Brain Boy #0 Written by Fred Van Lente
Illustrated by Freddie Williams II
Colored by Ego
Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover by Ariel Olivetti Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: December 11, 2013
Cover Price: $2.99
Open up your mind and allow writer Fred Van Lente to introduce you to an early adventure of the trained telepath, Matt Price in Brain Boy #0. With illustrations from Freddie Williams II, this prequel issue to the new series from Dark Horse is one wild adventure filled with betrayal, espionage, and a plethora of mind control tricks.
In one of his first missions ever, Matt Price, also known as Brain Boy, is subcontracted by the secret service to help protect the president and a special package called the “football” at a world leaders summit. Able to read the thoughts of others as well as telepathically and telekinetically force them to do things against their will, Brain Boy is tasked with determining every eventual outcome in regards to the summit in order to prevent something catastrophic from occurring; however, when lethal assassins force their way onto the premises and the other secret service agents begin committing suicide, Brain Boy quickly discovers that he is not the only telepath in the vicinity — nor the world.
Based on a couple of panels of preview art I saw, I was set to love Conan and the People of the Black Circle #1. Painted! And Ariel Olivetti‘s Conan looked like a real badass. I even pulled up my online pull list to put it in this week’s basket.
But then I got my advance reading copy and with each successive page, my initial enthusiasm waned. There’s something just”¦missing here. It felt flat overall, lacking dynamism and fluidity, with some pages containing only three or four illustrations per. There were some compositional elements that made it seem like the characters weren’t looking/reacting to each other. It also appeared that a profile illo of the evil sorcerer was repurposed three times, and not for dramatic effect.
Since George Lucas completed the Star Wars Prequel Trilogy, Dark Horse and the other licensees focusing on the Expanded Universe have made an effort to follow and focus on the rich area between Episodes III and IV, the dark times of the galaxy. This has included an intense following of Darth Vader during those early years following Revenge of the Sith. Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin continues this trend, with an ongoing story that serves itself as a new mystery that the Sith Lord must get to the bottom of.
Hired by a wealthy unnamed industrialist, at the cost of his eyes, an unknown assassin (who may potentially rival Boba Fett in coming years) tracks down Vader as his new target. For the time being, this Ninth Assassin follows the Sith Lord from a distance, ostensibly able to anticipate his next moves and actions, as he lies in wait for the inevitable confrontation to arise in future concluding issues.
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.
Set not long after Palpatine has declared himself Emperor, and the shadowy hand of the Empire begins to span across the Star Wars galaxy, Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin is another new tale from Dark Horse focusing in on the Sith Lord formerly known as Anakin Skywalker.
The first issue of Ninth Assassin begins with a sequence highlighting the authority of the new Empire on commerce across the cosmos. During a tense negotiation of terms between business representatives under the supervision of Lord Vader (most likely at the command of Palpatine), one of the members fires a blaster shot at a competitor. Vader is too quick for him, using the Force and lightsaber to defend the target, and kill the shooter.
Afterwards, the unnamed father of the unnamed son killed by Vader’s hand at the business negotiation forms a security team in search of the best assassin. Going through eight applicants who either ran off with his credits or were killed, the fat businessman uses his resources and a cheaply paid security team to locate his ninth choice. The journey to the Ninth Assassin is like a riddle or a mystery that the reader learns as the encounter unfolds.