Ackbar Strikes Back Against the Empire in Star Wars: Darth Vader #15

Written by Charles Soule
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli

Burning Seas Part III – Darth Vader continues his mission to bring Mon Cala to heel! Vader goes in for some wet work in this brutal story!




When we left the Dark Lord of the Sith in the previous issue, the Mon Calamari had surprised the Empire by using their planet‘s inhabitants which created an enormous tsunami. All their surface cities as well as the invading Imperial forces on the planet were wiped out.


As this issue opens, we find Vader in the depths of the Mon Cala sea. After having to deal with the potential failure of his suit, he has a close encounter with one of Mon Cala’s native species – a giant squid-like creature. It seems that everything on the planet, except it’s sentient inhabitants, is super-sized.



Yet, not only does Vader manage to get out of it, he manages to control the beast to the point that it recovers his lost lightsaber and allows him to hitch a ride on it, carrying him to the shallower waters where the battle rages between the Mon Calamari and Imperial forces. Vader is found and recovered by the inquisitors who think they will get praise for rescuing him. However, the only thing on the Sith’s mind is the mission – destroying the Jedi. The Ninth Sister informs Vader that they were able to find out the Jedi’s location by torturing the king. However, Vader is concerned that the king, if still alive, has already warned the Jedi of their arrival, and he sets his team on a quick path to his location.



Back on the surface, the Empire has deployed skybases to serve as a staging grouns for their assault on the planet. One of those bases is commanded by Colonel Bergon who is concentrating her efforts on the Northern Hemisphere where Ackbar is commanding the Mon Calamari forces, while Raddus is consolidating the planet’s defense in the South. Tarkin warns Bergon about Raddus, a skilled tactician. But, what she really has to worry about is Ackbar. He organizes an attack which the Empire’s TIEs cannot counter.



While the Mon Calamari watch the skybase burn, they get the news that a Quarren Patrol has found the king. Ackbar informs the king of their success and suggests that this could be a good moment to re-open the negotiations. Lee-Char is not open to it; he believes they can fight the Empire until they withdraw and save the galaxy. Ackbar voices my own thought, that this isn’t Lee-Char’s opinion, but Master Barr’s. The mention of the Jedi reminds Lee-Char of the danger he has put the Jedi and his followers in.



At a secret location, Master Barr watches the events unfold. One of his followers, Verla, asks him if he really thinks that Mon Calamari have a chance to liberate their planet, and he completely dodges the question. As I said in the review of the previous issue, maybe it’s the way Camuncoli draws him, maybe it’s the time period, but I can help thinking that Barr is shady in some way and that he is using Lee-Char and Mon Calamari. The king reaches out to Master Barr and warns him about the approaching danger. But did his warning come in time?



In orbit, Tarkin deals with Commander Jordo of the ISB, who was reprimanded in the last issue, for missing another important bit of intelligence on the Mon Calamari defenses. With Tarkin, you are allowed only one mistake and no excuses will be accepted after that – Jordo is sent on the surface with ordinary stormtroopers to make himself useful. Tarkin’s plan is to escalate the conflict.



This issue follows its predecessors, not necessarily in pushing the story forward in a giant way, but in giving us glimpses of the characters that we know or think we know. Vader has another chance to prove how badass he is and look cool while doing it. I might have said a couple or three times how much I enjoy Camuncoli’s rendition of Vader and his ability to give expression to the expressionless mask, and this issue is no different.


Additionally, Soule is giving us a Vader whose self-interest (which we will see in the future, especially in Jason Aaron’s Darth Vader run) isn’t yet developed. His mind is on the Emperor’s mission and nothing else matters. He truly expected that the inquisitors had already dealt with or, at least, continued their hunt for the Jedi, regardless of his faith.



The readers that were saddened by Ackbar’s (unceremonious) fate in The Last Jedi can look forward to this issue, because the future Admiral is on the front lines, doing his best to strike a blow against the Empire. He is also showing wisdom, something Lee-Char seems to be lacking at the moment, at least in my eyes. His faith in Master Barr might be misplaced or, at least, mistimed. The times have changed and so has the reality of the galaxy.


As much as I am enjoying this run, I am ready for the culmination of the Mon Cala story – and the progression of Vader’s. While the Mon Calamari have done well so far, we all know how things need to end – for both Mon Cala and the Jedi. I do enjoy seeing the backgrounds of some major players in the galaxy further explored (Ackbar, Raddus) or continued (Lee-Char). Mon Cala is a major part of the galaxy far, far away, and it offers both Soule and Camuncoli the opportunity to stretch their imaginations. This is not, however, a good place for a new readers to jump in. While I would always recommend to start from the first issue when this particular run is in question, the Mon Cala aficionados might want to jump a couple of issues back, to #13, to read this complete arc. Judging by the cover for the next issue, the beginning of the end might not be too far.




(W) Charles Soule (A) Giuseppe Camucoli



Burning Seas IV – Vader and his Inquisitors lead an elite squad of clone troopers to flush out the Jedi traitor beneath the waters of Mon Cala…and the oceans will burn with their fury.


Until then, this issue gets 6.5/10 STARS.



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Staff member, comic and book reviewer. Cheers for the Light Side, but would drink with Grand Admirals.

Jelena Bidin (LadyMusashi)

Staff member, comic and book reviewer. Cheers for the Light Side, but would drink with Grand Admirals.