The countdown to the end of the ongoing titular Star Wars series is underway with only a few issues left to go. As we march nearer to The Empire Strikes Back on the galactic timeline, the heroes of the series have split up to throw the Empire off their scent as they search for a new place to call home. On the planet K43, C-3PO and Chewbacca have unknowingly endangered an entire civilization in their attempt to lay a trap for Darth Vader. Luke Skywalker is seeking answers about the Force from a mysterious young woman named Warba on Sergia. Meanwhile, Leia and Han join forces with Leia’s ex-boyfriend to draw the local crime boss into a fight with the Empire. But nothing seems to go according to plan this week in Star Wars #72. Spoilers ahead…
Unfortunately for Chewie and Threepio, Darth Vader himself has arrived on K43. After discovering a sentient race of rock people on the planet they originally thought to be uninhabited, Threepio had instructed Chewie to disarm the explosives intended for the Imperials. But with Vader now on the planet, the droid had told the Wookiee to carry out their original plan, logically deciding that the sacrifice that would be made in order to bring down the Emperor’s top enforcer was worth it. But unlike Threepio, Chewie is a flesh and blood creature with emotions that end up trumping the droid’s logic.
The Wookiee chooses to disarm the explosives and instead begins making his way back to Threepio and Vader. Meanwhile, Threepio translates for Vader and the rock people. When reviewing the last issue, I mentioned that I was curious about how Vader would respond to being in the presence of the very droid he created for his mother as a boy. But with Threepio’s altered appearance since he last saw him and the current circumstances, the Sith lord seems to make no connection between the droid and his former self.
Vader, it seems, is too fascinated by the physically imposing rock creatures that stand before him to pick up on the identity of the protocol droid. His fascination stems from the fact that he senses no fear in the creatures. In fact, he senses no emotion at all. Threepio explains that while they are sentient and intelligent, the Elders of Kakra (as they are known) process information differently from flesh and blood creatures, much like droids. Their similarities to droids in this sense gives Vader an idea. Droids had to be programmed. Perhaps these creatures could be programmed as well to serve his needs, a terrifying possibility indeed.
On Sergia, Luke and Warba are on the run after having robbed the local Imperial payroll in order to bribe Warba’s source for information about Imperial patrols in the area. As we discovered in the past couple of issues, Warba seems to have some knowledge of the ancient religion of the Force, and Luke is all too eager to learn whatever it is she knows. In his naiveté, he pledges himself as her student, but Warba has only her own interests in mind.
We do finally get some answers about Warba in this issue, however. Apparently, she grew up on Jedha, just four blocks from the Temple of the Kyber. She witnessed thousands of people suffer and die when the Empire came to plunder the world of its precious crystals. She skipped town at some point, but not before learning a great deal by listening to the teachings of the Guardians of the Whills.
She had seen the miracles of the Force first hand, but she also had seen what the Force couldn’t do. It couldn’t protect her people from the Empire. So she’s a little jaded at this point and places no faith in Luke’s own personal mission to bring down the Empire through his own abilities in the Force. And just when it seems she might be giving in to Luke’s plea for a teacher, she tricks him into closing his eyes in meditation while she makes off with his lightsaber.
In the galactic core, Leia and Han try to blend into the crowd as they get ready to make their move against Boss Carpo. Leia’s ex, Dar Champion, has an idea to send Carpo off-world for an encounter with the Empire that will result in a win-win situation for them both. Carpo would no longer be around to corrupt Dar’s planet, and the Rebels would get both him and the Empire out of their hair for a while as the crime lord and the Empire fight each other. But like every other plan that’s gone south in this issue, Leia’s new plan hits a snag when Han is recognized and picked up by Boss Carpo’s thugs. Leia has no clue that Han is on his way to Carpo’s military fortress, the same fortress that is about to leave the planet for a deadly confrontation with the Empire.
Things are really starting to build up to a crescendo as we approach the finale of the series, and with all of our heroes in peril, things are about to get even more interesting in the next issue and beyond. This is one of those issues that is difficult to review in a vacuum, as its true value lies in what it contributes to the ongoing story arc. Writer Greg Pak keeps us on a steady pace as we march ahead, and while nothing jaw-dropping happens this issue, we’re on track for an explosive final three issues (plus Empire Ascendant #1, the one-shot issue that will bring both Star Wars and Doctor Aphra to a close).
Star Wars #72 doesn’t achieve greatness on its own, but it doesn’t misstep along the way either, and I can’t wait to see where the last issues of the series take us in the next couple of months. My only real gripe with this issue has to do with its marketing rather than the content of the comic itself. That ridiculous “Leia in Love?!” tease on the cover is nothing more than the comic shop version of clickbait, and I have a hard time getting behind it, especially when the look of longing on Leia’s face as she dances with Dar on the cover is not at all accurate to what’s in between the covers. I guess one could make the argument that the cover reflects Han’s obvious jealousy and paranoia that is depicted in the issue, but I still think it comes off as a cheap marketing trick. Still, the issue itself is solid and sets up great things to come.
Star Wars #72 is available now in a comic shop near you or online at Comixology. Happy reading Star Wars comic fans!