Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic - War #2
The Mandalorian Wars heat up as this new series about the Old Republic takes off!
The first Knights of the Old Republic comics story, Commencement, found Zayne completely out of control of events for more than half the story. Had it not been for his friends, he would have been captured quickly — not even surviving to get bailed out at the end. In a much larger way, his new friends had done just what his fellow students had done in the first issue by paying for the damage he did to the restaurant; Zayne owed them all. He could only repay the students by getting them justice — but he could repay his new friends by helping them fight the things they were running from. That was the overarching theme of the ongoing series from Commencement to Demon. Vindication only repaid his debt to the students. Zayne's debt from "Commencement" couldn't be discharged until he'd helped everyone — and while he took a wandering path to it, he did finally help Jarael.
Part of the idea with "War" was to set Zayne up with a similar impossible situation, only without the friends to lean on. He's again caught between huge forces — Republic, Mandalorian, and rogue Jedi — but this time, he can't depend on anyone else. If the Republic kept Zayne off-balance in #1, #2 was about the Mandalorians doing the same. He's got no more command of the sitiuation than the kid in "Commencement" did at this point in the story -- but as we'll see, he's not the same kid from "Commencement" any more. He knows there's no "Last Resort" coming to rescue him -- and so, as we see here, the wheels are already beginning to turn. We'll see a lot more in the issue that follows.
We jokingly referred to this story as "Dances With Mandalorians," as Zayne would, for the first time, find out a lot more about the Mandalorians and their philosophy. We only saw bits and pieces of their way of life in the previous series -- and nothing about why a character would want to be a Mandalorian. This issue provides a better picture of that.
Ko Sornell is, incidentally, someone we've seen before — or rather, heard from before. Under her full name of Koblus Sornell, she's the signal specialist who fences electronically with the actor playing Captain Goodvalor in the short story "Interference." Sornell was all Mandalorian and had a way with words when dealing with newbies: "And for you new recruits: 'Cui ogir’olar' is Mando’a for 'it’s irrelevant.' Or, in my clan, 'You will bleed a lot if you ask again.' So don’t say you didn’t know."
The story was about how the Republic and the Mandalorians didn't understand each other at all, and "War" is in some sense another chapter in that story. "Interference" is regrettably no longer online, but it isn't vital for understanding what Ko thinks about the Jedi and the Republic here. It'll just be some fun background should it resurface.
Dorjander Kace's philosophy gets a hearing, here — and we begin to see that not all the Mandalorians are thrilled to have Kace along. Before this issue was released, there was some discomfort voiced in the costuming community that the Mandalorian Knights would fundamentally change what a Mandalorian was; as we see in this issue, Kace represents not a new clan but a Jedi cabal, similar in some ways to the Covenant. The existence of the Covenant didn't change what it meant to be a Jedi; in fact, it underscored what a true Jedi should and shouldn't do. I think readers will see a similar dynamic going on here with the Mandalorians.
Finally, an aside on the challenges of depicting a lot of Mandalorians at once. I don't know that the Mandalorians really can't find helmets for everyone they recruit, but it's important that we see Zayne and his expressions -- and while you can do a lot with body language (as Demagol did) the armor also hides a lot (as it did with Demagol). The fact that most new warriors are in Neo-Crusader armor makes things even more tricky. As it works out, here, Zayne is mostly in scenes early on with Morvis, who's also unmasked, and Kra'ake, who's in red because of his rank.
- The Valorettes? What are Valorettes? Hmm...
- Hut'uun is a bit of Mando'a we used way back in #8.
- Ko's armor in #1 is slightly different than her Neo-Crusader outfit here; as a veteran predating the widest spread of that movement, she almost certainly has several pieces of armor to work with. My thinking is that a lot of the old guard, Kra'ake included, is pretty pragmatic when it comes to these things — they're not going to abandon armor they already have if it still works.
- The whole "instant city" element is something we wanted to really play up for the Mandalorians; it's what you'd expect from techno-nomads. They've been there an hour, so Ko's home has already been built!
- One reason I chose Devaronian as the species for the Sornells is specifically because of the gender difference in lifestyle, as described in the Ultimate Alien Anthology. Half the species is described as never traveling -- but clearly, the Mandalorian ethic has over-ruled that element in their society.
- Jebble, of course, is a place we saw back in Vector. No wonder it's an awkward moment for Zayne!
- Morvis's parents were described first in the KOTOR Handbook. Morvis's father's work on the financial exchange acts is also discussed in the KOTOR Campaign Guide.
- One of the fun things about Andrea Mutti's style is the number of alien wild animals we see on panel throughout the series. It's got a nice travelogue feel!
- We learn that Dorjander Kace was succeeded on the Jedi Council by Lucien Draay, and it may be apparent that Kace is older than Lucien. I usually hear James Coburn for Kace -- the ruddy, crackling voice of a very serious customer who's seen it all!
This issue has been reprinted in the following collections:
Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 3 (Dark Horse, 2015),
available from Amazon.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 10 (Dark Horse, 2013),
available from Amazon.
The issue is also available digitally from Marvel.com.