Comic Review – A Mystery Unfolds in the Streets of Black Spire Outpost in “Star Wars: Thrawn – Alliances” #3

Last week saw the release of issue #3 in 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 #3 where the previous issue left off, with Grand Admiral Thrawn investigating a mystery on the planet Batuu with the help of Darth Vader himself, while in flashbacks we see Thrawn’s first interaction with then-Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars on the same planet. In the “present,” (the period set between Episodes III and IV of the larger Star Wars timeline) Vader is distressed to find that the source of the disturbance in the Force he was sent by Emperor Palpatine to investigate on Batuu has disappeared with the departure of a pair of freighters from the planet. So Thrawn assigns a squad of Imperial stormtroopers aboard the star destroyer Chimaera to deal with one of the freighters, while he and the Dark Lord of the Sith look further into the matter. In more flashbacks, we see Thrawn and Anakin dealing with a group of smugglers that may or may not have been hired by the Separatists to kill the Jedi and the Chiss.

Back in the present, the stormtroopers are ambushed by a mysterious species known as the Grysk, though they are able to commandeer the vessel and take several prisoners. Meanwhile, Thrawn and Vader come across a room full of occupied hibernation tanks, while in the past Skywalker and his unlikely ally seek information on the whereabouts of Anakin’s missing wife Padmé Amidala. There’s a return to Black Spire’s cantina, where our antiheroes put the pieces together about the weapons their assailants were carrying in earlier issues, and the discovery of the secret location of the Separatist base, thanks to some clever sleuthing on Thrawn’s part. We get more information on the Grysk and even see the species depicted for the first time outside of prose, and then there’s a quick check-in on Padmé (as she’s in the process of crash-landing in a river on the planet Mokivj) before this issue wraps up with Thrawn enacting a new plan to learn about his enemy.

I’m still quite enjoying this adaptation and definitely appreciating writer Jody Houser’s ability to convert Zahn’s written words into something that will fit into the sequential-art format of a comic book. But I’m also finding myself just a little lost by the conundrum at hand– a problem that is exacerbated by the frequent use of flashbacks to throw the reader backward and forward in time within this story. It’s been six years since I read the Thrawn – Alliances novel, so I don’t remember if I felt the same way while going through the book, but in this issue I found myself scratching my head in an effort to figure out what exactly is going on more often than not. Maybe that’s intentional, and Houser (along with talented artists Pat Oliffe and Andrea Di Vito) will successfully tie the loose ends together in the final installment next month, or maybe some things are simply getting lost in translation.

Star Wars: Thrawn – Alliances #3 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.