– Spoiler Review –
Tulon Voidgazer’s purpose is revealed, Vader battles a cyberanimate Rancor, Aphra devises a desperate ploy to escape her looming fate, and Cylo makes his move to take the Executor in the rather action packed issue Darth Vader #22.
Vader’s battle with the cyberanimate Rancor might not be as long as I had hoped, but the fact it took as long as it did showed Vader’s ability to not only be a wrecking ball of destruction, but also a patient wrecking ball of destruction from time to time. Considering the foe he’s facing, it’s no surprise he can’t just blast right through it like we’ve seen him do with many other enemies in this series so far, and taking the approach of finding the Rancor’s augmented weakness shows his ability for patience. But when he was looking for the Rancor’s, he should’ve been looking for Tulon’s weakness, as her hubris over her work gets the best of her when she essentially tells him how to beat the monster. It’s been a while since I could stretch a moment in the Darth Vader series and say it mimics Luke’s actions (moments which were one of my favorite things about some of the early issues), but their certainly is a comparison that can be made between Luke’s rock throw to kill the Rancor he faced in Return of the Jedi and Vader’s lightsaber throw to kill the cyberanimate Rancor; Like father, like son, as they say.
Since her introduction in issues #5/#6, Tulon Voidgazer has been the biggest enigma out of Cylo’s creations. She’s operated in the background, never getting the light of day besides a few choice shots of her standing cold and calculating behind Grand General Tagge or her brief appearance then quick disappearance in “The Shu-Torun War” arc, but her purpose and machinations finally come to light here. Tagge assigned her to “research problems” back in issue #8 and we now learn part of it was to improve the Executor‘s firing arrays, but while doing so she planted backdoor programs into the Super Star Destroyer in case not everything went according to Cylo’s plans. After Vader takes out the Rancor, Tulon engages the Dark Lord with her droid-swarm, but all her dependence on science just isn’t enough to save her life from the power of the Force, as Vader literally turns the droid-swarm against her. But her dying words are curious, as she believes herself to be a martyr for science and that killing her will only make her immortal; Sounds a lot like Obi-Wan’s famous last words to Vader on the Death Star: “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Could her words be just as true as Obi-Wan’s were and she survives on in some of the technology she was connected to or will her words prove to be hollow? Either way, I’m not surprised she didn’t get as much screen time as the other creations of Cylo as she would’ve been dead a lot sooner.
It seems that by having Tulon mess with the Executor‘s systems, Cylo was prepared for the possibility of not defeating Vader quickly, but were the sleeping and/or poisonous gas and override controls just in case he couldn’t win the Emperor’s trust or had he always been planning on taking the Executor as his own no matter what? And was the Emperor’s portion of the ship not being gassed all part of the plan or part of the Emperor’s counter plan? We’ll find out soon enough, as Cylo is now ready to take the ship since he believes he’s killed Vader once his Whale Ship suicide plunges itself head-first into the Exectuor with Vader. Out of all Cylo’s few scenes this issue, I found how he took more time to mourn the passing of his Whale Ship than he did Tulon the most interesting, as it makes one wonder how much his creations were made for a means to an end versus to actually replace Vader at the Emperor’s side. I have no delusions he’ll die before this series is through, but I’m intrigued to see what he’ll have up his sleeves before he goes.
Another issue closer to the end, another notch higher on my fear for Doctor Aphra’s life. The issue actually starts as she’s being brought aboard the Executor, being hilariously teased by Triple-Zero about how he hasn’t said “live to regret” her decision to surrender in #21 because Vader will just end up killing her no matter what. Way back in issue #4, she tells Vader that if he ends up wanting to kill her because she gets in his way, that he at least do it quick and through the neck with a lightsaber; If Aphra were to die by the series’ end, here’s hoping Vader will at least grant her said wish, though it seems Triple-Zero and Beetee would be most disappointed. Aphra’s a smart cookie though and she realizes the murderbot’s priority order was technically fulfiilled by dropping her off, causing her to issue a new priority order to get her off the ship. However it didn’t matter, as she falls victim to the gas released on the Executor by Tulon…hence why my fear for Aphra’s life is rising again.
Here are a few other things:
- My favorite line from Triple-Zero this issue is his response to Aphra’s question of his orders: Aphra, “I’m to be safely delivered to the Executor, right?” Triple-Zero, “That you are, Mistress Aphra! Nice and safely doomed!” If the muderbots don’t make it past the series finale as well, there’ll be quite the void for humor in the Star Wars comics to fill.
- I’m going to make a big stretch and say the Whale Ship smashing into the Executor is foreshadowing for the Executor‘s ultimate fate, as this time it was something smaller than the Destroyer smashing into it and later it ends up being the smaller thing when it smashes into Second Death Star.
- Darth Vader: “Vader,” the first arc of the series, won first place in the Stan Lee Excelsior Award, an award picked by school kids from the UK. You can read more about the program at it’s site.
Cylo begins his endgame and Vader marches ever closer to wiping the cyborg and his creations off the face of the galaxy in an action packed, non-setup feeling return to form for the Darth Vader series in issue #22. As we wait for issue #23, I’m going to be sending the Force Aphra’s way so she survives.
+ Cylo begins his endgame
+ Patient wrecking ball Vader
+ Aphra’s quick-thinking
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)