A Bruised Empire

Last week I discussed how Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope sets up the Star Wars galaxy during the Galactic Civil War Era. For this post I want to talk about how the Empire changed after the first major Rebel Alliance victory. Most of this comes from the Marvel Darth Vader comic series issues 1-15, as well as the Darth Vader Annual issue number 1. This series is excellently written and I highly recommend this series for anyone interested in getting into the extended universe.

Rebel Activities Post-Yavin

To keep momentum going after the Rebel victory at the Battle of Yavin, the Rebellion continued to hit major Imperial factories. One mission, led by Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo, resulted in the destruction of Imperial Weapons Factory Alpha, the largest weapons manufacturer in the galaxy. Even though Darth Vader was there to assist Imperial troops, the Rebels were able to pull off yet another victory. This represented another major loss of resources to the Empire, which was already badly bruised from the loss of the Death Star.

After the loss of both the Death Star and Weapons Factory Alpha, the Empire tightened their grip on important star systems, especially those rich in resources valuable for manufacturing. Increased quotas and security caused an increase in anti-Imperial activities such as piracy and revolution. Planets attempting to follow the Rebellion’s lead were dealt with harshly. The ruling family of the resource-rich planet of Shu-torun was reduced to a single member after they attempted to assassinate Darth Vader during a meeting to insure their loyalty to the Empire.

One thing you have to respect about the Emperor is his determination. Immediately after the destruction of the Death Star, the Empire begins construction on a second Death Star. Do they attempt to diversify their strategy at all? Nope, they just try to make a bigger Death Star. Dream big, Emperor, dream big.

Another major impact of the loss of the Death Star was that the Emperor now had no major means to keep planets in line. The senate was dissolved and the Death Star wasn’t there to threaten rebellious planets. So while all this is going on, more groups, motivated by revenge or greed, emerge to attempt to disrupt imperial activities. Criminal groups increase activities, and one group, the Plasma Devils, attack Imperial bases and troops in their territory, preventing Imperial spread into their region.

Master and Apprentice

Careful viewers of The Empire Strikes Back will note a few key changes to Darth Vader’s personality. First of all, he appears to know the identity of Luke Skywalker before the Emperor tells him. Furthermore, on Cloud City, Darth Vader tells Luke that they can rule the galaxy together, implying willingness to overthrow the Emperor. I will discuss a lot of this next week, but this change from loyal apprentice to potential usurper begins shortly after the Battle of Yavin.

The death of Grand Moff Tarkin and other Imperial leaders on the Death Star meant that Darth Vader was the last surviving member of Death Star leadership. This coupled with Vader’s failure to prevent the destruction of Weapons Factory Alpha led to the Emperor losing confidence in Darth Vader’s competence. Due to this loss of confidence in Vader’s abilities, the Emperor assigns the newly-promoted Grand Admiral Tagge to supervise Vader. Unlike his relationship with Tarkin, Vader and Tagge have little respect for each other, which most likely contributes to Vader’s drifting from the Emperor. Furthermore, the Emperor begins having secret meetings with a shady-looking character. Darth Vader begins to the suspect the Emperor is plotting something behind his back.

Vader, concerned that his master is keeping him at arm’s reach, begins carrying out his own agenda. He carries out his own investigations into the pilot who destroyed the Death Star (which I will discuss next week) as well as the shady character who appears to be the Emperor’s new confidante. Vader learns that the Emperor is working with a man named Dr. Cylo-V to create a new type of apprentice to replace Darth Vader. Cylo has created four potential replacements, all who appear to imitate Jedi in some way. While these replacements all imitate Jedi, none are Force-users and Vader finds this to be heretical blasphemy. The Emperor, on the other hand, believes that all things are permitted by the Force and that if Vader wants to remain his apprentice, then he needs to prove himself.

Replacements

Put to the Test

In order to help determine who will be the Emperor’s new apprentice, Vader and the imitation Jedi were each given a mission to carry out by Grand Admiral Tagge:

Astarte Twins: The Astarte twins are charge to investigate and eliminate the Plasma Devils, a terrorist group attacking Imperial bases across Mygeeto, Son-Tuul and Anthan 14. The twins, believing themselves to be the obvious choices to serve the Emperor, work on establishing their reputation by cutting their way through this mission, ultimately slowing down their investigation. In the end, it is Darth Vader who completes this mission instead of the twins.

Commander Karbin: Karbin is tasked to find the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. This is resented by both Darth Vader and Torun Voidgazer, as both have personal reasons to investigate the pilot. At the point of the assignment, Vader has already begun his investigation into this pilot. Karbin decides to monitor Darth Vader, which almost leads to him capturing Luke Skywalker. However, Darth Vader, eager to capture Skywalker for his own reasons, as well as wanting to prevent his possible replacement from succeeding in his mission, ends up challenging and killing Karbin, allowing Luke to escape.

Tulon Voidgazer: Tagge tells Tulon that there are “research issues” that require her attention. This has not been clarified as of yet, but I look forward to see where this is going, as she is afterwards often seen at Tagge’s side.

Vader: Is assigned to investigate who stole a ship containing a fortune in Imperial credits. This is unfortunate as he is the one the orchestrated the theft of the credits to fund his own agenda. Tagge teams Vader up with the highly-capable Inspector Thanoth for this mission. While Thanoth appears to be exceptional at his job, Vader is able to finagle leads and information to distract Thanoth away from the assigned mission, and ends up bringing down the Plasma Devils instead, a feat that is praised by Tagge.

Imperial Operatives

Tagge

Grand Admiral Cassio Tagge: “I have graphs, and the command.” Tagge is seen briefly in A New Hope arguing against the invulnerability of the Death Star. Promoted for his tactical understanding, he is a man who follows the data, and is proud of his new command over Darth Vader. Tagge sees Vader as an antiquated tool to be used. He believes the true power of the Empire will lie in an increased fleet instead of a singular weapon. While Vader and Tarkin had a relationship built on respect and shared history, Vader resents Tagge’s assignment as his supervisor, causing a further rift between Vader and the Emperor.

Cylo-V

Doctor Cylo-IV and Cylo-V: “The Force is obsolete, these are its successors.” Doctor Cylo is a modified human (check out that Rodian right eye of his!) who is contracted by the Emperor to create replacements for his failed apprentice Darth Vader. Cylo’s personality is stored in a computer system and after Cylo-IV is killed by Vader’s tortuous protocol droid, 000, Cylo-V is activated to take his place. Cylo-V believes that the Force is outdated and has made numerous replacements, all imitating Force users. The idea is that Vader will be kept as a figurehead for the Empire, but a “more competent” apprentice will be chosen from the imitation Jedi to do the actual work. It is implied that Cylo has been working on this project behind Vader’s back for years. Vader, a fervent believer in the power of the Force believes this to be heresy. This speaks to Vader’s upbringing in the Jedi Temple, as well as the difference between him and the Emperor. To Vader, the Force is a religion to be revered and honored, while to the Emperor, the Force is a tool, to be used or discarded as is beneficial.

Astarte Twins

Morit and Aiolin Astarte: “They were once humans. Now they are something considerably more.” Children of a Secessionist noble who feared retribution once the Empire rose, the Astarte twins have been genetically modified as well as bestowed with technological implants. These implants allow them to mimic Force abilities by controlling technology around them. They are also equipped with lightsabers and dress in a fashion similar to that of the Jedi. The Astarte twins were also brainwashed into worshipping the Emperor and were trained to be Darth Vader’s replacements.

Tulon

Tulon Voidgazer: “Tulon Voidgazer’s new topic of research is ‘revenge.’” Besides having easily the coolest name in the galaxy, Tulon Voidgazer was a genius researcher, who worked on high-level R&D projects for the Empire. Many of her friends and fellow researchers were killed on the Death Star, and she holds a grudge against the Rebellion for this. With the help of Dr. Cylo, Tulon was enhanced so that she can control numerous micro-droids. She has not seen much action yet in the comics, but she is definitely one to keep an eye on. She is another possible Vader replacement.

Karbin

Commander Karbin: “I was a great admirer of the late General Grievous. An interesting design, but very much a first step. Commander Karbin is the next.” During the Clone Wars, Karbin was a commander whose ship was damaged, causing him irreparable damage. He spent the next 18 years on life support, and then two years being enhanced with a cybernetic body by Doctor Cylo. Karbin’s design is based off the Clone Wars Secessionist General Grievous, and similarly wields four lightsabers. He was also trained to replace Darth Vader. Karbin was killed by Darth Vader after attempting to complete his mission of capturing the pilot who destroyed the Death Star.

Thanoth

Inspector Thanoth: “I am not a sycophant, traitor, or—worst of all—incompetent…I am a professional investigator.” Thanoth looks like Morgan Freeman and thinks like Sherlock Holmes. A highly skilled investigator and loyal to the Emperor, he was assigned by Grand Admiral Tagge to assist Darth Vader in apprehending the party guilty of stealing a vast amount of Imperial credits. While at first Thanoth suspected (correctly) that Vader had something to do with the theft, Vader was able to distract him from this mission and make him think the true culprit escaped.

Closing Remarks

So this leaves us with the state of the Empire after the Battle of Yavin. As more comics are released, I may come back a do a new post, but this information is current up to the Marvel comic event Vader Down. Now that we’ve addressed how the leadership of the Empire is doing, next week I want to focus in on Darth Vader and his independent activities following the destruction of the Death Star. Thanks for reading, and may the Force be with you.

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