STAR WARS: INFINITY'S END (Mania.com)

By:Rich Handley
Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Evil witches, an alien stargate, undercover detective work and sword-wielding warriors are not elements one normally expects to find combined, particularly in a Star Wars story. However, readers of Dark Horse Comics' ongoing Star Wars title will discover just that when issue #23 kicks off a four-part tale entitled 'Infinity's End.' Written by acclaimed Marshal Law creator Pat Mills and illustrated by Joker/Mask penciler Ramon Bachs, Infinity's End' marks the prequel-era series' sixth story arc.

Destination: Dathomir

As 'Infinity's End' begins, Jedi Quinlan Vosa Jedi Knight introduced in the previous story arcs 'Emissaries to Malastare' and 'Twilight'is sent to discover why the planet Ova and its inhabitants have mysteriously vanished. His investigation leads him to the planet Dathomir, which fans may recall from Dave Wolverton's The Courtship of Princess Leia novel, as well as Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta's Young Jedi Knights young adult series.

Dathomir is home to Force-wielding female witch-clans, descended from humans exiled there centuries ago, whose Jedi skills have become so intertwined with superstition and theatrics that they no longer understand the nature of their powers. The deadly, xenophobic witches have long dominated over Dathomir's men, making all decisions and vying for the ascendancy of their own clan above the others.

This social dynamic proves quite dangerous for Quinlan Vos, forcing him to pose as a slave in order to complete his mission. In the process, he risks getting caught up in the power struggles between the clans, as well as falling prey to the Dark Side's strong pull on Dathomir. Adding to his dilemma is the Infinity Gate, an alien stargate responsible for Ova's disappearance, which could cause catastrophic destruction if he doesn't act fast. 'Our hero Quin is on a desperate mission to prevent Infinity's End by learning the secrets of [the] stargate on Dathomir,' says Mills, 'and is thwarted in his attempts by the witches who are castaway there.'

Issues #24-#26 follows Quin's progress as he locates the mysterious Star Chamber containing the Infinity Gate. Searching for a way inside the Chamber, Quin hopes to disable the Gate lest anyone ever use it again. This angers a grotesque witch-hag named Ros-Lai, who needs its power to kill her wicked mother, Zalem. When Quin's mission poses a threat to her vendetta, she decides to eliminate him as well. By story's end, the power of the Star Chamber will be unleashed and Quin must either save an entire planet from destruction...or die trying. According to Mills, 'It raises questions about the Force, Light and Dark, and Good and Evil, which all Star Wars heroes deal with, and which we ourselves have to consider.'

A New Frontier

Mills is best known for his work on such titles as Marshal Law, Nemesis the Warlock and 2000 A.D. In particular, Marshal Law became popular for its deconstruction of the superhero mythos, taking an entirely innovative look at how heroes act. In that vein, Mills hopes 'Infinity's End' will fare just as well among Star Wars fans with some of the innovative concepts he introduces. 'The stargates in the story seem quite unusual,' says Mills. 'They are in the style of Star Wars, but haven't been featured before.'

Contributing to a universe as rich as Star Wars can be intimidating for authors new to the mythos, for the volume of existing material is staggering. With that in mind, Mills says he made sure only to read what he considered essential. 'I read Courtship,' recalls Mills, 'and I studied the Star Wars Encyclopedia. Of course, I'd seen the films. But having gotten the basics, I deliberately didn't read the others because the mythos is so vast. It can be overwhelming and it's important to keep the perspective of the particular story you're writing. Otherwise, one can start taking on the writing style and direction of other writers.'

Ultimately, reading Courtship proved key to fleshing out his story arc, as Dathomir and its band of Force-witches were not part of his original storyline. 'Dark Horse wanted a story about Star Wars witches,' explains Mills. 'I tried one version, but it wasn't integrated into the mythos sufficiently. Lucasfilm pointed me in the direction of Dathomir, and everything fell into place then.' This helped him to understand the parameters of what Lucasfilm considers 'a classic Star Wars plot,' he says. 'As long as I stayed within them, it was quite easy going.'

Even more daunting was knowing how important continuity can be to die-hard fans, many of whom are more well-versed than the writers. For that reason, he employed a certain level of vagueness, particularly in terms of where the story fell in the overall Star Wars timeline. Instead, he hopes the characters, conflicts, and concepts introduced in 'Infinity's End' will interest fans enough to draw their attention away from such minutiae.

'It's not stated in the story exactly when [it takes place], and it would take a very intimate knowledge of the chronology to define it precisely,' says Mills. 'I always find that a little scary, because fans can be very exacting on this. On Nemesis the Warlock, I had fans pick me up on a chronological detail fourteen years after I'd written in a plot-point which was, in their view, not resolved. That can be rather intimidating when they're looking at stories with such precision, so I feel it's best to keep things accurate but not specific.'

In the end, Mills believes that allowing the story and characters to speak for themselves shouldn't be difficult, as few villains in Star Wars have proven as fascinating as the Dathomir witches. In fact, Mills himself is particularly fond of their matriarchal society. 'These are extremely strong women,' says Mills. '[They] are partly based on some fairly funky real-life characters I've known over the years, who think a little along those lines. I'm drawing on reality, which should give it conviction. I do believe strongly in the writer's Golden Rule: 'Write only what you know about.''