Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #28
"VECTOR" PART 4
As with all my “production notes,” consider a “Spoiler Warning” attached. Please read the books first.
issue completed the Knights
of the Old Republic
section of the “Vector” crossover, and one of the curious things about
it is how little the last chapter changed as our thoughts on the story
developed. I knew where the other KOTOR characters were and where our
heroes would be heading off to; for the purposes of the other series in
the cross-over, we knew fairly early on how Celeste would be making her
exit from the Old Republic. There were some fairly dramatic
re-imaginings of the earlier movements — for the better, I can assure
you — but I didn’t stray far from the nature of the ultimate dilemma
facing the characters.
The Rakghouls, the mindless monsters of the first Knights of the Old Republic video game, were also part of the story from very early in our discussions; I think Jan Duursema first mentioned them for possible involvement. Knowing where Zayne and Gryph would be at the beginning of “Vector,” I was eager to explore the possibility — and to look seriously at what made the Raks what they were.
I’m generally not a creature-feature fan, but I am a science-fiction guy, which defines what I like within the horror genre. I tend to look for the rationale in things, evolutionary or otherwise. (I’m no fun at all at the movie theater!) I admit I never quite understood the practical point of zombies in particular — when buddy Jeff Vaughn asked for my favorite zombie film for his new project, I drew a total blank. This is partly why I was eager to elaborate on the Rakghouls, to give them a reason for being — and more.
The peg for a Sith origin for them was always there, in the source of the antidote in the game; and a self-replicating plague certainly sounds Sithy. But, looking closer, it was possible to imagine something Sithier still: the origin story that we delivered for them in this issue. That heightened their threat (you could thwart the video-game Raks by closing a door) — and we’d already done the self-replicating destructive plague with the Exogorths, anyway. This was something worse, something sinister — and we now understand why the Raks on Taris behaved differently from the ones in “Vector.”
It wasn’t difficult at all to interweave these elements with the events already in motion in Knights; as later issues will show, “Vector” is integral indeed to the larger storylines. Several things — maybe not even ones readers might initially consider — tie it very tightly with later events.
There was also a degree of foreshadowing that we did, given how long “Vector” was in discussions. Between comics and text pages, I built a number of threads into 2007; some we definitely intended to follow, while others were there in case we changed our minds on something. Some that we didn’t pursue we removed before those issues saw print; others were allowed to stand, as future threads for potential development. (And no, I won’t say which are which.) But it should absolutely be possible for a conscientious reader willing to read between the lines to figure out Celeste’s path to Taris. Some that did figure it out were led to the momentary possibility that Celeste was The Exile; I also planted the possibility of an alternate explanation at the same time. Herring may have been the special that day, but there were other choices on the menu!
Story planning aside, “Vector” probably involved more advance media work — print interviews, podcasts, and the like — than I’ve done probably since my involvement with Epic, years ago. Yeah, that includes even the launch of the series; perhaps not surprising, since multiple series were involved. I stopped doing “Vector” interviews after a point, there had been so many requests. As with every event I’ve been associated with, there are trade-offs to this kind of attention; there’s a boost in sales (definitely the case here), but you’re also playing the expectations game in a way you don’t over a regular issue of something. It’s all part of the bargain, as creators in these things understand (or quickly learn); and, in the end, it’s worth it. The goal is to get more people acquainted with all our series’ characters, settings, and themes; we definitely accomplished that here. But that said, we also worked to do everything possible to keep the story moving along for those that have always been along for the ride.
- Another wonderful cover from Dustin Weaver. The cover preview told readers about the story long in advance, but them’s the breaks. Those copies of Previews ought to come with spoiler warnings, y’know!
- If the opening double-page splash has a familiar feel to it, dig out your copy of #25. Class, compare and contrast…
- One of the things making colorist Michael Atiyeh one of the most valuable players on this series is something readers don’t often think about, but that we think a lot about: time of day. Look across all of the pages set on Jebble and you can follow the progression; this issue, we ever-so-slightly slip into night. Really, go back and look at this issue: it really works.
- I had originally considered a line for Gryph in which he said had been in Pulsipher’s lab, attempting to hide in a “box” — the Oubliette, we might assume. Didn’t go there, but it’s a funny thought!
- The pendant was designed by Bong Dazo, artist on “Exalted” in #29. One more creator with involvement in “Vector!”
- For the nuclear destruction scene, I had diagrammed a suggested flow of panels, allowing events on the ground to progress vertically while Zayne’s reaction progressed diagonally. Scott Hepburn took that and ran with it, coming up with a sequence more moving than I had imagined.
- And I’m happy we got the cast shot in there before the end — though seeing everyone in one place, it should be easy to understand why everyone wasn’t around for a storyline intended as a jumping-on point. Some of those super-hero crossovers ought to require name-badges for everyone!