Crimson Dawn has returned, and Darth Vader wants answers.
Greg Pak’s Darth Vader #15, which is part of the huge War of the Bounty Hunters crossover event, sees Vader and Ochi of Bestoon on a fact-finding mission that leads to some very interesting reveals about Crimson Dawn.
Let’s jump in to a review of this issue.
Darth Vader and Ochi of Bestoon search for more information on the auction for Han Solo, which takes them to Arkanis. Ochi barges in a cantina and demands someone tell him about the invite, and from there Vader and Ochi head to the lair of Bokku the Hutt in the Outer Rim. Bokku says that Jabba the Hutt will soon have Solo, but that it shouldn’t be hard for the Empire to win the auction, with all their resources. Vader orders Bokku to attend the auction and bid against Jabba, saying that Bokku will in turn be humiliated. This, Vader says, will help him win, because the only way Bokku can defeat Jabba is by Jabba losing all fear of him.
Before leaving the planet, however, Vader remarks to Ochi that it was too easy to convince Bokku and that he was already planning on betraying Jabba. Thus Vader concludes that Bokku is working with others, and the Sith Lord throws Ochi out of the ship and orders him to find out who. Vader flies away, saying that he’ll find Ochi again.
When evening hits, Ochi springs upon a group of henchmen, killing a few of them and insisting he just wants to talk to the other. But the henchman says that when he messes with Bokku, he messes with all of Crimson Dawn. Suddenly many more henchment show up, and though Ochi tries to flee, a massive fight between him and the others breaks out. Ochi kills many of them and then says that when they mess with him they mess with Darth Vader. That doesn’t quite have the desired effect, so he presses in and says that he could kill them all. The lead henchman, a mysterious woman who removes her mask, says that maybe he could kill a dozen of them, but wonders if he could take hundreds, or thousands, or millions. She says that together Crimson Dawn is impossibly strong, and she invites Ochi to join them.
Meanwhile Vader approaches in his ship, watching all of it unfold. He lands not far away, and the woman tells Ochi that Vader is here to test him. She again asks him to join them, but Ochi shoots and kills her, and then kills the other henchmen as well. Vader shows up and Ochi informs him that Bokku is working with Crimson Dawn, but Ochi then realizes that Vader already knew it and was testing him. Ochi tells Vader that he will always serve the most powerful, and implies that as long as it’s really Vader then the Sith Lord has nothing to worry about. As this happens, many other henchmen approach them, with Vader and Ochi fighting them together.
This issue was very much focused on Ochi of Bestoon, and I don’t mind that! If we’re honest, Darth Vader’s story seems pretty much set in place for where we find him in Return of the Jedi, so even though he’s a major player in the War of the Bounty Hunters story, it seems that he’s more there to serve the development of other characters rather than the other way around. And I’m perfectly fine with that. We’ve had tons of Vader-centric stories in comics the past several years, so I’m glad that we’re getting some deserved focus on other characters in Greg Pak’s run now, like Ochi and Sly Moore, for example.
And I’m really hoping that Ochi will get his own comic series somewhere down the road, because I’m enjoying him in these stories. And as a bit of an aside, we’ve had Vader comic series exploring the time after Revenge of the Sith, the time after A New Hope, and the time after The Empire Strikes Back. Since he dies in Return of the Jedi, there won’t be a Vader comic series set after that – but there could be an Ochi comic series. So consider me officially hoping that happens.
Back to this issue, however, Ochi is put to the test by Vader, though it’s not all apparent right away. Vader wants to know where Ochi’s loyalty lies. He’s seen in this issue several times claiming that he represents and works for Vader, but how serious is he about that? Very honestly, Ochi says at the end of the issue that he serves the most powerful, and he’s come to learn that it’s Vader. I’m really enjoying their dynamic in this series.
While it’s clear that Vader is indeed the most powerful here, the biggest thing that we learned in this issue is that Crimson Dawn is far more powerful than we previously thought. It seems that they have people all over the place, and that their numbers are massive. While Ochi – or others – could take some of them, he couldn’t take all of them together. And that’s precisely the point, since Crimson Dawn apparently has far more strength in numbers than we imagined. Qi’ra’s been building something in secret, but it’s now beginning to come to light. Bokku the Hutt is involved, and so are many others.
I enjoyed this issue, and it was basically just a set-up to what we’ve seen in the War of the Bounty Hunters comics, as we see how Vader came to the auction and what led up to that. But what’s interesting about that approach is that it actually doesn’t end where we’re familiar with, but ends with Vader and Ochi fighting these Crimson Dawn henchmen. And it says that this will be continued in War of the Bounty Hunters #4, which is curious. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I think it’s clear that we don’t yet understand the full implications of how this issue fits in with the rest of this crossover story event.