– Spoiler Review –
Darth Vader #18 is the penultimate issue of “The Shu-Torun War,” where Cylo enacts his plans to bring Vader down, Queen Trios makes a surprising but interesting choice, and everyone’s favorite pair of murderous droids have some of their best material yet.
Cylo, who teamed up with the rebelling ore barons to help them take out Vader, begins to enact his plans during the coordinated attack on Baron Rubix’s delving citadel. He sabotages the drill he, the Astarte twins, the murder bots, and Vader are on, causing them to crash into a trap he set up with Rubix. Vader and the Astarte twins, who are seemingly not aware of their bosses duplicity, begin to beat back the baron’s forces, but it’s not until Vader’s personal droid army is brought into the fray that they start to have a chance to win the battle. With the communications to Queen Trios cut off, besides for Cylo who calls off the Imperial contingent of their attack on Rubix, Vader makes haste to reach Trios so that he can be there to end this war once and for all.
Kieron Gillen has used the black, always hilarious humor of Triple-Zero and Beetee sparingly throughout the series and for good reason: every time he gives them center stage, they nearly steal the show. While it’s partly due to the anticipation for their deadly fun antics which builds during the wait between their bigger moments, it’s mainly because they are just that damn funny. Triple-Zero’s extremely short list of good things about organics only being the wonderful smell of them burning to a crisp and his joyous exclamations on how lovely the Shu-torun war is can both be added rather quickly to his list of quotable moments. However, he did have an odd moment, as he suggests to Darth Vader about making…well, I wasn’t too clear on what he was thinking, but it seems like he wanted to make androids/terminators, I guess. He suggests modifying droids to have blood, essentially, and then they can literally drain the blood of their enemies to refuel, making them, “…a droid more man than machine!” This line probably hits too close to home for Vader, as he tells Triple-Zero he’ll regret bringing up the suggestion. It’s also a great call-back to Obi-Wan’s line in Return of the Jedi regarding Vader, when he calls him, “…more machine now than man.”
While Vader doesn’t get the funny lines, as usual Gillen makes it remarkably easy to hear James Earl Jone’s booming voice speaking the lines of dialogue. My favorite bit for Vader in #18 was his words to the stromtrooper who complained they’d likely fail under Rubix’s siege of their vessel, “You are afraid of Rubix’s forces? Be more afraid of me.” Sir, yes, sir would’ve been my response. Anyways, he takes the Astarte twins with him to reach Trios, but they are as disinterested as Cylo (and Grand General Tagge) is in winning the war and they make their move to take him out. Their ‘surprise’ attack doesn’t rattle Vader one bit and he welcomes their attempt because now he can show them the true power of the Force. In my review of Vader Down part 6, I wondered if we’d have to wait for more crossover events to see Cylo’s creations fall to Vader (like Karbin did in VD), but it looks like that thankfully won’t be the case. Time to get the obituaries ready for Morit and Aiolin, as Darth Vader #19 (the end of this arc) releases on April 13.
It’s not clear if Chancellor Jooli is also working with Cylo and Rubix on their trap, but his decision to get into Trios’ way of helping Vader win their war with the barons makes which side he was on moot. Trios has him killed and presses the attack, even with them cut off from the Imperial support, which adds another interesting dimension to the character. It seems in combination with the rebellion baron’s attacks on sacred sites, Trios has taken the lesson of her family killed, a piece of Alderaan as a gift, and seeing Vader’s prowess first hand as enough to make her wholeheartedly side with the Emplre/Vader to win their war; She’s had this in her since we first met her in DV Annual #1, but she has finally stopped holding back. Will she regret the decision in the final issue? I have a feeling she won’t, and in that case, I’d think it’d be neat to revisit her character (or see her mentioned somewhere) post-Return of the Jedi and if she’d still side with the Imperials/join the eventual First Order or take the New Republic’s side (and if that would earn her retaliation from the Imperial remnant or not).
Here are a few other things:
- The stromtrooper helmets didn’t look as odd as usual and Salvador Larroca had some killer shots this issue, including Vader blocking the Astarte twins blades behind his back and the final full-page panel with the hellish landscape as a background for Vader’s decree that the twins had failed.
- This review was delayed a bit due to a more interesting Vader tale: him meeting Ahsoka Tano in the Star Wars Rebels Season Two finale! And, speaking of the panel where Vader blocked the blades behind his back, Ahsoka pulls a similar move towards the end of their duel in the finale. Pure coincidence, but I’d like to think he learned that one from her.
- The last time we saw Vader pull out his personal droid army was way back in issue #5 as he assaulted a then unknown base, which turned out to be Cylo’s.
Darth Vader #18 is an overall solid issue, with such highlights like murderous droid humor and Trios taking charge, while it sets the stage for the confrontation between Vader and the Astarte twins (and the end of the Shu-Torun war, the Empire winning or not).
+ Trios’ choice
+ Triple-Zero and BT-1 humor
STAR WARS CANON COMIC REVIEWS:
Vader (#1-6) | Shadows and Secrets (#7-12) | The Shu-Torun War: #16 | #17 | #19 (Arc Review by Chris) | End of Games (#20-25)
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)
Han Solo (mini-series)
Obi-Wan & Anakin (mini-series)
Shattered Empire (mini-series)
Princess Leia (mini-series)
Darth Maul: Son of Dathomir (mini-series)