Review – An Ancient Droid Holds the Key to the Rebel’s Survival in Marvel’s Star Wars #9
The Rebels were victorious over the lethal and skilled Commander Zahra but they remain a fractured alliance forced to spread themselves around the galaxy, evading the Empire. Leia and Luke know better than anyone not to sit on the hill of victory too long when it comes to the Empire. It’s only a matter of time before they’re found, so our heroes plot their next move. SPOILERS AHEAD….
Leia celebrates hope but she’s also ready to get Operation Starlight up and running. Realizing the Empire deciphered their communication encryption, they have no way to safely mobilize their cells around the galaxy. They must find a way to work around the Empire’s monitoring and fast. Luckily, a very good protocol droid has an idea.
Threepio proposes they use a dead language called Trawak. Even with his extraordinary translation skills, Threepio has no way to directly decipher it. Using the knowledge stored in an ancient droid, Threepio theorizes he could translate collaboratively with other droids spread out across the galaxy in different cells. It wouldn’t be a full-proof way to evade the Empire but it would delay their decryption techniques. The only problem? The ancient droid resides in a museum deep in the heart of Coruscant.
Located in the Federal District of Coruscant, the Imperial Museum houses an array of antiquities. This vault goes deep and is highly guarded. Breaking in to steal a droid is no small task so the Rebels must decide who will go.
Lucky for them, they have quite a crew of skilled soldiers and scoundrels to choose from. Pathfinders Kes Dameron, Frell, and Needles join up with Lando and Lobot to hatch a job. There’s certainly an uneasy alliance between the Pathfinders and Lando–who is still understandably cagey about taking on the Empire. Lobot slices into the museum’s database to find the droid’s location amongst the vast collection. The team might be shaky but they all know how important the task at hand is.
Kes points out they don’t have the luxury of time to execute a quiet heist Lando suggests. So, Needles goes rogue and decides to cause a distraction for the rest of the team. Spotting a sacred statue from his home world Quermia, Needles raises a ruckus, half-pretending to be a protestor. The local security guards seem used to this type of disturbance but contact the museum’s curator for direction. The rest of the team slip into the depths of the museum to find their droid.
Even with the distraction, the museum security is still a problem. The Pathfinders don’t waste any time making the first move. Kes and Frell dispense of the guards but they realize it’s going to take a lot longer for them to get into the vault than expected. The mission means everything for the survival of the Rebellion. Kes Dameron conveys to his fellow Pathfinder and friend they will need a bigger distraction than posing as a protestor. Needles must draw the guards away to give their heist more time.
Needles grabs the sacred statue and makes a break for it. You can see the museum curator in the cushy, spider-chair ordering the security after him. He’s pretty symbolic of the Empire’s desire to dominate and control all culture in the galaxy. The curator believes, like all who aid conquerors, he’s a better steward of the many marginalized cultures across the galaxy. The authoritarian mantra the Empire will save the indigenous populations from themselves is the subtext. I don’t blame Needles, I’d grab the statue and run, too. In a very unceremonious page, Needles is captured by the security and sentenced to death on the spot by the curator. I’m a little disappointed with writer Charles Soule giving Needles such an abrupt, unseen death, especially after such heroism, but I guess that’s the brutal reality and the state of the galaxy. Not all heroes die in a blaze of glory, they’re often gunned down by much lesser beings with no honor.
And worst of all, Needles sacrifice may have been for nothing. Once our heroes get the ancient droid back to the fleet, Threepio discovers it’s been corrupted. Kes is furious and the issue ends with as much ominous uncertainty as it began with. Will Threepio be able to Babu Frik his way into the memory banks? Will our heroes be able to safely reconnect with the rest of the Rebel Alliance? This first issue of “The Ancient Relic” arc leaves us hanging and sets up what is sure to be a desperate chase in search of another refuge from the Empire.
The new arc welcomes a new artist as well: Jan Bazaldua. Colorist Rachelle Rosenberg returns, giving the frames a familiar glow of previous issues. Changing up artists is a nice way to keep this comic fresh. Writer Charles Soule establishes an imminent crisis for our heroes with the likelihood Commander Zahra is not far behind them. It’s nice to see Leia leading this Rebel cell but I hope we get more time with her in the issues going forward. Luke, too, as he really doesn’t show up much here, though I judging by the next cover he could play a much bigger role in whatever their next move will be. The Rebels are on the move. Let’s hope they can find the answers they need in this ancient droid who came at such a great cost.