John Jackson Miller Launches "Star Wars: Vector"

Dark Horse launches "Star Wars: Vector" – its epic adventure from a galaxy far, far away – in "Knights of the Old Republic" #25, on sale January 30. The mega-sized event marks the first time the multiple ongoing Star Wars titles have a single story crossing over the entire line.

Unlike traditional crossovers like "Final Crisis" or "Civil War," there is no "Star Wars: Vector" limited series. The 12-issue story arc runs each month over the next 12 months in Dark Horse's four existing "Star Wars" titles: "Knights of the Old Republic" #25-28, "Dark Times" #11-12, "Rebellion" #15-16 and "Legacy" #29-32.

John Jackson Miller, series writer of "Knights of the Old Republic," told CBR News, "What's especially amazing about it is that the four titles are separated by 4,100 years. Since we don't have time travel in the Star Wars universe, a lot of theories have been aired about how we're pulling this little trick off. The real answer will surprise people."

Miller said no previous knowledge of his or any of the other Star Wars titles is required to enjoy "Vector," but in turn he hopes the project will lead to increased readership and a larger fan base for the Expanded Universe (EU).  

"While 'Knights of the Old Republic' is set near the events of the popular video games of the same name, and we do involve a few of those characters and situations, the series has its own original story and cast. You don't have to know anything about the era to get into the book," said Miller.

"We've crafted each of the installments so that they are true jumping-on points. In the case of 'Knights of the Old Republic,' for instance, we're able to catch up with our main characters at a point where they, and their situation, are fully introduced, yet it progresses naturally from what's been going on in the series so far.

"Unlike other crossovers that might seem welded on to an existing story, the 'Vector' chapter of 'Knights' truly feels native to the series. That's our goal with all the chapters, to give a taste of what each series is all about.

"Just as importantly, we've worked to make sure that the events of 'Vector' have a real impact on the four ongoing series. The first four chapters of 'Vector' are in 'Knights' #25-28. The storyline then branches, with 'Vector' flowing into 'Dark Times' #11, but repercussions of the story reverberate through 'Knights' #29 as that series goes forward.

"That's the case with all of them. There is no single 'Vector' title. What you're getting is four stories within the existing series. You can just follow them, but we're hoping our tourists to these different time periods will want to stick around."

For those "tourists," who are new to Dark Horse's Star Wars franchise, Miller summed up the goings-on his book and his lead character, Zayne Carrick. "The Old Republic is a time centuries before the movies, when legions of Jedi keep order in the galaxy, watching not just for the Sith, who are numerous, but also for the armored Mandalorians, who are threatening the Republic. So it's a time of competing factions and in our series, Zayne Carrick, a Jedi student of questionable talent, has become the unlikely focus of attention from all sides.

"Zayne thought his big problem would be graduating to become a Jedi Knight," continued Miller. "Until he walked in late to the ceremony and found his fellow students dead at their Masters' feet. Zayne barely escaped becoming the next victim and, aided by ne'er-do-wells like the con-artist Gryph, he began to learn the truth. His teachers were part of a secret Jedi cabal, convinced by a prophecy that one of their students would destroy the Jedi.

"But they're powerful and they've framed him for the murders. So at the same time that Zayne's searching for justice, they – and the legitimate Jedi, the Republic, and the bounty hunters – are hunting him.

"'Vector' begins at a pivotal point, where Zayne has just had his first small success against the Masters. But, as is often the case with him, each step forward presages another step back."

Miller explained, "Where Anakin Skywalker was the best Jedi of his era, Zayne Carrick represents all those kids at the other end of the grading curve. When we meet him, the Force does not always do his bidding.

"Because he is so uncertain of his skills, the easy 'Jedi solution' to problems is not always an option for him. Where other Jedi might be able to resort to brute force to resolve a problem, Zayne frequently has to employ subterfuge and misdirection, which makes Gryph a perfect teammate for him, as you might imagine. For a con-artist, a Jedi's skills can come in handy.

"We've heaped a lot of abuse on him," continued Miller, "And while he's responded to events in a human way, he's figured out a way to keep going. He's had occasions when he's wanted to crawl under a rock and hide from the galaxy. He's gotten angry about what's happened to him. He's gotten frustrated when his quest has stalled. But no matter what we've thrown at him, he hasn't broken.

"At least, not yet. In 'Vector'? Stay tuned."

Zayne Carrick is prominently featured on the teaser images for "Star Wars: Vector" along with Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker and the last remaining member of the Skywalker line, Cade Skywalker, a descendant of Luke. When asked if "Vector" would reveal how Zayne Carrick is connected to the Skywalker clan or if he is, in fact, a direct ancestor of the first family of the Star Wars EU, Miller quipped, "Well, what I can tell you is that they all live in a galaxy far, far away. Actually, the first part of 'Vector' begins to suggest how these characters are connected, and I shouldn't go beyond that."

Miller is and has been thrilled with everything about the "Vector" project and said the concept itself has been in the works for quite a while."This is something we've been talking about for a couple of years since our editor Randy Stradley suggested the idea to [writer] John Ostrander ("Legacy," "Spectre"), [artist] Jan Duursema ("Legacy," "Republic," Marvel's 'Star Wars') and me," explained Miller. "And it wasn't something we were going to do unless we were all happy with it. The story, in fact, really has come from all of us. I'm hard-pressed now to remember who originally came up with what parts, just that it was, really, a true group effort."

A long-time fan of Star Wars, writing within in the EU and expanding it further is a dream gig for Miller. "The first 'grown-up' comic book I ever got was 'Star Wars' #1 from Marvel, the first chapter of the film adaptation by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin," recounted Miller. "I don't know how many people can say this but I read the comic adaptation before I saw the movie. And as I wrote in my column a few months back in Comics Buyer's Guide, the ongoing series that followed kept me buying comics through a number of times as a kid when I had considered giving the hobby up.

"So the fact that I've been a lifelong comic collector definitely owes something to the intersection between Star Wars and comic books.

"Getting to write Star Wars comics has thus kind of brought me full circle. My hope is that the comics we're producing now are having the same effect on others that those books had on me as a kid. Given the feedback we've been getting, we're having some success at that."

An equally thrilling experience for the veteran writer was penning the trade paperback adaptation for the other big-time Lucasfilm property "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," which is based on the story by George Lucas and the screenplay by David Koepp.

Dark Horse is set to release "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" on May 22, 2008 – the same day the movie will premiere worldwide. "It was a great thrill to get a peek at what the filmmakers had planned for this long-awaited sequel, especially since I was one of the fans waiting for it," said Miller. "As with Star Wars, Indiana Jones was one of those franchises I followed through both the movies and the comics. I even wrote my first Indy story back in high school, so it was always a source of inspiration. Way back before there was definitely a film planned, I was already lobbying Editor Jeremy Barlow for a crack at the adaptation. I'm really hyped about the movie and working on the adaptation was a lot of fun, all around."

Asked to tease CBR News with a look inside the top-secret book, Miller responded, "The Dark Horse adaptation arrives in May with art by Luke Ross and inks by Fabio Laguna. The covers are by Hugh Fleming, who's painted other Indy work. Between the covers? Paper, ink and a fine adventure, that's all I can say,"

Miller also recently contributed to the "Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide" for Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars role playing game. That should be out around GenCon this year," said Miller. "I haven't been in a few years, so it will be great to get back to Indianapolis to promote the release. And, yes, since everything in the Star Wars milieu is connected, events of the comics are reflected in the Guide."

In addition to his Comics Buyer's Guide column, Miller also has a story slated for the 2008 "Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide" on the history of Star Wars comics, highlighting some lesser-known facts about the franchise.

"I'm also continuing with my comics historical studies on my research site, The Comics Chronicles [www.comichron.com]," continued Miller. "The next major addition to that will be the Top Sellers lists for the 1970s. I try to post more findings as time allows, which it frequently doesn't."

For more on Miller and "Knights of the Old Republic," visit www.farawaypress.com and the official Star Wars website.

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