(Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha is a foolish attempt to examine the entirety of the now decanonized Star Wars Expanded Universe and quantify its assorted artistic merits. Read the introduction. Check out the archives.)
Author: John Jackson Miller
Artist: Scott Hepburn
Publication Date: January – May 2008
- Collected February 2009 in Star Wars: Vector Vol. 1
- Reprinted December 2013 in Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 2
Timeline Placement: 3,963 BBY
Series: Knights of the Old Republic #25-28
When the first collected edition of this story arc is prefaced by a note from the editor of Dark Horse that begins, “Though it pains me to say it, I must admit that the story you’re about to read has its roots . . . in crass commercialism,” you know you’re in for a treat.
We open a month after the events of Knights of Suffering, with the remaining seers of the Jedi Covenant—Feln, Xamar, and Q’Anilia—having a vision of the galaxy in flames, overrun by an army of rakghouls. The rakghouls originated as an enemy type in the Knights of the Old Republic video game found exclusively in the Undercity on Taris, the game’s first major location. They were created by a virus that transformed NPCs into chthonic zombies and figured into a side quest where the player character could procure an antidote to the disease and either use it to help the impoverished Undercity residents or sell it to the highest bidder. Now in the comics we find out the disease was created by evil Sith magic or something.
Spectral visions of Zayne Carrick, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, and Cade Skywalker (Luke’s descendant from the comic Star Wars: Legacy) appear and inform the Jedi that the rakghoul outbreak is happening in each of their time periods. The art here is terrible, everyone has tiny pinheads and big bulky bodies and Darth Vader’s gauntlets look like claws. What a great way to chronologically introduce the definitive hero and villain of Star Wars into the saga.
All of this chaos is presided over by an old guy that looks kind of like an elf but also kind of like a perverted old man. He’s wearing a bug-shaped necklace that the Jedi identify, after emerging from the vision, as the Muur Talisman, an ancient Sith amulet that went missing in the Taris Undercity millennia ago. Xamar had been on assignment hunting for it when he was pulled off to murder his apprentice, so he’s all like, “Real nice, guys, good call there.”
Fearing that Zayne will find the artifact and use it to unleash the rakghouls, the Covenant sends in one of their top agents, a Jedi Shadow named Celeste Morne. On her résumé she has listed “Destroyed the last copy of the Epistle of Marka Ragnos, retrieved Jori Daragon‘s amulet and the Eye of Horak-Mul.”
[Continuity Note: Jedi Shadows originated as background lore established for Tales of the Jedi that never made it into the series. Which is a shame, because those comics needed all the help they could get. Shadows are Jedi who roam the galaxy with the sole objective of hunting down and destroying any and all relics, artifacts, or knowledge connected to the dark side. They are like the secret thought police of the Jedi, and unfortunately the only one we’ll meet for a while is a member of an even more secretive cabal that the Jedi leadership doesn’t even know about. Still, it’s cool this forgotten snippet of mid-nineties RPG lore was eventually reintroduced into a mainstream EU comic.]
Celeste makes her big entrance in the Undercity by lightsabering the Constable of Taris in the face. Thank god we had that subplot of her reuniting with her missing children in the last comic, otherwise we might not have cared when she got infected by the zombie virus. This sobering murderscene is abruptly interrupted by Zayne and Gryph comically blundering past while somebody plays “Yakety Sax” in the background. Gryph even shouts, “Gangway!” Zoinks!
They are pursued by a horde of rakghouls, which Celeste effortlessly slaughters. Abbott and Costello moronically use their real names in front of a Jedi, prompting Celeste to immediately arrest them for the murders of the Taris Padawans. But then she changes her mind because she has other shit to do, and because after listening to them talk for four pages she’s convinced they’re too incompetent to have killed anyone.
Suddenly a chasm opens up beneath them and they fall into a Mandalorian mining tunnel. A Mandalorian named Pulsipher has found the Muur Talisman. Apparently Zayne recognizes him from Flashpoint, proving that he has a better memory than I do. Celeste, Zayne, and Gryph stow away on Pulsipher’s ship (somehow), which takes them to the ice planet Jebble. Yes, another one.
For all his bluster about winning the war through knowledge (or magic—you know, whichever) rather than strength, Pulsipher is kind of a simpleton so Celeste tries the old Jedi mind trick on him: “You want to throw it out the airlock.” “I want— I want— No. I want this,” says Pulsipher. Then the amulet comes to life and gives him a full-body electric shock. One of his crewmen tries to help him so Pulsipher kills him in the chest.
Celeste goes off to do her Shadow thing, leaving Zayne and Gryph to blunder into a Mandalorian rally master. Fortunately, he mistakes them for new recruits from Taris and sends them off to pick up their new uniforms. There’s some slightly interesting worldbuilding as the rally master addresses the crowd of rookie mercenaries and instructs them in the Six Actions sacred to the Mandalorian people, but eh.
Zayne and Gryph catch up to Celeste and they all infiltrate Pulsipher’s lab. Somehow, Gryph fires a rifle into the ceiling multiple times, causing a thousand tons of mountain ice to collapse on top of him. “He’ll be fine,” says Celeste. But the commotion brings a group of Mandalorians to investigate. The Jedi identify the leader as one of the warriors from the ship they came in on based on the distinctive markings on his armor. But if you go back and look at all the Mandalorians who were on the ship, none of them have that armor. Oh…
It’s okay though because then he turns into a rakghoul. Then suddenly all the Mandalorians start turning into rakghouls! Celeste and Zayne run for it, with Celeste explaining that these rakghouls have transformed unusually fast and show an uncharacteristic ability to organize and use tools.
Meanwhile, Gryph is alive and has somehow traversed space and time to appear in the Mandalorian data center, where he is trying to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails. He comes across a vlog by Lucien Draay, Zayne’s homicidal ex-teacher, where he describes the powers of the Murr Talisman and how Celeste Morne knows all about it. “Celeste Morne?!” cries Gryph. “Wonderful! The widget causes the plague—and Celeste works for Lucien!” Ow, my reading comprehension.
Elsewhere, Zayne waits outside in the snow while Celeste Snapchats Lucien inside an igloo. She warns him that the Mandalorians have turned Jebble into a staging area for their massive new army and that they’re planning to invade Alderaan, but Lucien’s like, “That’s great but really we just need you to kill Zayne Carrick, kthxbai.” Celeste can’t bring herself to do it, though, which gives Zayne time to contact the incoming Mandalorian fleet and warn Cassus Fett about the plague outbreak.
“Why would you warn us?” Fett demands. “We are Mandalorians!”
“You’re people,” Zayne explains.
Convinced that she did the right thing, Celeste lets Zayne leave to look for Gryph, but he is immediately punched out by rakghouls and brought to Pulsipher, who seems to be controlling the zombies with the Muur Talisman. Pulsipher demands that Zayne tell him everything he knows about the talisman, or else he will lock him inside another Sith artifact he found called the oubliette, which I guess is like a coffin that keeps you alive and conscious forever.
Suddenly, the talisman comes to life again. It abandons Pulsipher, leaving him to be devoured by his rakghoul guards, and makes a beeline for Zayne. It is intercepted by Celeste, however, and wraps itself around her throat. Also Gryph is there now. We are then treated to this excerpt from Naga Sadow’s translation of the codex of Karness Murr: “—and though the enemy brought great numbers to the field of battle—for every number, there is a negative. Their strength became my own. Their minds became my own. All flesh is my flesh. None move, save I will it. This is the rule the Sith were promised—and I have made it real!”
The ultimate weapon.
So now Celeste is sort of possessed, but not really or like not 100% possessed, by the ghost of an ancient Sith Lord who looks like a dirty old elf. Gryph demands that she admit her allegiance to the Jedi Covenant and she tells Zayne that Krynda, the woman he’s looking for, is Lucien Draay’s mother—and now she will complete her mission by killing Zayne!
But Zayne argues that her mission is to destroy the legacy of the Sith, which she is only strengthening with the army of rakghouls she now controls. Celeste falls to her knees in dismay and wonders how she could have been so blind. She asks Zayne to kill her before the spirit of Karness Muur forces her to spread the rakghoul plague across the galaxy, but Zayne has a better idea. It begins with the sentence “Here, get in this coffin,” which I think immediately disqualifies it from being better.
Celeste gives Zayne her key to the Jedi sanctum on Odryn, where she was supposed to take the talisman, then he locks her in the oubliette. “I won’t be long,” he promises. “I’ll see you later,” which of course we know means he will never see her again. With the amulet’s influence confined in the torture chamber, the rakghouls go nuts and start attacking everything. By some happy coincidence, however, the Moomo Williwaw shows up at just that second, bringing Alek, Jarael, Shel, Rohlan, Slyssk, and the Moomo brothers back into the story.
Zayne and Gryph hop on board and head for orbit, but before they can retrieve Celeste, the Mandalorian fleet comes out of hyperspace and nukes the planet right in front of them, eliminating the rakghouls and the Mandalorian forces that are still down there. “NOT AGAIN! Not again! Not again…,” says Zayne. Cassus Fett sends him a “thank you” emoji and lets them leave the system unmolested.
Satisfied that Celeste is dead, Zayne vows to honor her memory by following her last wish and going to Odryn, where he will stop his former Masters from using anyone else the way they used Celeste—by taking down the Covenant once and for all! Meanwhile on the planet, the oubliette lies on the bottom of the ocean, waiting for another story.
This would be a great picture if it didn’t fucking suck.
The art in this is terrible. That’s my whole review.
Vector was Dark Horse’s first and only attempt at an inter-title Star Wars crossover, with the story of Celeste and Karness Muur continuing in the Dark Times, Rebellion, and Legacy comics. Hopefully those will be better, because coming off Knights of Suffering this story feels completely jarring and disconnected. Nothing happens to advance the KotOR story arc until the very last page of these four issues. It’s an unwanted, unnecessary diversion from a narrative that was just beginning to pick up steam. Suddenly half the cast is missing and we’re plunged into a random B-plot about zombies. If I want zombies in Star Wars I’ll read this crap. Why do we need zombies in Star Wars, again? I guess there are zombies though. Oh Jesus H. Christ.
Also the art is just terrible.
1.5/5 Death Stars.