Darth Vader learns a hard truth about wiping the Jedi from memory in the conclusion of Purge: The Tyrant’s Fist, this week’s Star Wars comic.
The second issue in the two-part series of Purge: The Tyrant’s Fist (profile on DarkHorse.com) has Darth Vader and Major Namada fighting two enemies on Vaklin: the Jedi insurgent Cho’na Bene, and the pro-Jedi culture of Vaklin, that backs the local insurrection.
Since fighting the insurgency head on only rallies the residents of Vaklin to support the Jedi-led rebellion, Vader tries a new plan, devised with the aid of local ISB agent, Major Oniye Namada. Their plan: erase the long historical legacy of the Jedi from the planet, who often recruited from the world, and replace it with opportunity and credits. Statues destroyed and Imperial schools built where they stood. Parks planted by Jedi razed and replaced with security stations. Even citizens with names associated with their Jedi kin are forced to change their names. Meanwhile, Vader continues the search for Cho’na Bene, defeating a pair of tukata in the ruins.
Bene appears, and lures Vader into a gas-filled cavern where lightsabers can’t be used, while taunting the dark lord that so long as Darth Vader hunts Jedi and seeks to erase their legacy, everyone will know that Jedi ideas still exist. But rather than simply vanquish his foe with his fists, Vader’s plan allows the four-armed Jedi to survive to reach the surface – only to be shot in the street in front of the public, who are either too scared or like Imperial money, to even identify him as a Jedi, and the mob just dismisses him as a hard-up drunk or thug put down by those now keeping order, and their symbol of hope ends as a humiliation.
Alexander Freed’s story is a little simplistic – for the plan to work to change hearts and minds, building new education and security centers takes time, and I can’t quite see Vader just sitting around for weeks and months while people are won over with stability and opportunity, while one Jedi is on the loose. While an impoverished people might latch onto the credits of their new masters, Bene is right: while you can topple statues, you can’t quash stories and culture – people will go underground with their beliefs to ride out the tyrant. But at least in public, memory of the Jedi is lost, and Vader now plans to this strategy across the Empire, with Palpatine’s agreement. Not sure why Palpatine didn’t already start a policy of writing the Jedi out of the galaxy’s history previously. We also see Namada show the other aspect of this policy: not only is there the “stick” for those who resist the imposition of the Imperial way, but there is the “carrot” as well – greater socioeconomic opportunity for those who work with the new order.
Namada sums up her report with some thoughts on the changes to Vaklin’s attiude. She doesn’t get much actual ‘screen time’ in this issue, while we see her reports while the carrying out of the new policies is depicted. Vader gets the main action scenes in the book, as he takes on some dangerous Force predators and then fights with Jedi Cho’na Bene. Namada also gets an extra scene where she dresses up as a clone trooper, though her post action report in feels a bit forced and out of place – is she recording her own journal report here, or who is she reporting to? (Since she’s clearly not reporting to Vader via comlink).
With the first issue of this story ending with Namada just starting to work personally with Vader, we don’t see these two characters interact at all much in this second issue – they share one phone call at the start of the issue, after she orders the destruction of a prominent Jedi monument. Instead, Vader does his hunting in the ruins, and Namada stays on the streets. Perhaps this story could have flowed better with the arc being pushed out to three issues – begin the Cultural Revolution in the second issue, and have Bene react, and then have a climax in the third.
Marco Castiello and Andrea Chella handle the artwork with Michael Atiyeh doing the colors. I think some of the best panels are in the battle with the tukata, and again with Vader fighting with Cho’na Bene. While Bene’s lack of a mouth worked, it felt that too many other random background aliens also lacked mouths (though of different species), and that didn’t work for me. Overall some of the street scenes felt like they could have used a little more detail. I like the concept of the story, but just didn’t feel that it was executed as cleanly as it could have been. While I approve of Namada staying on Vaklin, she would be a great recurring character for this timeframe: the Imperial that realizes that imposing fear is not enough for maintaining order.
Overall, I’m a little disappointed in The Tyrant’s Fist. I liked the story hook and the characters, but it just didn’t come together – it almost seemed that we had two separately stories in this issue: Namada and the purge of the memory of the Jedi, and Vader hunting down the last Jedi, and they were only really brought together in the end by the Jedi himself.