Script: Tim Siedell
Pencils: Stephen Thompson
Inks: Mark Irwin
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Michael Heisler
Cover Art: Ariel Olivetti
“Don’t mess with the Empire!” And what better way to emphasize this point than with Ariel Olivetti’s great cover for Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin #2. However, I’m afraid the cover and the interior art are the highlights of the issue as Tim Siedell’s story goes to places I just can’t imagine, with a few good hiccups along the way.
This story really makes me wonder how the Empire ever managed to stay in control until the end of Return of the Jedi. The Empire has always been a dark, menacing organization that took years to bring down, and the Emperor and Darth Vader helped orchestrate its fall with their plan to crush the Rebellion at Endor. But the Sith have become such an easy target. Darth Vader is thrown into the thick of things when he saves the Emperor from an assassination attempt. When I recall the Ghost Prison storyline, the opening arc for Empire, and the recent Free Comic Book Day Star Wars issue, I’ve realized that the Emperor and Darth Vader are easy to get to. I’ve got to be fair, though, because the latter two stories I mention had the Emperor and Darth Vader welcome those attempts, and that captures the quote I included at the start of this review beautifully. Siedell shows that same welcoming ruthlessness in the aftermath of the attempt on Palpatine’s life and gave me hope, but the ease of the bomb’s placement can’t be erased from my mind, even if some force is preventing the Sith from foreseeing these events. As for the rest of the issue’s story, the opening bit was great yet disturbing, and Darth Vader is incapable of playing the “good cop” role, I believe.
My favorite part of this issue is the art. Stephen Thompson and Mark Irwin get to illustrate lots of action and explosions, and achieve some of the best Force illustrations I’ve seen in recent years. When Vader goes to work, his hand gestures let the reader know immediately that he’s using the Force with the added sound effect and silent speech bubble driving the point home. Every picture of Vader is done in amazing detail, especially the mask, and the Emperor looks even more ugly than he ever did in the movies. Michael Atiyeh’s colors add to that ugliness and gives us an idea of what more gruesome things we may see in later issues following the Emperor’s mentioning of “abnormalities” existing at Darth Vader’s next destination. The Imperial Royal Guard will be joining Vader in this mission, and their looks and detail may steal the artistic attention away from Vader and the ninth assassin, which I would love to see.
For this story arc, the assassination attempt on Palpatine’s life was included to get Darth Vader into the ninth assassin’s path, but it made me question the warning of not messing with the Empire. I believe Siedell’s story will take a better turn in the next issue, and that’s why I’ll be sticking around until then…well, that and the great art included by the team. After all, when you come so close to ending the Empire, you better succeed in your attempt or it will be the last thing you ever mess with.
Advanced Review Copy (ARC) courtesy of Dark Horse. All staff members can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.