Today saw the release of issue #3 of the Star Wars: Dark Droids crossover event miniseries from Marvel Comics, and below are my brief recap and thoughts on this installment.
Dark Droids #3 is the issue that really sold me on this whole crossover event, because it really embraces the weirdness and horror of the entire concept. This chapter begins with the evil A.I. known as the Scourge experiencing a memory of one of the many droids it has possessed– a rain of diamonds on a world devoid of organic life. The Scourge then snaps out of it to live in the “present” of this comic– set between the events of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi– where C-3PO (also possessed by the virus-like entity) has arrived on the lava planet Mustafar, home of Darth Vader’s castle. The Scourge sends in a Mouse Droid to investigate the ominous locale, and finds some very intriguing things lurking in the shadows, though it ultimately passes them by without further defining them in order to access its true goal: the Dark Troopers under Vader’s command.
Meanwhile, on the Imperial Star Destroyer formerly known as the Chelator, the Scourge has transformed the ship into a hulking, spiked representation of itself. Its experiments in occupying the bodies of cyborgs have continued, with ghastly droid-meets-organic creatures roaming the halls. The extremely twisted imagery here is the real payoff of everything that Dark Droids writer Charles Soule and artist Luke Ross have set up in the miniseries so far, with recognizable human an alien body parts sticking out of a variety of droid chassis– it’s disturbing to the point where this narrative has approached the grotesque subgenre known as body horror. Not that I mind that progression, by the way– in fact, I’d say I tend to gravitate towards the weirder stuff when it comes to Star Wars, and weird this definitely is. Anyway, the other two-thirds of this month’s story involve the invasion of the Chelator by the independent-thinking droid forces of Ajax Sigma and the attempted raid on Vader’s Castle, all of which happen to take place at the same moment.
It’s enough to distract the Scourge from concentrating on any one of these developments, and the A.I. is forced to narrow its attention to deal with one at a time. I think we all know that Darth Vader is more than capable of dealing with a few droids (and we’ve recently seen him dispatch Scourge-possessed robots in his own comic-book title) so you can predict how that goes. Ajax is another story, and an interesting one at that, since I never predicted we’d be rooting for him when he was first introduced. But his incursion sadly fails, with the Scourge emerging triumphant and Ajax escaping into the void of space. We also get a tease at the end of this issue that the Scourge has figured out how to achieve its goal of occupying cyborg bodies, which put Magna Tolvan, Lobot, and Beilert Valance in direct danger on the final page. It’s just so exciting to read something that feels this fresh and new set in A Galaxy Far, Far Away, and I honestly can’t wait for more. I just really hope Soule and Ross don’t feel the need to tone down the darkness now that the October issue is over and done with, and now that the Scourge doesn’t have to perform any more experiments.
Star Wars: Dark Droids #3 is available now wherever comic books are sold.