Friday, January 29, 2010

3963 BBY: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 8: Destroyer

In the KOTOR comic series, author John Jackson Miller has impressed me with his ability to create an excellent story. What still leaves me slightly hesitant with regards to his authorship is the diction of his prose. I find it awkward. Writing in the comic book format is one thing, but writing in long prose is another. JJM’s writing in the Lost Tribe of the Sith series still fails to impress me, but his ability to create an intricate story full of plot twists and intrigue, as found in the KOTOR series, is awesome.
So – all criticisms aside – JJM has won me over. I’m a fan. The KOTOR series was a highly enjoyable read, and Zayne Carrick has become one of my favorite Star Wars heroes.

Moving on in the Star Wars Chronology Project, I’ll be examining issues 42-48 of the KOTOR series, which feature the character of Malak, and the return of Demagol. The topics I want to cover in this particular post will be the character of Squint / Alex / Malak, Jarael, Demagol and Rohlan, and lastly the phenomenon of cloning as it has been presented throughout Star Wars mythos.

To begin, the character of Squint, who was later named Alek, and then finally Malak, was a character I only paid attention to in passing while I was reading the KOTOR series. It seems he plays a very large role in the KOTOR video game – a source I will be getting to very soon. After reading the letters to the editor, I realized that Malak and the Revanchist later become Darth Malak and Darth Revan, so I went back into the series and examined more closely the character of Malak, and how he progressed through the story.

At the very beginning of the story, when Malak first meets Zayne, he tells the young padawan “Sometimes you have to enter the darkness to see the light”. His words are very fitting, as it seems that this is what Malak does. As he progresses through the KOTOR story arc, he increasingly becomes darker and more brooding.

This brings me to my next point, which is the character of Jarael. If I only paid attention to Malak in passing, I almost completely dismissed the character of Jareal – even though she was a major player. For some reason I did not find her that compelling, which puts me into the distinct minority if letters to the editor are anything to go by. Time and again in the letters to the editor section of the comics, people commented on the character of Jarael and how interesting she was – and I get why she is interesting – but for some reason this particular character never spoke to me.

At the end of issue 48, she is standing with her former master from her slaver days, equipped with what looks like Mandalorian type armor, and wielding the double bladed lightsaber of Exar Kun – a cliffhanger for sure. Jarael now has my attention.

However, at the end of issue 48 I was left scratching my head, because I think I’m the only Star Wars fan who has never played the KOTOR video game, and I’m unfamiliar with its characters and storyline. So the questions that came to my mind was: is Jarael the ‘Jedi Exile’ I keep reading about? I think I’ve figured everything else out, which is pretty obvious stuff; Malak is Darth Malak, and the Revanchist is Darth Revan. So who is the Jedi Exile? Is it Jarael?

For my birthday last year my wife bought me the KOTOR sourcebook, so it was here I began searching for my answer, but what I found cleared nothing up for me. Jarael’s description on page 213 of that text does not seem to, from a chronological perspective, jive with the description of the Jedi Exile found on page 140. So I’m leading towards the notion that Jarael is not the Jedi Exile.

Even if Jarael is not the Jedi Exile, he storyline has now grabbed my attention. I’m looking forward to finding out how she situates herself in the larger Star Wars universe. I think a clue to this lies at the beginning of the KOTOR story arc, and the vision had by the Covenant. In the vision where Q’anilia predicted that one of the five padawans would bring down the Jedi order, she based her assumption on the red spacesuit each padawan had to wear to pass their trials. Going through the story again, both Jarael and Malak wear the same red spacesuit found in Q’anilia’s vision, which leaves one to ponder if the threat to the order has really past, and what these two characters have to do with it.

Moving on with my reactions to the story, the switch-a-roo between Rohlan and Demigol was a nice twist that I did not catch. It is here I have to give kudos to JJM. As I was reading the story, I did notice the change of character between Rohlan in volume 2 to the “Rohlan” presented in volume three. In my ignorance I felt justified in my earlier criticisms of JJM because I thought “Here we go….the damn writer can’t even keep the characterization of the protagonists consistent throughout the story”. I simply thought that JJM had dropped the ball. Well, I was wrong. What it more, I liked being wrong here, because that meant I was surprised, and I like being surprised.

My next thought was ‘how does this change in story stack up to the KOTOR sourcebook which was published long before the end of this story arc’? I’m not sure it really does. There is one line however, when speaking of Demagol, which states: “…the prisoner in the Jedi’s care falls into a coma en route, drugged in an evident attempt to avoid questions forever” (KOTOR sourcebook pg 196). The term ‘the prisoner’ here seems to gloss over the subject of the sentence, which is Demagol.

My last point of discussion is rather short, but I would like to make a quick note about the theme of cloning in Star Wars. This is more of an observation than anything – but I find that cloning has a distinct absence of the feminine in Star Wars, which is disturbing, but which I think is also meant to be disturbing. Jarael is a ‘clone’ of Arca Jeth, a male. And she is created in a lab by other males. The clones in The Clone Wars are males, made from a male, by other males, all in a sterile lab. In the creation of lives here, the power of the feminine is distinctly absent, except of course in the feminine form of Jarael. Cloning, in this sense, is revealed to be a truly un-natural thing – something, I think, we should be repulsed at.

With that being said however, I thought it pretty cool that Jarael is an offshoot clone of Master Arca Jeth. Jeth is an interesting character from the Sith War timeframe, and the KOTOR series added more depth to this character as the master who knighted Barrsion Draay and Krynda Draay. This storyline gives credence to Jarael’s burgeoning force powers. Like I said before, I look forward to seeing how this character’s story ends up.

My next post will be a blank one to leave room for the end of the KOTOR story arc. In the meantime I’m going to work my way through the chronology of this time period until right before I need to engage with the KOTOR video game, which basically means I’m going to make a post covering all the wizards of the coast RPG material from 3960 BBY to 3956 BBY. Once I cover that stuff I’m going to backtrack to the beginning and cover the two timeframes in the Xim material. Then I’ll move on to the KOTOR game. Until next time my friends, may the Force be with you.


  1. Yeah, I was pretty shocked by the Rohlan/Demagol swap, too. I'm anxiously looking forward to the end of this series.
    On another note, I noticed that you cite the KOTOR Campaign Guide a few times. Once you've played both KOTOR games, if you haven't read through the CG, I highly recommend it (I think it's probably the best Star Wars book published by WotC, no doubt due to the involvement of JJM and Abel Pena). The book contains info on the characters and events that isn't found anywhere else. I'd also recommend Dark Horse's KOTOR Handbook for similar reasons (although it's not as extensive as the campaign guide).
    Lastly, I see you'll be tackling the rpg scenarios that take place before the first KOTOR game. Do you have access to "The Betrayal of Darth Revan"? It's not on the WotC site, as it was only released at a convention. I've got it and can pass it along if necessary.

  2. Actually I've got it. Joe sent it to me.

    Cheers for the offer though. If Joe didn't have it it's good to know I could have got a copy from you.