Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #47
"DEMON" PART 1
The trial of Demagol begins — and Malak is there! But where's Zayne Carrick?
There was always a moment when you were working the old Rubik's Cubes when you realized you had gotten the cursed thing into a position where just a few more turns would organize all the colors very neatly. You could also get there by working backwards: Kids actually "stacked the deck," so to speak, by working a solved cube into positions where they could fool their friends into thinking they were geniuses. "Look, it just took me six turns to solve it!" Really, you'd just undone the moves you made to get it there.
That trick only worked for a while -- but in storytelling, something similar goes on. This first issue of "Demon" was something planned all along: the simple series of turns needed to transform the patchwork of clues into pretty, uniform colors.
The centerpiece moment -- literally, the middle of three major revelations this issue -- involves Rohlan and Demagol, a much discussed topic in fandom and one that, after three years, I'm quite relieved to be able to acknowledge. I won't get into that much here, as I elaborate on the subject in "Notes To The Old Republic" in #48 -- which is the place for it as more details will be out there by then, and it's something the whole readership would be interested in.
But I will say that this issue's moment -- and the impact of the revelation on the characters -- are clearly things I've looked forward to for a long time. Mystery reveals in comics are fun. One day while writing it, I was reminded, of all things, of one of the earliest mysteries I ever read in comics -- "Broncobuster Bunny" in a 1970s issue of Gold Key's Bugs Bunny title. A cowboy named Leo I. O'Tweecy wins the trust of the Road Runner and leads him away from the ranch the Looney Tunes characters are staying at -- and it falls to the dimmest of their number, Beaky Buzzard, to realize that Leo I. O'Tweecy is the scrambled name of Wile E. Coyote! Our mystery is quite a bit more sophisticated, but there's a similar "uh-oh" feeling involved.
The Goodvalor affair (has a nice scandalous ring to it, like "the Dreyfus affair") is finally revealed here, although we had hinted a little bit at it in the short story "Interference" for the Star Wars Fan Club. While what happened to Gryph and Slyssk was known from the beginning, my plans for presenting it continually changed.
My original idea had been that we would see the meeting with the Defense Ministry early in "Daze of Hate." But around this time, I quit my day job to begin freelancing full-time -- and to fill my schedule, I pitched a raft of concepts; the KOTOR Handbook among them. Gryph and Slyssk's escape -- and their later run-in with the Moomo Brothers -- struck me as good material for a possible humor one-shot. But then Indiana Jones IV and the role-playing game entered the picture for me, so it never got past the idea stage. Unfortunately, in the meantime, "Daze of Hate" had evolved to the point where there wasn't space to address it any more. Nor, really, was there room in "Knights of Suffering."
Thus began one of the series' in-jokes, as Gryph constantly put off telling Zayne about what happened. Right after "Vector" was no place for a humorous interlude -- and right after "Vindication" didn't work either, since we were eager to get off Coruscant and into new adventures. But we never forgot about it. "Interference" incorporates material I originally concocted for text pages we wound up not running during "Vector" -- and in the comics, the mystery is brought up again in the Handbook, in #29, and in #32.
"Demon" became the natural place for it; it was a good thematic fit with this issue, and its sham trial. In all, it's another example of the blatant disregard for the truth shown by the Republic authorities -- in the early stages, they're managing the war the only way they know how, like a public relations campaign. Admiral Karath's disastrous withdrawal from Serroco becomes a heroic stand; and a panicking kleptomaniac's accidental rescue of a confused battalion and their sleeping flight crew becomes a triumphant holovid, coming soon to a theater near you. Next to the Republic officials, Gryph is a piker!
- Our opening flashback comes from Dark Lords of the Sith, as does the setting, the Senate Chamber. The interior of the chamber depicted was antiquarian and at odds with the look of Coruscant we'd shown in our series; the retirement of the building was described in the KOTOR Campaign Guide. That the exterior is modern-looking and the interior is classical conveys a little of the architectural dissonance we find in modern capital cities, where you've got stone and marble edifices across the street from glass boxes.
- This is Vodo's first appearance in the series in the flesh -- or whatever it is that he has. He was previously mentioned in #9 and appeared in statue form in #32.
- For the third time in the series, we have a perp-walk as we did on Taris -- and while we didn't really have room in #24 to mimic what we did in #6, this time, we had the artist who drew the page, originally, to recraft the scene. Zayne and Gryph stand right where Shel and Shad did. I only wish we'd found a spot for Fish-bowl Guy!
- We didn't name the Quermian inquisitor in the book, so this identification isn't official -- but I had figured him for Koa Delko, the minister of defense, a name that appeared in the days of the text pages -- #24, to be exact. The trial is clearly a hybrid sort of affair, being that Demagol is a prisoner of war; the ministry has its prosecutor in Delko, with likely other officials from other parts of the Republic in the wings.
- We touched on what was going on at Omonoth in the text page for #24 and the KOTOR Handbook. There were repeated clashes between the Republic and Mandaloraians to gain control of the wreck of the Arkanian Legacy after #21. Omonoth itself isn't worth anything, but the Mandies covet the merchandise on board (and a chance for revenge). The Republic likewise wanted to reclaim whatever was valuable and rescue any refugees remaining on board.
- Coincidentally, just before this issue came out, a thread on the Dark Horse boards asked "Who Killed Eejee Vamm?" As Malak mentions, it's a cold case, but not so cold we'd forgotten!
- I'm not sure what musical notation looks like in the Galaxy Far Far Away, but we do learn that Trandoshans can whistle!
- The restaurant is the building behind the statue of Slyssk. We don't see much of it, but its design should be familiar to those who look closely.
- It's nice to see that GG-36 found work after Telerath!
- Since "Interference" takes place between KOTOR #24 and #25, we may assume that the role of Captain Goodvalor is being portrayed by Gryph's thespian sibling. Commander True is the concocted identity of Slssyk, who is clearly also portrayed by someone else in "Interference." (You'd want a better radio voice than a Trandoshan anyway!)
- Gryph's brother was first alluded to in the short story "Labor Pains."
- Elbee's role in the revelation was a fun little reprise of the opening storyline, with its "What The Droid Saw" element in #5 -- only with a twist relating to his unique capabilities. It's just like in poker -- the player who never speaks is usually the one who knows the most. I'd like to think there's a bit of pride in that metal face when he reveals all!
- The "realization" flashback sequence includes some moments we did not actually see. Gryph's panel takes place at some point between #44 and #45. Slyssk's panel takes place between the end of #39 and the beginning of #42: Rohlan's armor spikes are gone by this point. The other moments are, of course, from #10 and #31, though from different angles.
- Wor Tandell, with Slyssk's friend's estate, was where the group repaired to after Volgax -- and where the final parting occurred.
- In the initial script, "Rohlan" entered the scene saying he had "concluded his business." Looking at the final scene, where he seemed to be walking out from behind the tall weeds, that sounded unintentionally funny -- thus, the change. Please, no jokes about where Mandalorians do their business!
- I'm not sure why we're letting Gryph drive the speeder when he can barely start a speederbike!
- This issue had not just an ad for my next project, Mass Effect: Redemption, but a very nice editorial about it from Dave Marshall, editor of both that series and KOTOR.
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. 9: Demon (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.