I am a long-time fan of Star Wars, of graphic novels and of the comic book publisher Dark Horse – so here, it would seem, we have the trifecta!
Set in the time period just after Revenge of the Sith Episode IV, The Empire is making its power and presence felt throughout the galaxy. Not without a little resistance of course. When the son of a merchant trader is killed by Darth Vader the apprentice of Emperor Palpatine, events are set in motion for Lord Vader’s final confrontation with the ‘Ninth Assassin’ of the story’s title.
The bulk of the action however has nothing to do with this particular plot. In fact, you would be forgiven for believing that perhaps this story-arc should have been called something else altogether. Unless… the Ninth Assassin referred to in the title is in fact, Emperor Palpatine. Metaphorically speaking of course (think about that as you read the conclusion).
Most of this series is devoted instead to Darth Vader’s search for a mysterious threat against the Empire and his subsequent encounter with the dark cult of The Headless Snake. I’m not entirely convinced that the two alternative plot-lines involving the would-be assassin and that of the Cult of Chaos were woven together as seamlessly as they could have been. The dominant themes of the series revolve around power and control, these could have been explored more and may have been the glue that bound it all together. You’re left feeling as if the whole thing slightly missed the mark.
That said, it was still an enjoyable read, giving us some great insights into the character of Vader and his relationship with Palpatine after the Clone Wars. The artwork, with illustrations done by Iván Fernández and colour by Michael Atiyeh is good and in keeping with the Star Wars universe but I struggled to find a panel that really excited me visually.
Although not quite the triple-threat I was hoping for, ‘Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin’ is still well worth the read.