Review: Star Wars – Vector vol 1

Dark Horse decided to try its hand at an event comic, similar to the ones Marvel and DC do each year now – by doing a crossover story that would carry from Knights of the Old Republic (set four thousand years before A New Hope) through the Dark Times comic, Rebellion, and ultimately finishing up in the Legacy timeframe. Depending upon who you talk to you might get a whole slew of opinions on weather this was either a great success for Dark Horse, just another comic company cashing in on the “event” craze, to a middling endeavor which managed to tell a decent story despite itself.

I’m one of those people who fall into the latter camp. These stories were meant to be accessible to any fan, of any series – meaning each part was supposed to stand alone, but make more sense as a greater whole. But these stories were also told within the pages of the regular comic, not as a separate miniseries – so if you’re looking to read Knights of the Old Republic vol 5 (or Dark Times vol 3), Vector vol 1 is the only place to get those stories. Since I follow one of those comics, and have never read the other, it’s interesting to see how well Dark Horse’s plan really worked.

So, starting with Knights of the Old Republic, Zayne Carrick and Gryph are fleeing Rakghouls underground on Taris when they come across another Jedi, named Celeste Morne – she’s been sent by Zayne’s former master Lucien to find a Sith artifact that was buried on Taris (and to kill Zayne, but at this point, who ISN’T trying to do that), which was on the verge of being discovered when the Mandalorians invaded. But the Mandos find it first, a talisman which allows the wearer to control those infected with the Rakghoul disease – and which is also inhabited by the soul of a long dead Sith Lord. Zayne, Celeste and Gryph wind up on a Mandalorian shuttle bringing them to a frozen world where new recruits to the Mando army are trained – but as the Rakghoul plague breaks out, there is only one solution Cassus Fett sees to keeping the plague from spreading… and while Zayne makes it out alive, Celeste (who had accepted the talisman so as to keep it from falling into the wrong hands) doesn’t escape and is presumed dead.

But she isn’t – and when the coffin-like device she has been held in suspended animation in for four thousand years is found by Darth Vader, he opens it in the hopes that he will find something he can use against his master. But Celeste uses the Rakghoul plague to infect all of Vader’s troopers, leaving Vader with little choice but to escape and maroon Celeste on the barren moon of her awakening – in the hopes that one day he might find a use for her.

My thoughts about this volume are all over the place. Initially I was put out by the seeming defeat of the Taris rebellion against the Mandalorian invasion – I thought that had been somewhat thwarted in the previous volume of this series; but maybe that was a case of Zayne and friends winning a battle, not the war. The art for the Knights of the Old Republic portion of this even was just terrible, Zayne looks like a 50 year old elf throughout, Celeste like she’s got softballs in her cheeks – the only things drawn well were the deformed Rakghouls and the Mandalorians (because of their armor – but really, can that design be screwed up by anyone?). The story is also dragged out, with the final issue (the KOTOR portion was four issues long) being a lot of talking, talking, talking, until Zayne finally meets up with the rest of his friends and decides it’s finally time to end his problem with Lucien once and for all (to be continued in the next volume of Knights of the Old Republic). While perhaps limiting the cast to only Zayne and Gryph (and they do have some fun interactions all through the story) would make it easier for non-readers of this series to catch on, overall I didn’t really feel like this story was a necessary link in the overall narrative of this comic. And while I’m normally a fan of the prophecy/hinting at things to come – because it’s introduced conveniently right in this arc and will ultimately play out completely in Vector – it just all came off too contrived for me.

The Dark Times issues have some of the completely opposite problems. The art is absolutely fantastic, with every character looking gorgeous. Unfortunately, because I don’t follow the Dark Times comic, there’s a whole sub-set of characters I don’t know and don’t really get introduced to. They’re a motley crew from some starship that I’m supposed to care about – except not enough time is spent with them, so I don’t really care when one of them get’s killed in the ensuing battle between Celeste and Vader. Frankly, even though the plot was fairly light in these two issues, I’d have rather seen an additional issue devoted to Dark Times (and one less from KOTOR) so that each of the characters could be given a little more depth for the newcomer to this particular series. Ultimately, it just feels like the story is treading water – bringing Celeste back to life in the ‘present’ so that she can make appearances in these two series (Dark Times/Rebellion) before moving on to the final act. But more on that in the next review of Vector vol 2. In the meantime, I can’t say I recommend Vector vol 1 – while I enjoyed it more on my second read through, it still doesn’t come across as a great Star Wars story, and certainly not necessary for those who are trying to read the Knights of the Old Republic series. If that’s your purpose, skip this and move on to KOTOR vol 6 Vindication.

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