Monday, March 18, 2013

Star Wars: Darth Vader and The Ghost Prison

 STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE GHOST PRISON is Writer Haden Blackman's follow-up to last year's excellent STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE LOST COMMAND, which I absolutely loved. It presented a Darth Vader who was not an omnipotent killing machine at the top of his game, which was something very new to me. Blackman's LOST COMMAND featured a green Sith Lord, just getting used to his new identity as Darth Vader, and still learning the ways of the Dark Side, as well as getting used to his fearsome new armor/life support system.

 While GHOST PRISON is narrated by a new character, a disfigured young Lieutenant named Laurita Thom, freshly graduated from The Imperial Academy, the specter of Darth Vader looms large in this story. Thom is thrust into action when his fellow Academy graduates launch a devastating terrorist attack on Coruscant, at the behest of their Academy trainer, who plans to overthrow The Emperor and install himself on the throne. Thom finds himself side-by-side with Darth Vader, as they attempt to save the gravely injured Emperor Palpatine and exact Imperial revenge on the man behind the coup. Vader's plan takes them to a hidden Prison Satellite with a dark secret: It was established by The Jedi during The Clone Wars as a place to lock up their deadliest enemies and throw away the key. (They said they'd give them fair trials after the war, but we all know how wishy-washy The Jedi are....They'd discuss the issue until the prisoners died of old age.) Vader's plan to squash the uprising is nothing short of brilliantly evil, and it's embellished perfectly by the almost-as-evil Thom. The climactic battle is amazing, and it's perfectly capped by an awesome zing on the last page.

 Blackman's story is wonderfully told, and it's enhanced by Agustin Alessio's amazing, photo-realistic artwork. This is, seriously, some of the best STAR WARS art I've ever seen in a comic. It's a shame that Dark Horse's days as a STAR WARS licensee are numbered...you just know Marvel is gonna screw the pooch with their SW books.

 My only beef with this collection is Dark Horse's total unwillingness to include a cover gallery, which drives me nuts. There's a bunch of wasted pages that could easily have been used to showcase cover art.

 Dark Horse provided a review copy.