Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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B.J. Morgan gets tempted by the Dark Side, but uses The Force to bring you this Star Wars Double-Shot Advance Review. Thanks to our friends at Dark Horse Comics, here's an early review of Star Wars: Darth Vader & the Ninth Assassin #4 and Star Wars: Dark Times - A Spark Remains #1. Read on for B.J.'s thoughts!


Star Wars: Darth Vader & the Ninth Assassin #4

This miniseries continues to entertain despite being the quickest read on the stands from any comic company. After a botched assassination attempt on The Emperor, Darth Vader is sent across the galaxy to find the culprit. Unbeknownst to everyone’s favorite Sith Lord, he is also being pursued by an assassin. His investigations have led him to a moon where a Star Destroyer has seemingly been destroyed by a single blast from the surface. Sound a little too Death Star? Maybe.
The mystery surrounding the moon and the investigation of the temple is the focus of this issue. We get yet another prophecy being fulfilled by Vader in this issue. While not spoiling what that prophecy is, I do want to say that we can all officially stop with the prophecy trope in all Star Wars media. Those flood gates should be closed for a little while so we Star Wars fans can all catch our prophetic breath. 
There is a sense of frustration and foreboding in this issue, and indeed in the series, as Vader is seemingly blindly muddling through the investigation. I find myself pointing at the assassin who is just lurking behind the scenes. “Hey, Vader, there’s a dude behind you.” It’s plausible that Vader is so blinded by his investigation that he can’t sense the assassin, but I’m still not buying it. Vader is supposed to be a bad-ass supreme, but I’ve found in recent years that Dark Horse has been complacent to show him in a less-than-bad-ass light. 
All the above sounds pretty negative, right? I don’t want that to cloud my judgment of the series. All in all, I am actually really enjoying the series. Despite my few quibbles, it’s been very entertaining thus far. Yoda help us, but some Star Wars comics are better than others. The quality difference in large part comes down to the usual suspects such as art, delivery, story pacing, and the level of interest in the era being explored. Recently, Dark Horse has been walking a fine line with the quality of their Star Wars books. Books like Dawn of the Jedi are so bogged down in laborious text that it kills any narrative flow.
That’s why I am largely thankful for books like Darth Vader & the Ninth Assassin. This book is breezy compared to books like Dawn of the Jedi. The brevity of each issue acts as both a strength and weakness. Each issue takes under five minutes to read. Much of the story is conveyed through the art, which is a plus. Unlike many writers, I believe it shows Tim Siedell has faith in his art team to convey the drama of the series without cluttering up the page with unnecessary exposition. On the other side of the coin, it certainly doesn’t feel like you are getting your money’s worth with such a quick read. Folks who get easily bristled by price-point to reading ratios might be better served waiting for the trade.
With one issue left, there still feels like there is a large amount of ground to cover before this thing wraps up. Vader hasn’t even been confronted by the assassin yet and he’s still stuck in this strange temple. With the succinctness of each issue, I am not terribly confident that everything can be wrapped up so nice and neatly if those previous issues are any indication. I am willing to be surprised. The creative team behind this book has delivered a very entertaining read thus far.

Star Wars: Darth Vader & the Ninth Assassin #4 will be available July 17th, 2013 from Dark Horse Comics.




Star Wars: Dark Times – A Spark Remains #1

First off, let me say that this has been my favorite Star Wars title being published since it began. There is so much fertile storytelling ground between the trilogies. However, this title has been fairly inconsistent with its release schedule. I am so very thankful that there wasn’t a gap between the publishing of this miniseries and the last. It felt like Christmas (or Life Day) when I saw there wouldn’t be a months-long break. 
Star Wars: Dark Times - A Spark Remains returns to focusing on the crew of the Uhumele and former Jedi Dass Jennir. Readers find the crew at rock-bottom emotionally. They all have nothing left, each having been personally and tragically impacted by the end of the Clone Wars and the rise of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. Only Dass Jennir seems to have found a modicum of happiness with his newfound love, Ember Chankeli.



With everything lost to the crew, they attempt to convince Dass Jennir to strike out against the Empire by attacking Darth Vader. To directly attack the Emperor would be foolish, but Vader is currently scouring the galaxy in an attempt to crush any remnant of the Separatists and to restore order. In Vader they see an easier and more accessible target. This brings a tragic gravity to the series knowing that Vader is not killed and survives to continue his acts of tyranny on the galaxy. The crew of Uhumele are potentially setting themselves up for more sorrow. There is a sense of finality to the series in taking on Vader.
Fans of the previous Dark Times books will find much to love in this first issue, but it isn’t terribly new reader-friendly. Readers just coming into the Dark Times setting won’t get all of the connections between characters nor will they feel the sense of weight that this story carries as the crew and Dass Jennir talk about taking on Darth Vader. This is essentially the 28th issue of the Dark Times book, which itself was a continuation of the Republic series. That’s a lot to catch up on. Writer Randy Stradley does a serviceable job of keeping readers up to speed, but you just can’t ignore that there is a certain level of buy-in readers must have before approaching this miniseries.  
Like many first issue in these continuing series of miniseries’ Dark Horse has saddled Star Wars with lately, this issue is mainly focused on re-introducing people to the characters and establishing a story. Though it doesn’t sport much in the way of action, it’s good to see the crew from the Uhumele once again.  

Star Wars: Dark Times - A Spark Remains #1 will be available July 17th, 2013 from Dark Horse Comics.

What's your favorite Star Wars Comic? Let us know below!


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