Knights of the Old Replay: Faithful Execution through Destroyer

Back when I first started this project, I thought that I’d read through most of these comics way back in the day. Turns out I was definitely wrong because I’ve remembered absolutely nothing since they took down the crazy cabal and even some from before that. (I may have been a little bit rubbish about keeping up with and reading Star Wars comics back in my younger days.) But hey! That’s part of what makes this project fun! I’m getting to experience stuff that’s both brand new and stuff that I know like the back of my hand.

Faithful Execution
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Dean Zachary, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

Faithful Execution does a lot to reset the board, so to speak. Actually, I feel like it does even more to do so than Prophet Motive did and Dean Zachary’s art has a lot to do with that since it’s so visually distinctive from the other work we’ve seen in this book. It’s a relatively small-scale murder mystery story but it does a lot to reup the overall story’s intrigue. Now I really want to know more about Zayne’s vacation and what the heck is going on with Jarael.

More importantly though… someone needs to give Elbee a hug.
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Knights of the Old Replay: Exalted through Prophet Motive

There is a slight chance that you will be able to tell how tired I was when I wrote this column. Just a slight one. But that should definitely not detract from my unbridled enthusiasm for some of these issues because hot damn, KOTOR! Hot damn!

Exalted
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Bong Dazo, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

Another one bites the dust DUN DUN Another one bites the dust DUN DUN Another one gone and another one gone Another one bites the dust!

See your way out of that one, Feln! Actually, it should have been pretty easy… common sense says that blowing up a giant warehouse full of Sith objects isn’t a great idea if you’re going for a contained explosion.

The crazy busy pages seem to be Bong Dazo’s niche for this book. None of the other artists on this book manage to capture the chaos of a fight quite like he can. It’s starting to feel like his trademark.

I really don’t have much to say about this arc. Maybe it’s because I read it while stuck in a never-ending loop of Christmas hold music and my brain just went numb. That’s probably it. No wait! I do want to point out that letting Lucien on the Council is just Dumb with a capital D no matter what Vrook and Vandar think they’re being oh so clever about.

Okay, now I’m done. Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Daze of Hate through Vector

One of the fun things about doing this retrospective is that a creator just might pop his head up with some commentary. Last post, I mentioned that Days of Fear/Nights of Anger felt like one big story. Turns out that they are! Those two arcs plus the first two I’m covering in this post are just all one big story split into bite sized chunks for the retailers. (Thank you to the esteemed John Jackson Miller for this insight!) It’s a shame that the entire story couldn’t be in the same omnibus but that’s the way of comics, I suppose.

Daze of Hate
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Bong Dazo, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

I will not ship Alek and Jarael I will not ship Alek and Jarael I will not ship Alek and Jarael I will not— damnit. Here’s the thing: I’m fairly sure that I didn’t have any strong, ship feelings about these two when I first read this comic. I don’t know what changed now unless JJM has some magical ability to go back in time after making me fall for Hera/Kanan to make me fall for another ship? (I used to live such a happy ship-free life, kids.)

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Knights of the Old Replay: Homecoming through Nights of Anger

The Awful Adventures of Zayne Carrick continue and, well, we actually get a really neat mixture of stories and character backstories. I might be doing this whole thing backwards though because I’m pretty sure I wrote the most about the shortest arc this time around. Oh well?

On with the KOTOR!

Homecoming
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Brian Ching, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

Homecoming is really the only thing that this standalone issue could have been called. Lucien and the other Masters return to Coruscant to report back to both the Jedi Council and their manipulators: Lucien’s own mother (Krynda) and Haazen (a failed padawan.) We get a hell of a lot of backstory and our very first encounter with the person who will become Revan! Continue reading

Knights of the Old Replay: Commencement and Flashpoint

And so the KOTOR project actually begins! Interestingly enough, we start with that I remember least. Despite making it my goal to get all of these comic omnibuses as Dark Horse released them, I haven’t actually cracked them open yet so it’s been a very long time since I’ve read these comics. Essentially, I remember the first arc and that’s uhhh mostly it. (Look, it’s hard keeping so much Star Wars in your brain when you read almost everything regardless of era.)

Point is… this is going to be fun!

Commencement
Script by John Jackson Miller, Art by Brian Ching and Travel Foreman, Colors by Michael Atiyeh, Lettering by Michael Heisler

When you make a list of the Jedi that you don’t want to be, the first name on the list should probably be Anakin Skywalker. The second name on the list should be Zayne Carrick. There are a lot of different ways that you could subtitle this first comic arc. Zayne Carrick: Not Great At This Jedi Thing. Zayne Carrick: Having A Really Bad Day. Zayne Carrick: Doesn’t Deserve This Crap. Zayne Carrick: Proud Member Of The You-Try-So-Hard Club. Somehow, they’re all accurate. That poor boy.

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Knights of the Old Replay: Bria Takes On KOTOR

darth revanA long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… a girl got a bad idea.  Or perhaps it was a good idea.  Honestly, it depends on your point of view.  Today is a grand tradition in Tosche Station history.  Back in 2012, this marked the start of the Waru Express and in 2013, it marked the start of the Hondo Caravan.  I took two years off but this feels like the right time to start another big project.  2016 just feels like the right time to embark on a reread and replay of the Knights of the Old Republic comics and games.  

How’s this going to work?  That’s an excellent question!  I’ll be covering the comics a few arcs at a time in a similar method to what I did with the Waru and the Hondo.  There will likely be squeeing and snark and also gifs.  Definitely gifs.  For the games, well… I’m still working on that part but there will probably be a post for every planet.  (Honestly, this part is up to you guys! I’m going to look into livestreaming my game play and maaaaaybe figuring out how to put together a short little highlights video for every post too.)

visas-marrThere is one twist for this particular project: cosplay.  I’ll be working on a Visas Marr costume for Celebration/Dragon Con next year and it seems appropriate that I include any updates about the costume’s progress as this retrospective moves along.  (It also has the side benefit of publicly shaming me if I don’t get any work done on it.)

Knights of the Old Republic is one of those games that I adore and will always adore until the end of time.  I’m genuinely excited to reread the comics because it’s been a few years and even more excited to play through the games again because R E V A N <3  This will also be the very first time that I’m playing through the second game with the cut content restored thanks to mods.  I look forward to having my heart broken.

If you’d like to follow my progress on Twitter, I’ll be using the hashtag #HKExcursion.  The full list is below although the order of the planets for the games is subject to change depending on what I decide on playing first.   Continue reading

The Dichotomy of Revan

darth revanOne of the easiest ways to see the divides in the Star Wars fandom is to have them vote on characters. StarWars.com is currently conducting a poll to determine what character should be Hasbro’s next 6” Black Series figure. The results, thus far, have been causing a lot of chatter.  The favorite right now is Darth Revan from the Knights of the Old Republic games. A lot of fans on Twitter, myself included, have been advocating for Sabine Wren (who is currently in second place) because she’s not only an awesome character but also the only (for sure) female character who made it into the finals. Watching the back-and-forth on Twitter has made me realize that how myself and a bunch of other fans view Revan is almost the exact opposite of how others, including many who aren’t very attached to the KOTOR games, view Revan. (Trust me: the irony of this is not lost on me.)

At his/her core, Revan is a self-insert character. Revan is exactly as cool and as dark side or light side as you choose to make him/her. That’s part of the fun of the games. Revan is played up through the first two-thirds of the game as being this incredible strategist who beat the Mandalorians and probably would’ve beaten the Republic if Malak hadn’t turned into a power hungry betrayer. In Legends, the character was declared to be canonically male for the purposes of The Old Republic game which… is what it is. (I’m already on record as saying I think everything that was post-KOTOR2 canon is dumb but that’s neither here nor there.) Regardless, it’s pushed forward this view of Revan as being this super cool and badass Sith Lord who is badass enough to survive being tortured for a few hundred years and then do… whatever that storyline in the TOR game is. It’s how a lot of those who aren’t KOTOR fans see Revan. After all, what’s all that groundbreaking about another brown haired white guy gone evil and then good and then… possibly good or evil again?

To some fans though, she is way more. To a strong minority, Revan is the woman of color Jedi turned Sith Lord turned hero that we never otherwise get to see. Keep in mind, the first KOTOR game came out back in 2003 when there weren’t too many great female Sith villains never mind many Sith who were people of color. Revan was something different. She was an opportunity. She was a wish fulfillment character that a lot of us had never really had before. In case anyone doubts the lasting affect of Revan, one only has to go check out the KOTOR community on tumblr. We may have our own thoughts on whether she stayed on the light side or fell to the dark again or even which member of her crew she fell in love with but it’s clear that idea of this very capable woman who finds success against all odds holds strong over ten years after the game’s release. Needless to say, she still means a lot to this part of the Revan fanbase, myself included.

Does this all boil down to headcanon? Of course. Again, that was a part of the game’s charm. Does it suck for the (admitted) minority of KOTOR fans who love female Revan that the chances of Hasbro creating a female Revan toy are approximately 3720 to 1? Hell yes. However, despite what Legends canon says, the two Revans are still very much a part of the Star Wars fandom and to completely ignore one when discussing the character in broad strokes is to do part of the fandom a disservice.

Three Video Games and a TV Show

KOTOR logoKnights of the Old Republic: The best Star Wars game that was ever released and that ever will be released.  Yes, I know.  You’re all tired of hearing me talk about how much I love KOTOR but that doesn’t stop it from being a great story and taking another look at it would give Lucasfilm a chance to help fix a few of the problems currently facing them.  I won’t repeat myself and go into how very Star Wars the story is and how great the characters are.  Instead, I’m here to pitch you an idea for the new canon.  Ready?  Here’s the pitch: Revamp both Knights of the Old Republic games for modern consoles and take advantage of the chance to update the graphics and to properly finish the second one, finally make that third KOTOR game, tell the lead up story as a television series on a major network (or even cable), and canonize both Revan and the Exile as women.

Let’s start from the top.  Knights of the Old Republic was fun.  Regardless of what you think of the second game, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Star Wars fan who didn’t enjoy playing the first game.  It’s a well-liked and familiar property set in an era that’s almost definitely unaffected by the Story Group’s new overarching canon.  Bringing the games out of Legend and into official canon could quite possibly go a long way towards making some of those still upset about the canon change happier.  Also, imagine getting to play the games except created with modern technology.  The original games continue to have their charm but modern graphics paired with an awesome story?  (Just think about it, we’ll wait.)  This is also a great opportunity for Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords to be properly finished so we can finally play the droid factory planet without having to mod beyond belief.  A third game to round out the trilogy is a no brainer really.  It’s been ten years and portion of the fan base is still clamoring for KOTOR3.  It’s a license to print money.

A prequel (don’t look at me like that’s a dirty word) would be the best plot line for a tie-in show that would let the games stand alone and it would give the writers plenty to work with.  To tell the story, I’d imagine that perhaps three to four seasons of 10-13 episodes each would be ideal.  They could chronicle the attack of the Mandalorians, the refusal of the Jedi to answer, Revan and Malak going off and becoming heroes as they lead the fight back, their descent into darkness, and then rise of their Sith army.  It would ultimately culminate in Bastila’s mission that results in Revan’s capture and amnesia.  Is it ambitious for a television show?  Sure but we now live in a world where Game of Thrones is wildly successful and has a huge budget.  I could see Disney green-lighting it.

One of KOTOR’s greatest strengths was its characters and Lucasfilm would be wise to take advantage of them.  The supporting crew were all well-rounded with their own backgrounds and motivations and the protagonist was, well, entirely dependent on you.  The best thing though was how diverse the cast was in terms of race, gender, and species.  It’s something more properties should take a note of.  That said, it wasn’t perfect and this is where the game should take a hint from Saints Row IV.  Yes, that Saints Row IV.  In Saints Row, you play as the Boss who is a character you customize completely and your crew treats you the same way regardless of gender including romancing.  During a recent replay of KOTOR, I got frustrated that the game prevented me from being able to romance Bastila as female Revan.  I’d love to see a version of the game that isn’t quite so tied to turn of the century social rules especially since we’ve now seen what Bioware can do.

darth revanI don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that Star Wars continues to have a gender problem though.  We’ve discussed it ad nauseum here at Tosche Station from the lack of representation in merchandise to the painfully unequal casting announcements.  While I will always adore that KOTOR lets YOU decide what gender Revan is and even what they look like, I do thinking officially canonizing it would be a good thing but this time as a woman.  Same goes for the Exile.  John Jackson Miller’s Knights of the Old Republic comics did a pretty good job of skirting the issue of Revan’s gender but if Disney wanted to capitalize on this property and make a live action television show, they’d have to make a definitive call.  By making Revan and the Exile female in what would undoubtedly be a very popular storyline in the franchise, Disney would essentially be forced into giving them the respect that they (and the other female characters) deserve when it comes to merchandizing.  Even in this unfortunate Natasha-less, Gamora-less, and Hera-less world that we live in, I have a hard time seeing them be able to justify NOT making toys of the two main characters.  (Just imagine if they even canonized Revan as a woman of color…)

Three video games (revamped and finished for the modern world) and a TV show are really just the bare bones of the KOTOR initiative.  There’s an opportunity for tie-in novels and comics and toys galore but most importantly, it’s an opportunity to please Star Wars fans both new and existing, make strides towards putting more women in the leading roles, and play around in a part of the timeline that won’t interfere with the films at all.

Also I just really want more KOTOR.  And a TV show about Revan-the-Jedi-Master-Strategist as she defeats the Mandalorians.

Say it with me now: three video games and a TV show!

KOTOR: It doesn’t get any more Star Wars than this

KOTOR logoIt’s been ten years since the first Knights of the Old Republic game was released and after playing it through again recently for the first time in years?  I can happily report that it still holds up awesomely.  The game is just as enthralling to me now in my early 20s as it was when I was in my teens.  A lot of that has to do with how distinctly Star Wars the game is despite being set thousands of years before anyone named Skywalker was of any relevance to the galaxy.  Obviously it has all the superficial markings of Star Wars like the name, lightsabers and Jedi, spaceships, and such but it’s the overall feel of the epic tale that makes it so very obviously a part of the galaxy far far away.

Let’s take a look at some of what not only make this game pure Star Wars but makes it an excellent example for other stories told within the galaxy.

Note: Obviously one of the neatest things about the game is that you make your own choices through your own character and therefore the game could go any number of ways.  I’m writing this piece assuming a light side Revan which is technically canon.  This piece will also have a heavy bias towards playing with a female Revan which sadly isn’t canon but that’s my preferred storyline so canon can deal for the duration of this piece.

It’s a mission to save the galaxy

While it’s hardly a trope unique to the galaxy far far away, it is one of its pillars.  Your character is just an ordinary person (or so you think) who, through a series of circumstances, has to go on a quest through the galaxy to find pieces of the Star Map to help win the war against the Sith.  Along the way, you pick up a number of companions with whom you build friendships and you also often help others out even if they have nothing to do with your main quest.  At the end of the day, you save the day by defeating the evil Sith leader and destroying the space station that was giving them the edge in battle.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Although a story doesn’t always have to have galactic ramifications to be one where good triumphs, that’s a part of what makes this game so good.  The fate of the galaxy is literally in your hands.  You choose whether to be a good guy or a bad guy and whether or not you’re going to save the Republic or take back the Sith Empire for yourself and rule and galaxy.  Granted, the galaxy sort of falls to pieces five years later anyways but the Ebon Hawk and her crew still saved the day!

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Cosplay Monday: Visas Marr and Darth Nihilus

Welcome back to another edition of Cosplay Monday where we try and brighten the start of your week with some of the awesome costumes we’ve seen around the internet!  This week, we’re featuring another set of costumes from Knights of the Old Republic since today is it’s 10th Birthday.  Check out these cool Visas Marr and Darth Nihilus costumes from Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords by Sakara and her friend.  Not only does the National Space Centre in Leicester make a pretty perfect setting for a KOTOR shoot but the costumes look great!  Awesome job!

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