With the Death Star destroyed and the Empire in shambles, Darth Vader is left in a precarious situation. After his primary space station was destroyed, along with the extensive fleet and military presence aboard the Death Star, what will he do to replace those lost soldiers? While the Empire is not one to mourn, it is one to count its losses and find a way to reform itself and find a way back to the top.
Over the past 2 issues we have seen glimpses of Vader’s hidden agenda as he attempts to re-strengthen his fleet and gain his vengeance against the rebels responsible for the Death Star’s destruction. In issue one, we watched as Darth contracted Boba Fett to find Han Solo’s Millenium Falcon, as well as Luke Skywalker. In issue two, he weeds out dissension in his ranks. Where does Vader go from there? He creates an army of unmistakably loyal soldiers! How? I’ll tell you how, right now!
Our issue does NOT begin following Darth Vader, but instead follows an Indiana Jones analogue named Doctor Aphra. Yes, a series that already includes Harrison Ford has an INDIANA JONES analogue character. I was surprised too. Doctor Aphra is a professor of cybernetics and robotics, and as such her current mission is to retrieve the personality Matrix to a special Protocol Droid. She attempts to fight her way out of the compound holding the Matrix’s defenses, but is eventually detained by security. The security forces actually utilize re-purposed Super battle droids as their main guards, and they easily detain Aphra.
It is here where I create the parallel to Indiana Jones. When captured and questioned regarding the theft of the personality Matrix, she retorts with a speech similar, yet the polar opposite of Indiana Jones’ speech regarding the Coronado Cross from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. “IT BELONGS IN AN ARMORY!” She screams as she is being interrogated, but said interrogation is soon interrupted by the arrival of Darth Vader who has sought out Dr. Aphra and her expertise with droids.
Vader saves Aphra and returns her to her ship where she inserts the chip into a protocol droid body, revealing it to be the Hannibal Lecter equivalent of C-3PO. While most protocol droids are designed with the express purpose of etiquette and protocols, this one was also designed with a homicidal streak, and was known for killing any organics it came in contact with and draining them of their blood; a rather gruesome outcome, to be frank. But this droid was not her primary mission. She resurrected this droid so she could use him to activate a different droid, one that only responds to a language known by very few. A language that this protocol droid, named 0-0-0 or Triple Zero, happens to speak.
They manage to wake up the sleeping astromech droid with 0-0-0’s help, ONLY TO BE GREETED WITH FIRE AND PLASMA! Aphra explains that this astromech is known as a prototype BLASTOMECH droid. A specialized covert assassin droid designed to infiltrate an enemy base posing as a standard astromech droid. Aphra was contracted to find and revive both of these special Empirial protoype droids and deliver them to said employer. However, with Lord Vader looming over her, she realizes that she had best comply with any and all demands he may make, as he has more power than she could ever hope to muster. She declares the droids his, and asks him what he needs.
Vader declares he is in need of an army with unquestionable loyalty. Aphra immediately understands he is looking to re-purpose old battle droids from the Clone Wars for the Empire. She knows of one exceptional droid facility, but requires his help in gaining access to it. This facility’s location? GEONOSIS!
Overall, this title is performing very well and is definitely a fun read. I enjoy seeing things from Vader’s point of view. Yet, without thought/narration boxes, the dark lord’s mystique and mystery remain in tact. The reader is left to interpret his emotions merely from his words, as even the most skilled artists can only convey so many emotions through the guise of Vader’s helmet. If I have any complaints, it is that this issue focused primarily on Aphra, as opposed to Vader himself, and felt more like an intro to the next story arc, as opposed to a full tale in and of itself. I’ll still be reading, but this was not the strongest issue thus far.
-The dark lord remains mysterious and makes for an interesting character to analyze
-A new interesting character is introduced (hopefully a recurring character for the series)
-Not all droids are spunky and nice
-Not enough focus on Vader
-The artwork appears muddy in places