All For the Wookiee: Seven of the Star-Warsiest Moments In ‘Darth Vader’ #2
Welcome back to All For the Wookiee, where we take a look at the recent Star Wars universe offerings from Marvel and pick the most Star Wars-ish moments to share with you, dear reader. We’re back in black with the second issue of Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca‘s new ongoing series about everybody's favorite Sith Lord, Darth Vader.
As usual, spoilers follow. You have been warned.
MOMENT I: COLOR ME IMPRESSED
The second issue of Vader's solo series starts off with an attack on an Imperial ship by a droid-controlled blockade runner. The robo-ship apparently has some pretty sweet moves, because combat veteran and former ace pilot Darth Vader is impressed. This isn't the first time Vader will admit to being impressed by somebody's skill, however. During his confrontation with Luke Skywalker on Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back, he tells his son the same thing after they spar a little bit in the carbon freezing chamber.
It's a fun call-back (though I guess it's technically a call-forward, as it references something that hasn't happened yet, timeline-wise?) and it's also some pretty good Star Wars.
MOMENT II: THE POLITICS OF DARTHING
A lot of the tension in this issue arises from Vader settling into his new position under GRAND General Tagge, who Gillen characterizes as a master plotter who relies heavily on maps, facts and figures. He seems like the perfect Douche Boss and he's definitely yanking on Vader's chain in this issue, seeing how far he can push the Dark Lord before he breaks, while also trying to win Vader over to his way of thinking. I like this guy.
The Tarkin they're referring to here to is the late Grand Moff Tarkin, portrayed by Hammer horror veteran Peter Cushing in Star Wars, aka Episode IV: A New Hope. Tarkin blew up with the rest of the Death Star. RIP. "Moff" is a political title for a sector governor, a rank instituted to replace the senatorial system in place during The Prequels, before the Emperor was, well, The Emperor. Tarkin holds the distinction of being the first character to have a solo novel written about him under the new canon guidelines. I haven't read it, because my Sponsor told me it was a bad idea to start reading Star Wars novels again, and I just need to take it One Day At A Time here.
I'm really enjoying the subtle power plays that the Vader book has going on, and while it may seem a radical departure from the wiz-bang action of the Aaron/Cassaday Star Wars title, it definitely fits in with the political bent that The Prequels and The Clone Wars series have traded in.
MOMENT III: SURELY, YOU MUST BE CHOKING
I recently got that nine-disc Star Wars Blu-ray set and watched Empire Strikes Back and boy, does Vader choke out a lot of dudes. He loves it. He does it so much, I noticed that in one scene, he has two guys in those black lampshade hats waiting by to clear the body off the bridge in a timely fashion after he chokes one guy to death. How much would that job suck? I feel like you would have to piss somebody off a lot to get stuck on Dead Guy Duty.
In this scene, we see Vader reigning that "CHOKE! CHOKE! CHOKE!" impulse in, realizing that in order to get rid of the little rat that Tagge has following him around, he's gonna have to play a smarter game. Plus, he really can't risk upsetting The Emperor again. If you think Vader's punishments for failure are harsh, you can imagine what his boss does when he's mad.
MOMENT IV: SPACE RACE
Star Wars means aliens! Lots and lots of ugly aliens. Here we have the owners of the droid ship, a Mon Calamari (think the "IT'S A TRAP!" fish-head guy from Return of the Jedi), a Sullustan and an Twi'lek.
Mon Calamari are one of main inhabitants of the planet Dac. The other main race is the squid-headed Quarren. Sullustans are mole-like people who live underground on a volcano planet. You might recognize them from the happy, goofy Nien Nunb, who served as Lando Calrissian's co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon during the Battle of Endor. He used to have a brother named (I kid you not) Ten Nunb, but he disappeared when Superboy punched a wall.
Twi'lek's are everywhere in Star Wars, with their little head-tails (called lekku) flapping about. They first showed up Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi --- represented by both Jabba's majordomo Bib Fortuna as well as his dancing slave girl, Oola --- and have been in every one of the Prequel films. There was some nonsense about their head-tails being able to communicate with other Twi'leks with a series of twitches and jerks, but hopefully that got wiped out by the canon-wave as well. Their home planet of Ryloth was the setting of an arc of the Clone Wars TV series, with the Jedi and the Republic clandestinely helping them overthrow an occupying Separatist force.
Both the Mon Calamari and Twi'lek are pretty well-represented in Star Wars, so I'm inclined to rate this bit lower than normal, but the inclusion of the Sullustan gives it an extra point. I love those wide-eyed, jowly goofballs.
MOMENT V: DROIDEKA-BOOM
Vader tracks the owners of the droid-ship to a floating base and immediately storms the place, prompting our pirates to activate their secret weapons, a couple of upgraded Droideka, aka destroyer droids, to repel the invaders. You might recognize these as the rolling droids who were called in to protect the pretty racist stereotypes that were the Trade Federation guys in The Phantom Menace. Or maybe you blocked that movie from your memory. I mean, I understand if you did, but hey, they were in there.
These guys are outfitted with the usual shields that repel blaster fire and laser-swords, and also, it turns out, missile launchers. Which would probably have worked had the people boarding their base not been led by a guy who can turn the missiles right back at their dumb droids and their dumb pirate faces. These poor schmucks never had a chance, but at least they got to play with a couple nifty robots before Vader stomped them out of existence.
MOMENT VI: CRYMORAH DOES NOT PAY
Crymorah is a name that's new to me, but Wookieepedia says they're a crime syndicate that entered canon in the Tarkin novel. This adds them to the list of Star Wars crime families, alongside the Hutts, Black Sun, the Broken Horn Syndicate and the Pyke Syndicate.
The Hutts you're familiar with; gross, slug-like beings who stick primarily to the Outer Rim and have a hand in everything from smuggling to sentient trafficking.
The Black Sun were first introduced in the now-non-canon-thank-goodness Shadows of the Empire multimedia blitz, and while Prince Xizor no longer exists (he was a Yellow Peril-style character with creepy pheromone powers who tried to use them to seduce Leia. It was gross.), the syndicate showed up in a pretty baller Clone Wars arc, joining the Shadow Collective, a consortium of crime syndicates and rogue Mandalorians led by dead-but-he-got-better Darth Maul. The Black Sun in that arc are characterized as, basically, "What if Klingons ran the Chinese Triad?" Which is pretty great.
The Broken Horn Syndicate is a fairly new introduction as well, showing up in an episode of the Star Wars: Rebels show. Its name is derived from its leader, Cikatro Vizago, a Devoronian (they're the guys who look like the Judeo-Christian Devil) with a, you guessed it, broken horn.
The Pyke Syndicate are drug dealers, dealing especially in Spice. They're one of those factions who's always shifting loyalties, first to Darth Maul's Shadow Collective, then the Separatists, and finally the Republic. They're pretty cool looking.
Crymorah seems to be pretty ill-formed at this point. From what I gather, it's mentioned only in passing a handful of times in Tarkin and now twice in the Darth Vader comic. This is probably on purpose, and given the amount of planning that's being done by Marvel and the Lucasfilm Story team to ensure everything fits together, I wouldn't be surprised if all the hints across the novels and comics, etc. don't pay off nicely. Maybe even in The Force Awakens? (Though I strongly doubt this.)
This is a long-winded way of saying that I liked this. Very good Star Wars, team.
MOMENT VII: THE DROID HE'S LOOKING FOR
Ah, little it's moments like this that remind you that inside that body of robot parts and blinky lights and black armor is little Anakin Skywalker, that little slave boy who wanted a friend so bad he built one out of parts he stole from his racist stereotype of an owner. Granted, he used this droid to gather information that tracked the pirates' backers and conveniently got rid of the officer ordered to follow him around, and, well, then Vader ordered the droid to blow itself out an airlock and self-destruct, but still.
Next: Mark Waid and Terry Dodson's Princess Leia #1! How Star-Warsy will it be?! Tune in and find out.