With regards to writing style, I find Jackson-Miller’s prose misses, or nearly hits with me. Although I really enjoy his writing in the comic book format I find that reading him in straight-forward prose is sometimes hard to deal with.
In the first part of the Lost Tribe of the Sith series I found his writing style unreadable. In the second part I guess I got used to it because I found I could follow along with the story a little better. Labor Pains, written by Jackson-Miller, was a piece I was able to get through relatively easily, though there were some times when I was re-reading sentences to make sure I understood what was going on.
Labor Pains is an in-between piece of writing, set in the middle of KOTOR volume two and three. The main protagonist in this short story is Marn Heiroglyph, and the story is written from his point of view, rather than an omniscient third party narrator.
In this story Marn Heiroglyoh is attempting another con in an attempt to pad the coffers of himself, and keep he and his fellow outlaws on the run.
In his newest grift, Marn is attempting to pass off some of Campers patched together mechanical junk as art to a couple of gallery curators from Raltiir.
His marks are a Munn and a Fat Rodian, and these two characters are looking to purchase high quality art on the cheap. Marn knows that these guys know that since the Mandalorians are pressing into Raltiir, its citizens are eager to leave and jettison their possessions for a deal. It’s here that Marn sees opportunity.
It’s at this point that Zayne Carrick enters the story. Wheeling in the “art” for inspection, the two curators pour over the “sculptures” attempting to determine if they are authentic.
Marn begins his con, and tries to convince the two art experts that he is currently holding sculptures by one of Taris’ greatest artists. At first the Mun and the Rodian are skeptical, but through some quick talking and a little bit of fuzzy logic Marn manages to convince them that the pieces are real.
As always, things have a way of going awry for Zayne and the gang, and it is at this point that Camper bursts onto the scene to trample Marn’s carefully laid plans. Camper accuses Marn of stealing his stuff, which begins to rattle the two curators.
Sensing he is losing control of the situation, Marn asks Zayne to use his Jedi mind-trick on the two marks to fully convince them the art is authentic. Zayne, or course, balks at this. His conscience steps in to tell him what he’s doing is wrong.
Quick talking once more, Marn argues to Zayne that the ends justify the means, and that these two guys are scumbags themselves because they are trying to take advantage of them, knowing they are in a tight bind and have to unload their art (or so Marn’s lie went). Marn argues that these two deserve to be conned, and Zayne has to use his Jedi mind trick if justice in this situation is going to be served.
Zayne hesitantly complies and convinces the fat Rodian (who is the boss in this circumstance) that the pieces are indeed authentic art from Taris.
After this, Marn gets twice his asking price, and Zayne and the gang make off with a little more money in their pockets.
The story ends with Marn telling the reader that having a Jedi as a sidekick has its benefits and its draw-backs. The drawn backs being the he has to contend with a Jedi’s sense of morality.
Morality is where I want to enter into discussion with regards to this piece of Star Wars chronicle. It seems to me in this story we have another act of questionable moral judgment on the part of Zayne Carrick. He knows that using the Jedi mind trick for the purposes of conning someone out of their money is not good, yet he allows Marn to rationalize his choice, basically saying that the two curators deserve to be conned, that they’re crooks anyways. One cannot deny that what Zayne did was not anywhere near the realm of a ‘good and noble action’.
Zayne’s first act of questionable morality, I would argue, would be his death threat to his former Masters. One could argue that as soon as Zayne threatened to kill his Masters if they did not confess to the killings, that this could be considered an act of the darkside. The light is used only in defense, never for attack. This is a simple concept, yet one many Jedi find difficult to adhere to. I would argue that as soon as Zayne threatened to kill his former Master’s, he lost the moral high ground.
Arguably his death threats could be empty, but as of now that remains to be seen. Perhaps Jackson-Miller is indeed setting Zayne up for a fall to the darkside, and validating the vision of the five Jedi Masters. I look forward to finding out what happens.
For my next post I’ll be moving on to volume three of the KOTOR series. Until then my friends, may the Force be with you.