Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic — War #1
"WAR" PART 1
As with all my “production notes,” consider a “Spoiler Warning” attached. Please read the books first.
In early 2009, Dark Horse and I began wrapping up the ongoing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series that had been launched in January 2006 in order to concentrate on developing a new franchise, Knight Errant. At the time, I was certainly not out of stories to tell with Zayne Carrick — but it was a good stopping point. I had already proposed that after the Crucible storylines ended with "Demon," the story would take a dramatic turn toward the events of the Mandalorian Wars. Zayne Carrick, who was no Jedi, would be drafted by his home planet, suddenly turning what had become a team title into a solo series (at least at the outset) with Zayne trying to cope with his new role. The series would include as a major character Dallan Morvis, who had been slowly groomed for the role over the years -- and some other surprises from the past. But it was mostly a new jumping-on point.
As it happened, with Knight Errant, Lost Tribe of the Sith, and Mass Effect intervening on my schedule, we decided to let KOTOR rest for a while — and the break in the action after "Demon" was perfect for it. Zayne spent some weeks enjoying a deserved rest — and it further allowed the series to gain a lot of new readers from its circulation in trade paperback form. Interest in Zayne and his world hadn't gone away at all, but grown — and in early 2011, I suggested picking up Zayne's story again in Knights of the Old Republic - War.
It really wasn't timed at all to coincide with the release of Bioware's MMO, The Old Republic, or the Revan novel that supported it — but it was a happy coincidence. A couple of years away also made it easier to transition to a new #1 in the mini-series style Dark Horse had undertaken. There was already a model for it in Star Wars: Legacy - War — so I took direct inspiration from it in the name.
Some have asked why the renumbering at all — why not pick up with #51? I have written a lot about comics numbering on my history site, and studied where comics numbering came from in the beginning. Numbering serves a lot of useful purposes in comics, but many of the benefits of sequential numbering don't come into play when you have a break of a couple of years. You might as well start with a new #1, often. And there's another dynamic in the bookstore market, where really high volume numbers on series begin to look imposing to readers. So War is a brand new start — even as I am sure many who have read them all will consider it KOTOR Vol. 10. That's fine — it's certainly where it's going on my shelf.
It was important to me that Zayne start out completely off-balance again, as awkward in a new setting as he was in the beginning of the original series. He ended the previous series with no status at all: he was a freelance do-gooder with ties to the Rogue Moon Project, and he still had his affiliation with Cargryph Capital. But otherwise he was just a kid who'd bought his own speederbike garage. A face from a scandal that the Republic media had, for good reason, worked quickly to move on from — and a momentary figure in the sports world, where his disqualification from the Tandem Open had lost a lot of bettors a lot of money. Zayne would start at the absolute bottom of the totem pole.
Given his desire not to kill, I had actually considered having his job be stripping Mandalorian dead of their armor, much as Haazen once was forced to clear the battlefield in the Sith War. But the right move was to get him into action immediately, as an infantry member. And he would be under the command of a figure that had, again, been crafted for the task: Dallan Morvis.
Morvis had appeared in #8 panels before Saul Karath had, as his protege; but unlike Karath, his future wasn't known. I had developed a backstory for him with entries in the Handbook and one for the KOTOR Campaign Guide, which wound up being fissioned off into a Wizards of the Coast web exclusive that is no longer online. Morvis is the son of money and power, and he expected his rise to the top of the Navy — and perhaps more — to be an orderly march. But he met Zayne, and it all went wrong. The first issue doesn't delve into why Morvis thinks of Zayne as a jinx, but it's all there in the previous series.
But Morvis was in the Navy, and Zayne was in the army — and, as we had established in the Campaign Guide, there was no Grand Army of the Republic in this era. Rather, the Republic's members and client worlds, like non-member Phaeda, offered up their own militias for the Navy to transport; we saw some of this dynamic in #14. The Navy moved the equipment, but didn't necessarily do the fighting on the ground. Reciprocity, however, was something of an exception — a frigate also mentioned years before in the Handbook, the ship would land troops and equipment in active war zones, using its own vehicles and cannons for support. For the suggested design, I shrank the Hammerhead design and flipped the forward section on its side. Voila -- instant landing craft! My non-canonical design, manipulating a Bioware image from the game with my poor skills, appears below as I provided it to the artist:
Which brings us to Dorjander Kace, another major figure in the series. It struck me that while Revan would have started the movement to get the Jedi into the war with the Mandalorians, he could not have been alone in a leadership role; there had to be a lot of Knights all over the stars who answered the call. Kace, a former member of the Jedi Council, would be the highest-ranking figure to respond — and as we see in this issue's finale, he responds quite differently than we're led to expect. The ending fits very well with what I tried to do in the original series, in "Commencement" — we think the story is going to be about one thing, when suddenly we realize it's about something else entirely.
The issue of the relationship between the Jedi Order and the Republic is part of it, and I'd been exploring it along the margins for a long time. KOTOR: War takes it on directly. Revan and Lucien Draay disagreed about what the Jedi should be doing; as we see, Dorjander Kace believes there's another option...
KOTOR War brought back several veterans of the previous series, all of whom were involved for almost all of its run: Editor Dave Marshall, Assistant Editor Freddye Lins, colorist Michael Atiyeh, and letterer Michael Heisler. Benjamin Carré, who drew many covers for the previous series, contributed one of the covers for #1. I believe this was the last script of mine that Sue Rostoni approved at Lucasfilm before her retirement; Jennifer Heddle approved the final stages of the book. My thanks to everyone involved!
- The series was announced at New York Comicon 2011.
- KOTOR: War #1 was released six years to the month after the release of Knights of the Old Republic #1.
- There is a second, variant cover by Dave Wilkins that exists in smaller numbers than the Carré cover.
- The "in the wrong place at the wrong time" line echoes the opening from Alan Dean Foster's Star Wars novelization.
- Shipmaster Scrope is the first Dashade I've written. I'm running out of aliens from the Ultimate Alien Anthology!
- Shipmaster is a non-commisioned officer rank from the Campaign Guide.
- I wondered whether I should have put Zayne in a helmet as the series opened, as his hair is his most recognizable feature. But his discarding of it is kind of a thematic shift in the issue, back to the Zayne we know.
- The Mandalorian's first lines from Mando'a translate to "get away" — and then "get away, idiot!" All had been established a few years back.
- Note the difference between the Mandalorian mother and child's facial features — that's the gender difference among Devaronians.
- Dallan Morvis is a character I've never mentioned a vocal model for. Okay, fine — think Timothy Dalton from his Rocketeer role, with the same dripping smarminess in his voice. Maybe a little shriller and whiny at times, though!
- The notion of Mandalorian Knights is, of course, something we played with in the previous series. Obviously, we're coming at it from a different angle this time!
- There is someone else in this first issue who has been introduced before — though if anyone figures it out, I'll be amazed!