Review - Enter The Grand Admiral In Marvel's Star Wars: Thrawn #6 - Star Wars News Net | Star Wars News Net
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Review – Enter The Grand Admiral In Marvel’s Star Wars: Thrawn #6

We’ve reached the end of Marvel’s Thrawn adaptation. In six great issues, this adaptation managed to not only capture the essence of Timothy Zahn’s dense novel, it also didn’t leave very much out. With ThrawnAlliances only a few weeks out, there’s no better time than ever to get a hold of these issues. SPOILERS AHEAD….



I’ll get this right out of the way: the art in this issue is stunning. Thrawn is definitely painted in much darker tones than we’ve seen him, and that’s saying something. Artists Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard really end their visual run on a high note. Before this issue, Thrawn was portrayed more as a clinical observer, watching the crowd of events and people unfold in the galaxy and waiting to make his move. In this issue, Thrawn is very much in the thick of things, and the art certainly paints him in a more sinister light than earlier issues. We all know how great a bad guy Thrawn is, but up until this issue, he seemed more like an alien observer I sometimes sympathized with. Thrawn clearly knows the game and he’s all in. He’s arrived on a remote part of Batonn to meet with his adversary, Nightswan.



Thrawn confronts Nightswan about working with the Mining Guild and smuggling doonium. As we’ve read in many other stories that take place in the same time period, the Empire is in the midst of a massive resource grab to build the Death Star. Thrawn calls him out for being a smuggler and trying to affect the price of ore to profit, but Nightswan turns it around on Thrawn and accuses him of working for something truly evil. This is where it gets interesting.



Something tells me that Thrawn is going to play a major role in the future of the Star Wars Universe, as are the Unknown Regions. Clearly there’s something out there and it is very dangerous. Between this passage – which I don’t remember from the novel – and some passages in Jason Fry’s The Last Jedi novelization, there are dangers this part of the galaxy has yet to face. I’m not going to wake the ‘Legends’ dog by dropping an alien race that rhymes with Doozahn Gong, but there is something that is being built up. Who knows when we will see it? This could just be a nice set-up for Thrawn: Alliances or it could be something we may see in Dave Filoni’s ResistanceEpisode IX, or one of the forthcoming trilogies. I’m all for this galaxy expanding. We know the First Order have a story that spans the Unknown Regoin and in his last days, Palpatine became obsessed with exploring it. Thrawn has revealed his true purpose for coming to the Empire: he was sizing them up.



Now pay attention here, Thrawn just offered his supposed nemesis a place with his own people, the Chiss. What little we know about the Chiss Ascendancy says that these folks don’t mess around, so it seems that Thrawn’s whole purpose in this part of the galaxy is to ascertain and when the opportunity presents itself – recruit.



Thrawn wants an ally, but he’s also not afraid to bring the Chiss up against the Empire. The Death Star is still a mystery to Thrawn and most of the galaxy, but it’s construction seems to be what got the Chiss’ attention. This is kind of cool to me. Just as some conspiracy theorists believe the reason UFO sightings went up around the time the first nuclear bombs were tested, the Chiss have been keeping their eyes on what the Empire has been doing since it came into power. Makes me wonder if they or anyone else in the Unknown Regions helped the First Order with Starkiller Base. I’m sorry I keep going off on all these tangents, but I’m getting very excited about the Chiss Ascendency and what role they will play going forward.



Nightswan rejects Thrawn’s offer and vows to stay in the fight against the Empire. At this point in the Star Wars Universe, the Rebel Alliance does not exist. It consists of cells and has yet to come together. However, these ships have just shown up to join the insurgency on Batonn and Thrawn actually seems thrilled he’s outnumbered. Never one to shy away from a tactical challenge.



Meanwhile, Pryce is dealing with issues of her own in the midst of the insurgency. Her bodyguard got wise to her plot of trying to evacuate her parents, so she knocked him out and left him in her parents residence. Now, she’s getting her parents into a transport and taking off for safety, while the confused Stormtroopers left behind stumble onto the unconscious bodyguard. As soon as she’s clear, she detonates an explosive that covers all her tracks. So, wow, Pryce murdered several of her fellow Imperial officers to protect her parents. In one sense, that’s very noble, but in another sense it makes her continued allegiance to the Empire even more despicable. The pendulum of her morality can swing back to good when it’s to protect herself or the ones she loves, but she’ll be complicit when it comes to what the Empire is doing around the rest of the galaxy. In my opinion, this issue signifies Pryce’s full transformation into villain, just like Thrawn.



Of course, Thrawn had an ace up his sleeve the whole time. He had a cache of TIE Fighters hidden in cargo containers that he unleashes on the insurgent ships. The Chimera goes from being greatly outnumbered to overwhelming any ships that would challenge it. Thrawn is not interested in taking prisoners and again shows that he is a brutal commander underneath the veneer of military commander. This is where people should check their admiration for Thrawn at the door, in my opinion. Sure, like Pryce, he’s a genius in his own way, but he’s chosen to lend those talents to an evil wave of oppression and that’s where I think he lacks. Thrawn chooses not to see the rest of the galaxy that is fighting against the Empire as potential allies of the Chiss, which tells me a lot about how the Chiss Ascendency conduct business in their part of the galaxy.



I thought this was a cool Rebels nod. After the insurgency is contained on Batonn, Thrawn has demonstrated his ability to suppress any sort of civilian uprising. Pryce asks for his help on Lothal. This must be right at the beginning of Rebels, but it’s still cool to see that crew pop-up here. Pryce has established herself in the Imperial hierarchy, but we know where her story ends, and at this point, I have little sympathy for her. Sure, her story began tragically, but every chance she had to pull away from the Empire, she just went deeper.



Well, here it is! Grand Admiral Thrawn, handed the promotion by Sheev Palpatine himself. I have to think at some point Thrawn’s loyalty to the Chiss was diminished in his climb through the Imperial ranks. Sure, there is a baseline loyalty to his people, but I have to wonder if he’s climbed further up the Empire’s chain of command than he has the Chiss Ascendency. Thrawn is all about besting his opponents, but not in a way to humiliate them or hurt them, more in a way to reaffirm his intellectual and tactical superiority. I doubt the Emperor himself pinning this insignia on Thrawn is good enough. We know how his story for with the Empire ends, but I have a feeling this is just the beginning of Thrawn’s story overall.



Jeez, Sheev, tell us how you really feel. Thrawn confronts the Emperor about the Death Star and he gives him some vague assurances that it’s no threat to the Chiss. I think this is Sheev’s subtle way of saying ‘not yet‘. We don’t get a lot of this throne room scene, but I just wanted to share this frame because it chilled me to my bones. Probably one of my favorite depictions of Palpatine’s nightmarish appearance. Artists Luke Ross and Nolan Woodard really left everything on the pages of this issue.



The real wild card at the end of this story is Eli Vanto. Vanto has watched patiently as Thrawn’s been promoted over him and risen to the highest echelon of Imperial brass, but now he’s being rewarded with something quite unique. He’s been made Thrawn’s unofficial emissary to the Chiss Ascendency and in some ways will be taking a journey similar to the one Thrawn took in the Empire. This is also the first canonical appearance of Admiral Ar’alani. We don’t know where Vanto’s story ends, but I imagine there will be much to tell going forward. Make no mistake, Vanto is as much a villain as Thrawn and Pryce, though the worst part about it is I don’t think he realizes the repercussions his complicity had. It makes me wonder if his naivety will lead him to embrace the Chiss, or if he will wake up to the cycle he’s been thrown into. Keep your eyes on Eli Vanto if he shows up again in future Star Wars stories.


I can’t overstate how impressed I am with writer Jody Houser’s adaptation of this dense text. I’ve said it in every review of each issue, but that’s because she absolutely nailed it. She also did a great job with Rogue One, so I’m hoping folks at Marvel offer her a lot more Star Wars titles going forward. I’d also love to see her write original Star Wars content, cc: Marvel. As a kid who pored over the Thrawn trilogy when it was first released, in hopes that maybe someday we would get another Star Wars film – Jody, Luke, and Nolan did Timothy Zahn’s great novel justice and then some. If you’re a Thrawn fan I can’t say it enough that you should have this adaptation on your shelf and are seriously missing out if you are avoiding it. And, oh yeah…looks like there’s another Thrawn novel coming out, begging for a great comic adaptation. Let’s hope the same team gets another crack at this, because they simply knocked it out of the park.


RATING: 8/10






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