REVIEW: Target Vader #5: "The Past" by Robbie Thompson
I've really been enjoying this series so far. Unfortunately, this issue left me with more questions than answers. I'm not really sure how they're going to be able to wrap it all up in just one more issue.
Regardless, it was definitely intriguing to get some insight on Valance's past both on his home planet of Chorin and in his service to the Empire (hence the title--"The Past").
Also, warning, this issue was highly gruesome in several spots...I was pretty taken by surprise at the degree to which they displayed the gnarliness (see the cover for a taste).
Last week we left Valance in a pretty tough spot. His entire crew had been wiped out by Vader, his EMP trick backfired and instead of shutting down Vader's suit, shut his own cybernetics down, and Dengar turned on him, siding with the Empire after all. Now once it was revealed that Dengar was the turncoat, I realized that really should not have surprised me. He is one of the bounty hunters standing on the command bridge of the Executor, taking orders from Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, after all.
So we begin this issue with an extended flashback throughout several periods of Valance's life. We see him as a miner right before he joined up with the Imperial navy.
We see his crash on Qhulosk (see the "Imperial Cadet" comic series) and the aftermath of that fateful day as he becomes a mudtrooper on Mimban. But the weird thing is, the Empire fixes him up, allowing him to fight another day, although no longer as a pilot. I went back and looked at the panel from "Imperial Cadet" where his fellow cadets discuss what's going to happen to him post-crash, and it turns out they discuss how the Empire won't pay for his various mechno-parts but he will (what with him being Imperial-for-life) and that the Empire would at least accept him back as a grunt. Now it's all starting to make a bit more sense. Well, things seem to be going pretty well for Valance as a trooper until he gets completely blown apart, losing half his face and all four limbs (but in the present time, his right arm is fleshy so is it just fake like Luke's hand?--this was my first bit of confusion). He again gets all fixed up by the Empire, not sure who paid for it this time around, but instead of allowing him back to fight, the Empire discharges him and tells him to go home. This makes him incredibly upset as he is so hardcore committed to the life of an Imperial soldier. But when he goes home to Chorin, he discovers that the Empire may not be all it's cracked up to be... This I'm assuming is the real reason why he turns against the Empire and is all on board with killing Vader.
Then we jump forward to the present where Vader is interrogating Valance using the Force and all Valance does is scream and taunt. He clearly doesn't want to give anything away to the dark lord. After Vader leaves the room, we get to the second part of this issue that left me utterly confused. Valance rips his left arm off...and then proceeds to walk down the hallway in a stolen stormtrooper uniform, carrying a blaster with his left hand...but he literally just ripped that arm off...???
As for the third bit of confusion, let's just say Valance hints at knowing exactly who the Hidden Hand (the group that hired the team of bounty hunters to kill Vader) is, implying that he's one of the reasons they formed in the first place. But then later we see him speaking to a couple of Rebels and he acts like he wants to know more about/find the Hidden Hand. Which is it?!?
So a deeply fascinating issue providing us with all sorts of possibilities in regard to what in the world is actually going on! Since there is only one more issue left in this mini-series, I'm a little concerned with how they're going to answer so many questions in such a short amount of space, but I'll just go ahead and put my trust in Robbie Thompson to pull this one off with aplomb.
If I wasn't so confused, this would have definitely gotten an 8 as I'm a sucker for backstory.
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