After three weeks devoted to The Empire Strikes Back I am pleased to return to the rest of the Classic Marvel run like normal.
Today’s story stars Luke and Artoo some time after the young hero’s fateful encounter with Darth Vader who revealed himself to be Luke’s father. Although in this story the narration does not explicitly say that Vader was his father in truth. Instead the issue plays the skeptic says “He learned that this man he most hated in all the Galaxy might well be his father!” That’s a very cautious “might” we are being given there. I am guessing that the writers at Marvel at the time were as uncertain about the truthfulness of the Dark Lord’s claims as Luke himself was.
The story opens with a Rebel blockade runner being attacked by a modified Imperial probe droid which kills the entire crew and takes over the ship. The droid taps itself into all of the ship’s computer systems merging itself with the ship according to the plan of one Admiral Damon Krell who hopes his new probe droid will earn him favour with the Emperor. The droid is programmed to lead the vessel to the Rebel fleet and to self-destruct the blockade runner in their midst destroying them along with it.
On its way to the fleet the commandeered blockade runner meets Luke’s X-Wing who comes closer to see if the runner needs assistance. The probe droid responds by firing the ship’s laser cannons at the X-Wing which gets disintegrated in the blast. Luke and Artoo fortunately eject just in time from their ship and Luke grabs onto Artoo who magnetises himself to the blockade runner. Luke uses his lightsaber (which miraculously is still with him despite the events in Cloud City) to breach the ship’s hull and go aboard.
After a few brushes with the probe droid’s attempts to get the intruder killed Luke reveals himself to be Luke Skywalker the destroyer of the Death Star which prompts the Imperial droid to cease all attempts to slay him. Prior programming from Lord Vader himself takes precedent over its programming to destroy the Rebel fleet and the blockade runner changes course to find Vader and deliver Luke to him. The erratic behaviour of the ship alerts Rebel scout patrols which ruins all chances of Damon Krell’s plan being successful.
Luke causes more structural damage to various systems on board with his lightsaber forcing the probe droid to use emergency power to conduct repairs. This power shift causes a section of the blockade runner which happens to have escape pods to weaken its security allowing Luke and Artoo to escape.
As they flee the blockade runner comes in range of Admiral Krell’s Star Destroyer and blows itself up resulting in the destruction of both ships.
Death Probe was an entertaining “killer robot” story with plenty of action and excitement to go around. Unfortunately, Luke having a lightsaber is extremely jarring since he had lost it on Bespin. No explanation is given for where this lightsaber came from and he continues to use it in the issues between now and Return of the Jedi. My only guess is that the writers figured the issues would drop in sales if readers had to contend with both Han Solo being missing AND Luke Skywalker without his signature weapon. But, oh well. At least the lightsaber is blue this time instead of being inexplicably red like it was in previous issues. But, nevertheless it’s a gaping imperfection in an otherwise very entertaining story.
Thank you for reading. Check in next time for my review of Star Wars Classic Marvel #46: The Dreams of Cody Sunn-Childe and may the Force be with you.