What They Say:
Eight assassins hired to murder Darth Vader—eight assassins dead. Now the man who enlisted them seeks a ninth assassin. The price? A cost higher than all the credits in his bottomless coffers. But when it comes to avenging his son, no sacrifice is too great to acquire the one man who can kill the Dark Lord of the Sith . . .
The Hunt for Darth Vader is on!
Writer: Tim Siedell
Penciller: Stephen Thompson
Inker: Mark Irwin
Colorist: Michael Atiyeh
Cover Artist: Ariel Olivetti
One does not become a Dark Lord of the Sith without making some enemies along the way. Negotiating (read: forcing) the amount of money a group of mining companies pay to the Empire, Darth Vader kills the son of one of the magnates who attempted to assassinate the meeting members. Seeking revenge, the father—who is never named—hired eight assassins to kill the former Jedi, only to have all of them fail. Desperate, the father hires a group of mercenaries to take him to the lair of a fabled assassin. He hires the assassin, but only after paying a horrendous price.
And that’s about it. This is, of course, the first issue in the mini-series, and as such it bears the heavy burden of establishing the characters and story. At first blush this would seem to be an easy chore given that the writer is working in an already established world and with one of the most iconic pop culture characters in history, but the story is told from the father’s point of view, and the entire issue is mostly spent setting up the antagonist—a nameless assassin. This is important given that Vader is a formidable warrior and the fact that we know he is in no real danger.
The joy of this series will come from seeing Vader overcoming obstacles and generally being a badass. We see a little bit of this in a flashback scene where Vader kills the son: somersaulting over a meeting table and in three panels being more physically active than he was in three movies. It was a fun scene, but for me it belies the power of the character. Vader is a hulking, cypherous presence that moves with deliberate, heavy actions. His power derived from brute force, not nimbleness. If he had Force thrown the table at the son or just choked him, then it would have been more in keeping with the character.
The one aspect that I did enjoy with this issue was the use of the medium to create irony. The father’s inner monologue about his saintly son contrasts nicely with the reality that the artist portrays. It’s nothing new, but it works very well and highlights one of the strengths of the comic form.
Even though the overall effect is rather bland, there is enough here to make me hopeful that the rest of the series will be enjoyable. The writing is fine and the artwork fun and kinetic, and now that we are past the establishing of the plot, we should be able to get down to the story. At least that’s what I hope.
Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin was a rather bland establishing issue that barely featured its title character at all. While there was nothing specifically wrong with the issue, the overall feeling I came away from it was indifference. My hope is that the rest of the miniseries will be better, but as an introductory issue, it just doesn’t catch my excitement.