“Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison” #1 is lacking in two major elements; Darth Vader and a Ghost Prison. This is an enjoyable comic but it isn’t what you think you’re getting. The series introduces new entrant to the Empire’s ranks, Tohm, a damaged man who suddenly finds himself in a terrible situation. As an action-thriller, this comic hits a few interesting beats and shows some mild promise, though it seems only tangentially dependent on being set in the Star Wars universe.
The heart of this story involves Tohm arriving on Coruscant to graduate into the Empire. He soon finds himself caught up amidst a plan of secrecy, infiltration and battle. Tohm isn’t as much caught in the center as he is shunted to the side. He’s a man who has suffered and shows the results of his flaws, but he still works as hard as he can to rise above his perceived station in life. While there is a lot of understanding of Tohm through what he looks like and how he is treated, he doesn’t stand out as much of a character. If he’s the lead, we are going to need to see and learn more about him.
Coruscant, the central planet of the Empire, stands in this issue as a dominant and intriguing setting. Agustin Alessio creates stark lines and towering spikes to establish the heart of the Empire. There is no clear light, as if Coruscant lives under the oppression the Empire has brought. This city crackles with energy but no soul.
While Alessio is good on setting, he isn’t always as effective with the characters. Tohm is the worst offender and seems to look different every four pages. He always has the trademark smear across half his face, but the rest of him morphs more over the progression of this issue. Everyone else just fills the role of background as no one stands out as unique or interesting to look at.
Once Darth Vader shows up (and it takes some time) he arrives with flair. The splash page of Vader at his best is magnificent. If the rest of the series features more Vader and Alessio can reproduce this level of quality, then the title will seriously pick up.
“Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison” #1 is a strange set up issue because it feels like most of what is presented here is merely a launching pad. The narrative doesn’t start until the final pages and only so much looks like it will survive into future pages. As such, this issue feels throwaway — not how you want to start your miniseries.