Thrawn’s ascension in the Empire is complete with Thrawn #6.
This review includes discussion of plot points of Thrawn #6.
Writer: Jody Houser | Artist: Luke Ross | Colorist: Nolan Woodard | Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles | Cover Artist: Paul Renaud | Production Design: Anthony Gambino | Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman | Editors: Heather Antos & Mark Paniccia | Based on the novel by Timothy Zahn
In Thrawn #5, Admiral Thrawn brought his powers of intellect to bear on the insurgency on Batonn. In the penultimate issue in the series, Governor Pryce went planet side with an Imperial agent. Although, the agent believed they were conducting reconnaissance, Pryce was there to rescue her parents. All the parts are now in place for the final issue of the series: Thrawn #6. Admiral Thrawn requested a meeting with his rival, Nightswan. Meanwhile, Governor Pryce works quickly to rescue her parents. Things are about to move quickly as the series concludes with several revelations about its key players.
Respect for an Adversary
As in the novel on which this series is based, Thrawn respects a worthy opponent. Nightswan is just such an opponent. Previously, Thrawn requested a face-to-face meeting with the leader of the insurgents. Each of the adversaries in this rivalry has some victories to speak of. However, Thrawn’s intellect surprises Nightswan at least a few times. Thrawn reveals how he deduced Nightswan’s ties to the mining guild. He also discloses his imperfect knowledge of the Empire’s new project. He doesn’t know what it is, but he knows it is large based on his study of resources. Nightswan made a similar deduction.
The men are very similar. Yet, it surprises Nightswan that Thrawn wants him to serve the Chiss Ascendency. It is unexpected, but Thrawn’s proposal has appeal. Nightswan opposes the Empire due to the evil he perceives at its core. Alternatively, Thrawn promises the opportunity to fight far greater evils. Nightswan didn’t dismiss the offer out of hand, but he can’t accept. The insurgents he commands need a leader.
When Nightswan declines Thrawn’s offer, Thrawn turns to his aide. This issue concludes with Eli Vanto reporting to the Chiss Ascendancy. Readers might wonder what Thrawn might have done with Vanto if Nightswan accepted the offer. Regardless, Vanto becomes the second half of a defacto Chiss and Empire officer exchange program.
The Duplicity of Governor Pryce
If there is one thing to learn about Governor Pryce from Thrawn #6, then it is that the Empire is a means to an end. That end is personal power. Pryce arrived on Batonn under the ruse she was conducting reconnaissance. However, that is not the case. She is there solely to rescue her parents. There is a complication though. She is accompanied by Agent Gudry. In the prior issue, Pryce managed to evade Gudry with some deception. She faked a transmission that her mother was ill.
This course of action creates several problems for Pryce. Gudry doubles back. Once at the Pryce home, he discovers her true intentions. He is perfectly prepared to sacrifice all of them to complete his mission. However, Pryce fights back and leaves his dead body in their home. She planned on hiding her tracks when the bombs she and Gudry left behind took out the insurgents.
This plan ran into difficulties. The Empire sent a squad of stormtroopers to the Pryce home to retrieve Pryce. Therefore, she detonated the bombs in the city before the shields were lowered. This eliminated any evidence of the murder she committed and the stormtroopers that discovered it. Her actions also resulted in civilian casualties far outweighing those of the insurgents. This point was a little clearer in the novel than in Thrawn #5. The shields were not lowered before the detonation. Therefore, the explosion reflected back on the city and the destructive force was magnified. Regardless, this incident demonstrates how far Pryce is willing to go to achieve personal power and safeguard what is important to her.
The Core of Thrawn
Over the course of Thrawn #6, the reader sees Thrawn do what he does best. When the insurgent fleet arrives at Batonn, every Imperial officer, including Eli Vanto, panics that the Imperial cruisers are exposed. However, Thrawn doesn’t worry. From his history with Nightswan, he learned that his adversary wouldn’t attack an unarmed ship. Chalk it up to Nightswan’s own personal honor. Their prior encounter on Dromedar taught him that. Nightswan insisted on protecting the crew of a captured ship from pirates then.
In addition, Thrawn is not beholden to Nightswan’s sense of loyalty. In fact, he uses it against him. As the insurgent fleet moves past the unarmed barges, Thrawn springs his trap. Scores of TIE fighters pour forth and decimate Nightswan’s ships. This seems slightly underhanded. It is almost like hiding behind civilians.
The lessons on Thrawn are not all tactics. Before Thrawn accepts a promotion to Grand Admiral from the Emperor at the conclusion of the novel, he questions Palpatine on the purpose of the Death Star. He won’t serve an Empire that might use such a weapon against the Chiss. Although he swore an oath to the Empire, Thrawn is still loyal to his people. His banishment from the Chiss Ascendancy was just a ruse to study the Empire. After receiving assurances from the Emperor that the Chiss were not a target, Thrawn accepted the promotion.
Final Thoughts on Thrawn #6
Thrawn #6 brings the Thrawn miniseries to a close. Overall, it is a successful adaptation. Some of the points of the novel are more succinct in the comic. Thrawn’s intent and offer to Nightswan, the fake banishment, and Thrawn’s openly questioning Imperial intent are all examples. Yet, in some ways, the comic adaptation seems like a digest version of the novel. It isn’t so obvious that Pryce’s actions murdered thousands and thousands of civilians in the comic as it was in the book.
There is a final meeting between Thrawn and Pryce in this adaptation. After the fallout of Batonn, the Empire writes off the unexpected civilian casualty rate as the result of an unknown accident. Thrawn, however, sees through Pryce. Despite Thrawn’s unspoken allegation, Pryce is defiant. She notes that Thrawn needs her to help play the political game, which is his one weakness. Thrawn thinks on this. Pryce does mention a Rebellion on Lothal and the crew of the Ghost from Rebels is shown in a near silhouette profile. This is a great transition to Thrawn’s introduction to Rebels.
Overall, this is a clever story. Thrawn is a fan favorite. He has been since his first appearance in Heir to the Empire. His promotion from the Legends continuity in Rebels only fueled demand for more material featuring the Grand Admiral. The comic avoided getting bogged down with Pryce’s employment history on Coruscant. In addition, Thrawn’s rise through the ranks benefitted from the comic format. Luke Ross’s art helped immensely with firmly establishing this as a Star Wars story. Any reader that hasn’t read the novel, but wants to know the story, will do well with the adaptation.
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.