Captain Phasma just got her own backstory novel and comic series, and the comic delivers a surprise co-star: BB-9E, the “evil twin” of BB-8.
Nicknamed BB-H8 by The Last Jedi cast and crew, BB-9E is BB unit who works for the First Order, introduced in a short animated clip this week. This comic hints that BB-9E may Phasma’s new partner, meeting her during the events of The Force Awakens.
Phasma ended The Force Awakens in a garbage chute on Starkiller Base, but we all know the rules of cinema. If you don’t see someone die onscreen, they ain’t dead. Sure enough, Phasma is due to appear in The Last Jedi, and this comic explains how she escaped Starkiller. Survival wasn’t her only goal, though. Since the Resistance used Phasma’s log-in to disable Starkiller’s shields, that means Phasma is on the hook for its destruction.
Written by Kelly Thompson with art by Marco Checchetto and Andres Mossa, Phasma fleshes out a character who—like Boba Fett before her—became a fan-favorite despite having a minor role. If you’re looking for deep insight into her backstory and motivations, you’re not going to find it here. But to be honest, that doesn’t matter. Phasma’s job is to be cool and evil, and Kelly Thompson understands her ruthlessly efficient attitude.
The most important new angle is Phasma’s more self-serving side. She seemed like a First Order loyalist in the movie, but now she’s “guilty” of disabling Starkiller’s shields, she has to cover her tracks. This leaves things open for the dark humor we’ve come to expect from villain-centric Star Wars comics, contrasting the clinical tone of Phasma’s official report with the reality of her smashing her way through the chaos of Starkiller. It’s very much an action comic, but it also illustrates the key flaw of the First Order’s hierarchy. If everyone in power is evil and/or living in fear of punishment for their mistakes, they’ll inevitably betray each other when the going gets tough.
As for BB-9E, he only shows up in the last few pages. He’s along for the ride on Phasma’s quest to clear her name, which invites an obvious question: will BB-9E become her ally, or will he discover her selfish goals and betray her to their First Order bosses? The miniseries lasts for four issues, so we’ll know the answer in time for The Last Jedi in December.