Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha: The Mandalorian Wars Begin!

(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.)

Flashpoint

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Author: John Jackson Miller

Artist: Dustin Weaver

Medium: Comic

Publication Date: July – November 2006

  • Reprinted August 2013 in Star Wars Omnibus: Knights of the Old Republic Volume 1
  • Reprinted July 2015 in Star Wars Epic Collection: The Old Republic Vol. 1

Timeline Placement: 3,964 – 3,963 BBY

Series: Knights of the Old Republic #7-8, 10

The crew of the The Last Resort (seriously, why didn’t they just name it Last Resort? Everyone’s going to put “the” in front of it anyway) set down on the planet Vanquo, posing as refugees from the Mandalorian invasion. Using Zayne’s lightsaber, Jarael disguises herself as a Jedi and cons the occupants of a mining outpost into thinking the Mandalorian fleet is attacking the planet. They run for their lives, leaving their food stores to be plundered by Zayne and his friends. Zayne, Gryph, Camper, and Elbee begin loading supplies onto the ship while Jarael plays with Zayne’s saber (bow chicka wow wow). They are suddenly interrupted when the Mandalorians decide to invade the planet for real.

And just like that, the Mandalorian Wars have begun!

Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

Separated from the group, Jarael is immediately captured by the invading horde, while Zayne and the others hightail it back to the ship. They are pursued by a detachment of Mandalorians commanded by Rohlan Dyre, who beats them to the The Last Resort and takes off in it without them or the rest of his men. Just, like, for a ride I guess. With Zayne, Gryph, and Camper clinging to Elbee, the taciturn droid grabs hold of the ship’s loading ramp and everyone manages to get inside before the ramp closes.

Camper promptly beats up the Mandalorian carjacker with Jarael’s lightning-stick and sets course for Mandalorian space, following the tracer signal from Jarael’s bracelet. Gryph suggests that the Mandalorians might just really like expensive jewelry. Rohlan explains that, since his people think Jarael is a Jedi, they are taking her to their scientific research station for studying captured Jedi on the planet Flashpoint, a world so close to its star that its day is only an hour long and no life can survive outside a small shielded zone.

Their jump to Mandalorian space is observed by Captain Saul Karath of the Republic warship Courageous. A secondary villain from the first KotOR game, Karath is still a loyal Republic soldier at this time, and upon identifying Zayne’s ship as belonging to the killer of the Jedi students on Taris, he decides Zayne must have been a Mandalorian agent all along and vows to hunt him down and bring him to justice. Doesn’t he have anything better to do, what with the invasion and all?

Zayne asks if Rohlan is some kind of deserter, but Camper tells him that such a concept doesn’t even exist for Mandalorians. Rohlan tells them that he was the only one of his people to question their leader’s tactics in this war and his motivation for starting it. He has repeatedly run off to search for answers, only to be caught and sent back to the front to die in glorious battle. Failing to convince Zayne and Camper to give Jarael up for dead, he resolves to help them infiltrate Flashpoint in the hope of finding answers there.

Meanwhile, we’re introduced to the “big bad” in this period of galactic history, the supreme commander of the Mandalorian forces and architect behind the burgeoning conflict, Mandalore the Ultimate. Despite wearing the mask of the Mandalore we previously met in The Sith War, this character was established in an RPG sourcebook as not being the same Mandalorian who took up the mask at the end of that story. I’m not sure why.

Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

Mandalore is chilling with his bro Cassus Fett, talking strategy and shooting the shit. He’s like “Oh hey btw, did you send our bud Rohlan on another suicide mission yet?” and Cassus is like “Yeah but he ran away again lol.” To which Mandalore the Ultimate replies, “For his sake, he’d better hope he’s dead!” Which doesn’t make much sense, but he’s drunk so whatever.

On Flashpoint, Jarael is dragged into the Waiting Room of Doom, where all the captured Jedi just sit around completely unfettered until they’re brought in to be experimented on by the sadistic Mandalorian scientist Dr. Mengele Demagol. There are like a dozen Jedi and only a handful of guards, so I guess they all just forgot how to use the Force or something.

Soon after Jarael gets smacked in the face with a blaster rifle and thrown into the room, Squint, the Jedi who saved Zayne’s life on Taris at the beginning of the series, is dragged out of Demagol’s laboratory and deposited on the floor near her. Almost all his hair has fallen out from Demagol’s experiments, which is important. Jarael tries to explain to him how she’s not supposed to be there, but Demagol comes in and selects her for his next experiment. Sensing that Jarael is not a Jedi, Squint volunteers himself to go back under the knife in her place. Despite talking about how long he’s waited for fresh Jedi to study, Demagol agrees to have Squint taken back to his lab for some reason, even though he just finished with him thirty seconds ago.

The The Last Resort arrives on Flashpoint, with Rohlan convincing the Mandalorians to let him land by pretending that Zayne is a Jedi Knight he captured while Gryph and Camper hide in Han Solo’s secret smuggling compartment. Rohlan marches Zayne into the station just as Squint is dragged back out.

Jarael cradles the bleeding Jedi in her arms and they have some kind of moment I guess, then Demagol starts creepily running his hands through her hair and notices her pointed elf ears, not a baseline trait of her species. He excitedly orders that she be taken to his laboratory at once, but Rohlan comes in with Zayne and says “No do this guy first” and Demagol inexplicably goes “Yeah okay.”

Almost paradise.

Almost paradise.

Once the three of them are alone in Demagol’s lab, Rohlan clonks the mad scientist over the head with a femur that was just lying on the floor for some reason. Bone is apparently harder than Mandalorian armor, because Demagol instantly goes down. Zayne puts on his armor and helmet and they stash him in the closet, then walk out of the lab loudly discussing how it’s too bad that Zayne died so quickly. Jarael knocks the disguised Zayne to the floor and begins strangling him, but stops when she hears Zayne telepathically say her name, which means that she has the Force now I guess.

Rohlan and Zayne go outside just as the station’s guards receive a hologram transmission from Gryph, posing as an admiral aboard the Republic cruiser Glomkettle (his mother’s name). Since Flashpoint was once a Republic research station, he claims that when its former inhabitants were driven out by the Mandalorians, they left behind a series of booby-traps that he is now going to activate. Zayne uses telekinesis to surreptitiously plant mining charges around the compound, which Gryph then detonates from aboard the The Last Resort.

Fearing that Flashpoint’s shield is going to fail, leaving them to be cooked by the sun’s heat and radiation, the Mandalorians abandon the planet. Zayne runs back into the station on the pretext of saving his research and Rohlan goes after him, bidding the retreating warriors to tell Mandalore that he died nobly for their cause.

With the Mandalorians gone, Zayne outfits all the Jedi with spacesuits from the The Last Resort so they can breathe outside of the station. Rohlan drags an unconscious Demagol over to the Jedi so they can take him back to Coruscant as a prisoner, explaining that he had to knock him out again while putting his armor and mask back on him.

Zayne thanks Rohlan for all his help but tells him he should go with the Jedi. They’re going to blow up Flashpoint Station, so Mandalore will think he’s dead and he can get those answers he was looking for from Demagol. Rohlan stares across the courtyard at Jarael for a moment, then admits that Zayne’s right and boards the Jedi’s ship.

Zayne and Squint take a moment to catch up. Zayne tells him how the war has now broken out for real, and Squint invites him to come with them and be a part of his Master’s plan to defeat the Mandalorians. Zayne says no thanks.

Squint goes over to say goodbye to Jarael, because every guy in this story is obsessed with her. He tells her that Squint isn’t even his real name, and next time they meet she should call him Alek. Then he thanks her for giving him this sweet red spacesuit with an opaque red helmet, which coincidentally is what the figure in Zayne’s Masters’ prophecy of doom was wearing. Hmm, now who do we know from this era who’s a bald Jedi involved with the return of the Sith who dresses in red and whose name sounds something like “Alek”?

Could it be this guy?

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Anyway, then Zayne, Jarael, Gryph, Camper, and Elbee get on the The Last Resort and Squint and the other Jedi get on their ship and they go their separate ways, but at the last second Rohlan jumps off the Jedi ship and sneaks back aboard the The Last Resort without anyone noticing, THE END.

Flashpoint is one of the high points of this series. Maybe even the the high point, I won’t be sure until I’ve read all of it. It’s pretty good, though. It’s amazing what a difference Dustin Weaver’s art makes; it’s a perfect match for the tone and content of this series and I’m not looking forward to settling for less in the next arc.

For a long time the Mandalorian Wars were not that fleshed-out. Unlike most major galactic conflicts, which were created to serve as a setting for telling stories, the Mandalorian Wars were introduced as back story to a different war. Mostly we just heard about them from characters who were there, so it’s gratifying to see these events actually taking place on the page. Even though those who’ve already played Knights of the Old Republic know how all this is going to end, it’s still cool to see how the galaxy moves to that point.

Unlike Commencement, which started to drag after a while of essentially the same thing happening over and over while Zayne tried incompetently to clear his name, Flashpoint, being a mere three issues long, boasts much more condensed and therefore exciting storytelling. It produces a major shift for the galaxy as a whole with the advent of the true Mandalorian Wars while also providing a trajectory shift for Zayne’s story by introducing him and his crew of misfits into this macro conflict.

At the same time it deftly weaves in the introductions of important new characters like Demagol, Rohlan Dyre, Mandalore the Ultimate, and Saul Karath, as well as reintroducing Squint and setting him down his own path, while his mysterious Master’s machinations continue in the background. A pretty solid little comic, all in all.

4.5/5 Death Stars.

Check out the Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha Archive for more meditations on obscure Star Wars lore.

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