Review: Star Wars- Darth Vader And The Cry Of Shadows #2
I know what you’re thinking, another week and another Dark Horse comic about Darth Vader, right? In one way you’re right, but let me just say that this comic isn’t really about Darth Vader at all, it’s about a soldier.
The problem of course is that a drone soldier called ‘Hock’ isn’t exactly going to sell any comic books is he? Darth Vader however, well everybody knows about him don’t they? So you stick his name and face on the front cover, insert him into the story and hope that people will pick up the comic based on their Darth Vader fandom.
What you are really doing though is telling a tale of psychological indoctrination and brainwashing that soldiers are subjected to, and not just in the Star Wars universe of course. This is an important tale that resonates strongly in our own contemporary war inflicted times as well.
Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows is a story that reveals how powerful elite’s manipulate young men into serving their own personal agendas. Hock Malsuum is a clone trooper, a man designed to fight and unquestioningly obey orders. He is told that he is fighting for freedom, so he believes that he is fighting for freedom. He is told that the Jedi ‘Are all the same,’ so he believes that Jedi are all the same. Does this resonate yet, because it resonates strongly with me?
Hock of course shouldn’t even have a name. The very fact that he has given himself a name at all tells the reader that this soldier is no longer an unthinking drone, a number to be used and discarded at the whim of the Emperor.
This story is told through the first person narration of a man who was enslaved, and didn’t even realise it. He thought he was fighting for ‘order,’ and ‘a galaxy at peace.’ He admired the cold professionalism of Darth Vader, and his career in the imperial army was all about impressing his ‘superiors.’ It is told in the now, and with flashbacks to his days in the army, where he tells of his exploits, the way he thought and the ways he fought. It’s a story about awakening from slavery, and for that reason alone this is a very important book.
The most memorable scene in this issue is told in flashback when Hock (then known only as Clone trooper CT- 5539) details an encounter he had with the only other clone trooper who had broken free from his programming. The encounter takes place when Hock/CT-5539 is serving as an imperial clone and is told to give the imprisoned man a tray of food. When this imprisoned man who now goes by the name of Kaddak responds to him, he calls him a ‘Slave.’ CT- 5539 is astonished. Why? Because there is none so hopelessly enslaved as those who falsely believe that they are free.
Of course this is only my own personal, highly individualistic interpretation of what is going on here. Others might read it as a book that hints about the past of Boba Fett, and is cool because it shows the mindset of imperial troops when they are fighting the ‘heroes’ that normally get all of the attention in the Star Wars universe. Others might just enjoy it because it shows what Darth Vader was getting up to in the time-lines not covered in the six (so far) movies.
My interpretation probably says a lot about myself, but I don’t think I’m reading too much into the book. This is after all a book about soldiers, and how they justify their actions. It’s a book about what happens when a soldier breaks from his programming, and starts to think for himself.
The artwork is large, colourful and typical of many mainstream comics, but writer Tim Siedell brings a little more depth to the story telling in this one. That’s why I’m reading it, and that’s why I’m doing this review. Hopefully you’ll find yourself intrigued with what I’ve said here, and will give it a read for yourself. I promise that you’ll enjoy it, and if nothing else it will at least get you thinking about some of the larger issues that go beyond the make believe Star Wars universe, and have real implications in the world we are all living in today.