Did you watch The Force Awakens and exit the theater with the nagging question, “why was C-3PO’s arm red?” Did not knowing the answer to this question cause you to lose sleep? Was it driving a wedge between you and your family? Was it impacting your job performance? If your answer to any of these was yes, then I have good news for you. This question, the most important question anyone could possibly have after seeing The Force Awakens, has finally been answered.
You may have detected a tiny bit of snark in the previous paragraph. That’s because I don’t really care about why C-3PO’s arm was red. I’m certain there could have been a story behind it, but I was alright letting it remain a mystery. Not all questions need to be answered. But I still bought this issue because I’m a sad completionist in some areas.
The story goes that C-3PO and a group of droids crash land on a planet. With them is a First Order droid that’s a prisoner of theirs, because he knows the location of the captured Admiral Akbar (will we ever see that story). Through a series of unfortunate events, most of the droids end up sacrificing themselves for the group after following through with their programmed function. This goes until we’re down to C-3PO, who has had an arm torn off by a creature, and the prisoner Omri.
During this trek, there is some discussion about the purpose and programming of droids. How they could have once been on the same side, and are only on opposing sides because their minds are wiped and they’re programmed to think a certain way. C-3PO admits that he sees flashes of memories that the reader recognizes as the prequels, but he doesn’t think about them.
It begins raining acid and Omri decides that he’s going to leave their makeshift shelter before it disintigrates, and re-program a beacon that’s located a ways away from them so that C-3PO could be rescued. Before he does this, he transfers his knowledge to C-3PO. So, Omri goes out into the rain, only to realize under his black paint is a red body. Omri is able to reprogram the beacon, but then falls apart from the acid rain. Poe Dameron comes to the rescue, and C-3PO takes one of Omri’s arms with him to use as a reminder.
I may have viewed this story differently if I didn’t think it was just a cheap ploy to get $5 from fans. Somewhere within this issue may be an okay story about purpose and sacrifice, but it’s lost in a rush to get to the point of the issue. That point is to explain how C-3PO got that red arm. And I’m certain that saying that C-3PO keeps the red arm to remember fallen friends makes for a great sound bite, but the execution just isn’t there in this story.
Simply put, this isn’t the tale of C-3PO becoming friends with this group of droids, pondering their purpose in the world, and coming to terms with who they are that it could have been. Instead, this is the story of how C-3PO got the red arm, and that is all that matters. So, you rush through story beats, try to give some sentimental value to it, and get to the payoff. In the end, you kill off characters before anyone could know them well enough to care, but it doesn’t make any difference. We all now know how C-3PO got that red arm. Mystery solved.