Mon Cala holds its own against the Empire as the Inquisitors close in on the Jedi in Darth Vader #16.
This review contains plot details for Darth Vader #16 – Burning Seas Part IV.
Darth Vader #16 – Burning Seas Part IV
Writer: Charles Soule | Pencils: Giuseppe Camuncoli | Inks: Danielee Orlandini | Colorist: David Curiel | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Cover Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli & Elia Bonetti | Assistant Editors: Heather Antos, Christina Harrington, & Emily Newcomen | Editors: Jordan B. White (with Mark Paniccia)
The war on Mon Cala rages on. Despite Tarkin having brought the might of the Empire to bear on the ocean world, Admiral Raddus, Commander Ackbar, and their forces continue to resist. In some corners, the Mon Calamarians have mounted an impenetrable defense. Meanwhile, Vader and his Inquisitors are closing in on Master Barr and his acolytes. However, the elusive Jedi senses their arrival and begins devising an escape. During their escape, Barr, his acolytes, and Inquisitors all prove to be something different than what initial impressions would suggest in Darth Vader #16 – The Burning Seas Part IV.
Once Master Barr realizes Vader and the Inquisitors are on the verge of discovering them, he orders his acolytes to enact their evacuation protocols. Very quickly, the reader learns that Barr’s acolytes aren’t the Jedi they appear to be. Although they wear Jedi robes and other attire, these are merely common beings from around the galaxy. Each has a score to settle with the Empire. For instance, Nipaltoo’s sister, Palabee, was taken by the Jedi and raised by the Jedi Order. When Palpatine enacted Order 66, the Empire killed Palabee with the other Jedi at the Temple. Nipaltoo joined Barr to find justice for his sister.
Similarly, Orvek and his people were forcefully relocated by the Empire to make way for a relay station. Although not explicitly stated, the compensation provided by the Empire was inadequate. Therefore, Orvek followed Barr for a little revenge. Elsewhere, Rebb and Stell watched as the Empire took over their planet. It wasn’t a world they wanted to raise their children on. Therefore, when Barr gave them the opportunity to find purpose, they followed him. Finally, Daren was nearly slaughtered by Separatist battle droids when Anakin Skywalker, of all Jedi, rescued him. Barr gave him the opportunity to repay the debt.
On the surface, each of these reasons seems noble for joining the cause of a Rebellion. However, each of these stories are told as the respective acolyte dies over the course of The Burning Seas Part IV. The final panel of each story is Barr recruiting the acolyte and promising them their chance at retribution or revenge.
Vader and his Inquisitors quickly close in on Barr and his acolytes in the oceans of Mon Cala. Before Vader can exterminate Barr, Tarkin requests the personal favor of Vader’s assistance in destroying the Mon Cala resistance. Vader takes Tarkin up on his request and leaves Barr to the Inquisitors.
As the pursuit of Barr reaches its conclusion, Barr exposes each of the Inquisitors for who they are: former Jedi. Included in their group is Prosset Dibs. His inclusion as an Inquisitor is perfect. For those that don’t recall Prosset, he was the disillusioned Jedi that confronted Mace Windu over a perceived failure of the Jedi Council to follow the Jedi code in the Mace Windu miniseries.
Prosset’s turn as an Inquisitor says much. He believed the Jedi Council failed to represent the ideals of the Jedi. However, he seemingly finds his solution to this issue in service to the Sith. This suggests his real problem extends beyond the ideals of the Jedi Council into his own personal desires for order. Then again, perhaps his role as an Inquisitor is nothing more than a play for revenge.
After outing the Inquisitors as former Jedi, the Ninth Sister reveals some details about Barr. First, his name, for what it is worth, is Ferren Barr. Second, and more importantly, “Master” Barr was only a Padawan when Palpatine issued Order 66. The Ninth Sister mocks him with this fact and the fact that there is no Jedi Council to promote him.
The revelation that Barr is only a Padawan makes sense given other details revealed about him during this issue. During the flashback sequences, Barr makes promises of justice and retribution to each of his acolytes. Also, he almost seems to use Jedi mind tricks on some of acolytes. For example, the final panel of Nipaltoo’s flashback features Barr waving his hand with two fingers extended much the same way Qui-Gon Jinn did in The Phantom Meance when he attempted to persuade Watto through the Force.
Barr’s promises of justice, enlightenment, and purpose appear at odds with the Jedi code. Barr promised some of them that he could see their future. He also immaturely promises Rebb and Stell purpose in a manner suggestive of an adolescent promising everyone will see how he takes on the world. He lacks the serenity of a true Jedi.
Finally, Barr exhibits just a bit of corruption. He figured out that the troopers serving the Inquisitors were young clones brought online after the purge. Barr then exploits the identity of the Inquisitors as former Jedi and suggests the Clones enact Order 66. Obviously, his plan is for the clones to turn on the Inquisitors. This type of conniving behavior is more suggestive of the Sith than a Jedi.
Final Thoughts on Darth Vader #16 – The Burning Seas Part IV
Darth Vader #16 – The Burning Seas Part IV had a slightly different focus than the three previous issues in this series. The earlier chapters focused primarily on Vader and his Inquisitors as they arrived on Mon Cala to hunt the Jedi. It also featured Grand Moff Tarkin as he orchestrated the invasion of the ocean planet. Lee-Char, Admiral Raddus, and Commander Ackbar were central characters as well as they lead the Mon Calamarian and Quarren defense of the planet. In contrast, this issue emphasized Master Barr and his acolytes.
On the one hand, Barr and his companions are commendable in encouraging resistance to the Empire. However, Barr seems to lack many qualities of a true Jedi. As discussed above, his methods are un-Jedi like. In addition, he had few qualms in abandoning Mon Cala once the Empire arrived and he was discovered by the Inquisitors. Plus, he sacrificed some of his companions a little too easily as they were cornered by the Inquisitors despite his claims to purpose and promises of justice. Charles Soule’s portrayal of Barr as a Padawan floundering without the benefit of the Jedi Order contrasts nicely with the story of Kanan Jarrus from Rebels. Despite his bravado, Barr simply seemed overmatched. He leads his disciples through a false sense of confidence and authority. Somehow, he convinced his companions he was a man worth dying for.
Despite the focus on Barr and the Inquisitors, Darth Vader still received his due in The Burning Seas Part IV. In a demonstration of raw power, he simply collapsed Nipaltoo’s diving helmet, killing the acolyte instantly. In addition, Tarkin explicitly recognized Vader’s power and skills, thereby enhancing his reputation, when he requested the Dark Lord’s assistance in capturing King Lee-Char.
Charles Soule’s story of the Empire’s conquest of Mon Cala added another facet with the The Burning Seas Part IV. This series was an already excellent war story. It combines elements of The Clone Wars and Rebels with A New Hope, Rogue One, and Return of the Jedi to create an epic Star Wars adventure. The revelations concerning Barr added another facet to the story.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.