As the Empire’s grip tightens, the stirrings of Rebellion begin in the Mon Cala system. Order must be maintained…a job which falls to Vader, his inquisitors…and Wilhuff Tarkin.
Obi-Wan is on Mustafar, but he does not face Anakin Skywalker, he faces Darth Vader. Molten lava spits towards Obi-Wan and as he tries to leap clear, Vader catches him in the air with the force and brings him crashing to the ground near the shore of the lava sea. His clothing starts to ignite and slowly he is engulfed in flames as Vader watches on.
Vader sits in his mediation chamber as his helmet is lowered onto his head, the Emperor requests his presence.
The Imperial Palace.
The Empire needs to evolve, it has been three years since the fall of the Republic, it needs to be more than a political abstraction. Although the senate remains there is only one voice, but it is time for the galaxy to understand this. The place to start this is on Mon Cala, it serves well, but can be defiant. They will use the military strength they have built to demonstrate this. The station is not ready as the weapon is not complete, but there are many Star Destroyers and the new fighters to at their disposal. Vader agrees to lead the military action, but he is no longer a general of the army. The Emperor points out that this is true, but he has other skills to use. The Mon Calamari king seems to have an advisor and it feels like that could be a Jedi, so he has chosen another to lead the military action.
Imperial Star Destroyer Sovereign.
A grey-haired officer stands aboard the bridge gazing at the surface of Mon Cala. Tarkin explains that Mon Cala is a difficult target, a water planet with very little in the way of surface based staging grounds. He asks Major Rantu if the teams are ready and he confirms that they are. Commander Jordo comments that there is an uneasy peace between the planets two primary races, the Quarren and the Mon Calamari. This could be exploited with propaganda and divide their target and let them fight each other. He has examples, but Tarkin trusts his work. Colonel Bergon asks if they should use the XX-9 canon’s and bombard the planet from orbit. Mon Cala is too valuable and they are not here to destroy it, but to control it.
Ambassador Telvar stands before the Mon Calamari king, Lee-Char, and asks if the Mon Cala wishes to remain part of the Galactic Empire. Lee-Char responds that the trade proposal given to them would see their planet left in poverty. This is the price of the protection the Empire provides, but the galaxy is at peace, so what do they need protecting from? They are on the same side, but the giant battleship parked in orbit over the planet seems to suggest otherwise. They remain at an impasse and Telvar takes his leave.
Tarkin is updated with news from the surface that the talks have stalled. A zeta class shuttle drops out of hyperspace and the crew alert him, he knows of the Infernum and it should be allowed to pass, what is on board represents a different kind of diplomacy.
King Lee-Char and Raddus watch as Telvar boards his shuttle. The deal on offer will see them get nothing, but the Empire get everything, the king’s mysterious adviser is focused on saving the galaxy. Raddus looks up to see the Infernum approaching the citadel. It lands on a nearby landing pad and a ramp extends out as the doors open.
Three Inquisitors flanked by Deathtroopers stand at the top of the ramp. Mon Calamari security guards surround the base of the ramp stopping their exit. Commander Gial Ackbar asks for an explanation for an Imperial Assault Squad landing on his platform. The Ninth Sister hands over a datapad, it is a writ to say if any actions of the Inquisitorius are interfered with it is deemed as an act of war. The writ also carries the seal of the Emperor. Ackbar is unhappy and the Ninth Sister suggest he takes this up with her boss. Vader steps down the ramp and approaches Ackbar. Ackbar requests to know what Vader’s team will be doing before he allows them to continue. Vader questions if he has read the writ given to him. He has, but he also has a job to do and no one is moving of the landing pad until he knows why they are here. They are here to hunt an enemy of the Empire.
Telvar’s shuttle passes overhead and Ackbar states they are in peaceful trade negotiations currently. With that Telvar’s shuttle explodes and Vader’s team push past them to start work.
Tarkin is informed of Telvar’s fate, but it is unknown if it was caused by sabotage or a malfunction. Rantu, Jordo and Bergon are ordered to start final preparations for war.
A figure cloaked in a brown robe sits next to a pool. He’s communicating with Lee-Char who is explaining what has happened on the surface. He can deal with Inquisitor’s, but this tall masked is unknown. The cloaked figure knows his name; Skywalker!
Two covers for this issue, the standard cover is a great image that is reminiscent of the meditation chamber scene in The Empire Strikes Back. For the only variant we have Rod Reis continuing his Galactic Icons series with Supreme Leader Snoke (8/36).
A great start to the issue with Vader’s meditation dream about his duel with Obi-Wan. The high ground counts for nothing in this chain of events. Does Vader rue that he wasn’t powerful enough with the dark side when facing his former master on Mustafar. If he had of been Vader could he have defeated him?
A young Ackbar and Raddus make appearances in this issue, which is a great introduction into the story. We saw some of Mon Cala during the Clone Wars cartoon series, it will be nice to see what is in store under the surface as we don’t see that yet. It’s an interesting thought, we’ve seen many battles in space, on the ground, but never underwater. I wonder how Vader will cope in that environment. Just hope there aren’t too many sandy beaches like Scarif for him!
I have recently read, (but I can’t remember where!) that Raddus and Ackbar, although respected, were frowned upon by the Mon Calamari for leaving their home world to pursue the fight with the Alliance and not stay home to help during the Imperial occupation. We all know where they end up, so it will be interesting to see if they ‘defect’ during this story arc.
I did find the destruction of Telvar’s shuttle a little suspicious. I’m assuming Vader or the Inquisitors have something to do with it to make the writ work in their favour and almost too convenient! Tarkin is in the dark about why Vader is there, but he knows enough that I imagine he will keep his military incursion separate to that mission.
Everything for me from storyline, artwork and dialogue is on point. This is proving to me to be the strongest of the current series of comics form the Star Wars galaxy coming from Marvel at the moment.
The big question now is; who is the cloaked figure we see by the pool? He knows who Vader really is, so it will be mighty fascinating to see which Jedi it is. For some strange reason, I want it to be Mace Windu and I don’t know why. I must have felt a disturbance in the force, but I think I will be horribly wrong!
This issue was released on 14th March 2018 and is available via the Marvel App and all good comic book stores. This issue retails at $3.99.