Beneath the murky patina of its war movie aesthetic, Rogue One is ultimately a film about the power of hope, an idealistic legacy that Star Wars has long championed. But it also feels like its immediate legacy more relates to the fact that the movie managed to kill off its primary cast, because Star Wars media can’t help but carry on that bloodlust.
The ongoing storyline in Marvel’s Star Wars—by Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca, Guru-eFX, and Clayton Cowles—has put the Rebellion in a grim position. They were betrayed by an ally that once helped them secure a fleet of Mon Calamari ships vital to establishing a stronger Alliance navy, and Darth Vader has spent the last few issues testing out his powerful and appropriately named flagship, the Executor, by blowing the ever-loving hell out of a disabled and flabbergasted Rebel fleet.
Like we said, grim. So mark that off of your “Rogue One influences” checklist.
But dire situations call for the bright light of heroic sacrifice—similar to the way Darth Vader’s crimson blade calls for rebel bodies to slice up—and this week’s Star Wars #54 proves that by using up a minor Rogue One character in the process. Remember Cassian’s asshole intelligence boss in the film, General Draven? Who interrogates Jyn and then explicitly orders Cassian to assassinate her dad regardless of what Jyn wants?
No? Well, no matter, because he’s dead now. After Leia leads a sortie of troops aboard the Executor in a quest to steal technical plans that could see the rebels restore their ships to full operation, Draven chooses to stay behind with the rest of his men to buy the Princess some time while Vader carves a path toward their position. He even invokes Jyn’s name while doing so, telling Leia he was always a little miffed that Jyn proved him wrong with her own heroic sacrifice.
And Draven gets his heroic sacrifice in a manner that’s even more befitting of a Rogue One star, because Star Wars #54 basically recreates Darth Vader’s infamous corridor scene as Draven’s final moments to boot:
This isn’t the first time Rogue One has come up in the Star Wars comic recently. Luke invoked Jyn and tied in the now-canonized origin of Rogue Squadron into Rogue One’s callsign a few issues ago, and even further beyond that, Gillen and Larroca begain their partnership on the comic with a storyline that explored what was left of Jedha and Saw Gerrera’s partisans in the wake of the Death Star’s test firing. The double-edged sword of this still-nascent Star Wars canon is that new material like the Star Wars Story spinoffs can be quickly and forever enmeshed into the other parts of the galaxy far, far away.
But it’s interesting to note how often ancillary Star Wars media leans into the bloodbath of Rogue One, even moreso than the message of hope behind its bloodbaths. It’s very Star Wars, in a way; after all, you can’t have the light without the dark.