Last month’s exceptional tale of Vader enacting revenge and painful discipline against those who’d royally screwed up continues. Just like last time, the story is told from the viewpoint of the Sith’s plucky imperial sidekick, Ensign Nanda. Is it good?
Star Wars #14 (Dark Horse Comics)
The issue begins with Vader having a dream about his final encounter against Obi-Wan. As the pair duel each other, the scene plays out into a nicely done homage to Episode I while also showing us just how obsessed Vader has become with finding Luke Skywalker.
Back in the real world, Vader has instructed Nanda to take their ship into the asteroid field formerly known as the planet Alderaan. His quarry: One Mr. Tag “I Suck As A Human Being” Togaren.
“Great…now I feel really bad about wearing my ‘Alderaan Rocks!’ shirt under my uniform.”
When we last saw Tag in issue 10, he was living alone on a ship in the Alderaan Graveyard and feeling sorry for himself about designing the laser that destroyed his home planet. Vader wants to capture him alive for questioning about the rebel pilot that visited him (Leia). Mysteriously (and unsurprisingly), a kill-or-capture order from the Empire goes out at the same time to all mercenaries, bounty hunters, and elite storm troopers stupid enough to take on a Sith Lord.
“I liked you guys a lot better when everyone looked like Temuera Morrison.”
When the squad brings Tag back to Vader’s ship, they refuse his order to let him interrogate the prisoner. This results in a predictable (albeit beautifully drawn) ass whooping. This gives Vader the opportunity to get the information he wants out of Tag by whatever means are necessary.
As the Vader/Nanda road trip comes to a close, the Dark Lord requests that they stop on the home world of the traitorous Colonel Bircher. While scouting out his childhood home, Nanda discovers that his family carries the name of ‘Mothma’….just like (GASP) the leader of the Rebel Alliance, Mon Mothma!
Okay, I have to stop and interject something about this “revelation” (which was already known to the reader) here.
Seriously? This didn’t come up in any of the background checks while Bircher was rising through the ranks of the Empire? I get that Obi-Wan Kenobi “hiding out” as Ben Kenobi was due to the events of the Jedi Purge not having been written yet, but there’s simply no excuse for this little slice of ridiculousness.
But I digress…in what I can only assume was a shared rage of such a glaring plot hole, Vader proceeds to blast Bircher’s childhood home to smithereens from his ship.
After returning to Coruscant, Vader and the Emperor do their usual Master/Apprentice dance, summarized thusly:
“Sorry I defied you, master.”
“It’s all good. I know you can’t quit me. But seriously, don’t do that crap again.”
During Ensign Nanda’s final exposition, we learn that Vader’s former protégé, Birra Seah, has been killed off panel… which I REALLY hope is simply misdirection on Woods’ part and not an incredibly disappointing way of tying up an intriguing plot point.
Is It Good?
Well that deescalated quickly. This issue was definitely enjoyable, but it arguably detracted from the previous one, which was a pretty fantastic story on its own.
My misgivings about the Bircher and Birra Seah plot elements might be a little nitpicky, but the tired tropes and questionable actions by many of the characters almost let this one come completely undone.
Fortunately, the fantastic artwork by Facundo Percio and some more great perspective from the character of Ensign Nanda still make this one a fun read.