In last month’s issue, CT-5539/Hock impressive Vader in the field of battle enough to earn a promotion to commander. Now it’s time for the battle-hardened clone to really show what he can do. Is it good?
Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
A tiny outer rim planet by the name of Ostor has decided to go all boot-strappy and refuse Imperial rule. Predictably, this brings the rebellious world to the attention of the Empire, who dispatch Darth Vader to handle things. What was not predictable, however, was the Dark Lord of the Sith deciding to sit this one out (during a time when his motor was always stuck in ‘ass kicking’ mode), instead putting the assault to the hands of a very incompetent general by the name of Rohn.
“I’ll be in my chamber listening to Fall Out Boy and writing bad poetry about how much I miss Padme. You guys totally got this.”
It’s a bizarre decision on Vader’s part that may well be explained later. But for now, it feels like quite a misstep. Fortunately, things get much better (for the reader, at least), from there.
While General Rohn barks commands from inside a heavily armored vehicle, Hock stands at the front line with his men. Their opponents are led by a very shrewd General by the name of Atticus Farstar, who devises a plan that ended up fooling me as well as Imperial forces.
At first, the key to Farstar’s scheme looks like a set up for a really stupid joke…which was fairly disappointing considering that writer Tim Siedell is best known for his sharp sense of humor. But once the Imperial forces make a terrible miscalculation on account of Rohn’s arrogance, the “joke” is proven to have instead been the catalyst for a brilliant battlefield maneuver.
“No army is ever prepared for when I bust out the Dane Cook material!”
As you might have guessed, Hock was the only one who saw it coming. As the ranks and general order break down in front of him, Siedell does a fantastic job expressing the clone warrior’s lament at the drop in quality from “his” army to one made of “regular” soldiers.
His concerns about a non-clone force not only prove to be incredibly accurate, but also give him a reason to personally deliver a lethal reminder of what a real leader should do to General Rohn. Once the disastrous engagement is over, Hock covers for Vader in the presence of The Emperor. It might not be the most believable thing for a clone to successfully lie in front of a Sith Lord, but it does give us a great closing to the issue. Not only does Vader seem to trust Hock completely, but he will soon be taking him into a new field of battle to be gorgeously rendered by Gabriel Guzman.
Is It Good?
The main plot devices used to set up the issue’s primary battle, along with its conclusion are a bit shaky. But those are very small (and forgivable) mistakes in light of how great the rest of the issue is. Not only does Siedell gives us an exhilarating battle sequence, but he also details a clone’s lament over the erosion of the Imperial forces into an inferior fighting unit better than anyone. Not even Commander Cody could match Hock’s masterful reasoning about why a “for hire” military will never be anywhere close to an army consisting of the boys from Kamino.
Combined with another batch of Guzman’s incredible interiors and a great cliffhanger, Cry of Shadows #3 shows no signs this series of letting up. If you love Darth Vader stories—or just great Star Wars stories in general—you should be reading this book.