Comic Review – The Grand Admiral and Lord Vader Face Enemies On Batuu in “Star Wars: Thrawn – Alliances” #2

Today saw the release of the second issue of Marvel Comics’ adaptation of the 2018 Timothy Zahn novel, Star Wars: Thrawn – Alliances, and below are my brief recap and thoughts on this installment.

Thrawn – Alliances #2 begins with the title character, Grand Admiral Thrawn, on the planet Batuu from Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with the one and only Darth Vader. Together they face alien enemies in the local cantina, and then the writer of this adaptation Jody Houser flashes back to the past, when a younger Thrawn and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker did the same. Then, Anakin and Thrawn needed to figure out how to track their assailants back to their source, so the former pulls a Weekend at Bernie’s and uses the Force to manipulate one of the attackers’ dead bodies, putting him on his Jedi starfighter as a “captive.” In the present, as Vader and Thrawn defeat their opponents, the Dark Lord of the Sith once again senses the disturbance in the Force that Emperor Palpatine sent him to investigate. Then the two Imperial allies are swarmed by thousands of insects capable of encasing them in quick-setting permacrete.

As much as I’m enjoying this adaptation, there are a couple moments here that just don’t translate well from prose onto the comic-book page. For example there’s a panel where the lifeless body of the assailant flies out of Anakin’s ship after its engine explodes from sabotage, and I’m just… not sure exactly why that happened. I don’t recall that specific passage from the novel (which is coming up on being six years old), and the art here doesn’t make it clear whether the explosion made Anakin’s cockpit fly open or what. The visual of Vader and Thrawn covered in the permacrete is also kinda silly-looking, but that’s neither here nor there. Regardless, in the past these two acquaintances find their way to a Trade Federation ship where R2-D2 helps them hunt for clues, while in the present they set out to investigate the disturbance as Thrawn removes a knife from one of the assailants’ bodies.

This issue ends by checking in on Anakin’s wife Padmé Amidala, who has arrived at the planet Mokivj and is immediately attacked by a vulture droid. She decides to evacuate her ship via escape pod into enemy territory, and in the final panel she worries that Anakin will never learn what became of her. There isn’t a ton of forward momentum in this chapter of the story, with the bulk of the action taking place in what will eventually become known as Oga’s Cantina on Batuu. But we do get some nice interaction between Thrawn and Skywalker/Vader, and I’m enjoying the use of two different artists (namely Pat Oliffe and Andrea Di Vito) to depict the two separate time periods. Rachelle Rosenberg is also still doing a great job with the very dynamic coloring, and overall I would say the gist of Zahn’s writing has survived the translation to sequential art.

Star Wars: Thrawn – Alliances #2 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.