Following the debut issue setting the scene for the action to follow, the continuing chapter of Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin kicks into gear almost immediately. With Vader now taking center stage, the plot is moving along with some spectacular artwork that begins to smudge the lines between what is traditionally considered good versus evil.
In the previous issue, an industrialist seeks vengeance upon Vader for murdering his son. After unsuccessfully going through eight mercenaries, he seeks an elusive ninth unnamed assassin, with a formidable reputation. The Assassin takes the job, at the cost of the eyes of the industrialist in addition to whatever the fee may be.
Opening issue two, we find a Star Destroyer taking on board an escape pod. The Imperial Clonetroopers find a sickened man within, with a headless snake tattoo on his chest. But within him is a bomb, which explodes and takes out some of the troops. The senior officers are unimpressed, but find the suicide bomb to be a diversion for the real threat – a targeting homing signal stored aboard the pod, which is used for some amazing weapon that literally slices the Star Destroyer in half.
Meanwhile, on Coruscant, Darth Vader stops an assassination attempt on Emperor Palpatine. After taking his anger out on the Imperial Royal Guards that failed to stop the attempt, Palpatine orders Vader to get to the source of the assassination. Using Imperial sources, Vader tracks down a clue on a planet far from Imperial Center, which maybe much closer to the unnamed Ninth Assassin than he is aware of.
Tim Siedell‘s script in issue two is highly impressive, quickly picking up the pace from the first issue. He has managed to cram in some new mysterious cult into the storyline of the series, which has some form of connection to the weapon-thing that sliced a Star Destroyer in two.
The introduction to this extraordinary scene is full of mystery and suspense, adding a higher caliber to the plot. Is this Ninth Assassin connected with this cult?
Likewise, the art in The Ninth Assassin continues to be of an excellent standard. The teamwork of Stephen Thompson, Mark Irwin, and Michael Atiyeh is seamless, creating some truly impressive scenes. The assassination attempt on Palpatine is depicted beautifully, and works in sync with the writing in such a great approach. Likewise, the opening sequence is jaw-dropping – portraying something I suppose many Star Wars fans would conceive to be impossible; and yet believably rendered in a manner that’s a massive delicacy for your eyeballs.
Additionally, the visuals of Darth Vader are worth the price of this issue alone. The comparative likeness to the Vader we’re familiar with from the films is extremely close, and of excellent quality. There have been a lot of Star Wars comics with artists that have tried to depict Vader with varying degrees of success, but I believe this is the first time such a close match for the movies.
Back to the writing – one aspect I’m finding increasingly with this series is the moral ambiguity when the concepts of good versus evil are taken out of the picture. Having what has traditionally been considered the ultimate villain as your main protagonist makes for a huge writing challenge, though with these two issues so far, I’m finding certain reminiscence from Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison – though it feels like Siedell is taking this in a slightly different direction.
At any rate, Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin #2 is a fabulous read. Star Wars fans will obviously enjoy this one immensely, but I sense other comic fans will find this series to be of incredible value. The writing is both brilliant and enticing, and the artwork is truly a massive highlight that works seamlessly with the plot. Check this one out – trust me, it’s worth it.