Ostrander Uses the Force in "Vector"

Launched in January, "Star Wars: Vector" shipped its penultimate issue this week. Dark Horse's year-long crossover event marks the first time the multiple ongoing "Star Wars" titles have a single story crossing over the entire line. But unlike traditional crossovers like "Final Crisis" or "Secret Invasion," there was no "Star Wars: Vector" limited series.

The 12-issue story arc, which spans 4,100 years of Star Wars mythos, is told each month 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" #28-31.

We spoke with two of the series architects, "Knights of the Old Republic" writer John Jackson Miller and Senior Editor and Vice-President Publishing Randy Stradley, back in January as Dark Horse unleashed the story of Jedi Master Celeste Morne and Sith Lord Karness Muur on the Star Wars Extended Universe.

A Dark Jedi during the Hundred-Year Darkness, Muur became a Sith Lord and created the Muur Talisman to turn his foes into mindless minions. When Muur discovered the Talisman was powerless against those with the Force and certain other alien species, he further orchestrated the Rakghoul Plague, an infection which could be spread by those already under his power. When Muur died, his spirit was kept alive in the Talisman. After trying to connect with Zayne Carrick - the lead character of "Knights of the Old Republic" - the Talisman merged with Morne giving Muur a suitable and, more importantly, long-lasting host.

Currently in "Legacy," Morne is teaming up with Cade Skywalker - Luke's descendant (believed to be his great-great grandson) - in an attempt to stop Muur. But Muur may have other plans.

With Part 11 of "Vector" in stores this week, CBR News spoke with industry veteran John Ostrander about the events of "Legacy" #30, illustrated by long-time collaborator Jan Duursema, and what's to come in the series finale next month in "Legacy" #31.

CBR News: How far back did you, Jan, John Jackson Miller and Randy start planning out "Vector?" Are we talking a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?

John Ostrander: Sometimes it seems like forever [laughs]. Some of my oldest notes go back to fall of 2006 and there may be some missing. Summer into fall 2006 seems to be about right.

What was your original concept/pitch? Was the Muur Talisman always the planned MacGuffin?

As I recall, our editor Randy Stradley started the ball rolling so I don't think it was simply my pitch. I'd had experience working on crossovers before, having plotted "Legends" for DC and participated in any number of others for both Marvel and DC. There had to be something that united all the eras; the big difficulty would be having one that spanned 4,000 years that had never been mentioned before in the Star Wars universe. The rakghoul plague emerged fairly early.

When you were plotting "Vector," did you have Celeste Morne already in your head, or was her creation a result of an epic storyline that needed a heroine?

She came later but not too much. You really need a single character in crossovers like this to unify the whole thing. It's not just the "epic feel," but narrative necessity. There has to be someone with whom the readers will identify in each part of the story - something that will make each chapter a real part of "Vector."

The Muur Talisman could create a new vessel in each era but then you have to account for what happens to the vessel and how the Talisman is lost again. Male or female was not the issue; having a single person was.

Why a new character and not an established one as the central figure in "Vector?"

Same reason we've created so many new characters over all; you don't want to be tripping over continuity. Also, an established character would have certain character traits already established. By creating a new character, we were better able to explore that character - and decide their ultimate fate.

Will we see more of Celeste Morne coming out of "Vector?"

There certainly are readers who have said they would like that. To hint one way or another, however, spoils the suspense and I'd just as soon not do that. Sorry.

What do you like about her as a character and specifically in your title, what did you like about writing her opposite Cade Skywalker?

By the time she's reached us, Celeste has been in contact with Karness Muur a long time - no one to talk with except him. At this point, she's finding it hard to tell where she leaves off and he begins. Cade also has a lot of darkness in him. He just doesn't like being controlled by anyone. They strike interesting sparks off one another. Celeste - and Muur - have interesting insights into Cade's character.

Same goes for Karness Muur, what makes him a great Star Wars villain?

To start with, he's a Sith and he goes back to very early in the Sith Order. He's very smart, very powerful, and very, very dangerous. He's achieved immortality but at a price that makes him dependent on others. Celeste has resisted him all these millennia but what if he finds another mount, one he can dominate? Then he will truly live again. The real question readers should be asking is not whether Celeste survives the last issue of "Vector" but if Karness Muur does. If that happens, a very powerful Sith - perhaps stronger than any other we've seen thus far in "Legacy"- will be loose in the galaxy. That would not be a good thing.

As a creator how do you generate names that sound like they belong in the Star Wars Universe?

Depends. Sometimes we do as some of the movies have done and borrow for other languages and then maybe twist them a bit. Sometimes I work with syllables and from established names within a given species. When Quinlan Vos was named, I patterned it after Qui-Gon Jinn. I wanted the same number of syllables. Qui became 'Quin,' Gon became 'lan,' and then I joined them together without the hyphen. I'll play around with syllables and vowels until the combination feels right and looks good. Jan also comes up with a lot of the names as she has her own method.

What has the response been like to "Vector" on your end?

Very good, which surprised a lot of people. A lot of readers have gotten burned with crossovers or are getting burned out. "Vector" happens in 12 issues of the regular books - no tie-ins, no specials. You buy the books, you get the story. There is an overall arc and a pay-off by the end. Very reader friendly, I think.

What have you enjoyed most about the project? Would you like to do a crossover of this scale again in the "Star Wars" comics? Are you and the others involved pleased you were able to keep the book consistent over the year, both in terms of quality and hitting the expected sale dates?

Let's not jinx it! [laughs] I did enjoy the project. For me, the challenge was to make our part of "Vector" a satisfying conclusion to the crossover that, at the same time, would be a major story arc in our own book. That said, I'm not looking to do it again real soon. It's a lot of extra work and, as I said above, I'm worried that the reading public is getting too many big crossovers and are getting burned out on them. Still, if Randy said he wanted to do it again and we could find a really good hook - yeah, I'd do it again.

The plan is for us to talk again after Part 12, but what can you share with us about the conclusion to "Vector" and what the fallout will be for "Legacy?"

One of the initial concepts of "Vector" is that it would have important and lasting results in the storyline of each book it touches. It will with "Legacy," as well, but I can't discuss those until after that issue hits the stands. When you read it, you'll know why. That said - the reader should expect a payoff for investing in the 12 issues of the "Vector" crossover and we intend to see they get it. The ramifications of it will be deeply felt all next year in our book.

"Legacy" #30 is in stores now. "Legacy" #31 arrives December 24.

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