This month, Marvel Comics and Disney released the first issue of their latest comic series, “Star Wars: Thrawn” an adaptation of the 2017 novel by Timothy Zahn, who was also responsible for introducing the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn in the “Heir to the Empire” Trilogy in 1991. The series follows the story of how Thrawn first joined the Galactic Empire, and how he quickly rose in rank to the position of Grand Admiral.
The story begins on an unnamed planet in wild space, beyond the Outer Rim in the Unknown Regions. A battalion of the Imperial Navy set down on the planet in order to study a mysterious settlement and crash site. Two squads of Stormtroopers are suddenly ambushed by an unknown attacker, who systematically takes out the entire battalion one-by-one, and manages to stowaway on the Star Destroyer Strikefast, disguised as a Stormtrooper. The mysterious alien is identified as a Chiss, a mysterious race of blue-skinned aliens that come from the Unknown Regions, and are spoken of only in myths and legends. One crewman, Cadet Eli Vanto is a translator who speaks the language of Bisti. He is able to communicate with the alien, who tells them his name is “Mitth’Raw’Nuruodo,” or Thrawn for short.
When Thrawn is brought forth before Palpatine at the Imperial Palace on Coruscant, the Emperor is impressed with his tactical experience, as well as his knowledge of the Unknown Regions. Thrawn requests Vanto as his personal translator, and they both return to the Royal Imperial Academy, where Thrawn is quickly promoted to the rank of lieutenant, despite the fact that he is an alien (the Empire was notorious for only promoting humans through their ranks). Later, Thrawn and Vanto are attacked by a group of hooded assailants, who Thrawn manages to fend off.
Three months later, Thrawn and Vento are given their assignments, as Thrawn learns that he has been assigned to the cruiser Blood Crow as second weapons officer. Vanto is shocked to learn that he has also been assigned to the Blood Crow, but as an aide to Lt. Thrawn. Vento is outraged, and claims that Thrawn was able to persuade the Emperor to assign him to be his aide, but Thrawn had merely suggested that his linguistic skills would be boldly beneficial. This is merely the beginning of Thrawn’s ambitious rise to the rank of admiral, a rank that he proclaims he “shall strive to achieve that rank as quickly as possible.”
Grand Admiral Thrawn has been a fan-favorite since he first appeared in the “Heir to the Empire” Trilogy over 25 years ago. Disney had announced back in 2014 that “all such previous efforts would have no bearing on future Star Wars projects” thereby making over 30 years of content in the Star Wars Expanded Universe no longer canon. But with the appearance of Grand Admiral Thrawn in the third season of Star Wars: Rebels, fans rejoiced at the return of the red-eyed tactician, although now placing him back in the Star Wars Universe prior to Episode IV, as he was originally introduced in the Expanded Universe five years after Episode VI.
The new comic book starts off with a quick pace and with the first issue, which somewhat condenses the first few chapters of the novel, and will most likely end where the novel ends. The comic series is written by Eisner-nominated Jody Houser, with art by Luke Ross, colors by Nolan Woodard , and with variant covers by Paul Renaud, Francesco Mattina and John Tyler Christopher. The series shows promise with impressive, photo-realistic art, and fast paced, action-driven story. My only concern is that it will turn into a “Cliff’s Notes” version of the novel, but for now, it’s been an entertaining ride.