With the holiday feasts coming up, Darth Vader needs to purge a few Jedi from his system. GONK comes back from the dead to review this week’s Star Wars comic offering (with spoilers).
Darth Vader is back with more Purge action! As the Empire strives to strip out any resistance to the New Order, Darth Vader continues his quest to hunt down any Jedi that appear on the radar, and he’s gotten himself into a bind in Purge: The Tyrant’s Fist #1 (See DarkHorse.com profile). The Dark Lord of the Sith has come to Vaklin to crush a Jedi-led insurgency, but after a costly battle in the canyonlands, he’s learned that smoking out Cho’na Bene, the last of three Jedi isn’t worth the manpower.
Major Oniye Namada is a local ISB officer on Vaklin, and she recognizes that killing the Jedi won’t stop the popular support for the insurgency, but Vader vows to crush Cho’na Bene. Interrogating one of the other Jedi, Vader learns where Master Bene may be hiding, but then, a rebel strike on the Imperial command center ends up Vader killing the prisoner as he attempts to escape with his would-be rescuers. While the rescue attempt failed, popular support for the Jedi martyr and rebels grows on the planet. The Emperor chastises Vader for planning to simply bombard the city, and he enlists Namada in helping understand why the people of Vaklin remain loyal to the Jedi… so that he can turn that against them.
What’s this? A female Imperial officer?! Those are almost as rare as Wookiee Jedi. We get a chance to see inside Major Namada’s thoughts through the framing device of this tale being told through her reports. We did last see this type of narrative device used in Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison storyline from another officer who worked with Darth Vader. What is unusual about her character is that she is relatively lower-ranking, and isn’t necessarily ambitious or ruthless (unlike many of her peers that we’ve followed in the Empire). But she maintains her composure under fire, and is good at keeping her eyes and ears open to what the word on the street is — and doesn’t press her contacts too hard. Darth Vader, in comparison, uses the Force to telekinetically squeeze the heart of his Jedi prisoner, in some interesting imagery by Castiello and Chella.
Writer Alexander Freed captures this Vader well, caught between thinking like a soldier, hoping to rule by fear, and thinking of the bigger picture, like his Master does. And you see him slipping from being the Jedi general, holding the lives of his troops dearly: while he calls off his pursuit of Cho’na Bene after an insurgent ambush rips apart his forces, he also angrily Force-throws his ARC commander when he suggests pursuit. I think the best scene, for both dialogue and art, is the interrogation between Darth Vader and his reptilian Jedi captive – while the prisoner talks a little like a Barabel, the appearance is more iguana-ish. Another good panel is Bene’s ambush on some clonetroopers.
Overall, I’m liking the start of this storyline – Vader stories work best when there’s someone to sidekick with him, and this time we have the reluctant companion. Having a planet that respects the Jedi even after Order 66 is a new challenge for Vader: how can he prevent turning Bene into a martyr to rally the locals?