One of the most cunning and ruthless minds in all of the Star Wars, Grand Admiral Thrawn is back with his own six-issue miniseries! Written by Jody Houser (ROGUE ONE ADAPTATION) and drawn by Luke Ross (STAR WARS: DARTH MAUL, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS ADAPTATION), follow the comic adaptation of Timothy Zahn’s New York Times best-selling novel about Thrawn’s rise in the Imperial ranks, on his way to becoming one of the most feared military tacticians in the galaxy far, far away.!
Imperial officer’s search and abandoned camp, the text on the crates is a variant of Sy Bisti, this will take time figure out. A pair of red eyes watch them from the undergrowth.
A crashed imperial fighter hangs from vines of a tree, blue hands reach into the cockpit and pull the pilot free. Those same hands stuff berries into the uniform of the pilot. The pilot is found by his comrades and he is returned to their base. They have been mindful to disable his commlink to stop any native’s eavesdropping.
Squirrel like creatures are in a tree overlooking the Imperial camp. It has something strapped to its back as a long haired human figure watches as they enter the camp. Then an explosion rips through that camp.
Another Imperial fighter hangs from the vines of a tree, the bow gives way and it crashes to the forest floor. Again blue hands reach in to retrieve the pilot’s commlink. A human figure with blue skin sits in a tree listening to the stolen commlink. Imperial Officers search the forest and more squirrels appear with boxes strapped to their backs which detonate killing the officers where they stand.
Stormtroopers patrol the forest looking for the native insurgents that have caused carnage to their camp and numbers. The loan blue alien listens to their every move over his stolen commlink. A lone trooper gets isolated from his colleagues and a shape from above attacks. Panic has now set in to the Imperials, it’s time to recall the troops and get off this planet.
The abandoned alien camp is move onto the waiting transport and held in the cargo bay. One of the crates opens and a Stormtrooper steps out. As he makes his move, he is surrounded by other Stormtrooper’s and is ordered to halt. Slowly the trooper removes his helmet to reveal a blue humanoid face, long black hair and piercing red eyes.
Captain Parck introduces himself, welcomes their intruder to Strikefast and asks if he speaks basic. Cadet Vanto asks him in Sy Bisti which language he would prefer to use. He believes he is Chiss and is the language they are said to use. The intruder speak in Sy Bisti and although he understands basic, his preference is Sy Bisti for the moment. Parck asks for his name, ‘Mitth’raw’nuruodo’ he replies, but it easier to go by the name ‘Thrawn’. Thrawn has been ‘xishu azwane’ or exiled from his people as his people do not believe in ‘ezeboli hlusalu’, pre-emptive strikes.
Parck talks to Vanto in his office and has recognised his knowledge of the Chiss. He wants Vanto to coach Thrawn in basic and also act as his liaison and translator. Thrawn is to be taken to Coruscant as Parck is sure the Emperor would like to meet and learn about the Chiss.
Vanto and Thrawn sit his cell, he is wearing binders as they talk. Thrawn can tell a lot about a person by what stories they tell. He knows Vanto does not want this assignment and wished to return to his post. He thinks Thrawn is a great warrior and looks down on his role in Logistics and Supply, but Thrawn assumes he is good at it. Vanto wants to finish his last term and secure an assignment on a ship. Thrawn is interested to learn about the Empire, but Vanto has noticed he only asks about him. Vanto is his translator and he holds Thrawn’s words and meanings in his hands, this connects him directly to his survival.
Coruscant. Imperial Palace.
Thrawn stands before the Emperor in his throne room. Captain Parck has brought him a gift, Thrawn speaks up and claims to be a resource like the Emperor has never seen before and would do well to utilise him. The Emperor asks what he can do and what he wants from the Empire. Thrawn has knowledge of threats that will come from the unknown regions and offers his military skills to help eliminate these dangers, all he asks for in return is for the Emperor to consider the Chiss people in the future. Parck points out that he was exiled, but they are still his people to Thrawn. If the Emperor was to refuse this consideration in the future, Thrawn concedes he would have gambled and lost. He has already served the Empire and the Emperor asks for proof. He claims to have met the Emperors servant, Anakin Skywalker. Thrawn asks if he survived their war, but the Emperor says he had not. Thrawn will mourn the passing of this ‘eqhuwa’ courageous servant, he had hoped to meet him again.
It is decided Thrawn is to be the Emperors advisor for the unknown regions and Cadet Vanto will not return to Myomar, but will attend The Imperial Royal Academy to complete his training with Thrawn.
Royal Imperial Academy.
Thrawn and Vanto stand before Commandant Deenlark in his office. He seems displeased that Thrawn curries such favour with the Emperor, but accept that he will command a higher position soon. He hands Thrawn a Lieutenants plaque and congratulates him.
Back in their quarters Thrawn and Vanto are going through their housekeeping chores, Vanto claims that Thrawn will be seen as Deenlark’s pet. This is not a term Thrawn understands, but Vanto tells him it is a weapon against him as it not so much a gift. This will mark him out to be tested.
In the coming weeks, Thrawn is singled out by many as he is an ‘alien’ to them. The contempt from citizens of the core worlds to those from the outer rim like Thrawn is clear. The tests of their resolve comes in many varied ways, but always fall short of the ‘line’.
Thrawn and Vanto have been invited by Orbar and Turuy to the metallurgy lab to run some corrosion tests. They aren’t permitted into the lab as they aren’t allowed in there, but this is to ruse to disguise an illicit game of cards for credits. It is dangerous, especially if they get caught, but Orbar’s family is connected to the Imperial hierarchy and he is most likely to get away with it and probably even would for murder! Vanto senses a trap, so does Thrawn, but sometimes it’s better to walk into a trap, as they can almost always be turned against their designers.
The four of them sit around a table and the cards are dealt. Orbar star a conversation of some battle simulation classes he is having issues with and asks for Thrawn’s advice. He is happy to share his experience with them. They use the cards as an example of a trap and bluffing. A winning hand called a King’s Lane is unbeatable, but it is wise to know that there are 3 equivalent hands that can lead to a deadlock. It is rare, but would be deemed as a bluff. Orbar doesn’t like the answer and asks again as if he had the unbeatable hand. Thrawn responds that there is no such hand and his chosen path would be mutual destruction. Thrawn asks Orbar to make his challenge, he slowly reaches below the table to his pocket and slips on his Lieutenant’s plaque. Suddenly an Officer comes in through the door demanding to know what is happening. Thrawn stands and explains that Orbar and Turuy are conducting an experiment, while he and Vanto observe. The Officer then notices Thrawn’s plaque and he leaves hastily. Thrawn reminds Orbar there is no guaranteed winning hand.
Thrawn and Vanto walk back towards their quarters, discussing the evening’s events. Thrawn pushes Vanto over a hedge to safety as 3 cloaked beings attack him. They start to get the upper hand and realising this Vanto decides to grab a handful of gravel and throws it into their faces. It stops their attack as they reach for their faces and he uses this to his advantage. Nearby cadets run to his aide and the attackers flee. His injuries are minor and Vanto is relieved that he was pushed to safety, but his assistance made the difference.
The pair stand in Deenlark’s office as they tell him their suspicions of who setup the attack. Orbar and Turuy are the main protagonists and although Deenlark he knows of the family connections which will make things difficult. Thrawn does not want to press charges, but he believes that the skills shown in the attack prove the attackers would be good fighter pilots. That reassignment would hardly be punishment, but it would break them up from their co-conspirators. Deenlark asks if this is how things are done in the unknown regions to bypass laws and regulations. Thrawn says the solution best serves the Empire.
3 Months Later…
Thrawn, Vanto and other cadets queue to access a terminal to determine their first assignments. Thrawn is given the role of Second Weapons Officer on the Blood Crow. Vanto logs in to find he too is going to be stationed on the Blood Crow, but as aide to Lieutenant Thrawn! Vanto is angry and he thinks Thrawn has manufactured this situation, but that is denied. The Blood Crow is to be on duty in the border sectors, where Sy Bisti may be spoken and that must be the reason for the posting. Thrawn tells Vanto to refuse, but Vanto believes that he has to accept it, Thrawn can only change that decision when he is Admiral. Thrawn accepts that and says he will need to attain that position quickly then.
I must start by saying that Thrawn is most probably the best Star Wars novel I have read for quite some time, if not of all time, but I did fear that the novel would be difficult to adapt into a comic book. I was wrong because Jody Houser and Luke Ross have done an amazing job!
The covers aren’t bad either! We have 4 variants for the first issue. The standard cover shows a long haired Thrawn standing over Stormtroopers lay out on the floor in a scene that is reminiscent of Endor. The 3 variants are a classic Thrawn facial painting by Francesco Mattina, classic carded figure by John Tyler Christopher and an animated Rebels style with no credit against it. For me I do love the Mattina cover. At 1:50 at issue this is quite rare and is already fetching some big bucks!
I like that the issue starts with Vanto’s Log. A similar start was included in the ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story‘ adaptation instead of the customary crawl and I hope we see more lines adopt this idea.
The adaptation is brilliant. The novel is very ‘cerebral’ and quite complex, so there is plenty in that novel that goes on in Thrawn’s mind that cannot be explained in the panels. It has been laid out in such a way that some sequences are shortened, but the artwork explains this well with very clear imagery. They say a picture speaks a thousand words and this issue is a testament to that quote.
The artwork is excellent. The colours used also compliment what I call proper comic artwork. In this story we do not have a ‘human’ reference for any of the characters involved, so some poetic licence can be given as to likenesses at times.
There is a large amount of dialogue to get through in this issue, but again, it has been done to a good standard. I especially like that when a conversation involving Thrawn is continuing over into the next panel, there is a blue highlight to the dialogue box to show he is speaking. I must admit to reading Thrawn’s part in his character voice from Rebels in my mind.
All in all a fantastic start to this 6 part series. I am already looking forward to issue 2 hitting the shelves.
This issue was released on 21st February 2018 and is available via the Marvel App and all good comic book stores. This issue retails at $4.99.