This article, First Up, will hopefully be a first in a series of articles about inaugural issues of comic book series that actually accomplished something. In the day of the trade paperback collection, so many stories are created for the six-issue arc and we end up with stories that are decompressed to accommodate this.
Inevitably, you end up with first issues that don’t really tell you anything or do much towards setting up a new series. Those issues have no place here. The comics featured here will grab you by the throat and make you want to come back. While they may not always be a complete story, they will make you want to read the rest.
First up, is a book that did that for me.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #1
Released in 2006 by Dark Horse, to support the massively successful (and my favorite) video game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Written by John Jackson Miller with art by Brian Ching, this issue tells the tale of Jedi padawan Zayne Carrick.
Zayne’s “class” is about to participate in a ceremony in which they will find out which of them will go to Coruscant to become Jedi Knights. Before this though, Zayne is determined to capture local criminal, Gryph.
Over the course of the issue, we see Zayne’s efforts to catch Gryph and his inability to do so. Usually due to his own slip ups. This is a very entertaining story about a Jedi who is a novice and is trying very hard despite himself. Unlike typical Star Wars stories where Jedi are portrayed as superheroes in complete control of their environment, this is a refreshing take. At one point, Zayne literally falls into the pre-ceremony banquet he is supposed to be attending and is confronted by his Jedi masters.
When Zayne is out of earshot, some of the Jedi masters discuss concerns that they have and how it will be a sad day for them.
After Zayne pays for the damages he caused to the venue, he is back out on the streets. The streets of Taris by the way. This is the first planet in the Knights of the Old Republic game. In the game, the planet is destroyed by Darth Malak, so it is nice to be seeing more of the world here and adds a foreboding tone over the story in general. Zayne sees Gryph and chases him down once again. This time though, Carrick catches him with the Force and levitates him back to his speeder.
Triumphant, but late, he leaves Gryph secured to his speeder and rushes into the Jedi ceremony. Zayne opens the door to one of the greatest twists ever in a Star Wars story.
What greets Zayne are the Jedi that trained him standing over the bodies of his fellow padawans.
The issue ends with Zayne running away from the Jedi to adventures that made up this great series.
Star Wars has had some great story twists in its history. From “I am your father” to the revelation that comes in the original Knights of the Old Republic video game, and this one stands up there with them. Never before, could we have imagined a group of Jedi, not Sith, slaying their apprentices.
The reasons for this became clear over the course of the series and Zayne continued to stay one step ahead of them. Of course, Zayne confronted them and made a motley crew of friends along the way. This issue would not be the last for Gryph if you were wondering.
Issue number one of this book gives you a great hook that really grabs you. I was a fan of the game so I was going to pick up this book anyway, but this first one made me have to come back for the second. Eventually, I would read the entire series as it came out and became one of the best Star Wars comics series ever. That nay not sound like a resounding endorsement, but go Google Star Wars comics, there have been a lot.
If you want to check out this book, the collection appears to be out of print, especially now since Marvel has the Star Wars license. It is on Comixology digitally and Marvel’s Unlimited service. Always check your local comic shop too if you’re looking for back issues.
Check back for future installments where we will look at other great first issues.