Review: The Tables Turn in Marvel’s Star Wars: Target Vader #5
With the first two episodes of The Mandalorian and the Jedi Fallen Order video game dropping this week, Marvel’s comics are probably going to be coming in under the radar a little bit. Nevertheless, three new Star Wars comics are also out today, so read on for my review on the first of these three, Star Wars: Target Vader #5, to see if it’s worth pulling away from one of your repeat viewings of The Mandalorian to check it out. Spoilers ahead…
Following the betrayal of Dengar in the last issue, former imperial soldier-turned-cyborg bounty hunter, Beilert Valance, finds himself in issue #5 as a captive of the very man he was hired to take down – Darth Vader. As this issue plays out, the imperials are trying to pry what information they can out of Valance concerning his client, the mysterious “Hidden Hand” organization, but they keep coming up empty handed. Valance’s iron will is impenetrable to his interrogators, and even when Vader steps in, the persuasive Sith lord doesn’t get much out of him.
As Valance is tortured by Vader, we are given some more glimpses into his past, from his life working with his father in the mines on Chorin, to his departure from the Empire. It is revealed that his old flight instructor Yurib was responsible for the resources spent saving his life through cybernetic surgery to keep him from being simply discarded, which would have been the more economical route for the Empire. Yurib expresses his amazement at Valance’s resolve. As the flashbacks continue, we learn that Valance survived a deadly crash in the flight academy only to get demoted like his old classmate, Han Solo, as a grunt on Mimban.
It was on Mimban that his body was severely damaged to the point where the only flesh that remains is his torso and the half of his head that wasn’t destroyed in the event (don’t be fooled by the fleshy looking arm he has now – it’s covered in synth flesh). Nevertheless, his mantra “keep going” pushed him on from one day to the next.
When Valance was released by the Empire, he returned home, only to find it in shambles. His father was gone, and the mines had been stripped clean by the Empire, who abandoned the planet when it no longer proved resourceful. The Empire’s exit left the people at the mercy of marauders who destroyed what little was left. There were survivors, including Valance’s old girlfriend, but the destruction of his people’s way of life spurred him on to vengeance.
Thoughts of his past seemed to give him the boost he needed to keep going once more. Sacrificing one of his robotic limbs, Valance breaks free of his shackles and disguises himself as one of the stormtroopers that had been stationed outside the room. But Vader was ready for his subterfuge. Caught once again, Valance has no choice but to go along with Vader as the Sith lord takes him to his homeworld of Chorin. There Valance reveals that the Hidden Hand, who had hired him to kill Vader, actually originated from his home planet.
Learning this, Vader schemes to use Valance in his service, threatening the lives of those on Chorin should he refuse to comply. Valance would once again be working for the Empire, this time directly under Vader.
The final moments of the issue show Valance seeking out the secret rebel base on Lowik, hoping to bribe them with the promise of finding much needed weapons in exchange for information about the Hidden Hand. The organization had been supplying weapons to the rebels, but now they’ve gone silent. Valance hopes to pull their resources together, opening up a very unique opportunity for both rebel and imperial agents to work together for mutual benefit.
I said something similar about the last issue and I’ll emphasize it again here – Target Vader is an entertaining comic. It isn’t groundbreaking or earth shattering. It doesn’t change your perception of any existing characters. It doesn’t rock the boat whatsoever. But it’s a fun comic. Take or leave it. It won’t necessarily better your Star Wars experience to read it, nor will it detract from it if you don’t. But if you like comics and a fun story with a little bit of Darth Vader thrown in, you might enjoy this.
Issue #5 is not as much fun as the last one, but I think it set the stage for a nice conclusion in issue #6. Valance is a neat character and he’s definitely gone through a lot since his introduction in the Han Solo: Imperial Cadet series. In the end, he’s yet another person who’s life was wrecked by the tyrannical practices of the very Empire he gave his life to serve. But Valance has been given a second chance at life, and it will be interesting to see just how far he goes along with Vader before enough is enough.
Star Wars: Target Vader is available now in a comic shop near you or online at Comixology. Happy reading Star Wars comic fans!
Jordan Pate is Co-Lead Editor and Senior Writer for Star Wars News Net, of which he is also a member of the book and comic review team. He loves all things Star Wars, but when he’s not spending time in the galaxy far far away, he might be found in our own galaxy hanging out in Gotham City or at 1407 Graymalkin Lane, Salem Center, NY.