (which he hasn't used much so far during the entire series), the jetpack on his armor and a blaster. Despite his efforts, Raana Tey is still a Jedi Master and injures the young Zayne. As she approaches him for the final blow, she taunts him by revealing she has killed Padawans before. This is enough to convince Shel, who was sneakeing in and overheard. Shel backstabs Raana with the lightsaber she was supposed to kill Zayne with.
Meanwhile, Gryph and Gadon Thek have been flying up the side of the tower on a swoop and throw a tow cable down at the two youngsters inside. At this moment, Raana Tey, badly injured but still alive, jumps up at them for the final kill. But she misses and falls on top of the roof. Zayne offers his hand, and Raana would accept it except that one of her hands is stuck in a broken glass window. When she lifts her lightsaber to cut her own hand off, Gryph mistakes it for an attack and activates the detonator to blow up the bombs set up at the base of the tower. As Raana disappears in the crumbling building, she shouts back to Zayne "Tell Krynda I'm sorry!"
After two issues of set-up, which were far from boring, the long-awaited conclusion is finally here. No time for humor in this climactic event. Even though the mission to kill or capture Cassus Fett is a total failure, it turns out to be a personal win for Zayne as he finally convinced Shel of his innocence and he learned the name of someone who might be behind the conspiracy. One of the five "traitorous, evil Jedi Masters" as Zayne calls them is gone. Her death is felt by Lucien and Q'anilia, but they are more concerned that Zayne knows the name "Krynda". We also see the incredible loyalty Gryph has towards Zayne, to the point that Gadon Thek is inspired to risk his life in helping to rescue the boy. The story is not over yet: the Resistance is under attack by Cassus Fett's forces, and next issue will mark the ultra-hyped "Vector" crossover. And I can't wait to see how all of this will fit together.
The back pages include a "Defense Ministry Daily Brief" from the Galactic Republic and a farewell editorial by series (this one and Rebellion) editor Jeremy Barlow. But Jeremy is not going far: he will be editor for the revived Indiana Jones publishing line, which will be jumpstarted with an adaptation of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull written by KotOR's own John Jackson Miller! I just hope the line lasts longer under Jeremy's guidance than it did last time (12 years already since the last series ended!)
As much as I like Weaver's artwork, the highlight of this issue has to be the tense duel between Raana Tey and Zayne. But it's not an intense lightsaber duel like we saw in the Star Wars movies. It pits one crazed Jedi Master against a semi-inefficient Padawan. It's a down and dirty fight, and Zayne really fears for his life as we can see in his expressions and perspiration. The whole sequence is very well orchestrated by the artist, from the initial blows to the jetpack hovering, and the Force push that destorys the skylight, sending shards of glass in Raana's face. All the emotions of Zayne's sincerity and Shel's realization that he is innocent are incredibly well conveyed. Zayne looks very nervous and scared for his life. It's a very dramatic, intense issue, and Weaver is a big contributor to that mood. Atiyeh is also a real master colorist. All the tones and shades are just right for each scene, and I love the progression from the orange dusk sky at the beginning to the early night at the end. this creates a whole awareness of the passing time. One little tidbit: I loved the Wookiee warrior in his partial Mandalorian armor on the streets of Taris, a cool way to show that Mandalorians recruit just about any species into their ranks at this point.
The second year of KotOR ends with a bang! Literally.
Rating: 8 / 10 Highly Recommended