Darth Vader #22-#23: I had to re-read issue #21 to make sure that I hadn't lost the thread of the larger story, but I think that I eventually got there. Put together, these issues reveal that Cylo has been playing a long game. We still don't know (as far as I can tell) why he betrayed the Empire, but we have a better sense of how he did it. Gillen reveals that Voidgazer used her time working with General Tagge to install a series of protocols on his flagship, the Executor. After Vader delivers a killing blow, she puts the protocols into effect: they shut down the controls and then release a gas that knocks all staff unconscious. Cylo and Morit are then able to board the Executor and turn it into their new flagship. She also sends the ship where she and Vader were fighting (Cylo's previous flagship) on a collision course into the Executor, hoping it would kill him. It (obviously) doesn't; instead, it simply gives Vader a ride to the Executor...and Cylo. Vader cuts the engines, and Cylo orders an eager Morit not to engage Vader as he goes to fix them. But, Vader finds Morit and -- in a thrilling series of panels that Delgado's colors make amazing -- dispatches him by sending him hurtling to the nearby gas giant. In so doing, Vader finally dispatches all of Cylo's potential rivals for his position and now makes his way to Cylo. But, Cylo confirms what we by now know: he created Vader. In so doing, he also installed programming that no one ever disabled allowing him control over Vader's technology. He shuts down the machines that keep Vader moving, commenting as he does that it answers his question whether Vader is really more machine than man. My guess is that this theory will be tested next issue. Again, it's a complicated story that requires some careful reading, but the payoff is worth it in the end, particularly for this insight into Vader's untold history.
Star Wars #21: Of all the characters that Aaron has created for this series, you can tell that Kreel is his favorite. He's thought through his back story, and he has a clear sense of how it guides Kreel's actions and beliefs in the present. As such, he's a great character, and I was thrilled to see him return here. In fact, Aaron does more with Kreel and his SCAR Squad in just this one issue than Soule has managed to do with Poe Dameron and Black Squadron in his title. (I'm guessing that Soule is dealing with a lot more "notes" from the story team.) At any rate, we learn that Kreel was raised on a planet where fighting in the pits was compulsory for anyone not rich enough to get an exemption, explaining why he was chosen to infiltrate Grakkus' arena. Eventually, the Empire arrived to take over his planet, freeing the fighters and giving them jobs. It explains Kreel's view of the Rebels as terrorists sowing chaos, since, to his mind, freedom comes with law and order. It's really hard to argue with his position, and it's a testament to Aaron's storytelling skills that he's able to so convincingly present Kreel's position. (In fact, I found it the most convincing of all the attempts by writers over the last 40 years to make the Empire less monolithically evil than it's portrayed to be in the original trilogy.) As the new leader of SCAR, Kreel is responsible for taking out these terrorists; along the way, he also has to win the trust of his squad. He might not win it in this issue, but he sure as hell impresses them when he pulls out his lightsaber to deliver the coup de grâce to the Rebels. Along those lines, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Molina's excellent work here. The last page -- of the Squad standing over the sole Rebel survivor, from the Rebel's perspective -- is chilling. I could honestly read an entire series about Kreel and his team, and I hope Marvel is going in that direction. If not, hopefully we'll see a lot more of them.
Uncanny X-Men #10: Honestly, I still have no idea what the deal with Warren is. We do get an answer to my question from last issue: the Death Flight responded to Archangel's arrival; he didn't bring a separate one with him. For reasons that are unclear to me, though, Archangel doesn't respond to Psylocke's request for assistance; he and Death Flight just start indiscriminately killing the townspeople. Eventually Warren realizes that he has to merge with Archangel to give him a human grounding (so he's not just a predator drone, as Psylocke calls him). But, I still have no idea who this version of Warren is. Is it the Warren from "Wolverine and the X-Men?" Moreover, Bunn seems to dismiss the idea that Magneto wanted to kill Psylocke (at least indirectly); Fantomex and Mystique are simply his own X-Force, there to help him take down Genocide and Clan Akkaba. Was Fantomex just fronting when he told Psylocke that Magneto wanted her eliminated? In other words, the storyline related to "Apocalypse Wars" is a confusing mess. It's only Sabretooth's offer to allow Monet to feed on him, to satisfy Emplate (after he embeds himself in her), that really saves this arc, despite the fact that this Morlock sub-plot was a distraction in the first place.
Also Read: Spider-Man #6