Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shepherd492 reviews: Star Wars: Tales of The Jedi: Knights of the Old Republic

Tales of the Jedi: Knights of the Old Republic


Knights of the Old Republic is a 1994 trade paperback that collects the two part "Beast Wars of Onderon" and the three part "Saga of Nomi Sunrider" story arcs. They were republished in the Tales of the Jedi, Vol. 1 omnibus. This review will assign 0-50 points for each of the two arcs.

Ulic Qel-Droma and the Beast Wars of Onderon

This arc serves as, and reads very much like, an introductory arc. Set long after the previous arc in the series, this story concerns Ulic Qel-Droma, an up and coming Jedi, and his efforts to bring peace to the world of Onderon. Together with his two completely forgettable companions, he travels to the world of Onderon, in which a civil war between the nomadic outcasts and technologically advanced city dwellers is under way. What follows is a story that is fairly thin on plot, but features some solid artwork. In particular, the Onderonian beasts look great, and the action scenes are among the best in the series.

Great action scenes are the redeeming factor of this series.
The book is far from perfect, however. Cringe worthy dialogue pops up frequently throughout the book, and the villian is pretty lame. Also, a scene where one of the Jedi loses an arm, but is mostly better minutes later is pretty silly, especially when its just one of the minor companions. Another flaw is the overabundance of expository passages. This is a trend for the series, but there is simply too much additional detail that we really don't need, especially in a comic book, where a detailed history of Onderon takes up 6 pages instead of a paragraph or two.

One of the more glaring examples of the overabundance of exposition in this comic.
That being said, there is hope for Ulic/this story arc. The end of the comic hints at an upcoming struggle with the dark side, and hopefully the plot thickens quite a bit for the next arc in this story line. There isn't a ton to like here, the art is fairly mediocre, and overall it is pretty sub-par.

Sub Score
27/100

The Saga of Nomi Sunrider

The Saga of Nomi Sunrider starts with a horrid first issue, but a change in the artist and a significantly better storyline for the final two issues manage to redeem it, and make it one of the better Star Wars comics around. The problems with the first issue mainly concern the artwork. Not only is the style cheap and uninspired, but on several occasions it significantly detracts from the story. Nomi's hair looks extremely weird in these opening pages, there is a bizarre bipedal rat creature, and a dinosaur Jedi master. Not to mention the story itself is average in concept, but rather poorly done (far too much exposition, an implausible scenario or two.) Issue one sets up a train wreck all around, with only Nomi's impending tutelage offering any hope for the rest of the arc.

This is the central antagonist for much of the story. Villains are not this tale's strong suit.
Starting with issue two, things get substantially better. Nomi's hair looks normal, the dinosaur Jedi gets fleshed out and looks marginally less ridiculous, and the storyline is much improved. The world of Ambria is well developed and in fact one of the most significant improvements are the amazing landscapes seen in this comic. They add a sense of mystery and foreboding to a story that desperately needed some weight. Nomi's persona is a bit more concrete here too, and Thon (dinosaur Jedi) ends up being a fairly solid teacher. The final battle is cinematic and enjoyable, and represents a major development in Nomi's character. This arc has me excited for the next in the series, based solely on the strength of its conclusion.

An example of the excellent landscapes present in the book.
That isn't to say that the book is perfect after the 32nd page, however. There are still deep flaws concerning the villains which never establish themselves as a credible threat, and the expository boxes, which continue to pop up throughout the story and perhaps demonstrate a complete lack of understanding the genre. The dialogue is also pretty lame, though there are a few memorable passages. That being said, Nomi is a good enough character, and the art is solid enough that this is an above average book in my eyes.

Sub Score
36/50

Conclusion

Knights of the Old Republic is not a great book. It is mostly an introduction to future arcs of the series, and as a result structured as such. The persistent problems with villains and random text boxes everywhere are concerning, though the art is much improved by the end of the book and Nomi's character is extremely promising. A good, but not great book on the whole.

Final Score

63/100

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