Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #4
"COMMENCEMENT" PART 4
Zayne and company seek shelter in the asteroid field ringing Taris' sun, where he makes a plea for help to someone he thinks will help him...
The fourth issue took Zayne and company to the Rogue Moon, and I was very pleased with how this issue turned out, to say the least. Brian Ching and Michael Atiyeh really captured what I had imagined for this entire sequence. The only real surprise for me this issue was the book club insert, which appeared in domestic copies -- but then, I had that happen before in Iron Man #77, which is another of my favorite issues, so it's generally a good sign.
The heart of this issue -- and as some might view it, the whole story arc -- is Zayne's conversation with Master Vandar, a character he feels should be on his side. I loved using this opportunity to smack Zayne with yet another possibility -- that he had committed the crime without knowing it -- and to suggest to the character that, whatever the truth, this wasn't going to be solved quite so simply after all.
I also very much enjoyed introducing the Rogue Moon, a truly spectacular setting in a milieu known for spectacular settings. As with a couple of other complicated settings, I provided Brian my own visual reference, pieced together rough of what the place should look like, built from fragments of an image of a planetary surface. Fortunately, Brian's version looks a lot better than my guide!
That's real "behind the scenes" stuff, folks. This is how the sausage is made...
Beyond those two major elements, I felt it was important to take a few pages and establish the "working relationship" within the crew of the Last Resort. Much like in Episodes IV and V, this group of passengers is more or less stuck with each other -- and I really wanted to take the time to show them bouncing off the walls, as it were. The "shoving you out of the airlock" scene, with Jarael growling, Gryph preening, and Zayne wishing it would all go away, is one of my favorites.
- The appearance of Taris from orbit incited some comment from one reader, who didn't feel it looked like the video game version. I think, rather than industrial lava flows like we see on Coruscant, we're looking at city-canyon lights (or perhaps the flames from the riots).
- I was actually expecting to hear about the debris field we clearly invented for the Taris system. I had an explanation all ready to go about how one wouldn't expect to see an debris field closer to a sun, like this one, from Taris -- look how big Venus looks from Earth, and then think about how often you see Mercury! But it never came up.
- In general, asteroid fields in Star Wars tend to be improbably dense with debris, at least compared with our Solar System's model. Between the gravitational influences of Rogue Moon, Taris, and other bodies in the system, rocks ought to be cleared out of the ring pretty quickly. One might speculate this debris system is fairly recent, as astronomical time is concerned.
- Note that Zayne's lightsaber turns itself off on page 3 as soon as he releases it. I actually had thought to have it bonking around dangerously as they stumbled around -- but it turns out that, even in this era, lightsabers had kill switches.
- The comm system panel from page 6 is duplicated on page 7. Jarael should've known better than to leave Zayne alone with it!
- The notion of leaving the asteroid field to make a clear transmission harkens back to Episode V, obviously. I'm not entirely clear on why that should matter to a subspace communication, but we followed that lead. I loved the "interference lines" Brian and Michael built into the hologram.
- I don't know how often it rains on Dantooine, but that really captured the mood. There are enough gardens about, you'd assume it happens sometimes.
- The Zhar who informs Vandar is, of course, Zhar Lestin from the video games. I kept getting their names mixed up in the very beginning working on the series; something about the sounds of Zhar and Vandar Tokare, I guess. Zhar would appear in the final issue of the War miniseries, years later.
- Obviously, the dream sequence in #3 fits in with the Padawans' release onto the Rogue Moon. This is literally like jumping out of a starship without a parachute, since the Moon's relatively weak gravity and lack of atmosphere make such a freefall survivable using simply booster rockets. The landing of the Lunar Module on the moon was somewhat the same; you just need the retro rockets to cut the acceleration enough as you're descending.
- Among the visual suggestions I sent Brian Ching for the Rogue Moon was a look at recent imagery from the Saturn system, courtesy of the Cassini space probe, particularly rocky moons like Hyperion. Our tax dollars at work for better comic books...
- Some have noticed the lack of fire and brimstone associated with the rocks plunging down onto the Rogue Moon. That's the lack of atmosphere at work. There are certainly concussions with explosive force, and they do generate heat and dust -- they just don't look like Earthly meteor strikes, with flaming contrails.
- T1-LB's name is in part, a nod to the T3 series, as much differently seen in the first video game. We have actually seen T1-LB units before, in #2, on the cargo deck in the Jedi Tower. I get into the other half of the inspiration for the name in a later issue's notes.
- The fifth-class droid classification is from one of the sourcebooks. It makes sense that there would be a hierarchy for droids with various capabilities, and there is.
This issue has been reprinted in the following collections:
Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2015),
available from Amazon.
Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 1 (Dark Horse, 2013),
available from Amazon.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 1: Commencement (Dark Horse, 2006),
available from Amazon.
The issue is also available digitally from Marvel.com.
Be sure to also check my shop for the availability of signed editions.