Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #25
"VECTOR" PART 1
A yearlong event with repercussions for every era and every hero in the Star Wars galaxy begins here!
Back in 2006, just about the time Knights of the Old Republic #8 hit the shelves, Star Wars line editor Randy Stradley contacted me and the Legacy team with an idea. With Marvel and DC making waves with their Civil War and 52 events respectively, he asked, what kind of storyline might involve all four Star Wars titles: Knights, Dark Times, Rebellion, and Legacy?
"Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker appearing in Knights," I said? You didn’t have to ask me twice. We’d figure it out!
That’s where it began — a long series of electronic discussions about how to bridge the considerable chronological gaps between the series without altering the way the Star Wars galaxy works. Sometimes we wrote each other intensely for days: I recall one afternoon setting my mail-download to by the minute, just to keep from having messages overlap each other. Sometimes we let the topic lie fallow for weeks at a time, allowing each other space to brainstorm. Finally, “Vector” was born — the name coined by Mick Harrison, writer of Dark Times, as I recall.
The nature of the cross-over dictates quite a lot that cannot be shared at this time, given what it might reveal about the wider story. But the form of the cross-over — cascading sequentially through each series as opposed to inhabiting them at the same time — obviously suggests some of the unique challenges the concept presented each series.
My challenges were several. As the lead-off series in the batting order, I would need to know what was happening first, since that was the order of the eras. Also, as the idea was always for the storyline to extend through the calendar year 2008, we already knew the likely starting issue for KOTOR — #25. With the “Days/Knights” plan already underway for 2007 meant I already knew what happened in #24.
This was both a help and a hindrance. I knew exactly where every character would be at the start of 2008; better, I knew they’d be in places rich with story possibilities. But that also tempted me to elaborate on many events, large and small, in the storylines just completed — a fine idea, but not necessarily appropriate in a project designed to also appeal to readers who hadn’t been following those events. The aftermath of the failed attack on Cassus Fett; what happened to the Resistance; the status of Shel, Gadon, and Del — all these were of interest, I knew. But as time went on, I realized how solidly rooted they were in what had come before. I wasn’t writing an epilogue to “Days/Knights,” but a whole new story.
The breakthrough came from a fairly simple idea: There are already gaps of time between the “Vector” chapters — why not between #24 and #25? Which brought us to the final product, details of which were hammered out in a summit in Portland in late summer 2007. In the few continuity weeks between #24 and #25, everyone would move into their proper positions. Thus, I could address the status of characters not appearing in the issue in ways that existing readers would catch, but that wouldn’t bog down new readers in exposition.
That helped me address one of the event’s missions, as put forward by Randy and reprinted on the letters page of this issue: “The series must be reader friendly… easily accessible to both new and long-time readers.” Figuring out a way to address another mission — “changing the course of every series it touches” — was less problematic. I had always approached 2007’s issues as being of a single thematic piece — huge events overtaking Zayne’s relatively smaller problems — and 2008 would involve yet another shift of gears. “Vector” worked organically into that plan. By the time “Vector” hit Legacy in late 2008, no one reading Knights would doubt that the course of the series had been changed!
The event brought a new artist, Scott Hepburn, whose work has appeared in the Exalted role-playing game and elsewhere. Scott quickly tuned into the desperate, chaotic nature of the Undercity — and he really shows us what Zayne and Gryph would be like after living together on the run for weeks in the Undercity! Joe Pimentel inked the issue, and Travis Charest returned for his first cover since #6. Another return: Randy himself, succeeding Jeremy Barlow as editor; we’d worked together previously on the series launch and on Empire #35.
- The Rakghouls are, of course, from the first Knights of the Old Republic video game. We gave readers a glimpse of then in #3, during the head-fake Gryph pulled: he said then there was no way he’d ever go down to the Undercity. We got to it, only 22 issues later!
- We see a bit more of the scope of the Covenant here, which should come as no surprise given some of the hints in #9 and #18.
- The memorial scene depicts another part of the garden of the Estate on Coruscant; the Draay digs are fairly expansive, in this time-frame. It’s the rooftop garden to beat all roof-top gardens!
- Many of the names mentioned in the opening scene are of note to readers of Tales of the Jedi. The concept of the Jedi Shadow began in that era as well, elaborated upon by the West End role-playing game.
- Every issue is someone’s first issue, but we were more sensitive to that than usual here — as seen in little touches here and there. There aren’t pages free to explain Miraluka and how they see through the Force as well as others see normally — but we still have her make a little mention suggesting it. Likewise, we don’t just say “Mandalorians” — we say “Mandalorian nomads.”
- We gave the Constable her surname waaaay back in #0’s text page — it helps to have total recall!
- The Outcasts should be pretty familiar figures to players of the video game!
- Each artist has his own take on Gryph's lineage: Travel Foreman’s bears a passing resemblance to a hedgehog, while Dustin Weaver’s tends toward the primate. Scott Hepburn’s is shaggier, like a Scottie dog — though here, there’s a great story rationale: Being in the Undercity for so long, Gryph hasn’t had the chance to shave!
- Lightsabers shouldn’t double as flashlights — something we have some fun with here! As well as their penchant for losing limbs…
- One of the little benefits of creating a planet — like Suurja, first mentioned in #0’s text page — is it’s handy if you need it for a joke, as was the case here!
- We met some Kedorzhan miners in #2. Unlike the Suurjans, their problem is visual!
- That’s Gryph’s Rambo headband stuffed in his mouth by Celeste. Little did I know the Rambo movie would come out the same week as the issue!
- The Muur Talisman, regulars may recall, was mentioned in the Knights of the Old Republic Handbook.
- Someone online — “Havac,” I believe — actually recognized Pulsipher from his belt-buckle on a later cover, tying him back to his brief appearance in #10. Our readers (and artists!) are nothing if not detail-oriented!
- Regular readers may note the absence of the “in-continuity” text page; the feature was not continued for 2008. I had a lot of fun with them, but they do present some challenges: You really can’t reprint them and have them make sense unless they’re slotted right where they would be chronologically; bunched up at the end, they don’t read right. And that meant I couldn’t really introduce too much continuity there, beyond nursing stories like Goravvus and the way Taris got into the Republic, or implying how the Adasca affair was handled back home. So the letters page expanded. But Marvel did include the text pages again, in their proper locations, when it did its Epic Collections years later.
This issue has been reprinted in the following collections:
Star Wars Legends Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 2 (Marvel, 2017),
available from Amazon.
Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 2 (Dark Horse, 2013),
available from Amazon.
Star Wars: Vector Vol. 1 (aka KOTOR Vol. 5) (Dark Horse, 2009),
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.