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As I mentioned before in my Mass Effect: Conviction review, I’m a BioWare fanboy. I’m also a Star Wars fan, though I’m one of those “original trilogy” purists who complain ceaselessly about every new change that goes into the movies when they do another release on DVD and Blu-Ray. To say I’m picky about my Star Wars is an understatement, which is why I don’t read a whole lot of the expanded universe books or comics that take place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. However, I’m very much looking forward to BioWare’s upcoming MMORPG, Star Wars: The Old Republic, so I decided I’d whet my appetite with a tie-in comic or three. And when editor Nick C. asked someone to write a full review of the newest issue, I made like it was the last transport off of Hoth and jumped at the opportunity!

The Lost Suns is a story in 5 parts based on the upcoming online game and, like all Star Wars comics, published by Dark Horse Comics. Nicole Sixx gave you the broad strokes of the comic last week, but I thought I’d step in and add some more detail here.

Let me start by saying that Dark Horse has published two previous MMO tie-in stories, but this is the first story arc that takes place concurrently with the game itself. In other words, The Lost Suns doesn’t give you backstory on Star Wars: The Old Republic, it unfolds alongside the stories that will transpire within the game itself. This is a huge deal for those of us who are looking forward to the MMO, as these pages give us our first glimpse at what awaits us when it launches later this year. Suffice to say, it’s quite the eye-opener.

SWTOR 4 coverAs Nicole has pointed out, all of the characters integral to our plot have been introduced, the stage has been set, and the endgame draws near. At the close of The Lost Suns #3, our intrepid team had infiltrated Sith space on behalf of the Republic’s Strategic Information Service and discovered massive damage to the planets in the Vesla system, as well as some sort of technological superstructure around its sun. In addition, the half-crazed Jedi with gaps in his memory had finally remembered what it was about the Vesla system that had drove him to the point of instability, but not before they were discovered and surrounded by the Sith Empire. Issue #4 begins with our protagonist Theron and his Jedi mentor in the clutches of the Sith, but not the third member of their motley team, Teff’ith. Will she help them escape Sith captivity? How can they stop the Sith’s plans before they target planets outside of the Vesla system? Can they even get the information they’ve gathered back to the Republic before it’s too late?

All of this is building toward a conclusion scripted wonderfully by Alexander Freed. Not only has Freed written the previous Old Republic tie-in, Blood of the Empire, he’s also a senior writer and managing editor on the MMO itself. Who better to drop clues as to what we’ll find in the game than the guy who’s writing that content? And since Freed is the mastermind behind the Imperial agent storyline, it’s no surprise that the main character in this story is Agent Theron of the Republic’s own spy network, or that he has familial ties to a pretty big name in BioWare’s Old Republic games. Anyone who’s interested in playing the agent class should pay close attention to the details he slips into this story, you never know how much of it may carry over to actual game play.

I’m also pleased to see that the penciling tag-team of Dave Ross and George Freeman are back in this issue. Not that there was anything wrong with David Daza’s work on issue #3, he did a fine job, but I’m a stickler for artistic continuity in my comic books. That being said, I’m glad a filler artist stepped in to cover an entire book instead of only a few pages. Switching back and forth between different art styles in the same issue is as disorienting as waking up from a carbonite nap with hibernation sickness, and I’m glad none of that has happened in this story. Ross and Freeman make a good team, made even better by Mark McKenna’s inks and some positively stunning colors by Michael Atiyeh, though I do believe someone needs to step up and do an eye check. There have been more than a few characters who have gone all “Ororo Monroe” in the course of this arc, and without any story reason behind it.

Old Republic logoBe that as it may, The Lost Suns has been an enjoyable arc, not just as another piece of the amazing lore that is Star Wars history but as our first glimpse of what the Sith are up to in the world of the online game. I can’t help but wonder what will happen in the fifth and final issue, and how the success or failure of these characters will be reflected within the character story arcs of the MMO. BioWare is certainly doing a great job of ramping up anticipation of the game through these comics. Here’s hoping the end of this adventure leads to plenty more adventures of our own!

The Old Republic: The Lost Suns #4 is available in comic stores now, and Star Wars: The Old Republic will be available for online play later this year!

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