Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha: Dazed and Confused

(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.)

Daze of Hate

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Author: John Jackson Miller

Artist: Bong Dazo

Medium: Comic

Publication Date: August – October 2007

Timeline Placement: 3,963 BBY

Series: Knights of the Old Republic #19-21

Last time on Knights of the Old Republic, some dumb shit happened.

Picking up where we left off, the various representatives of galactic powers whom Arkoh Adasca has invited to bid on his army of space slugs arrive on Adasca’s ship, the Arkanian Legacy. There is Admiral Saul Karath, representing the Republic; the Jedi Knight Alek, representing the Revanchist Jedi; and Mandalore the Ultimate and his entourage, representing the Mongol horde attempting to burn down and enslave the galaxy.

Things go about how you might expect. Alek tries to fight Mandalore and gets his ass kicked immediately. Mandalore shows Karath the giant battle-ax he recently built from the wreckage of Karath’s ship, Courageous. Saul Karath feels inadequate and has Adasca’s army of HK-24 assassin droids guard his prisoner, Zayne Carrick, in another room somewhere until they get all this sorted out. Jarael pounces on Zayne and shoves her tongue down his throat so she can warn him about what everyone else has already figured out, that Adasca is clearly evil.

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And Mandalore’s is clearly bigger.

Rohlan Dyre comes in to catch up with Mandalore and observes how all of his troops have finally converted to the Neo-Crusader armor, the outfits worn by all the Mandalorians you encounter in the videogame that inspired this comic. Mandalore says, “Yeah even though you betrayed our people and our way of life and cost us our Jedi-research station and top scientist, I was able to spin it so everyone thinks you died with honor and repented your rebellious nature and now they all do whatever I say all the time so we’re cool, bro.” They high-five and Mandalore gives him a new set of Neo-Crusader armor to put on, which Rohlan promptly throws in the garbage dump.

[Continuity Note: After Mandalore the Indomitable’s death on Dxun, the mantle of Mandalore was taken up by another Taung warrior, as the Mandalorians were composed exclusively of the Taung species at this point in Star Wars history. This Mandalore never received an official name in the EU, but author notes from Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide reveal that he was almost called “Mandalore the Unknown,” so that’s what we’ll go with.

[Mandalore the Unknown’s reign would be brief, as he was soon supplanted by another Mandalorian, a puppet of the hidden True Sith Empire used to fight a proxy war against the Republic while the Sith rebuilt their strength in secret. With his people broken and scattered after their defeat in the Great Sith War, he took the name Mandalore the Ultimate, reuniting the Mandalorians with a vision of one final crusade that would consume the galaxy.

[Mandalore the Ultimate took a different tact than his predecessors, relying on politics as much as brute force. Under his rule, the Mandalorians ceased to be a single species and opened their doors to anyone willing to follow their way of life. To cement his powerbase, Ultimate curried favor with fringe movements of radicals who were dissatisfied with the path the Mandalorians had taken since submitting to Sith rule in the last war.

[All of this background lore from roleplaying guides and obscure articles is more interesting than anything that happens in this comic.]

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Now this is podracing!

Zayne’s former Jedi Master and architect of the Taris Padawan murders, Lucien Draay, drops in unexpectedly to reminisce about the good old days with his childhood friend, Adasca. Adasca gives him roofied wine that Lucien willingly drinks because he’s so in tune with the Force. He wakes up to find himself surrounded by assassin droids and tied back-to-back with Zayne Carrick. Neither of them says, “Well, looks like we’re back together again.”

Back in the Arkanian Legacy‘s observation dome, Jarael has been contacted by Camper via the transceiver in her bracelet. He tells Jarael she has to escape, because Adasca is clearly evil. She whines about how she can’t escape because of all the worthless droids standing around, but fortunately Zayne and Alek are here to save her. Adasca bitch slaps her and takes away her cell phone, but white knight Alek promises Adasca that if he hits Jarael again, Alek will kill him dead no matter how many times he has to get shot by droids. Adasca cools it with the domestic violence but keeps groping Jarael for the rest of the comic, which Alek is apparently fine with.

Mandalore promises to make Adascorp the sole supplier of weapons and materiel to the Mandalorian forces and the only Republic corporation that will survive their conquest of the galaxy. Although Karath and Alek have nothing to offer that can compete with Mandalore’s bid, for some reason Adasca decides to keep drawing this out and tell the Mandalorians that they will have to pay tribute to him and be his own personal army. Mandalore starts getting a little sick of his shit. Adasca, bro, this rap battle’s clearly been won. What more could you possibly be holding out for?

Meanwhile, Lucien and Zayne help each other escape and kill all the droids with a plastic lunch tray somehow. Lucien immediately turns on Zayne and tries to murder him, but Zayne blocks his teacher’s lightsaber with the phrikite vambraces Camper gave him. Then, although Zayne is still unarmed and Lucien could easily kill him on the follow-up blow, Lucien’s like “Sorry, I had to try lol” and they team up again to put a stop to Adasca’s plans.

Sneaking around the ship, they run into Carth Onasi, who returns Zayne’s lightsaber. Zayne deduces that Jarael is being held hostage to keep Camper working on the space slugs, so Lucien proposes that they just kill her and remove Adasca’s leverage. But then Rohlan also randomly shows up and announces that he has pledged himself to protect Jarael and will shoot Lucien in the face if he tries to murder her. So they all come up with a different, less fun plan.

sw22.3He’s not even in the room, Zayne.

Zayne and Lucien infiltrate the auction and announce that the Jedi have been in league with Adasca all along and this whole sham has been a trap to apprehend Mandalore. Alek rushes over to confirm their story and the three Jedi move against the Mandalorians, while Adasca wails ineffectually on his throne. The Mandalorians beat a retreat while Camper escapes in the The Last Resort, leaving the droid Elbee (who I keep forgetting is even a character because he hardly ever shows up) sadly calling after him in the Arkanian Legacy‘s docking bay.

Camper, now controlling all the space slugs with his laptop, turns them against Adasca’s fleet. Three of them crash through the observation dome and bear down on Adasca as Camper informs him of his resignation. The whole dome is destroyed and Arkoh Adasca dies screaming. Jeez, Camper, I hope none of your friends were in there, seeing as that’s exactly where they were two seconds earlier. Maybe you should have checked first?

But somehow Zayne, Jarael, Carth, Rohlan, Lucien, Alek, Karath, and Dallan Morvis, Karath’s lover, all conveniently teleported out of the dome before it was eaten by space monsters. As Karath and Morvis make a beeline for their ship, they tell Carth to be sure to bring Zayne along, since he’s still a prisoner and all. “Whoops,” Carth tells Zayne once their backs are turned, “you escaped,” which is cooler than anything he does in the videogame he was created for.

Jarael is on the phone with Camper again and he tells her that he can’t rejoin the group because he has to lead the mind-controlled exogorths out into deep space in the The Last Resort and remove their hyperdrives so they’re no longer a danger to the galaxy. Jarael cries and begs him not to leave but Camper is steadfast in atoning for his sins. Really though I think he just wanted to ditch her for turning him over to his sworn enemies despite knowing that they were his sworn enemies.

Lucien tells Zayne he will take the rest of them to safety if Zayne promises to go back with him to be murdered, I mean to stand trial. Although Lucien is vastly outnumbered and they could probably just take his ship by force (and I don’t mean that kind of Force, I mean choke Lucien while Zayne grabs the ship and they all fly out of the hangar), Alek can only cluck his tongue in disapproval that Lucien would let them all die just to capture Zayne.

Fortunately, at that moment Dob Moomo flies his ship through the wall (Adasca’s ship has more holes in it than Sonny Corleone, how is there any atmosphere left on board?), cutting Lucien off from Zayne and his friends. The door opens and out hops Slyssk, the galaxy’s twee-est Trandoshan, who is not dead after all and reveals that Gryph isn’t either. In fact, Gryph is back on Taris, where this series began, leading a resistance movement against the Mandalorian invasion, and he needs Zayne’s help! I guess that is the only reason he finally decided to let his guilt-stricken protege know he was alive.

Zayne, Jarael, Alek, Rohlan, Elbee, Slyssk, and Dob escape the Arkanian Legacy and set course for Taris. Meanwhile, Lucien has somehow overheard their entire conversation despite being separated from them by a wall of fire aboard an exploding ship. He escapes in his own craft, vowing that the hunt for Zayne Carrick will finally end where it began! TO BE CONCLUDED . . . in about fourteen more monthly issues.

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Whoops.

Now that this tedious filler arc is over, it’s finally time to get the plot back on track. Daze of Hate is marginally more tolerable than its predecessor, as Zayne, Carth, Alek, and Mandalore are much more fun and intriguing characters than Jarael. That improvement is almost entirely undone, however, by the horrific decline in art quality. I mentioned in the Nights of Anger review how the art was serviceable but not particularly good, but that crap should be framed and hung on a wall compared to the art in these issues.

Zayne looks about forty, and everyone is perpetually constipated. Everything is so ugly, it’s hard to believe this was a professional production released by a real company that legally had the rights to publish Star Wars comics. The characters look like some Mickey Mouse or Bugs Bunny knockoff you’d see stenciled on the side of a hot dog stand in a traveling carnival.

As for the actual story, I still don’t care about Arkanian science or the stupid exogorth gambit. The most important things that happen in this comic are just setups for future storylines, some of which won’t even come into play until after the Covenant plot has been resolved. Zayne and his friends are fun characters, but this series is best when it’s showing us major events through the eyes of minor players. Hopefully getting the gang back together again and returning to the Mandalorian front will give things a little more juice, especially now that Zayne has recruited the future Darth Malak as a traveling companion.

2/5 Death Stars, Jarael doesn’t change her clothes enough times.