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Knights of the Old Republic 1: Commencement, Part 1

What is it ? : Marn Hierogryph is showing some clients some goods he is selling, spice and ale, but when he opens the shutter to his warehouse inside is Zayne Carrick, Jedi Padawan, or Intern as Gryph calls him. Gryph flees, causing a platform to collapse, covering Zayne in Ale, but Zayne recovers and pursues.
Zayne tries to use a mind trick on Gryph to get him to surrender, but Gryph resists causing Zayne to fall.
Below a senator is trying to get a businessman to invest in Taris, but he is scared of the gang violence, but the Senator assures him that the Jedi are dealing with it. The businessman sees Zayne in his Jedi outfit plummeting past and pulls out of the deal.
Zayne smashes through a window, only to have multiple Lightsabers pulled on him, and he discovers that he has smashed into a Banquet that he and the other Jedi were to attend. His Master, Lucien Draay, chides him on his lateness, and the fact he smells of the Ale knocked onto him. Zayne says that he was trying to capture Gryph, but Lucien says that it is too late, and he will have to do that later.
The other Padawan's are going to be promoted the next day, and Zayne is doubtful he will join them, but they point out that the Jedi order is getting desperate for numbers due to the Mandalorian Wars. And Zayne grumbles that Lowered Standards seem to be his patron protectors.
One of the other Padawan's, Shad Jelavan, comments that he thinks that Zayne is pretending so he will flunk out and can remain on Taris where Shads sister, Shel is, and Zayne and Shel share a moment where she helps him recover from his fall.
Master Lucien and Master Q'Anilia, a MIraluka seer looks on, and they discuss that they must do what they must do, and that Q'Anilia will miss the Padawans. Before commenting that Zayne has been amusing at least, and telling Zayne to compensate the owner for the damage he caused in his arrival, and that he should meet them back at the Temple as soon as possible.
The other Padawan's give Zayne some of their money to help him pay, but Zayne spots Gryph from a window and rushes off without paying to get the criminal.
When he grabs Gryph he shouts he is being mugged, but Zayne distracts the crowd by throwing the money into the air.
He grabs Gryph using the Force, and cuffs him to a speeder bike and takes him to the Jedi Temple. Realising he's late for meeting with Master Lucien, so he leaves Gryph cuffed to the bike while he rushes away to meet with the Masters.
He bursts into the chamber apologising for his lateness, but discovers the other Padawan's are all lying dead at the feet of their Masters, who turn towards him with their lightsabers still ignited, telling him he is late. At which Zayne turns and flees . . . .

High Points : And we get to the core premise of the comic (or at least at this point), the Jedi Masters appear to have killed their own Padawans (although it could be that they also just entered, ignited their lightsabers at finding the bodies. But that said, they do look guilty as hell at this moment), so Zayne goes on the run.
And the issue does a great job at setting Zayne up as out protagonist, he's a bit of a comedy figure, smashing into meetings, causing interplanetary trade deals to fall through, and getting covered and stinking of Ale. But this really seems to be bad luck, as he's competent enough, partially mind tricking Gryph, levitating him so he can't escape, and surviving his fall. It's just he has terrible luck, almost as if as it said last issue, he's proof the Force has a sense of humour.
And it also does a fantastic job of bringing us into Zayne's world, we discover that he and one of his fellow Padawan's sisters have a bit of a thing going on, that the other Padawan's care about Zayne a lot, helping pay for the damage he caused. It spends a lot of time setting up this relationship, with characters who end up lying on the floor dead by the end of the issue. But this helps us know how much Zayne cares about these murders, they're not just colleagues, but they're his friends.

Low Points : But all this set up does leave the issue doing a lot of set up, so we're not only getting the basis of the mystery set up, the world where it's happening set up, but we're getting all of the connections set up so we know exactly how Zayne feels about what's going to happen. That he's not that close to his master, and it's definitely not the parental relationship that Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan had, he's more family with the other Padawan's, leaving him suspicious of the actions of the Masters and fleeing rather than asking what's going on.
But there's a lot going on in this issue, and perhaps it's a little too packed, while they wanted to end on this big punch of the other Padawan's lay murdered, with their own masters standing over them holding readied weapons. It would perhaps been better to spread this over 2 issues, allowing the world to be built more fully and at a more gentle pace rather than the rush it actually happens.

I do have to ask though. If Master Lucien knows that Zayne is always late, why didn't they just wait a little longer for him to arrive before murdering the Padawans? (assuming that's what the Masters have done).

So what do you really think ? : A solid start to the series, with a brilliant cliff hanger ending, with Zayne fleeing his own master who appears to be a murderer. The relationship between Zayne and Gryph has been set up brilliantly, and we have seen a lot into Zayne's world before it's all torn down and he's running from the people who only minutes ago he trusted.

Final Words : While I've read this before, and therefore have a fairly good idea what's going on (as it was over a decade ago), I'm trying to put myself in mind of having no idea what's going to occur. In some ways I'm failing, as I'm aware that Gryph and Zayne end up as a team and have made mention of that, but I'm trying to be as open minded to ways the plot might go and the red herrings they're laying down for us so the plot isn't so obvious.

Score : 8.5/10

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