Knights of the Old Republic #43
The Reaping Part 1 (of 2)
Script: John Jackson Miller
Art: Bong Dazo
Coloring: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover: Benjamin Carré
Reviewed by: JF Boivin (01/20/2010)
Zayne and Jarael pass themselves as slavers from the Crucible on a visit to one of their clients the Sungrazer Cooperative. The Koorivar use slaves to mine explosive comets for precious diamond dust and there is a high turnover rate. However, Zayne and Jarael plan to free the slaves and when their cover is blown they have to rush the slaves to the Hot Prospect. But they might not have time, as the Crucible ship Gladiator was alerted and comes to capture the impostors.
I was surprised at how quick of a read this issue was. It's still amazingly good, but I'm used to more elaborate plotlines. In this one, Zayne is the one that came up with a scheme for a change, but he didn't let his partner Gryph on all the details. For Gryph, the Hot Prospect will mine some crystals and leave quick. But for Zayne and Jarael, the intent is to bankrupt the Crucible one client at a time. Thanks to Jarael's past association with them, she remembers some of the major clients from years back. The one they chose now is a crystal mining operation called the Sungrazer Cooperative led by the Koorivar Sariyah Budan who uses slaves as "dustdivers", a deadly job consisting of dislodging crystal dust from unstable comets before they blow up. Zayne is surprised to see that the number of slaves has grown considerably since Jarael last visited them. They are actually ten times more numerous, and now Zayne wonders if they will all fit inside the Hot Prospect.
Having some doubts, the sly Sariyah contacts the last Crucible ship that visited and discovers that they two slavers are impostors. The Crucible also decides to come investigate. When their cover is blown, Zayne and Jarael jump out of the Sungrazer to join the slaves on a huge comet. They manage to fend off pursuers and free the slaves, among them Qohn the Nazzar, and Zayne levitates them towards the Hot Prospect to Gryph's surprise and dismay. But while this is happening, the slaves are captured by skyreaper drones or "skreapers" which means only one things: the Crucible have arrived to find out what's going on. Captain Dace Golliard of the Gladiator promptly orders the Hot Prospect and its crew to surrender or be destroyed. That's what I call a cliffhanger!
It's good to see that the story is moving closer to a confrontation with the Crucible. It's also nice to see Zayne take some initiative. And that Jarael is really good and trying to redeem herself by hindering her former employer's slaving business. Needless to say, Gryph has a smaller role in this story, and Rohlan and Slyssk even smaller ones, but Miller manages to fit them in perfectly and I'm sure they will take part in the action next issue. Of course there are some cool references to the EU, namely the location of the asteroid field in the Koornacht Cluster, and the Nazzar (from Tales of the Jedi) and Koorivar (from the Prequel trilogy) species. Now let's see how the heroes will get themselves out of this one.
I'm not a huge Dazo fan, but because most of the characters in this issue are wearing heavy spacesuits, they don't look as goofy as they usually do when drawn by the artist. And I find even Zayne and Jarael look a lot better than in Dazo's previous works. There are some large panels in this one and even a double splash-page with minimum dialogue, so that's why everything happens so quickly. Apparently, female Koorivar are red-skinned because that's what Sariyah Budan is. Also red are the cool skreapers which are basically tentacled droids that wrap themselves around their "prey". And of course the cover by Carré is amazing as ever.
Zayne and Jarael have attracted the Crucible's attention, but maybe not at the right moment.
Rating: 8.5 / 10 Highly Recommended