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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Comic Review: (ARC) Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison

Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison 
Writer: Haden Blackman
Cover Artist: Dave Wilkins
Genre: Star Wars
Publication Date: March 27, 2013
Format: FC, 120 pages; HC, 7" x 10"

A traitorous uprising against the fledgling Galactic Empire leaves Emperor Palpatine close to death. Saving the Emperor—and the Empire—appears to be a lost cause . . . unless Vader can uncover the secrets of the Jedi Council and locate the mysterious “Ghost Prison.” Collects the five-issue miniseries.

* Written by The Force Unleashed’s Haden Blackman!

* A beautiful, fully painted graphic novel in hardcover with dust jacket!

If anything, I'm a bit of a Trekkie, but even then I'm not much of one. Star Trek and Star Wars have always had this contentious relationship, among their armies of fans at any rate, as if it is considered blasphemous to be a fan of both. I get caught up in that from time to time, criticizing what I consider some pretty lackluster writing on the Star Wars side, while ignoring the same perpetrated by Star Trek. When it comes to Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, however, I can only praise the story and the writing within its pages. 

Having never read a book with the words Star Wars on the cover before, I would have probably started with one of those novels by Timothy Zahn or Michael A. Stackpole, but when the wonderful gals running I Smell Sheep brought this book to my attention, I couldn't resist. 

The story follows Lieutenant Tohm, rather than Darth Vader, as he attends a huge graduation ceremony for Imperial cadets on Coruscant. Following the ceremony, General Gentis, a hero from the Clone Wars and the leader of the new generation of soldiers, orchestrates an attack on the Emperor. Tohm, faced with siding with his friends and mentor or with the Empire, chooses the dark side. But it's not a choice born of hate, but from loyalty and duty. The guy is fighting alongside Darth Vader--and Vader is whupping all kinds of rebellion butt in this book, by the way--but Tohm has a very no-nonsense, rigid sense of duty towards the Emperor. 

Tohm, like Vader, is disfigured, and it's that commonality that seems to be a point of comradery as Vader takes the young lieutenant under his wing. The Jedi and the rebellion might be wearing white hats, but it sure looks like they've left a lot of collateral damage in their fight against the Empire. 
The Ghost Prison winds up coming into play later in the book, as Darth Vader finds himself with an army of Storm Troopers at his command. So when he needs to find reinforcements to put a serious hurt on General Gentis and the cadets, Tohm comes up with a radical and risky idea on how to do it.

This book was amazing. Tohm is an earnest and agitated young man, and a really captivating character to watch as he fights and learns by Vader's side, literally becoming his right-hand man through the aftermath of the attack. Somewhat poetic given Tohm is an amputee. Between this book and the animated series, The Clone Wars, I wonder why the modern trilogy of movies couldn't be this exciting and tightly woven.

If you loved the movies, but are like me and wish George Lucus had aimed a little higher with the cohesive storytelling, you should check out Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison, because it is a barnburner of a book.

5 Sheep!

Guest reviewer: Gef Fox
Wag The Fox: a den for dark fiction

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