STAR WARS VECTOR PRIMED, Part I

Wed, January 14th, 2009 at 12:28pm PST | Updated: January 14th, 2009 at 12:30pm

Comic Books
Jeffrey Renaud, Staff Writer
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"Star Wars: Vector" Volume 1 trade paperback on sale January 28

SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for “Star Wars: Vector.”

Launched in January 2008, Dark Horse’s yearlong event storyline “Star Wars: Vector” marked the first time the multiple ongoing Star Wars titles incorporated a single story crossing over the entire line. But unlike traditional crossovers like Final Crisis or Secret Invasion, there was no “Star Wars: Vector” limited series. The 12-issue story arc, which spanned 4,100 years of Star Wars mythos, was told each month in Dark Horse’s four existing Star Wars titles: “Knights of the Old Republic” #25-28, “Dark Times” #11-12, “Rebellion” #15-16 and “Legacy” #28-31.

In “Vector,” a Dark Jedi during the Hundred-Year Darkness, Muur became a Sith Lord and created the Muur Talisman to turn his foes into mindless minions. When Muur discovered the Talisman was powerless against those with the Force and certain other alien species, he further orchestrated the Rakghoul Plague, an infection which could be spread by those already under his power. When Muur died, his spirit was kept alive in the Talisman. After trying to connect with Zayne Carrick – the lead character of “Knights of the Old Republic” – the Talisman merged with a new character to the Star Wars mythos, Jedi Master Celeste Morne, giving Muur a suitable and, more importantly, long-lasting host.

Over the past year, CBR News has spoke one-on-one with series architects including “Knights of the Old Republic” writer John Jackson Miller, “Legacy” scribe John Ostrander, and Senior Editor and Vice-President of Publishing Randy Stradley. But with the series now complete and the “Star Wars: Vector” Volume 1 trade paperback due in stores on January 28, we invited all three back, along with fan favorite “Legacy” artist Jan Duursema, to discuss the event 4,100 years in the making.

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CBR: In this era of crossover events and event series, to ship a twelve-book storyline in twelve months within the regular schedule of four ongoing titles was quite a feat. Did you honestly think you could pull it off?

Randy Stradley: I told everybody that if they were late, they were fired.

John Ostrander: He’s not kidding.

Randy Stradley: And you’ll note Doug Wheatley did get taken off half an issue. He was a week late finishing “Dark Times” #11, and I wasn’t going to wait.

Pages from "Star Wars: Vector" Volume 1

Would a delay have hurt the series that badly?

John Ostrander: I think the whole point is that you want the readers to keep coming back regularly and if we can’t sell them on that, I don’t know how we make the rest of it work.

Randy, did the Star Wars books see a bump in sales during “Vector”?

Randy Stradley: We did see the bumps every time “Vector” jumped from one series to another. But we knew from the beginning that we didn’t want people to have to buy additional issues. And we knew we had readers who might be reading “Knights of the Old Republic” who weren’t necessarily reading “Dark Times.” If people wanted to follow this story, we made it relatively easy but we also set it up so that if someone didn’t want to follow it, they didn’t have to. The story with the characters from that series carried on in that series and the sort of Vector element moved on. But we knew asking people to buy twelve issues was the most we could do. We couldn’t ask readers to buy those twelve issues plus ten additional spin-offs, or twenty additional spin-offs. That’s crazy.

John Ostrander: On a certain level, it should look easy. Or the work shouldn’t show. But on a technical level, given what Randy was just talking about, it’s actually, as a writing assignment, quite complex. Because each arc is complete unto itself, you have a complete story in each one of those arcs and you can choose to go on or not. That was risky. I think Dark Horse is to be congratulated for taking that risk. We also tried to make the story accessible because we knew new readers might be coming on. So you try to make it accessible at the same time. You don’t want to bore your regular readers. So you have to do that as well.

Page from "Star Wars: Vector" Volume 1

Again, make it very clean, it’s just twelve issues. It’s not separate from the normal issues that are published. We just worked through all of them. As a crossover, I like it for that reason.

John Jackson Miller: I absolutely agree with what John said as far as the challenge in coming up with this. If you think it’s seamless, it took a long time to make it look like that. Randy came up with the idea for this in 2006. I can’t remember, I think he said, “The economy is going to collapse in 2008 we ought to do this.” [everyone laughs]

And we said, “Yeah, sure.” And then we were glad that we had a whole year and a half. Because one of the stipulations was that this had to start at set times in each series. And since I was the lead-off hitter, I had already written “Knights of the Old Republic”#24. And it was going to start in issue #25, so my characters weren’t in position. I went through several drafts, and went over it several times to get it to where it could be accessible because where I had left things, I pretty much had a team-book situation, like eight characters in one place. And it really wasn’t until we came up with the notion of, “Okay, let’s just take three-quarters of the cast and send them to Mars.” Well, Alderaan. Literally, Alderaan. “And let’s follow our two original core characters through this thing,” and that just opened up a lot of doors. And then we tried to make it flow within the series it was in and then it would flow out of it, as well. I think we try to do that with all the series.

Why was it important to create a new character -- Celeste -- as the central figure of “Vector” instead of using one of the existing lead characters from one of the four books? Or a character from the Star Wars mythos who you weren’t yet using?

John Jackson Miller: I think in the beginning, we talked about all different kinds of options. And one was using someone from “Knights of the Old Republic,” and we also talked about it maybe just being an item and Randy correctly said, “It really needs to be a person,” so readers can follow that person throughout the entire storyline. And identify with that person’s story arc and everything.

Original "Vector" covers

John Ostrander: I agree with that. There has to be a connective thing throughout all twelve issues in order to make it feel right. It’s a very complicated way of doing it. Each story had its own arc. Each one of us had to do something important in those arcs. And at the same time, they had to carry on the entire story.

I think, in the long run, the only way to really do that is to have a central character. The Talisman certainly was an object and I think we debated, as I recall, although my memory is notoriously fading, that the Talisman would possess some different in each era, but that doesn’t provide the same unity. “Vector” itself has to tell its story complete in the twelve issues. There has to be a payoff at the end of it. And we finally discovered, the only way really to do that was with a character.

Jan, how involved were you in the creating the look of Celeste, Karness Muur, and the Muur Talisman?

Jan Duursema: I was involved in designing both Celeste and Muur. I did take a stab at the Muur Talisman, but Doug Wheatley came in and designed a beautiful Muur Talisman. I wasn’t really hitting it for me, or anybody, really. With Celeste, we wanted to make sure she had a tough enough look, but she had that “Sleeping Beauty” aspect to her. And Muur just had to be a seedy Sith Lord scumbag.

John Jackson Miller: And if I can recall, you were the first one to come up with the Rakghouls.

Jan Duursema: John and I talked about that. I think because we were starting in “KotOR,” they hadn’t really been explored that much. And it would be a neat thing to bring into the story.

Original "Vector" covers

John Ostrander: And also, players of the games would recognize the Rakghouls, as well, but they haven’t been seen in the other eras. But then again, that presents a problem for the guys doing the other series, particularly for the guys doing “Dark Times” and “Rebellion;” those eras were pretty well documented. So how do the Rakghouls show up and they are never mentioned in that time? So we presented problems that had to be solved along the way.

[Editor’s Note: The Rakghouls were featured in the “Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republi)” video game, which was developed by BioWare and published by LucasArts in 2003.]

John Jackson Miller: And that was something else, another door that was unlocked in “Old Republic.” Why would we not know this character -- this important character that was going to flow through all of these series -- from history? And again, I finally came up with the notion that I would tie her into the Covenant, which is this major force in the “Knights of the Old Republic” series. They have these secret agents that are running around, undocumented, off the grid, so she can disappear from our time period, and it doesn’t matter. It’s not, “Where’d Celeste go?” They didn’t know who she was.

Randy Stradley: John Jackson Miller, didn’t we decide that Muur created the Rakghouls? Or was a power in the creation of the Rakghouls? That had never been mentioned anywhere.

Original "Vector" cover

John Jackson Miller: I was thrilled when Jan brought up the Rakghouls, because they are in a very good place in the video game. They are in the first two hours of playing, so everybody knew about them, but they never had an origin. And it was clear to me that their origin was probably Sith in nature, because they are not a slow transformation. In the video game’s limitations, they are a flash of light. You get bit by one of these things, you turn into a Rakghoul. So this locked into what I was doing with the Covenant.

One of the things that the Covenant is doing is searching around for Sith artifacts, because they think they should put them in quarantine. And our series started on Taris, which is where the Rakghouls were. The Rakghouls appeared in the third issue of our “KotOR” series. So, it worked out perfectly. And we made it so the Rakghouls were created by Karness Muur very far back. We never said exactly when. It’s one of those things that it’s not an accident, but it took a while to make it work.

"Star Wars: Vector" Volume 1 goes on sale January 28 from Dark Horse. Check back with CBR News tomorrow for VECTOR PRIMED Part II.

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TAGS:  star wars, star wars: vector, dark horse comics, john ostrander, john jackson miller

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