Thrawn puts his intellect towards thwarting pirates and angering Imperials in Thrawn #2.
This review includes discussion of plot points of Thrawn #2.
Writer: Jody Houser | Artist: Luke Ross | Colorist: Nolan Woodard | Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles | Cover Artist: Paul Renaud | Production Design: Anthony Gambino | Editor: Heather Antos | Supervising Editor: Jordan D. White | Based on the novel by Timothy Zahn
Thrawn’s education on Imperial politics and the Empire at large continues in Thrawn #2. In this issue of the adaptation of Timothy Zahn’s novel Thrawn, the Chiss officer and his aide, Eli Vanto, find themselves among the crew of the Gozanti-class cruiser Blood Crow. Thrawn has run afoul of the new commanding officer, Captain Rossi, with is acquisition of Clone War era artifacts. After mollifying her objections, Thrawn and Vanto investigate a derelict freighter, the Dromedar, and discover a pirate trap. Through Thrawn’s ingenuity, they liberate themselves and the crew of the Dromedar and then discover the whereabouts of the remaining pirates. Thrawn #2 demonstrates Thrawn’s cleverness and intellect in his interaction with a new nemesis while Vanto absorbs many of his lessons.
Thrawn’s New Nemesis
Thrawn #2 introduces Nevil Cygni. Vento and Thrawn first encounter Cygni aboard the Dromedar. Posing as a survivor of a pirate raid, Cygni (who looks a bit like Hugh Jackman for what it is worth) later turns the tables on the Imperials once Thrawn develops a plan for liberating the Tibanna gas cannisters. Once the Imperial crew overrides the lock on the hyperdrive on the Dromedar, Cygni drops the ruse and imprisons Thrawn, Vanto, and the rest of the Imperial crew in the pirate vessel. Thrawn then lets Cygni and other pirates escape with the Tibanna gas.
And so, thus begins a rivalry between Thrawn and Cygni. The resolution to their ongoing rivalry awaits later issues of this adaptation. This encounter is slightly confusing, and it isn’t much clearer in the novel. The exact reason Thrawn needs a buzz droid to drill through the hull to liberate the Tibanna gas on the Dromedar is a little fuzzy, but it works as a necessary element of the plot. However, the reader is left with the impression that the loss of one cylinder of gas is an important element, and it isn’t really made clear why it is necessary or even follows. As this is an adaptation, the fault really lies with the novel and less with the comic.
Throughout his interactions with Cygni, Jody Houser, the writer, inserted, and Luke Ross, the artist, drew several small panels of an up close an intense gaze from Thrawn. This is a clever method of drawing attention to what Thrawn is studying when it comes to his adversary. Thrawn, of course, is known for his analytical abilities, and this helps draw the reader’s attention to the details that catch his eye.
The Ruse of Negotiations
Not much that happens around by Thrawn occurs by accident. He let Cygni and the Dromedar get away. If there is any doubt, it is eliminated when Vanto reveals that Thrawn is waiting for the Dromedar to go to lightspeed before taking any action to liberate themselves from the pirates. Once the Dromedar departs, Thrawn activates his ancient buzz droids as a key component of their escape.
Later at the Imperial prison of Ansion, Thrawn offers the captured pirates a deal. He lays out a very logical reason why they may want to escape, which includes the wrath of Governor Tarkin falling on them if they don’t accept, but they are suspicious. After his offer is presented, Thrawn and Vanto retire to a nearby observation room. Unfortunately for the pirates, Thrawn and Vanto speak Bisti, which is the language the pirates employ in their attempt to devise a plan to lie to Thrawn and escape. During their discussions though, they let slip a few too many key details about where Cygni took the Dromedar.
Although this scene is a fairly faithful to the novel, the adaptation enhances the entire scene with the layout. First a single panel of Thrawn in a parade rest pose graces nearly the entire left side of one page as he presents his offer to the pirates. The pirate’s attention, hostility, fear, and resignation flows down the right side of the page in a great sequence of panels. Thrawn’s observation of the pirates and his discussion with Vanto as they piece together all the puzzle pieces is incredibly effective on the following pages as the panels feature their observations while watching the pirate’s discussion.
Imperial Politics and Prejudice
The Empire isn’t known for its tolerance of non-humans. Thrawn suffers from this prejudice on multiple occasions. Upon rendezvousing with the Blood Crew, Captain Rossi subjects Thrawn to a court martial for insubordination. There is no doubt that Rossi is on the ruthless side, but her objection to Thrawn seems like a pretext. She claims he erred in favoring the lives of the crew and the Imperial soldiers over the value of the Tibanna gas. However, Thrawn is later cleared of any wrongdoing by an Imperial court with little comment. It is more likely that Rossi simply wanted the blue-skinned alien off her ship. Perhaps she sees him as a rival or perhaps it is just simple prejudice.
The final bit of prejudice comes when Culper, and aide to Moff Ghadi, approaches Vanto with an offer. Culper offers Ensign Vanto with a job as an aide for another officer with the promise of a promotion and several successive promotions. Perhaps it is Thrawn’s influence, or perhaps it is just Vanto’s native intelligence, but he quickly sees through the offer for what it is: an attempt to cripple Thrawn. Vanto realizes this is not an offer made on his own merits. Instead, the Moff can’t stand to see Thrawn, an alien, achieve his level of success. In addition, Culper can’t successfully disguise her contempt for Vanto, a kid from a backwater world. The only issue with this scene is that it is an abrupt introduction of a class prejudice against Thrawn and Vanto unless the prejudice from the prior issue at the academy is considered.
Final Thoughts on Thrawn #2
Houser, Ross, and the creative team behind this adaptation followed up their excellent work on Thrawn #1 with another successful issue in Thrawn #2. This issue really dived into the heart of the novel with Thrawn’s investigative prowess and analytical skills jumping to the front. Aside from the confusing logic of the Tibanna gas cannisters, this was a very sound issue that tells a compelling 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.