Darth Vader #6 + Captain Phasma #3 + Star Wars #37 + Doctor Aphra #13

But Bryan, you missed a week!?!? Yes, yes I did. I’m dreadfully sorry for all my invisible friends out there that care. But, you know, life happens…this time, life happened to be the NHL season officially starting, Battlefront II beta kicking off, and my new semester of school gearing up…needless to say, I’ve been preoccupied…but, better late than never, right? And now you get to reminisce about last week’s comics while also indulging in this week’s book – win/win, right? RIGHT?!?! Anyway, here we go!

Darth Vader #6
dv6The book opens on the literal empty shell that is Darth Vader – his battered, piecemeal suit lies on what could possibly be the very table we saw in Revenge of the Sith. Then we see the heart of the Dark Lord, what’s left of the man that was Anakin Skywalker in his now infamous bacta(?) suspension tube. A strangely reptilian-looking Emperor pokes a little fun at him for wrecking his suit, then says it doesn’t much matter because his mission to usurp a Jedi’s lightsaber and make the crystal bleed was a success. Palpatine then says, unlike Humty Dumty, the droids can put Vader back together again; however, this angers Vader because he wants to use his aptitude as an engineer to put himself back together to his liking. This is probably one of the better tidbits from this series so far – knowing that the changes and improvements to Darth Vader’s suit come from his own tinkering with it (and by using the Force, no less) is a great piece of character information. It gives us proof that not only has the Emperor not driven all of the Anakin Skywalker from Vader, but he actually allows him to embrace some aspects of his past self. Very cool. Next, we move to a set of Temple Guard armor on display at the former Jedi Temple, and an angry character that, if you watch Rebels (and use the context clues from the cover of the issue), is obviously the Grand Inquisitor. We see him go slinking off through the Temple and then go back to Vader putting the finishing touches on his helmet. The Emperor comms him to tell him of the invader, so, with his armor finished, Vader goes as commanded. The Grand Inquisitor is in the archives, about to tap into all the secrets he was denied previously, when Vader shows up and the two begin to duel. They have a good bout, and at one point it’s revealed that it’s the Grand Inquisitor (even though we already knew that). They keep fighting, and the Grand Inquisitor holds his own, which starts to make you wonder how he was bested by Kanan if he could go toe to toe with Vader…that is, until Vader informs the Grand Inquisitor that he “was simply testing my suit.” Seemingly satisfied, Vader wins the duel in one move. As he’s about to strike his opponent down, however, Palpatine stops him. They hold a short palaver where Palpatine informs each who the other is and then we move on to the Emperor’s industrial stronghold on Coruscant where it turns out the Inquisitorius is already fully developed with all the inquisitors we know of so far plus one new, hulking dowutin inquisitor that, to my knowledge, we’ve never seen before. This is an odd reveal for me because it begs the question of how long the Inquisitorius has been going on to be so far along already…sure, the passing of time is weird in comics, but was Vader really gone on his quest for a Jedi lightsaber for so long that the Emperor had time to start and grow the Inquisitorius to this point? No, probably not, right? Well, then when did it start? Did Palpatine assume some Jedi would survive Order 66 so this was something that was part of his grand plan all along? Since he says, “the Inquisitorius belongs to the Sith,” does that mean that, like the Sith, the Inquisitorius has existed but been in hiding all this time as well? I don’t know…it seems like they took what was essentially a plot device for Rebels and went an odd, convoluted way with it…but, anyway, the book ends with Palpatine telling Vader that it’s his job to train the Inquisitorius to be a “blade that will cut the Jedi infection from the galaxy once and for all” because “there is no greater threat to our Empire.” And the book ends with a full-page panel of Jocasta Nu huddled in a cave with a pot of tea and a very cool-looking, seemingly-two-headed cat ferret. It will be interesting to see where this series goes from here…will we find out a little more about the background of the Inquisitorius? Will Jocasta Nu take out the dowutin inquisitor and that’s why we’ve not seen him elsewhere? Will Jocasta Nu escape and possibly still be wandering the galaxy during the Rebellion era? Hard to see the future is…hard to see…

Captain Phasma #3
cp3Let me just restate that I think this series has really turned around – I didn’t care for the first issue, but I really like the greater story going on from issue #2. Picking up from there, we see Phasma and her pilot companion looking over the tentacle monster guarded fortress. Next, Phasma somehow tastes the water through her helmet to find that it’s not as salty as expected, and also finds out from a local that low tide is at dawn. Conveniently, she finds out the creatures sleep, albeit not long or soundly, at the same time. They go back to the village and we see that Phasma is quite interested in a diamond-shaped pendant one of the locals has (a callback to the novel? I’ve not read it, but I have heard that it tells us of Phasma’s primitive beginnings, and I’m starting to have a strong assumption that these primitive people are originally from the same planet that Phasma is…). It turns out that the pendant was given to the local by the “village elder” archetype, who brought it “from the old world. The before time.” Phasma asks where to find more, but the village elder refuses because, of course, it’s “forbidden.” The young local, though, decides to take Phasma where she wants to go if she promises not to tell the elder. After a lot of tough cardio traversing the crags of the strange planet, we see a huge, boxy transport-like ship. Later, we see the pilot and the local having a comic relief moment where BB-9E (because I’m sure that’s who the droid is) mistranslated something and then won’t fix it because he doesn’t want to look stupid. Then we see that Phasma is back in her First Order armor, no longer “hiding.” Next, Phasma gives the locals a rousing speech about taking up arms against their enemies that would have made Hux so proud. While going over her plan for their siege, Phasma says what is basically my mantra for life:  “We cannot worry about what we cannot know. It is a waste of time.” A lot of people would disagree with this, I’m sure, but it’s how I already look at most things, and, I believe, by doing so it makes me much more able to adapt and react – I can’t be preoccupied with things not going my way when I don’t have a way. Any apprehensions I had about the direction Phasma was headed were squarely destroyed by finding out we have such a shared frame of mind. Anyway, we then find out that the pilot was inspired by Phasma’s speech, as she should have been, but Phasma tells her not to be “absurd” because they’re just “cannon fodder.” At dawn three days later, at low tide, while the creatures sleep, Phasma and her cannon fodder army of locals send a huge jolt of electricity through the water to zap the humanoid krakens so they have an easy trip across the water to the fortress. While scaling the side of said fortress, Phasma has a little flashback of clinging to the back of her father…maybe? while he scales the side of some steep mountain face (interestingly, Phasma appears to be, in fact, human, and also to have black hair rather than Gwendoline Christie’s blonde). When they reach the top of the fortress and look in, we find out that it’s filled with smaller versions of the humanoid krackens that they disposed of outside…and that’s the issue…it looks as though some real nasty business is on the horizon, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out…

Star Wars #37
sw34SCAR Squad! Alright, so, we start out with Sergeant Kreel about to be a badass and go HAM on some training droids…but, he just doesn’t have the skill…Vader has to come in and Force push the remotes to the wall to keep Kreel from being embarrassingly dispatched by them. The Dark Lord tells him he’ll never be Sith, to which Kreel replies he never wants to be, just a loyal 501st trooper that appreciates a lightsaber. But Vader says he hasn’t earned such a weapon, and asks why he should give him and the SCAR boys another chance…Kreel’s response is he’ll either succeed, or kill his entire squad and then himself…which must be good enough because Vader tosses back the lightsaber and tells him to be worthy of it. Just then, the Emperor comes in looking for Vader and Kreel gets straight shook – he’s all honored and the Emperor could basically not care less, though he throws Kreel a bone by saying “The Empire needs more men like you.” Next we switch to the snowy wastes of the Horox System and a strange, Doomsday-esque creature that’s bossing around a bunch of little goatmen. Then the SCAR Squad boys show up and Kreel says the beefy archetype member would like to be taught a lesson from the Doomsday guy. Zuke, the beefy guy, beats up Doomsday (eat your heart out, Superman), and then Kreel introduces himself to the goatmen. He follows this up by saying the needs their help, but will first help them, and then shoots Doomsday. The goatmen cheer, and Kreel says what he wants in return is the location of the Rebels on the planet…and then the next page shows the Imperials devastating the Rebel Outpost on Horox III. We move to a more personal moment between Kreel and his technological archetype trooper as Kreel fanboys about meeting the Emperor. Then he decides to be a hero and take on a room of rebels all on his own…which he does successfully while describing how the Empire will win because they fight for the greater good while the rebels fight for themselves…then we see the Falcon parked next to Sana’s ship and an X-wing as our regular group of OT heroes survey the devastation. The group squabbles over whether they should flee immediately or bury their dead, and ultimately decide to burn them because they’re better than the Empire…then, for the final page, we get a big image of the whole good-guy-gang in front of a roaring fire stating that the war has just begun, and “May the Force be with us all.” It will be interesting to see where this series goes from here as I believe they’re passing the reigns over to the new team (though I could be wrong)…

But wait, there’s more! Adding to the strange Tusken mythos we’ve already seen in the comics, we get an interesting story about how poorly the Sand People are treated by others on Tatooine (even though we know they are a fairly vicious group, it makes me feel a little sorry for them), but how the sand will always provide. Obi-wan even steps in at one point to help a young Tusken Raider get home before Stormtroopers can take the little one out. Oh hey, and guess where this tale comes from? Why, the journal of Obi-wan Kenobi himself! I hope this wasn’t the swan song for these journal entry interludes, because I quite enjoyed most of them…

Doctor Aphra #13
da13Vader vs. the crystallized eternal soul of an ancient Jedi…why does Vader seem to have to go up against some of the weirdest foes in the comics? Also, did Rur have that cool saber with the Kylo-esque exhaust ports last time? If so, I’m really slipping on my observations…anyway, with her two main adversaries distracted by each other, Aphra slinks away and watches the rough-looking rodian use some poor sap as a human shield to escape. Looking to be a copy cat, Aphra finds perhaps the easiest being to use as a human shield:  a hutt. Both of them seem to be free and clear of danger when Sutha the Hutt starts making threats about telling Jabba about what Aphra just did. She starts to toy with the idea of shooting Sutha so not to have to deal with that fallout when someone else does it for her…I found this interesting since the Hutt in Empire’s End took like a dozen shots without dying, but maybe since this was a headshot it was a sure thing? I don’t know, maybe Sutha isn’t dead…? Moving back to the rough rodian, he’s made it to his ship where he finds all the Imperials dead…because the murderbots killed them, and have now decided to adopt Yonak as their new whipping boy…then we’re back to Vader vs. Rur and it seems Vader’s done toying with the droid abomination as he cuts off his hand (of course) and Force pushes him into a wall. At this, Rur takes over the defensive lasers in the station and tries to take over Vader’s circuitry…then we’re back to Aphra who’s also dealing with the station’s lasers…then we see that Vader has made some improvements to his suit since Cylo essentially turned him off in his first comic series…this makes me wonder, though, if Vader made his own changes to his suit after coming back from getting his lightsaber all but destroyed, how was Cylo even able to override his system when he did? Seems like a slip in logic unless we’re to assume that Vader didn’t bother with any controls when he remade his armor the first time…*shrug*…anyway, Vader slams Rur back and forth against a couple walls and then Force grabs the crystal out of the junk pile that was the droid Rur was controlling. And we’re back to Aphra, who’s successfully departed with the Shadow University’s artifact-laden ship…but not before Vader senses “an infuriating presence” has hasn’t felt in some time…could this be the foreshadowing of the curtain falling on Aphra? I don’t know, but I will say I felt better about her longevity when Vader thought she was dead…anyway, Aphra escapes, now all on her own, with her goodies, and Vader is now in possession of the Rur crystal. Cool. Aphra being Aphra, she returns some things, sells some things, and then goes on a nice vacation to Zeltros. Next up, we find out that Krrsantan is now the proud proprietor of his own gladiator training business where he’s now treating the brothers that enslaved him the same way they treated him…I don’t see it ending well for them…after that, we catch up with Yonak and the murderbots on Son-Tuul where, as their figurehead, Yonak is now a tortured pirate king for the sector – I feel bad for him, sorta, though I reckon he got exactly what he’s always wanted, just not the way he’d imagined…then we head to Coruscant where Vader bestows the gift of Rur on his incredibly odd-looking Emperor who tells him to add it to his extensive collection of what I assume are Force-related artifacts…finally, back to Aphra, who’s accosted by a companion of the guy she killed back in issue #1 (I think, anyway…I might be wrong, and I didn’t feel like going back and looking,  so we’re just going with it). She shoots him in cold blood, hoping not to ruin her vacation, but it turns out that there are at least five more companions that are now furious…poor Aphra…I’m looking forward to seeing what becomes of not only this series, but Aphra as a character going forward – will she reunite with her old gang, find a new gang, or go about solo for a while? Time will tell, as usual, I guess…I just hope we haven’t seen the last of the great Krrsantan…

And there we have it! Woof. This is turning out to be quite the endeavor, though I say that, so far, in a positive way. There is a wealth of Star Wars comics lately, which means there are all kinds of various entry points into this medium of the greater Star Wars story…so, yeah, what’d you think? Which issue of these four was your favorite? Did they all work for you, or was one (or more) a dud? I’ve said a lot so far, so I’m just going to say give the books a thorough second read and let me know what you think in the comments below…TWS out.

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