Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin #2

Story by
Art by
Mark Irwin, Stephen Thompson
Colors by
Michael Atiyeh
Letters by
Michael Heisler
Cover by
Dark Horse Comics

Behind an Ariel Olivetti cover that is surprisingly reminiscent of the work of Jack Kirby, Tim Siedell and Stephen Thompson deliver the second installment of a story pitting a terrorist plot aimed at the Empire in "Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin" #2. The attacks come in the form of suicide bombers and hidden IEDs, drawing an eerie parallel between current events and that galaxy far, far away.

Siedell manages to make the threat legitimate rather than feeling like a cheap cop-out of trying to devise a plot to insert Star Wars characters into. By tying the fantastic worlds of the Star Wars universe to our own with such relatable issues and realistic threats, the writer draws the reader in, helping us almost hear the panic in Vader's mechanically augmented voice as he converses with Palpatine following one of the attacks. Naturally, the force is met with force (and The Force) as Vader seizes the opportunity to lash out.

Artist Stephen Thompson, inker Mark Irwin and colorist Michael Atiyeh deliver artwork that far less impressionistic and more technically exacting than Carlos D'Anda's work is in Brian Wood's "Star Wars" series. The coloring of the story is spruced up with the crimson presence of the Emperor's Royal Guard. Thompson presents the guards in motion around and with Darth Vader. The artist uses some dynamic framing choices and camera angles to present a menacing Vader in motion. When I originally heard about the concept of prequels for the movie, I hoped they would feature Darth Vader earning his reputation. Those films did not do as much towards that end as Dark Horse Comics have done and "Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin" #2 is a fine example of what Vader can and should be all about.

While this story has spun out of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine being set on edge by a threat they cannot discern, the story itself is a showcase for what the Sith can do when they cease holding back. People are Force-choked, lightsabers are ignited, objects are hurled about with the Force and a considerable body count rises. After all, war has been declared against the Empire and Darth Vader intends to answer back. "Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin" #2 is one of the fastest reading, more inviting-of-a-second-reading comics I've happened across in months.

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