Remember how C-3PO had a red arm in The Force Awakens? Its presence was never explained, even though the oft-obnoxious communications droid made sure to mention it explicitly. Yesterday, an answer was finally provided—in the form of a dark, thoughtful, one-shot comic published by Marvel.
Called C-3PO and subtitled “The Phantom Limb,” the story takes place some time during the rise of the First Order, when C-3PO is part of a Resistance mission to find and rescue Admiral Ackbar from imminent execution at the hands of the Order. His transport ship crashes, killing all the human members of the crew and leaving C-3PO with five other droids, one of which, Omri, is a captive First Order protocol droid suspected to know the whereabouts of Ackbar. The six droids need to get to an abandoned TIE fighter to activate a beacon that will tell the Resistance to come save them…but to do that, they need to survive a dangerous trek across the planet’s surface, fighting Spice Spiders, quicksand-like tar pits, horrible monsters and acid rain. A bit of foregone conclusion: not everyone lives to tell the tale. It’s pretty sad and a little bit horrifying, like any good sci-fi survival story.
The most interesting bits, though, come from Omri and Threepio’s discussions of droids’ purpose. Omri, a nihilist (he’s clearly up on his Dostoevsky), is firmly aware of the fact that many droids have their memories reset—in fact, that happened to C-3PO at the end of the prequel trilogy—and actively wonders about the effect that the transience of their programming and data constructs has on their identity and self-concept. He and Threepio build a friendship across the lines of enmity drawn by their programs, because you can’t make it across a killing field without eventually connecting with your fellow traveler.
In the end, Omri, recognizing Threepio’s dedication to his mission (something Omri does not possess), gives his new friend the location of Ackbar, then sacrifices himself by walking out into an acid rain to activate the beacon that will draw the Resistance to their location. The acid, in killing Omri, reveals the original coat of red paint he had in a previous life. It’s Omri’s old arm that C-3PO takes, not just to replace the arm that was torn from him by a monster earlier in the comic, but also to remember Omri and the other droids that perished during their adventure.
So now you know how C-3PO got his red arm. The comic is still definitely worth a read, though.