Sunday, 15 November 2015

Death Probe

Death Probe is the first Star Wars comic set after The Empire Strikes Back. Because it is not based on a Star Wars film, the art is much more comic-like in this story, although that may also be because t was done by a different artist from the The Empire Strikes Back comics (here the artist is Carmine Infantino, while the The Empire Strikes Back artists were Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon).

Death Probe's action really gets going on its second page, as the Death Probe of the title attacks a Rebel spaceship, and there is a large picture of it taking up most of the second and third pages as a Rebel says
An Imperial Probe Droid!
in large, friendly letters.

For a page it looks as though the protagonist of this story will be the Rebel "Rad Torlent" as he tries to warn the other Rebels about the Death Probe, but then it catches him and Rad Torlent goes
Only then does the real protagonist enter the story, and it is Luke Skywalker.

There is a page spent on recapping the events of The Empire Strikes Back for the benefit of any cats who may have forgotten what happened. It also highlights the difference in art styles between the different artists since for once they have been drawing the same events but in their own ways.

Luke and R2D2 are in a spaceship that is attacked by the Death Probe, which has taken over the other Rebel spaceship so they don't know it is a baddy until too late. They escape onto the baddy's spaceship where the Death Probe tries to kill them. The writer cleverly shown both Luke's Jedi powers and R2D2's robot powers being used to escape from the Death Probe's traps.

They come face to face with the Death Probe and then R2D2 uses his computer hacking skills to find out the Death Probe's plan - to crash this spaceship into the Rebel Alliance's fleet of spaceships and destroy them.

Luke has a plan, and there is another reference back to The Empire Strikes Back as he says
Yoda said it, Artoo: there is no try...!
Only do... or do not! And I mean to do!

The Death Probe knocks him out with an electric "power overload" but it also recognises the name "Luke Skywalker" and this accidentally saves the day, because it has been programmed by Darth Vader to capture Luke and this order supercedes its current mission. The spaceship turns around and flies back towards the Star Destroyer that sent it.

Luke tricks the Death Probe into allowing him and R2D2 to escape in a life pod. Admiral Krell, the baddy in charge of the Death Probe's mission, is happy because he thinks he is about to capture Luke, but he doesn't realise the spaceship is still programmed to explode until too late...

... so it blows up his Star Destroyer instead of the Rebel fleet.

This is a good story that manages to be exciting and has clever and well-executed twists. It has a small number of characters and they are all used well - pairing R2D2 with Luke was an appropriate choice because he is like a good version of the Death Probe so there is a thematic contrast there.

The final panel promises that the next story will have Lando and Chewbacca in it!

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