By Boyd Reynolds | Staff Writer Published: 08/24/2013 10:00 am EST
Publish date: August 21, 2013 Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
I was surprised how much I enjoyed Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin #5 seeing as the conclusion brought a predictable end to the assassin sent to kill Vader on an Outer Rim planet. Chock-full of action and intrigue, the issue opens as Darth Vader finds the assassin waiting for him outside the temple he recently destroyed. A duel to the death ensues, as Vader toys with the assassin, seeing something in him that the Empire could use. He tempts the assassin, asking him to join the Empire, but the assassin refuses, which seals his fate on the wrong end of a red lightsaber.
While the assassination plot against the Emperor was the main engine of the storyline in Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin, an ulterior motive from the Emperor is revealed. The ultimate schemer, the Emperor has once again manipulated Darth Vader to do his bidding. The reason for Vader’s elimination of the assassination threat was not what you’d think. Only someone paranoid of losing ultimate power and control would pull off what is revealed at comic’s conclusion.
What I enjoyed most about Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin #5 were writer Tim Siedell’s direct connections to and implications for the original Star Wars Trilogy. Episode IV—A New Hope is referenced as the Emperor talks about Grand Moff Tarkin and his special project, obviously the Death Star. Additionally, the Emperor, in an underhanded way, challenges Vader’s loyalty to him. The Emperor is ready to slay Vader should the apprentice try to vanquish the master. Flash forward to Return of the Jedi when Luke tells the Emperor that overconfidence is his weakness. After this experiment in Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin, Vader has passed the test. The Emperor knows he has Vader’s utmost loyalty, one that will only come into question when his son is being baked by force lightning at the end of Jedi. The Emperor’s overconfidence, his inability to foresee Vader ever turning on him, is his undoing. First Vader’s mother died, then his wife, and now his son? A man, or half a man, can only take so much torture to his heart. All the love that had been taken from him had never died completely. It took a glimmer of love for his son to find that out.
This event in the original trilogy has always fascinated me. I remember listening to an interview with George Lucas about that moment. What Lucas was telling us was that Vader couldn’t redeem himself by himself. He needed the love given freely by his son to ignite the uncontrollable fire in him, burning him greater than those that charred his body. While the dark side is a truly powerful force, it can’t withstand unconditional love.
In all, Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin #5 was a good read. Sometimes conclusions can disappoint, but not here. The addition of the Emperor’s true plans saw to that. The artwork by Ivan Fernandez is strong and the story surprisingly compelling. The action is explosive and ending satisfying. Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin is a solid multi-part comic series continuing the saga set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.