The stories behind the stories

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #41

The marks! Don’t you know what they are? Don’t you know what she is?” — Goethar Kleej

“Dueling Ambitions” Part 3

It’s worlds of trouble for Zayne and crew — and a major secret is revealed!
Published by Dark Horse • May 20, 2009
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

One of the things I always wanted to do in a story was ruin a happy ending. There are a number of films, TV shows and novels I can name where the nicely established pat ending is completely trashed by events at the very end — though I’m reluctant to name them here, as it’d spoil the surprises in the those stories. Suffice it to say that we always approached “Dueling Ambitions” as a Trojan horse — what seemed to be a self-contained story was in fact the ignition point for the next major arc.

This issue reveals one part of the truth about Jarael’s past — and this particular part was in the works from pretty early on. Recall that in “Commencement,” Zayne was on the run from the authorities when he came to the Last Resort seeking refuge. Camper and Jarael gave us the chance to see what Zayne’s life might be like after years on the run. Camper, we learned in “Nights of Anger,” was hiding from someone; however, we also established in Jarael’s speech in #5 that she, also, wanted to disappear — and we suggested that might be for different reasons altogether.

There were other places in the storyline where we began to hint at this part of Jarael’s past;  “Nights of Anger” shows her reaction to the oppression of the Offshoots, and we also see her general aimlessness and ennui at several points. This is only secret thing in Jarael’s history, but as the rest come into view, we’ll see how the character arc flows together.

Consideration had been given to making this issue’s revelation closer to the end of “Vindication,” in the name of story momentum; however, there were other pieces in play, as well. The element regarding Jarael and the Force worked better before this revelation, and we also had the mystery of Zayne’s absence to establish. There was also a desire to launch right into capers after “Vindication,” so we could show how Zayne’s crew operated without the Covenant chasing after them — and so we could set up the contrast between those operations and what was to come.

Lastly, it was important to solidly establish Jarael’s accuser as a sympathetic, credible figure — one she would be sympathetic to, as well. In my very early thinking of this moment, the accuser would have been someone far less formidable — someone easier to recognize as a victim. The choice made here works better, as it goes further to establishing that the forces involved are quite out of the ordinary.

Chantique — remember the name from #11? — is part of the issue’s big surprise, and we’ll learn a lot more about her soon. Both her existence and Jarael’s secret this issue were closely protected secrets — the Dark Horse staff worked to make sure neither was revealed in solicitations for later issues (which is not always easy to do for such important elements). Kudos all around…

“You can’t hide from me, Jarael. And you — and anyone who helps you — will pay!” — Chantique

OK, if anyone didn’t get it, yes, this story is partially my tribute to the late Archie Goodwin. The final issue of “The Wheel” storyline — Marvel’s Star Wars #23 — was the first non-movie adaptation issue of the series I bought, and there are several allusions right here. The Wheel-like shape of Jervo’s World wasn’t one of them — I had imagined a different shape — but it’s a fun accidental connection.

One of the obvious deliberate connections appears right on the cover: The Mandallian Giant was one of the alien gladiators from the Wheel. (Well, not the same guy, but his species.) And then the Tyluun Night-Soarer.

And, of course, it’s a video of the shenanigans going on behind the scenes at The Wheel that sets off a riot by the patrons; here, it’s audio.

We set up the fact that music plays in the arena in #40 with the “funeral dirge” line.

What kind of alien is Jarael pretending to be? Ummm — Andorian Offshoot? No, honestly, we didn’t specify. The thinking was that there were so many alien races at Jervo’s World for the finals, even the people who lived in the Galaxy Far, Far Away wouldn’t be able to keep track of them all. The more important element was that her make-up match the color of her tattoos, to set up the shot of her wiping it off later on.

I like the notion of sports mascots in space. That Goethar suit gives Gryph an extra foot or two of height!

The trash droid is a lightweight model a good deal newer than Elbee, but built off of a similar design. Figure late Kellenech…

I actually hadn’t realized the mosgoths were that large when I wrote the action scenes, as it makes Rohlan’s job here a lot harder. This felt more like writing Iron Man than any moment on the series!

The audio clips include a second sound-grab, from Gryph’s bugging at the end of #40. So it’s actually three different speakers — Goethar, Jervo, and Bardron. Add to Gryph’s resume, “sound editor”…

Latest Edition

Star Wars: Legends Epic Collection – The Old Republic Vol. 3

Star Wars: Legends Epic Collection – The Old Republic Vol. 3

Zayne Carrick's adventures continue in the finale to the Knights of the Old Republic comics series! Contains issues #37-50 of the Knights of the Old Republic comics series and issues #1-5 of the Knights of the old Republic: War series.

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Earlier editions

Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 3

Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 3

Free at last from the false charges against him, former Padawan Zayne Carrick is ready and able to search out adventure with his group of companions, but when he discovers that one of his allies, the beautiful Jarael, has been running from her past, he dedicates himself to her redemption. Soon, Zayne is caught in a web of sport dueling, slavery, an evil twin, an ancient society, and finally, the frontline of the Mandalorian Wars!

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Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 7: Dueling Ambitions

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 7: Dueling Ambitions

Former Padawan - and former fugitive - Zayne Carrick is taking his life in a new direction. Along with his con-artist best friend Gryph; the beautiful, bold, and mysterious Jarael; and ex-Mandalorian warrior Rohlan; our bumbling yet lovable hero is ready to embark on the sort of adventures only possible in the Star Wars universe! In "Prophet Motive," it's a long-shot swindle gone wrong; in "Faithful Execution," it's a ghost ship and renegade droids; and in "Dueling Ambitions," it's combat sports and high-speed racing.

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