The Age of Republic comics by Jody Houser have all been terrific, and the series wrapped up a little while ago – and we’re now getting ready to begin the Age of Rebellion comic series, which I’m also super excited about!
But in catching up a bit on the Age of Republic stuff, I wanted to go over the issue about Padmé, which was a great look at a political mission of this Senator who is in love with Anakin but also in love with the Republic and her desire to see a better galaxy. And that means that sometimes, she might not trust Anakin fully.
That’s a dynamic that may catch people off guard initially, but it makes a ton of sense once we get into it. So let’s jump into this issue, which was another very solid addition to this great series.
As Padmé prepares to head off on a diplomatic mission, Anakin asks her once more if she’s sure she doesn’t need him to accompany her. She says that she’ll be fine, and the two share a kiss before they are interrupted by one of Padmé’s handmaidens. Padmé tells Anakin that she’s going to Duro, but she actually heads off Clabron. It’s a neutral system, and therefore Padmé actually is going against Republic orders by trying to recruit a neutral world. This leads her to take the controls of the ship from her handmaidens, Moteé and Dormé, because she wants to be the one who is held accountable for flying them to the system should anything go wrong. While en route Moteé and Dormé discuss Padmé’s relationship with Anakin and it’s clear that the handmaidens aren’t exactly all enthusiastic about it.
Once they arrive on Clabron, Padmé finds it strange that no one is there to greet them. They then encounter a creature hiding in the shadows who insists that they leave because it’s dangerous, and at that moment a sniper from atop the building shoots Moteé. Padmé gets her to cover while Dormé returns fire, and the mysterious figure finally lets them inside and reveals himself as Second Minister Tarmin. He reveals that Grand Minister Stin was waiting for Padmé when he was shot, and he’s gravely injured. Before he dies, Grand Minister Stin expresses his desire to align with the Republic.
With Stin dead, Tarmin is promoted and immediately is furious with Padmé for coming in the first place. Padmé assures him that not all politicians are in it only for personal gain, and she gives a speech about her desire for the galaxy and how she’s given everything to the Republic in hopes of creating a better galaxy where people don’t live in fear. She is still unwavering in her support for the Republic, and she devises a plan to carry out aggressive negotiations. As the sniper readies to blast what he presumes is the Republic senator heading back to the ship, Padmé surprises him by sneaking up behind him and shooting him. Tarmin officially aligns Clabron with the Republic, and Padmé only asks for a chance to prove that their hope isn’t unfounded.
This is a pretty familiar story when it comes to Padmé, but that’s not a bad thing: it focuses heavily on the political side of things, and it showcases Padmé’s service and dedication to the Republic. In this issue, we see her recruit the previously neutral world of Clabron to the Republic cause. The story itself is a good one that is well-told. And it gives us a terrific speech by Padmé about what her hopes are for the galaxy and what she’s fighting for. It’s really good stuff.
But perhaps the most interesting stuff from this issue was about Padmé’s relationship with Anakin. I find it very interesting that she actually wouldn’t tell Anakin where she was really going. She lied to him and told him that she was going to Duro, when in reality she was intending on heading to Clabron all along. When Moteé asks Padme about this, Padme responds with something that shouldn’t surprise us: “Anakin can be… protective.” Based on what we know of Anakin, that’s the least surprising news we could hear. After all, Revenge of the Sith portrays Anakin falling to the dark side in large part out of an effort to do everything he can to save Padmé. So of course he’s protective, and so Padmé is right in thinking that she doesn’t want him to be concerned for her safety in traveling to a neutral world.
That’s not the only thing Padmé says, though. She continues by adding, “Beyond that, he has close ties to Chancellor Palpatine. And both the Chancellor and the Senate have made their stance on neutral worlds clear. If they aren’t allies or enemies, they are to be ignored.” That’s actually a pretty significant statement, though, because what Padmé is essentially saying is that she doesn’t fully trust Anakin enough to tell him, because he’s so close with Palpatine. It’s pretty clear from the rest of the Star Wars canonical timeline that by this point Padmé is a wary and skeptical of Palpatine, and because Palpatine has made it clear that the neutral worlds aren’t to be dealt with, she doesn’t want to tell one of Palpatine’s closest allies that she’s going to do just that. Again, this is significant because it shows that Padmé apparently didn’t fully trust Anakin, at least not enough to involve him in some of her political dealings.
This reminds me of two things that didn’t make it into the final cut of Revenge of the Sith. Firstly, there’s the original ending that had Padmé head for Mustafar with the intention to kill Anakin, which obviously never made it into the final version of the script but was intended to show that Padmé’s ultimate allegiance was to the Republic, not Anakin. The second is something that was actually filmed but then cut, and it’s the meeting between Padmé, Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, and a few others as they are planting the beginning seeds of rebellion. Mothma states that they can’t tell anybody about this, and then looking at Padmé, she makes it clear that they can’t even tell those closest to them. It’s obvious that the implications here are that Padmé can’t tell Anakin, and she agrees to this.
It all leads to an interesting dynamic that we really haven’t seen much of before and that caught me by surprise in this comic, but that also makes perfect sense. Padmé has given her entire life to the trying to make the galaxy a better place, and as is obvious in this comic, she still firmly believes in the Republic and is an inspiring presence fighting for good. But what happens when those well-intentioned political desires seem to conflict with the Chancellor in charge of all of it? What happens when she doesn’t trust him entirely? In Padmé’s case, though, it goes even deeper: what happens when the person you love most is one of that man’s closest allies? It’s obvious that Padmé loves Anakin, but it’s also clear that she loves the Republic, and she doesn’t let her relationship with Anakin dominate her life. In many ways, if Anakin were to have learned that same lesson, he probably wouldn’t have fallen to the dark side.
One other thing to note is that Padmé’s handmaidens are well aware of her relationship with Anakin, but they aren’t all on board with it. Moteé doesn’t approve of it and thinks it’s unwise, but Dormé says that since Padmé affords herself so little pleasures they shouldn’t deny her this one. It’s just another dynamic in this whole thing, though, that Padmé’s handmaidens know of her relationship with Anakin and aren’t all convinced it’s a great thing.