Review – An Old Ally Tested In Marvel’s Allegiance: Journey to The Rise of Skywalker #2
The lead up to The Rise of Skywalker continues this week with the second issue of Allegiance. The First Order, under the merciless leadership of Kylo Ren and General Hux, continue to scour the galaxy for any trace of the Resistance. Worlds across the galaxy learn the price for even communicating with the Resistance as the First Order fleet show no sign of relenting in their pursuit of those who would bring hope and stop the spread of oppression. While Finn and Poe search for cache of weapons, General Organa leads a sort of outreach to Mon Cala in hopes of restoring an old alliance. With Rey, Rose, Chewbacca, and Threepio behind her, the general will need all the help she can get. SPOILERS AHEAD….
After a tense introduction between the Resistance and a Quarren/Mon Calamari contingent not pleased with their arrival, General Organa is greeted by the son of the late Admiral Ackbar – Aftab Ackbar. The younger Ackbar doesn’t seem to have the authority his father did but still manages to disperse the disgruntled contingent of Quarren and Mon Calamari. Right away we get the sense things are not well on Mon Cala. Leia and Aftab clearly have history and the general is someone he holds in high regard. After their greeting, they take a deep dive under the Mon Cala waters to visit a site called the Mourning Shrines – large underwater statues of Mon Calamari heroes, of which the recently deceased Admiral Ackbar has been added. While Aftab expresses his grief and pride in regards to his father’s death, Leia mentions she has come to Mon Cala in hopes of honoring the admiral’s memory, only she has something more in mind than visiting a memorial.
Rey and Rose are frustrated with their situation. They want to be on the frontlines and not sitting at the bottom of an ocean. Rose is concerned for Finn’s safety, which would suggest their bond has only grown since The Last Jedi. Rey knows that she is the last hope for the Jedi’s survival and feels that whatever path she needs to take is not going to be found at the bottom of the Mon Cala sea. Threepio tries to reassure them that General Organa knows what she’s doing. I enjoyed this brief scene. It conveys the confidence and courage these Resistance fighters feel, but also the great uncertainty they face in knowing exactly how to face the First Order and no doubt the discouragement they feel each time they have to duck and run or go look for new allies in the fight. Also, I’m very happy we get more time with the burgeoning friendship between Rose and Rey.
Our group of fearless bounty hunters have pursued Finn (unaware of Poe’s presence) and are anxious to collect the bounty on his head from the First Order. Finn and Poe are on a supply run and have arrived on the moon of Avedot to scour an abandoned New Republic impound they suspect may host a cache of weapons badly needed by the Resistance. Finn is skeptical there is anything of worth for them, since most of the technology impounded appears to be older than the Clone Wars. Poe reaffirms him that his contact (who I’m going to guess is Zori Bliss) assured him the cache exists and he trusts them. The team make their way into the impound, but the guard they leave behind has an unfortunate encounter with the team of bounty hunters. All bets are off and they are going to get their bounty, dead or alive.
Meanwhile, across the galaxy, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren and the First Order have arrived at the shipyard planet Fondor. They are following a lead that the Resistance reached out to Fondor for assistance, which the person under Ren and Hux’s interrogation confirms. The unfortunate Fondoran emphatically states they turned the Resistance away, but that’s not good enough for his interrogators. Hux informs him that any contact with the Resistance is treason. When the Fondoran pleads for mercy, he reminds Ren and Hux that Fondor has always remained a neutral planet, even in the days of the Empire. I find that claim dubious, since their canonical history tells they were a huge ship manufacturer for the Empire. Kylo Ren doesn’t care and demonstrates there is little love or admiration for the Empire in the First Order – a sentiment he’s yet to have expressed but has been across the canon by Hux and Phasma in other books. It’s interesting to hear Kylo’s disdain for what was essentially the extension of his grandfather’s legacy, especially as he brings his lightsaber down on the captive to demonstrate how merciless the First Order will be to anyone who doesn’t turn on the Resistance. This is not the age of neutrality and Kylo Ren is determined to express that. We are meeting the Supreme Leader at a very dark time.
Back on Mon Cala, General Organa prepares to address King Ech-Char, current ruler of the water planet. Obviously, the Resistance needs ships and the Mon Cala have provided fleets to the Rebellion in the past, but Aftab warns her this may not go the way she hopes. The reluctance of Mon Cala should come as a surprise to no one who’s been reading their comics. We’v seen their planet embroiled in conflict since the Clone Wars, attacked in Charles Soule’s Darth Vader, and the fleet given to the Rebellion annihilated in the titular Star Wars series. The Mon Cala have a history of generosity when it comes to standing up against tyrants, but it always blows up in their face. King Ech-Char (pictured above) is obviously nervous and it doesn’t help matters that the Quarren contingent invoke the death and torture Mon Cala under Leia’s father. The general reminds them she and her people suffered under the Dark Lord, as well, and that should be a reminder of why they need to stand together. The king decides to deliberate and leaves the general hanging. There are also whispers among the attending Mon Calamari and Quarren that the Resistance presence on Mon Cala puts their planet in terrible risk.
The bounty hunters have caught up with the Resistance inside the impound. Finn manages to get away from them, but the rest of the team isn’t so lucky. It’s confirmed these bounty hunters are villains, as there seemed to be some ambiguity about that in Ethan Sacks Galaxy’s Edge book, but anyone who starts shooting at Finn and the Resistance is a villain in my book.
Finn manages to get away, but in classic Star Wars fashion, he ends up barricading he and Poe inside a room due to destroying the control panel of the only way in or out. He assures Poe that he has a plan, though. I hope we get a bit more time with Poe and Finn in future issues because so far the bounty hunters (who I couldn’t care less about) have hogged the spotlight. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I was not a fan of Sacks’ conclusion to Galaxy’s Edge and I’m actually a bit annoyed these bland bounty hunters have shown up in Allegiance and are getting as much attention as they are.
As Rey and Rose lament over the Mon Cala oceans getting everything wet, a group of Quarren begin aggressive diplomacy by threatening them with violence. They don’t really know who they are dealing with, as the two of them and Chewbacca handle the group well. Rey mentions they are lucky she doesn’t have her lightsaber, which will surely make many readers raise an eyebrow. I suspect she’s kept it hidden to avoid drawing attention to herself and also to make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, but I would still like to hear from her why she’s not using it. We know she’s struggled with tapping into the Force, especially from Justina Ireland’s Spark of Resistance, so perhaps it’s as simple as she does better fighting with her staff at this point. As the fight unfolds, we see a Quarren observing and recording it in the distance. Soon, we learn why…
Looks like the Mon Cala and the Resistance are about to get some visitors.
So, I have to admit I’m pretty tepid about Allegiance so far. It’s not bad, but the story seems very scattered and again I’m disappointed Sacks has given as much attention to the lame bounty hunter crew while Finn and Poe seem to linger in the background. The art by Luke Ross and colorist Lee Loughridge helps carry the story and it’s definitely the high point of the issues we have so far. I understand writer Ethan Sacks is in a tough spot with what he can do with these characters but their presence in each scene feels very lackluster to me. There are only two more issues left, so hopefully we get a bit more insight into where their heads are at and what they are going through, because I feel like they just kind of show up and go through the motions here. I’m not giving up on Allegiance but so far it’s not doing much for me.