I’m returning to the Star Wars comics this week with the conclusion of Dark Horse’ Star Wars Droids ongoing.
Star Wars Droids #5-8
Published September – December 1995
Written by Jan Strnad
Pencils by Bill Hughes
Inks by Keith Williams
Lettering by Steve Dutro
Coloring by Perry McNamee
Cover Art by Kilian Plunkett
Star Wars Droids is available from Amazon.com as individual issues through the Kindle Store/Comixology
After their last adventure, C-3P0 and R2-D2 have been purchased by an Ithorian named Zorneth, to work on his Herdship. Among the plants and animals in his care is a human known only as “Smiley” – because he had taken a dose of an herb known as savorium. Savorium has the effect of causing people’s minds to permanently assume a state of bliss and joy, while also removing inhibitions and making them susceptible to suggestion. Such beings are referred to throughout the galaxy as “Smilers”. Zorneth has brought the human on board to prevent him from being taken advantage of.
After briefly landing on the planet Targonn to take on supplies, Smiley gets loose, causing mischief throughout the market before being rescued by R2, 3P0, and Zorneth’s android majordomo, PDA6. However, they have caught the attention of the planet’s dictator, Craw, who sends a ship to attack Zorneth’s herdship and steal Smiley.
It turns out Smiley is the being responsible for the creation of savorium, and Craw had been planning to use savorium to render the population of his world into a docile and easy to manage slave workforce. R2 insists on rescuing Smiley, with the majordomo alleging that he’d been infected by a “Caretaker virus”, that compels droids to protect and help all Smilers.
R2 and 3P0 end up joining forces with the local insurgents, who are seeking to overthrow Craw, and (much to 3P0’s chagrin), working with them to infiltrate the palace, rescue Smiley, and then escape to Zorneth’s ship, while the insurgents overthrow Craw and instate a democratic government. Things are generally successful, with the help of Craw’s general incompetence as a blustering buffoon of a dictator, and Smiley seeming to have the devil’s own luck. Craw and some of his guards manage to escape just ahead of the attacking insurgents.
After returning to Zorneth’s ship, R2 and 3P0 learn that Zorneth helped create savorium with the help of Smiley, and that he, and a small conspiracy of other Ithorians, are planning to selectively administer savorium to various targeted figures throughout the galaxy, with the intent of making the galaxy a less warlike place. Zorneth’s vessel is about to rendezvous with another Ithorian herdship that was part of the conspiracy to transfer over some of the large quantity of savorium that he’d been growing. However, R2 and 3P0 know too much now, and are scheduled for a memory wipe
This is disrupted by the fact that Craw had managed to hyjack the herdship that Zorneth was about to rendezvous with, and instead boards the vessel, intending to sieze the herdship’s cargo of savorium. As Zorneth’s security droids and Craw’s guards battle over the herb, PDA6 activates the destruct codes for the cargo of herbs, and sends R2 and 3P0 to an escape pod. Zorneth tries to stop the destruction of the herbs, only to be in turn stopped by Smiley, who sacrifices himself to make sure that the secret of is lost here.
The ship itself is destroyed soon afterward, leaving R2 and 3P0 heading alone into space, wondering who they will end up working for now…
- We get our first look at the inside of an Ithorian Herdship.
- We are introduced to savorium, an herb which (as mentioned earlier), creates a state of joy and bliss in a person, while also loosening their inhibitions and making them plyable – demonstrated by showing an alien who had eaten food spiked with savorium going on a WTFIWWY-esque “Naked Rampage”
- We visit the planet Targonn, whose native inhabitants have a very bird-like appearance.
R2-D2 and C-3P0: R2 and 3P0 have briefly spent time onboard an Ithorian herdship. All things considered, their track record of leaving employers who can leave references of any kind is poor.
It is not made explicitly clear what the timeline is between this and the Imperial siege of Ithor. Considering the savorium conspiracy could very clearly be a threat to Imperial hegemony, and that the existence of savorium itself would actually not be particularly useful to the Empire as a de-facto fascist state, it is entirely possible that Palpatine, at some point following his rise to power, found out about the savorium conspiracy, and ordered the attack on Ithor as a cover for efforts to wipe out the conspirators and any existing stocks of savorium. That said, there’s nothing to back this up – this is strictly my headcanon.
When the first batch of Droids comics wrapped up, I found myself wanting a Droids ongoing, as this series, more than any of the others thus far, felt like it would work better as an ongoing series than some of the other Star Wars projects that Dark Horse was working on. With the ongoing wrapping up with this miniseries, it feels like something of a disappointment.
It’s not that the story is bad or otherwise not engaging – it’s fine. However, it also feels like this wasn’t necessarily intended to be the ending. We’re leaving this story with R2 and 3P0 in limbo. We’re not back with Baron Pitareese and his family again. Nor are they with the masters that they’d start the original trilogy with – either Captain Antilles or House Organa.
I kind of wish we’d gotten one more arc, one which might see 3P0 in more of his element – diplomacy and protocol, basically stumbling his way, Clouseau-like, through thwarting some particular act of diplomatic skulduggery or espionage, but I’m not sure if that will be the case – at least not for some time.
Next time, I’ll be returning to Tales of the Jedi – with The Sith War.