Despite really enjoying his Darth Vader run, writer Kieron Gillen’s move to the main Star Wars title didn’t work so much for me in his first volume. However, Gillen had proven in the past he can work around the films’ continuity to craft good stories. Maybe the first volume was just a fluke.
Only one way to find out. I opted to try his next volume, the series’ 8th overall, subtitled Mutiny at Mon Cala.
If the Rebels want to defeat the Empire, they are going to need ships. The planet Mon Cala has an impressive merchant fleet that the Rebels could retrofit for war. These are Admiral Ackbar’s people. Surely they can help.
Or not. Leia, Han, and Luke fly out there to negotiate with the planet’s (non-Imperial) regent. However, the Empire is holding Mon Cala’s king somewhere. As long as that happens, there will be no mutiny on Mon Cala. Can the Rebels get the king free and back to Mon Cala to maybe start a mutiny? Leia thinks she can. All she needs is a shapeshifting actor wannabe, a kidnapping, and some top secret Imperial codes.
So, this was a bit of an improvement on the previous volume. Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewy have a special mission while the droids assist the shapeshifter. The story is exciting enough with some nice twists and turns, but it still felt a bit flat. The shapeshifter, working with 3PO, provides some decent comic relief, but the characters seem more stock heroes than anything else. Why did Darth Vader as a series work so much better? Vader should be the harder character to write effectively since he’s the villain who will ultimately lose,
The answer, I think, is the supporting cast. Gillen gave Vader some new, interesting supporting characters, leaving Vader himself to be the silent baddie he usually is. Heck, Doctor Aphra proved strong enough to get her own series. Using only the main characters from the movies greatly limits what can be done with the characters. At least with original characters whose fates are not tied into the movies means the writer can do more with them. There’s only so much someone can do even with fun characters like Han, Leia, Luke, and the rest. The closest we get here is the shapeshifter, and he doesn’t seem to be hanging around. This was an improvement, but didn’t blow me away like Vader’s series did. 7.5 out of 10 insufferable moffs.