Written by Tim Siedell
Art by Stephen Thompson
Darth Vader is not a particularly nice dude. He’s racked up his share of enemies throughout the galaxy, even when you don’t count the Hayden Christensen haters. Now, will one man’s vengeance finally catch up to the Sith lord?
Darth Vader is one difficult S.O.B. to kill. A grieving father has hired eight assassins to take out the Sith lord who killed his child, and all have failed. Desperate, a ninth assassin with a “bloody” high cost and a high opinion of his chances is hired to face Vader for maybe the last time.
This first issue features very little of Vader and of this as-of-yet unnamed assassin character. It instead follows this grieving father – whose son seems to be a foolhardy and dimwitted prick not entirely undeserving of his fate – searching out the assassin to exact his revenge. It’s all set up, showing the world(s) the story takes place in, rife with corporate corruption conflicting with political corruption. Also a lot of wading through a steamy swamp planet. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were Dagobah, but sadly there are no Yoda cameos.
The substance of this issue is lacking. Most of the characters who get lengthy story time are either cannon fodder or don’t matter to the upcoming drama. With so little of Vader himself or of the assassin, who seems pretty formidable in his own right, it’s hard to get hooked on the title by this issue alone. The only thing it has going for it is the hope for a Vader throw down in the future, which is whittled away with each issue that doesn’t feature that.
I want to see Vader being badass and fighting a sword-wielding, shadowy killer, and that’s what this book should be. Any actual suspense will be cut down, as we all know Vader survives this to die another day. Yet surprisingly, this issue is number one of an ongoing title instead of a mini-series. I don’t know how much even great fights can sustain an ongoing title with a forgone conclusion of failure and imperial continuance. If it continues to show little of the actual action the premise hopes for, it has an even less certain future.
To its benefit, the book has a good twist at the end to show how sadistic the assassin is when exacting his price for slaying Vader. Perhaps this is a good sign of how drastic the coming battles will be.
Before getting to the quality of the art, I want to point out that the cover of this first issue features neither Vader nor the assassin. It’s really just the grieving father meeting the assassin’s booking agent, who is simply sitting – albeit menacingly enough – on a throne. No combat. No lightsaber duals. No Vader, who by all rights is the selling point of this book. I guess Dark Horse is hoping the “Darth Vader” name will be enough to sell issues, but I’d wager the Darth Vader image would help even more.
The art is serviceable. The penciler/inker/colorer team went through a lot of work detailing the characters, their costuming, and the backgrounds. Everything looks fine. The lack of compelling story or action though makes everything feel bland though, despite the effort of the artists.
What little bit of Vader there is in this book, he looks impressive and menacing. His suit is well detailed, and with his lightsaber held up high, he looks like a silent force of death. As he should.
At first glance, I thought the title said “Darth Vader and the NINJA Assassin.” With what little moments we see of the assassin itself, that may not be too far off. That’s a missed opportunity on Dark Horse’s part. Darth Vader versus ninjas? That’s a license to print money. This book as is? It needs to work a lot harder to bring in any audience or cash.
Overall (Not an Average) 6/10