It rains, it snows, I still say Ulic Qel-Droma and Kir Kanos look the same. And looks belie Knights of the Old Republic, vanguard in the Tales of the Jedi series that it is. This is actually two different stories: the Onderon arc, and the Ambria part, starring bald-headed Nomi. Considering the next installment, the elusive to find Freedon Nadd Uprising continues the Onderon storyline, they should have included it as well.
This is a time when the Republic is still growing, still exploring the stars for new worlds, still ripe for adventure. When Onderon requests Jedi meditation to resolve its internal strife, acclaimed Jedi Master Arca Jeth dispatches his three apprentices to end the civil strife. What they find is dark side mayhem and a 400-year-old Sith spirit, dead but not quite digested.
The art quality is a sample of what you'll put up with in TOTJ: horrible. Comics now, dominated by the ever-popular Republic series, have never looked better; and despite how art technology back then isn't up to today's standards, console yourself that at least this is better than that dreadful so-called art of Dark Empire.
Illustrations aren't so bad. It's just that things look cluttered and messy. But that's the theme, what things were like four millenniums ago: patchy apparel, bizarre starships that look more Transformer toy than space vehicle, ancient-style architecture. Though why lightsabers of that era were drawn with a shimmer glow rather than simple straight lines is a mystery.
Dialogue is nothing to applaud. Reader beware---we're dumb, so we need to be reminded of every character's full name every second appearance. It's enough to put you off the entire series.
It was Jedi Master Jeth that hooked me in. I admit it, purchasing this vanguard of the series merely from an online preview I saw. The aging Arkanian just looked so haunting, so ominous, I knew it would be worth it.
And worth getting despite the awful art quality it is. The plot moves along swiftly, and readers will eventually get used to the fact that the Jedi of this era can talk to animals, perform unusual feats, and bumble around like all good Jedi. I say this because Jeth's fortuitous arrival is all that saves the day, who then reprimands them for not sensing the dark side around them. Which then looks odd for old Jeth, when the students counter he never taught them how to repel it.
More disturbing is Onderon's moon. If it orbits so close that their atmospheres periodically brush, allowing the moon's hostile fauna to migrate to Onderon, how doesn't it succumb to gravity and drop into the planet as well?
Well? That sure heck needed explaining. And if that doesn't raise the cynical brow, then the implausibility of a Jedi character affixing a droid arm in place of his severed limb no probs surely will.
Ah well. It gets worse with the second section, Nomi Sunrider---and so does the art. The art quality is so dirty, so filthy, it's simply shocking. WHY is Sunrider's head half-bald. It's unsightly, ugly, and yes, red-heads have less hair than all other colours, but this was bad!
Beast Jedi Master Thon is a curious fellow, and about all that makes this story more so some tasty features. Like the brief flash of Jedi history, showing the origin of the Sith; and bizarre starships, hollowed out of kilometre-long space insects. Otherwise, you'll be wondering why the art was so poor, why Sunrider is severely balding, or how her late husband can pop in as a Jedi spirit when only wimpy apprentice.
Overall, KOTOR introduces you to the main players and places of the series and is interesting and creative enough to well warrant a purchase.