Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha: How Revan Got His Mask

(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.)

Masks

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Author: John Jackson Miller

Artist: Ron Chan

Medium: Comic

Publication Date: June 2009

  • Reprinted January 2010 in Knights of the Old Republic Volume Eight: Destroyer
  • Reprinted April 2014 in Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 3

Timeline Placement: 3,963 BBY

Series: Knights of the Old Republic #42

The crew of the Hot Prospect has gone to the planet Wor Tandell for Spring Break. Jarael blows off steam by riding around on a giant goat-lizard, but it quickly bucks her off, leaving Zayne to rescue her with the Force. She threatens him (out of gratitude), then yells at him for wanting to talk more about her past as a slaver. She angrily explains that she was kidnapped as a child and forced to fight other slaves until she became a slave trainer, a position she used to try to make life better for the slaves she instructed. Then she met Camper and ran away with him. Put like that, it doesn’t sound like she was actually a slaver after all. So much for that shocking revelation in the last comic.

Suddenly Malak shows up on the planet and is like, “Jarael, I’ve come to take you away with me!” because he still doesn’t get that she’s just not that into him. He’s brought a detachment of Revanchist Jedi Crusaders with him, along with the Republic naval liaison to the Jedi Expeditionary Task Force. Zayne meets up with a Jedi named Ferroh, who until now has only appeared as a nameless background character in Jedi Crusader scenes but Zayne acts like they’re all buddy-buddy. Ferroh has brought glad tidings: the Jedi Order has now officially joined the Mandalorian Wars!

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She’s so thrilled.

Ferroh is a Cathar, the same species as Sylvar from Tales of the Jedi. He explains that a dozen years ago he returned to his home planet, but was unable to find any trace of his people; the whole planet was unpopulated and the Cathar species had completely  vanished. The Republic apparently thought there was nothing suspicious about this and never bothered to follow up on it. Maybe one of the Cathars should have carved the word “CROATOAN” into a tree trunk.

A decade later (despite Ferroh’s “dozen years” calculation it’s only ten on the official timeline), with the Mandalorian conquest in full swing, Revan became convinced that the marauders were responsible for the Cathars’ disappearance. He led his Jedi to the planet in search of clues that could convince the Jedi Council how dire a threat the Mandalorians truly were. He found a Mandalorian mask buried in the dirt, and upon picking it up all the Jedi present, including members of the High Council, experienced a shared Force vision of Cassus Fett and a Mandalorian horde driving the Cathars into the sea. A Mandalorian woman tried to defend the Cathars, claiming, “Cassus—wait! They’re defeated! We don’t have to do this!” so she was killed alongside the Cathars when Mandalorian ships opened fire on them from the sky. What was the point of chasing them into the ocean if you were just going to shoot them? You could have blown up their cities without setting foot on the planet. I don’t get it.

So Revan—sorry, “the Revanchist”—has this chick’s helmet now and he says, “I don’t know your name—but I take up your cause. I will not remove your mask until there is justice—until the Mandalorians have been defeated once and for all. So swears . . . Revan!” And this is when he takes the name and starts wearing the mask everyone remembers from the game.

And, you know, I just . . . It’s not like the worst thing ever, but I mean . . .

Okay, so six years after KotOR comes out, they retcon it that he was wearing a Mandalorian mask the whole time. Why did it need to be Mandalorian? Are they the only people in the galaxy who wear helmets? If I ever thought about it at all, I just assumed the mask was a cultural tradition from Revan’s homeworld or maybe some sort of arcane artifact he discovered while away fighting the war. But I guess the best way to distinguish your cause from your enemy’s is to wear the signature piece of clothing your enemy is famous for.

Then he says he’ll take it off once the Mandalorians are beaten, but he just keeps wearing it, even after he’s become Dark Lord of the Sith and started his own war against the Republic (spoilerssssss!). Wouldn’t he have found like a cool Sith mask or something to swap it out with? Maybe he was afraid of diluting his personal brand, I don’t know. What is clear, given that Revan already wore a dress and now has some chick’s mask on top of that, is that he apparently had a thing for women’s clothing.

Also, like I said when discussing all the ways Malak’s depiction in these comics has disappointed me, in the game his name was already Revan. Then when he turned evil he renamed himself Darth Revan. Now we don’t even know what his original name was, and he just took the name Revan because he got tired of people calling him “the Revanchist.”

In his behind-the-scenes blog post on this issue, author John Jackson Miller wrote, “While Revan and Malak had been assumed by gamers to be those characters’ birth names, it was clear from discussions before the series began that it was an assumption. We knew from game dialogue what the names of the characters were during the games — and people referred to those character’ earlier lives by the names they knew. But we never got the equivalent of a high school yearbook for confirmation. Further, and critically from my point of view, it was always an open question why anyone adopting the Sith tradition of Darth-naming would disregard a major part of it — the muscular suffix, the evil nom de guerre.” So basically he just changed it because he didn’t like the old version. Well . . . okay?

After complaining about continuity minutiae for four paragraphs, Malak asks Jarael to join him in taking the fight to the Mandalorians with the newly sanctioned Jedi-led Republic fleet. Now that her goofball friends have been acquitted of all crimes, they don’t need her help anymore, and as much as Malak likes Zayne, he’s too controversial a figure to risk inviting along. “You belong with me—I mean, with the Jedi,” says Malak suavely.

Rohlan comes running in and punches Malak in the face, screaming that he’ll never take Jarael away. They fight and Malak actually doesn’t get his ass kicked for once. He stuffs Rohlan’s armored head into a campfire but then Ferroh and the Republic liaison show up and pull him off, saying, “Malak, stop! He’s beaten! You don’t have to do this!” Oh I get it, they’re doing like a thing.

The Republic liaison, who is wearing eyeglasses in Star Wars, chastises Malak for beating up a beloved sports hero, then Zayne comes up and is like “Sorry, Malak, but you can’t take my girlfriend to war with you,” then he pounces on Jarael and shoves his tongue down her throat. Take note, ladies: the only way to get a guy to stop hitting on you is to have another guy pretend to be your boyfriend. Especially if you don’t even ask and he just takes it upon himself to pretend for you. Works every time!

sw30.3She’s so thrilled.

Malak sulks off to listen to Real Friends alone in his room while Zayne congratulates himself on manipulating the emotions of one of his closest friends and allies. “This is not a circus act—and I’m not a clown,” he tells Jarael, trying to act like he’s all badass now. As the Republic ship rises into the night sky, Malak stands at the window, glaring down at the friends he’s leaving behind. “Come on,” he tells Ferroh and Glasses Guy, “we’ve got a war to win.”

So I’m not sure to what extent this was the intention, but this scene really reads like one of the final straws for Malak crossing over to the dark side was because a girl he liked didn’t like him back. Did that really need to come into this? Like, at all?

Anyway, I’ve already covered most of my major grievances with this issue. The art is okay; it’s almost like discount (really, really discounted, like off-off-brand) Dustin Weaver. The KotOR lore is cool, as always, even if the details of how it plays out leave something to be desired. As opposed as I am to Darth Malak’s real name being “Alek Squinquargesimus,” he has one line I really like that pertains to it: “There’s nobody left who remembers who I was before. But they’ll remember Malak. I’ll make sure of that.” It’s too bad they’ll only remember him as the awkward guy who became a videogame boss because a girl broke his heart, though.

2.5/5 Death Stars.