Stradley Uses the Force to Guide "Star Wars: Vector"

Wed, January 30th, 2008 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Jeffrey Renaud, Staff Writer

"Vector" begins in "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" #25, on sale now

In case those of you living on the thirteenth moon of Yavin haven't heard, Dark Horse launches this week "Star Wars: Vector" in "Knights of the Old Republic" #25. The mega-sized event marks the first time the multiple ongoing Star Wars titles have a single story crossing over the entire line. But unlike traditional crossovers like "Infinite Crisis" or "Civil War," there is no "Star Wars: Vector" limited series. The 12-issue story arc runs each month throughout 2008 in Dark Horse's four existingStar Warstitles: "Knights of the Old Republic" #25-28, "Dark Times" #11-12, "Rebellion" #15-16 and "Legacy" #29-32.

When asked if "Vector," a saga that spans 4,100 years worth of mythos, was the biggest Star Wars event ever, line editor Randy Stradley told CBR News, "I don't know about the biggest, let's not forget the six films, but certainly it's one of the longest. Though, if you really think about it, there's so little about the 25,000-plus years of the 'known history' of the Star Wars galaxy, even 'Vector' is a drop in the bucket. But, yeah, 'Vector' is big and it covers a lot of ground."

And while the story is big, Stradley wants to make clear that most of the actual changes that the "Vector" story brings about are "small." "The changes affect specific individuals more than they do the fate of the galaxy," explained Stradley. "There are dangers and consequences for the galaxy as a whole, of course, what would a Star Wars story be with them? But it's a relative handful of characters, galactically speaking who really get put through the wringer.

"That said, 'Vector' will bring about changes in every era of Star Wars history covered by our comics series, and the major players in every series – including Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and other film characters – will be directly involved in the action."

"Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" #25, page 1
Stradley, who has been with Dark Horse since its inception in 1986 and has worked on virtually every kind of title and in every genre the company publishes, is the de facto "showrunner" of Dark Horse's Star Wars franchise while serving as the vice president of publishing, as well. But readers don't need to match Stradley's wealth of knowledge of the expanded Star Wars Universe (or EU, as it is known) to follow and enjoy "Vector."

"If you know enough about Star Wars to know who Vader and Luke are, and you can grasp the concept that events occurred in the Star Wars galaxy before and after their stories, you'll be fine," assured Stradley. "One of our most stringent rules in developing the story was that every chapter had to be an easily accessible 'jumping-on' point for new readers. Not only that, but we've also made sure that current readers won't feel pressured to purchase all twelve issues of 'Vector' if they don't want to.

"For instance, if a reader is currently buying only 'Rebellion,' they can read the 'Vector' chapter of that series and still have a satisfying experience without having read all that comes before, or after. Of course, we think the experience will be enhanced by reading the whole thing, but we're working hard to make each chapter work as a stand-alone story, and the years between chapters help us achieve that goal."

The Star Wars EU delineates its timeline using the Battle of Yavin as its nexus point. Events prior to the climatic battle of "Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope" are tagged with a BBY (Before Battle of Yavin) while those following are ABY (After Battle of Yavin).

Set in 3,964 BBY, "Knights of the Old Republic" centers around a young Padawan named Zayne Carrick, who is framed for the murder of his fellow Padawan classmates at the Jedi Academy on Taris. As the lead character of his series and according to the released solicitation information for "Knights of the Old Republic"#25, Carrick will play a vital role in the events of "Vector," but unlike his co-leads Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker and the last remaining member of the Skywalker line, Cade Skywalker, he is not a member of the Star Wars galaxy's first family. Or is he?

"Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" #25, page 2
Stradley joked, "Hmm. Carrick. Skywalker. I don't know, they don't sound alike to me.  But seriously, let's not try to make things simpler than they are. Zayne Carrick is a Padawan, an apprentice Jedi, in the Old Republic who has been falsely accused of murder. While trying to clear his name, he's had the great fortune, and extreme bad luck, to be at Ground Zero of the events that kick off 'Vector.'

"A vision is being shared by three Jedi seers who receive a portent of the coming storm and of the major players, but fail to understand its meaning. At this point at least, that's Zayne's only connection to the Skywalker clan."

On the opposite side of the EU timeline is Cade Skywalker, Luke's descendant (believed to be his great-great grandson) who stars in "Legacy," a book set in the time between 130 and 137 ABY.

Stradley says just because the events of "Legacy" are set after the two trilogies; don't assume "Vector" will have the biggest effect on Cade and his cohorts. "First of all, let me say that thinking is great. But don't let your thinking be too limited," said Stradley. "Sure, we enjoy the obvious freedoms we have with the 'Legacy' series, what with it being over a hundred years out past 'Return of the Jedi,' and well beyond any existing continuity. There's no denying that we love that freedom and that we plan to take every advantage of it. But we also have loads of freedom, for instance, with the events in 'Knights of the Old Republic' and in 'Dark Times,' which is set nineteen years before Luke picks up his father's lightsaber.

"'Rebellion,' situated as it is in the middle of the time of the original trilogy, is tougher, but even there we have plenty of characters and situations to play with. One thing that many readers tend to forget is that it's a big galaxy out there. The Empire isn't just Vader, and the Rebellion isn't just four plucky heroes. New readers will be in for an exciting ride, long-time readers will be in for some surprises."

"Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" #25, page 3
Can readers expect cameos from characters that aren't currently featured in the Dark Horse comics beyond the "four plucky heroes," Luke, Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca?  "Nope," Stradley confirmed. "The impetus behind the crossover was to find a way to bring our current characters together in the same story, an adventure that unites characters who are at opposite ends or in the middle of what is a truly epic timeline. They won't actually meet face-to-face, don't worry, there's no time travel involved, but every decision made by characters in one era affects the characters in the next."

Stradley said selecting the title 'Vector' for the crossover event came about organically as the story itself unfolded. "Specifically, it refers to the fact that when we were looking for a title, and we took into consideration the kind of threats, the powers in play, and the obvious momentum present in the story, we discovered that 'Vector' just fit," explained Stradley. "If you look the word up in the dictionary, it has three definitions. Aspects of the events in our story matched all three."

Stradley also confirmed the title 'Vector' was in no way tied to 'Vector Prime,' the first book of the best-selling 'New Jedi Order' series written by R. A. Salvatore for Del Rey Books.

To make the crossover event as new-reader-friendly as possible, Stradley said Dark Horse will place a big 'Vector' secondary logo across the bottom of each cover along with the corresponding chapter number from the 12-issue series.

"Also, in the upper right corner of each cover, instead of the usualStar Warsera icon, each issue of the 'Vector' story will sport a special creepy 'Vector' icon," said Stradley. "And, as we do in all of our Star Wars titles each month, there's an introduction on the inside of the front cover which explains the story thus far and brings readers up to speed on who the main characters are."

With an EU continuity rip a possibility in a time-reaching effort like "Vector," Stradley said folks at Lucasfilm were kept apprised of developments but the onus really falls to the creators. "We've taken on most of the burden ourselves. While we have been running everything by Lucasfilm, all of the writers involved have done their research and done their best to structure the story in such a way as to avoid stepping on the toes of existing continuity and to avoid constructing roadblocks for continuity yet to be created. Again, by keeping the story focused on the personal consequences to, and the choices faced by, a relatively limited cast we've avoided any major pitfalls. Knock on wood."

"Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" #25, page 4
To the best of Stradley's knowledge, the "Vector" storyline will not play into the upcoming Star Wars animated and live-action television series. "After the 'Knights of the Old Republic' chapter, the motivating events in 'Vector' don't rear their ugly heads again until after the Clone Wars are over, so they won't impact the upcoming animated series. And, after the 'Dark Times' segment, they sort of become Vader's dirty little secret until our 'Rebellion' issues. 

"From what little I've heard about the live-action show, it's supposed to take place after 'Revenge of the Sith,' but before 'A New Hope,' so it's doubtful you'll see a mention of Vector in that series, either."

Stradley did leave CBR News with one breadcrumb for readers who are also gamers."There are certain aspects of 'Vector' which touch very lightly on some of the situations in LucasArts' upcoming 'The Force Unleashed' game. Ha! You didn't see that coming, did you?"

Stradley says when Dark Horse re-launched its Star Wars line of comics in 2006, a major crossover like "Vector" or a similar project of its magnitude wasn't even on the radar. "This idea didn't occur to us until almost the end of 2006 and it took us much of the intervening year to get it all figured out," said Stradley. "It has been an exciting process, but it has also been a lot of work. If I had known how much work was in store for me, I might not have suggested it. Now it'll probably take me a couple of years before I embark on anything like this again."

Stradley confirmed the creative lineup for "Vector" as writer John Jackson Miller with Scott Hepburn and Joe Pimentel providing art for "Knights of the Old Republic;" writer Mick Harrison with artist Doug Wheatley on "Dark Times;" writer Rob Williams with artist Colin Wilson on "Rebellion," and writer John Ostrander with artists Jan Duursema and Dan Parsons on "Legacy."

"Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic" #25, page 5
Pressed for more details about the story behind "Vector," Stradley proved even a Jedi mind trick couldn't make the wily veteran tell much more. "Very clever, trying to trick me into spilling the details by asking me a direct question, you almost had me. I almost let it slip about Lord Dreypa's Oub -- hey, I think I've said quite enough, thank you," he teased.

Resolutely tightlipped, Stradley promises that by the close of Vector the Star Wars Expanded Universe will be a different place, especially for one unnamed planet."Parts of it, certainly. Part of the fallout from Vector will be that because of what they experience or witness, some characters will be compelled to take actions they might not have otherwise," said Stradley. "Some of the heroes learn things about some of the villains, and vice versa, that will change the dynamics of the conflict between them. Other characters will be forced to make decisions they never thought they could, or hoped that they would never have to make. Really, the changes wrought by 'Vector' will be as diverse as our cast of characters, and I think that's saying something.

"Oh, yeah, and one whole planet gets wiped out."

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