Saturday Morning Comics- Republic #78: Loyalties
Good morning, readers, and welcome to the first installment of Saturday Morning Comics, something we’ll do weekly on the SWR blog. This week we take a look at the first story published that gave us a look at the immediate aftermath of Revenge of The Sith. While the story focuses primarily on wrapping up the story of the “hero of Saleucami,” Sagoro Autem (a recurring character in Republic), it is the representation of the steps that the Empire takes in this story that I’d like to look at.
First, it is refreshing to see some resistance within the ranks- in the context of ROTS, we see Vader, Sidious, and then the obedient clones (although some had, and would defect). The officers we see are mindlessly tapping away on screens leading up to the final shot of the evil triumverate looking out upon their Death Star. Unlike the clones, though, the officers are individuals- although we see him in A New Hope, how are we to assume that Admiral Yularen and his equals would view the transformation of the Republic into the Empire, and the accompanying massacre of the Jedi, their brothers in the field just a few days before?
This comic takes a good look at that. We see Jan Dodonna and Autem discussing the revisions being made to history as the Jedi are being marginalized in what amounts to a PR campaign by Sidious. The public is shown videos throughout Coruscant of an un-scarred Palpatine, which perhaps was a mistake by the artists, or perhaps a calculated risk to display a strong Emperor- strong enough to defeat the rebellious Jedi Order unscathed. Upon our seeing him for the first time on his Destroyer, Sidious, who looks very ROTJ-ish (as opposed to ROTS-ish), introduces Vader to the officers officially, and gives them the ultimatum that “When he speaks, you can be sure he speaks for me.” This is interesting, especially in the context of the new Brian Wood comic series, which makes a point of showing Sidious publicly disparaging and punishing Vader, to the point of relieving him of command following the destruction of the Death Star. Obviously, that is a bit down the timeline, but an interesting contrast nonetheless.
Story fodder, one Imperial Captain Dallin, speaks up as the voice of the audience, essentially asking why his Jedi friends of a few days ago, the heroes of the Republic’s long war, are suddenly public enemy number one. Vader, without hesitation, chokes, throws, and kills him in front of the other officers, to Sidious’ pleasure. Dodonna warns his friend to watch his back, and then Autem goes home (which is not a barracks). Vader and Sidious personally come to kill him with a legion of troopers, as he is on a cryptic “list” of potential officers thought to harbor ill will towards the Empire. None of this is even remotely explained, but it is assumed that Vader and Sidious just sensed Autem’s moral opposition to this new Empire, which happens enough in the universe that it can be accepted.
The interesting part of this encounter is the overkill shown by Sidious and Vader going to the apartment of this one officer, to execute him before he can defect. Of course, Autem escapes (with the help of an old rival), and then evades a few generic bounty hunters, but this instance, as well as the public execution of Dallin, suggests that Sidious was very aware of the potential for rebellion in the ranks early on, and was almost immediately obsessed with rooting it out. We know that Leia later would tell Tarkin, “The more you tighten your grip..the more star systems will slip through your fingers.” The Empire’s knuckles are white.
We know that Sidious, Vader, and Tarkin were faced with an uphill battle of assimilating the entire Republic military, the protectors and comrades of the Jedi, into an army designed to serve the Sith and hunt the Jedi in the briefest of time frames. Surely, we understand their aggression and lack of tolerance early on for break in the rank- however, this story makes one thing very clear- while the Empire kept its citizens in line through fear, Sidious’ PR campaign was not universally successful, even as he threw Mace Windu’s mug all over the Holonet as a scape goat. That shows a particular depth that is common to the Universe, as we can see an example of even the most minor of minor characters having their own moral compass, and enough independent thought to call shenanigans on even the most manipulative and powerful of the Sith Lords.
I would also like to take this opportunity to introduce the second podcast of the SWR Network, Republic Sports Radio. The show will have multiple hosts, but will take a broad look at the world of sports, from NFL and College Football to the Barclays Premier League, the WWE, and UFC. We hope that you will join us, as we look to release our first show next weekend. Of course, Star Wars: RISE will remain the flagship podcast of the network, and is still slated for an October premiere. Lots of exciting things happening here, and we’d love to have you join us! If you are interested in joining our team, contact us in the comment section or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your Saturday,