The stories behind the stories

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #46

“I tried to warn you, Jarael. Don’t bait traps with anyone you hope to see again!” — Gryph

“Destroyer” Part 2

Zayne fights for his life as a captive of The Crucible!
Published by Dark Horse • October 21, 2009
Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Brian Ching

Lettered by Michael Heisler

Colored by Michael Atiyeh

Cover by Jim Pavelec

Edited by Dave Marshall and Freddye Lins

It had always been my intention to wrap up the “Jarael arc” that followed “Vindication” sometime in 2010. The fugitive arc, though it had included sections which probably more rightly belonged to Jarael’s storyline, had run three years; I saw Jarael’s storyline as reaching its conclusion earlier. “Destroyer” was a big piece of it; “Demon,” always planned to follow it, would provide all the answers — I had no clear picture of how long that story should be, but I knew what would happen there.

So the decision to bring the series’ run to a close with the round-numbered issue #50 involved fewer changes than might be imagined. You can always stretch a comics story out to whatever length you want, by adding action scenes and elaborating on subplots; aiming toward a specific destination really helps you find the core story.

“Destroyer” was an example. I had originally considered it for three issues, which would have shown scenes which, while interesting, didn’t add a whole lot. Seeing Zayne actually being captured by the Crucible, for example, was inferior to throwing him right into the fights. We’d have learned more about the muscle Gryph hired to help free the Crucible’s slaves — but they would have been introduced to no future purpose in the story. Jarael’s conversations with Malak and Shel likewise were interesting, but both diluted the emotional impact of Zayne’s story — and our sense of his being alone in an alien and threatening world. We could all already visualize Jarael’s conversation with Malak anyway, and her exposition at the beginning of the final scene fit with the frenetic, out-of-breath feeling I wanted her to bring to it.

So where three issues had us popping away repeatedly for interludes with the searchers; rethinking it as two issues boiled it down to its core moments and consolidated the searchers’ plight into a single interlude. These were very easy changes to make, and they served the main goal, which was to allow me to begin “Demon” an issue earlier. Having a clear milepost in #50 then caused everything to fall in place in a four-issue story, the same length as “Vector” and “Vindication.”

The Crucible exists pretty much as envisioned — a traveling Parris Island, a boot-camp that never ends. The intention, beginning with “Dueling Ambitions” and moving forward, had been to imagine a form of slavery where servile labor was only one part of a larger picture. The Crucible exists far from its forgotten origins, but still does what it was designed to do. The plights of the castoffs and the “success stories” are intertwined with its activities — but they’re not the main purpose. Thus, references to “recruits,” “press gangs,” and “general orders.”

This was the first issue to be released after Dark Horse announced the series’ impending conclusion to retailers at the Diamond Trade Show in Baltimore. (I attended the event for Dark Horse, promoting the upcoming Mass Effect title.) While it was clear that the news would reach the general public via the online reporters present, while writing the issue I never spent much time thinking of the how the news might influence what readers took away from the story. The conclusion to “Destroyer” was already dramatic as it was — and as Brian Ching drew it, it’s one of my favorite scenes in the series. For the readers who knew something even bigger was about to happen, it simply held that much more drama..

“You know, Zayne, for someone who’s supposedly failed at so many things he’s tried — you have standards no one can meet.” — Jarael

This issue’s cover is by Jim Pavelec, an artist I hired when I was an editor at Comics Buyer’s Guide and Scrye years earlier. He’s drawn a number of horror-themed books for my former company, as well as lots of work for role-playing and trading-card games. I was very pleased to see him hired for this cover; it’s definitely one of our creepiest!

The “muscle” Gryph refers to was considered as a reference to Valius Ying’s old gang, on the Oroko; as noted, we wound up not pursuing that angle. Any of them who didn’t wind up in the Mandalorian camp on Jebble would have likely retreated to Republic space.

Zayne’s conversation with Elbee on #40, we now see, was not with Elbee at all. Just one of those things that reads one way once, and another way when more facts are available.

We included Volgax in the Star Wars Atlas.

Jarael’s age is something we’d been planning to reveal for a long time, and this was the right moment, as it underlined how little Zayne really knew about her. At a glance, the age difference probably doesn’t signify much to most readers. But when you’re nineteen, it’s a bit of a wider gulf — especially when you’ve been trying to show that you deserve to be taken seriously. It might be more April-June than May-December — but functionally, at that age, everything’s relative.

We previously mentioned Ieldis in #29.

The Gladiator — now repaired — actually does not carry the Pit structures, though we do see it looming on its way offworld. There’s a separate vessel for that. The Gladiator is more cruiser-like in size.

We actually tipped the survival of Goravvus over in the KOTOR Campaign Guide. We needed a noble and a corporate operator, and I knew he had a future waiting. Escape would likely have come on the vessel Raana Tey arrived in; Del Moomo took Shel and the constable’s kids out in the vessel he and Gryph arrived in.

There was a very subtle clue to the real meaning of Jarael’s name in the name of Bar’injar — whose name includes a -JAR suffix for his position, as named in #44: “Magister Protector.” (And no, Chantique’s name doesn’t include the formal suffix — she kept her name as it was when she was in the Crucible the first time.)

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. 8: Destroyer

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Vol. 8: Destroyer

Knights of the Old Republic: Destroyer begins with an untold chapter from the lives of Malak and Revan - stars of the Knights of the Old Republic video game! From there, it takes us to a death-defying shootout on the face of a comet and into the heart of one of the cruelest organizations in the galaxy - the Crucible. Former Padawan Zayne Carrick risks not just his life, but also his sanity, to help his friend Jarael face her dark past. Zayne may have set off for adventure, but what he finds are irreversible consequences for himself and his crew in a dangerous, unforgiving galaxy.

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Buy from Amazon