Review – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – War #5 of 5

Script: John Jackson Miller
Pencils: Andrea Mutti
Inks: Pierluigi Baldassini
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Benjamin Carre

Zayne is on a last-ditch effort to save the young Jedi from the grasp of Kace as he looks to expand his ranks, there’s a whole plant in question for the Mandalorian control and only a brave group can stop them. With so much on the line is it possible for the bad luck of Zayne to stay at bay or will this all go horribly wrong?

Fortunately this isn’t a cliffhanger ending, we’re in the final chapter of the War series and it’s a tense issue, after using soup and mind games to chase off an entire crew, they’re off to Dantooine to showdown with Kace. The plan is strong and with an entire armory at hand they’re privileged to all the tools they need for the biggest ruse of their lives in this ongoing arms race of the Mandalorian knights.

Miller delivers attention to the holes in the story that opened up, making sure to close out the drama with Kace in full and deliver some heated conflict in the process. We also see some follow-up to everyone after this whole story breaks out giving some resolve until the next time we visit this conflict and universe for more action. The only shortcoming is the big battle, Zayne isn’t a man of conflict and it shows, even in his most violent moment everything feels like he’s just buying time for something more to happen. He has the potential to deliver as we see in so many battles where he’s able to disarm and bring enemies to surrender and it would be nice to see that spotlight come to full light in the future.

We don’t know what happens to Zayne next, just that he’s on another journey, the team did a great job delivering a concentrated story in such a small span.

Links: Pre-Order | Preview

Release date: May 9th, 2012

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – War #4 of 5

Script: John Jackson Miller
Pencils: Andrea Mutti
Inks: Pierluigi Baldassini
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Benjamin Carre

Two plans are underway, Zayne versus Kace and the fate of the young Jedi’s rest in the balance. The war effort is in full swing and Kace will stop at nothing to capture the recruits as his own for the Mandalorians and their strike against the Republic. Zayne has no choice but to call upon his own captured crew to turn the tide of this battle including Morvis who he’s smashed heads against countless times now. This time Zayne has found an effort that he’s willing to risk it all for and we’ll see him play his greatest hand to do anything to see it through.

The story in issue #4 is actually quite light compared to the series so far, we see Kace at a relative calm for most of the issue only really looking to chime in about his upcoming success and check on his own forces ready to come up behind him after the first wave launches into action. Even Zayne is reduced to a simpler role as he sneaks around to get the troops ready  to roll, although part of this comes from Kace removing Zayne from the forefront of the effort due to the revelations about his history and plan that came in issue #3.

It isn’t to say that nothing happens though, Zayne’s latest plan takes the whole story into the realm of spaaaaacee maaadness and causes a scene with the crew unlike anything they’ve encountered. Luckily for Zayne he was able to play his luck just right and pull it off, although for those wondering the cover obviously gives the ruse away.

The art of Knights of the Old Republic War retains consistency for the series, although Zayne appears to have aged considerably in some panels which throws the book off for those keeping tabs on the characters. The expressions have gotten better as well, the rage and horror at the new disease striking the crew was priceless, Zayne in his moments of rage and infection are great gestures to see in the book. Overall the illustrations are strong and effective and in the case of Dantooine it’s priceless to see the planet so radiant in space.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic War #4 is a building block in the series, leading up to the final installment in issue #5 next month as this mini saga comes to a close. The tension between Zayne in Kace in the race to save Dantooine really gets some momentum and we learn about the madness behind Zayne’s methods in greater detail. Is he a brilliant strategist or just a really really lucky guy? You’ll see as it unfolds in this issue.

Release Date: April 11, 2012

Links: Pre-Order | Preview

Story:★★★½☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

World War Hulk goes into 99 cent mode today only!

Hulk gets around in the Marvel Universe, today you can follow some of those tales with a special 99 cent sale this week for the World War Hulk issues. The catch? You need access through the Marvel Comics App

Available titles:

Get to see Hulk react as he returns from a long exile on a distant planet, his wrath is unable to be calmed and former allies face his rage and determination to see the end to the Earth after such a painful judgement that was executed upon him. It’s going to get ugly and you’ll have to read on to see how this turns out for the Marvel Universe.
If you don’t already have the app, get it on iOS or Android today so you can catch those deals!

Review – Spartacus: Vengeance Episode 9 – Monsters

Spartacus weighed his hardest decision last episode, leaving Ilithiya and his possible son to live or cutting her down as retribution. While he picked the noble path for himself it was one he would later regret as Glaber was all but noble in his effort to recover his wife and child. Maybe it was the whole new relationship with Seppia but it was quite a creep move. We see things push forward in Monsters and get a deeper darkness right from the start.

Spartacus starts off the mix disturbing his own people to the harsh reality they live in. Setting them on high alert in a trauma inducing test, no lives are lost but humiliation runs high, the trio are set to bring their people to readiness for the war they’re stepping into and push them out of the calm they’ve been resting in. Unfortunately even Spartacus is questioned when stirring up a storm this large within his own party, defending himself for his choice to free Ilithiya as higher action over the Roman opposition.

His decision rings through on both sides though, the Romans are shaken by Ilithiya’s return, although the one hit the hardest is Ilithiya herself, stumbling and dazed she returns to what she thought as her home. She finds this place though, it is far from a place of comfort or welcome for her, instead it’s simply a conduit to play house while Glaber sets his pursuits in war and his own personal desires. There is some hope at least, Lucretia plays a friend to Ilithiya and offers support, although even she steps back when Ilithiya breaks the news of the truth to the child and only one can wonder what is going to become of such information.

While Ilithiya wishes the light to hit Seppia, Lucretia also enlightens her that she already knows a deeper truth to it all. With that, well a new plan is already underway from the duo to bring the suppressed rage to a boil and out into some level of retribution or downfall to Glaber for his evil in striking down Seppius. The whole affair is quite a mix as an old face comes into the company of the group and shakes Glaber to his core with troubling news from Rome. The man takes the one thing dearest to Glaber and sweeps it away setting up a massive finale to come.

The episode is a mix of social development and drama, we see Seppia struggle to establish her worries as such a young girl in a world of corruption and authority. Without sufficient cause to prove anything she can only stumble and fall learning the harsh ways of the world and find the end she wishes.

Spartacus faces the same to greater reward from his own people, putting them to the test in combat and alliance, to find their resolution so strong that they can rest easy about the horrible battles to come forward as the Romans set to close in on them. It’s a brutal world coming up and we see the darkness roll in throughout the episode.

If the show seemed to be dark before, it holds nothing to the plague of evil that develops in this episode, to top all of that off the slaves are set to their ultimate test that sets up the final episode of this series with only madness ahead and the eyes of Rome fixed solely upon them from this point on. If you’ve been waiting for the show to sink into the depths, if you’ve wanted harsh and hard battles in your face, it’s safe to say that Monsters does this and it does it so well it drives a desire to know what this final episode will bring in Wrath of the Gods for the Vengeance series.

Visually some of the episode could have been done better, it’s understandable as they break out into the open across so many locations that cutbacks might be needed. Unfortunately having some wounds look like a bottle of tempera paint is shooting out doesn’t quite get it done and tends to pull away from the immersion, given they’ve managed to get this aspect right so many times before it’s a bit of a shock to see issues with blood still going on for the team. They nailed this quite a few times this season so it’s a wonder how they can’t keep it consistent, hopefully the teams can get this settled soon as it breaks the sense of action when you’re able to question if someone got their neck cut or if a bucket of paint exploded. It’s one of the few areas slamming this season down for quality as the rest tends to feel seamless.

Spoiler rundown:

[spoiler show=”Show Episode 9 Spoilers” hide=”Hide Episode 9 Spoilers”]Romans

  •  Ilithiya plays second to no one, Seppia and Glaber will learn of this the hard way
  • Varinius makes a return to steal the capture of Spartacus and ride him about Ilithiya
  • Glaber is ordered to return to Rome immediately to answer for his shortcomings
  • The dark duo of Ilithiya and Glaber reunite to step out of the cloaks and unleash hell
  • We see the last step of a trio of kills made by those residing in the House of Batiatus
  • Glaber before news from Varinius promises to leave the estate to Ashur

Spartacus

  • Surprises his own people in an ambush using his own weakness of their temple, shakes them up
  • Opposition and tempers flare as morning sets in and they’re put to task
  • They’re able to intercept Varinius but Glaber launches a sneak attack unlike any other
  • The lack of preparation strikes hard at his people, making for difficult times ahead

[/spoiler]

Story:★★★★★ 
Cinematography:★★★½☆ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Review – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – War #3 of 5

Script: John Jackson Miller
Pencils: Andrea Mutti
Inks: Pierluigi Baldassini
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Benjamin Carre

As a recruited member into the Mandalorians, Zayne reaches out to his worst task yet… to make a move for the group toward his home world of Phaeda. His options are an invasion or optionally finding an alternative in the manner that only he can muster up, it’s not an easy moment for the Jedi but with the clock ticking and the options so limited he has to pull the ultimate ruse to keep those he loves safe.

The crew sets off to Phaeda on their next invasion goal, Zayne plays the only card he has to grant safe passage through the Republic walls with a ruse of biological contamination decimating their forces since their departure. With a little assistance from Kace he’s able to sell the plot and spare his people for now, instead their destination will serve as a suitable consolation prize giving them even higher reward than originally planned without the casualties and bloodshed that might have come from a frontal assault. It’s a tough road for Zayne in this issue, still trying to balance mercy with all the things on his plate when those in battle with him would rather see their enemies fall in bloodshed and Zayne with them.

Unfortunately even the best plans have their weak points, Zayne hoping to preserve life and get everyone to cooperate is a great idea but if any snag hits that chain of events it can all go south, with the Mandalorians as such an impatient group those snags turn fatal at the slightest inclination of trouble. We see a calculating side of Zayne and even a slightly understanding version of Kace as well, stepping into his past and finding what drives him into battle and what fired up his rejection of the Republic in this battle. Even more we get a taste of what Kace has in store for this fight and how the Mandalorians will gain their edge to take them to victory under his watch, with this revelation we see Zayne start to form his own resolve in this fight and the turning point kick up in the War series.

KOTOR War #3 has brought the series forward quite a bit, the character gestures and positions are no longer strange or unrealistic, in fact they’re shaping up out of the more cartoon-like tones they once had. Watching Morvis and Zayne showdown doesn’t feel strange, it’s understood of the clash of Zayne’s new attitude vs Morvis raging out about being left behind after making an attempt at the Mandalorians. The Color balance is smooth using lots of transitions to sell each panel as a crafted piece of work and the ink shading allows for this to show through as it’s not overly used. This series has never had a moment to rest so it’s not surprising to see this mid-point hammer down the story and pave the road for the next issues, the next two books should be a very interesting ride for those following it so far.

Release date: March 14, 2012

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review – Knights of the Old Republic – War #2

Script: John Jackson Miller
Pencils: Andrea Mutti
Inks: Pierluigi Baldassini
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Benjamin Carre
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Benjamin Carre Cover

Zayne Carrick seems to have no luck at all, after trying to flee to start a new life he’s drafted into the Republic war effort and as we left him in issue #1… he’s about to switch sides in the same war after being captured. The Mandalorian’s are pushing with full force in their effort to conquer, capture and expand their footprint in the galaxy against the Republic with their own stockpile of Jedi on their side including Zayne. Was it Zayne’s best move to rush into the Mandalorian filled forest to warn them? We find out in this issue as the Mandalorian’s are exposed outside of just being a conquering group of mercenaries and slaves in this war.

The intro of course doesn’t support that last line, the Mandalorian Knights and soldiers are storming a new planet, tactically crippling their communications and taking over their people as a whole. Zayne is pressed to learn the ropes of this outfit as they go in guns blazing and everyone holds their own or dies trying. The Mandalorian way seems to escape him as he fails to preserve life and narrowly dodges enslavement. It’s war and he has to get with it or be destroyed by it, unfortunately this message doesn’t ring through all of the new recruits and it slaps Zayne right in the face.

Issue #2 of War takes us not only through the struggles of Zayne but the world of the Mandalorian faction, they’re builders and survivors, instead of living as slaves they have a surprising optimism to their lives and work. Going so far as to continue the new chapter by even setting roots as they go from planet to planet expanding their front in this war. It’s a shock to see the death mask removed from them even though some are unable to accept what they see before their eyes.

As I complain that some stories go by too fast, KOTOR War #2 extends itself out to give background while still showcasing the battles and personal struggles of Zayne as he’s caught up in this battle and learns that he might have a role to still fit in all of it.

The art and style of the book are consistent and filled with pure tones, taking on more of a comic form they’re stressed around accuracy to the Star Wars franchise and conveying emotion through the words more than just the art. The controlled strokes of the book rely on shadowing and faster gestures to really only emphasize deep thought and action sequences. The rest retain a very straight forward gesture as wounds, gunshots and more are all clearly depicted. For those who have enjoyed the KOTOR series so far, War is a worthwhile investment as it dives right into this battle and creates an early bond with the reader.

Preview it: Dark Horse Comics
Pre-order: TFAW 

Release Date: February 8th, 2012

Story:★★★★½ 
Art:★★★★☆ 
Dialog:★★★★½ 
Overall:★★★★½ 

Review: Knights of the Old Republic – War #1

Script: John Jackson Miller
Pencils: Andrea Mutti
Inks: Pierluigi Baldassini
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Benjamin Carre
Variant Cover Art: Dave Wilkins
Published by: Dark Horse Comics

Benjamin Carré cover

Star Wars: The Old Republic is here, it’s rampaging through the world and few have managed to avoid it. To continue on that timeline we have a special treat with a review of Knights of the Old Republic – War (KOTOR), a favorite for many gaming enthusiasts before Bioware went huge with Mass Effect and Dragon Age.

KOTOR – War takes us to the Mandalorian Wars setting up a critical point in the Jedi timeline when the Republic is making a call for help and the council is seeking to stay neutral to their current situation. Readers drop into the possibly familiar seat of Zayne Carrick, an unlucky draftee who sits split on where he’s been and where his future might be. As war rages forward with the Republic, one can see the layers of misdirection and deception unfolding in this new story and the twists to come. It’s a solid introduction into this 5 part series, one can’t help but feel it’s just too short, as soon as it finds a rhythm the chapter is over and leaves the reader hanging for more. John Jackson Miller manages to capture the heart of the saga while developing this unique character torn apart by their past and the war they’ve been forced into. With Jedi’s, Mandalorians and the Republic all at odd’s and betrayal coming from every angle it’s hard to imagine this going along peacefully, it’s going to be a wild ride so hold on tight.

The art of the book is crisp and clean, only a few panels had slightly obscure body form, the most prominent being Zayne, in his first panel his rib cage seems to break forward for no reason. Outside of this moment there are no other prominent instances that stand out, the character races stay true to their form as seen in the past movies and books. Andrea Mutti goes to great lengths to develop a unique cast throughout the pages while giving each a flavor of personality as they change expressions, locations and build a sense of familiarity in this new world even as it’s destroyed section by section. Pierluigi Baldassini and Michael Atiyeh follow that momentum up by delivering clean and detailed panels with a wide gaumut of color, Zayne’s lightsaber is a great example of it in use.

Dave Wilkins cover

As a continuation off of Knights of the Old Republic it’s refreshing that anyone can jump into this book and feel comfortable in the story. I do admit I need to catch up on Zayne’s past exploits, Miller is very forgiving in his writing to those who have just joined his storyline which makes it a recommendation for anyone looking to expand or rejoin the Star Wars comic universe after being brought back into the fold with the release of SWTOR.

Release Date: January 11, 2012  | Pre-order from TFAW

Story:★★★★☆ 
Art:★★★★½ 
Dialog:★★★★☆ 
Overall:★★★★☆ 

Bad times – Gears of War 3 leak confirmed by Epic Games

Sometimes you wish you could get your hands on a game early, be it playing it first hand at E3 or Comic-Con or PAX, you just want that extra hour of play. Unfortunately someone took it a little too far this last week and not only got their hands on a test version of Gears of War 3, but they also dumped it to the net. Poor form by those who did it, of course rips like these are for cred in the scene but still it blows because it’s a spoiler for the entire community at large as trolls will no doubt embrace the potential to drop bombs on the story.

Full quote from Epic:

We have seen the reports of Gears of War 3 content being propped on the Web and working closely with our security teams and law enforcement to address the situation. This content is not from a final build and is not representative of what fans will enjoy when the game launches worldwide on September 20, 2011.

Source: Dana Cowley (Epic Games) | Save and Quit

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