Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #43
"THE REAPING" PART 1
An unprecedented new adventure begins -- leaving former Padawan Zayne Carrick clinging to the side of a comet!
Back in high school, I was seriously entertaining a career in some kind of space-related field -- astrophysics, aeronautical engineering, something along those lines. I'd bought a telescope just in time for the arrival of Halley's Comet -- dragging it out evenings and fighting against the light pollution from the city.
What I found out was that, when it comes to astronomy, my mind isn't designed the way it needs to be to locate things. Going from star maps to the sky often involved some kind of transposition — and then if I had the wrong lens on, everything was transposed yet again. I could never find anything. Then the Challenger exploded and Halley's Comet turned out to be a big zero -- meaning that by the time I got to college, that ambition had basically played out. Nearly flunking calculus was the final straw, sending me across campus to the journalism school.
A decade later, we'd had Comets Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake pay a call -- and I gave it another try with a new, better telescope. The result was pretty much the same -- and the telescope headed for its date with a garage sale. But I did get one thing out of it -- as a subscriber to Astronomy magazine, I won a drawing for a T-shirt for the comet movie Deep Impact. Insert you own "I sought after the universe and all I got was this lousy T-shirt" joke here!
The movie itself is no masterpiece (though it's loads better than Armageddon, out around the same time) but they did get expert advice on what conditions might exist on a comet. Done today, they'd know more -- thanks to a real-life probe named (perhaps not coincidentally) Deep Impact, which struck a comet with an impactor and observed the results. It's clear that comets are interesting, volatile environments -- and while I'd included a comet in an issue of Iron Man, I really wanted to set an adventure on one at some point.
Thus the dust-divers of "The Reaping" were born, illustrating yet one more circumstance in which living slaves might be seen as superior to droids. Combine low gravity with the porous surface of a warming comet waiting to erupt, and you've got fun waiting to happen. Hit another plan of Zayne's with a serious hitch -- the number of people to be saved -- and the fun keeps on rolling.
Bong Dazo really delivered, providing really cool visuals for some challenging sequences.
- My original idea for the title had been "Cold Harvest," but Dark Times was already doing "Blue Harvest." This one works just as well.
- It occured to me that the thorilide crystals would need to be tiny and fragile, easily ruined by a change in state of the surrounding material -- otherwise there'd be no reason not to simply destroy the comet and filter the remains. Likewise, the crevices created during sunward heating made for a good reason to catch the comets in their orbits, rather than rerouting them to some holding area where they could be picked clean at the miners' leisure. This way, nature opens the comet for them.
- Qohn is a Nazzar, a sort of horse-faced critter from the Ultimate Alien Anthology.
- The "high-end customer" reference takes us back to "Dueling Ambitions."
- I haven't counted the number of divers in the Ready Room and leaving the surface of the comet, but it's pretty close to the actual number. Bong's inclusion of the child slave being helped into his/her suit was a really nice touch!
- I imagined the double-page spread as being a companion piece, in a round-about way, of the spread on the Rogue Moon in #3. I'll leave the thematic implications to the reader to interpret, but it's really fun looking at them together!
- The Gladiator has been seen before. Where? You'll see next issue.
- Finally, this storyline's introduction of thorilide would give it a connection that transcended legend, so to speak: I would include the chemical again prominently in A New Dawn, many years later.
This issue has been reprinted in the following collections:
Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 3 (Dark Horse, 2014),
available from Amazon.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 8: Destroyer (Dark Horse, 2010),
available from Amazon.
The issues are also available digitally from Marvel.com.
Be sure to also check my shop for the availability of signed editions.