Darth Maul #4 + Darth Vader #2 + Poe Dameron Annual #1

Holy Star Wars comics, Batmandalorian!?!? What a haul we have this week – three, that’s right, THREE books came out today! Now, my wallet is kind of wincing, but my mind is racing because we get to, hopefully, get into a little more of the meat of the second run of Darth Vader, as well as Darth Maul’s quest to sate his angry hunger, and, on top of that, we get the first annual for Mister Poe Dameron, which is exciting because the annuals generally prove to be interesting one-off stories (hello, Pash?!?! I need more Pash in my life!)…anyway, there’s a lot to get into today so let’s not waste any more time, yeah?

Darth Maul #4
dm4Maul et al. have crashed on a nearby moon, and Xev Xrexus has made her counter move and has sent those willing to pay for a most dangerous game of cat and mouse off to claim their prize. Upon realizing this, the gang splits up with the bounty hunters going one way, and Maul and the padawan another. The plan is for the bounty hunters to steal a ship and trash the others so they can’t be followed while Maul and the padawan deal with most of the gamesmen…oh and Tek-tek lost his leg in the crash, drags himself into a cave, finds the droid he’d tortured for information, asks for help, and is denied…so I guess Tek-tek’s dead…or is he?!?! Anyway, Maul comes to the realization that his real driving purpose is thrills, not only his deep-seeded lust for revenge, and also agrees to set the padawan free and give her her lightsaber so she can help him…kinda saw this unlikely team-up coming, but whatever…I do love Maul’s line when she says, “may the Force be with you”:  “Spare me. I do not need your Jedi platitudes. The Force is always with me.” Good stuff. So they fight together and Maul determines that she’s a well-trained, fearless warrior which further excites him about their eventual duel. Meanwhile, back with the bounty hunters, a group of Trandoshans has tracked what they hope to be the Jedi but find out to be Cad Bane…where he’s just leaning against a rock, looking all Clint Eastwood nonchalant, and challenges their leader to an old-fashioned shoot out…of course you know Bane has to win, but they don’t actually draw because the other bounty hunters spring their trap and all the Trandoshans get gunned (or knifed) down. Back with Maul and the padawan, the two are having a little discussion about why Maul revealed himself and how it doesn’t have to be this way…fairly standard good and evil chatter…Maul decides that the padawan could most likely be made into a fine ally were things different, but, again, reminds us that his master must never know what he’s done. When it appears all adversaries are defeated, the padawan gives Maul another Ahsoka-like, chirpy warning about being humiliated and killed, the two ignite their blades, and…the issue ends…duh…it will be interesting to see how the final issue plays out:  will they prolong the duel and fill it with a bunch of chatter between the two, or will it be a more Obi-wan and Maul in the desert sort of quick duel? I’m guessing the former, but we’ll have to wait and see…oh, also, I think way back when I wrote about the first issue I said I was going to refer to him as “Darth Maul” all the time because he still deserved the title at this point in the timeline…I guess I got too lazy for that…whoops…

Darth Vader #2
dv2“Hey, look at me, I’m a Jedi.” That’s a pretty good opening, and I could easily see clones goofing off like that – which is interesting how quickly they turn from utmost respect for the Jedi to mocking them…anyway, the issue begins by showing some clones taking inventory and packing up the Jedi artifacts in what’s referred to as a “Jedi Outpost” where there are robes and outfits, lightsabers, and even a box full of holocrons. One of the clones, Ding (who I’m pretty sure refers to another clone as “Ding” later…so someone either got the chat bubbles wrong, or there are two Dings…), is lamenting about not getting to fight anymore and how they’ve shut down the cloning program when an unidentified ship starts coming in…but it’s not the Jedi you assume it’s going to be, it’s Vader in his rad Infiltrator. The Arcs give him a warning, which he ignores; his droid says he can transmit codes, which he ignores; and some good, ol’ fashioned Vader dog fighting ensues! Be it the prequels, Clone WarsRebels, comics, whatever, I love seeing Anakin/Vader fly. Anyway, he handles all the Arcs and lands on the outpost. One clone says to another (this is where the one with the bandaged arms that was called Ding earlier calls someone else Ding) that this is their opportunity to prove themselves and earn the red helmets of the Imperial Guard. So Vader Force pushes through the door and starts deflecting bolts with the Force and Force pushing clones and you might think to yourself, “why doesn’t he just whip out his lightsaber?” Ohh…he doesn’t have one, that’s the whole point of this…anyway, he does a fancy sidestep move to avoid a blaster bolt to the leg and takes cover behind a large stone platform that he later sends slamming into a couple clones. He then pulls what ends up being a green lightsaber off the wall (I wonder if he has a small flashback to this time when he sees his son’s green blade?), dispatches the remaining clones, drops the saber, and moves on…while Vader’s accessing the archives to try to find a Jedi so he can win his saber, Vader drops some very interesting Jedi lore on us:  “Any Jedi pursuing Barash has sworn to refrain from activities related to the order. Complete disengagement from anything but the Force. It is a type of penance. While a Barash-taker would have felt the purge, they would not have allowed themselves to respond to it, or take action of any kind.” Is, uh, this what Luke’s doing after his Order is destroyed? And how many other Jedi, aside from the one we meet later, are doing this same thing? The droid says there were over fourteen thousand since the founding of the Order, so its possible the door’s been left open for more wayward Jedi to exist during the Rebellion…I’m not sure if I like that or not, but I do like the ideology behind the Barash…I guess we’ll see what happens now that this cat is out of the bag…anyway, turns out there are some clones left, and they toss a grenade of some kind at Vader…that he catches in midair with the Force and holds there, containing the explosion (eat your heart of, Kylo)…I don’t really like that they wrote in audible struggling for Vader, but it’s not a deal-breaker or anything. The clones decide rather than just shoot him, they’re going to try to capture him to get that Imperial Guard promotion, stating that even Jedi have their limits…which Vader corrects by saying he’s no Jedi and then Force choking them both to death. His droid gets the information he needs as he continues to hold the explosive, and then Vader walks out, letting the grenade explode behind him. Safely back on his ship, Vader’s droid details that Master Infil’a (the comics are trying to hard with naming things, but whatever), the Jedi he found for Vader to go after, had “one purpose within the Order. To fight.” And we see a cool picture of Infil’a levitating with a holocron and some other stuff around him (which is interesting because there are rumors Luke levitates in The Last Jedi…so…Barash?)…but what of this idea of there being a Jedi whose purpose was to fight? Doesn’t that sort of spit in the face of being a Jedi? I always thought of them as martial artists who used their techniques for discipline and strength, both inner and outer, not for fighting, unless they ultimately had to…this series may prove to be very eye-opening concerning the Jedi, as well as the Sith…

Poe Dameron Annual #1
poean1I feel like this issue can basically be summed up as follows:  if you don’t know who Poe Dameron is, this is Poe Dameron. It’s a bit of a ho-hum story with a “dun dun dunnnn!” ending that’s a reveal for the characters, I guess, but no big deal to the reader…anyway, we start out with Poe getting a lecture from General Organa about being careful and following orders that flashes forward to Poe and BB-8 adrift in an old, Imperial minefield with their ship little more than space dust. Turns out they were responding to a distress beacon, but they can’t get to said ship in distress because they’ve no way to propel themselves…they go over a few ideas, no of them work, until Poe decides to shoot a wine and let the shock wave from the blast send him toward the ship. Previous to this, BB-8 grabbed Poe with his grabby metal tentacles, so the pair stick together on their trip. Their trajectory isn’t quite right, but BB-8 just latches onto the ship with a tentacle arm and they’re all set. Then BB-8 opens the door and gets them inside. Basically BB-8 does everything in this issue, as per usual. Oh yeah, and Poe was almost out of oxygen. He almost died, very scary…also, turns out the ship is full of First Order, imagine that…anyway, we flash back to another time Poe was getting another lecture from Leia, this time more about how the Resistance is bigger than one person (which I’m almost positive is also in another book)…back to the present, Poe gives himself up to a First Order trooper, but then BB-8 (who does everything) drops from the ceiling on him, Poe grabs his gun, clocks him with it, and they take off. BB-8 puts out a false hull breach alert to clear the other troopers, and they go see what’s going on – turns out the First Order is arming peaceful planets for some reason. Poe decides this is intel the Resistance needs, so now he has to find a way out of here…which presents itself in an escape pod. But first, they decided to “disarm all those spice tractors,” which I guess is Star Wars for forklift, even though he just called them forklifts earlier…didn’t want to be redundant, I get that…so they go about their business and they’re almost done when a trooper comes up on Poe, but, don’t worry, BB-8 sends a repulser crate toward him and takes him out…you think they’re going to make a clean getaway, but the rest of the troops show up instead. Poe shuts BB-8 in the pod and tells him to get back to the Resistance while he holds off the First Order. It’s one against, uh, I count at least eleven, but Poe can do it, he’s the hero! Well, he does do it, but only because Black Squadron comes to his rescue. Now, back at base, Poe is getting yet another lecture from Leia, but this time she mentions that he’s growing since he put getting the intel back above his own life…then we get the bomb that Terex is the one behind this devious First Order plot! OMG! Yeah, we know he’s still alive, no big deal…geez, read your own comic, Poe…the weird thing about this book is I’m not sure where it falls in the timeline – Poe’s ongoing already started a new story, so I guess this must have happened before it? I don’t know, doesn’t quite add up to me…

Alright, the comic book marathon is over! Darth Vader definitely won the day for me, what did you think? Are you more of a Maul guy, or was the “in case you missed it” Poe Annual your cup of tea? How do you think Maul’s duel with the padawan will go? Obviously he’ll win, but what will he gain, or lose from it? And what about Vader facing off against this retired fighting Jedi? He’s more than likely going to succeed as well, but what will he learn? And what will we learn about the Jedi and/or Sith? And how ’bout BB-8, huh? True hero of the Resistance, just like R2 before him. God bless astromechs….yeah, anyway, lots to take in, so give the books a thorough second read and let me know what you think in the comments…or I’ll, uh, I’ll…hmm…I’ll do something! Nice, nailed it…TWS out.

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