– Spoiler Review –
Darth Vader #17 brings some interesting life to “The Shu-Torun War,” by showing Vader up to his usual blunt violence and ratcheting up the intrigue with various players moving behind the scenes for their own gains (and Vader’s death). Also, the issue has a surprise regarding Cylo’s relationship with Vader, which probably shouldn’t be that much of a surprise in the first place.
Despite Vader’s destruction of one of the ore Baron’s delving-citadels in the last issue, Baron Rubix decides he doesn’t care about the loss and moves to make Queen Trios pay for siding with the Empire. It seems the old way of doing things on Shu-Torun, a society seemingly stuck in the old ways through and through, meant the King/leader served the Barons while they protected him. Trios has obviously bucked the trend by taking up with the Imperials, as Vader’s slaughter of her family and the threat of Alderaan levels of destruction against Shu-Torun have convinced her which side she should be taking. In a weird way, fighting the barons is her way of saving them, as winning the war means the planet’s safety, something darkly twisted Kieron Gillen has a habit of doing so well in this series. In #16, Trios wasn’t ready for Vader’s methods, but by the end of #17 she’s ready to do what needs to be done. Her change of mind comes not from something of Vader’s doing, but instead it’s actually when the ore Barons send a ship capable of submerging itself in lava to attack Trios at an old ancestral site for the planet. Figuring they are willing to sacrifice the past and everything they hold dear to keep in power, Trios sees the only option is to fight back with as much disregard as Vader had wanted in the first place. How she changes and evolves, even since her appearance in DV Annual #1, is an aspect of the arc I look forward to and am happy Gillen and team aren’t ignoring.
Vader proves why he shouldn’t be trifled with several times in this issue, with the biggest event being swiftly and brutally taking down the Lava Leviathan which was stunningly drawn by Salvador Larroca. Designing it to look like a cross between a navy battleship and submarine made for quite the impressive looking ship, helping to make it even more impressive Vader (with Aiolin and Morit) took it down so quickly and efficiently. He isn’t happy in the slightest working with some of Cylo’s remaining replacements and his cold shoulder and indifference to them despite them helping him feels right on point for Vader. He understands their usefulness for now, but he’ll have zero hesitation to drop them the moment they get in his way. Aiolin mistakes Vader allowing them to help him put Shu-Torun into submission as a chance to reach out to him, asking him to help her train so she can defeat her brother. She believes there’ll be only one of Cylo’s abominations left standing, but Vader corrects her, telling her none shall be left standing as he will not suffer competition (however, in a possibly weird way, she’s right that one will be left standing…more on that in a bit). While we know Vader’s cool confidence and arrogance aren’t misplaced, it’ll be interesting to see how things shake down.
At the moment, Dr. Aphra resides in an Alliance prison (as seen in Star Wars #16), so it wasn’t surprising to learn Mister Beebox’s claims about finding Aphra were false. It seems Vader’s intentions for masking his identity when broadcasting to the bounty hunters to find Aphra was to thin out the herd, as I doubt Beebox would’ve been stupid enough to try passing off a disintegrated body as Aphra’s to Darth Vader. He learns the hard way for his decision to try to cash-in quick, as Vader kills him and asks the murder droids (always a pleasure to see Triple-Zero and Beetee) to make an example of him and I look forward to seeing how they’ll get the message across to the others. I’m a little disappointed Beebox is dead now, as he was of an interesting design, a little person in a Mando suit, and we didn’t get any background on him at all. However, seeing how Vader treats him for a disintegration makes me wonder why he lets Boba Fett live for whatever disintegration causes him to warn Fett against doing using such methods again in The Empire Strikes Back (and maybe this series will show us that moment)?
Cylo gets a little more panel-time this issue, including a hint at a connection between he and Vader that I’m shocked I didn’t think about the moment he was introduced. The doctor heavily implies he was the one who helped saved Anakin’s life after Mustafar, as Cylo makes a comment that if Vader knew what he owed the doctor, he might give the man some respect. Considering Cylo’s specialty is making cyborg abominations and has been doing so for over 20 years, it should come as no surprise that he could’ve been the man who devised the suit Vader must use to live (and could it mean he knows Vader is Anakin?). I always just thought it was something Palpatine cooks up then and there, but this is a much more interesting revelation and great little surprise to know in the comics we’ve met the person who was responsible for Anakin’s transformation. I’m shooting myself in the foot for not making the possible connection in the first place, so kudos to anyone who already might have surmised it and to the team for so expertly hiding it.
This whole reveal adds a delightful twist to Cylo’s actions at the end of the issue, where he offers his services to the ore Barons to take out Vader, as its interesting to realize he’s trying to destroy his own work by attempting to kill Vader. He’s been obsessed with building new and better cyborgs, but it seems his first has only ever been his best, which (as I imagine) could be quite frustrating. But as much as Cylo is eager to take out Vader, the choice to do so now is spurned on by Grand General Tagge, who hasn’t been seen in the series since #12. Tagge understands Vader’s power and strength, but doesn’t believe he can win an actual war, so he wants Cylo to ensure an Imperial victory that doesn’t win Vader any favor with the Emperor. Tagge has constantly shown his sound tactical mind, and this appearance is no different, but tying his fate to Cylo’s will be part of his undoing and I can’t wait to watch it all go down.
Here are a few other things:
- As I mentioned in the previous issue’s review, this arc will end with issue #19, which is getting here faster than ever before, as #18 is already scheduled for release on March 30. Also on that day? The Star Wars Rebels season two finale, where Vader will be making a big appearance, making me wonder if there’ll be anything in the comic which could tie into or reference any events in the episode, much like how Kanan #10‘s events were mentioned briefly in an episode of the show released on the same day (coincidentally).
- Gillen and Larroca were interviewed at Marvel.com, where they discuss what has inspired them to create their nearly classic take on one of the biggest villains in cinematic history, as well as tease a much higher body count this year.
The Shu-Torun war might be between the ore Barons and the Empire-backed Trios, but it looks to be the breeding place for a whole different war between Vader and Cylo, which Darth Vader #17 expertly teases.
+ Vader teaching people lessons about messing with him
+ Trios changing
+ The Cylo Backstab begins
Aphra (#1-6) | And the Enormous Profit (#9-13) | Remastered (#14-19) | Annual: #1
Vader Down (crossover of Star Wars and Darth Vader on-goings)
Skywalker Strikes (#1-6) | Old Ben’s Journals | Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon (#8-12) | Rebel Jail (#16-19) | The Last Flight of the Harbinger (#21-25)
The Last Padawan (#1-6) | First Blood (#7-12)
Black Squadron (#1-3) | Lockdown (#4-6) | The Gathering Storm (#7-10)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)