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Rogue One is the darkest Star Wars movie, so it made sense for its comic relief to be appropriately gloomy. Former Imperial security droid K-2SO is a pessimist with a morbid sense of humor, partnered up with the grimly pragmatic Rebel Alliance spy Cassian Andor.
The film’s other double-act, Baze Malbus and Chirrut Imwe, got a tie-in novel earlier this year. Now Cassian and K-2SO have their own one-shot comic, exploring the origins of their unlikely partnership.
It’s immediately obvious that Cassian & K-2SO is one of the better Star Wars comics. Taking place on a desert planet overrun by Imperial troops, artist Fernando Blanco has an excellent grasp of the landscapes of the Star Wars universe, captured here in Rogue One’s subdued palette by Marcelo Maiolo. Even before the two main characters know each other, writer Duane Swierczynski manages to recreate their rapid-fire arguments from the movie. You can already see where K-2SO’s deadpan humor emerged from his Imperial programming.
Cassian & K-2SO is a simple adventure story, with Cassian and two Rebel agents trying to retrieve some Imperial intel in a murky spaceport town. It’s fast-paced and witty, following the classic Star Wars formula of a mission that rapidly devolves into chaos. Cassian has to enlist the help of a nearby security droid in order to escape, although K-2SO’s programming is hard to break.
Droids are ubiquitous throughout the Star Wars franchise, although the movies take care not to explore their political role too deeply. Are droids people, property, or both? What are the ethics of buying and selling a sentient creature or reprogramming it to change its core values? K-2SO is roughly analogous to Finn in The Force Awakens as a former Imperial soldier who defected to the Rebel cause. The difference is, Finn made a free decision while K-2SO was effectively stolen by Cassian, then reprogrammed to delete his loyalty to the Empire. We never feel bad about the good guys killing stormtroopers or Imperial droids, but Finn taught us that many stormtroopers were brainwashed from infancy, and K-2SO proves that even droids can switch loyalties.
If you’re interested in this kind of dilemma, Cassian & K-2SO gives more screentime to the moral choices made by Rebel characters like Cassian Andor.
Rogue One portrayed K-2SO as someone who freely follows the Rebel Alliance, with Cassian as his friend rather than his master. The implication is that he had no free will under the Empire and that Cassian essentially rescued him. This comic is a suitably ambiguous origin story for their partnership, encouraging you to think more deeply about everyone’s favorite comedy droid from Rogue One.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor