The stories behind the stories

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #35

“I ran from my teacher — why can’t you?” — Zayne Carrick, to Lucien

“Vindication” Part 4

The colossal conclusion to the “Vindication” storyline!
Published by Dark Horse • November 19, 2008
Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Brian Ching

Lettered by Michael Heisler

Colored by Michael Atiyeh

Cover by Dan Scott

Edited by Dave Marshall and Freddye Lins

As mentioned here before, the case of the Galactic Republic v. Zayne Carrick and Marn Hierogryph a.k.a. Baron Hieromarn a.k.a. Remulus Horne etc., was designed with an elastic timeframe in mind. The major mileposts were known from very early on; the sorts of things we wanted the characters to learn about themselves and others during that time, were, too. Since there were other major events (historical and otherwise) and other subplots in the series, planning for the events of “Vindication” at any point was simply a matter of organizing the pieces, and seeing how they related to other events at the time. Some things would be possible in a “Vindication” set for one moment that wouldn’t be possible in another, and vice versa.

At the same time, my own preference to slow-play some subplots — and then resolve them suddenly and unexpectedly — played a role in planning. Whatever the eventual timing of events, the mileposts would not be evenly spaced. There was always the possibility of “the big break,” which would unzip the entire case.

“Vector” provided an ideal location for “the big break.” In addition to having a unique place in Star Wars comics history, it immediately followed the demise of one of Zayne’s tormentors — and so any readers expecting a similar timeframe for the next step along the way (two years from Master to Master) would not be expecting it. And in the bigger picture, “Vector” also introduced a (temporary) pause in the progress of the Mandalorians, presenting the opportunity to follow a number of threads on the home front in relative security. That presented a perfect opportunity to resolve the “origin story” — and tackle the new dramas relatively unencumbered. It made more and more sense the more we thought about it.

The “origin story” phrase is one I’ve used before, and while it may seem an odd way to refer to three years of a comic-book series, it’s apt. While a springboard for the early series, establishing Zayne’s character and those of his allies, his fugitive status was never entirely what the series was about — as evidenced by the fact that we did pursue so many other threads. Many of them remain, and they and more will be pursued in the coming stories. If you think about it, we knew “New Hope” Luke for real-life three years before we knew “Empire” Luke. In a manner of speaking, with “Vindication,” Zayne’s story moved from the “fugitive” era to “renegade” — my original possible name for the series.

The events of this issue itself went off close to original plan, with some tweaks. One last tease aside, we now know who our principle characters are — and who they most definitely are not. We may already know about other characters in the future, but Zayne and Lucien’s futures are their own — and the groundwork for Lucien’s plan was laid back in #9. Was there ever another possibility? Sure — you always keep your options open, looking for interesting things to do. But you also always want to let your characters find their own fates — and Lucien here tells us what he thinks about being forced into a role created for someone else. The galaxy may get its Darth Sion, but not from him.

I imagine there will be a variety of reactions to Lucien’s situation at the end of this storyline; partly, that’s by design. Redemption is clearly too strong a word — he is hardly absolved of past acts — but neither has he emerged unscathed, either (literally). There is the opportunity for atonement and wisdom — but it is, at this point, just an opportunity.

Morgan Freeman has an interesting line in the unpublished transcripts to Shawshank: The Redeeming Feature — in which he says that the experience shown in the film is not his character’s redemption, “it’s his salvation. …You don’t redeem your life if you pay the price for whatever you did. You atone.” You can get into dueling dictionaries on this fairly easily — a lot of these words blur together in longer definitions — but putting what happens to Lucien under the same heading as what happens to Anakin Skywalker misses more than a mere difference of degree.

One tempting resolution, depicting Lucien hunted and on the run, in a complete role reversal with Zayne during the series, was never considered. In addition to making it difficult to move on, that misunderstands the characters. Lucien isn’t a runner, he makes things happen — even if they’re sometimes the wrong things. Zayne steps back, re-evaluates, and reengages. Here, Lucien learns to step back, as his speech details. (There is a bit of a poetic reversal, however, in the setting — the agrarian lifestyle being one that, later in the continuity, Jedi washouts are made to adopt.)

Zayne’s decision, at the end, probably should not have surprised longtime readers — though a careful reading shows that it’s as much about him as it is about them. I had toyed with depicting the actual meeting — one can imagine the regrets and

Specific to #35, Brian and Michael did yeoman’s work conveying some very complex sequences. There’s enough story housekeeping to be done — and enough action to elaborate on, both on the ground and in space — that an additional issue could easily have been gotten out of this material; but it was also important that we start new adventures afresh immediately, with no pause for an overlong epilogue. We surely would like to be flies on the wall to hear the Jedi High Council doing its interviews — but that’s something better left for the imagination (or, heck, maybe a short story someplace). It’s how we get those three-hour movies into two hours!

So who all will we see again, and where are we going? There are plenty more stories to tell, and anything can — and probably will — happen. We’ll be showing readers a lot of places they’ve never seen before in comics, of course: we all love playing tour guides to worlds like the violent Rogue Moon, the bizarre Flashpoint, swanky Telerath, doomed Serroco, schizophrenic Arkania, grotesque Omonoth, icy Jebble, and stormy Odryn. There’s more to come, as we keep working to surprise you. Year One differed dramatically from Year Two; Year Two was nothing like Year Three. Year Four is… wanna guess?

“The Force… does not want me dead. It does not want me happy, but it does not want me dead.” — Zayne Carrick

It is true that Gryph doesn’t actually take up arms against Lucien on panel this issue — hey, look at his weapon skills in the role-plating game! — but it’s not entirely out of the question, if he found a weapon out there with the dead Jedi. Covers come from plot synopses, where the fact that Lucien charges after Gryph was known — the actual chain of events in the stories themselves sometimes differ.

The dead Covenant Jedi are among the group we see raiding the High Council in #32. While the Covenant Jedi do respond to Haazen, he’s no longer hiding (or perhaps no longer able to hide) his nature when in full regalia — hence their end, and Haazen’s need to rule remotely, as he describes.

This is the first time we used the word “Covenanter” here, which is evidently a word, even though it sounds odd to my ear.

We moved around wisps of dust when depicting the final disposition of the statue to make it less clear how much space there was under the thing. We didn’t want it to seem obvious (to Haazen or the reader) that Lucien had brought it down on himself while leaving a crawlspace, so the smoke leaves just enough room for doubt (and for Lucien).

Finally, at long last, Zayne loses his lightsaber for good this time — becoming separated with it by Haazen’s attack. We saw Lucien’s disrupted, to violent effect, in #34.

There’s not much room to show it, but our heroes aren’t so much soaring into the air as they are soaring over the side — heading downward and outward, with a little help from gravity.

It is not easy to see, but the Vanjervalis Chain control device and the Gauntlet are two different items on the same robotic hand. My assumption is that the control device is actually a wristlet underneath, but not fully obscured by, the Gauntlet; having both in your possession is obviously the thing to have, as our players realize.

Little glitch on Haazen’s final cry, which should be coming from the center of the cruisers’ blasts. We’ll catch it in the trade.

Love the giant destruction scene Brian lays on the Estate, which he had worked so hard to design; one of those pages where a sound effect would have distracted, but you can imagine some windows are breaking across town!

Given all the parades and celebrations Star Wars heroes get, the outdoor rally for someone who didn’t deserve it is a tasty bit of irony. But really, there’s no other way, given the nature of the events being covered up.

The braid reappears from #3. Go back and follow — Gryph simply pockets it, and it follows him everywhere else after that. Never one to get rid of something valuable!

Zayne’s outfit here was intended to be similar to those wore by the Jedi operatives this storyline; he would certainly need the Jedi to find him something to wear in all of this. Gryph, we figure, has had time to go shopping for himself…

We purposefully did not name the planet Lucien’s moon is orbiting in this issue — but its appearance is no mistake. A pretty good place to always be reminded of what a tumultuous universe exists out there, however isolated you are.

Finally, Zayne’s line in the vat about the Force came not from me, but from the Intrepid Meredith, who used a similar line after reading what was happening to the kid in one of the scripts. I saved it until an appropriate place — and this suited!

Latest edition

Star Wars: Legends Epic Collection – The Old Republic Vol. 2

Star Wars: Legends Epic Collection – The Old Republic Vol. 2

After Zayne Carrick is framed for the murder of his fellow Jedi in training, his poor luck prevents him from clearing his name and throws him into dangerous situations all over the galaxy, leading to his final confrontation with the Jedi Masters who massacred their own Padawans!

More info →
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Earlier editions

Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 2

Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 2

After Zayne Carrick is framed for the murder of his fellow Jedi in training, his poor luck prevents him from clearing his name and throws him into dangerous situations all over the galaxy, leading to his final confrontation with the Jedi Masters who massacred their own Padawans!

More info →
Buy from Amazon
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 6: Vindication

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 6: Vindication

Fugitive Padawan Zayne Carrick's quest to clear his name is finally concluded in this huge, novel-length volume! Zayne and his con-artist companion Gryph commit to exposing the dark actions of the secret Jedi Covenant. Doing so takes them not only to the homeworld of one of Zayne's murdering Masters, but into the most highly guarded place on the planet - a storehouse of Sith artifacts! But his days as a renegade won't end there! Zayne's search for justice will continue to Coruscant, where he'll confront his Master, Lucien Draay, and the members of the Jedi Covenant in a showdown that will end his days as a fugitive - one way, or another!

More info →
Buy from Amazon