Comic Review – That Tortured Interpreter Droid Gets His Own Story in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Jabba’s Palace”

2023 marks the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, the final film in the original Star Wars trilogy, and in honor of that momentous occasion Marvel Comics is releasing a series of one-shots zooming in on characters and locations from that beloved entry in the iconic series.

The first of these one-shots, released this week, is entitled Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Jabba’s Palace, and it focuses a certain interpreter droid who we saw being tortured in the bowels of that titular location in the above-referenced film.

That droid, whose name is either 80-M or AT-M (he pronounces it “Eightyem” in the comic, as is Lucasfilm’s standard when droid names are spoken aloud, and Wookieepedia isn’t being very helpful to me in determining the way it would be written out in non-dialogue prose at the moment), serves as the narrator of this extra-length issue as is introduced the same way he is in ROTJ– on the torture rack. Then you can almost hear the record scratch as 80-M (that’s what I’ve decided I’m gonna call him until I find out otherwise) introduces an extended flashback to “the story of how I died.” From there we learn about the droid’s dissatisfaction with his job in Jabba’s Palace and we get the introduction of a new Twi’lek character named Silvan Kaan, who takes over for a poisoned Tessek as Jabba’s bookkeeper. We soon discover that Silvan has designs on deposing the mighty Jabba, and had enlisted poor 80-M to do his evil bidding in exchange for the promise of removing his restraining bolt and setting him free to pursue other, presumably loftier droid goals. So 80-M proceeds to follow through on the other two of the three total dastardly deeds he must perform for Kaan, though in executing the third one he is caught blue-handed by a bounty hunter named Bane Malar. Bane confronts 80-M, but Silvan thinks the bounty hunter is bluffing, so they follow through on Kaan’s surreptitious plot to execute Jabba, which of course fails due to Malar’s last-second interference.

The would-be assassin– an Ithorian scoundrel called Charn Roondha who Silvan had manipulated into going up against palace mainstay Ree-Yees and eventually Jabba himself– consequently gets tossed into the Sarlacc Pit and then Silvan Kaan is brought to the Hutt’s justice as well, just before the all-too-familiar punishment is meted out on our hapless droid friend 80-M. We certainly knew where this story was headed from the beginning, but it sure as heck was an awful lot of fun getting there. Writer Marc Guggenheim (of Marvel’s recently completed Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca comic miniseries) does a terrific job here of delving deeper into the denizens of Jabba’s Palace, and I loved getting to know the personality of a droid whose only real role in the Star Wars franchise up to this point was getting disintegrated. And artist Alessandro Miracolo (Star Wars: Yoda), working alongside colorist Dee Cunnifee, perfectly executes the dingy mood and ominous atmosphere of one of my absolute favorite Star Wars locales. One side note here– partway through the story a deal on Mandalore is mentioned by Kaan, and it left me wondering if this flashback was intended to take place prior to the Empire’s purge of that planet, AKA the tragic Night of a Thousand Tears. And if that’s the case, I think it would put those events further back from the beginning of Return of the Jedi than makes sense. But that’s just one minor nitpick I had with a comic that I otherwise really enjoyed, just as I’m definitely looking forward to the other Return of the Jedi 40th anniversary one-shots coming throughout the year.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – Jabba’s Palace is available now wherever comic books are sold.

Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.