Review: Star Wars – Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin #1

I’ve never been a huge Vader fan. I know that some people shit their pants when he’s on camera or even when someone is dressed up like the character, but that’s never been me. I enjoy the character and his all business all the time attitude, but there were always other characters I enjoyed more. These Vader comics though… they fucking rule. I honestly enjoy them the most out of all of the Dark Horse Star Wars titles they publish and after the conclusion of the last series, I was happy to see a new volume so soon. These are the early days of Vader before he was the cock of the walk and still making mistakes and that’s how I prefer him.

What’s been a common factor in the Vader series of books is that another character narrates the story. Vader himself gives the reader zero insight into the story or his mind and it makes for a much stronger story and presence for the character. This issue is narrated by the ruler of a mining planet. He talks about how great his son is as we view him taking over on whipping their slaves to “show” the foreman, aka whipping boy, how to do it right. From there we see father and son in a meeting that the Empire has arranged and that Vader is overseeing. They are forced into concessions and lose a percentage point on the deal. His son feels that it’s his place to shoot the grinning idiot that was sitting across from him during the negotiations for the sake of his honor, but as he does Vader jumps in the way and deflects the blast back at the son… killing him instead.

Now the Father has taken on the task of traveling to a planet looking for a particular man. He’s paid a fleet of men to protect him and he encourages them to kill and not think. They reach their destination only to find water and the leader of the Merc’s asks if they had the right info to begin with. The Father finds a twig on a nearby tree and bends it activating a panel. They place a severed hand on it and after it’s read a hatch raises from the water. They raid the chamber in the hatch even though they’re warned by guards standing outside. Once inside they discover a huge beast sitting on a throne chair. The father kneels before him and explains that he’s hired several assassins to kill Vader and most have died and he assumes the others left with his money.

The beastly alien on the throne assures him that they’re all dead just like his men. The man looks at the floor and everyone that was once standing guard with him is dead and a new character is standing in the shadows. The new character is the Ninth Assassin that he’s come to hire and he is extremely bad-ass.

The story is great, the pacing is even better. The narration from the father is the perfect parallel to what the reader is seeing on the page. He’s clearly a father that’s very hurt by his son’s death, but he’s also an evil bastard. You’ll be left with mixed emotions about him when you see what he’s willing to give up in order to have his revenge. Whenever the Ninth Assassin and Vader throw down, it’s going to be quite awesome. Again, I cannot stress enough just how perfect the pacing and narrative was.

The art is definitely some of the best I’ve seen on a Star Wars title. While it’s a different artist from the last series, I’m actually okay with that due to the fact that Thompson’s style matched this story better. That’s been another strong suit for this series is that the art changes to fit the stories and the same team isn’t just plopped on to the next story. The action is beautiful and very easy to follow. Even though Vader is all suited up he still looks young with his physique and that’s important to the series for sure. This issue has outstanding character designs and the huge beast was incredibly cool.

I don’t really chase the Star Wars franchise anymore; it’s been dead to me for quite some time, but I’m still really enjoying this Vader series of books. I can’t wait until the next issue and I’m hoping that there is another series planned to follow this one because I’m enjoy the early days of Vader. He may not be my favorite SW character, but he’s the star of my favorite SW series for sure.

Score: 5/5

Writer: Tim Siedell

Artist: Stephen Thompson

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Price: $3.50

Release Date: 4/17/13