Target Vader #2 Review

by Dennis Keithly

Beilert Valance leads his motley crew on the second leg of their mission to take down the Dark Lord in Star Wars: Target Vader #2. However, Vader is hunting them too and he is closing in.

Warning: This article contains plot points for Star Wars: Target Vader #2.

Target Vader #2 Cover

Star Wars: Target Vader #2

Writer: Robbie Thompson |  Artist: Stefano Landini | Colorist: Neeraj Menon | Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna | Cover Artist: Nic Klein | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editor: Mark Paniccia

Target Vader is a series about a contracted hit and a hunt within a hunt. The Hidden Hand, an arm’s smuggling operation, contracted with former Imperial officer Beilert Valance and a group of rogues to track down and eliminate Vader. Meanwhile, the Emperor tasked Vader with eliminating the Hidden Hand and its ability to arm the Rebellion. Along the way, Vader learned of the existence of the contract on his life. He is determined to eliminate this threat as well, and the hunters have become the hunted. In Target Vader #2, Valance begins to execute his plan to trap Vader in a mission where all the moves are more than they seem.

The Style of Target Vader #2

Robbie Thompson writes Target Vader #2 with a fun style. It comes off as equal parts western, spy film, and underworld crime story. There are chases on barren plains, underhanded dealings in shady stores, betrayals, and setups. This is very much a Star wars underworld story. One might describe it as a darker take of the environment that Solo: A Star Wars Story created. It even has a four-armed Ardennian.

Bounty hunters form the base of Valance’s team, which includes the Gamorrean Honnah, the mysterious sniper Urrr’k (that looks like she might be a tusken raider of some sort), Chio Fain, and the notorious Dengar. In the classic underworld story, either the team is fiercely loyal, or nobody can stand one another. Target Vader #2 is the later. Nearly everyone on the team is convinced that Valance is crazy. Part of that belief is that Valance never shares his plans until he needs to, and then, only begrudgingly will he do so.

Target Vader #2 Valance and Urrr'k

An Issue of Loyalties

Loyalty and betrayal are minor themes of Target Vader #2. It starts at the very beginning of the issue when a younger Beilert learns from his father how the Empire freed his world and all the slaves working the mines became free men. Interestingly, this is a similar plot point from Han Solo: Imperial Cadet. A former squadmate of Valance’s, Kanina, learned there that the Empire’s intentions for mining world’s wasn’t benign. She therefore faked her own death and left Imperial service in order to help those she loved. In Target Vader #2, Valance learned from his father that the Empire meant freedom. Perhaps the truths he learned from Kanina’s experience made him question his loyalty to the Imperial machine.

Next, Valance visits an old friend at her shop on Arvina. Fetya is a Besalisk female that once worked a job with Valance that went horribly wrong. When Valance and his team arrive at her shop, she promises them any weapon they want. As things turn out, she has been working for the Hidden Hand as well. However, it was all a ruse and a delaying tactic. Valance used Fetya to draw in Vader. Conversely, Fetya expressed affection for Valance long enough for her own men to get in position so that she could kill him.

However, before things got far, Vader and the Empire arrived, which allowed Valance and his team to escape, and put a violent end to Fetya and her minions. It was all part of the plan. Valance allowed Imperial ships to trace him to Arvina, and then he had Chio send a transmission that implicated Fetya from her own shop. It was a very clever tactic. Vader now believes he is hot on the trail of the Hidden Hand. Plus, Vader now has access to Fetya’s records of the Hidden Hand. With that knowledge, Valance and his team know where to hunt him.

Betrayal at Fetya's

A Traitor

As Target Vader #2 comes to a close, Vader and his stormtroopers survey the results of their raid on Fetya’s shop. One stormtrooper is pleased to report that the Hidden Hand has lost another outpost. Then another stormtrooper reveals that an informant revealing where Valance and the bounty hunters are headed. There are a couple of possibilities as to who this informant might be. It could be someone in the Hidden Hand itself hoping to lure Vader into believing that by wiping out Valance and some of the Hidden Hand bases, the Empire has destroyed everything.

Another possibility is Dengar. It was established in Target Vader #1 that Dengar and Valance don’t have a healthy respect for each other. Plus, Dengar is kept out of the loop of Valance and Chio’s planning for this mission, which indicates a lack of trust. Finally, consider that Dengar is present on the bridge of Darth Vader’s Super Star Destroyer in The Empire Strikes Back. It seems unlikely he would be welcome there if he had just cooperated in an assassination attempt on Vader’s life. Vader learned of this plot from someone. Dengar is as good a source as any.

Final Thoughts on Target Vader #2

Target Vader #2 is a very worthy successor to Target Vader #1. This series moves at a brisk space with little wasted space. As mentioned in the introduction, the series has a fun setting and style. The underworld, when done right, is a great area of Star Wars from which to tell stories. Robbie Thompson has created a fun and engaging tale in conjuction with Stefano Landini’s art.

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