Comic Review: Star Wars – River of Chaos


Continuing with my look at the Star Wars Expanded Universe with a stand-alone story from the creators of Power Pack – Louise Simonson and June Brigman.

Author: Louise Simonson
Penciller: June Brigman
Inker: Roy Richardson
Letterer: Steve Dutro
Colorist: David Nestelle
Cover artists:  June Brigman, Roy Richardson
Editor: Ryder Windham

River of Chaos is available digitally or in a trade paperback from Amazon.com. Buying anything through those links helps support the site.

Plot Notes

A few months after the Battle of Yavin, the Rebel Base on Aguarl 3 is attacked by Imperial forces. Most of the Imperial pilots are killed, except for one – Ranulf Trommer. Trommer manages to successfully carry out his bombing run but is badly injured in the process. After getting a cybernetic leg, Trommer also receives a promotion from Grand Moff Lynch and his father, an Imperial Admiral, and is sent to the planet of M’haeli to spy on the local governor, Grigor.

On Ranulf’s arrival, Grigor sends him to spy on the local Rebel contingent, intending to kill him. However, Ranulf falls in Mora, a local human woman who was adopted when she was an orphan by a local seer – Ch’no. The natives have a degree of Force-sensitivity that allows them a limited degree of precognition, allowing them to see the “flow” of future events. However, Mora is generally shunned by the natives (save for Ch’no), because her presence tends to disrupt the flow.

Ranulf, Mora, and Ch’no end up falling in with the local Rebel Cell, which currently includes Princess Leia and ends up discovering an illegal mining operation on the planet, being run by Grigor. Ranulf alerts the Empire to Grigor’s plans and tries to arrest Grigor, only to be captured. Through this all, Grigor’s forces begin to clamp down harder and harder on the population, driving the locals, who had originally intended not to choose a side, into supporting the Rebels.

Ranulf ultimately escapes, only to discover that the Rebels had been attacked by a Gotal bounty hunter named Glott, and Mora had been captured. Grigor further releases a public statement revealing that Mora is the heir to the royal family of M’haeli, who had been killed when the Empire took the planet, and he is planning to marry her (against her consent) to solidify his hold on the planet.

The Rebels had believed Ranulf was an Imperial Agent (he is), who had sold them out to the Empire (he’s didn’t) and persuades them to help him rescue Mora. They break into the Imperial base (using pretty much the same plan that Han, Luke, and Chewie used to break into the Death Star’s detention block), get Mora, and break out. This leads to a running firefight as the Rebels escape. Grigor briefly recaptures Mora and holds her hostage, demanding Ranulf surrender. Ranulf kicks Gregor’s gun, causing him to blow off his own head.

Imperial forces arrive, lead by Moff Lynch and Admiral Trammel. When Admiral Trammel finds out about Mora, he tells Ranulf that she’ll have to be killed. Ranulf decides to defect to the Rebel Alliance, wounding Lynch in the process. After destroying the mine, the Rebel forces withdraw.

Worldbuilding

  • We’re introduced to the planet of M’haeli, which had been an independent monarchy until the Empire straight up invaded and overthrew the government.
  • The natives of M’haeli have, as mentioned in the synopsis, some limited force-sensitivity, granting some precognition.
  • The Gotal also have some limited force-sensitivity granting some limited precognition, which is tied to their horns.
  • Apparently, a blaster is capable of blowing someone’s head off.

Characterization

Princess Leia: After Yavin, Leia has been acting more directly with Alliance forces in the field, since the Senate has been dissolved, and her cover has been blown.

Other Notes

This is another definite case of Dark Horse more or less being able to take the gloves off since they don’t submit their books for Comics Code certification. In this case, we have someone’s head clearly being blown off by a blaster.

Also, this is Dark Horse’s first outing during the events of the original trilogy.

Final Thoughts

River of Chaos sets up what could be a really good framework for how to do other stories set in-between the films of the original trilogy, while still having stakes – put the focus on new characters, with the cast of the original trilogy being supporting cast. We know Leia’s going to be fine, but the fates of everyone else are in question. This is also pretty much a generally good way to handle the original cast of Star Wars into a tabletop RPG campaign (assuming you don’t have the kind of players who would open fire on Luke on sight just to fuck with the game).

We don’t get as much of this going forward though. The focus instead tends to go on the post-Endor portions of the timeline, with the exception of Shadows of the Empire, which we will get to soon enough.

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