Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha: Threat of Bad Comics

(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.)

Threat of Peace

SWTOP1

Author: Robert Chestney

Artist: Alex Sanchez

Medium: Comic

Publication Date: February 2009 – February 2010

Timeline Placement: 3,653 BBY

Series: The Old Republic #1-3

So I read this comic forever ago and pretty much forgot what happened in it. Well I remember it sucks.

Originally published as a series of online web strips that were later compiled into three comic issues that were later collected in a transparently skinny trade paperback, the story takes place concurrently with Deceived, and even features a few of the same characters. Because it was one of the earliest tie-ins to Star Wars: The Old Republic, however, predating the release of the game by nearly a year, almost none of those characters’ personalities match how they’re depicted in the book we just read.

For example, Darth Malgus’s boss, Darth Angry, shows up as one of the main antagonists. Deceived portrayed him as lackadaisical bureaucrat, a career politician more interested in processing paperwork and making racist jokes among his peers than plumbing the depths of the dark side. Here he’s a vitriolic hothead who runs around shouting a lot and trying to murder everyone. He’s ideologically opposed to making peace with the Republic, whereas in the book he couldn’t seem to care less; his characterization here is more akin to how Malgus was portrayed in Deceived.

His rival, Darth Bareass, had only a very small cameo appearance in Deceived, but in his expanded role here he’s characterized closer to how Darth Angry was in the book: even-tempered, calculating, politically shrewd. Not having played the MMO that both of these works are based on, I don’t know which version of these characters is more faithful to their presentation in the game.

One thing that I’m guessing was changed between this promotional comic and TOR‘s release was Satele Shan. A descendant of Bastila Shan and Revan, Satele also put in an unmemorable cameo in Deceived. Before that, we saw her as a young girl in the cinematic trailers Return and Hope. It’s been 28 years since Return; according to the birthdate Wookieepedia has for her, that should make Satele about 46 at the time of Threat of Peace. The guy who wrote this comic apparently didn’t know that, though, despite the back cover saying he was also a writer for the MMO.

Despite being a middle-aged adult, Satele is still a flighty apprentice prone to being chastised by her Jedi Master, secret villainess Dar’Nala. She also develops an adolescent flirtation with Republic clone trooper Harron Tavus. Apparently early information about the MMO placed it thirty years after the Treaty of Coruscant, but in the finalized timeline there’s only a ten-year gap. The resulting discrepancy in Satele’s characterization is pretty funny.

Another thing not worth mentioning is that this comic is the first and only appearance of Zym, the Grand Master of the Jedi Order, who was mentioned in Deceived but didn’t appear. The title “Grand Master” was, as far as I can tell after consulting Wookieepedia’s virtually useless method of source citation, created by Sean Stewart in his excellent one-and-done Star Wars novel, Yoda: Dark Rendezvous. At the time it was just an honorific unique to Yoda, signifying his leadership of the Jedi, his unsurpassed wisdom, his centuries of Jedi training, and his real-world popularity. Later books extended the title to Luke Skywalker as well, which was fine, because if there are two characters worthy of representing the pinnacle of Jedi-ness, they’re Yoda and Luke.

So naturally it wasn’t long before the EU ruined this title the same way it ruined the Darth name, handing it out like Cracker Jack prizes to unremarkable scrubs in an attempt to make them seem interesting without having to actually write anything interesting about them, because writing is hard. Case in point, Grand Master Zym shows up, does nothing, and dies like a bitch. Other Grand Masters include Satele Shan, Nomi Sunrider, two characters from reference articles who never appeared in an actual story, and this elf/cat lady. What great and memorable characters, truly worthy of standing in the pop culture pantheon right next to Luke Skywalker and Yoda. Or maybe just a tiny, tiny bit below them.

Also there’s a non sequitur subplot about a bounty hunter who wears Mandalorian armor but isn’t a Mandalorian trying to kill a bad Wookiee.

Plot is nonsensical, characters are nonexistent, art is possibly the worst we’ve seen so far. I feel like I say that every time we cover a new comic, but every time it feels like it’s true.

Skip this one, it stinks. 1/5 Death Stars.

  • DarthYan

    I mentioned that Vitiate became genuinely loathsome in the game. Even Fallen Empire makes him disgusting. It’s revealed he DID love another person….and discarded it because he saw it as a weakness. During the final battle he meets his lover again and is ice cold. He also sneers and says “a god has no family” when asked to let his children go.