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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #14

"DAYS OF FEAR" PART 2

Gryph and Zayne pick a lousy place to hide — surrounded by an army they are trying to escape from on a planet that's about to become the biggest battlefront in the galaxy!

With #14, the descent into the “Year That Will Live in Galactic Infamy” really gets underway. Once again, Zayne finds himself at the center of events through seeming mischance – and finds a burden completely unasked for. If he had a tattoo on his forehead like Jarael, it’d be Aurabesh for “why me?”

The issue is also important for fully introducing Carth Onasi. As a relief to my readers beset with to many mysteries, he actually comes out and introduces himself! But as people familiar with the character know, that’s fairly appropriate. He tends to be who he says he is.

Giving a comics life to a game figure already well-known – in fact, probably the non-player character best known from the series, just by virtue of when he shows up – was always going to be a tricky prospect. As fans reminded me from the start, there’s a good deal of Carth fanfic out there – people clearly have their own ideas about what his past should have been like. So we worked carefully with him to craft someone who would be consistent with what gamers know later on – yet would harbor some surprises, too. It’s the rare person who doesn’t change in seven years, particularly seven really busy ones, like these!

On rereading the Carth scene with Zayne in this issue, I realized it “played” much like the computer game. Look at it: Zayne makes single-line observations, and Carth answers in long bits of exposition. I can’t say this was entirely unintentional, since this open and loquacious nature can be interpreted either as being in his nature, a convention made necessary by the game, or both. I prefer both. (That said, I think that some of the interpretations I’ve heard of the character being wishy-washy may come from the fact that most of us play the game both as light side and dark side, evoking somewhat different responses.) Anyway, reread that sequence with that in mind. You can almost imagine “Light Side Points Gained” popping up over Zayne’s head when he feeds the Stereb!

As the events on Serroco were also something mentioned in the games, we took care not to drop the name of the planet too soon – though several people seeing the preview figured it out. Of course, once again the fun here is that gamers know some things about this time, but not everything – and further don’t know which parts of the oral history will be shown, or to what extent all those remembrances can be trusted.

I worked with Brian Ching to plot out a vision of the blast that went down relatively close to how such things “should” seem. You see the flash and the fire before you feel the shockwave and sound. We actually had a long discussion about the sound effect – I think it works. Thanks, Michael Heisler!

Finally, never overlook the importance of the colorist’s contribution. A simple thing like the background color of the page borders does a lot to communicate the muddy, dark mood of life in this military camp. Thanks to you, too, Michael Atiyeh!

 

  • I didn’t imagine anyone would figure out the Star Wars connection — admittedly remote — in the naming of HK-24. The actual number was rather inconsequential storywise – it just needed to be a low number – so I went with something off the top of my head – or rather, right before my eyes. I’ve mentioned before the desk where I write is cluttered with various knickknacks including my original Kenner action figures who stand in for Gryph, Slyssk, Vandar and Los Bros Moomos in my imagination. (I keep “Luke in Bespin Fatigues” there too, who’s about as close to Zayne as they got.) Well, one of the niftier items is Action Racing Collectibles 1:48 model of the car that Lucasfilm sponsored in the 2005 Aaron’s 499, just before Revenge of the Sith came out. Not only did  George Lucas start the race, but Jeff Gordon won in the Yoda Monte Carlo, prompting innumerable headlines about the Force being with him, etc. (If you’re no fan of Gordon’s, don’t blame me — if Lucasfilm had sponsored Junior, it might have been HK-08. Ditto if you don’t like NASCAR — believe me, the car is just plain cool to look at. The detail on these things, particularly under the hood, is really quite amazing.)
  • Bivoli tempari came from Star Wars: Galaxies.

  • People have asked about the “fifth class drone” connotation – “degrees” being the more common connotation. It was “class” when I learned it – which is back in the Star Wars Encyclopedia – and we might imagine it persists as an alternate description. I guess a police droid might be “third degree…”

  • Imagining life for a Mandalorian inside a Camper Special for a month took on new meaning at a 2006 convention when I hitched a ride with a Stormtrooper driving a compact car. Not the most comfortable way to travel…

  • Note the way the Little Bivoli opens up: Part of the dining deck is actually on the diagonal surface of the vessel, and opens beneath the partial shelter of the overhanging hull (so we still see rain in places). It’s why the seats were all slantways when it was in “flight mode.” A wonderful Dustin Weaver design!

  • After #8, a lot of people asked whether Carth was the goatee-wearing fellow on the bridge of the Courageous. The truth – which I couldn’t say until now – is “yes and no.” While Carth was always supposed to be with the Courageous for the Battle of Vanquo, I didn’t specifically direct Dustin Weaver to depict him; he had plenty enough to work into that stretch. On seeing the issue, several people, myself included, assumed that Dustin had drawn Carth – which was fine with me since, again, he was supposed to be there and sometimes has bridge duties. Creative synergy, right? The truth is something else: Dustin later confessed that the person he was actually drawing there was… er… me. I thought it was pretty funny. Anyway, as far as the story is concerned, yes, everyone involved now considers that that is Carth in #8 – and it’s kind of fun being connected to the guy’s first comics appearance in this manner, however tangentially. Even if I don’t intend to shave my goatee like he did!

  • I asked for “big hairless wookiee guys” for the Stereb. Brian delivered…

  • Old Republic credits seem to be floppy disks. Gryph can have some of mine!

  • “The Adjudicator” was something I always wanted to do: It’s something like a trade magazine for bounty hunters. Given some of the trade magazines I’ve edited, I can say it’s not far-fetched to imagine!

  • Yes, the cover is kind of a montage not seen inside, but we really wanted to give Gryph a cover. He’s more likely to sell that gun than use it, though!

 

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. 3: Days of Fear, Nights of Anger
(Dark Horse, 2007), 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.

 

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