So yet again we follow the exploits of the dark lord of the Sith Darth Vader. In this issue Keiron Gillen brings a close to the Shu-torun war. Basically closing the book on the rebelious dwarves of Mori-errr no. The mining clans and mining Barons of the planet Shu-Torun. Along with the pair of rival twins wielding light saber’s the pair of droids and Princess turned 1 handed warrior-queen Trios Vader story of his journey since his failure at Yavin contiues…
Writer: Keiron Gillen
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Mark Brooks
We pick up this issues story almost where we left last issue. Triple Zero has Vader’s troops and commando droids about to launch a counter-offensive into Baron Rubix’s elite guard who have staged a bold ambush that slowed the imperial led offensive to quell the last of the rebellious Ore Barons. The Ore Barons troops listen as TripleZero makes a macabre laden speech as if a dark carnival barker of a house of horrors to the legion of commando droids. Droids that who he emphasizes over the loud speakers that may be experimental and much stronger then any droid the Baron’s troops had ever faced. The leaders of Rubix’s elite guard decide early not to even call the murderous protocol droid’s bluff and surrender themselves to Imperial forces.
The comic then returns us to where it left us hanging literally last issue. With Lord Vader on the rock bridge above a river of molten rock as the twins decide to surprise attack him. It’s not as if we never expected this, we knew from the outset not to trust the pair of golden haired twins who obviously are crazy being blonde haired. Which begs me to ask… when did blonde replace red as the hair of crazy? As someone with plenty of red haired Irish in my family I can very much assure you red is the correct hair color for crazy in the human make up of genomes. But crazy family stories of incest and attempted murder and eventual love again aside back to the story.
Vader blocks the twins attempt to take him as he knew they would try and get him alone to attempt it. They can’t take him even though the lad tries, the girl tells her brother Morit to back away. Morit apparently was his name as we’ve been told it before over 12 issues ago but seriously who would remember it? She throws a thermal detonator at the rock bridge collapsing it as Vader jumps clear to safety across on the other side as the brother jumps back next to his sister. She tells Morit she doesn’t think they can beat him to which he replies “You wont Aiolin.” Readers may remember Aiolin’s name as she actually had a small scene with Vader a few issues ago asking him for advice on defeating her brother. Death flag raised there? Well let’s just say Morit decides not to get Game of Thrones with his sister and instead of acting all incesty Morit knocks her off the side of the cliff into the molten rock. He tells Vader they’ll have a rematch again another time.
After a moment he hears the screams of Aiolin being burned from hitting the molten magma. Vader hears her please for help and force pulls whats left of her charred body from the magma up to the cliff edge he’s on. She’s burned black as the chunks of meat and skin is falling off of what’s left of her appendages, Vader tells her the pain will pass but she will tell him everything now. In her final act Aiolin gives him her memory data stick proving Cylo’s conspiracy against him. She goes to say she’s unworthy of him but Vader decides to put her out of her very painful and grotesque existence by using his light saber. Was Vader being merciful to her? Hmmm normally mercy isn’t something Vader would ever do, but seeing as he knows the feeling of being burned by magma personally I’d say it may have been a reason he ended her a few moments sooner the later. That and he didn’t wish to hear her voice collapse as her chest cavity gave way and her torso became a heap of ash and charred meat.
Vader returns to the Imperial carrier drill to find Triple Zero has the situation in hand. The droid confessing he didn’t really have the time to customize his droids with blood draining apparatices to attack Rubix’s forces with but the bluff had worked. With Rubix’s main force surrendered Vader tells the droid to have Trios’ forces attack but luckily he didn’t need to as we seen last issue Trios understood the situation and even without Vader’s troops she had to press forward and even execute one of her liaisons for being treasonous in her presence regarding her orders to push forward. I got to say, Trios seems like the kind of woman I like. Young and impressionable at first but becomes battle hardened and unapologetic to the decisions she deems best for her situation but moreso she understands power. She had a good teacher in it, the Dark Lord of the Sith himself. Seems Vader may have start of a harem of women if Aphra survives the story. As an anime a fan and rom-com slice of life harem manga reader and watcher this I approve of.
We then see Queen Trios, pushing her troops forward towards Rubix’s citadel. Even when being shot at. Her troops are knocking at Rubix’s doorsteps but need the push to deliver the coup de gra. Luckily the hero arrives… Darth Vader.
To cheers of victory and admiration Queen Trios and her troops merge with the Imperial forces and overwhelm Rubix’s citadel. The Baron tries one last attempt to contact Cylo to escape but learns too late Cylo himself has ran like a rat from the battle and the Baron alone will face the wrath of Vader. Vader meets him half way up the citadel’s balcony’s and comments how he came to Sho-Torun (see Vader annual #1) and learned it is a courtly culture. Those of you who remember Darth Vader annual #1 remember they asked Vader to dance in the grand ball room. He didn’t of course because when Vader dances it includes a light saber of love. Vader holds the Baron at his saber’s edge as the Queen approaches.
Queen Trios decides that his flowery speeches and pride have done enough and orders his immediate execution to which her troops gladly carry the order out. The Baron’s young daughter Bixine runs to the body of her father in despair. Trios makes a declaration that she the daughter of Rubix will now be Baroness to his territory. The daughter says shes shouldn’t be as the eldest son should inherit the title. Trios has -0- fucks to give and tells her tough, he’ll have to live with a little sister over him or he’ll face her wrath to. Mah girl. Thus ending the Sho-Torun civil war.
As Vader and Trios proceed to clear the citadel he asks her why she chose the young daughter as heir to Rubix’s title. She gives a reply worth her hand (see Vader annual #1). That young impressionable leaders are the easiest to manipulate. Alluding she understands why she was made Queen after Vader had her family killed for betraying the Empire. Like the Dark PIMP of the Sith he replies “You are correct.” Dam son…
The last scene of Sho-Torun we see Vader ready to embark on a Lambda Shuttle as he has some final words with Queen Trios who’s sporting some new garments and a pretty new cone-headed hat. Mostly the talk is of how the Barons who revolted but surrendered and are still alive will all be executed as they should for going against the great and glorious Empire. But she does say she’ll leave the children of said executed Barons to fill the gaps as the they are a mining culture and need support internally as well as externally. Vader doesn’t seem to exactly agree but decides it is her choice for good or bad to make with a simple “As you wish.” Vader motions towards a stormtrooper captain and informs Trios the Captain will remain to give military advice oversight. Trios accepts and as Vader is walking towards the shuttle she asks “The Queen of Sho-Torun, did you choose well?” alluding to Vader’s choice for her as Queen and if she was worthy. Vader pimps his reply not even turning around to face her and as he enters the shuttle says “There was no other choice.”
Trios watches him enter the shuttle after the words are spoken and TripleZero points out that Vader’s words have a very heavy double meaning as she was excellent because she was the only one worthy or because the only Trios left alive or. Trios tells TripleZero that the she knows and that she cannot kill Vader, however she has the power to destroy his chatterbox self and to leave her and go with him before she does that. Triple Zero gives the woman her respects and comments to her that she will go far (we assume in power and life). But Trios replies she’s going no where.
As the shuttle leaves she turns to the stormtrooper captain to let him know they need to get back to the astronomical quotas to meet and then asks if he dances. The trooper replies he’s an academy graduate and has some experience in it but not enough for her. She gives him the Sho-Torun reply “To survive on Shu-Torun he MUST dance.” I take it as also double meaning. Perhaps she’ll use him to play the imperials while keeping the locals in line or vice versa. Either way I’m glad a stormie got some panel time and heck who knows maybe Trios will decide to create an heir to her throne with the lucky guy. Hanging out with a doll like Trios who now knows her power and place in the Empire. Hot.
The issues final scene is actually inside Star Destroyer as it’s leaving when Vader is in communication with Palpatine explaining Cylo’s treachery. The Emperor commands that Vader returns to Coruscant and he will explain everything. After Palpatines hologram fades away Triple Zero relays a message to Vader that someone has located Dr. Aphra (sighs my future wife) or rather Vader’s side chick. Vader tells him if its a bounty hunter he will be rewarded. But it’s not a bounty hunter that sending the communication its Inspector Thanoth! “Who? Rez?” Old Imperial monocle guy like Sherlocke Holmes Oooooh OK.
All together the entire Shu-Torun arc was something of a side journey for our books protagonist Darth Vader. It’s odd calling him that since for so long he was the antagonist to Luke Skywalker. Bu seeing as Palpatine has decided that he needs to prove himself worthy after losing the Death Star without so much as coming out and saying it I understand why the arcs have been done. The Sho-Torun was a good little side arc, it reminded me a lot of the old Clone Wars animated arcs that Filoni and crew created. The only real plot moving development I would assume is Aiolin’s death as she is no longer one of the rivals and I guess Queen Trios as now an established character to use down the road. Sighs… I wish Aphra would get such a treatment more often.
Anywho this single issue I’m giving high marks to 9 of 10 blaster rifles. Not because I am biased as hell, which I am. But also because the book and arc overall was so well executed from a writing and artistic standpoint Gillon has proved he’s an excellent mature Star Wars writer not needing to depend on gag jokes or slapstick for comedic relief. I mean hell he wrote 2 murderous droids that want to kill all humans… THATS the COMEDIC relief and it works! Larroca’s art has it’s own unique style that I’ve loved in his work since the start of his time on the Darth Vader book. I’ll cry when and if he ever leaves the book but I know sometimes artists like to move on, but maybe just maybe he loves drawing Vader that much. I’m also glad his panels flow really well to. Sometimes with splash pages sometimes with lots and lots of panels per page for the story telling. He uses photo references a lot when he can and the quality of that shows and I’m glad. Trios and Aphra look like real women instead of your basic Marvel or DC super heroines with gi-normous busts (which i like to don’t get me wrong) but they aren’t forced into sexy poses… which now that I think about I don’t think we’ve ever seen any of the women in Vader’s books posed sexily. Wow.. bravo sir, bravo.
All in all Vader’s going on to complete his own journey and this crew have kept the quality consistent throughout. I’m dam appreciative.