Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic — War #4
"WAR" PART 4
As with all my “production notes,” consider a “Spoiler Warning” attached. Please read the books first.
Dallan Morvis was a character that I’d introduced very early, in Knights of the Old Republic #8, to be Saul Karath’s first officer and a surrogate tormentor for Zayne. Morvis was all ambition from the first moment we met him back then. He clearly has some technical knowhow in the running of a spacecraft, but rarely does he show much good sense.
It wasn’t something I really had opportunity to play with much in the original series, but I was always seeking to establish a distinction between Morvis and Karath. Karath had a hardscrabble youth; Morvis was the son of wealth and power. Morvis’s senator mother and financial wizard father were first mentioned in the Knights of the Old Republic Handbook, and then later the Campaign Guide. The Republic Navy in this period must have looked for many like a vehicle to bigger and better things, like political office, in much the way that the U.S. Army did for a lot of sons of privilege who went to West Point in the 1800s; a number of Civil War leaders come to mind, like George McClellan (who, while not the basis for Morvis, much resembles him).
So I saw Morvis as someone who sought military service and victories in the field purely as resume-builders; he’d risk other people’s skins, but never his own. But unlike Admiral Karath, whose destiny was known because of the video game, Morvis’ future was open-ended. And so in Morvis, I saw one of the biggest tests yet for Zayne’s ability to make friends. Morvis’s two previous brushes with Zayne had brought the captain close to ruin: could Zayne turn things around in a five-issue story?
As we see in this issue, partially. Zayne tries to appeal to the few latent scraps of leadership and empathy that exist in Morvis — but the real way to motivate the captain is to speak directly to what he cares about most: his professional survival and advancement. In a bit of a different way from Karath, Morvis here realizes that it’s better to work with Zayne than against him.
For Zayne’s part, I had wanted all along to make Morvis into a character he genuinely disliked — in order to raise the difficulty level when this moment eventually happened. As Zayne notes here, he’s already had his own problems with a rich and powerful superior indifferent to the survival of others. But there is, just perhaps, something beyond necessity that drives Zayne to think he can find an ally in Morvis. Because as we heard from Arca Jeth back in Knights of the Old Republic #33, “even a rich man may have merit.” Zayne here has to get past his own revulsion to Morvis’s arrogance, to see if there’s actually a leader in there somewhere. Even though he’s been on his own for most of this series, he can’t do what he needs to do alone.
As for the scheme that Zayne runs here, it’s easily the most ambitious he’s ever attempted — and it relies on a lot of things that we have already seen, such as the fact that everyone currently in the stockade has already been fitted for Neo-Crusader armor already, armor which is still at the site. We’d also already established a powwow during which most Mandos could be away — and the fact that here, access to the Dreadnoughts involved shuttles. Zayne could bring up an entire (if skeleton) replacement crew.
It’s probably a plan he never would have considered, had he not known of the Mandalorians’ superstitions and known of the Jebble disaster firsthand. Cassus Fett and his associates certainly knew that something horrible had happened on Jebble — something Force-related that transformed everyone around into rakghouls. News and rumor travels relatively fast in the Mando’ade, something Zayne banks on here: while we never say “rakghoul” in this story, the Mandalorians will be scuttling ships and asking questions later for a while yet!
- Yes, that is indeed Valius Ying, ill-fated captain of the Oroko from Commencement and KOTOR #6 under arrest by a Jedi in the flashback scene aboard Reciprocity. We’d established he was a ship pirate; evidently, he got out of stir sometime between this scene and later on. He’d have been safer in jail!
- Gummig was a fun little guy to include. There had to be administrative jobs among the Neo-Crusaders that wouldn’t have been entrusted to slaves; there also had to be warriors that for reason of age or infirmity weren’t any longer in the vanguard of the attacks. Gummig seems none too happy with his lot in life as the Mando’ade’s travel haberdasher!
- Yes, the way things even out for Zayne is indeed scary. A reference back to KOTOR #49, and the karmic waistband!
- Parjai was one of the vessels being directed by Cassus Fett at the invasion of Taris in KOTOR #23.
- Our field marshal, Garon Borm, is a Togruta, as we can see from the special helmet. Don’t ask me how you put one of those helmets on!
- And the karmic waistband snaps back at Zayne on the bridge. A two out of three chance is a better shot than Demagol had, at least!
- And Zhar Lestin, Dantooine instructor from the first KOTOR
video game, finally gets his first speaking line in the comics —
exactly 50 issues after he first appeared in the original KOTOR #4!